Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ex-wife who tried to have husband killed contests fees

STEVE LASH

Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

April 1, 2008 7:14 PM

The Court of Special Appeals heard arguments Tuesday that a woman who tried to have her then-estranged husband killed should not have to pay his attorneys’ fees in the couple’s child-custody case.

Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr., a Court of Appeals judge specially assigned to the case, intensely questioned the wife’s attorney, saying that in light of the shooting, the lower court judge presumably had a legitimate basis for concluding that Elsa D. Newman’s claim that her husband had sexually abused their two sons was false and filed in bad faith.

Such a conclusion was not “clearly erroneous” and gave Montgomery County Circuit Judge James L. Ryan, who has since retired, grounds for awarding attorney’s fees, Murphy added.

“That’s a pretty significant fact,” Murphy said of the effect Newman’s plot to have her now ex-husband Arlen J. Slobodow killed would have on a judge hearing Newman’s claims of sexual abuse.

A judge could reasonably doubt the credibility of a wife’s allegations about her husband after she has tried “to wipe him off the face of the Earth, for God’s sakes,” added Murphy.

In response, Newman’s attorney said a woman’s plot to kill her husband does not necessarily undermine the credibility of a claim of sexual abuse by the man, and may in fact lend the allegation more credence.

“About half of the mothers would probably say ‘I’d shoot him’” if asked in a survey what they would do if they discovered their husband was abusing their children, said attorney Paul Victor Jorgensen, a solo practitioner in Middletown.

But Murphy appeared unconvinced, telling Jorgensen he would have a very difficult time convincing the three-judge Court of Special Appeals panel that Ryan erroneously awarded attorney’s fees to the man Newman had plotted to kill.

Bad faith

Newman, a lawyer, is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a plot to have a friend shoot Slobodow during the course of their divorce and child-custody feud. Slobodow was shot in the right leg during a 4 a.m. attack in his home on Jan. 7, 2002.

The attack was committed by Margery Lemb Landry, who was godmother to the couple’s two elementary-school-age boys, Herbert and Lars. Landry is also serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in September 2002 to assault, burglary and reckless endangerment.

The attack occurred as Newman and Slobodow were more than two years into divorce and child-custody proceedings, during which Newman accused Slobodow of having sexually assaulted their children. The divorce was granted three weeks after the shooting.

A year later, Newman was ordered to pay Slobodow’s attorney’s fees of $130,000 on the grounds that her claims of abuse were made in bad faith. Newman appealed the order.

A case for abuse

Jorgensen argued to the intermediate court that his client had never had the opportunity to fully air her claim that Slobodow had abused their children and, therefore, Ryan had no firm basis for deciding the claim was made in bad faith. Newman wanted to put on a case of abuse before the shooting but “events overtook” her, including her arrest, trial and incarceration, said Jorgensen.

But Murphy said imprisoned convicts can and often do exercise their ongoing right to file civil claims and have their day in court.

“That’s her own fault” for not following up on her allegations of abuse, Murphy told Jorgensen. Murphy added that nowhere in the voluminous litigation record is there any indication that Newman ever asked the circuit court to permit her to put on evidence of abuse, or that a trial judge had rejected such a request.

A judge could reasonably conclude from Newman’s failure to make such a request that “she didn’t want to show her hand that she didn’t have any evidence to support these allegations” of abuse, Murphy said.

Unjustified claims

He was far less critical in questioning Slobodow’s lawyer, Stacy B. Talbott, who urged the court to preserve the award of attorney’s fees. Talbott said Ryan’s award was valid in light of Newman’s “baseless, false allegations of sexual abuse,” without which Slobodow would not have had to pay his attorneys so much.

Murphy asked Talbott if attorney’s fees are appropriate in divorce and child-custody cases, which are very often emotional and can involve wild allegations in which one parent might sincerely believe abuse is occurring if they see even a cut on one of their children.

“It’s a sad fact … when there is marital strife,” Murphy said. “The emotional price in these cases is frightening.”

Talbott, a solo practitioner in Rockville, responded that attorney’s fees are often awarded in family-law cases when a claim is unjustified.

The other two judges sitting on the Court of Special Appeals panel, Arrie W. Davis and Sally D. Adkins, were largely silent during the argument session.

The case is Newman v. Slobodow, September Term 2002, No. 02846.


Original Article-

Maryland Daily Record

4 comments:

wommon4justice said...

Dear Disgusted with the System:

Me, too. I have heard extensively from professional people concerning the Elsa Newman Case. There are, in reality, many people like me, who believe her innocent and believe her children are living in a hell of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

They disclosed these things to their mother. I have a list several pages long--nobody could make up that s***--of things the father has done to those boys. Plus taking porno pictures and videos of them.

I am working at several sites on the net to make Elsa's situation and the situation of her children known.

Aine O’Brocken
http://360.yahoo.com/grammapug -- my long-time blog about the pugs of the land of Brocken, and the little, old lady who acts as their primary servant—click…read…and maybe even get in on a conversation or two. I am still writing this—but a lot of the focus now is on Elsa and her sons.

http://rachelweepingforherchildren.weebly.com/ This one is actually Elsa’s website. Since she is in prison, I am setting it up and running it for her, in the hope that people across the country and the world will check in and take an interest in this gross miscarriage of justice which not only has Elsa in prison—but has her children in a prison of their own—a prison of abuse from which no one seems able or willing to rescue them.

http://www.myspace.com/elsanewmanisinnocent This is a website that many of you may have heard of. My part of the site is called, as you see above, “elsanewmanisinnocent.” I use this blog site to try to make occasional contact with Elsa’s children—by sending “friend” requests. I have heard from the children more than once, but I'm pretty sure they don't trust some stranger of a little, old lady from the net to do them any hood.

http://elsanewmanisinnocent.blogspot.com/ This is my “why?” blog. Here I ask any question that pops into my head about the Elsa Newman case.

And one more—knowing the reputation of pugs, this may well be the most important website of all: pugs4justice4elsa.weebly.com Do check this one out, if you love pugs. And especially those of you who have previously visited my original pug blog. I know you will want to find out what my darlin’ muvver has to say about Elsa Newman being in prison…and what she has to say about the two children being in the custody of a father accused of being a pedophile.

And then...compare this with the Castillo case. You know...the one where the kids were drowned in the bath tub, because the judge ordered unsupervised visits with the father, despite the pleas of the mother. And guess what! Same state...same county...same courthouse...same judge...and same psychologist as in Elsa Newman's case.

Ooooooh! Something stinks in the state of Maryland!

Ashan said...

It's a pity that you believe that lies can be proven to be the truth. Elsa Newman's two boys are in the excellent, caring hands of their father.

I knew Elsa Newman for many years - from the time we were about 8 years old. The last time I saw her was around 1979, in our late 20s.

Elsa was an egocentric, psychotic, vindictive, vengeful, conniving and compulsive child and young adult. Her parents and mine were friends over the years, which unfortunately threw us together far too many times. I used to dread having to tolerate her fits of rage, verbal abuse and general mean spirit. I used to beg my mother to leave me at home alone rather than have to put up with her for hours.

My final contact with her in 1979 was as horrendous an experience as when I was a child. She tried very hard to demean me in front of others (who she also verbally abused). I kept my dignity, as did the others around the dining table.

I completely sympathize with Elsa's ex-husband. Those poor children were exposed to a true mother-from-hell, if you could call her a "mother". (She even came up with a plot together with Marjie to kill one of the children and pin the blame on the husband.) I firmly believe that she should pay for everything, and that would not be enough for what she put them through.

prisonreform said...

It is interesting to me that you base your entire case against Elsa Newman on your obvious dislike of her and your ability to tell stories about why you dislike her.

It is also interesting that you resort to name-calling, rather than facts. Personally, I greatly prefer facts. FACT: the two boys had disclosed unspeakable sexual abuse to their treating psychiatrist but the psychiatrist's records were sealed by the court at the instigation of the guardian ad litem. FACT: Margery Landry has said that she wishes she could blame someone else for the events of that night, because it ruined her life, but that she alone was responsible. FACT: Landry refused to testify against Newman, even when she was several times offered a serious reduction in her own sentence if she would do so. Her reasoning? She refused to lie about someone else in order to help herself. FACT: The highest court in Maryland tossed the decision in Newman's first trial, saying they found no evidence connecting Newman to the break-in.
FACT: There was no "murder plot". The gun went off in a struggle between Landry and Arlen Slobodow. FACT: Although Arlen Slobodow was shot in the leg, leaving both entrance and exit holes, his pajama bottoms, although covered with blood, had no corresponding holes. FACT: When Landry looked into the master bedroom the night of the break-in she discovered a nude child sleeping beside a man who was nude from the waist down. FACT: Arlen Slobodow told 9-1-1 that his estranged wife had sent someone to kill him; however, even if that were true, there was no way he could have known that. FACT: Among the slides Prosecutor Katherine Winfree showed at the first trial was one which showed a small pair of shoes and socks by the bedside--silent testimony to what had happened to that little boy in that bed. FACT: Arlen Slobodow said the boy had come to his bed because he was afraid of bad dreams (or because he could not sleep--depending in which media report you see). But the boy's bed had not been slept in, so you seem to want me to believe that Lars woke in the night...got out of bed...made his bed...took off his pajamas (little boys as a rule do not sleep in the nude)...put on his shoes and socks...and walked, naked, into the master bedroom where he removed his shoes and socks and crawled into bed with his nearly-naked father. FACT: another of Winfree's slides showed a small bag of what appeared to be "sex toys" in the room. FACT: At the second trial, Winfree did not use those same slides again. Rather, she showed slides of Arlen Slobodow in his hospital bed; could it be that the originals were too telling once she realized what they showed? FACT: Katherine Winfree, in an email to Detective Susan Mercer on 8/15/2005 didn't sound all that sure of Elsa's guilt. She said, "...Rob Grims was giving us only a 30% chance of conviction. When I told him we were going to Frederick, he upped it to 50%. And he is supposed to be on our side!!" She also said, "I am hoping Judge Donohue does not gut our case before we even get to the jury!! I don't think the Fredneck rednecks will think much of Elsa's Birkenstock
60's look, especially if they conclude she and Margery were more than friends." FACT: When Stephen Friedman's testimony was rejected by the appeals court and Winfree had to find someone else to testify about the supposed "conspiracy," she turned to Sandra Ashley, an employee of Friedman's whose testimony should have been covered by attorney-client privilege just as much as was Friedman's. Ashley had had a meeting with Newman on December 28, whereupon she emailed her employer as follows: "The children have been w/father for past several days and w/be returning tomorrow evening, Fri. She wants to have them examined and was in search of a pediatrician who "will tell it like it is." This was over a year before the incident at Slobodow's house. It was more like four years before she actually testified. Yet when she testified, she said that Newman had threatened to kill Slobodow. If that was true, why did Ashley not say so much as a word about it in her report to her employer about the meeting?
I could go on at length. But I'll stop for now, hoping that I have made something of a point about the advantages of facts over name-calling and blaming someone just because you despise them.

Perhaps you could do some homework before you write again?

Herbert said...

...... woman for justice and prisonreform are the same person as anie obrocken, and i find it pathetic thats what they have to do to try and win an arguement, as Elsa Newmans son, i can tell you that my mom made me say that bullshit, none of its true, believe what you want but thats the truth of it