Friday, February 3, 2017

On The ReAppointment of Hon Daniel Driscoll

Dear Committee Members

MeGAL, much like the Judicial Advisory Committee, conducted a survey on the re-appointment of the Honorable Daniel F. Driscoll. We asked participants whether they thought the Honorable Daniel F. Driscoll should have another 7 years as judge in our courts. The responses are anonymous to protect those who still may be involved in cases before Judge Driscoll.

While we had less than a week to collect responses comsumers of judicial services responded. Parents, grandparents, friends and lawyers voiced their opinion. Comments were welcomed but limited.

1. 9% of respondents approve of the Honorable Daniel F. Driscoll's reappointment
2. 91% of respondents did not approve or questioned the reappointment of the Honorable Daniel F. Driscoll.
3. Of those who responded we know that 19% were Pro se. Of the Pro se litigants almost 100% expressed in their responses that the Honorable Daniel F. Driscoll had issues with handling a non lawyer in his court.

Some comments that were left:

1. My experience with Driscoll was not good. I was Pro se in his court and it was a nightmare. He kept telling me that I couldn't call witnesses, or entering in evidence. My ex had a lawyer and the lawyer was allowed to call any witness he wanted and the same with evidence.

2. I was as a Pro se litigant up against a lawyer in Driscoll's court. While warned that I should get a lawyer I could not afford one. It was hard if not possible to introduce evidence or witnesses during the trial. The lawyer had no issue. I think Judge Driscoll didn't know how to be fair and that is a problem. Did I receive justice and did my ex? My ex would say that justice was handed out. I would disagree. My story was not heard and was limited. I was prevented from telling it because I did not know how to act in this court room culture. I think Judge Driscoll tried but he just is not equipped to handle Pro se.

3. I was a Pro se litigant in judge Driscoll's court room many years ago. My case is slowly collecting dust.

At the time that I was going to court I had a deep disdain for the judge. Now I feel sorry for him because he, like many other judges in the Family Court system, are ill equiped to handle Pro se litigants. Pro se litigants in Family Court represent a litle over 74% of the cases. Of these cases 86% are Pro se litigants going up against a lawyer. As a Pro se litigant it is like a caveman or Roman Leginary going into battle against a modern day solider. We are scared and unknowing how to ask.

In court judge Driscoll gave the impression of not understanding what I was experiencing. My impression was that I was expected to know how to act in court, to know the culture of the court. He did not understand what I was going through in trying to plead my case to him. I was up against a lawyer and at almost every turn I was shot down either by the lawyer or by the judge when I tried to present evidence or witnesses. The lawyer by my perception at the time had no problems doing either. As a result I was crucified and lost custody and visitation with my children.

As a Pro se litigant I was not accustomed to the culture of the court. I knew how to get justice when I had an issue with let’s say Wal Mart, Hannaford or any number of businesses. The industry I worked in deals with people trying to get their issues resolved. To me the courts would/ should be the same. I did study cases and talked with others before going to trial. Because I am not a lawyer working in law how was I to know the tricks used. Imagine as a consumer you go to a store because you bought an item that proved to be defective. When returning the item and asking for a refund you ask the wrong way. For instance you ask for a refund on the purchase price. But because you ask of a refund and not a store debit back to your credit card the request is denied. Bad analogy but I hope you understand.

In looking back I was not prepared to go up against a seasoned lawyer and doing so in an environment that is still foreign to me. I had no choice in the matter. How to talk and address the judge or the opposing lawyer. How to ask questions within this culture. Judge Driscoll, in looking back, did little to help me understand why for instance the motion I just presented made little or no sense. Or the argument I am trying to make.

I believe at the time judge Driscoll had little to no guidance for dealing with Pro se litigants. It is my understanding that this is still the same. How can one who is giving the appearance of being impartial and just (as no one can push their bias aside) be a judge in situations that they are ill equipped to handle? How can someone pass "fair" judgment in situations that involve Pro se litigants up against lawyers?

I am asking that judge Driscoll not be re-affirmed until there is a time when he has the skill set needed to deal with those situations involving Pro se litigants. Thank you for your time.

The Judicial Advisory Committee in their surveys to vet any judge almost exclusivly seeks and receives the opinions of lawyers. Those who work within the judicial industry. The human element is lost on the committee. The pain that parents and families go through is lost and unrecorded. We ask that you consider what these people have experienced.

Tomorrow February 2, 2017 you will hear from judges, lawyers and possibly other court officials. They will tell you how great this judge is and has been. How great his court is. Yet - you will be missing the stories of those who lived through his court process. MeGAL asks that you weigh what your vote means to those future cases. Will they be fair, will they be just, will they be in the publics best interest.

Thank you for your time

Paul Collins
Rockland, ME

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