Off the Record

Greta: Teen's family squabble should've never been in court

'Off the Record', 3/12/14: How does a family that seemingly has it all get so dysfunctional in such a public way? Part of the problem is with the lawyers

 

By Greta Van Susteren

Let's all go "Off the Record" for a minute. So, Rachel Canning is going home. That's good. I'm glad she is. But, what in the world happened?

How does one family that seemingly has it all, good parents and an honor-student child, get so dysfunctional, and in such a public way to the point where all of us even have a transcript of Rachel's foul voice mail to her mother? I'm sure there are lots of reasons why this family imploded. But I blame a big chunk of this spectacle on her lawyer and her friend's lawyer's father, who fronted the legal bill.

What were they thinking? A family spat like this does not belong in a courtroom, not even for five seconds. I don't care if there's a law that allows for it. And in New Jersey, there is case law permitting an 18-year-old to sue parents for support.

But no lawyer should have let this get so out of hand. Lawyers can't be forced to file cases. Lawyers don't have to take cases. They can quit it if clients are unruly and unreasonable and not following advice. Filing this lawsuit only added fuel to the fire in this family. What Rachel needed was a dose of reality to know that these fights never end well in the courtroom system. She needed to be told, "You are 18. Grow up."

And as for her lawyer, and the lawyer who fronted her legal costs, they have no excuses. Lawyers have an important role in our society, but a lawyer should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And when a lawyer finds himself or herself in a courtroom standing beside a young family member, like Rachel, in an ugly dispute with her parents, like Rachel's, the lawyers are part of the problem, not part of the solution. That's my "Off the Record" comment tonight.