A Restraining Order

This post discusses the legal phenomenon known as the “restraining order” (also known as the protective or protection order).  It focuses on a case in which I was personally involved, not because others have not had worse experiences, but because I want to tell this story for purposes of some other posts that will link here, and also because I am especially confident of the facts in a case that I have experienced, as distinct from one that I have only read about.

Restraining orders have long been susceptible of great and sometimes absurd abuse.  Consider, for example, this quote from Hession (2008):

One day in December of 2005, Colleen Nestler came to Santa Fe County District Court in New Mexico with a bizarre seven-page typed statement and requested a domestic-abuse restraining order against late-night TV host David Letterman.

She stated, under oath, that Letterman seriously abused her by causing her bankruptcy, mental cruelty, and sleep deprivation since 1994.  Nestler also alleged that he sent her secret signals “in code words” through his television program for many years and that he “responded to my thoughts of love” by expressing that he wanted to marry her.

Judge Daniel Sanchez issued a restraining order against Letterman based on those allegations.  By doing so, it put Letterman on a national list of domestic abusers, gave him a criminal record, took away several of his constitutionally protected rights, and subjected him to criminal prosecution if he contacted Nestler directly or indirectly, or possessed a firearm.

Letterman had never met Colleen Nestler, and this all happened without his knowledge.  Nonetheless, she requested that the order include an injunction requiring him not to “think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering.”  Asked to explain why he had issued a restraining order on the basis of such an unusual complaint, Judge Sanchez answered that Nestler had filled out the restraining-order request form correctly.  After much national ridicule, the judge finally dismissed the order against Letterman.  Those who don’t have a TV program and deep pockets are rarely so fortunate.

I am writing this post, as the reader may suspect, because I had a restraining order entered against me.  The last paragraph of that quotation is poignant because of its presentation of the judge’s reasoning.  As my attorney put it to me, the judge will look at the order.  It will say that the complaining party just wants to prevent me from harming her.  Unless I intend to harm her, why would I oppose such an order?

The answer, suggested in the quotation, is that restraining orders are used for purposes not intended in the narrow scope suggested by the attorney.  I was concerned about that possibility.  That’s why I hired a lawyer.  I could have had an order entered against me without paying him $500, but I said I was afraid that such an order might have adverse consequences for my new career as a social worker, having just started a master’s of social work program at the University of Missouri – Columbia.  It seems I was correct in being so concerned.  Social work is often profoundly conservative, notwithstanding its liberal patina, and often anti-male; hence, a male who has been in trouble with the law, in any conceivable sense of the term, is apt not to face consequences.

After taking my $500, the lawyer played his role in a process that did result in precisely the outcome that I had hoped he would prevent.  It would actually have been to my advantage not to have a lawyer when the court date came, because as it turned out, in a case called prior to mine, that the judge was more cautious and inquisitive than the lawyer had let on.  I would have had a better chance of avoiding the restraining order without him because, if I had been defending myself, I would have piped up about the facts of the case, whereas the lawyer had already been paid and therefore did not bother.

These, however, are not the injustices targeted here.  In this post, I wish rather to discuss the functioning of the pretrial judicial machinery that made this outcome possible.  Specifically, the court paid an investigator to determine whether a restraining order was appropriate.  She decided it was.  I submitted a memo to the court, challenging that determination.  It appears that my attorney’s involvement freed the judge to disregard that memo.  Nonetheless, the memo does provide a relatively brief illustration of the basis for a proceeding that cost me $500, impaired my social work career, and for the past ten years (and on into the future) has left my life under a cloud in other ways I will never know.

The memo refers to Michelle Kasak, the investigator; Heather Jones, the woman seeking the restraining order; and Lucas Jones, her 10-year-old son.  The latter two are pseudonyms.  The memo was as follows:

Memorandum

To:  Interested Persons
From:  Ray Woodcock
Date:  October 29, 2004
Re:  Child Order Protection Report of Michelle Kasak

Introduction

On October 4, 2004, Michelle Kasak, a freelancer working for Family Court Services, filed a Child Order Protection Report (the “Kasak Report,” cited as “KR”) with the court.  Ms.  Kasak recommended that the court enter a full order of protection.  This memo replies to certain statements and conclusions expressed in the Kasak Report.  This memo does not attempt to fully reproduce relevant materials contained in the motion and affidavit I filed with the court on September 22, 2004 (the “Motion” and “Affidavit”), copies of which I gave to Ms.  Kasak during our meeting on September 30.

For ease of reference to specific statements within the Kasak Report, in this memo I use numerical references.  For example, a reference to “2.5.4” would be a reference to page 2, paragraph or partial paragraph 5, line 4.  A reference to “2.5.bottom” would be to the bottom line of that same paragraph.

Failure to Interview Andrew

The Kasak Report contains two interview sections.  One is entitled “Heather Jones, Age 43.”  The other is entitled, “Raymond Woodcock, Age 48.”  There is no section describing any separate interview with [Heather’s son] Andrew.

At our meeting on September 30, 2004, I gave Ms.  Kasak copies of the Motion and Affidavit, and also of the attached Statement Regarding Andrew (the “Statement”).  These materials stated that Andrew now remembers the tickling incident as being much worse than he felt about it at the time, Statement 1.2, and that Heather appeared to be coaching Andrew to view pleasant events negatively in retrospect, Statement 1.5.

In short, I raised this concern with Ms.  Kasak three days before her meeting with Heather and Andrew.  I did so, not only in the printed form of the Statement, but also in oral comments during our September 30 discussion.

Despite that heads-up, Ms.  Kasak did not meet separately with Andrew, without his mother’s presence as a heavy influence on what he would say.  Instead, she “met with Heather and Andrew on October 2, 2004.”  KR 1.3.1.  In this discussion, Andrew stated that I was “too rough”; then “Heather added that . . . the rough tickling was a form of ‘torture.’”  On this basis, “Andrew told this investigator that he was afraid of Raymond.”  KR 2.4.3.  This is the reason for Ms.  Kasak’s finding that Andrew is “genuinely fearful” of me.  KR 4.bottom.

I also told Ms.  Kasak that Andrew’s father, William Jones, was familiar with some of these events, and that he might offer a very different perspective on Andrew’s feelings.  Also, if Ms.  Kasak’s preferred or required format allowed her to interview the child only in the presence of a parent, she certainly could have learned something from the very different way that Andrew might have described these events when accompanied by his father rather than by Heather.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that Ms.  Kasak made any attempt to contact Mr.  Jones.

Heather’s Credibility

Ms.  Kasak acknowledges my statement that Heather tends to exaggerate things.  KR 3.3.bottom.  Ms.  Kasak confirms that this was her experience as well:  she says that, according to Heather, I was allowed to keep just “a few of [my] belongings” in her house, KR 1.4.3, but according to Ms.  Kasak’s own visual inspection, “it appeared that Raymond had moved in a significant amount of his personal belongings” and “It appeared that he was living in her basement.”  KR 2.1.2.

Heather appears, in fact, to have been somewhat disoriented when she spoke with Ms.  Kasak.  She told Ms.  Kasak that I had stored items in her house while I was in Utah.  The Utah trip occurred in May.  I did not move items into Heather’s house until August.  Prior to that, I had had ample storage, for the preceding year and a half, at my previous apartment.

The documents I provided to Ms.  Kasak mentioned that Heather has been institutionalized for substance abuse within the past six months, Affidavit ¶ 9, and also that she has a documented history of severe mental illness and is receiving intensive mental health treatment.  Motion ¶ 4; Affidavit ¶¶ 3-5.  Ms.  Kasak acknowledges receiving this information.  KR 3.3.3.  Yet Ms.  Kasak does not appear to have explored these topics with Heather – even though I specifically mentioned panic disorder as a diagnosed problem for which Heather is taking prescription medication.  It does stand to reason that a woman suffering from panic attacks may perceive threats where there are none.

In addition, the report is silent on such questions as whether, on the dates in question, Heather was taking medication, more or less medication than usual, a different kind of medication, or medication mixed with alcohol, marijuana, or other substances.  It would be an additional step – one that Ms.  Kasak did not take – to see how much beer there might have been in the fridge, or how many empty beer bottles were in the trash.

Ms.  Kasak found that Heather has a felony conviction for sale of LSD.  Ms.  Kasak also found that, within the past four months, Heather’s daughter Annie had filed a child abuse/neglect complaint against Heather.  KR 4.  In the wake of that event, Annie moved out.  See KR 4.  When we spoke, Ms.  Kasak showed no interest in interviewing Annie regarding Andrew’s situation or regarding my situation in the house.  Instead, unfortunately, Ms.  Kasak has accepted Heather’s assurance that Annie filed a child abuse complaint merely because Heather was “drinking on one occasion in the presence of her daughter.”  KR 4.  In reality, the incident involved violence.  On other occasions, Heather has also physically attacked Annie’s boyfriend.

It Was Just Tickling

The event that Heather describes as “digging” fingers “into Andrew’s ribs,” KR 1.3.3, was, according to Andrew himself, nothing other than “tickling.”  KR 2.4.1.  Although I told Ms.  Kasak that all three of us – Andrew, Heather, and I – were laughing at the time, Ms.  Kasak does not appear to have asked Andrew whether that was true.

Andrew says that there were two tickling occasions.  KR 2.4.2.  Evidently one of those was fine, as we see no complaints about it now.  Regarding the other one, Ms.  Kasak says that it occurred back in the first week of August.  KR 1.3.4.

Note, here, that after the September 18 incident, Heather claims to have taken photos of bruises on her own legs, sought treatment from a doctor, and applied for protection from the courts.  KR 2.5.2.  Given these precautions on her own behalf, it is striking that she did nothing of the sort after this so-called “torture” of her son back in early August.  (It is also not clear where those bruises would have come from.  Nothing in her account, or in my recollection, suggests how her legs, in particular, might have been bruised.)

I informed Ms.  Kasak that Andrew is a martial arts fighter – that, in fact, according to Heather and Andrew, he won competitions in this past summer’s Show Me State Games.  Ms.  Kasak evidently did not notice Andrew’s medals during her tour of Heather’s basement, and did not ask Andrew about that, nor attempt to determine how this tickling might compare to the pain he experiences during his martial arts matches.

Because of an experience that Andrew himself calls “tickling,” Andrew now claims, in the presence of his mother, to be “genuinely fearful” of me, according to Ms.  Kasak.  KR 4.bottom.  The Kasak Report provides no other basis for this alleged fear.  Ms.  Kasak apparently did not explore, with Andrew, the question of when he first became afraid of me, or how that fear developed.  She also reports no attempt to determine whether Andrew, age 10, understands the significance of his allegations.

Dragging Andrew into It

Ms.  Kasak concluded that this matter is primarily “between Heather and Raymond” and does not directly involve Andrew.  KR 4.bottom.  Unfortunately, Heather has done everything within her power to make it a problem for Andrew too.  Consider:

  • By her own admission, Heather brought Andrew into the kitchen, on September 18, during an event that she claims to believe was extremely dangerous.  She admits making Andrew a direct participant in her attempt to hurt me, by ordering him to bring the baseball bat with which she attempted to strike me.  KR 2.2.7.  If she had been successful in killing me or causing me serious injury with the baseball bat, he would know that he was partly responsible for that outcome.
  • Heather alleges personal injury from the events of September 18 (above).  She also alleges that I was behaving violently that evening.  Yet the worst she is able to allege, regarding interactions between Andrew and me on that supposedly terrifying evening, is that I called him a “dumb ass” for bringing her the baseball bat.  KR 2.2.middle.  (Ms.  Kasak reports that I said that, but declines to provide the context just described.)
  • Heather says that, after I entered the house on September 18 and supposedly “pinned” her arms, she was then somehow free to “run” with Andrew to a bathroom and bedroom, and that “they were then able to run to their vehicle.”  KR 2.2.middle.  But what was all this running for? By Heather’s own allegations, my interaction with her ended when she stopped hitting me and biting me.  In fact, although the Ms.  Kasak neglects to report it, I informed her that, when Heather stopped attacking me, I went to the basement and went to work on my computer.
  • Despite her alleged fears for Andrew’s safety, Heather did not call the police on the evening of September 18.
  • Heather admits being in touch with her ex-husband, William Jones, on September 18, and asking him to come by the house.  KR 2.2.13.  Plainly, William was available that evening.  William and Heather share joint custody of Andrew.  William lives just a few blocks away.  Thus, Heather did not need to drag Andrew around to various friends’ homes for the next three days, which is what she alleges.  KR 2.3.9.  She could simply have dropped Andrew off at William’s house for the balance of the weekend, sparing Andrew this whole potentially traumatic melodrama in which she seems to have persuaded him that they were fleeing for their lives.

Despite everything that Heather alleges, Ms.  Kasak is not able to conclude that Andrew is in “any immediate danger or harm by Raymond.”  KR 4.bottom.

Ms.  Kasak does not appear to have thought about the consequences of a protective order under such circumstances.  Heather cannot take out protective orders on behalf of everyone whom she might train Andrew to fear.  A protective order against me might have the counterproductive effect of making Andrew more afraid of those persons against whom he cannot find judicial protection.  Ms.  Kasak essentially asks the court to be prepared to police everyone whom Heather might bring into her life – even when, as in this case, there are no allegations of prior disputes or other behavior that might reasonably have justified Heather’s decision that I, like others, must be expelled at once.

The September 19 Note

Ms.  Kasak states that Heather showed her several notes that I had left for her.  KR 2.3.4.  The only one Ms.  Kasak considers relevant was dated September 19.  She quotes it as saying, “There will be consequences for any further harassment.”  Ms.  Kasak might have cited (but declined to cite) those other notes to provide context.

Ms.  Kasak might also have wondered why Heather would supposedly believe the part of this note that mentioned “consequences,” but would disbelieve that same note’s indication that I would be gone for several days (i.e., that it was not necessary to drag Andrew around to various friends’ homes).

Heather claims to fear that this statement about “harassment” means that I may do something horrible to her and Andrew.  KR 2.3.middle.  Yet, by her own admission, I did nothing of the sort on September 18, when she claims that events were inflamed and dangerous.

As noted, I am a lawyer.  I did not have physical consequences in mind.  I assumed that she, a paralegal with twenty years’ experience, would realize that her behavior was putting her in legal jeopardy.  I intended, by this note, to remind her that she was breaching our agreement and that I reserved the right to hold her accountable.

According to Ms.  Kasak, “Heather felt this was very threatening.”  KR 2.3.6.  Heather was therefore supposedly unable to return to the house for three days.  KR 2.3.bottom.  But that is not quite right.  In fact, Heather felt able to return to the house, on at least one occasion when I was not there, to gather some of her possessions.  KR 2.3.4.  Again, she apparently did not request a police escort; evidently she felt safe enough to do this on her own.

In addition, Heather was able to return to the house on the evening of September 18, a few hours after the events of which she complains, in the company of two male friends.  KR 2.2.bottom.  Also, Heather has a boarder who stays at her house every Monday and Tuesday night – the very days when she claims to have been to afraid to return home.  She also has a cell phone; she has a nearby ex-husband, a martial arts expert, to whom she turned for help on September 18; she has the male friends who did accompany her when she returned on September 18; and she also has other friends whom she could call in an emergency.  Moreover, as Heather admits, she attempted to hit me with a baseball bat when I simply tried to go to my living space.

If anyone in this picture had a right to be intimidated, it was I, not Heather.

Heather filed a complaint with the Columbia Police on September 19.  On that date, I spoke with an officer.  The officer said that this was a civil matter and that she would call Heather and tell her that, if she wished to evict me, she needed to follow the legal procedure.  That, evidently being too slow for Heather, appears to have led to the present litigation.

Concerns about Ms.  Kasak’s Qualifications and Objectivity

Ms.  Kasak stated, to me, that she has a master’s degree in criminal justice.  This, she assured me, is essentially “the same thing” as a degree in social work.  To the contrary, she is not a mental health worker.  This may partly explain why she has failed to doubt the reliability of statements that Andrew made in the presence of his mother.

To get to the truth of the matter, Andrew needs to be interviewed by a qualified child psychologist – and not by a psychologist for whom his mother is already a client.  (Ms.  Kasak apparently did not unearth the fact that, at least according to what Andrew has said to me, he has had some one-on-one consultations with a counselor at school.)

One need not be a psychologist to understand plain English.  There exist explanations that may describe the true state of affairs in this case.  For example, after a psychologist has interviewed Andrew, one might reasonably seek his/her reaction to the following description of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, from http://www.munchausen.com/:

The term "Munchausen syndrome by proxy” (MSBP) was coined around twenty years ago, and hundreds of reports have appeared since then.  In most cases, a mother either claims that her child is sick, or she goes even further to actually make the child sick.  This "devoted” parent then continually presents the child for medical treatment, all the while denying any knowledge of the origin of the problem--namely, herself.

Ms.  Kasak quotes Heather as describing Andrew’s experience in far more extreme terms than Andrew himself described it.  Heather has then responded to her own exaggerated characterization by taking unnecessary extreme measures – supposedly on Andrew’s behalf but actually for Heather’s own purposes, in this dispute that (as Ms.  Kasak notes) appears to be between Heather and me, not directly involving Andrew.

I had described, for Ms.  Kasak, a similar event, in July, when Heather perceived herself as Andrew’s defender against another boarder whom Heather, likewise, summarily evicted.  In contrast to Heather’s self-portrayal as the “mother bear,” defending her young, her handling of the situation actually left Andrew weeping at the feared loss of his friendship with that boarder’s daughter.  Again, unfortunately, despite my description of the situation, Ms.  Kasak does not appear to have spoken with Andrew about it.

Ms.  Kasak informed me that she has done this type of report only a few times previously.  Although not obviously familiar with social work, she assured me – contrary to the information that I have received from multiple knowledgeable individuals – that a full order of child protection would have no negative impact upon my employability.  This mistaken belief appears to have facilitated her conclusion that there would be no harm in a full order of child protection.  Moreover, she made this statement at the end of our interview on September 30, 2004, three days before she had even spoken with Heather and Andrew, suggesting that her mind may already have been made up at that point.

It does not appear that Ms.  Kasak sought to obtain a full picture of my relationship with Andrew.  For example, I told Ms.  Kasak that, for a birthday present on Andrew’s birthday (September 13), I had promised to take him on a bike ride on the MKT Trail and to a buffet dinner of his choice; yet she reports no attempt to confirm that with Andrew, or to seek his reactions to that offer.  This is particularly striking because, as I informed Ms.  Kasak, Heather told me – in a phone call to my office on September 18, a few hours before I went to the house – that Andrew still hoped to do such things with me.

While emphasizing the alleged incident of “too rough” tickling, Ms.  Kasak does not appear to have asked Andrew whether he and I had enjoyed other good times together, such as the multiple occasions, within the past two months, when I have taken him for a walk on the trail, or climbing along the Flat Branch Creek, while we were waiting for his mother to complete multi-hour sessions with doctors or psychologists.  Although I have known Andrew for as long as I have known Heather, it was only recently that I made the decision to become more of a presence in his life.  I have wondered whether doing so posed some kind of threat, in Heather’s mind, to her unique control over him.

The negativity of Ms.  Kasak’s report, regarding my relationship with Andrew, is echoed in her description of my relationship with Heather.  I told Ms.  Kasak that I had bagged up those clothes in the basement, of which Heather complains, as part of a massive multi-day cleaning effort that Heather had appreciated.  Heather, in fact, had tears in her eyes when I first showed her the completed projecct, and she had praised me for it when showing it off to multiple individuals.  Again, however, Ms.  Kasak reports Heather’s complaint, but leaves out my statements on the matter.

As noted above, Ms.  Kasak reports Heather’s claim that I “pinned” her arms in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, Ms.  Kasak fails to report my claim that, when I succeeded in getting Heather to stop biting me, I held out my arms and said, “Give me a hug.”  I told Ms.  Kasak that I hugged Heather often, and that I had devoted many hours to efforts to talk to her and help her feel better about herself.  This, too, is not reported.

Ms.  Kasak reports, at length, Heather’s complaints regarding the matter of the cell phone.  She does not report, however, that, as I told her, Heather had somehow suspended or disconnected the regular wall-jack telephone service.  The cell phone was my sole way of calling out of the house if, as Heather threatened that evening, she did return with male friends who might hurt me.

The Kasak Report states that, according to me, Heather “asked” me to move out and “asked” me to retrieve my belongings on September 19.  This, however, is not what I told Ms.  Kasak.  I informed her that Heather had demanded that I move out; had insisted that I must appear at the house precisely at 1 PM on Sunday, September 19, to retrieve my possessions; and had absolutely refused to discuss any other time or arrangement of any form.

Ms.  Kasak quotes Heather’s view that I “kicked in” two doors.  KR 2.2.2.  Although she visited the house and toured the basement, she does not appear to have examined those doors herself, to verify this claim and to assess Heather’s credibility accordingly.  She relates my statement that I forced my way into the garage door, but fails to mention that, as I told her, I had done a number of handyman repairs around Heather’s house; that that particular door’s lock was jammed in a locked position; and that I expected to thus facilitate my own repair of that lock.

Although Ms.  Kasak’s report supplies facts indicating that the house in question was undeniably my place of residence, her report never once calls it “Raymond’s residence” or anything of the sort.  She does, however, refer to it with terms like “Heather’s house” or “her home” in approximately two dozen different places.

While neglecting to say much about Heather’s mental condition or psychiatric medications, Ms.  Kasak does mention the extraneous fact that Heather allegedly thinks of me as a “professional student.”  Belaboring the point, Ms.  Kasak reports that I previously earned JD and MBA degrees.  She does not mention that I earned those degrees more than 20 years ago, or that it has been many years since I worked in the kinds of corporate positions for which those degrees trained me.

Ms.  Kasak reports Heather’s complaint that I had paid no rent, as of September 18, but fails to report any explanation from Heather as to why that might be.  Nor does Ms.  Kasak mention my explanation that Heather decided not to charge me any rent for August because of the days I had spent cleaning portions of her house.  I hardly needed to be there in August in any event; my lease at my previous apartment did not expire until August 29.  I stayed at Heather’s on multiple evenings in August only because I was working to clean up her place and move my things in there.  Obviously, I would not have bothered if I had known Heather was going to evict me a few weeks later.

The rent deal with Heather was that I would pay $13 per night, and this is what I told Ms.  Kasak.  Ms.  Kasak reports Heather’s apparent view that the agreed amount was $14 per night.  Ms.  Kasak apparently did not notice that, in her petition for a protective order, Heather decided that the amount should be $15 per night, and that the court should award that amount going forward into the future – raising the question of whether Heather was really so afraid of me.  It looks, rather, like Heather hoped that the court would help her make a few extra bucks from the deal.

Ms.  Kasak reports that I simply wish to remove my belongings from the house.  KR 4.1.2.  She also reports that Heather would like for me to remove my belongings from the house.  KR 3.1.2.  It is autumn; it is cold outside; and yet I must wear shorts because I do not have my clothing.  I have also had to do without many other basic personal and school-related possessions during this semester at school.  Obviously, I would like to retrieve my things as soon as possible.  Yet it is not possible to do so.  Why not? Because although this is what Heather says, she is not actually making it possible, but has rather been indulging multiple reasons to prevent it.

As the foregoing pages indicate, Ms.  Kasak extensively reviewed the question of what happened on September 18.  She did not spend a single word, however, on the question of what caused Heather to prevent me from entering my residence on that day.  The closest we get, from any documents filed thus far, are (a) Heather’s latter-day belief that I had tickled Andrew too hard, one time, two months earlier, and (b) the complaint that, while cleaning her house in mid-August, I had bagged up clothes that she had left lying on the basement’s dirty concrete floor.

There remains, to my knowledge, no rational explanation for Heather’s alleged fear of me, other than her sudden, unilateral decision that she did not want me around anymore, and would do whatever it took to get me out immediately.  It appears, at present, that she is using the court, and Andrew, to obtain and enjoy a position of power.

Statement Regarding Andrew

Re:       Heather Jones v.  Raymond Woodcock

In a Motion to Modify or Revoke Ex Parte Order of Protection, filed in the Circuit Court of Boone County, Missouri on September 23, 2004 (the “Motion”), and in an affidavit attached to that motion (the “Affidavit”), I made statements regarding the situation that Andrew Jones experiences while living with Heather Jones, petitioner in this case.  There is one additional aspect of that situation that may be worth understanding.

Briefly, the thing that concerns me is that Andrew is learning to follow Heather’s lead in twisting reality to fit her current mood.  This matters to me, in this case, because (for example) a tickling incident – one that left Heather, Andrew, and me laughing and feeling good – has now been transmogrified, by Heather, into putative grounds for a protective order.

That is, Andrew is being taught that the truth is whatever he needs it to be.  Certainly many people learn to lie.  But this is more than that.  By Heather’s own frequent admission, there is a degree of mental illness in this case – a degree of being out of touch with reality – that goes well beyond the ordinary person’s sense of when s/he may exaggerate matters out of proportion.

A second example may be illuminative.  Although I am not certain, I suspect that Andrew may no longer remember – or at least may not believe he is allowed to admit – that, after the screaming incident mentioned in the Affidavit (¶ 13), he sat in the back seat of his mother’s car for some minutes, weeping and saying, “Those were my friends!” while I verbally attempted to comfort him – and while Heather continued to rant about Kate, the stroke victim.  Instead, according to Heather, Andrew’s chief response to the whole episode is, now, to be angry at me for telling her to stop yelling.

I realize that none of this is for me to decide.  This is merely my attempt to register the concern that it cannot be good for Andrew to conclude that so many people, who seemed to be so kind to him, are actually evil for reasons that his mother invents after the fact.

Conclusion

That is the text of the memo that I filed with the court.  As I say, it made no difference.  A restraining order was entered against me, and I accrued deleterious career consequences.  It is just one among myriad injustices achieved by the courts every day; I mention it here simply to provide an example cited in other posts.

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