My experience with such behavior came from my brother, attorney David Shuler of Springfield, Missouri. And he did not communicate the ugly stuff to me directly -- or to someone we both know or are related to. Nope, he put it in a letter to a judge, just one day before a hearing here in Missouri on landlord Trent Cowherd's efforts to unlawfully evict my wife, Carol, and me.
That means my brother's letter, expressing ill will toward me that I can't begin to explain, is part of the court file. And that means it is a public record that anyone can see. With that in mind, I'm going to make it available here for anyone to see. (Full letter is embedded at the end of this post.)
Amazingly, my brother states in the letter that he intends to work on behalf of landlord Trent Cowherd -- and against Carol and me. David gives no indication that he's going to do anything on behalf of his supposed client -- our mother, Gondy Shuler, whom Cowherd wrongfully sued because she was co-signer on our lease. Evidence strongly suggests that David wanted Cowherd to sue our mother so he would have an excuse to be involved in the case and help work against Carol and me. Cowherd immediately dropped its claim against our mother once the eviction was complete.
How low can a family member go to stab you in the back? I can't imagine how one could go any lower than my brother already has gone.
Because my brother's letter was part of a court case, it goes way beyond one sibling expressing distaste, disgust, resentment, jealousy, etc. with another sibling. The letter, addressed to Judge Kelly Halford Rose, was blatantly prejudicial and likely played a major role in the eviction that resulted in one deputy pointing an assault rifle at my head and another breaking Carol's arm. It also was an ex parte communication that never should have been in the record and probably violates Missouri bar rules.
During the eviction hearing, I moved for Rose to recuse herself due to the prejudicial letter. As I expected, she denied the motion -- harrumphing and striking her best self-righteous pose.
Let's go over a few key sections of the letter. You can decide for yourself if it was likely to be prejudicial for the judge to whom it was addressed. You also might ask yourself this question: What on earth was David Shuler thinking when he wrote this, and why does he hold such obvious resentment toward his brother? (Note: I asked David at least three times, maybe four, to serve me with a copy of the letter; as a party to the case, I was entitled to a service copy. He never sent me one, so I got my own copy. If he was proud of his handiwork, why didn't he want to share it? Or is it possible he didn't think I would discover the letter?)
Here is the opening paragraph:
Dear Judge Halford:
I am writing regarding the above referenced case. Roger Shuler is my brother who has been estranged from my family for approximately 25 years. Recently, a family friend helped him relocate to the Missouri area. Unfortunately, my 85 year old mother made the mistake of agreeing to co-sign a lease for Roger with Trent Cowherd Construction. She agreed to pay his moving expenses and his rent for thirteen months to help him get back on his feet. She never dreamed that Roger Shuler would then refuse to pay his rent and/or vacate the property.
Let's interject a few facts here:
(1) I've not been estranged from my family for 25 years; my family has been estranged from me. In 1992, three years after Carol and I had been married, my mother let me know via a phone conversation that Carol "wasn't raised like me" and that "Carol was trying to come between me and my family." I responded by saying that Carol and I had taken five trips as a couple -- one was our honeymoon to Destin, Florida, and the other four were to Springfield, MO, to visit my family. If Carol was trying to "come between me and my family," she sure had a funny way of doing it --agreeing to go on four round trips of more than 1,000 miles each. I had never heard Carol say anything unkind about anyone in my family and her actions told me she thoroughly enjoyed each of our trips to the Midwest. (Note: My mother's curious statements came not long after she and my father, and maybe David, had visited us in Birmingham. It was a political year, and I said something to the effect that I thought it was interesting a guy from Arkansas [Bill Clinton] could become president, given that many of our relatives, including my mother, are from Arkansas, and the state generally has been seen as a backwater with little influence on the national scene. My mother said one of my brothers certainly would not be voting for Clinton because of the abortion-rights issue. I said that was fine with me, but Carol and I supported Clinton and abortion rights. I thought that was the end of it, no problem, but I now think culture-war politics played a large role in our family split. Of course, David mentions none of that in his letter to the judge. He gives the impression that I'm 100 percent responsible for any estrangement.) For the record, I hoped for years that we would receive a genuine apology and life would go on -- with an extended family I had always thought was pretty good. When it became clear no apology was forthcoming, we stayed in touch somewhat with the Missouri side of the family, but we made no more trips to the Midwest. That was my decision, not Carol's. I didn't want to subject her to an ugly environment, and I thought we could do better things with our time.
|Judge Kelly H. Rose|
Here is a second section of my brother's letter, and this one makes me wonder if he actually went to law school -- of if he learned anything while he was there:
My purpose in writing this letter is to let you know that I intend to appear on behalf of my mother. Gondolyn Shuler intends to cooperate with the Petititioner (Trent Cowherd) in the matter and assist in any way to help them regain possession of the rental property currently occupied by Mr. Shuler.
I've read this probably a dozen times or so, and it still blows my mind. What do we learn?
(1) Landlord Trent Cowherd is suing my mother, Gondy Shuler, but she is going to "assist them in any way to help them regain possession of the rental property." How often does a person sue you, and you vow to help them -- against your own son. What kind of mother do I have? I don't have an answer to that question anymore.
(2) David Shuler is admitting that he has no reason to represent Gondy Shuler. His entire goal is to help Trent Cowherd, doing his best to hurt Carol and me in the process.
I don't claim to be an expert on legal ethics, but this sounds real close to a fraud on the court. David Shuler's role in the case was to represent his client, Gondy Shuler, but it's clear his real goal was to help Trent Cowherd.
Gee, I can't understand why I have a hard time trusting anything my brother or mother might say these days.
I did confront my brother via e-mail about his letter, and you might find his response interesting. We will address that in an upcoming post. For now, here is the full letter: