Seeking the Scope of the
Abuse Prevention Guidelines



 
 

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
FOR SUFFOLK COUNTY 
AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
 CIVIL ACTION:  ______________

In re GUIDELINES FOR JUDICIAL PRACTICE: 
ABUSE PREVENTION PROCEEDINGS
 

EMERGENCY, EXPEDITED
PETITION FOR LEGAL OPINIONS ON 
GUIDELINES FOR JUDICIAL PRACTICE: ABUSE PREVENTION PROCEEDINGS
PURSUANT TO M.G.L. c. 211, § 3 
(accompanied by Affidavit of Barbara C. Johnson 
and Affidavit of Indigency)

INTRODUCTION 

 This case arises out of the need to define the scope of the “Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings” (Rev. Sept. 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011), issued by the Administrative Office of the Trial Court.  It contains five counts for declaratory judgments (1) to determine whether a paid official advocate of a civil rights group may act as an advocate under Guideline 2:08, (2) to determine whether advocates standing with, assisting, and supporting a party throughout the proceedings, pursuant to Guidelines 5:02 and 3:09, may cross-examine the plaintiff and other adversarial witnesses, (3) to determine whether a disbarred attorney may act as an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08, (4) to determine whether a disbarred attorney may be paid for providing the services of an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08, (5) to determine whether a disbarred attorney may be deemed as not committing the unauthorized practice of law when acting as an advocate pursuant to Guidelines 2:08. 3:09, and 5:02.                             .

PARTIES

1. Your Petitioner, Barbara C. Johnson ["Johnson"], is a citizen of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; was, prior to being wrongfully evicted at the age of 74 (three years ago), a resident at 6 Appletree Lane, Andover, Essex County, MA 01810-4102; is currently residing in Atenas, Costa Rica, 4013-20501; will be 78 years old in mid-October 2012; is a publisher and author of the domain www.falseallegations.com and the self-published books Behind the Black Robes: Failed Justice, and Why I Didn’t Sleep with Mitt Romney & Other Tales.  A third tome, Cry Rape!, a true-life legal drama, is nearing completion of the final revision and preparation for publication.

2. Johnson was sworn into the Massachusetts Bar in December 1987 and was disbarred in August 2006, primarily on the grounds of violating Rule 8.4(d) of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, SJC Rule 3:07: “(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”   The basis: Johnson had run for Governor in 2002 on a platform to abolish judicial immunity.  The moral: Lawyers do not have First Amendment rights.  Other charges were alleged but not proved. 

3. There was no trial of the disciplinary action, at least nothing that could be construed or be recognized as a trial.  There were no witnesses against Johnson, and all her trial witness subpoenas were quashed.  The public audience was ordered out of the hearing room—whereupon Johnson left with them.  Her reason for doing so was twofold: (1) The Special Hearing Officer told the stenographer to go off the record when Johnson spoke and back on the record when he spoke.  That egregious command appears in the certified copy of the hearing transcript supplied Johnson after the alleged “trial.”  (2) The majority of Johnson’s trial documents had been previously precluded from the “trial.”  There were other unlawful flaws in that “trial,” but they are collateral to, if not irrelevant for, this petition.

FACTS

 4. Since 1999, Johnson has been associated with The Fatherhood Coalition, an advocacy group seeking to protect their civil rights in Massachusetts.

5. Over the years, Johnson has contributed to the Fatherhood blog.

6. Around 2000, The Fatherhood Coalition gave Johnson an award and has posted that award on its website ever since.  Next to the name her domain, it reads “Falsely accused fathers’ best friend in the legal system.”

7. Until her disbarment in 2006, Johnson had clients from the coalition.  Some she represented pro bono or for a de minimus fee.  Johnson likens her fees to an informal sliding scale, according to the members’ ability to pay.  Generally, the members declared what they could afford to pay.  Some members performed plumbing, heating repair, painting, and installing roof shingles in exchange for services. 

8. In 2009, Johnson was evicted from her residence without a trial, contrary to  common and constitutional law.  See Kargman v. Dustin, 5 Mass.App.Ct. 101, 359 N.E.2d 971 (1977) and the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

9. In 2011, the Massachusetts Appeals Court remanded her real-estate case for trial, but the judiciary in the Lawrence Division of Essex Superior Court has thwarted that order, resulting in a year-long fight in Lawrence and a second and third law suit.  See Johnson v. Johnson, et al, 2010-P-0471 (remanded for trial), Appeals Court Single Justice 2012-J-0150 (“issues . . . appropriate for review by a panel of the court,” Trainor, J.; Petition for Rehearing pending), and Supreme Judicial Court SJC-11089 (ready). 

10. Since taking political refuge in Costa Rica in July 2009, Johnson has continually received communications from members of The Fatherhood Coalition either by email or by phone.

11. In February 2012, the membership posted the document entitled “Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings” (Rev. Sept. 2011) on their blog.

12. Recently, members of The Fatherhood Coalition have discussed having Johnson return to the Commonwealth to be an official advocate, in accordance with that document, for the membership.

13. Impoverished and made homeless by the Massachusetts judiciary, Johnson has no money to live in the Commonwealth.

14. Members are contemplating paying for her return airfare and contributing to a used RV in which Johnson can both live and work as their official advocate.

15. Johnson presents this petition for emergency action before consenting to the members’ generous and gracious offers.

16. In the alternative, this Court may restore Johnson’s Bar license.

COUNT 1: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
(to determine whether a paid official advocate of a 
civil rights group may act as an advocate under Guideline 2:08)

17. Johnson repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 16 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.

18. There are actual controversies, which are set out below.

19. The first controversy is whether a paid official advocate of a civil rights group may act as an advocate under Guideline 2:08. See Exhibit A.

20. The second controversy is where “employees of the district attorney or of some other state, community or legal service agency” are paid by the DA’s office or are paid by an agency for the time serving as a 2:08 advocate, it would be discriminatory to not allow any other advocate to be paid for their services as a 2:08 advocate.

21. If these controversies are not resolved, there will be further litigation.

COUNT 2: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
(to determine whether advocates standing with, assisting, and supporting 
a party throughout the proceedings, pursuant to Guidelines 5:02 and 3:09, 
may cross-examine the plaintiff and other adversarial witnesses)

22. Johnson repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 21 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.

23. There are actual controversies, which are set out below.

24. The first controversy is whether advocates standing with, assisting, and supporting a party throughout the proceedings, pursuant to Guidelines 5:02 and 3:09, may cross-examine the plaintiff and other adversarial witnesses.  See Exhibit B.

25. The second controversy is whether the word “assist” means the advocate may only talk to the party being “assisted” or whether “assist” includes helping the party form proper examination questions or also includes “assisting” a party by performing the cross-examination on behalf of the party.  Having someone who knows how to form questions and how to cross-examine would be more efficient and expeditious and less time-consuming than such questioning by a party untrained in this skill.

26. A third controversy is whether a 2:08 advocate can object to questions asked of the party should he or she take the witness stand.

27. If these controversies are not resolved, there will be further litigation.
 


COUNT 3: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
to determine whether a disbarred attorney may act 
as an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08

28. Johnson repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 27 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.

29. There are actual controversies, which are set out below.

30. The first controversy is whether a disbarred attorney may act as an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08.

31.  A second controversy is whether the failure to allow Johnson to serve as a 2:08 advocate also would deprive the members of the coalition an attorney of their choice.

32. If these controversies are not resolved, there will be further litigation.

COUNT 4: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
(to determine whether a disbarred attorney may be paid for 
providing the services of an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08)

33. Johnson repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 32 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.

34. There are actual controversies, which are set out below.

35. The first controversy is whether a disbarred attorney may be paid for providing the services of an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08.

36. The second controversy is to determine whether the intent of disbarment is to deprive a person trained to practice law of any employment in which he or she can use his or her knowledge to earn a living or whether the intent of disbarment is to impoverish a formerly licensed lawyer.

37. A third controversy is whether not allowing a disbarred attorney to offer services on a sliding scale to pro se 209A defendants also deprives them of advocates trained to represent them in serious law cases, cases in which the parties can lose their families, livelihoods, property, as well as licenses and freedom of travel—all protected by the amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

38. A fourth controversy is whether not allowing a disbarred attorney to offer services on a sliding scale to pro se 209A defendants also deprives them of advocates of their choice.

39. If these controversies are not resolved, there will be further litigation.
 


COUNT 5: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
(to determine whether a disbarred attorney may be deemed as
not committing the unauthorized practice of law when acting as an
advocate pursuant to Guidelines 2:08. 3:09, and 5:02)

40. Johnson repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 39 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.

41. There are actual controversies, which are set out below.

42. The first controversy is whether a disbarred attorney may be deemed as not
committing the unauthorized practice of law when acting as an advocate pursuant to Guidelines 2:08. 3:09, and 5:02. See Comments.\1/

43. A second controversy is whether being a 2:08 advocate violates the statute defining the unauthorized practice of law. 

44. A third controversy is whether statute defining the unauthorized practice of law is void for vagueness.

45. If these controversies are not resolved, there will be further litigation.

 WHEREFORE, Petitioner Barbara Johnson prays that this Honorable court find:

(1)  that a paid official advocate of a civil rights group may act as an advocate under Guideline 2:08, 

(2)  that advocates standing with, assisting, and supporting a party throughout the proceedings, pursuant to Guidelines 5:02 and 3:09, may cross-examine the plaintiff and other adversarial witnesses, 

(3)  that a disbarred attorney may act as an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08, 

(4)  that a disbarred attorney may be paid for providing the services of an advocate as described in Guideline 2:08, and

(5)  that a disbarred attorney may be deemed as not committing the unauthorized practice of law when acting as an advocate pursuant to Guidelines 2:08. 3:09, and 5:02, or

(6) in the alternative, that Johnson’s Bar license be restored.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara C. Johnson
 /s/ Barbara Johnson
12 June 2012  Barbara C. Johnson, Pro Se
Apdo #404-4013
Alajuela, Atenas, Atenas
20501-Costa Rica
barbjohnson74@gmail.com
SKYPE ID: barbjohnson74
SKYPEIN: 978-961-0079 (Newburyport, MA)
Costa Rican Landline: 506-2446-6724


FN. 1.    “[1] A lawyer may practice law in this jurisdiction only if admitted to practice generally or if authorized by court rule or order or by law to practice for a limited purpose or on a restricted basis. Paragraph (a) applies to unauthorized practice of law by a lawyer, whether through the lawyer’s direct action or by the lawyer assisting another person.”  Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5, Comments.
 

EXHIBIT A

2:08 Role of Advocates in Assisting Parties. The court should support the participation of advocates at each stage of the c. 209A process, regardless of whether such persons are volunteers from a local advocacy group, law students, employees of the district attorney or of some other state, community or legal service agency, or friends or family members of either party. Where possible, such support should include providing an area of the courthouse where advocates can operate, allowing sufficient time in the complaint filing process for an advocate to speak to the party, individually or, if there are multiple parties, in a group setting, assisting the party in filing the complaint, and permitting the advocate to accompany the party, when so requested, to the courtroom. 

COMMENTARY

When parties in a c. 209A action come to court, the experience can be overwhelming. Advocates can be helpful in directing a person seeking relief under c. 209A through the myriad of court procedures. In so doing, advocates should consult with the personnel in each court identified by the Clerk or Chief Probation Officer to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the processing of these matters. A victim of abuse may experience feelings of shock, fear, depression, shame and helplessness. Trained advocates can remind the plaintiff to provide the court with all the information necessary for the judge to make an informed decision, explain to a plaintiff the various questions which the judge may ask, and encourage the plaintiff to consider and to decide upon what relief to request.

An advocate may also be aware of potential problems which can be solved before the hearing (e.g., identifying the address, or other identifying information, of a defendant who does not live with the plaintiff), or can identify other problems of which the judge should be aware (e.g., the presence of weapons in the home which have been used in an abuse incident). An advocate may facilitate the service of the orders by acting as a liaison with the police department.
Moreover, an advocate may be in a position to assist a plaintiff in developing a plan of action which will help to keep the plaintiff safe after the order is issued and in making referrals for other appropriate kinds of assistance, such as support groups, shelters, etc.

Other individuals, such as family members or friends, may also provide support for the parties, and such individuals should be encouraged to accompany parties at each stage of the proceedings. The assistance of any advocate in any particular situation should not be permitted to interfere with the party’s wishes or with the court’s ability to conduct an orderly proceeding
 
 

EXHIBIT B



3:09 Role of Advocates at Ex Parte Hearings. Judges should permit advocates to stand with the parties whom they are assisting throughout the proceedings and to aid and support a party during the hearing to the extent that the party wishes it and the court deems it helpful.

COMMENTARY

Trained advocates and friends or relatives of the party can play an important role in sup-porting the party through what may be a difficult process and in reminding the party to provide the court with all relevant information. See Guideline 1:04, Court’s Relationship With Local Advocacy Groups; Guideline 2:08, Role of Advocates in Assisting Parties; and Guideline 5:02, Role of Advocates at Hearings After Notice.

The role of the non-lawyer advocates in the courtroom should be limited to aiding the parties in their presentation to the court. Such aid may involve reminding the party of relevant factual infor-mation or pertinent circumstances that a party may have forgotten to state or, for whatever reason, did not bring to the court’s attention. An advocate with personal knowledge pertaining to the allegations raised by the party may testify to such facts upon being sworn as a witness.
 

5:02 Role of Advocates at a Hearing After Notice. At a hearing after notice, an advocate should be permitted to accompany a party in the courtroom, stand with the party throughout the proceedings, and assist and support the party to the extent that the party wishes it and the court deems it helpful. The court should allow an advocate to speak with the party in order to help the party to provide the court with relevant additional information.

COMMENTARY

The role of an advocate at a hearing after notice is essentially the same as at an ex parte hearing, whether or not the other party is represented by counsel.