It is no surprise that family law involves a great deal of passion and emotion for everyone involved but what happens when the passion turns violent? Maria Mitousis, an established lawyer became the victim of a bombing fueled by revenge. Mitousis works in a small law firm in Winnipeg and has an established legal career.
Ms. Mitousis was bombed by an ex- husband of a client. Mitousis was representing her client in two matters: one of divorce and the second in a lawsuit for an auto body shop that was owned jointly by her client and her client’s husband Guido Amsel. She had received mail which upon opening exploded. Mitousis has lost her right hand and her left hand is severely injured. She has suffered multiple injuries to her face, chest and thighs.
The accused, Guido Amsel, a 49-year-old man had gone through a long and bitter divorce with his wife who was represented by Ms. Mitousis. Ms. Mitousis argued that Mr. Amsel owed her client $40,000 from the auto body shop they had ran together while married.
Amsel planned a revenge rampage after the case was settled. Amsel is accused of filling digital voice recorders with explosive compounds and mailing them to places linked to the legal battles. Amsel is accused of sending out multiple explosive devices linked to the legal proceedings.
One explosive was sent to Ms. Mitousis’ law firm. Another explosive was sent to his ex-wife’s workplace which was successfully detonated. A third explosive was sent to a law firm that once represented Amsel in his legal battle until the lawyer withdrew his case due to a breakdown in the relationship; this bomb was also safely detonated.
Amsel has been charged with two accounts of attempted murder along with additional charges. He has not yet entered his plea in respect to the charges and currently does not have representation. Family lawyers across Canada are taking this incident very seriously and taking precautions to protect themselves. Following the incident, multiple family lawyers have admitted to being victims of verbal abuse and even death threats but are shocked after hearing Ms. Mitousis’ story. Many legal practitioners are re-examining former cases and clients to account for possible future threats. Furthermore, some family lawyers have admitted to being paranoid and changing their routes to work to avoid establishing patterns for their clients hostile ex’s.
Clients often view opposing council as part of the issue which can result in hostility. Although lawyers can argue a case, the judge makes the final decision in accordance to the law and precedents. An individual’s misplaced anger can often be displaced on to the opposing party’s council as an extension of the client they represent. When individuals choose to utter threats and take legal matters into their own hands, the result is usually detrimental to their own case. It’s important to recognize that opposing council is only fulfilling their job- to represent their client to the best of their abilities; it’s not a personal vendetta against someone.
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Points of Discussion:
1. Were you aware of the hostility lawyers face? Are you surprised?
2. What are your thoughts?
I would love to hear from legal professionals!
1. Have you been a victim of client hostility?