Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ruling Against V. Stiviano Sets Dangerous Precedence

Lace thong and other gifts Shelly Sterling should not be entitled to...

(Note: This article was previously posted on Psychology Today)

Imagine you go to lunch with a married man.  Maybe it was a business lunch, maybe not.  Your husband finds out and decides it doesn’t sit so well with him.  Instead of holding his wife accountable, he decides he is going after the “home wrecker” lunch date.  He files a case.  He sues. He wins.  That’s basically what happened in the case of Shelly Sterling vs. V.Stivano.

Judge Richard Fruin awarded Shelly Sterling money to repay her for community property that Donald Sterling spent on V. Stivano during the course of their marriage.  Shelly won reimbursement of everything:  the car, the house, the jewelry, even a twelve-dollar pair of thong underwear.

Think what you want about V. Stivano.  The fact remains that the court made the wrong call.  The person who should have been sued, the person who should have been paying up is the real home wrecker himself, Donald Sterling.

David Glass is a partner with Los Angeles-based Enenstein Ribakoff LaViña & Pham and heads the firm’s family law practice. Glass says, “under the California Family Code each party to a marriage has a ‘fiduciary duty’ to the other to maintain the community estate.”  Therefore, the one who is in breach, the one who should have been sued, the one who owes Shelly Sterling money is no other than Donald Sterling himself.

"Shelly is thrilled with the decision," her attorney Pierce O'Donnell said.  

Of course she is.  O’Donnell acknowledges, "This is certainly a victory for the Sterling family whose funds were dissipated by Donald to lavish millions of dollars of gifts on a conniving mistress. The decision also has broader significance in today's society. Shelly has set a precedent indicating the rights of all spouses to protect their community property."

So what kind of precedent does this case set?  Enenstein attorney Connolly Olyer suggests the precedent set is that 3rd parties could be forced to repay monies, gifts, and benefits they received from a married person. 

To me, there is greater practical impact.  Why are our courts so comfortable with scapegoating the indigent “girlfriend” instead of putting the screws to the real bad guy here?  Why isn’t Donald paying Shelly back?  He was the one who broke the fiduciary duty.  He is the real offending party in this action.   Not only is this terrible law, it’s creates terrible psychological precedent as well.  Cheating spouses should be held accountable for their behavior.  Why give them the out? If you ever want to see behavior to change, you must hold the right person accountable.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I'm A Lawyer... and Not Just on TV

This last weekend my daughter became a Bat Mitzvah - the Jewish term used to honor the moment where a Jewish “kid” is considered an “adult.” Clearly, this is a religious moment and not a real life moment as she is far from an independent adult. However, it is a moment of huge significance as it does mark the entering into a new phase of life.

Today, I embarked on a new journey and felt like I had a Bat Mitzvah of sorts. Just like Hannah, I have had the opportunity to explore my growth. To examine where I have come from and make tweaks to get where I want to go.

I have joined Enenstein Ribakoff LaViña & Pham, a law firm in Los Angeles. I am Senior Counsel where I will be using my experience and passion to advocate in family law, custody, criminal, victim’s rights and other litigation.

I cannot express how excited I am to do what I do best – advocate on behalf of clients, fight for justice, be in a courtroom, and actually be a practicing lawyer again (and not just playing one on TV).

And just like a kid having a Bat Mitzvah, I am still me---the same ole’ Robin Sax. I still who love dissecting cases on TV with the hopes of helping others gain perspective and knowledge of the legal system. So, tune in tonight to Entertainment Tonight (check your local listings) where I weigh in on the latest celebrity lawsuit. This one involves Sophia Vergara's eggs and what Nick Loeb wants to do with them.