An appeal to Maine’s Supreme Court: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521 – the Lawyers Debate

We welcome this chance to publish the final two steps in an appeal to Maine’s Supreme Court, the Dalton vs Dalton case. Step II, which follows here, is attorney Susan Bixby’s reply to Beth Maloney’s original brief.  Maloney’s brief, published here earlier, got the appeal process started. Step III is Maloney’s rebuttal of Bixby.

Along with our presentation here of the final two steps, we offer our layman’s observations and reactions to the ‘arcana’ of legal strategy used by these lawyers for a family court appeal.  Our non-expert, “grass roots” response to both pieces of writing is philosophical and common sense – not legal.  The philosophical flaws we see in both documents are about the basic human assumptions, the investigative process and the judicial decisions behind the  classic lawyerly strategies for how the “contentious divorce” (and its appeal) gets played.  For what it’s worth, here is our personal take on the final two lawyerly exchanges in the Dalton v Dalton debate:


As we read it, Ms Bixby uses an all too common divorce strategy: to communicate by strong  inference that suburban housewife and mother of three children, Sarah Dalton, is a dangerous woman around children.  You may note that Bixby carefully comes close to the line of actually charging child abuse, but doesn’t ever  cross it.  In her well designed response to the Maloney brief, Bixby strongly hints that, if Ms Dalton were left alone with her kids, God alone knows what bad – but unspecified – things might happen.  In tone it is all very subjunctive, speculative and scary.  She never crosses the line dividing hints of possible abuse from actual charges of abuse – for good reason.  It would end the family court hearings and – after investigation, might place the charge in criminal court, where a trial by jury would probably clear Ms Dalton of the “hints” of abuse issue.

Clearly, Ms Bixby’s client , Mr. Dalton, is indirectly represented as wanting an “exclusive” – all of his children all of the time. No sharing. No concern about the children’s need for a maternal parent. It is a hardball, legalistic “abuse game” right out of the movie, “Divorce Corp“. Take no prisoners! The Bixby presentation raises the question in this reader’s mind: “What exactly makes Ms Dalton ‘unfit’ as a mother , and after all of these years as a mother is she suddenly ‘nouveau’ abusive?”  And, another puzzle, why is she presented as, so far, being  immune to corrective therapy?  It is so stereotyped a legal strategy of demonizing a custody opponent as almost to be out of the tabloids!

Bixby, by her numerous claims that Maloney has ignored the “Rules of Evidence” more than implies that her legal opponent is dim and ignorant of how to use the “Rules of Evidence”.  Tut tut!  As non-lawyers, what can we say?  The always meticulous, compulsive, detail-oriented Maloney, it is implied, needs to go back to the “Rules” book and bone up!  There is also an unmistakable hint from Bixby that Maloney needs lessons in legal etiquette and propriety. “Aggressive lawyering” is the operant phrase but there is more innuendo of absent professional refinement.

But read Part II, the Bixby reply and see what you think: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521 Bixby’s response.

To read the initial brief that was filed in February 2014 please follow this link: An appeal to Maine’s Supreme Court: Dalton Vs. Dalton CUM-13-521.

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