While many litigants chose to represent themselves in Family Court, it is important for them to keep in mind that they have the right to representation by a qualified attorney to step in and help them when matters get complicated. While the litigants in any case always have the best first hand knowledge of what happened, the emotions of what took place can get the best of you and make it difficult to proceed as your attorney.
In a recent unpublished decision (J.V.N. v. M.D., docket number A-5562-15T3; you can read the case here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/attorneys/assets/opinions/appellate/unpublished/a5562-15.pdf), the Appellate Division reversed a lower court decision to issue a Final Restraining Order. The Defendant began the case as his own attorney and realized that he was too uncomfortable to do his own cross examination. The Appellate Division ruled that the lower court made a mistake by not stopping the trial so the Defendant could get a lawyer to take over.
Domestic violence cases are very serious and a Final Restraining Order can have significant negative impacts on your life. It is important with any legal matter that you know your rights and how the results of the matter may impact your future. Consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible can help you better understand what may happen and then you can plan around the possibilities.
M.D. is getting a second chance but you may not. If you are involved in a Domestic Violence matter or any other legal matter, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Many lawyers offer free consultations. While everyone may deserve a second chance, you don’t always get them in life or in court.