“I have no confidence in this but let’s give it a try.”
Those are the words of the judge when he gave his ruling nine days ago. Every waking moment of my life since those words has been spent in speculation. Did my son’s father and stepmother know this judge? Was their sweaty, pudgy, red-faced, stuttering, cannot connect the dots lawyer related to the judge’s third cousin twice removed? When the judge entered the courtroom ten minutes late and sat at his bench surveying the riff raff he was to lord over, did he not like the color of my shoes? Did he have an argument with his mother the day before and will now use his position to project and act upon his anger by punishing another mother?
I did not feel like a person nine days ago. This judge did not see me or anyone in the courtroom. It was a Friday and he was hoping to leave work early. Just a quick game of Custody Roulette and he would be able race home early to sit in his million dollar jacuzzi sipping his hard-day-at-the-courthouse-I-just-ruined-a-few-people’s-lives-today drink.
The man who once drug me out of a house by my hair had a beautifully rehearsed testimony. I, too, had a practiced testimony. The difference between our testimonies was our lawyers. The man who used to yell at me in the middle of restaurants hired a lawyer who cannot pronounce or spell my name. He cannot make three entire sentences string together with clarity and his case was built upon uncritical points. My lawyer, after reading the 700 page notebook I created of text messages, images, emails, documentation which detailed my son’s violent outbursts and rocky relationship with everyone, not just me, began to fight harder for the well being of a child. His questions and arguments maintained flow and logic. There was no doubt who won this case. I am bias (and broke from paying the bills) but, truly, there was no doubt. Get a copy from the court reporter. Riveting stuff.
Three other people testified. My husband and my son’s paternal grandparents. Yes, the parents of the man who once held a loaded shotgun to my head. All three of these people produced compelling and meaningful stories about my son’s future being best suited with his mother.
The judge threw out all evidence and sustained every objection made by the other side. When it came time for the judge to talk with my son, I knew we were in trouble. Nothing felt right. My son’s stepmother kept smiling at me as if she were singing “nanny nanny boo boo, we know something you don’t know.” The cruelty of one person to another is quite surreal.
An hour’s worth of testimony had been offered to the judge’s ears upon which he had the ability to use this information to ask the child questions and make an informed judgment. As the judge held the door to his chambers open for my son to enter, he said to the courtroom, “I do not ask the child questions. I let him tell me whatever he wants.” I could feel my lawyer’s heart sink.
My son and the judge came out of the chambers smiling like they had just exchanged numbers and planned a future playdate. Both lawyers had 15 minutes left to call witnesses and make a final statement. The judge ignored this. He said he was ready to rule.
Rule. Like a king. A God. This man holds my life in his ruling and no one can argue.
He said, “I have no confidence in this but let’s give it a try.”
And, just like that, my son left me.