9. Maureen Monks Economics—Follow the Money
Author: Gang Xu, Ph.D. Posted on 12/16/2019
Surviving Judge Maureen Monks’ courtroom was a process of losing self-worth and being subjected to the lowest and ugliest side of human nature and human society. Sadly and sickly, the only comfort I could find in the course of my divorce was the thought of other people who were likely put through similar treatments by the judge—so it was not all my fault! There are quite a few harsh complaints about the judge on internet. The rule of thumb is that if there is a real person making public accusation against an authoritative figure then there must be ten or a hundred people biting their lips quietly and swallowing their pains helplessly.
However, Maureen Monks would conceivably be a welcome judge for attorneys, whichever party they represent, regardless of the outcome of litigation. To their credit again, Dr. Philip Greenspun and his colleague followed and analyzed all the divorce cases initiated in May 2011 in Middlesex County. Here is one of their findings:
So two and a half more motions were typically introduced when the judge for a contested divorce was Maureen Monks, as compared to Judge Katharine Field in the same court. From motion preparation/response to court appearance and hearing, two and a half rounds of motion battles could easily add a few thousand or even over ten thousand dollars to the attorney’s bill for each divorcing party.
Such increase in motion load also created opportunities for Maureen Monks to assemble, sustain and reward her retinue with some easy and quick money. In my case, I introduced several motions after my first divorce hearing on August 16, 2016. In the 10/05/2016 hearing on my motions, Judge Maureen Monks started as follows:
She looked over my motions quickly and denied some right away. Instead of saving some “for another day,” she ruled to outsource the job to a “neutral” Discovery Master, with the likelihood to reopen my subpoena (her characteristic trick of false illusion as I realized later). The Judge ordered me to pay the initial retainer of $3,500 to the Discovery Master.
In his letter dated November 1, 2016, Discovery Master Victor J. Tagliaferro requested me to pay him the retainer prior to “our initial meeting.” He promised that “I will provide an itemized bill including my time and services expended periodically.” After the first meeting, Victor J. Tagliaferro tactically canceled the scheduled second meeting and blocked the discovery. As of today, more than three years after he cashed my retainer, I have still not received any bill from him.
I know lawyers are expensive. $3,500 doesn’t mean much for legal services. But still I am entitled to an explanation of how he spent my retainer, as he voluntarily promised; especially, I want to figure out how he came up with a defamatory Discovery Master Report that deviated from the facts, presented to him both in the meeting and in writing. The report seemed to serve to create a false perception for the record.
In the public interest, it is also significant to question: 1) What percentage of Victor J. Tagliaferro’s legal services came from court assignments? 2) What percentage of Victor J. Tagliaferro’s legal services came from assignments by Judge Maureen Monks, specifically? 3) What criteria had Judge Maureen Monks applied in identifying Victor J. Tagliaferro, among other attorneys, as her Master? And 4) at what hourly rate(s) did Victor J. Tagliaferro charge his clients who were not brought to him by Judge Maureen Monks or other judges?
One set of information I had been seeking after was ex-wife’s financial documents, the statements of her individual Bank of America account in particular. This information, under MA mandatory disclosure law, must be released to the other party in a contested divorce.
To me, the information meant much more than merely some financial documents. In the divorce filing, ex-wife’s attorney, under penalties of perjury, claimed that she had no bank account and he had not received any retainer from her. Since I was falsely accused of domestic abuse and various wrongdoings, my naïve idea of one way to defend my name was to show that ex-wife’s attorney had no credibility in a court, as clear as black and white.
How many people—their names and career prospects—are destroyed by allegations that are dug out in the divorce complaints against them?
And how many of them, they chose not to fight false allegations, to avoid mutual destruction, simply because they wanted to protect their children, to save their kids from confiscation by CPS in the worst scenario?
For this set of information, I tried to subpoena in MA but I was stopped by the judge. I filed a motion for out-of-state subpoena permission but my motion was stonewalled and passed to judge’s hatchet man Discovery Master. I was confidently prepared to cite pertinent law and argue for my request in the second discovery meeting but I was notified by the Discovery Master, at 5:15 pm, that the meeting scheduled for the next morning was cancelled. I filed an emergency motion to dispute Discovery Master’s ruling and this time the judge did yield to MA mandatory disclosure law, sending me to ex-wife’s attorney’s office to “exchange” the documents. On April 10, after I crossed the entire Boston diagonally through traffic jam and finally arrived at the attorney’s office, I was dealt with the dirtiest play that most people would never be able to imagine: ex-wife’s attorney gave me a thick stack of bank statements that turned out to be the prints for a joint bank account owned by ex-wife and me, to which I had 100% online access; he refused to produce statements of her individual bank account.
Since August 17, 2016 I had pursued persistently and explored both subpoena and motions, but still I was never able to get her bank statements.
I am not going to go over how many resources and how much money I had expended. But I do want to point out how much tax payers’ money, in terms of time, was wasted just for my emergency motion. When I filed the motion to contest Discovery Master’s report, the staffer at the Middlesex County Probate and Family Court was totally lost; she did not know how to handle it. She asked a co-worker; the latter did not know either. They then waited and got a man wearing a dress shirt and tie, apparently a supervisor. After some discussion back and forth, they instructed me to rewrite the motion their way. After I finished it at the scene, at that sturdy long wooden table, the staffer brought my filing to the supervisor. The supervisor then changed his mind. The staffer came back and told me to leave out from the motion all the specific challenges to Discovery Master Report, just file a title. When ex-wife’s attorney received my motion, he emailed Judge Maureen Monks’ secretary and me and complained. I had to write a long email to the secretary and him to rebut.
In the first place, however, all these motions and fights were totally unnecessary, IF I were not falsely accused and smeared, and IF the MA law on mandatory disclosure was respectively followed. Who created all the messes?
Judge Maureen Monks is probably one of the most studied judges in Massachusetts judicial community. Not only there were quite some analyses and comments about her in public domain, she herself was also bold in taking available podiums to get her messages out. For example, she lectured attorneys about how to conduct themselves in front of her in 2012 in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. On March 3, 2014, she gave a talk in a Boston Bar Association conference that taught/shared “tips on obtaining [restraining] order” and “Negotiating with an opposing party in a case involving domestic violence;” she was the only judge speaking in the conference. Very recently on November 15, 2019, Judge Maureen Monks was on the faculty list for the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 29th Annual Family Law Conference that promised its attendees to “enjoy two days of learning and networking with judges and colleagues in a beautiful setting on the outer Cape.”
If one believes Lungo-Koehn Law firm’s claim that “We are familiar with the habits of each family court judge and the processes in each courthouse in Middlesex County,” it would be fairly safe to suggest that those fabrications and false accusations—and consequently extended motion fights—in Judge Maureen Monks’ courtroom are just what she expects, acquiesces, or encourages. If there were consequences, would any attorney still dare to make up or conceal so recklessly and blatantly in front of Judge Maureen Monks?
To be fair, however, one must examine another possibility: Could Judge Maureen Monks simply be taken advantage of by attorneys because of, say, her leniency or indecisiveness? I cannot speak on behalf of others, especially those of her colleagues in various bar associations. But I, supposedly a disadvantaged pro se, had definitely had enough of her menace and malice.
Just two examples, among others: On March 13, 2017, she threatened to award attorney’s fee to the other party if my persistence on discovery was not in “good faith.” (I had been falsely accused from the very beginning and continued to be exploited with thuggish frame-up attempts during the proceeding. “Good faith?”) On October 5, 2016, she watched the unfolding of Lisa’s abuse under her bench, though she could try to exonerate herself by arguing that she had called out her name disapprovingly.
While these analyses and personal experiences are very suggestive and disturbing, it is my 12/08/2016 hearing that shall establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Judge Maureen Monks is a criminal: she conspired and defrauded with ex-wife’s attorney, knowingly and deliberately, to obstruct justice.
I will not go into the details about the hearing; I have recovered and reserved the evidence for law enforcement. The evidence should be a text book example of what every law school should have a copy of.