I just got out of court. The appearance was just to confirm our child custody trial date for the end of the month.
For once, Judge Morse did not put us off to the end. She let the lawyers go first with their cases, but then called us after that. My ex-wife and I were unrepresented.
The only non-lawyer case before us was of a 300-pound woman in blue jeans and sandals who flew in from Virginia to try to finalize her divorce. But the judge could not do it, because she did not submit a proof of service. "Are you saying I flew out here for nothing?", she said. The judge asked if her husband was still in San Quentin. That is a big nasty California prison. The woman said that she did not know, and acted as if she had no way of finding out. The judge seemed to know more about the husband than the wife. Obviously, the problem was not just the proof of service. She had made no attempt to get the divorce papers to her husband, and he is entitled to notice about his court case.
Our case was called next. We both presented witness lists for the trial. The judge said that the trial would not start until 10:30, and my ex-wife complained that there may not be enough time for her witnesses. I asked for a second trial date. The judge suggested a date in January, but my ex-wife said that she would be out-of-town that date. I guess my kids will be out of town also; no one ever tells me. The judge then looked for a date in February and March. At one point she said that she had a an opening on Nov. 19, but that was too soon. "Too soon? I thought that sooner is better.", I said. So she gave us that date. I am taking a chance that I will be able to get my witnesses on that date.
I asked about a court reporter, since there wasn't one in the court at the time. The judge said that if I wanted a court reporter, then I was on my own to find one and hire one! I never heard of a court having a trial and not supplying a court reporter. It is a good thing I asked.
My ex-wife complained that I had been order to prepay the fees for her psychologist witness to testify, but she was concerned that I might not pay him, so she paid him. Now she wants to get reimbursed. The judge said that she had ordered me to pay the witness, so now I am ordered to pay her. There was also a complaint about orthodontics bills. I still don't understand that issue. I guess that I am supposed to pay half of out-of-pocket emergency medical expenses, but I really don't see what that has to do with discretionary orthodontics for which I was never consulted.
I told the judge that I was submitting a pre-trial brief that names my witnesses, and outlines their testimony and my arguments to be given at trial. The judge said that she had not read it. I guess she was making a joke since it was still in my hand. I had given a copy to my ex-wife shortly before court this morning, so she had a chance to read it quickly. She complained to the judge that I had given a description of the history of the case that was slanted to my point of view, and that she disagreed with how I framed the issues. The judge told her that she was welcome to write her own trial brief, if she wishes. My ex-wife is a lawyer, so her complaint seemed odd. Didn't she take a class in law school in how to write a slanted brief?
I had a new rebuttal witness, so I asked for permission for him to see the court case documents. I said that I don't think that permission is needed, but I was asking anyway just to make sure the trial goes smoothly. The judge asked my ex-wife for an objection, and she said that she objected to me springing this issue on her without following procedures, and she finds this annoying because I did it before. But she had no substantive objection and the judge granted permission.
My ex-wife also complained that my brief was a sneaky attempt to revisit issues that were settled three years ago, and that she had gotten Commissioner Joseph to order me not to do that. The judge started rustling some papers, and looked like she was going to order me to follow previous orders. But I assured her that I was filing a brief today that explicitly says that I do not intend to re-litigate any issues that have already been litigated. The judge was satisfied with that.
My ex-wife complained that she was on my witness list. Her position was that I was already found to be the bad guy, and the court psychologist agrees with her, so there is no reason that she should have to testify. That argument was so ridiculous that the judge ignored it.
My ex-wife also complained about how I might use the reports from the visitation supervisor. She said that the supervisor should testify if I am going to use her reports. So I agreed to put the supervisor on my witness lists. My ex-wife then complained that it was conflict of interest for the supervisor to testify, but the judge said that there was no such conflict. My ex-wife also wanted copies of any additional reports that the supervisor writes. I said that I would be happy to give her copies of any such reports.
My ex-wife complained about not having gotten her Nov. 1 child support check. I paid her right after we walked out of court.
Now I have to prepare for a trial. This is my big chance to win some custody of my kids back.
Best of luck.
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