My Day in Court – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Three days to be exact. The first day was a quick postponement to the following week. The second was a postponement to a few days later. That day we sat there for three hours before they finally announced the postponement. Courts are not terribly considerate. Finally, our day came. While our attorneys went into a separate room with the law secretary, my husband and I sat there for two hours checking our e-mail, not doing much else. That’s besides the point.
Court is not a place you would want to voluntarily go to unless you were getting paid to be there. Or HAD to go. Now I understand why lawyers make so much money. Even my lawyer agreed that it disturbs her to be there at times. I really don’t blame her.
Although my husband and I were there to initiate our never-ending divorce, I witnessed many things that happened that both shocked me and even made my heart stand still. I am not at liberty to reveal what happened on the day our case was initiated, but I have plenty to tell about what I observed during the endless hours I spent there waiting.
I had been told by my lawyer that no judge would ever subject a child by putting them on the stand to be questioned unless the case was highly unusual. Low and behold, on our second day there, the courtroom was locked because the judge had a twelve year old girl being questioned. I nervously whispered to my attorney, “They wouldn’t put an eight-year-old on the stand, would they??” She said in all the years she had been trying cases in matrimonial court, this was the first time she ever witnessed a child being questioned. Her response made me feel a little better. Later, though, the mother of this child burst out of the courtroom with a family friend or relative, whaling and sobbing in tears. The judge decided to take away custody of her children from her and give them to her ex-husband. I discovered that the reason for this was because this mother allegedly physically and verbally abused her children. Although I am a strong advocate against child abuse in even the most minor of instances, the heartbreaking sound of this mother in pain still broke my heart. If anyone took my son away from me, I’d probably faint on the spot.
Obviously there is much more to this case than I witnessed. If this mother was abusive in any way, she should have sought medical treatment for her behavior prior to this event. Again, I don’t know what the circumstances were before, so I can only postulate.
As I was still sitting around, observing, I overheard snippets of conversation between clients and their attorneys. I was shocked to hear the way these attorneys spoke to their clients! Absolutely no respect. Degrading. Patronizing. One attorney told his client that if his client didn’t like how he was representing her, she could fire him!! Total disregard to this woman’s concerns! I whispered to my attorney, “I’m so glad you are nice, considerate and compassionate. Some of these lawyers are so rude to their clients!” She said she hears it every day. Some attorneys and their clients are just not the right “fit.” So I replied, “But wouldn’t you sense that in the first consult or subsequent interactions? Why wait until court? And if the attorney thought that the client was too difficult to handle, don’t they have the right to refuse the case?” My lawyer said I am too ethical. She said that some attorneys have great reputations for winning cases but are very difficult to deal with. I just sat there saying a thousand prayers that I have a great attorney who happens to also be compassionate, understanding, and really listens to what I have to say and doesn’t blow me off.
Courts are intimidating. Some of the clients looked just as intimidating. I dressed in a very tailored, sophisticated outfit. Very modest. There were women clients dressed in skin tight dresses and 5-inch heels. Others had so much make-up on, you could practically peel it off. And some men came in ratty jeans and flannel shirts!! Although my husband nor I ever saw the judge, I was still surprised to see my husband show up in khaki pants and a sports jacket! He owns a dozen suits. He couldn’t wear one of them to court? No matter what anyone says, first impressions always count. You don’t get a second chance.
My next court appearance won’t be for a few more months. I get a much needed reprieve. With my dog dying, my son having grief issues and the holidays, I need a break. And a new year to start out fresh with.