Speaking Out For Family Law Reform

Angela Power - without the mask

​​the heavy makeup. She handed me a pink envelope and informed me that I was being served to appear in court.

I was still too stunned to even react.  All around me, people were yelling. My daughter’s boyfriend and his mother were screaming at the woman. “You bitch!”  “Get out of here! Go away!” Other people were yelling at her as well, and as she walked away she was cackling and yelling, “The truth will come out in court!” She had made a stunning spectacle of herself.   


I quickly recovered and went to my crying daughter, who had now been humiliated in front of her entire graduating class on one of the most important days of her teenaged life. My daughter recounted that the woman had approached her, saying, “Sorry to ruin your big day,” and laughed in her face.  I can still hear that shrieking cackle.


​According to my daughter, the woman kept laughing and coming back into her face, and wouldn’t go away. We would later find out from a parent in attendance that this woman’s  name  was Wendy Sehmbey.  Further homework into Wendy Sehmbey

Judy Schoen of

Burchell McDougall 


would reveal a woman who was fanatical about saving every animal between Halifax and Honolulu – but seemingly had little respect or kindness for her fellow human beings.


This fiasco, as I’m sure you can imagine, was upsetting to all of us.  My ex-husband and his little girl, had been present, along with my 7-year-old son, and we were all shaken by the events of the day. 


​The next day, my ex-husband phoned me and told me that he thought he had found pictures that showed that Angela Power had been present at the gardens the day before.  He said, “I’m sure it’s her – dark hair and wide hips.” I was shocked, again.  I couldn’t believe she’d had the gall to show up at my daughter’s family event. Moments later the pictures came through and there it was. A thickset woman, whose dark hair was peeking out from under a huge white hat.  She wore big dark glasses, and most disturbing of all, a mask on her face. But this was clearly Angela Power, standing next to the woman who had so crassly delivered the subpoenas. To say that I was disturbed and chilled to the bone when I saw her dressed in her disguise would be an epic understatement. ​

We all started out in a celebratory mood the day of my daughter's high school graduation prom, but none of us ever could have seen coming how our day would end.  Prior to the dance, the traditional picture-taking event was held at the Public Gardens in downtown Halifax in May, 2014.  This was the day my little girl had talked about for years; it was the culmination of hard work and a coming of age for her and her peers.  The sun was shining and the parents were proudly standing around chatting and taking pictures. The girls were beautiful in their gowns and everyone was smiling and happy.


​I was talking with another mom when I became aware of a commotion; I glanced up to see my daughter with tears streaming down her face. I had no time to find out what had caused the tears when a laughing woman stood in front of me shoving an envelope in my face.


I will never forget this moment.  I had never seen this woman before and she was out  of place in the crowd.  I  remember the bad skin,  

What Is The Definition Of Inappropriate In Nova Scotia Justice?

after the fact. She apparently had such little knowledge of social media (or simply didn’t care about the ‘facts’) that she didn’t understand that posting a photo to Facebook didn’t mean it was happening in real time.  Apparently her lawyer, Judy Schoen, didn’t comprehend this either. Either that, or she just couldn’t be bothered to question or pay attention to what she was signing.  Both scenarios are concerning.

Angela Power(in the mask) and Wendy Sehmbey delivering ‘justice’ through fear and intimidation.

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Michael misunderstood my intention initially, and thought that I was in his office on behalf of my current husband, and that I wanted to talk about his complaint of conflict of interest.  You see, Burchell McDougall was representing Angela Power in the contempt case against my husband.  They had previously represented my husband corporately.  It gets better.  Angela Power now works for Burchell McDougall.  Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. More on this story in another article – that one is a story all on its own.

​​
I could see the moment when Michael connected the dots and realized the reason for my visit.  I was standing in his office with my ‘EX’ husband because his firm had apparently sanctioned harassment of my teenaged daughter. He refused to hear about what happened and informed me that my presence in his office without an appointment was ‘inappropriate’.  How ironic.  No one from Burchell McDougall had made an appointment with my daughter before she was ambushed at her prom, yet he felt that my very presence in his office was inappropriate. 

His pompousness when he informed me that I was being inappropriate was almost laughable. He seemed frustrated that I refused to back down. What Michael failed to understand was that my surprise visit to his office was deliberate – making an appointment would have removed the element of surprise. What he failed to get was that I was learning their game, and simply starting to play by ‘their’ rules.  

We walked out of his office, and although I did not feel we had accomplished much, my ex-husband remarked that Michael Maddalena had been visibly flustered by my presence. 

The same day, I also filed a complaint against Judy Schoen with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society for what I perceived as her unprofessional and unethical behavior (2 June 2014).  This subpoena never should have been issued. We also filed a complaint directly with the courts.

Judy Schoen allowed this to happen, Michael Maddalena put his fingers in his ears (figuratively speaking) and refused to listen, the Barristers’ Society held up their hands and said, “nothing we can do”.  The courts did nothing – their inaction spoke volumes in condoning and sanctioning Angela’s actions. We had received the message loud and clear from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice and those in the system that, “there are no rules”.   They all turned their backs, eyes glazed over with apathy.  We had witnessed the Family Court system, which claims to advocate for the children, at its ‘finest’.

An innocent teenaged girl was maliciously targeted, consequently spoiling what is a monumental event in the life of a young girl. For no other reason than having the misfortune of being Joe Power’s stepdaughter, the memory of my little girl’s prom will always be tainted with humiliation because of Angela’s cruelty, and the absolute apathy and negligence of the system.  My daughter and son, and my ex-husband’s little girl all lost some childhood innocence on that day, as we had to try to pick up the pieces and explain to them what had happened.

My daughter and I were both served subpoenas on this day, yet neither of us was ever called to the stand. We learned on this day that using the court system to be malicious is not only an acceptable means of bullying, but also court-approved.  I began to fear for the safety of my children when I realized that the legal system was useless.  We had attempted a restraining order against Angela, but were refused. 

My daughter became nervous coming home from work at night.  She arrived home from work late one evening and sat in her car for some time, because a strange car was sitting at the end of our driveway  - as it turned out, someone had simply broken down there and was waiting for a tow truck.  Justifiably, seeing the pictures of Angela in disguise at her prom had scared her.

This incident showed that the plaintiffs in civil cases are running the show. Essentially, the plaintiff can make any sort of a claim in an affidavit and drag anyone into court for any piece of personal information they want.  They can call people in for the sole purpose of being vindictive and mean, and there are no controls in place to prevent this. My complaint to the Barrister’s Society was against Judy Schoen because Judy failed to vet Angela’s claims or question the validity of her stories. I wonder whether the idea for the prom fiasco was Angela’s, or Judy’s; there is no way of knowing for sure, but regardless, Judy Schoen’s signature was on that subpoena.

The Barristers’ Society’s response stated clearly that the lawyer does not have to validate any facts or ask any questions about a subpoena.  In our case, I provided a copy of my daughter’s school attendance record that proved that Angela had made up a story (and then swore to the courts that she was telling the truth).  According to the Barrister’s Society, this is a perfectly valid practice. 

The prom incident was very telling for me. Seeing this woman dressed in her disguise, knowing the level of trouble she had gone through to cause pain, and then realizing that those within the system thought that this was somehow all okay illuminated for me just how broken it was.  My faith in the justice system plummeted to an oppressive new low and my distrust towards everyone in the system festered and grew. 

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“However miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery.” ― Emily Bronte

Consider this scenario.  A middle-aged woman had stalked a teenaged girl on social media (presumably by searching for her through her son’s Facebook page, as my daughter had been Facebook friends with her step-brother).  She gathered some pictures, out of context (as per usual Angela-style) and made up a story to accompany the photos. Her lie was this:  She found a picture of my daughter in Greece on her Facebook page.  The previous summer, she had traveled to Greece – my daughter posted the picture the following December. Angela invented a story from this picture. She swore, in her affidavit to the court that my daughter had been to Greece in December, therefore that proved that my husband had also been in Greece in December, therefore it meant that he must have a second passport (another figment of her imagination that she was claiming as fact to the courts).  You see, my husband had had his passport suspended in November, so it was not convenient for Angela’s story for my daughter to have posted the picture

Based on Angela’s assumptive supposition, Judy Schoen issued a subpoena for a teenaged girl to testify against her step dad in court. Angela then had to find out the date and time of my daughter’s prom, and the place and time the picture-taking event would occur. She shopped for, and donned a disguise, so that she could then stand by to watch the fallout of her attack. 


First thing on the following Monday morning, I waited with my ex-husband in Michael Maddalena’s office to address the issue of his law firm (Burchell McDougall) allowing the harassment of my child.  As a partner in the firm, I felt he should be informed about the inappropriate games that were being played by the Judy and Angela show.