6. A Discovery Master as a Hatchet Man to Block Discovery and Retaliate
Author: Gang Xu, Ph.D. Posted on 12/16/2019
I worked with students mainly in New England private boarding schools, of which many had a dress code. I had become used to wearing a blazer with a tie. My hair also turned gray. When I entered Middlesex County Probate and Family Court, often I was mistaken as an attorney, and often some security officer would try to strike up a little chat in a flattering tone.
The first time, I felt amused. But soon I became so uncomfortable with: The elitism, the privilege, the social stratification and inequality--all manifested in such courting--just contrasted so sharply to my perception of Massachusetts as a very liberal state; they were the norm in communist China today but should not have belonged to here.
And, how many attorneys do have the intellect and character that deserve the admiration from an honestly hard-working security officer?
On November 22, 2016, I was again mistaken as an attorney, but this time by attorney Victor J. Tagliaferro at 92 Montvale Avenue, Suite 2600, Stoneham.
In Part I of this series, I mentioned that I was falsely accused from the very beginning in the family court. Some allegations and court filings were so recklessly fraudulent and brazenly audacious that they really broadened my “vision.” For instance, in the financial statement filed by ex-wife’s attorney, under the penalties of perjury, the attorney claimed that the ex-wife did not have any bank account and hadn’t paid any retainer while living in an apartment that rented for $2,650 monthly.
I still believe that perjury is a criminal offense, and that a dishonest attorney would never surrender any inculpatory evidence and incriminate himself. I believe falsifying information on court filings by an attorney automatically constitutes the denial of request for any information that would prove his felony.
After the first divorce hearing on August 17, I started to subpoena evidence from various sources. My thought was immaculately simple: Once I pulled out the documented evidence to confront their credibility, I would be able to clear my name and rebut their claims. I knew where those documents were.
Looking back, how heartbreakingly naïve and pitiable I was, like many other pro se: We still believe SOMETHING.
On October 5, 2016, Judge Maureen Monks blocked my efforts to subpoena and ruled to appoint a “neutral” Discovery Master to oversee the discovery, with the possibility of reopening subpoena at the discretion of Discovery Master. Since I was the person who sought discovery, she ordered me to pay the initial retainer fee to the Discover Master.
So the burden was on me to defend myself against the false accusations and false claims. Later, ex-wife’s attorney claimed in two occasions, once explicitly and the other time implicitly, that the retainer was a penalty Judge Monks had imposed against me.
Victor J. Tagliaferro was the Discovery Master appointed by Judge Maureen Monks.
In the morning of November 22, 2016, I arrived early for our first meeting with Victor J. Tagliaferro. When I entered the law firm suite and approached the receptionist, a pungent smell of cologne swept over, coming with a short, round and sturdy man in a white shirt, with a tie. He extended his hand courteously, called me by ex-wife’s attorney’s first name, and identified himself as Victor Tagliaferro.
I corrected him. He then told me that he had read my stuff. He made a comment about one particular detail and dropped me in the conference room.
It was a small meeting room. At the end of the table was a set of file cabinets. A pot of mums on top of the cabinets brightened up the room.
Ex-wife’s attorney arrived. He seated himself on the other side of the table, leaving the seat next to the head of the conference table unoccupied. Victor J. Tagliaferro last sat into his chair. Ignoring both sides, he flexed his bulging, muscular shoulders and dropped his heavy arms empathetically on the table. His forearm was peppered with conspicuous hair.
I regretted siting just next to him.
He then turned to me, asking if I had any problem with English. I told him that I had no problem with every-day English but I was not familiar with legal terminology. Victor J. Tagliaferro started to threaten me, slowly and word by word, that he would apply sanction against me “with the power vested in me by Judge Monks” if I did not obey him. He repeated the word “sanction” while reading my face meticulously and boldly.
I could smell his heavy breath, mixed with strong cologne.
We went through the details of my marriage, from initial acquaintance to the incident that led to my divorce decision, as well as its aftermath. We then moved on to the disputes. Victor J. Tagliaferro became an automatic defender for ex-wife’s attorney, disqualifying my counterclaim while accepting ex-wife’s attorney’s claim that would fall into exactly the same category of “unjustified thinking,” in his terms. I tried hard to make my point--or to show the incoherency in his reasoning--while not crossing his line of “disobedience.”
Then, Victor J. Tagliaferro cited a Latin term Quantun Meruit to deny my claim.
I did not know the Latin term. I asked him to explain it. He refused, citing his position to stay neutral. I asked him to write down the term so I could study later. Again he refused.
But he had repeated the word “sanction” to make sure I got it at the beginning of the conference!
With its door closed, the meeting room felt like an interrogation room in a mafia movie, suffocating. I looked into the mums on top of the cabinets, helplessly.
I called off the meeting and insisted on meeting another time to discuss the final list of discovery requests, after I identified an attorney to represent me or at least consulted with some attorney. We agreed to meet again on January 10, 2017
At the conclusion of the meeting, ex-wife’s attorney asked me, casually, to remove the ex-wife from my health insurance plan, claiming that my plan was not good for her. Upon my insistence, he produced a written request on a yellow legal pad. A few months later on April 10, 2017, he accused me in a court filing of brutality: discontinuing ex-wife’s health insurance without her knowledge and exposing her to the danger of being without any health insurance coverage.
On January 9, 2017, at 5:29 pm, Victor Tagliaferro sent us an email, canceling the discovery meeting scheduled for the next morning. For this meeting, I had thoroughly prepared (including my rationale to challenge the applicability of the notion Quantun Meruit). If Victor Tagliaferro had emailed the cancellation note a day earlier or even during the day, I would have contested. But it was at 5:29 pm. What a timing! I was speechless.
On February 28, 2017, a day after Judge Maureen Monks released her refusal to rescue herself on my motion, Victor J. Tagliaferros produced a Discovery Master Report. Not only did he deny my discovery request, but he also retaliated by defamation.
In my Affidavit submitted to him before the 11/22/2016 meeting, I stated that “In May 2013, I went to China on my business trip but allocated some time visiting the plaintiff’s mother at Shanghai and her sister Xiao Zheng in the China-Vietnam border town Dongxing.” In his report, Victor J. Tagliaferros crafted it into “May 2013, Defendant went to China on a business trip and visited plaintiff’s family,” deleting my words “but allocated some time” while keeping the phrase “on a business trip,” implying that I used business budget for a private purpose.
In another “discovery,” he selectively assembled the statements from two parties, manipulated different meanings of a same word in different contexts, and presented it as an uncontested fact that “Defendant states parties separated January 19, 2016. Plaintiff states parties separated October 17, 2015 and she filed for divorce June 1, 2016.” By ignoring the fact that I emailed the ex-wife my decision to divorce on October 16, 2015 and began living separate lives, he created a false perception that ex-wife initiated the divorce and thus was more likely to be the wronged party, and, more significantly, covered up the true cause of the divorce, the very fact that this entire legal maneuver was all about.
The hand-written request by ex-wife’s attorney at the meeting with the Discovery Master Victor J. Tagliaferro on 11/22/2016, asking the author to remove ex-wife from his insurance coverage. On 04/10/2017, in a court filing by ex-wife’s attorney, the author was accused of brutality: discontinuing ex-wife’s health insurance without her prior knowledge.
Other parts of the series