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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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  #1  
Old 06-07-2016, 06:00 PM
goingbacktocourt goingbacktocourt is offline
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Hi,

I have a trial coming up in Sept 2016 and I am looking for help to prepare as I will be representing myself. My ex-wife will have a lawyer so I need all the help I can get.

I have the following questions that I seek clarification on.

Book of Documents: A bound book containing all of the documents that are to be presented as evidence at trial. Copies are made for the opposing parties and the court.

What can or cannot go into the Book of Documents? I have over a hundred emails I want introduced as evidence, can I put them into the Book of Documents?

Can the other side disagree to something going in the Book of Documents?

Once my documents are in the Book of Documents it is my understanding I then ask the court to have them enter as exhibits and this is how they become enter as evidence at trial. Is this correct?

If I want a witness, for example a doctor, to bring a medical file with them to court, do I need to have the witness provide it to the other side in advance, and if so how in advance?

If I plan to testify myself how do the questions I want asked get ask, as I do not have a lawyer to ask me them?

Any other advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:52 PM
somethingelse somethingelse is offline
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Going Back to Court, your book of documents is sometimes called an "Exhibit Brief," I believe.

I think you can put pretty much anything in it but the fact that a document is in your exhibit brief is only the start (more precisely it's the middle step). You need to tell the other side what documents you will be using ahead of time and you need to get documents from your Exhibit Brief into the judge's attention, possibly as an Exhibit.

If you ask for something to become an Exhibit, the other side can object. The judge will then ask you to talk about why it should be allowed as an exhibit and then the judge will rule on whether it is admissible. Things in your Exhibit Brief don't have to become Exhibits for you to talk about them, but if they are crucial to your case, then try to make them Exhibits. With the emails, try to have them all admitted as one exhibit and then talk about them. You need to talk about things (including their context) for them to really be in the record. For example, "This (Exhibit 17) is a group of emails between me and the other party, in which I ask this .... question, which I thought was reasonable. The order in effect requires the other party to respond to a request like this. Unfortunately, as can be seen at the middle of the second page, the other party responded by writing....., which seemed to be just an insult and did not address my request. This went on for a week and then I gave up so myself and our child did not get what the court order entitles us to. This has happened on a number of other occasions, including..."

You have to talk about the documents for them to be in the record. Having a load of carefully organized documents is very helpful to a self-rep because they are talking points- they remind you of what you want to tell the court about. Organize them in the order you want your narrative to unfold and/or thematically.

It is very important to use Requests to Admit and Affidavits of Documents. See the Family Law Rules for details, but here's a bit: With a Request to Admit, you can ask the party to admit facts ahead of time, so they don't have to be argued in court. Possibly more importantly, Requests to Admit can be used to ask the other party to admit that the copies of documents attached to the Request to Admit are genuine. Don't worry if they don't admit it. If during the trial you say a document is true and the other party doesn't disagree, then it's admitted, I think, in most circumstances.

Send the other party or their lawyer an Affidavit of Documents which names all documents you might use during the trial. This tells them that you plan to use these documents so they can't object during the trial that they've never seen the documents. They can ask you to supply copies of any document on the Affidavit of Documents that they don't have.

It is handy to arrange your Document Brief in the same order as your Affidavit of Documents. It is very important that the other party knows well ahead what documents you may be using, because in most circumstances you aren't allowed to ambush them with material they don't know you're going to use. This is disclosure. An exception is during cross-examination, when, to 'refresh someone's memory' about the facts (ie if they're 'forgetful' or evasive), you can use pretty much any document. I think you are not required to disclose material you have with you that you only plan to use in these circumstances but how you use it in those circumstances is very specific.

Bring at least three copies of all documents, organized in binders with identical tabs, to court, but also have another binder with nothing in it but numbered tabs, so you can put documents which become Exhibits into it.

Check the Rules for timelines re Affidavits of Documents and Requests to Admit.

Best to summon the doctor and have the doctor talk about the medical file. You could get a copy of the file (assuming you are entitled to), and then send it with a request to admit, so you're asking the other side to admit it is a genuine copy of the medical record. If they don't respond, after a certain number of days it's assumed to be genuine. Then during the trial you could say, as a witness, "this is a copy of the child's medical record, which the other side has admitted is genuine, and on page 34 it says..."

I am not a lawyer. Please take all of this with a large hand-full of salt. Good luck.

I strongly recommend spending about a hundred and fifty bucks and buying Ontario Courtroom Procedure by Fuerst and Sanderson, available from Lexis Nexis. They also have a Family Law text book, which may be more relevant, but I haven't checked it out.

SE
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:54 PM
somethingelse somethingelse is offline
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...Re the doctor- I think the rules are very specific about timelines for "expert witnesses" and reports they might provide.
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Old 06-10-2016, 01:51 PM
ifonlyihadknown ifonlyihadknown is offline
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If you can afford it, I recommend hiring a lawyer for a few hours to give you an idea what you should prepare, how it should look, and then to review it for you.

The judge will expect to see things in a certain way. You need all the good will you can get and presenting what the judge expects, in the way the judge expects to see it, can only help. It will also give you confidence that you're well prepared.
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