|Msg # 8462
Date: 10 May 94 21:38:00
From: Bob Hirschfeld
Subj: In Memoriam: Randy Couch
As a divorce lawyer in Phoenix AZ, as a father, and as someone who cares
about such things, I feel compelled to tell about a piece of news which
brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it today while participating in
an unrelated court hearing:
I was the second of a series of four attorneys for Randall Couch, a Phoenix
architectural consultant. In his long-ago divorce, he had been poorly advised
by his first attorney to stipulate to sole custody to the wife, and to a
peculiar stepped-increase child support arrangement. A few years later, his
first lawyer (who had been his high school classmate) helped him work out a
stipulated order in which he and his wife agreed to stop the
because of the large percentage of time he had each week with his son. But,
unbeknownst to Randy, that first lawyer didn't file the agreement with the
Years later (last year) the ex-wife decided to go after him by claiming that
he owed a huge child support arrearage ($28,000), and alleging that the
never-filed agreement was void. He hired me as his second lawyer, and after a
heavily contested trial, a judge ruled against us and found that he owed the
$28,000, plus his wife's attorney fees. I withdrew, and Randy hired his third
attorney; several months later, he hired his fourth.
With $28,000 judgment in hand, the wife's lawyer seized all of Randy's money
from bank accounts, garnished receivables from his architectural clients, had
his car taken from him, and most recently, dragged him and his fourth lawyer
into court for contempt proceedings.
Randy was ordered to pay $1,500 by noon today, or go to jail.
Last night, Randy blew his brains out.
There's a little kid somewhere in Phoenix who will never again spend the
majority of the week with his Dad. There's an ex-wife who is never going to
get the rest of her $28,000 pound of flesh. There's a wife's attorney and a
judge in Phoenix who will have to live for the rest of their lives with the
weight of this tragedy on their heads.
I was in a hearing before a Commissioner this afternoon when I learned of the
suicide. I'm not ashamed to say: I cried. I've been through, and survived
some pretty gut-wrenching events in my life as a lawyer, especially over the
past months, most especially last week. But nothing like this.
A good man has been sacrificed on the altar of the "deadbeat dad"
A little bit of all of us died with Randy.
- Bob Hirschfeld, Phoenix AZ