Valentine’s Day Courtroom Drama

I woke up like usual.  My mind already working.  Anticipating seeing my loving, loyal and dedicated inlaws….Mike’s family.  I imagined the arguments, the legal and the potential emotionally charged ones in my head; of course that’s always easy when you don’t have the other side there in front of you.  You can make the arguments go your way.  I decided to wear a suit that has a purple jacket with some black ribbing.

Purple you see is the official color of pancreatic cancer.

I thought about how pancreatic cancer took my husband. I’m battling this war because Mike died of pancreatic cancer. And I wanted to remember that today.  I wanted to remember Mike and what we had together and how we had fought Insanity for 15 years…together.   And I wanted to remember that this is his battle that I’m trying to win.  For him.  For what is right and fair.

Then I tried to just forget about all that noise. Just get ready and leave.On the ride “down the hill” I received a perfectly timed phone call from a friend whom I’ve known for a little more than a year now.  This friend knows my fears, my worries, my concerns, mainly that I won’t be able to stay quiet while I’m verbally bashed in the courtroom.  My friend made a point of reminding me that I’m a child of God.  And that God has a master plan and that I should just let it all happen.  That helped tremendously.  Helped me realize that this whole scenario is just a “thing”.  I’ll get through it one way or another.  In comparison it certainly isn’t nearly as stressful as those short three months of Mike’s pancreatic cancer battle and I’ve lived through that haven’t I?I arrived at the courthouse in plenty of time.  In fact way too early.  I met my two friends Alina and Eileen who took time off from work to be by my side. To ensure that the DNA would not attack. My father in law had verbally attacked Alina at a previous hearing so no one knew what to expect from them this time but we didn’t want to take any chances.Alina, being Alina, answered my plea from a day or two before….Jack Daniels!!!  Alina and Eileen were standing in the parking lot freezing in the blustering cold wind when Gabrielle and I arrived.  Alina had a bottle of Jack for me!  I asked if it was too early to take a drink! ….it’s only 7:45am but it’s happy hour somewhere right?  Now I know it may be hard for some to believe but I put the unopened bottle safely in my car…for later!Actually Alina and Eileen had sat discussing just waiting for me to arrive at the county jail and bailing me out after my arrest. Assuming that I would be insubordinate and ornery and just be arrested for my failure to comply with a court order.But not this time, not this day.  Though I did give Gabrielle my access code for my ATM card and I did give her permission to use a credit card for the bail amount.  I did give Gab instructions to have Rollin take her to the bailbonds folks and bail me out.  Unless I’m arrested because I refuse to agree to pay money that I don’t owe.  In that case I told Gab, leave me in jail. I need a long rest with meals prepared for me.

We went into the courthouse.  Climbed those three flights of marble stairs.  Again.  Looked for the DNA but I did not expect to see them as remember the two attorney offices had been called the day before to tell them the matters would be heard later in the morning.  So I checked the listing of the cases for the day.  There is Insanity vs. Mike.  Number 13.

Hummmmm number 13…everything about this case seems to be significant.  If I was superstitious, which I’m not, I might have worried.  So Eileen, Gabrielle, Alina and I found a place to sit and stand amongst the masses of worried, nervous people waiting for the courtrooms to open and the bailiff to invite us in to hear our fate.

There are always a wide variety of people in the court hallways.  That unshaven guy standing in the corner, hands jammed into his ratty jacket, not talking to anyone.  He’d be a bit worrisome if you didn’t remember that we all went through that weapons check metal detector.

The unsmiling young woman in her purple doctor’s office uniform leaning against the wall, eyes darting back and forth.  The poorly dressed woman who ignored the court rules and  had her 7, 8, 9 or more children spread out everywhere with their coloring books and other assorted toys.

That young man appearing to be so bored and tired by the whole scene that he’s sprawled on the hard wood bench with his head in his hand seemingly asleep.  Or the guy who has no teeth but totally entertained by everyone’s conversations.

Intermixed in all these people leaning, standing, sitting, milling around are some court personnel who throw open a courtroom door seemingly forgetting that people might be standing there and could get bashed by the heavy door.

They rush to and fro importantly with a handful of jingling keys never making eye contact with anyone for fear of having to answer a question.

Occasionally you can hear the ching, ching, ching of a long line of inmates dressed in their orange jumpsuits and chained and handcuffed together being escorted to the criminal court.

There we all were in the midst of humanity when I spotted Insanity.  Rather it was just her head.  She’s tall and her head was above the crowd. Or maybe it had separated from her evil body, I don’t know.  But I turned around so she couldn’t see me while I gathered my thoughts and tried to calm my pounding heart.

No, wait!  They aren’t supposed to be here yet!  I HAVE to be here because there’s that pesky subpoena and my potential arrest that motivated me to be early.  But they don’t have that over them.   Drat!!! Now I’ve got two hours to wait before we get started.  But wait with THEM in the hallway.   Let the games begin…. Yuck.  But it is what it is.

8:30 arrived and the bailiff called us in.  I waited outside in the hallway not interested in being in the crowd jostling for a seat. I knew the courtroom well and knew it was limited in space.  Truth be told I wasn’t overly anxious to go into that little room and have to squeeze into a very old wooden folding chair with metal arm rests.  Nevertheless I had to.

Gabrielle had run off to the ladies room and Alina saw the DNA all arrive so she went to find Gab and make sure no one bothered her on the way back to us. Eileen stayed with me. Until I told her I’d better go in.  Gabrielle though had seen her former grandfather Bob, Mike’s dad, so she knew they had arrived.  She started laughing. Went back into the bathroom laughing, laughing, laughing.  And didn’t stop.  Then she said to Alina, “come on let’s skip”..yes skip!!! Down the hallway back to the courtroom. Alina couldn’t help but to laugh at Gabrielle or with her and thought people are looking at the two of them laughing gleefully while skipping down the hallway….those two must be doing drugs! That daughter of mine is crazy!  Lol  But you gotta love her.

Finally I heard our case being called. Insanity versus Mike. The judge’s clerk said Brenda B (Insanity’s attorney) had called and she’d be in at 9:00.  Judge Brian S, “I know Rollin will be in at about 10:30.  He’s representing the other Mike I think.”  Alina and I looked at each other.  The other Mike?  Is that moi?    Next case called.  So we got up and left.  So much for me having to be there and the subpoena.  The judge didn’t even ask if I was there.

We met up with Eileen and Gabrielle and decided to go waste some time in the cafeteria.  Eileen then said she didn’t know who the DNA was.  Well there they all are sitting like ducks in a row on the same bench.  Let me introduce you!

So Eileen and I walked down the hallway passing THE bench.  I introduced them one by one as we walked by. Saying loudly over the din in the hallway (and so they could hear me of course)  I pointed at each one as I passed them

“That is Mike’s exwife Insanity.

That’s my father in law Bob.

That’s Theresa my mother in law.

That is Deb, Mike’s meddlesome aunt.  Hi! Deb said.

And that is Ryan, Mike’s son who looks (my thought was circus freak) like a….well…. a kid.

Off we went down the stairs.

I really only focused on Ryan.  He was sprawled in the bench. Unshaven with a very scraggy psuedo-beard (19 year olds can’t really grow beards), wearing grungy clothes, a knit cap pulled down low, dark sunglasses and a bad attitude. My first thought was that Mike would have been very angry and disappointed at seeing Ryan that way.  No respect is how Mike would have viewed the kid.  A 19-year-old spoiled, coddled punk who couldn’t be bothered cleaning up to come to court.  To a hearing caused by him and for him.  Or is that just arrogance on his part?

Downstairs after we left the cafeteria, while waiting for an elevator I spotted Bob. I was maybe 4 or 5 people behind him and he was taller than most, yet he never saw me.  I figured he had gone looking for me since he had not seen me yet.  Maybe he went looking for coffee or likely food.  Those DNA love to eat, and yes it all shows.  Every last bit of food they’ve ever stuffed into their gluttonous mouths is reflected on their oversized bodies.  But Bob was so self-absorbed he never knew we were all standing right there.  I considered getting on the elevator with him then pushing the emergency stop button.  Telling the rest of the people, sorry but this is a family issue we need to work out. We’ll only be a minute or two. But I chickened out. Hee hee hee….maybe next time.

Remember now we’ll all waiting for Rollin to arrive.  I had called him and he gave me an ETA of about 30 minutes.  That would put him arriving at about 10:30a.m.  Right on schedule.

So we waited.  Again.  We found a little alcove seating area in the middle of the long hallway away from the DNA so we could have some peace and I could read over the cases and my notes.  Eventually I went to the ladies room and I went to wash my hands.  Uh, Alina is there.  She motions something to me…huh?  YOUR MOTHER IN LAW IS IN HERE! She mouths to me. Uh oh….hummm…what to do?  Alina had seen Theresa follow me in and then expected that meddling Deb to come in after her.  Envisioned the bathroom door flying open and one of the DNA come tripping out….Alina knows me you see and knows I do have a breaking point.  But I also remembered Rollin’s admonition, be a lady.  So I bolted out.  Yes, without washing my hands!!!  lol….I momentarily weighed my options…….hands or confrontation, hands, fight. No, bolt!!!

Finally our champion Rollin arrived.  His hair was tousled as if he hadn’t bothered combing it (it was very windy outside) the knot of his tie was on crooked and the knot loosened, his suit jacket rumbled and he looked around, eyes blinking, squinting like he didn’t know where he was.

To a stranger watching they could easily think that he was confused and appeared to be wondering how in the world he found himself in a darkened courthouse hallway.   Why am I here? he appeared to be asking himself.   All part of his act you see.  I’ve known him 15 or so years so I know exactly what he’s doing.  He often acts like that character Columbo if any of you remember him. And Rollin often can appear to be a cross between the monopoly man and Columbo.

But it’s endearing when you know it’s an act….”let’s see” Rollin appears to be asking himself….. “what am I doing here, what was I going to say, where are my glasses?”…but that disarms many people and they always, always, always underestimate Rollin and his extremely sharp legal mind.

I didn’t bother getting up off my comfy hard wooden bench.  Rollin saw me there so I let him walk down the hallway to check in with the bailiff.  He came back in a few minutes signaling with his fingers to follow him.  I heard the announcer in my yell my name! Come on down. You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!  Or This is Your Life!

Eileen, Gabrielle, Alina and I all dutifully got up and followed Rollin like he’s the pied piper and he’s leading us to our fate….But we knew he was our shield and he’ll protect us!  What a motley crew we must have been to the crowd waiting for their turn to be called.

Entering the courtroom I could see that the DNA sat in their usual place.  There’s a section of 4 rows with about 3 seats in every row off to the far side of the room by the jury box that they prefer to sit it.  They are large people mind you so they need plenty of room.  They take up that whole section.  Alina and Gab found two seats to sit together, Eileen sat in one row and I sat in another in front of her.

Rollin sat in the jury box along with Mickey L. and Brenda B.  But not sitting next to each other.  Nope can’t do that.  Right now they are adversaries.

Now Brenda B. is a strange character.  She dresses in the most peculiar way.  But always wears a hat.  Every time I see her I wonder what’s going on under that hat? Today though she out did herself.  She had on a mismatched bunch of accessories…that red and shiny gold ostrich feather scarf was odd, a patterned jacket, along with her red and green plaid skirt and her checked black stockings and of course the hat.  I got dizzy looking at her. I thought she looked like a crayon box threw up on her…too many patterns and too many colors.  Of course that’s my opinion and others may find her style of dress classy.  Lol…though that’s pressing the imagination for me.  Anyway, as she walked past Eileen and I, Eileen couldn’t help herself and said something like, “what is she wearing…..what the heck…?”

Certainly loud enough for Brenda B. to hear and loud enough for me to hear.  I couldn’t help laughing out loud at Eileen.  The bailiff frowned at me.  Rollin did tell me later that he had asked Ward if she’s going to go to Mardi Gras after court today.  I don’t think Rollin likes her any more than the rest of us.  And there is a certain required dress code to wear to court.  Maybe not for Brenda B. though.

Finally I hear my name.  Or Mike’s name, Insanity’s name, Ryan’s name and Bob and Theresa and Deb’s name.  We all have the same last name remember.  But we are all not family. Or we are family by marriage..oh the bad luck!  But we’re not family that enjoy friendly dinners together.

I saw Rollin move toward the litigants table and watched him to see if he would indicate that I had to go up there also.  He looked around the room, searching the crowd for me.  I’m sure it crossed his mind that I had left the room.  He knows me too and knows that I can be irreverent and pugnacious.  Especially toward this whole thing.  But he found me, made eye contact and pointed at the table.  Darn!  I’m not getting out of this after all.

Brenda B. and Mickey L. stood at their table while Rollin and I stood at our table.  They are right next to each other though.  MIckey L. looked behind him to tell Ryan that he had to come up there too while Brenda B. went and fetched a chair for him.

Usually there are only 4 people sitting at the litigant’s table.  Now of course there’ll be six.  But there wasn’t room for Insanity. She didn’t get to join in the fun.

Rollin and I jostled back and forth.  You sit next toto Mickey, no you sit next to him!  But we did that silently.

Finally Rollin announced “oh I don’t mind sitting so close to Micky, we can cuddle together while we’re here.”  To which MIckey laughed and we all sat down.  Me as far away from THEM as I could get and still be sitting at the litigant table.

The judge told everyone to announce for the record their names and who they are representing.  Brenda B went first then Mickey  then Rollin.  While Rollin was introducing himself the judge cut him off and left the bench.

Uh oh….hummmm.  I’m reminded that Mickey had told Rollin yesterday that the judge is pissed at me…because I’ve “been jerking him around for a year…”.  I wondered then if he’s going to take it out on Rollin.  Rollin just ignores that kind of behavior from others.  If he doesn’t ignore it then he’ll say something witty and funny about it.  Again to let everyone know that he knows but that he’s choosing to not let it bother him.

The judge returned from his inner sanctum and started rehashing the issues of the whole case.  Everyone sat in rapt silence.  Rollin took notes, Lawson just sat still, Ward nodding her head as if encouraging the judge to continue.  Yes, that’s right.  Mike died and left his poor tender minor child behind with no money.  Yes that’s right Rose is withholding Ryan’s rightful $100,000…get her judge!  Yes, that’s right Rose does own a house that Mike and her used to own together and we want her to sell the house so we can get the money!  On and on it went.

I glanced behind me to see what Alina, Gab and Eileen were doing.  Alina was sitting at the edge of her seat smiling.  Gab was sitting back using Alina to block the DNA from seeing her and Eileen was looking around at everyone.

I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least if Eileen had turned to the person sitting next to her and ask, “what are you here for?”  Not much intimidates Eileen.  In fact she appeared to be completely at ease and entertained by the whole thing.  As if she’s watching a play.  I don’t mind that at all and view everything pretty much the same way.  Except I’m in one of the starring roles this time!

I look over at the DNA section and Insanity gives me this stupid spread ear to ear smile.  It looked more like a grimace coming from her.  She sticks her chin out while stretching her ugly mouth (that’s usually turned upside down in a frown) with a parody of a grin.  I just laughed out loud again.


Then I looked over at Ryan sitting at the litigant’s table.  He had removed his cap and let us all see his filthy unwashed greasy, badly dyed black long uncut hair and his sunglasses, pursuant to the bailiff ordering him to do so.  I studied him. He sat, slumping his 6’1″ drug users skinny frame so that he was shorter than his attorney who is 5’10”; stiff as a board staring straight ahead with his dirty hands crossed in front of him.

Then I looked at Brenda B sitting next to him in her crazy outfit.  I turned around and announced for the gallery, ” oh look the circus is in town!!”  Alina looked like she was either going to throw up or just burst out laughing.  Mainly though she just frowned at me.  Basically telling me to shut up and turn around.

I try the patience of most people around me from time to time.

So I turned around and back to the task at hand.  The judge had almost concluded his diatribe.  I tuned in enough to hear him say something about Ryan’s age when Mike died.  The judge then asked Brenda B “is that right?  Do I have the dates correct?”  Brenda B said, “yes”.  “Oh” said the judge, “because you had a look on your face just then and I don’t know what that was about”.

Finally the judge stopped.  Rollin then asked if he could make some points for the record.  “Go ahead”, said the judge.

So Rollin, reading from his notes started to talk about jurisdiction, he talked about equity.  He talked about the $5400 that has already been stipulated to in July that was for child support.  Then he spoke about unfair enrichment.  That was an aha! moment that flew over everyone’s head.  But not mine and not the judge’s.  Maybe not Alina, Eileen or Gabrielle’s either because I had already explained to them what our approach was going to be.

As Rollin spoke I looked at the DNA and saw their frowns of confusion.  I remembered then all the times Mike told me his family was stupid.

Bob sat with his pudgy arms crossed and just looked angrily at Rollin.

Deb glared and Theresa sat with a look of complete bewilderment on her face.

Rollin might as well have been speaking greek to her ears.

I looked at the ceiling and noted that tile up there looked likely to fall.

I looked at the judge.

Well really it’s his silhouette.  He is perched up there on the bench above all of us in front of a wall of windows which are bracketed by two flags. The American flag on one side, the California state flag on the other.  The windows have wooden blinds but he keeps the blinds open along with the window open so you can’t really see his face.  Though we are on the third floor you can often hear the sounds of traffic floating up from the street.  Car alarms going off unattended, sirens, honks all mix together to serve as urban background music.

We all have to look into the sun that is at the judges back.  Doesn’t he have enough power already without adding to it in a passive/aggressive manner?  Maybe he doesn’t think so.  Maybe he’s really short when he’s not on his perch. Maybe he’s really just an insecure, white bearded, balding, bumbling fool when he can’t wear his black robe of justice.  We may never know…..

Rollin leaned over to me, bringing me back from my mental wanderings to ask Ryan’s birth date.  I told him October 29, 1988.  Rollin started talking on the record again, talking about the fact that Ryan had reached age of majority before his dad died but said Ryan’s birthday was October 26, 1986.  “No” I whispered to Rollin “it’s October 29, 1988.”  Which he repeated on the record.  The judge looked down at his notes, wrote something and then said, “yes those dates are right, thank you for the correction.”

Ok, Rollin made the point that the threshold of whether or not Ryan was a fulltime high school student must be met before we can go any further.  Rollin said Ryan wasn’t.  Rollin also made the point that the order from 1996 is vague and should be interpreted before we could go any further.  Rollin also went on to say that the house in which the attorneys had placed their lis pendens was my property and wrongfully liened for collateral to a potential money judgment.  Rollin said, “a lis pendens for a money judgment is an improper remedy for their claim.”.  The judge interrupted and said, “I don’t know that.” Ok, that’s back to real estate law 101.  The judge must have slept through that class.

While Rollin spoke and made his points the courtroom was silent.  The judge stared off into the distance listening to Rollin.  Ryan stared straight forward.  Brenda B sat tightly wound up, ready to pounce.  Mickey looked down at the table and I looked around at everyone.  Listening to Rollin making sure he hadn’t left out any points that I wanted to make, regardless of whether Rollin felt it was significant.  I’m the kind of client that tries Rollin’s patience…stretches it to a breaking point sometimes.  I know just enough to cause trouble.  I feel sorry for Rollin often enough that he has to put up with me.  Poor guy. lol!!

The judge agreed with Rollin on all his points.  He started to talk about the 1996 order.  And agreed that it needs to be interpreted.  What was the meaning behind the order?  The judge told us all that we’d have to have some hearings for testimony on that issue.  But the two attorney’s who represented the litigants and the judge who signed the order are now off doing something else.  So the only person party to that 1996 order is Insanity.  We all know exactly what she’d say.  “The order was to protect my beautiful baby boy when his father dies.”  The judge was trying to think.  Out loud.  “I agree the order is vague.  I don’t know how we’d discover the true meaning of that order.  I don’t know what was meant by that order.”

Brenda B piped in just then, “Then we have to go to the plain language of the order.”  “Yes, that’s right.” Said the judge.    Well the plain language states that Mike has to maintain the policy until Ryan is 18 or 19 AND a full time high school student.  Ryan was 18 before Mike died.  But wasn’t in high school at all, let alone fulltime.

Rollin then said, ‘well your honor that’s the threshold you have to meet.  Was Ryan 18 and a fulltime high school student?”

The judge said, “I think you’re right. If Ryan wasn’t a fulltime high school student when his father died, then we stop there.”  Uh oh…..the tension in the courtroom was pretty thick right then.  That’s another aha! moment.  Every one, but maybe the judge, knows very well Ryan was not in school before or after Mike died.  Insanity knows it, Bob, Theresa, Deb, me, Gabrielle, Alina, Eileen, Rollin and even Ward and Lawson know it.  They’ve been trying to pretend that Ryan only took a break from school during his dad’s illness and for a little while after his death.  However, I had subpoenaed Ryan’s school transcripts.  They clearly reflect that Ryan had been expelled from regular high school for getting caught selling stolen goods to a pawn shop and that he had been in a self study program since April 2006. Is home self study considered fulltime?

There is no clear statement of fact on that particular detail. The transcripts do show however that in December following Mike’s death that Ryan suddenly enrolled in a self study program with a very packed schedule.  30 credit hours attempted instead of those 6 credit hours from a semester before.  But what happened in December after Mike’s death is irrelevant.  It’s closing the barn door after the cow has left.  Insanity and her team are actually trying to deceive the court and claim that Ryan had been attending that much all along.

Puhlease, though the judge might be dense and thickheaded he isn’t really THAT dumb.  Or is he?

The judge went on to babble about the fact that each school and each school system has different requirements that would be considered fulltime.  “For instance,” the judge says, colleges or universities allow that 12 credit hours is fulltime or sometimes its 18 credit hours…”  ok, you dimwit, I’m thinking.  We’re not talking college here.  We’re talking high school.  Not the same.  You have to take a certain amount of credited classes in high school to graduate—according to state standards.  While in college you can take one class or 5 or whatever, it’s all optional.  I wanted Ryan’s transcripts in the court record.  Here’s a copy of them. Which I handed to Rollin.  Oops!  I interrupted the judge talking to hear himself talk.  “Have you got something to say?” he practically yelled at me.  “Do you want to say something on the record?  If so you need to wait for your attorney to ask you and you write it down on a note pad or a piece of paper for him!!!!  Do you have something to say?”  He asks me again.  Geeeeezzz.  I’m thinking oh yeah I’ve got something to say you m**her f***ing idiot a**hole!  But instead I just gave him a big smile and said, “no.  Sorry.”  But Rollin had the envelope that I had given him.  So when the judge was out of hot air and stopped talking Rollin pushed the envelope to the edge of the table.  There it sat for everyone to see. Uh oh the attorneys had to be thinking…she”s got the proof now that he wasn”t enrolled…..there goes our case.  BUT what a second people I’ve had that all along!  They know I subpoenaed the records; I’ve raised that point over and over.  It isn’t new information.  Yet it seemed as though it was new to the judge.  Rollin spoke about Ryan’s enrollment in school, or lack thereof.

The judge started talking again.  But agreed with Rollin again.  We have to explore that issue first.  So, “we’re going to need a couple more hearings.” The judge decided.  At which time the DNA reacted.  Bob and Theresa were clearly disgusted.  No doubt they had come prepared to see the fall of Victoria once and for all this very day.  Maybe they actually believed that they were going to get their order for me to sell my house.  They’d finally be triumphant.  But wait!  This is not playing out the way Brenda and MIckey said it would.

The judge also agreed that if Ryan wasn’t a fulltime high school student at the time of Mike’s death then the 100k is out of the picture.  Then we’d have to look at the $5,400 only, which is already an amount agreed upon.  Taa daaa!  Right there I think the DNA felt it.  They felt that $100,000 slip through their greedy hands.  They saw the potential of things not going their way and they knew that perhaps they had underestimated me all along.

That brought Rollin to his next point…which I had dutifully scrawled on my note pad……THE LIS PENDENS!!!  Rollin argued that the lis pendens is inappropriate on my property. The judge said that I had agreed to be joined to the case as Mike’s representative and in exchange for that the lis pendens was removed from the house. Uh yeah…that was the first one, not this new one.  A nonresponse from the judge on that.    Rollin then went on to discuss unfairness in all this.  That “Ryan has already graduated from high school, there’s already an order for $5400 and that Ryan received an additional benefit of almost $12,000 from social security.  Something no one else got.  To give him an unfair windfall is wrong.  That you your honor have the judicial ability, the right to use your own discretion to rule on the equity of the issues.”

The judge then asked Rollin, “are you running this court room?”  Rollin sheepishly smiled and sat back with his hands between his knees, like a kid who had been chastised and said “no your honor, you can.”  But Rollin had made his point.  A very exact and important point.  One that resounded loudly throughout the courtroom.  Fairness.  The judge had finally gotten a chance to look at this Ryan character.  The judge is a former naval officer and Ryan doesn’t look like a prime candidate for much in life.  The judge finally said, “yes you’re right.” With regard to the fairness issue.

Moving right along Rollin then asked for permission to modify the 1996 order.  Huh?  Modify the order?  Yes, file a request or modify the 1996 order back to 2006 when Mike was sick.  To get an order which states a more specific term of termination or the reason for the order in the first place.  The judge granted that!  So now I’ve been given the courts permission to file a motion that this judge can rule on that may terminate Mike’s obligation to Ryan.  After the fact of Mike’s death.  In essence to rewrite history!  And cause an order to be made by this judge which will allow him to say no to their request for that $100,000 payout.

Then the judge asked Rollin, “who exactly are you representing here?  The estate?  Mike?  Victoria?  To what extent IS your special appearance?  How far does that go?  Rollin you seem all over this case, you’re jumping in everywhere.  Just who are you representing exactly?”

There’s a good question–one that everyone, except maybe me–was anxious to hear. I already knew the range of Rollin’s representation.  But I also knew that Rollin had to think about that for a moment.  The consequences of his representation.  If he represents Mike would I still be able to be involved?  Go into chambers if needed?  Or if he represents me would I totally screw up Mike and the estate?  Over and over these thoughts went through Rollin’s head.  Everyone waited for him to answer.

Finally Rollin reached the conclusion that I think was inevitable.  A conclusion that he knew was unavoidable.  So Rollin threw up his hands, sat back and said, “everyone.  I represent Mike, his estate and Rose.”  Brenda screeched in, “well who do we serve?  I don’t know who to serve!”

The judge told her, “Serve everyone.”  Lol…that’s a lot of people now!  This case is growing legs!

Rollin wasn’t finished though.  You see he knew the DNA. But he knew Mike better. He’d represented Mike’s sister in her first divorce; he had represented Deb and her raging bull of a husband, Bob’s half brother, and he’d been to our wedding, he’d been to our home over the years…all at the same time the DNA were there also so he knew them well.

“Your honor,” Rollin started, “I represented Mike for over 10 years in this fight against Becky.  But he wasn’t just a client to me he was also my friend.  When Mike was sick in the hospital I went to see him one day.  When Rose stepped out of the room Mike grabbed me and pulled me toward him.  Mike said, ‘Rollin I know I’m going to die.  But I can’t do that, I can’t just Rose if I don’t know if she’s going to be taken care of.  PLEASE. So I promised Mike that I would look after his wife for him.  That’s why I’m here today.  Because I promised him I would.  I’m going to fulfill that promise I made to Mike and see this through to the end.”

Now that promise Rollin made was the same promise that Bob and Theresa had made to their son.  They remember they made that promise because they told their friend who is also a pastor that they made that promise.  Rollin knew that and wanted them to hear that a promise made is a promise kept regardless of the personal cost.  He also wanted the DNA to know that they weren’t just fighting me anymore that now they were going to be fighting Rollin and me.  A man who knew them well but knew Mike and me better.  AND a man who knows the meaning of integrity and has it.  Just like Mike did.

Rollin then went on to mention that he’s reminded of a scene in the Lonesome Dove story.  The judge started smiling, Lawson smiled a bit and I felt myself smile.  I knew where Rollin was going with this.  He and Mike were Lonesome Dove fans.  Apparently so was the judge.  Rollin relayed one scene where one character stated ‘in the future I need to be more careful on what promises I make and who I make them to’.  Everyone laughed.  Well not Ryan who was clueless, maybe he was high, not the DNA and not Brenda. Mickey smiled. The judge laughed though.  Always a good sign when the judge laughs with you.

The judge asked Rollin then, “well are you agreeing to join this document?”

I wondered what document?

“The document filed by Rose?”  Rollin started to say, “oh sure I’ll jo…..”

hummmm Rollin is probably thinking what hasRose filed in this case?

“Yeah” Rollin starts again, “whatever she’s filed, I agree with.”

Well that’s a good thing isn’t it? I thought.  The document in question is my demand for a written statement, finding of fact and conclusion of law on each issue. Something I filed a week or so ago.  A document that tells the attorneys and especially the judge that I plan to appeal any wrong ruling so you’d better be on your toes and do your homework.  At that time Mickey leaned over to Rollin and asked him if he wrote that document.

“Nope”, Rollin told him, “Rose did.  But I told her what to write!”

Wow!  Give the girl SOME credit will ya?  At some time during this proceeding Rollin told Lawson he has a pretty crappy case.  Mickey didn’t deny it.  But all lawyers will tell you that you take your clients as you find them.  And you don’t always represent the right side.

So the hearing is winding down pretty much and they start to discuss potential new dates for more hearings.  The DNA is completely furious now.  They’ve gotten the gist of everything that has occurred, what’s been said.  They certainly know that the judge doesn’t hate Rollin as they had hoped.  Oh no, when the judge tells Rollin to “say hello to everyone up there in the high desert for me…especially Commissioner Paul…I like him.”  Well that doesn’t bode well for them does it?

Rollin suddenly asked the judge for permission to file a motion to remove the lis pendens.  After some discussion wherein Rollin repeated what I had already placed in the record two or three times that Insanity and Ryan have no ownership interest in the house, that the lis pendens is inappropriate.  Brenda pipes in again and complains that the lis pendens is there for collateral for a debt that is owed to Ryan and her client.

The judge, “well I don’t know that.”

He continued to say, “I don’t know if Mike has any interest in that real property. I don’t know if it would be fair and equitable to award this $100,000.  I just don’t know.  But if it’s shown that Ryan was not a fulltime student at the time of his father’s death, then we have to stop right there. We’ll only look at the $5,400.

Again the judge said he is considering that Ryan doesn’t deserve that $100,000!

Brenda yaps on, “well I object to his impromptu motion here today to remove that lis pendens.  He needs to file a motion and properly serve that.  And quite frankly there isn’t enough time for that.  I want the statutory time frame for service and the statutory nine days in which to respond.”

Rollin leans over to me and asks, “can you get it done in ten days?”  I’m thinking get what done?  But nod my head anyway.  Rollin then says, “your honor we can file that motion within ten days, the return hearing is not until April, it’s only February, Ms. Brenda can have all the time she needs to do her response.”  So the judge looked at Brenda and asked her if that was acceptable to her.

“Yes your honor.”  She answered quietly.

“I assume it’s acceptable to everyone that service can be by way of fax?” The judge asked everyone.

Yeah, yeah, sure whatever mumbled everyone.  Of course what that said to me was that I had more time to prepare these two motions that Rollin volunteered me for.  The one to modify the 1996 order and ask for the court’s relief on Mike’s obligation given his financial obligations while he was sick, and the one that removes that stupid lis pendens…again.  I don’t have to worry about the 5 days for mailing in addition to the days to prepare the motions.  I can fax the motions on the 10th day and Brenda can’t complain about it.

“So we have a new date?” The judge asked.  March 11th?  “No! I can’t make that date.” Whines Brenda. I turned around to the audience, held up my hands, shrugged my shoulders and looked at Alina.  She’s shaking her head.

This is typical Brenda.  She never agrees to the first date suggested.  “Ok, how about April 3?” The judge asked.  Everyone agreed that was a good date. They didn’t ask me of course as no one cared if I could make it or not.

I turned around and loudly said to the DNA, “cha-ching!!” More attorney fees for you!

“Ok folks see you all back in April” the judge said.

So we all get up.  Rather I got up and Eileen, Gabrielle and Alina followed me out of the courtroom.  I left Rollin behind.  He can chitty chat with Lawson all he wants.  The DNA sat frozen in their chairs.  Certainly wondering what the hell just happened here?  Where is our victory?    They looked enraged.  Of course that only caused me to smile.  What have they been thinking all this time?  That they would prevail?  Because Ryan is the only biological son of Mike?  Irregardless of Mike’s wishes?  Irregardless of the fact that I was married to Mike at the time of his death? And that Mike had two other children?

We stood around in the hallway waiting for Rollin.  The DNA all burst out of the courtroom from the other door.  They huddled tightly around each other.  Bob with his hands in his pockets.  Theresa still looking befuddled. Deb looking intently at whatever Brenda was saying.  Explaining to them like they were 5th graders presumably what just happened.

Which in a nutshell is this:

    The burden of proof that Ryan was a fulltime student at the time of Mike’s death is on Mickey.  Not on me to disprove.

  1. I will file a motion to rewrite history.  To rewrite that 1996 order for the purpose of equity.
  2. I will file a motion to have that lis pendens removed and the judge will have to grant it according to the law.
  3. Even if Mickey is able to prove that Ryan was a fulltime high school student Ryan is not going to be getting $100,000.
  4. If that insurance policy was to ensure future child support, the judge has ordered that the amount of future child support is only from the time of Mike’s death to the time of Ryan’s high school graduation.  In essence the $5,400 previously agreed upon by mother.
  5. The issue remaining, unaddressed so far by everyone but me, is who is going to pay that $5,400?  I am not responsible for it.  Mike’s estate has no money.  Just where is that going to come from?  That’s that huge pink elephant sitting in the middle of the room that everyone is pretending to ignore.

Thank you dear readers for your time and patience with this constant changing and unfolding saga of mine.  Please stay tuned for the next installment.  That might not be until April 3 or earlier if I get served with another lawsuit!

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