On the appointed day, I drew Judge Bruce D. White. He was running late from the 10AM (law) docket session; by the time our case, scheduled for 11:30AM, and his last one for the day, was called, it was 1PM. I was given 15 minutes to present my fairly complicated argument, which contained infractions spanning over six years, and examine two witnesses. - (Fred Rejali) An impossible task. And needless to say, the Judge's decision was that I had not proven my case. Duh! How could I? I had barely scratched the surface when he called "time up!"
Leaving out the details of my ex's long pauses in "answering" my questions as a tactic in stalling and taking up time, or his attorney's resorting to, as his primary tactic, an attempt to soil my good name to "balance" things out, because, well, that's all he had, as I was sitting in the courtroom all I could think of was why was something as important as the issue of late (or non-payment) of alimony (or child support), relegated to so little judicial concern and attention?
There is something very wrong with a system that does not honor the provisions of its own orders, by way of allowing a litigant - and in most instances, still, a female one - to fully present a case for contravention and consequential damages. It begs the question, what good are judicial dictates, if, when someone does not abide by them, a complainant is held to such an impossible and nebulous standard that the resultant message from a judge is "who cares?" As a follow up corollary, then, just what good are courts?
Fifteen minutes is not enough time to prove a case that is far from simple. But what I found even more baffling is that during my hearing, not once did Judge White admonish my ex for his flagrant, longstanding and extensive violations of the Final Decree. I would like to think that this is not a "men stick together" thing, but the absence of a scolding, on a contempt Order issued by the Chief Judge, was glaring and disappointing.
The better course on issues such as violations severe enough to merit a Rule to Show Cause would be to routinely schedule the matter on a day other than Friday Motion Day, allow at least an hour, and let each side to present all their evidence before making a decision, which might even be taken under advisement. Otherwise, why bother issuing the Order to Show Cause in the first place, except to go through the motions, no pun intended, and cruelly leave the injured party in no better position than before. It would also be helpful if the judge came prepared and was familiar with the file; in my case, the silence in response to my query as to whether my Memorandum had been read spoke volumes.
A decision is only as good as the system that generates it. Some of that has to do with personnel; most of it with institutional procedures. It all equals bad judging, and from my perspective, it appears that women, particularly those that cannot afford high priced representation, those that need the court's assistance the most, are more often than not on the receiving end of its shafting.
Instead of reducing library hours and cutting school funding to save money, perhaps the judicial budget should be explored for savings and salaries reduced or tied into performance as rated by the taxpayers until the purpose of the courthouse is restored. The legal concerns of citizens paying the tab deserve quality handling, not the bum rush herding treatment that so many of us are familiar with in another broken system - health care. How both law and medicine are practiced impact people's lives. And while premature physical infirmities and death are a more obvious byproduct of a sick mode of operation, many women in Fairfax, myself included, somewhat broken and beaten down, can testify to feeling crushed in a tantamount manner, financially and spiritually, by judges who'd rather make quota than focus on doing their best in deciding a case.