2006-11-28 - 11:36 a.m.
In reading my local paper while awaiting an available computer I came across this lovely article about the attorney who represented me at the Child Support Hearing. He is spearheading a letter writing campaign to soldiers serving our country.
I thought- Wow! What a man of character!
That made me feel MUCH better after having had the experience of walking into the courtroom on the 14th for the child support hearing, and seeing one dark suited gentleman approach another and say "Hello, I'm here for Westley"
and the other greet him back, then both sit down and start chatting.
I happened to be RIGHT behind the bench they sat on watching them, since the "Hello I am here for Westley struck my interest."
But then instead of listen, I decided I should make my presence known and since I didn't know WHICH lawyer was filling in from my firm (FOR MINE who told me she was unavailable as she "had depositions at that time") I only knew the name of the opposing counsel,and so when I walked up to the man who the FIRST HAD APPROACHED and asked if he was that gentleman,
Imagine all of our surprise.
The fact the lawyer who had first approached Westley's counsel then JUMPED UP from his seat on the bench and literally landed about ten feet away from the other attorney was really classic.
The fact he stammered nervously "I was just chatting with him about an acquaintence" was almost funny...
And I very calmly replied, "Oh I am not too surprised. I am aware you all know each other and move in the same circles as this is small community."
The fact the acquaintence HAPPENED to have my husband's name and it was MY ATTORNEY who I heard say "I am here for Westley" really doesn't suprise me either.
AND IT IS POSSIBLE that the question was really "ARE YOU HERE FOR WESTLEY?"
So perhaps That was misunderstanding on my part. But it's irrelevant as the attorneys both know they shouldn't be in conversation prior to a hearing without the consent of their clients. There was nothing to be discussed in relation to the child support case, as child support is not something which can be "Settled" out of court anyway. It is only established via an order, as I learned the hard way in the past. I had previously thought that good faith agreements in that area would be sufficient.
So finding the article in the paper today truly did make me feel better and think that particular lawyer likely IS A MAN of integrity. I think he just got busted making a bad judgement call... and don't we all make such mistakes at times, whether well intentioned or not?
I didn't cave and sign the MUTUAL MOTION to throw out the protective order.
I think that if a Judge REALLY wanted to throw out a PPO without hearing the case that there wouldn't be any motion that needed to be written by either counsel. To me that seems a bit contradictory-
I HAD THOUGHT that the VA appeal to circuit court was like that of any other appeal process in which abuse of discretion or judicial or procedural error had to be proved. I HAD THOUGHT that if an appeal was granted THEN The SAME COURT (VA domestic relations) would then get the case REMANDED back to IT AGAIN to then re-hear the case.
This is what I learned in law school.
But I did in fact study NY LAW. I think that is how it works in the REST OF THE WORLD.
This is VA, and now I am receiving the best education I possibly can in VA LAW. I am learning all those things I just didn't get as they were so counter intuitive.
I learn best by doing.
So I am studying daily for the VA BAR EXAM, inronically in the most effective manner possible for me. That's the silver lining in these dark clouds that I can grasp onto now.
I now get it. I was only about 15 or 20 points shy of passing the BAR on my last attempt. I increased my score each time and if I increased it in the same percentage and followed my trend I projected then I would pass it on my fifth attempt! And that was with the same ineffective method of attempting to study but falling asleep within 5 minutes of being sedentary... and that was with falling asleep during the exam... and that was with the medical condition of HAVING to get up every 15 or 20 minutes to walk around just to sit through the exam.
With that ONE NEW INSIGHT or how this wacky VA COURT system works I realize that on a number of questions I had the PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT reversed! I distinctley RECALL the questions. I can even now distinctly recall some of my way off base WRONG ANSWERS.
Heck, this new understanding alone will get me a number of points.
I said to someone recently that I just couldn't believe that with my attorney there the hearing didn't begin. They had a great response "This is not TV"
I laughed and apprechiated their input (even though I ironically haven't watched much TV... maybe I should!)
I REALLY though that it was a STRONGER STANCE to not be available to be badgered and manipulated and harassed into a settlement PRIOR TO A HEARING. I really DIDN'T WANT TO EVEN GIVE WESTLEY THE OPPORTUNITY to continue the manipulation of trying to communicate with me with devotions of how much he loves me and wants me and the girls to remain at home and how he is "only appealing this so we can go to marriage counseling and I can get the truck"
I didn't WANT to arrive EARLY and subject myself to that constant pressure and what I see as threatening emotional manipulation.
The thing is that when he says how much he loves me I BELIEVE HIM.
I KNOW I AM VULNERABLE TO THAT... HE pulls at my heartstrings and I WANT TO BELIEVE HE IS SINCERE.
But had he been sincere, then the fact of the PPO appeal being thrown out, and the fact of the child support hearing resulting in a NEW DATE in Jan and no order yet, wouldn't have compelled him to file the nuptial agreement in the Loudoun Circuit Court on the 15th.
People must have thought me nuts when I literally RAN THROUGH the court house to the counter where a motion for divorce can be filed after I was told "The appeal was thrown out because you were late."
I was in fact SCARED AND PANICKED.
BUT I ALSO WAS BEING AS LOGICAL AS POSSIBLE
I KNEW THE URGENCY
I knew that to protect my children and myself I needed to do something fast. I also knew that my attorney SHOULD have had evidence and witnesses and been prepared to try that case REGARDLESS of my presence. I had made it clear at the LAST HEARING that I DID NOT WANT TO NEGOTIATE AT ALL. At the last hearing to set the date for trial I made it clear that I expected him to just handle it. I THOUGHT IT MADE AN EVEN STRONGER STATEMENT WHEN I DIDN'T SHOW UP FOR THAT HEARING AND LET HIM HANDLE IT. IT CLEARLY STATED I DIDN'T WANT TO SETTLE, AND I DIDN't WANT TO BE MANIPULATED AND FURTHERMORE THAT I DON'T WANT TO BE IN WESTELY'S PRESENCE FOR EVEN ONE MOMENT THAT I DON'T HAVE TO AS TO DO SO DOES CREATE ANXIETY FOR ME.
That is what is so broken about the VA system.
The courts that are supposed to protect women are then not going to hear cases if those victims are even a few moments late. It hasn't occurred to anyone that the women are likely NOT WANTING TO BE EARLY as they feel vulnerable! They ARE AFRAID
I am not now just talking about me and my case, but I wonder how many other women are in the same situation.
Two years ago I remember going down to the court to extend a Temporary order of protection. I had four kids in tow. First of all I went to the magistrate's office and it turned out to be the wrong place to do that. Secondly I had to walk all over the place and everyone said something contradictory. By the time I found where I needed to really be and figured out how to do it, it was 4pm and the office closed. With four little ones in tow, and a newborn infant at that time I think this is understandable.
But since then I have approached a number of Loudoun County offices and have been DIRECTLY LIED TO.
On the 15th I asked "What forms need to accompany a motion for divorce" to be told
When I went to pay my car tax and decided on a whim to look at the property plat of our home, the attendent said "We don't keep hard copies anymore. Everything is on the computer."
And moments later I picked up a phamplet in which Loudoun County Government boasts of how not only do they archive all documents, but they have some of the oldest ORIGINALS and most organized, inclusive ARCHIVAL SYSTEMS IN THE U.S.
I walked around until I found the file cabinets with the plats, and the one I needed was strangely not it the room with the others but in the hall through a door. It was just so odd!
So I have this experience now with either intentional manipulation, or mere incompetence on the part of loudoun governement.
I think it is just a matter of people not being diligent and careful.
But the thing is that there are peoples lives affected greatly by their work. SAFETY of MANY women and children are affected by the lack of diligence of county workers who are not honest and forthright when one asks how to accomplish something.
Perhaps most people don't ask. Perhaps its because I attempt to do things with kids in tow and not in a dark suit.
I've written of this before, there is professional elitism which keeps the professions in business. It is furthered by burocracy and governments who refuse to give information to those who are not the suited professionals.
Which is why Journalists have such a crucial role in our society. If it were not for their providing of checks and balances, I am afraid justice would not truly be served. Becuase I see our system failing miserably in serving justice when our government staff can not serve citizens but only lawyers.
Speaking of lack of service... another thing that bothers me is that I requested a supoena of evidence for that hearing at least three weeks before it. The supoena was served only 5 days before, and as such can be ignored due to the short time frame.
Does anyone wonder at my anxiousness and the fact that I am inclined to just do some things myself?
I am resisting the urge to not have confidence and faith and trust in my lawyers. They are VERY GOOD lawyers and VERY CAPABLE lawyers, and I am POSITIVE ETHICAL WONDERFUL folks and I am in very good hands.
I am confident in that.
There is a short time frame to respond to the nuptial which if entered could them be invoked to kick me out of my home. Since Westlely told me it was a "mistake" that my health insurance was dropped, and then also said "I fixed it it is now active" and I confirmed that is a lie--
I am doing what Ronald Regan told Gorbechev "Trust, but confirm"
So I am ALSO preparing MY motions. If my attorneys drop the ball on this, I am here prepared as the pinch hitter. I'll be on standby as the understudy.
Too bad there isn't such a role for chess tournamments. If there were a word for it in that arena, it would be most apt.
And even if not necessary, that's OK. This is VALUABLE studying.