I have to be respectful as well; I think this part even harder.
On top of everything, I have to keep a straight face while I play their warped and crooked game.
So I smile at Diana Shropshire (from Justice & Associates), Christy’s attorney, even after she postpones our trial. This trial, the fight of my life, is so that I may be allowed to spend time with our daughter, Megan. Miss Shropshire puts a halt to it.
She needs 3 months so she can spend time with her newborn. I don’t blame her, but the irony sure does sicken me. (See blog post: Irony, Sick, Sick Irony)
We are in mid-trial but won’t be back in court until October 10, 2013.
My hostile witness, my witness, has changed her story claiming she may have embellished anything she has told me and besides that, she may have been drunk at the time we talked even though our conversations spanned four months. On the stand she admitted to lying but I have to wait until this fall to continue my questioning. (See I know about Nightmare and Witness Intimidation)
...and I am polite to Commissioner Deborah Daniel, I refer to her as your honor, even though she is primarily responsible for my 3 school age daughters at home having had their big sister abruptly ripped from their lives for this past year. Although she is the reason that our 14 year old daughter wasn't with us on our annual family road trip. I used to tell them that Megan will visit soon. A year later, I don’t know what to tell them.
Yes, I keep my cool even as I hand the opposing counsel, Diana Shropshire of Justice and Associates, Inc. and the court’s Commissioner Daniel, each a couple of 3-Ring binders; one blue, one white. Each filled to its 2 ½” capacities with some—yes some, not all-- of the documentation that I have accumulated in my past 3 year battle with this disturbing, insidious, and abhorrent behavior.
It is child abuse in every sense of the word.
My exhibits are mark from A to Z in the white binder and from AA to ZZ in the blue one. Most of the letters having subsets of numbers marking groups of photographs, recordings, documents...etc.
Also included in my evidence is 3.6 Gigabytes of audio, video, voicemails, and recorded conversations on a recordable DVD as submitted as additional evidence. The DVD is in a sleeve jacket with holes which allow it to be placed in the white, 3-Ring binder, in front of the Exhibits A-Z.
The DVD also contains incidents that will make your stomach turn, your insides seethe with incredulity, and your heart ache for justice.
Look, your honor interference. Look, your honor, drug use. Look, your honor, court order violations. Look, your honor: lies, distortion, child abuse, alienation.
Look, Commissioner Deborah Daniel, NOT, in the best interest of children.
Not even close.
The opposing party, the alienator’s side, hands me a small stack of papers, their trial brief. Later, I am surprised to find most of their case is based on posts from my website.
Posts from my website? That’s your case? An internet meme?
My website, where I began documenting the alienation as it occurred. The website that didn’t exist before the alienating behavior took place. The website where I am documenting what Linda Gottlieb refers to as “an insidious form of child abuse.”
This is their case?
See your honor, this man is not a fit father! He is documenting this child abuse as it occurs. How dare he!
We’ll see what the Honorable Commissioner Deborah Daniel does. How she weighs a preponderance of evidence against...against what...the uncorroborated accusations from a vindictive ex-wife with a history of having alienated all three of her children from the 3 different fathers that she bore them with. Not to mention the testimony of the biological mom of two other children in Christy’s home describing how Christy is alienating her own step-children from their biological mother?
(Listen to Audio)
Maybe the fact that my ex-wife, Christy, and her sister, Michelle, and their mother have, possibly, 9 fathers between them who have also been alienated to some extent, maybe these things will give commissioner Deborah Daniel pause and cause her to---I don't know, this may be a stretch here but-- look at the documentation, to look at the evidence. (See Family Genogram)
It could go either way.
This is another example of how difficult it is for me, as a father who simply wants to be a part of his daughter's life, to get anywhere with Commissioner Deborah Daniel.
As I handed Commissioner Daniel the two binders of evidence she noticed the DVD and the following exchange below took place.
This is a section of the Certified Court Reporter’s transcripts. I am the Respondent:
THE COURT: And there won't be any playing of DVD's. We don't have any access to play.
THE RESPONDENT: Okay. Well, I brought my laptop too, in case, if we can do that, Your Honor.
THE COURT: There are Court rules that limit electronic recordings which include requiring a transcript of anything in it by a certified Court Reporter.
THE RESPONDENT: Okay. May I speak on that, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes.
THE RESPONDENT: I do have transcripts in there, but my understanding was that they did not need to be done by a certified Court Reporter.
THE COURT: I suggest that you check the Government Code and the Rules of Court.
So, no right? I will not be allowed to show my 3.6 GB of audio and video evidence.
The first thing that I want to point out is something that I have noted before; her tone.
The problem I have with transcripts—whether they are by a certified court reporter or not—is that you can’t detect the tone with which Commissioner Deborah Daniel uses with me. It is very telling. It has been very telling from day one: August 7, 2012.
Her tone doesn’t bother me. It’s actually quite humorous that she feels the need to be condescending in such a way to parents wanting justice.
Quite Humorous...and again,quite telling.
However, I am not alone, from my observations thus far she treats lawyers, her staff, and parents who come to her courtroom seeking justice, wanting to be a part of their children’s lives, all in the same demeaning manner and, dare I say, contempt.
Notice how at first she states that the reason “...there won’t be any playing of DVD’s,” and why there won’t be any playing of DVD’s is because “We don't have any access to play.”
Those are her words.
We don’t have any access to play.
That, to me means we, the court, does not have access to a mechanism which would allow us to view the contents of a DVD i.e. your evidence.
No DVD player.
San Bernardino is in the middle of a budget crisis. Commissioner Daniel had taken the time to make me aware of this in a previous hearing in her courtroom, when she was admonishing me for asking for a 730 Evaluation. They are too short of funds for to be concerned with thoroughness, I guess. Maybe they needed to hawk some of their electronics and therefor they don’t have the means with which to show my evidence.
The thing is after I suggest that, hey, we could use my laptop, your honor, Commissioner Daniel comes up with an entirely different reason why we still won’t be any playing of DVD’s.
“There are Court rules,” she says, “that limit electronic recordings which include requiring a transcript of anything in it by a certified Court Reporter.”
The other part I don’t particularly like about court reporter transcripts is where there is no transcribing of body language because right then my body language was speaking volumes. It said, WTF, there was also a bit of eye-rolling, my mouth dropped open, and there was a long, deep sigh equivalent of the cumulative hot air expended in family law courtrooms.
Because I will pay the price if I disagree with her or not acknowledge her, I do that first, “Okay...” I began. Then I ask permission to speak. “...May I speak on that...”
She loves this.
She does give me permission—this time—but in a way that sounds like she is both doing me a huge favor and that it is costing her significantly to allow me to speak.
Picture her raising her arm to her forehead and reeling her head back, “Aighh...if you must burden my ears with the sounds of your pitiful pleadings, then I suppose, carry on. But be brief I warn you, slimy peon.”
Not a peon, I am a father.
And finally, I have to give her the...ahem....respect that the position calls for, “...Your Honor.”
She allows me to say my peace, then she says this:
“I suggest that you check the Government Code and the Rules of Conduct.”
So I did.
What Commissioner Daniel doesn’t know is that although I am not an attorney, I am not an idiot either.
I had looked up the Government Code; I read the Judicial Council of California’s Rules of Court; I Goggled, Binged; Yahooed it; and even went on Ask Cha Cha.
On each and every inquiry I got this:
(1)Except as provided in (2) and (3), before a party may present or offer into evidence any electronic sound or sound-and-video recording not covered under (a), the party must provide to the court and to opposing parties a transcript of the electronic recording and provide opposing parties with a duplicate of the electronic recording, as defined in Evidence Code section 260. The transcript may be prepared by the party presenting or offering the recording into evidence; a certified transcript is not required.
This all took place on June 13, 2013, at a pre-trial hearing. Our actual trial starts on July 11 so for a month I don’t know if I am going to be allowed to present a preponderance of evidence showing that my ex-wife, Christy; her husband Mike; and their 21 year old daughter, Kaylee have either interfered with my relationship with Megan, participated in alienating behavior, violated court-orders, and used drugs in the home. Additionally, on the DVD was proof that I do (did) have a loving relationship with our daughter.
Even though I have done everything right and the rules of the court allow it, I do not know if Commissioner Daniel is going to allow me to present my audio and video evidence.
I just don’t know.
A month later, this is what happened.
On the day before our trial of July 11, 2013, I noticed a missed call from the San Bernardino Court room S-11.
I called back and the clerk answered the phone in a low, almost inaudible voice.
The voice belonged to the assistant in Commissioner’s Daniel’s courtroom. Court was in session so she spoke in a whisper informing me that our trial was to start at 1:30 pm instead of at 10 am the next morning; something about a domestic violence taking precedent over child custody proceedings and knocking our trial down to a later time slot on the same day.
I did however take the opportunity to ask about DVD playing equipment, so that I can present my 3.6 gigabytes of audio and video evidence.
You’re not going to believe what she said.
She told me that it wasn’t allowed, because they don’t have the capacity to play DVD’s and besides, it has to be transcribed by a certified court reporter.
Sorry, she whispers.
WHY NEEDS TO GO BAD...
On our wall at home we have a dry-erase board where my wife and I scribble down reminders, goals, shopping lists...etc. It’s also a place where Megan used to write notes to me and our family. One of them is still there even though Megan hasn’t been to our home in close to a year. The board has been wiped clean countless times but I can’t get myself to erase it.
It says, Megan loves you, followed by a heart.
There is another scribble that I have not removed in a while. It sits at the top of the white board, grammatical errors and all.
It reads: WHY NEEDS TO GO BAD. It’s obvious what I intended to write.
I wrote that to myself because I can read the writing on the wall.
I wrote it for me...but also for my wife, for my girls.
I am not kidding myself as to what I am dealing with. I have seen countless other parents’ stories about how dealing with an alienating parent within our dysfunctional court system has no happy ending. It ends only one way: badly for the targeted parent.
Even more tragically, it ends horribly for the child and later on for their own children. This is a generational thing. (A look at my ex-wife’s genogram will explain a lot, if not everything.)
I wrote it as a caution. A friendly reminder of when we start to believe that things look hopeful and my wife and I start to believe that things will get better because what we are dealing with is so transparent, so evil, and so wrong. After all, how can a mediator, a therapist, a judge for Christ-sake!, not see it for what it is?
Right now, I can hear the affronted and scoffed laughter of alienated parents everywhere. Good one Joe, good one.
The truth is, as these alienated parents know they do miss it and things go wrong and families suffer. Statistically, my chances of having a loving relationship that I once had with my daughter are close to nil.
Hence, the reminder, WHY NEEDS TO GO BAD.
I hang up with the court clerk and pass the white board and I re-frame my thoughts.
No worries and remind myself to look at the bigger picture.
I have already told myself that I am going to present my case, the way I want and focus on the facts and the facts are this:
Christy Garrison, her husband Michael Garrison, and their 21 year old daughter, Kaylee Godley have interfered with my relationship with our daughter, Megan and I can prove it. Period.
Not that proof or evidence matters much in family law.
Commissioner Daniel admonishes me for contacting her clerk and bothering her with an issue that has already been addressed a month earlier. Of course, the Commissioner was using her usual tone with me.
Mr. Barrow, she went on, this court has already addressed the issue and there will be no audio or video playing in this courtroom. All recordings must be transcribed by a certified court reporter.
The answer is no. No. No. No. No.
“Okay, May I speak on that your honor?”
No! You may not. The court, this court, the trier of facts, the decision maker has ruled on this already. No. No. No. Mr. Barrow No means no.
So, I sat there quietly.
Diana Shropshire smiled smugly while Christy gave me her best Nellie Olsen impression.
WHY NEEDS TO GO BAD
I open up my 3-Ring and stare at my copy of a page straight out of the California Rules of Court. I re-read what I have read a number of times.
“The transcript may be prepared by the party presenting or offering the recording into evidence; a certified transcript is not required.”
I am right. Commissioner Daniel is wrong.
I looked back at Tammy who is sitting the courtroom, and I think fortunately, the court reporter cannot transcribe actions because our body language relayed certain expletives at the moment.
The thing is this.
This Court room has screwed up this case starting with last August 7, 2012 whenCommissioner Daniel initially dropped the ball and gave Christy the green light to place a then 13 year old back in the middle of an adult conflict.
Ever since Commissioner Daniel said these words, "I can tell you that in my experience no law enforcement officer is going to force a teenager to engage in a visit." Things have spiraled downwards for our family, for Megan.
Dammit, if that doesn’t infuriate me to no end! I have a court-order and a God-given right to be a part of our daughter’s life.
Ever since Commissioner Daniel volunteered those words, a lot has happened to our family, but nothing as devastating as what has happened to our daughter Megan.
This incompetent Commissioner has without any regard or proof of any wrongdoing on my part removed my parental rights. Removed our stable, loving family AND extended family from our daughter’s life and left her with only a dysfunctional home, headed by a vindictive woman determined to destroy my relationship with our daughter because I dared to say something that everyone already knew; her 24 year old son, Josh was dating a 16 year old. (See:Statutory Rape)
Our daughter is unsupervised, in an abusive relationship, exposed to drugs and alcohol and the only person fighting for her is sitting in front of a judge staring at a piece of paper saying that I am right but I am afraid of saying so because I fear getting admonished again.
If I was anything like the father that Christy Garrison, Mike Garrison accuse me of being and what Shirley Stutson MFT, Susan Bailes MFT, or Pietrina Termini MFT, or Dr. Beth McGuire have been duped into believing I would have continued to sit quietly in my place.
But I am not.
This lady, Deborah Daniel, is wrong and she has screwed up our lives.
“Anything else before the respondent calls his first witness?” Commissioner Daniel asked.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I spoke quickly. I spoke loudly. I spoke with the conviction of a wronged father fighting for his daughter.
“It says in the California Rules of Court that the party submitting the audio or video evidence can transcribe the recordings himself. Further it also specifies...” and this part I read from the actual page of the California Rules of Court, “that a certified transcript is not required!”
Commissioner Daniel seemed to not know how to address my defiance of her earlier ruling and my sudden outburst. I braced myself for the worst.
I held up the page that I was reading from as if she could make out the small print from the bench.
Then Commissioner Daniel spoke.
“Did you make a copy for the court?”
I stood up, copy in hand, and said, “...and a copy for the opposing counsel.”
The bailiff approached and I handed him a copy and handed one to Diana Shropshire, ESQ, who had stopped smiling.
Nellie Olsen was gone too.
Even though the copy that I had handed Commissioner Daniel was only one page long, she took her time before speaking up again.
“Apparently, Mr. Barrow is right.” Commissioner Daniel looked down at me over her reading glasses, “the audio portion is not required to be transcribed by a certified court reporter...”
She went on to say something else but I wasn’t listening. I sat down slowly.
Our evidence will be seen and heard.
I was in the middle of questioning my first witness. She was saying how long she had known us and how I was a good father and Tammy, a good mother.
I know that that to be true, yet it was somehow strange for me to hear someone say that in courtroom S-11. It seemed surreal to hear those words said about me in a place where I have been accused and treated like I was everything but the one thing I have always strived to be; a good father. I have been treated like I was, in Christy’s words, a monster. “We have memories of a monster,” My ex-wife Christy has said.
It was towards the end of my questioning my first witness where she continued to say nice things and my eyes continued to well up with tears. It was then that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, with blurred vision, one of the court employees wheeling in a DVD player and television set.
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