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Old 09-23-2009, 08:32 PM
Hephzibah Hephzibah is offline
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Default Court seemed almost fun today

Here’s another installment of my latest day in court entitled: It’s like going to the doctor – you only get 7 minutes with the judge….

It actually turned out to be a fun day; which was surprising. My friend, Nicole, went with me; we laughed and chatted and the hour drive went fast. We went to the fabric store (we are both avid seamstresses) - I bought a couple spools of thread since it was 40% off. I took her to the mall while I drove to the court house, since it's closed sessions, she couldn’t come in. When I arrived, my lawyer was just getting there. She gets out of her car and says hi, then says "how old are you?" I laugh and she stammers a second and says she was thinking of my case on her drive and she couldn't remember my age but would need that for her computations. We signed in, she asked which court room and which judge. She assured me this new judge was the BEST judge and he'd give Ex a reaming for 6 months of not responding to his lawyer. Six weeks ago, she said that new judge was the best judge: so maybe they are all heroes! I’m trusting God, so I don’t care which judge we get.

We went to one of the tiny client-lawyer offices while she filled me in on what she hoped would happen. While we were talking, Ex busted in on us. I was startled, he says, "Oh, I thought my lawyer was waiting for me in here." She stands up and says, "Sir, never open a door without knocking, blah, blah - pushes him out in the hall and steps out and keeps talking to him for a minute.

She came back in and said, "I can't believe he didn't have enough manners to knock."

I respond, "I presume he heard my voice and wanted to see what I was saying."

She seriously says, "Let's give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe he really thought Mr. C was here.” A short pause and a chuckle and she continued, “He sure smelled bad."

I said, "Booze?"

She said, "No, tobacco and unwashed body stench."

I chuckle and say, "I hope it wafts up to the judge."

She tries not to chuckle and quickly starts the topic about the upcoming "case management" expectations. She says Ex has told his lawyer, Mr. C, that he can not pay for my portion of the home equity so he will sell the home. I have mixed feelings about that; but that is his choice. She also says that Mr. C says that Ex has cashed all of his retirement funds and spent them. (I wonder if he’s gambling, but I didn’t ask. Not my husband now, not my business.)

She leaves the little office to talk to another client who is going to another court room in 20 minutes (as soon as our hearing is over). I sit in my chair and meditate on Psalms 27:1. I figured out "You are the light that keeps me safe...." is a parallel scripture to "light unto my feet and a lamp unto my path..." When I'm following Him - He is the light that keeps me safe. When I wander away from His path, I may trip and fall in the darkness.

They call our case. We're standing in a line in the hall: Ex, Ex's lawyer, my lawyer, me. Ex is taller than them all, looks over the top of them at me (who's second in height) and says, "<my name>.... "

I was soooo cool. I look up and coolly say, "You may speak to me through our lawyers." then turn my face away.

He says, "It was a personal question, How are the grandchildren."

I answer a very coldly, "Fine." and turn further away from him. His lawyer says something to him and he stops it.

We get into the court room and I sit behind my lawyer, he sits behind his.

He says, "<my name>, did you know .... tells stuff on his son."

I ignore him and his lawyer turns around and I didn't look so don't know if he said something or gave hand signals but Ex shut up.

I was not doing that to be mean. I just do not want to be chatty and act like everything is hunky dory after the physical abuse and legal stunts he pulled. I feel the only reason he was acting nice was hoping it would sway me to take a less than half settlement. If he was really “nice,” he would have done the right thing and not dragged this court case out for 15+ months; but cooperated so it would have been settled in 6 or less.

The sheriff comes in with her flak jacket and says, "All rise."

We all rise. Ex and I stand there like idiots and both lawyers bow. The judge sets. We all sit.

The judge gives a summary of the case so far, than asks my lawyer a question.

Here's where it got weird. (I am a new Canadian - so this did not look like Perry Mason reruns - thus it was weird to me.) It seemed that last time the lawyers popped up and down like jumping beans. This time they practically hugged their chair unless they were speaking and then they stood. They did not call him "Your honor" like they did the last judge, but they called him "my lord." They did not call the other attorney "counsel" like last time but called each other "my friend." Anyway, she was very careful to say she understood that Ex's attorney, Mr. C, had tried to serve Ex but Ex had made that practically impossible. She did not blame "my friend" for that. blah, blah. Then she says her proposed steps to complete the case.

Then the judge asked Mr. C a question and he stands and talks about his difficulty in finding Ex and what his next proposed steps are to complete the case if Ex will cooperate with completing the paperwork.

As I look at Mr. C, I caught Ex out of my periphery vision. He's scrunched down in the chair, legs splayed out before him, hands crossed across his belly - the posture of a teen playing a video game. I'd been sitting there primly with my 3-ring binder on my lap with all my paperwork, paying close attention and taking a few notes - actively involved. Looking like I care about my future... (because I do).

Then "my lord" asks Ex why he was difficult to contact. Well, Ex did NOT come up with some long-winded story of how he went blind, deaf and dumb and was in the hospital; was trekking in Central America or was hitch-hiking around the galaxy and not reachable (which those would have been just as believable as his lame excuse.) He stands and says something like, 'Your honor, I only check my mail every three or four months so I must have checked it when Mr. C did not have a certified letter waiting for me. There are some people I do not want to talk to on the phone so I do not answer my house phone but I do answer my cell phone <stutter, stammer> which I do not have any more <stutter, stammer> as of last week. Mr. C did not find me at home because I get up at dawn every day and take my camera and stay out all day long taking photos and I don't get home until dark." Note: no apology for not being reachable and inconveniencing the court and the lawyers. No excuse why he didn’t reply to Mr. C’s many e-mails. No explanation where he takes photos during rainy days. His honest answer would have been: "I was home viewing porn for 15+ hours a day, drinking myself silly and trying to avoid having to give my ex wife anything." That I would have believed, and so would the court.

Here's where I was expecting the reaming. Didn't happen. The judge writes a note of it. Just because he did not ream him, doesn't mean that he isn't quite aware that Ex is full of hot air. I firmly believe that.... both that Ex is full of hot air and that the judge isn't wet behind the ears. Since the judge is probably my age (almost as old as dirt), I presume he recognizes a con artist from a block away and can even smell them sitting in his court room. (some days more than others, eh?)

The judge itemizes what he expects from each lawyer when they return for the next case management. They set a date when all three will be available. Ex and I are both required to attend. Ex’s racking up a sizeable debt of about $1,000 per hearing that would have been easily avoided had he not avoided his lawyer. My lawyer is 2 blocks from the court house, so I don’t have to pay her $350 an hour and mileage to drive an hour to court and an hour home. Hopefully the judge will have Ex pay for the excess fees I incur that were caused as a result of his refusal to accept the letters, e-mails or phone calls.

Ex's lawyer is to have all the documents filed within 10 days - which will give the judge a few days to review them prior to the next time we get there. That means Ex and his lawyer will be busy beavers and Ex won't have a lot of time to ponder and plan and search documentation to help his case; where I have been proactive since Day 1; probably driving my lawyer batty with my questions (that are usually not answered.)

I don't know what "my lord" said or how what happened next - but everybody quickly stands and the lawyers bow to the judge... so I bow, too. I glance out of my periphery vision and Ex did not bow. I'm not sure if I was to bow or not, but I figured showing respect for his position was the "right" thing to do. Then we exit. My lawyer tells her next client to wait a minute. She then talks to Mr. C - then she hurries to me and said Mr. C would keep Ex busy for about 5 minutes so I could get to my car and out of the area. I hurried while I felt safe.

But I did take 20 seconds at the counter and sign out - I'm soooo awesome at following rules. ;-) Then I notice Ex has not signed in. I tell the lady sheriff who attended the hearing that I didn't see Ex's name - one of the men picks up the clipboard and glances at it. Then I laugh and give a big smile and say, "You know ex-wives, can't miss an opportunity to make ex-husbands look stupid." The three sheriffs all laugh, the man signing out laughs. As we walk in silence to our cars, the stranger is still chuckling as he gets into his car.

Then Nicole bought me lunch and we shopped a bit more. Then we chat on the hour home. It was a good day. I am blessed.

Gee, and I thought court was going to feel as scary as last time. I guess I'm acclimating. Since we'll probably meet at least 2 or 3 more times, guess feeling comfortable and finding the humor is a good thing.