http://www.cln.com/archives/atlanta/newsstand/101098/anews.htm

 

Wendy Titelman

2222 17th Street

Gulfport, Mississippi 39501

228.863.6378

 

April 4, 2001

                                                                       

 

 

Ms. Kellyn O. McGee

State Bar of Georgia                                                    

Office of the General Counsel

800 The Hurt Building

50 Hurt Plaza

Atlanta, Georgia 30303

 

RE: Grievance filed against Ms. Kathy Portnoy, Bar No. 585150

 

Dear Ms. McGee:

 

I am responding to Kathy Portnoy’s response to my grievance against her, which was filed January 29, 2001.

 

I have found that exact terminology in these issues is critical, and, therefore, I am correcting many statements made by Ms. Portnoy which have some truth, but are not represented in total accuracy.  So please bear with me as I share with you.  Also there is much I dispute; and thus, I have included additional documentation for your summary.  I am presenting this in the outline format that Ms. Portnoy has used.

 

Also I have discovered since I filed this grievance that Dr. Elizabeth King is a member of your Grievance Council.  I am requesting that she be recused from this review, as my case also  involves Dr. King and her use of unethical practices pertaining to my children and me.

 

 

Background

 

In regard to the background that Ms. Portnoy gives, I would like to make some corrections and give additional information. 

 

I sought Kathy Portnoy’s services to file a motion to change custody and to represent me in a contempt of court that had been filed against me. 

 

During the divorce proceedings my children - not I- made various charges against my husband alleging that he was sexually abusing them.  Various doctors contacted DFCS and made reports.  DFCS contacted me as a result.  There were also others who witnessed abusive behavior and contacted DFCS as well.  I know my children better than anyone else in this world.  I believed them, and I tried to get them protection.  No accepted professional protocol was followed in this case regarding the evaluation of the allegations of abuse of my children.  The children were never removed from their father and the investigations were closed primarily due to the purported “passing” of a polygraph test by Andrew Titelman.  There is evidence in the files that Diane Woods, the GAL, and Dr. Elizabeth King, the court appointed psychologist misused their power, and through negligence caused my children to remain in an abusive situation.

 

Ms. Portnoy states, “The children were placed in foster care in Mississippi after Ms. Titelman was incarcerated on a federal warrant for kidnaping.”  This is not true.  During a scheduled visitation with my children, while in Mississippi my children were seen by Dr. Don Matherne.  Dr. Matherne said if the children were returned to their father that irreparable damage would be done and/or sexual abuse would continue.  The matter was taken before the chancery court in Mississippi on September 5, 2000.  The court immediately took emergency jurisdiction of my children and placed them in a shelter pending a hearing.  Andy Titelman was notified of the hearing.  Several days later I was informed that a warrant had been issued out of Georgia for my arrest for kidnaping.  I was arrested September 14, 2000.  These federal charges have since been dropped. 

 

The Harrison County Chancery Court in Mississippi could not hear the case because of its interpretation of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.  The judge ordered that the children be put in foster care in Georgia and that the reports from the court and Dr. Matherne be given to DFCS and to Judge Bodiford prior to the hearing.  He was very concerned for the children and their safety.  Diane Woods and Dr. King were court ordered, in a consent order which Ms. Woods signed, to refrain from discussing these current sexual abuse complaints with the children.  Yet, Ms. Woods admits that she promptly violated the order.

 

John Mayoue, the children’s father’s attorney,  filed a contempt of court action against me, and without any Rule Nisi or notification of any kind, an emergency hearing was called by Diane Woods for September 20, 2000, in unethical ex parte contact with Judge Bodiford.  Diane Woods, Pam Gray, John Mayoue and Andy Titelman were in attendance.  Through these illegal proceedings it was ruled that I was in contempt of court, all my parental rights were removed, and the children were returned to Andy Titelman.  Also, it was ordered that the Mississippi reports be filed in Diane Woods office so that they could not be made part of the public record.

 

A hearing was scheduled for October 2, 2000.  Ms. Portnoy told me not to be present for that hearing, as she needed more time to prepare and was going to ask for a continuance.  A continuance was granted to October 4, 2000.

 

Mr. Mayoue asked the court to make me responsible for legal fees and expenditures for Diane Woods’s, Dr. Elizabeth King’s and Lorita Whitaker’s actions in Mississippi in the amount of $56,518.64, even though the law states that this must be determined by the courts of Mississippi.

1. 

 

(Ms. Titelman contends that I was employed to represent her in an action for contempt and to “file a motion to modify custody based on new abuse information and/or to file a FRCP 60(b) Motion.”)

 

I employed Kathy Portnoy as my attorney after I had conversed with her for approximately 30 minutes on the phone at her home (her home phone number had been advertised in a publication as an attorney with experience in child abuse), and my attorney in Mississippi, Laurie Caldwell, had conversed with her by phone.  I shared with her that my greatest concern was for my children and their safety.  I told her about the history, the abuse reports, the use of Parental Alienation Syndrome, False Memory Syndrome and the claim of my mental illness to take my children away from me and to protect an abuser.  I also shared with her the new evidence of abuse and the actions in Mississippi.  I asked her to speak with Laurie Caldwell, who could tell her the legal side of the issues that needed to be immediately addressed.  Ms. Caldwell told her that motions needed to be filed immediately to modify custody.  She also shared her experience with Diane Woods while in Mississippi and the events that transpired with the warrants for arrest that had been issued on me.  Please see Ms. Caldwell’s affidavit as Exhibit 2A. 

 

Ms. Portnoy states I hired her solely to represent me in a contempt action.  Evidence shows otherwise.   Brenda Godfrey’s memo dated 10/11/00, states that they were in the process of drafting a contempt of court for financial issues and a modification for change of custody.  See Exhibit 2B.  Neither of these were done, however.  Yet, it certainly was the issue of conversation that both Laurie Caldwell and I requested to be completed.

 

Ms. Portnoy said she knew all the players involved - Diane Woods, Elizabeth King, and Jacqueline Hill.  She said that she was not afraid to go after Diane Woods and Elizabeth King.  She also said that Diane Woods had way too much power and needed to be challenged. She portrayed to both Ms. Caldwell and to me that she wanted to tackle this and would file the motions and represent me in the contempt charges.  She stated that Joe Winters would represent me on the State of Georgia criminal charges. 

 

Never did I make money the issue.  The issue at hand was always the protection of my children. Ms. Portnoy was made aware that financially I had been depleted.  She was also made aware that my mother was helping by paying the legal fees, that friends were helping by raising monies for me, that Mothers Alliance for the Rights of Children and Justice for Children were involved in the case helping me to raise monies to fight this battle.  Ms. Portnoy at no time told me that it was inadvisable to go forward in any legal action as a result of limitation of funds.  If she had, I would have again told her my wishes - to file every motion we could and do everything possible to get the children out of their abusive situation. This is what I had shared from the first time I spoke with her to the last time I spoke with her.

 

 

2.

 

(Ms. Titelman alleges that I had a conflict of interest in representing her based because, she alleges, I did not believe that the PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME is junk science.)

 

I did not allege that Ms. Portnoy does not believe that the PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME is junk science.  I am sure Ms. Portnoy is very aware that it is junk science.  She was supplied by me with numerous articles regarding this and was quite familiar with PAS when we first spoke.  We did not talk about whether I fit the profile or not.  We talked about this pro-pedophilia propaganda having been used in my case.  Ms. Portnoy could not have determined that it was not a factor of any significance or import in my case at that time, as she did not have any of my files or case information other than what Ms. Caldwell and I shared with her over the telephone.  However, I later made available to her the transcript from the emergency hearing when my children were taken away from me.  See Exhibit 2C.  If Ms. Portnoy had examined the files more closely when she received them she could determine very quickly that Parental Alienation Syndrome was the entire basis for the children being removed from me, and that mental illness played in as a factor associated with Parental Alienation Syndrome because I believed my children.

 

The application for appeal was filed without my review or knowledge of what had been filed.  My attorney had been in Hawaii, and I was not able to get in touch with her.  There were several reasons given for the appeal, including abuse.  The reasons given were valid however were not all inclusive.  The use of Parental Alienation Syndrome was one of several factors that an appeal should have been granted.  A supplemental motion was to be filed.

 

3.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that I ignored evidence of abuse.)

 

I do not complain that Ms. Portnoy ignored evidence of abuse.  I stated, “There was also a lot of discussion and evidence of abuse that was given over to Ms. Portnoy from several psychologists and witnesses including a current report of abuse from a highly respected forensic psychologist in Mississippi.”  The sentences preceding and following this sentence are not related to “evidence of abuse.”  I simply made a statement of fact. 

 

However, throughout the period that Ms. Portnoy was supposedly representing me, I asked several times if she did not believe the children had been abused because she was doing nothing to set an emergency hearing and to file a motion to modify custody.  Each time I asked I was assured Ms. Portnoy believed me and that the motion would be made in court and that we could not get in court any sooner than what was already on the calendar.  I accepted her words, yet have learned since that emergency hearings are just that - emergency, and are heard immediately.

 

 

 

4.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that this firm did not properly represent her at an October 2 court appearance and at the subsequent oral argument on October 4, 2000.)

 

Ms. Godfrey fails to report much in her memo dated 10/2/00.  See Exhibit 2D.  I called Ms. Godfrey on October 2, 2000 as a result of several phone calls I had received from friends and family who were in court on that day when Brenda Godfrey represented me for a continuance.  On the advice of Kathy Portnoy, I was not in attendance.  Ms. Godfrey and I had never met or discussed my case.

 

It was reported by several that Ms. Godfrey stated to the court that there was no concern about the children because they were in a safe place with their father.  It was also reported that John Mayoue, opposing counsel, went to Ms. Godfrey and asked her if he should file a lien on my house, and she told him, yes.  She also told my family and friends that I owed an apology to the court.  Notarized letters from these individuals with their statements may be found in Exhibit 2E.

 

Furthermore, in my conversation with Ms. Godfrey when I addressed these concerns she attacked me saying that while she was in John Mayoue’s office looking at the file, that she saw evidence that I had coached the children to say these things.  I was appalled when I found out that Ms. Godfrey went to John Mayoue’s office to discuss my case and then assumed the opposition’s position.  I told Ms. Godfrey I did not want her working in my case again.  When I addressed this with Ms. Portnoy she acted as though it had not occurred, and she stated to me that she would not have taken my case unless she believed me and in my case.  In Brenda Godfrey’s memo to Kathy Portnoy on11/28/00, Ms. Godfrey indicates with concern that  I had requested the transcripts from the hearings of September 20, 2000 and October 2, 2000.  They debate in the memo not giving these transcripts to me. Withholding information like this would indicate there is something they do not want me to see.  Please see the memo in Exhibit 2F.

 

The transcript of October 4, 2000, pg. 6, lines 1-7 and pg. 7, lines 2-6 and 15-16 give Ms. Portnoy’s direct statements regarding ending all litigation and putting a closure to this case by taking it back to the final decree totally contrary to all of our conversations.  When I addressed this with Ms. Portnoy, she said that her statements didn’t mean anything and did no damage to my case.  Other attorneys that have reviewed this have stated otherwise and are puzzled as to why she would do this.                                      

5.

 

(Ms. Titelman implies that I dismissed her appeal improvidently and without her approval.)

 

I was told at the hearing on October 4, 2000 that if I didn’t drop the appeal I wouldn’t be able to see my children.  This conversation occurred in court, whispered to me through Brenda Godfrey, while Ms. Portnoy was suggesting to the Court that the appeal would be dropped.  Ms. Portnoy stated to the Court that the reason to drop the appeal was “to end all litigation.”  This is located in the transcript of October 4, 2000, pg. 6, lines 1-7 and pg. 7, lines 2-6 and 15-16.  In a meeting in December in Ms. Portnoy’s office, she explained to Richard Ducote, a Louisiana attorney who accompanied me to the meeting, and me the reason the appeal was dropped was because it would never be granted and was a waste of time because of the Georgia system of appeals.  Three different and reasons were given.

 

The application for appeal was filed without my review or knowledge of what had been filed.  My attorney had been in Hawaii, and I was not able to get in touch with her.  There were several reasons given for the appeal including abuse, not just that Judge Bodiford should have heard the case.  The reasons given were valid reasons, however were not all inclusive.  The use of Parental Alienation Syndrome was one of several factors that an appeal should have been granted.  A supplementary report was to be filed.

 

An appeal challenges legal errors made by the trial court, and if it was wrong, then to right that decision.  I appealed because I believe that much wrong has been done in my case.  Ms. Portnoy had no right to take that away from XXX, XOXO and me, especially on her own presumptions that I should not be relitigating issues that I had already lost. 

 

I assume this is why Ms. Portnoy had Dr. Thomas call me in December, 2000.  He  told me that we were not going to litigate issues that had already been litigated, and that I had to be willing “to play the game” or never see my children again.  He said that whether there was abuse or not we could never mention abuse again, and that if I ever did, that the Georgia courts would rule against me, that’s the way Georgia is.  He asked, “Are you willing to play the game?”

 

6.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that I misrepresented my reason for seeking to continue the November 20 hearing; that I did not seek the continuance for additional time to prepare the case but because my husband was in the hospital.)

 

Ms. Portnoy received $15,000 retainer on September 28, 2000.  I was told immediately by Brenda Godfrey to pay Diane Woods $5,000 and Elizabeth King $5,000.  I was then told to pay Dr. Thomas $5,000.  Ms. Godfrey told me that this legal battle would be very expensive and that I needed to work on raising monies.  In less than two weeks after I had given them $15,000, according to Brenda Godfrey’s memo dated 10/11/00 she was requesting $15,000 more to replenish the retainer. No one could believe it.  There was no justification.  In November I was aware that they would not represent me unless I paid them an additional $15,000.  My mother agreed and made arrangements with their office on November 9, 2000 to do so.  I then received a phone call from Brenda Godfrey stating that Ms. Portnoy did not have time to prepare for the hearing scheduled for November 20th, that she needed more time than I had given her and that her husband was in the hospital in intensive care, amongst other problems.  I was not happy nor acquiescing to this.  But Ms. Godfrey stated Ms. Portnoy could not represent me properly at this time and said we would have to continue the hearing.  I had no choice. 

 


I was very upset when I learned that the soonest date that we could get back into court was January 12, 2001.  I requested motions to be filed immediately and for an emergency hearing.  I was told this was the soonest we could get into court and that the motions would be presented in court on that date.

 

It was never discussed with me in October or November that Dr. Thomas was to evaluate my mental status.  This had already been done by numerous psychologists and psychiatrists including Dr. Matherne in September of 2000 because of Dr. Elizabeth King’s statements that I was mentally ill. She was, however, following Richard Gardner’s bogus and discredited PAS philosophy that mothers who allege sexual abuse during custody battles are guilty of PAS and have paranoid personality disorders.  Dr. Parsons, Dr. Hill, Dr. Franko, Dr. Cheatham and Dr. Matherne all examined me and reported that I had no signs of any mental illness.  Toward the end of December, Ms. Portnoy requested that I call Dr. Thomas to schedule a date to have testing completed on me.  This is the first time this was ever mentioned, and never prior to the November 20th hearing.  As a footnote, the results of that test have been analyzed and show no mental illness or condition and there is nothing that would suggest that I am a danger to any person, much less my children.

 

Bruce Callner may not have been in the hospital when Ms. Portnoy asked to continue the November 20, 2000 hearing, but he was according to Brenda Godfrey when she told me Ms. Portnoy didn’t have time to prepare for the hearing.

 

7.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that I did not return a call she made to me on or about December 18 and instead faxed her a letter suggesting she obtain other counsel if she was not satisfied with my services.)

 

It was rare that I spoke with Ms. Portnoy.  When I called I usually was put on the phone with Brenda Godfrey.  I was always told that only Ms. Portnoy could answer the questions that I had.  I came to the point that I refused to talk to Ms. Godfrey and requested Ms. Portnoy to return my calls.  I did not get return phone calls, and I did not get answers to my questions.

 

I asked my friend, Richard Ducote, who is an attorney, to meet with me and Kathy Portnoy so that he might help me to determine why I was unable to accomplish what needed to be done through her.  She agreed to meet with us on December 7, 2000.  We traveled to Atlanta specifically for this purpose.  We met with Ms. Portnoy at 9:30 a.m. and left prior to noon.  We asked why the motions had not been filed.  We asked why the appeal had been dropped.  We asked what her strategy was.  We asked what her understanding of contempt of court was and how she was going to counter this in court.  Her responses to us made no sense, and we determined that Ms. Portnoy had no strategy and that she did not know what she was doing.  Mr. Ducote suggested to her the importance of filing certain motions and tried without success to help her understand the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt.  She seemed unaware that there were defenses to contempt of court charges.  Upon concluding the meeting we determined that I had to get the matter in court, but
needed additional support.  We began to contact expert witnesses to help us.  There was no meeting of the minds as Ms. Portnoy puts it.  (As an aside to Ms. Pornoy’s aside, I did not ask for Brenda Godfrey to attend our meeting, nor should I be charged for young attorneys to be trained.)


 

Beyond our meeting in Ms. Portnoy’s office and one telephone call that was supposed to be a teleconference with Dr. Thomas, Ms. Portnoy and I had no oral communications.  Ms. Portnoy chose to leave me out of the teleconference with Dr. Thomas and spoke with each of us separately and then had Dr. Thomas call me to state that I must be willing to play the game.  In the office meeting I told her what I wanted to be done.  It was not done, and I questioned why.  I also left messages regarding Diane Woods’s and Andy Titelman’s contempt by not allowing me to see my children per the final order.  I left messages stating I wanted an emergency hearing immediately to address abuse and visitation.  I left messages regarding getting Christmas presents to the children.  The answer I got back was through the letter dated December 18, 2000.  This letter did not address any of my questions, but gave me further indication that she refused to file the motions that had been discussed over and over and contempt of court for visitation and financial issues.  Again, I attempted to call Ms. Portnoy.  Her secretary put me on hold then came back to the phone and told me that Ms. Portnoy said to tell me that if I wasn’t happy with her to go find another attorney.  See Exhibit 2G.

 

Ms. Portnoy states in her response that we would “challenge custody if and when she had the facts and evidence to support a viable challenge.”  We have the post-divorce evidence through Dr. Mathern’s reports.  Ms. Portnoy has already stated in her response that this is reason to present it to the court for a modification of custody (at some point).  However, in this area of her response she now suggests that there are no facts or evidence to support modification of custody.

 

I have enclosed a tape, indicated as Exhibit 2H, which includes excerpts from a taped telephone conference with Brenda Godfrey, Joe Winter, Laurie Caldwell and myself on January 3, 2001.  Mr. Winters stated that he could not represent me at the January 12th hearing and because of my experience with Brenda Godfrey, Mr. Winters suggested that it was not an option for Ms. Godfrey to represent me either.  I agreed.  Under the circumstances, again, I had no choice but to continue the hearing.  Ms. Portnoy’s husband was dying.  This tape also addresses questions about motions and contempts being filed, as well as Ms. Portnoy’s use of PAS in her practice.

 

8.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that Ms. Godfrey advised her that I used the Parental Alienation Syndrome to defend men accused of molesting their children.)

 

Ms. Portnoy’s response in paragraphs 2 and 7 do not address this issue, and is specifically designed to dishonestly evade the question. Contrary to Ms. Portnoy’s assertion, Ms. Godfrey’s oath does not state anything about parental alienation syndrome and whether Ms. Portnoy uses it or not.  However, the tape marked as Exhibit 2H, has an excerpt on it whereby Ms. Godfrey answered the question that was contained in a fax of January 2, 2001 (Have you ever used “Parental Alienation Syndrome”as a defense on behalf of any of your clients who you believed were falsely accused of sexual abuse?).  Her answer was affirmative, that Ms. Portnoy does use PAS in her practice.!

9.

 

(Ms. Titelman complains that I had a conflict of interest under Rule 1.7 of the Rules of Professional conduct related to my position with regard to the Parental Alienation Syndrome.)

 

Ms. Portnoy’s response in paragraphs 2, 7 and 8 do not address this issue, and are clearly designed to be deceptive.

 

I became alarmed when in December, while delivering Christmas gifts for my children to Ms. Portnoy’s office, I asked Ms. Portnoy’s secretary, Amy Broderick if there were many moms they had worked with who, like me, were not able to see their children.  Her answer was, “never, but they had dads that they worked with that were not able to see their children because of false allegations of abuse.  I became concerned that I was in the legal hands of a father’s rights attorney and that possibly that was the reason I was not able to get Ms. Portnoy to do what needed to be done. I wondered if this was the reason she was unwilling to attack or to address Parental Alienation Syndrome and False Memory Syndrome.

 

These things indicate this to be true:

 

Brenda Godfrey made statements that the children were in a safe place with their father and told John Mayoue to place a lien on my home.They had me spend monies that should never have been spent, even more than what had actually been billed, depleting me of financial resources.Ms. Portnoy stated in court that she wanted to end all litigation and get this back to the final decree, leaving XXX and XOXO in an abusive situation.Ms. Portnoy dropped my appeal with no apparent reason.Ms. Portnoy told me she would file motions and contempt charges and then never did so.Ms. Portnoy and Brenda Godfrey attempted to put me on supervised visitation in lieu of filing contempt of court motions on those who were wrongfully blocking my visitation with my children, even after researching and discovering that only the court had the authority to do this.After bringing Dr. Thomas in to examine Dr. King’s work, she then said Dr. Thomas was not going to attack Diane Woods’s and Dr. King’s incompetent reliance on PAS,  but was going to “safely” introduce me back to my children, as though I am a danger to them.Ms. Portnoy charged me for work that I have never seen, nor approved, nor has been filed with the Cobb County Superior Court.Ms. Godfrey’s response to the question about the use of PAS shows a forbidden issue conflict of interest.  Ms. Portnoy cannot ethically use PAS to assist fathers accused of molesting children, while at the same time attack PAS in my case, without first advising me and her male clients of the conflict and obtaining the consent of all.  None of this was ever disclosed to me by Ms. Portnoy.

 

It is clearly indicated in Ms. Portnoy’s response to this grievance that she questions that I may be seriously mentally disturbed as reported by Dr. Elizabeth King following Richard Gardner’s PAS philosophy.  In other words, she is willing to hang me to divert the attention from her own unethical behavior.

 

All of these would indicate a conflict of interest and serious misrepresentation of a client.

 

10.

 

(Ms. Titelman claims that the fees charged were unreasonable and excessive.)

 

There were two telephone conversations with Ms. Portnoy prior to my hiring her:  (1) I called her on September 24, 2000 at her home and spent approximately 30 minutes on the phone with her and (2) Laurie Caldwell spent approximately 20-30 minutes on the phone with her on or about September 25, 2000 as one lawyer to another to tell her what needed to be done in my case.  On September 28, 2000 I employed Ms. Portnoy and my mother paid her $15,000. 

 

The billing indicates that I was billed for services prior to my employing her.  Starting September 25, 2000, I was charged for 1 hour conference with client and Mississippi counsel and conference with B. Godfrey; on September 26th, I was charged 1 hour for (I assume) B. Godfrey to meet with Kathy Portnoy regarding new client; on September 27th, I was charged .40 hour for telephone call to Cobb County Clerk’s office; and September 28th, I was charged 1.10 hours for review and conference with B. Godfrey.  You can see by the billing that I certainly was charged prior to my retaining Ms. Portnoy, mostly for double billing in-house conferences.  The billing throughout October, November and December reflect many similar charges.

 

Ms. Portnoy was given one large notebook with all the orders and actions and abuse reports and history of the case that she had to review.  This also included the child custody evaluation, the GAL report and the final decree all laid out in a very organized and easy manner of reading.  Divorce had been filed in July of 1998.  She had in hand everything needed to understand the case.  When she received the files from Mr. Dupree’s office, the same things were presented to her again along with some correspondence, depositions and court transcripts.

 

Ms. Portnoy contends that I was in contempt of court by “removing the children to Mississippi to avoid the Georgia judgment.”  This is totally false and exposes an attorney who was not representing my best interests.

 

The unfinished “trial brief” in Ms. Portnoy’s Exhibit “I” was seen by me for the first time upon receipt of this response to grievance.  I have called the Cobb County Superior Court Clerk, and it was never filed.  These issues and defenses were never presented.  It appears to me that this was generated very recently as a project designed to defend against the paucity of work product in the file.  Also, in our meeting of December 7, 2000 Ms. Portnoy did not know the difference between civil contempt and criminal contempt.  This unfinished brief exposes the research on this and defines this very well.  Clearly, this brief was produced after our December meeting.

Ms. Portnoy received $15,000 retainer on September 28, 2000.  According to Brenda Godfrey’s memo dated 10/11/00 she was requesting $15,000 more, less than 2 weeks after first retaining Ms. Portnoy.  In November I became aware that they would not represent me at the November 20th hearing unless I paid them an additional $15,000 which my mother made arrangements to pay on November 9, 2000.  This is most unreasonable.

 

Also, Joe Winter requested that I pay him $1,000 in December.  I now see that his charges are reflected in Ms. Portnoy’s billing too, but the $1,000 additional monies that they received was not acknowledged.  I would like to amend my grievance in what I have paid to this firm as $31,000 instead of $30,000 which Ms. Portnoy has not accounted for.

 

Numerous complaints from me were made regarding the amount of money that was being required.  However, I had not had the opportunity to examine their billing and to question them on each hour they had billed.  I was at their mercy as the attorney of record of whom said they would represent me in these very serious issues.  I was totally unaware of the numerous in-house conferences, conferences with Dr. Thomas and conferences regarding supervised visitation which were being charged to me until I received billing one to three months after they occurred.  I was billed for a preparation and research of a brief that was never presented.  I was billed for a motion regarding the guardian ad litem which I have also confirmed was never filed.  I was billed for speaking with Ms. Portnoy’s secretary while delivering Christmas gifts to their office and putting them in the courier in the parking garage.  Delivering Christmas presents for my children to their office cost me $737.50 per Ms. Portnoy’s statement.!

 

The billing also reflects that I have been charged for communications for which I could never get any response, and the same requests made over and over again, to the extent that I took the time and money to travel with another attorney to meet with Ms. Portnoy personally in order to get these actions going.  Still there was no action to represent me in a manner that was befitting of one’s own counsel.  Yet the charges represent those attempts.

 

Ms. Portnoy has provided you with a “volume of work effort that went into Ms. Titelman’s case” as Exhibit “L” in her response.  What she has provided you is work that other attorneys have done - Hylton Dupree, Laurie Caldwell, Adrienne McFall, John Mayoue, and Elizabeth King.  Very little is work that was completed by her or her firm, and most of this is duplicated several times within this Exhibit.

 

The bottom line is that I have paid out $31,000 less $1,449.86 reimbursement which was received by me just last week leaving a grand total of  $29,550.14 paid to Ms. Portnoy.  And for what?  For two brief court appearances, from which great damage was done, and a bunch of convoluted communications that only harmed me and my children.  As a result of this representation I am in a worse place than I was in before.  Judge Flournoy, the judge on my criminal case, has not heard my case yet, but he stated at a Motions Hearing on February 23, 2001 that if I were an innocent woman, a motion for change of custody would have been filed immediately.  Laurie Caldwell did this in Mississippi, and we asked Kathy Portnoy to do the same.  Initially she agreed to do so, and then did nothing.  There is nothing reasonable or fair about this.

11.

 

This is an additional heading that I have added to cover more information that has been revealed by the files that Ms. Portnoy has provided for the Grievance Counsel beyond what has already been shared within this letter.

 

Ms. Godfrey’s memo of 10/02/00 to Kathy Portnoy reveals to me for the first time the real “strategy” as a suggested plan of action with my case.  This memo is found in Exhibit 2D.  Ms. Godfrey states: “Operate under the March order which gives our client phone contact and supervised visitation, agree to allow the phone conversations be taped.  Let Mayoue worry about perfecting service for the contempt.  Then, we wait it out and hope our client “behaves” during visitation and work towards unsupervised regular visitation.”  This is highly insulting to and patronizing of me - the theme throughout their representation of me.  Ms. Portnoy fought to put me on supervised visitation even though on October 4, 2000, it was agreed that everything was nullified,  taking it back to the final decree which allowed me unsupervised visitation with my children every other weekend and phone contact without the interference of anyone, and she ignored my every request to file an emergency contempt of court motion against Diane Woods, Betty King and Andy Titelman.

 

Also indicated in this memo is a notation that states, “Wendy’s words and actions are very inconsistent.  Hylton described her a “Religious Nut.”  Mr. Dupree was made aware of this and denies such a statement.  Please see his letter in Exhibit 2I.  I find it very interesting that Ms. Godfrey would make this determination of a person she had never met and had talked with for the first time that day.  Basically, it shows she was attempting to discredit me in order to cover up what she had done in court that afternoon.  She did not know that my family and friends were in court until afterwards.  Each of them has stated that she was very surprised to learn they were there, and that she became very upset.

 

Also on 11/29/00 Keith Siver wrote a memo to Kathy Portnoy regarding his research as to whether the GAL or therapist could determine modification of visitation privileges.  Ms. Portnoy had in her hands information which showed, “It is the trial court’s responsibility to determine whether the evidence is such that a modification or suspension of custody/visitation privileges is warranted, and the responsibility for making that decision cannot be delegated to another, no matter the degree of the delegatee’s expertise or familiarity with the case.”  Please see Exhibit 2J.  Even with this information, unknown to me at the time, Ms. Portnoy continued to make phone calls and communications with supervisory agencies, Dr. Thomas, Diane Woods, John Mayoue and Pam Gray in order to establish me on supervised visitation. She refused to respond to my requests that an emergency contempt of court motion be filed against Diane Woods, Betty King and Andy Titelman for their disallowing me to see my children per the final order.  Besides many phone calls, I also wrote letters to this effect.  Please see Exhibit 2K.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

The evidence that has already been presented, coupled with Ms. Portnoy’s files that she shares in her response, gives every indication that Ms. Portnoy and her firm have acted unethically as set forth in my complaint.  I hired her to file motions that were never filed.  I hired her to legally represent me in a contempt charge that is still hanging over my head.  I hired her to file contempt charges against my ex-husband regarding financial issues, and these were never filed.  I asked her to file contempt charges against Diane Woods, Elizabeth King and Andy Titelman for not allowing me to visit with my daughters.  I asked for an emergency hearing.  None of this was done.

 

Ms. Portnoy has been very deceptive.  This is not “zealous representation of a client within the bounds of law and ethics.”  This is not a “valuable service” that was given to me.  Much damage has been done.  My complaints against Kathy Portnoy and her firm are well founded and quite warranted.

 

Ms. Portnoy has failed in her fiduciary duty to advocate for me as her client.  The lives of my two young children and me have been severely affected.  We have been hurt as a result of incompetence, total disregard to all that was agreed upon, lack of communication, not acting with diligence and promptness, the lack of representation due to issue conflict of interest and excessive fees, all direct violations of professional conduct.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

Wendy Titelman

WT:ms

Encl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit

2K