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“White hats, black hats,” and the dissenting opinion

Many of us here have had experiences in court where we were less than satisfied with the outcomes.  I feel mainly fortunate in that respect.  For the most part, those I dealt with understood enough about personality disorders to act accordingly.

However, in one case I am familiar with, that clarity was somewhat lacking.  In the end, things worked out fine because the judge followed the laws of the land explicitly.  Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning because, in my opinion, his attitude and belief system could have been of serious concern had different issues (in the same court) been at stake.  As long as there are those who believe as he does, and he is not unique in this way, justice may not be served in some instances.

A very brief background 

According to court records, this judge had many years on the bench at the time this case was heard, and more than 35 years of experience in the legal profession.  I respect and appreciate his service, background, and legal knowledge.  It was evident that each played a role in his decisions.

From my very limited knowledge of civil procedure, his actions and decisions seemed appropriate.  Although, the fact that this case was even heard begs several basic jurisdiction questions and he acknowledged that.  He was not the judge who initially chose to move forward with this case, waiving the defendant’s personal jurisdiction.  The parties lived in different states, separated by thousands of miles, and had next to nothing to do with each other.  It remains my opinion that the minimum contact rule was not met; nor did the defendant consent.  He concurred and encouraged the parties to reach an agreement outside of his courtroom.  It was clear that he hoped not to have to hear this, moving it to the back of the docket.  To the best of my knowledge, this placed approximately 30 other cases ahead.  His legal knowledge and reasoning were not the problems.

We are not all equal and the playing field is not always level

Rather, the concern is that he missed something crucial, as many in his position do, based on the issues discussed on this site alone.  He demonstrated very little understanding of those with psychopathic features or any of the features associated with personality disorders, as well as those who may act while “under the influence” of these individuals.  In this case, some combination was likely involved.

He mistakenly assumed the playing fields were level.  They were not.  He operated under the assumption that both parties were “equal.”  Doing so can be a fatal mistake.

The following is a quote from the judge presiding over this case.  It has been taken directly from the court transcripts.  He states, “And as I have said 100 times in this court, there are no white hats, no black hats.  Everyone is equally guilty.”

I disagree.  In cases where one or more of the parties involved have traits consistent with any of the personality disorders there is no such thing as “equally guilty.”  A lack of understanding in this area can, and often does, have serious consequences.  It is time to acknowledge that there are simply those who do not see matters as they truly are, or who are prone to promoting conflict.

A little slack

While I am confident that he has been witness to countless shenanigans in and about his courtroom over the years, and can appreciate how exhausting and ridiculous these may collectively become, each individual entering that forum is entitled to an unbiased assessment.  As long as both parties are viewed as “equals” in this respect, that can never happen.  In this case, it was definitely not what the defendant got, especially when we consider the convoluted manner in which the defendant had to work the case from afar.

In many respects, I feel the need to go easier on this judge than I may under different circumstances.  This case was filed by an individual who was also being manipulated, to some extent, by the same outside force as the defendant.  The waters became too muddy.  However, in spite of the judge’s strong suggestion that the parties conclude outside of his courtroom, even in the absence of evidence and merit, the moving party insisted it be heard.

I could see where he, or any other individual with no background on the parties, might assess culpability in this fashion.  In the event that what the plaintiff was alleging was true, the case could have, in theory, been legitimate.  Unfortunately, it consisted of bits and pieces of what became mass chaos.

The forum   

This instance was a civil case involving the family courts.  However, it was not between two partners or ex-partners.  Regardless of relationship, it has long been my belief that a fair amount of what is heard in such forums involve at least one individual with elevated features of disorder.  For if all parties involved were healthy, much of what is set forth for decision there would have been handled in the context of a civil conversation, rather than as a civil matter, never making it to court.

Insert any specific scenario you have either experienced or can think of, and this judge’s response could be that of any other one who lacks a clear picture of psychopathic features, personality disorder traits, or other high conflict personalities.

Lessons learned

What can we take away from examining this case?  First and foremost, as much as possible, do not allow inaccuracies to make it into “the record.”  In this case, they did, in part because the defendant was working from over 2,000 miles away.  Additionally, the case lacked any and all evidence.  The allegations had to consist of something, even if they were fabricated by the moving party, partial truths taken out of context, or the result of complete lies told to the plaintiff by the “mutual individual” involved.  The same transcripts indicated that the plaintiff’s entire relationship with this person was built on a lie.  Why would it surprise anyone that what followed would be any different?

This case also demonstrates the need for no contact.  Communication with a high conflict individual will very likely be misconstrued.  If we communicate improperly or “emotionally,” we appear to lower ourselves to their levels.  If we do so with less emotion, but in an effort to better the situation, it may be mistaken for “engagement.”  Thus, the best approach is not to say anything more than what is necessary and often, little or nothing is necessary.

What comes next? 

What comes next is good news because it involves actions we can take to advocate for change.  Most importantly, and perhaps most obviously, is the need to educate the judiciary to the fullest extent possible about personality disorders.  We cannot expect them to know what they are not taught.  Dealing with disorder, no matter where, when, or how it rears its head tends not to come naturally to us.  The understanding was not inherent to us and may not be inherent to them.

Naturally, as these cases enter their courtrooms looking as ridiculous as they do, it may be easy and natural for them to assume that everyone is similarly culpable.  Therefore, they must learn, just like the rest of us.  They must be willing to abandon their preconceived notions about human nature, just as we had to do.  However, this will not occur unless they have the information.

I think it is entirely possible for this to happen.  Why?  In part, because most really do want to make proper decisions.  Notice in this case, the  judge did not let the other side off the hook.  He saw the other side as childish and ridiculous.  His only mistake was comparing both parties equally.  That, we can overcome.  This is not a problem lacking a solution.

Currently, law schools may not focus on psychology, but the topic does make for interesting and important Continuing Legal Education classes.  My hope is that more will surface.  Next, more of us who “get it” must get out into the profession.  I realize that is no small task.  However, I am committed to this cause and will take what many of us already know into the legal arena, in hopes of furthering justice.  I am honored to have the opportunity to do so and thankful to those who unknowingly and certainly unintentionally  guided me to do so.

Here’s what I know 

I know that there are “white hats” and “black hats.”  Even if none of us is perfect, there are absolutely areas of gray; ones that the judge who heard this case did not recognize.  While it did not adversely affect the outcome in this particular instance, making general assumptions is dangerous, especially in cases where disorder is either suspected or has been assessed.  Fortunately, even if he did not understand the challenging psychology at play, his reasoning prevailed.  In that respect, there is no dissent.  The rest, we can work with and make progress on in time.  He may one day agree.  He may never agree.  We, however, can keep talking and teaching so that future generations of decision makers take all of this into consideration.

 



7 Comments on "“White hats, black hats,” and the dissenting opinion"

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  1. Linette says:

    This is SO true. Last November I went to court to try to obtain an order of protection against my ex spath. The judge did not seem to pick up on any of his actions as being unusual and spoke to him as if he was “normal” even after I gave him email after email and explained incidents that he admitted to have been a part of. However, the evidence was undeniable because of the emails and documentation. I urge EVERYONE please try to get evidence. I wasn’t granted a full year of protection but at least I got six months. It runs out this month. I haven’t seen or heard anything from him during this time and hope he doesn’t “reappear”. I don’t think he thought I was “smart enough” to save everything and that’s what “saved me”. This didn’t involve money of course but it DID involve my sanity. After being used for 11 years for his gain, I did NOT need to deal with more of it after the divorce and thankfully he did honor the order. I am sure he didn’t want to be “exposed” and that is why but well whatever works!



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  2. fight says:

    What an interesting article. I love the “white hats/black hats” analogy. I think too many people whom have lived a sheltered life with money and great jobs and power assume that everyone lives that same life. I wish they would check this site out.

    There are absolutely good people and bad people and I would guess in at least 50% of all divorces, someone is 90% of the bad. I wish we had a lot more female judges. Statistically, so many more women have been abused by a partner and I think that there would be more empathy for abuse because the chance are higher than a female judge might have experienced some form of abuse during her life time.

    Someone should send that judge a letter with a mention of this website and remind him that infamous serial killer Ted Bundy looked “normal.” So did the murderous cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer. Too many people think they know what normal looks like and two many people in power in divorces think everything is 50/50. Maybe they need some letters to educate them.



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  3. alesias1959 says:

    Dear all, I am not sure how to start .. Maybe just a little background. I jumped into a relationship with a man who was willing to say anything to get my money. My first 28 year marriage ended with my ex running off with his secretary. So needless to say, my second chance led me to the bad choice which lost me 76,000.

    Court has been awful. Judges in my case didn’t have a clue about my exes personality disorder. He was allowed to make statements without evidence, that made me look like the bad guy and made him look like the victim.

    Our last meeting was to be in front of the judge who wrote the ” law” on vpos’ and knew my ex was being a little crazy with his allegations. However, we got a brand new judge, who didn’t know the case. She allowed everything he said as gospel, told me I was a big girl and I knew what I was getting into. She allowed him to bring up that I was wanted for not showing up in court on my warrant( my lawyer did not remember we moved the court date to accommodate my teaching schedule so therefore another warrant was issued) and I was taken to jail in handcuffs.

    She allowed the continuation of the Vpo against me because my ex said I was keeping him from seeing his daughter, contacting his clients and putting lies on YELP. He was allowed to say anything to make me look bad and all I could say was “it’s a lie”

    My conclusion is this… Sociopaths have the ability to win over judges too. Unless the victims are heard and allowed to fight, the sociopaths get by without evidence and the victims are locked up.

    Sociopaths are called such because of how they solve the problems in their world. It is never their fault and they are the victim.



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  4. Alesias1959 – welcome to Lovefraud. I am so sorry for your situation. Sociopaths are typically very good in court. Everyone here knows exactly what you’re going through – unfortunately. I invite you to keep reading and posting – you are not alone.



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  5. Jan7 says:

    alesias1959, judges are clueless about domestic abuse & how to spot a con artist sociopath. Honestly after my divorce I have ZERO respect for the court system or judges/lawyers. My ex conned his way into taking everything with his masterful pity play and the judge bought it hook line & sinker. And society wonders way victims stay with a abuser…same reason society gets conned = sociopaths are masterful con artist.

    Check out the site Onemomsbattle. com & their facebook page. Open a fake email acct then open a new facebook page so that you can talk freely without your ex seeing or his family/friends. This site has everything to do with court issues.

    Lovefraud it great at getting your mind cleared out from all the brain washing your ex did to you & for educating yourself.

    You will get to a good place. glad you found your way to Donna’s great site. Take care.



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  6. Jan7 says:

    PS..if you are still in the divorce process 1) get a court order mental evaluation on your soon to be ex. Ask on one moms battle facebook page how to do this. 2) each time you are in court ask the judge to swear both you & your ex into court and have it all transcribed this way if your ex lies it is documented and he will be perjuring himself and could find himself in jail. 3) you can ask your lawyer to ask the court a head of time if you can call into the court house instead of going to the court house so that you do not have to miss hours of work.



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    • alesias1959 says:

      Thank you so much. I have one more court date to address his Vpo against me. I will make sure he is sworn in as well as I. This Vpo has got to go away and I need all my money back from trying to get my name cleared. Wish me luck. I just wish I had a lawyer who doesn’t need the money.



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