Friday, June 1, 2007

And, So It Goes

The judge turned to me and said, “Mr. Hoyer, in regards to your Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), you as the plaintiff will have an opportunity to tell your story and the “respondent” (the Former Female Tenant) will tell hers and then you can ask her questions and then she will ask you some questions. Do you understand the process?” I answered that I did and said, “Well, Your Honor, it all started about a month or so after the respondent moved in…”

“But Judge,” blurted the Former Female Tenant (FFT), “What about my TRO against him? I called the court and they said it was okay to file it close to my home and then they said it was wrong to do that but I want my TRO against him to be heard right now at the same time; how come I can’t get that done?”

The judge replied that this was not about her TRO against me, this court was in session to hear my TRO against her and in any case her TRO was not even here in front of her. “Besides,” said the judge, “If you wanted your TRO to be heard at the same time as Mr. Hoyer’s, you would have to file it here in Family Court and then we would have to find a schedule that would permit hearing both at the same time; is that what you want?” “Yes,” said the FFT, “That’s what I want!” “Court is in recess for a moment,” said the judge. She conferred with one of the court officers about the possibility of such an arrangement and was told that it would be near impossible to make it happen. The judge then turned to the FFT and said, “It’s not going to happen that way. We’ll proceed with Mr. Hoyer’s testimony. Mr. Hoyer, you may begin.”

“But Judge,” said the FFT, weeping now, “He broke the law when I was there picking up my personal belongings. He had the entire household watching and laughing at me and he was taking pictures of me; doesn’t that count for anything?” “Not right now, Ma’am; Mr. Hoyer, do continue.”

“But Judge,” interrupted the FFT, “He says he has cancer and that he only has only a year to live. How come he’s asking for ten year duration of his TRO against me if he only has a year to live?” Again, the judge turned to her and said, “Well, maybe he’ll beat the odds and live longer than ten years.” “But, what if dies in a year, what happens then?” At this point, I thought I’d get an edge in word-wise and said, “Then the entire subject is ‘moot.’” “Yes,” said the judge, “If he dies before the ten year limit expires, then the TRO is moot.” Moot?” said the FFT. “What does moot mean?”

The only sound next in the courtroom was the thud of my forehead hitting the table top. This was a question posed by a person who purported to hold a master’s degree from somewhere and had taught somewhere else for eighteen years. Surely, I thought, the word “moot” would have turned up in her lexicon at some time during all that study toward an advanced degree and the spreading of precious knowledge on her hundreds of students during eighteen years of teaching. But, no, in a living room-sized courtroom with a surprised judge, a bailiff, several court workers and myself—all of whom knew the meaning of “moot,” [irrelevant]—the FFT was admitting to ignorance and displaying it nicely.

It’s long been my opinion that the FFT was not a complete idiot since she never finished Idiot School as a background check revealed. As well, I learned to hold another opinion of her which was I could always tell when she was lying because her lips were moving. With these two thoughts uppermost in my mind, I took things in stride for the balance of the TRO proceedings. I must admit that I laughed a lot during it all.

Consider this exchange:

“Look, Ma’am, if he does die before the TRO term is exhausted, I can’t order him not to approach you from ‘The Great Beyond;’ it can’t be done.” “Well,” said the FFT, “You could if you believed in the life ever after.”

I had prepared some 40 pages of evidence and testimony prior to this hearing. All of it was in front to me, including the TRO I filed against her following her physical attack on me. I was ready, though, for this entire episode to be concluded and was pretty near ready to agree to almost anything to get this woman out of my life for good or at least for ten years. The judge then proposed that we agree to a ten year “mutual” TRO wherein the FFT could not approach me closer than 100 feet or 100 yards from my home or workplace and the same conditions would apply to me towards her. There would be no findings of guilt included in this mutual TRO, my 40 pages notwithstanding. All we had to do was agree to the ten year moratorium on contact with each other and the hammer would fall with court adjourned. I immediately understood this would end it all—no more courtrooms and no more dealing with the FFT. I said yes right away. I told the judge I had no problem with disposing of the papers I presented and also that I completely understood what I could and could not do with this proposed compromise. The judge asked the FFT, if she understood and her response was, “But Judge, what about my TRO against him?” I pointed out to the judge the court documents I had indicated her TRO had been “terminated” (meaning dismissed) three weeks ago and she said to the FFT, “Look, Ma’am,” all this ends today if you agree to stay away from him as he has already agreed to stay away from you for the next ten years. How about giving us a decision?” The FFT said she would have to call her lawyer and reached for her cell phone. The judge said, “Not in here; make your call outside in the lobby. You have five minutes.” “Well, Judge,” said the FFT, “I may need more time. I mean what if his line is busy?” “Court is recessed for five minutes,” said the judge.

I was told to sit in the specified “Plaintiffs’ Area” until the session reconvened. Five minutes later, the bailiff came for me and I returned to the small courtroom, sat down and waited for the FFT to be escorted in. We all paused while she parked three bags off her shoulder, her purse and an orange and black wheeled case with two beach mats protruding from it into a corner, smoothed her hair and sat down. The judge asked her if she would accept the terms of her proposal and she responded, “So, this takes the place of my TRO? Can I still file one against him?” The judge told the FFT that she would dispense no legal advice from the bench regarding whether or where any TRO would be filed; she was only interested in the FFT’s decision regarding the mutual TRO—yes or no? The FFT mumbled that she would accept the terms.

The judge repeated the terms of this mutual TRO including one section that prevented either one of us from possessing firearms. “But Judge, does that mean I can’t own a firearm?” asked the FFT. “Unless you were a member of the armed forces and needed a firearm in the course of your duties, you would still have to get permission from this court to obtain a permit.” “But Judge, what if I applied for a security guard job and needed a gun; what then?” asked the FFT. “Same conditions apply,” said the judge. Surely, any security guard company would carefully examine anyone to whom they issued a firearm and equally anyone as unbalanced as the FFT would never be sent to guard a crate of oranges much less a nuclear facility.

Court was finally adjourned and I awaited the paperwork. I had been in the courthouse since 7:45am and it was now 1:00pm. When the court officer, Tia, presented me with the final papers I simply said thanks and concluded with, “I don’t wish her ill, Tia. I only pray that she can get some help, somewhere. She may well be intelligent and possibly useful to society, somehow. So many people have asked me if she was on medications of some kind and I’ve had to say I didn’t know. Perhaps I was too close to the situation and unable to be disinterested to say for sure. In any case, Tia, this is over which is all I care about.”

I’m told the FFT now lives on the beach close by Nanakuli. She is on welfare and food stamps presently.

And, so it goes. What goes around comes around.

I wish her well…