Justice: by the law or by the heart?

When you have brought up kids, there are memories you store directly in your tear ducts. .. Robert Brault

I’ve debated how to write this post for several days, and it’s been difficult.  My role as attorney at law is to uphold the law. Most of the time, that also means to pursue justice. Sometimes these two goals don’t match. These are the hard cases.

I have a client (who has asked me to blog about his case), the victim of a biased judge and a vindictive ex-wife. For several years, the parties utilized the custody court in the state of Tennessee, because that’s where they lived, at first.

After they split up, the wife moved to Pennsylvania with their son, not bothering to get court permission to do so. My client, a high-powered computer consultant, then worked for Microsoft at points around the globe, without an address in the States. But the court awarded him summer and holiday visits with his son.

The mother denied him the right to visit several times thereafter. Although he applied to the FBI and other agencies, he was told they would not get involved in custody matters. (Those same agencies are now the ones prosecuting HIM.) He had to enforce his Tennessee order rights at the court in Pennsylvania, with the mother being held in contempt of court for violating the order.

After multiple findings of contempt, the judge in Tennessee finally gave my client primary custody and said he could take his son to live with him abroad. My client was then making fabulous money for Microsoft, but because the mother was afraid of something happening in the pro-Arab countries where my client was being sent, he quit his job (!) and became a freelance consultant instead. The child got the chance to experience living in many different places, at a much better standard of living, and better schooling and opportunities.

The summer of 2006 came, and he sent the child to stay with his mother, per the court order. Before the summer was over, she filed an emergency petition in Pennsylvania (even though the child hadn’t lived here for six months, as the law requires) to keep the child. Judge William White had said if Tennessee acted on the case, he would stay out of it, as federal law requires, and told her to put the child on the plane. The child went back to his father, as the court order required.

After that, however, the Pennsylvania  judge reneged on his statement. He scheduled numerous hearings, despite our continued objection, which my client did not attend. We steadfastly and consistently opposed jurisdiction in Pennsylvania while a valid Tennessee order was in effect. He issued a bench warrant for my client for failure to appear, when he knew he had no jurisdiction in the first place. He granted the mother custody pending further hearing, despite the fact that Tennessee said it was holding jurisdiction during the minority of the child, and the fact that the child DID NOT LIVE IN PENNSYLVANIA.

So now my client has been the subject of a case for international kidnapping, with the FBI and various governments around the world involved. Most recently he was arrested in Bulgaria, and his passport revoked. He talks about his situation here. Interpol took his credit cards and passport; the credit cards have now been used by unknown persons as far away as London. WHILE HE WAS IN CUSTODY. They are treating him like he is a dangerous criminal, when all he is, is a father who wants some time with his son.

It is truly a sad story. The child has been listed with the National Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children when mother knew very well where the child was. I bet he was even on a milk carton somewhere. The end of the story remains to be seen, but anything positive coming from it is hard to envision.

The really sad part of the story is that if the mother had held to the original terms of her court order and sent the child to visit his father as scheduled, my client would never have gone after primary custody. He was content to let his son live in the States then, and have splendid holidays overseas. But by constantly denying him visits, forcing him back into court to effectuate his orders, the mother created this situation where he had to get primary custody to be sure he’d see his son.

And now, he knows that if he sends his son back to visit, he’ll likely not see him again until the child is 18, because she has always refused to comply with their current Tennessee order, in the only court that truly has jurisdiction.

So, has he violated the language of an order? You can decide that for yourself. Has he done something wrong? I don’t think so. He’s been forced, as many parents are, into an untenable position because of the vindictive and selfish behavior of the other parent in a custody battle.

Who won here? Not the mother. Not the father. Not the son, because in either household at this moment, under these facts, he must be denied access to his other parent. Not the lawyers. Not the system. Not the FBI, attorney general’s office or NCMEC, spending thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on something that this mother could have made unnecessary. No one, really. No one.

Too bad Solomon died years ago; we could use his wisdom about now.

Oh THAT kind of Friday the 13th…

Yesterday was a wild day.

I had no clients, no court scheduled, and planned to spend the time working on my crazy November goals. 2,000 words at least. Maybe 3,000. Move the girl right through the funeral home scene where she discovers the truth behind–

Then I got the call about 9 a.m. that the Captain was suspended for three days. Come pick him up. Now.

My jaw fell far enough that it was a good thing it took me awhile to get to the school, trying to figure out why on Earth the Captain would believe it proper to email his (female) AS teacher a whole page of sexual limericks. I mean, really? What?

But I guess that was the final straw for the junior high. He’d been getting confrontational in classes all week, had made several pretty aggressive statements to said AS teacher as well, and to start the whole week’s events off, he’d thought his health teacher didn’t have enough materials for their talk about the differences between men and women, and had taken his study guide from his Our Whole Lives class along to share.

The Unitarians teach this wonderful class, at age appropriate levels, but there is an acceptance of healthy sex among adults of various genders and a graphic openness in the cause of providing true and correct information that in all likelihood doesn’t comport with a small-town white-bread mental set in junior high. In any case, he’s now known as “the Boy with the Sex Book.” *sigh*

Setting aside the fact that the team’s policy is that the Captain is not allowed to take any books to school because he won’t do his work if he has other materials available, or the fact that we’ve had long talks every day for two weeks that the arguing with the teachers has to stop, or the fact that when he gets in trouble it is not his AS teacher’s fault for telling us, it’s his own behavior that he should blame…well no, we can’t really set those facts aside.

On top of that, between the time they called and the time I got there, the Captain also commented to the principal that he thought he’d like to hurt someone.  This is the second time he’s made such a comment in two weeks. Of course they shared this with me, and when pressed, he identified who he’d hurt. (Funny how all his acting out is at school, but the people he wants to hurt are at home…)

So I left the school and went straight to the counselor’s office, who of course didn’t have time to see him, but they did send the mobile crisis team to the house. They spoke with him, at which time he was sweet and charming and they determined that he was not a candidate for inpatient evaluation. They did get him to sign a contract saying he wouldn’t hurt himself or anyone else, and said it would be a good idea for us to lock away all the firearms and pointy objects.

Really? Ya think?

The saddest part about all this, is that early in the week his dad and I were talking about how he had been making steady progress and he should get some of his privileges back (lost in September) and perhaps move into a more normal teen status with electronics access, etc. But here’s proof why he needs to be restricted from the Internet (and he’s lost his school computer privileges now too) and just can’t be trusted.

So an unlucky day for us all. But hopefully, hitting bottom starts another upswing. I’m always open to suggestions–got any?

They told me so

When I announced I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, one of my dear writer friends asked me whether I’d still keep up with the blog. Blithely I replied, “Of course!”

More the fool I.

In addition to my 15,000-plus words, however, I have kept up with life, which involved:

  • several court hearings, most of which went well, including one divorce master’s result that surprised me how well it went
  • a meeting with the Captain’s school support team, when we agreed(!) that the current main issue was his inability to retrieve homework he’d actually done, but was getting zeroes on because he couldn’t find it. We decided to permit him an aide for the fifteen minutes before school to help him get his locker and homework organized so he could turn it in and get credit.
  • sponsoring Dr. Do-Bee-Do to intramural volleyball, where he can have a chance to excel that’s not inhibited by his autistic siblings. We’ll all go next weekend to the tournament and cheer him on.
  • Deciding not to attend the yearly “Bar Prom,” an event that surely one day long ago was designed for the purposes of showing off all the attorneys’ trophy wives with black tie fancitude, but now is just an excuse for the Bar to get together and talk about things that don’t matter and play music from an era we don’t enjoy, in a room that’s too small and too loud. As much as the Cabana Boy remains a delightful trophy accompaniment, even he made the wise decision to stay home and take that time to relax. Go us!
  • Watching the premiere of the new/old series “V”, a story of alien invasion we watched when it came out in the 1980s. B has been called a lizard baby ever since then by her sisters–watching it in reruns, I watched to see if there was a resemblance, but I just couldn’t find it.
  • Finally, we enjoyed a number of Little Miss’s triumphs, mischievous and naughty sister sibling behavior (at last!), and interesting observations and phrasings, as when we were listening to some Moody Blues tunes, and she asked her father to change the music to “something with snappy fingers.”  Right on.

And now, back to the novel. As they say at NaNo headquarters, when you stop writing, a fairy dies.  🙂

Off and running!

Of all the corpses I’d seen in six years as a news reporter, Lily Kimball’s hit me the hardest.

This is the opening line of my 2009 NaNovel–like it?

Yes, National Novel Writing Month is ON! Sign-ups are still being taken on site, so if you’ve got a novel in you that you’ve always wanted to get down on paper, take the challenge. Now.

I’ve been holding off on this real hard all the last week until yesterday, when the writing could legally begin, so I seriously spewed forth copy yesterday, over 2000 words!

The story is written in first person, something I don’t normally do, so that’s switching me up a bit. You get a lot closer to your character that way; I expect she won’t be able to hide much from me, either. So far, so good. Look out vampires, here I come.

I missed the local write-in yesterday, but I’ve got another set for Wednesday afternoon. A writer friend and I are getting together for an hour or two of mad typing on our current projects. I need to get ahead, as I may have family coming in Thanksgiving week, and I want to get as much of that 50,000 words done in advance.

That being said, I’m off to write some more! AVANTI!