Setting the Record Straight, is it Material And Relevant?

Mace Greenfield Client/Litigant/Pro Se Information

So, you are in a divorce action or going through a custody or support proceeding and the other side lied or misstated the true facts.  The decision went against you.  Now you believe it was because of the untruths set forth by the other side.  You want to try to reopen it if for no other reason than to “set the record straight.”  At least you will have a moral victory of proving the lies, right?

Wrong!  If the lies or misstatements of fact do not go to the heart of the proceeding or action, it does not matter.  If the lies or misstatements of fact would not have affected the decision had the truth been told, then it does not matter and you waste the court’s time to now try to reopen it to “set the record straight.”  To try to reopen it on issues that will not change the decision, is to be frivolous and meritless which can get you sanctioned, a minimum of which may be to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees to defend.

There have been many appellate court decisions that found error in the trial court’s findings but did not reverse or remand the case and instead affirmed it because the errors did not go the heart of the decision.  Often there are no sanctions of any kind to protect the lawyer trying to make a living by bringing the case; sometimes the lawyer is sanctioned as he/she should know better.  Often pro se litigants do not get sanctioned, because they are presumed not to know better.  But some are sanctioned because they show a history of litigating this way.  Sometimes it is a matter of does the judge feel bad for you or not, or if the other lawyer is held in such high regard and requested the sanctions.

Do not litigate just to litigate. Only litigate if there is something to be actually be gained and there is a reasonable probability of success.