When Courts Get All Crazy Up in One’s Business Under the Principle of Parens Patriae, Remember 3 Rules:
1. Silence is Power;
2. Don’t Engage Crazy; and
3. Cooperation Wins
In law, there is a doctrine (that is, an excuse for expanding political power) known as parens patriae. It refers to the duty (power) of the Sovereign (state) to act as protector (parent) to the widows, orphans and idiots.
There’s a blog post explaining why I hold fast to the use of the word ‘idiot’ in writing this post. Largely, I do so because I believe in the inherent power we have to control our perceptions, including our perceptions of words and language. If we don’t exercise that power, we may as well be livestock in a barnyard. Thus, I urge you to read that post.
Regardless, courts often (as inherently political institutions) act pursuant to the principle of parens patriae.
This post introduces 3 rules for success whenever rational people find themselves enmeshed in litigation within courts acting as Baby Daddy to the Masses, including:
- Family Courts deciding divorces and settling child custody disputes; and
- Probate Courts (county courts) granting estates for the dead and naming guardians for wards of the court (that is, incapacitated people, including minors who own certain property).
But the 3 rules for success are helpful in any hostile, high conflict situation.
The 3 rules for success are as follows:
- Silence is power;
- Don’t engage crazy; and
- Cooperation wins.
Whenever a lawsuit involves a perceived vulnerable party, judges apply a particularly virulent form of judgement. Inevitably, it’s only one part law, mixed with other parts holier-than-thou, subjective judgment. It can feel both painful and profoundly unfair: cancel culture meets the courtroom.
But judges being judges, you’re typically stuck with what they’ve decided, although there are ways to hit the reset button, so to speak.
Importantly, your attention must be on the fight occurring before events leading to operative orders, including the days/weeks before a TRO hearing. Final judgement inevitably comes, but a TRO can box-in a party for the balance of the litigation, or require repeated efforts at modification.
In family court litigation, it’s the ‘temporary orders’ that can hurt. In probate court, it’s the appointment of the temporary representative of the estate or the would-be ‘incapacitated’ person.
Regardless, Judges love to wax eloquently (blather) about their (profound!) role in preserving (saving!) the lives of the widow, orphan and idiot. Often, the judge is joined in the announcement of its grand, sacred task by a favorite acolyte — a court appointed ad litem/ amicus/ guardian.
Together, their predicable mantra is: “I am only in this for the child.” Although touching (on its face), what? Do you seriously believe that I’m only here for a fee? Or, how about my client, the (actual) parent?
Do you really think they’re only here for themselves?
In that sense, a lawsuit (and courtroom) starts to feel like an echo chamber, because the Judge and his/her Appointee (toadie) are also typically (and inevitably) aligned with one of the competing parties.
Yippee. Now, everybody’s “only in it for the child‘ except me, of course. Instead, I must surely be ‘running up attorney’s fees‘ — Atticus Finch (and other make-believe characters) would be so ashamed of me.
Whatever: Suck. On. This.
Indeed, the sense of a Gang-Up by the Inquisitors/Virtue Signalers becomes very real. But that pattern also plays out in all of life, where the stakes are felt as more ‘corporate’ or group oriented (“If only those people would consider what’s best for the country,” the bully says). So we all learn to deal with the reality of being labelled The Problem, but typically at a subconscious level. Nonetheless, even in litigation, humans are a durable species, so long as we keep our heads straight (again, the 3 rules).
For any litigant or lawyer finding yourself stuck in such a triangulation, the keys to victory are:
- reliance upon the rule book(s) and due process, with no expectations from the Amicus Toadie, since they’re now part of the opposition (silence is power);
- preparation for a jury trial to push your own narrative (don’t engage crazy); and
- going along to get along until you’re ready to fight (cooperation [a sound battle plan] wins).
Everyone already knows that, absent effective, scorched-earth warfare, the Judge/Toadie alliance will always dictate the fate of the widow, the orphan and the idiot. Thus, game over, ass kicked, correct?
You must simply re-write (re-finance) the battle plan to expose the cracks in the foundation in the unholy alliance between Judge, Toadie and the opposing parties. It’s You vs. Everybody Else, who (hello?!!) are only in this for the child! Unlike you (shyster lawyer!) who obviously hates children, Jesus and America.
So, your lawyer probably will NOT get a heartfelt, “How are YOU, Counsel?‘ the next time the Judge sees me in the cafeteria, as she mingle with the masses (!!). She’ll probably speak to everyone else, by name, except me, Mr. Loser.
I can only find solace in my fees, praying that selling my soul to Satan was really worth it.
At any rate, the cognitive dissonance for a triangulated lawyer is very real. Lawyers (and other livestock) are inculcated with notions of loyalty to judges, courts and the system. But the system exists for the people, not the players. The lawyer must break free from the chains of indoctrination: “I shall ethically serve my client, not the system; I shall remember my Oath to a Constitution that limits government, without assuring guvvy-jobs for the more political animals in the barnyard.”
But the lawyer also knows, “I will likely run into this Judge and this Toadie — individually, or as a Happy Meal — in my future. I will also have other clients whose futures rest with these same professionals. But who’s to say this judge won’t need me someday? What kind of judge or colleague holds a grudge against a good lawyer?”
Two words: primary challenge.
Indeed: Suck. On. That.
Any way, good lawyers figure out that there’s nothing better than a happy client. Also, Judges and Toadies come and go. Thus:
- Always reference statutes and case law and request a record in pretrial hearings, and reference the hostile opposition by titles, only, not names (silence is power);
- Focus on preparing your witnesses, your case and your theory (don’t engage crazy); and
- Serve your client diligently (cooperation [with the Universe] wins).
Still, all readers are hereby counselled (warned!) to take the Judge/Toadie ritual most seriously. Otherwise, in the holy name of their preferred mythical figure or droll model, you shall surely pay. I’m being a bit light, but the point is heavy: your access to your beloved, demented mee-ma, minor child or that amusing Activist!/ inmate-next-door may surely end. You needn’t kowtow; but you needn’t flatulate in their general direction, either. Instead, merely render unto Caesar that which is her’s (all rise).
Thus, your success under such triangulation further demands awareness of the psychopathy which leads any person to seek social power over another; awareness of what causes any lawyer to acquiesce to the will and largess of a judge (as her court appointee); and awareness of the genuine, sincere, illusion of moral burden which many Judges and Toadies insist they carry in such cases.
“I am only in this for the child.” Alright, already, Judge, I heard the previous person who sat up there (the large white lady who mediates a lot, now) say that same, damned thing. Let it go.
As you contemplate these rules, remember these further truths:
- you are a stranger in a strange land, and the lyrics of Jim Morrison now assume real meaning (people are strange, when you’re a stranger … the streets are uneven, when you’re down);
- the strange land is neither logical, friendly, nor fair to anyone, including your lawyer; and,
- as a traveler, you must go nowhere (and trust no one along the journey) without a guide — namely, an able lawyer.
Last, the fees you pay your lawyer are for the ‘counselor’ role of ‘Attorney and Counselor at Law’ — you need to know the lay of the land, not merely the law of the land. Thus, you pay for experience, intuition and the wisdom of the Third Eye.
Everything else is John Grisham, The Practice and other mindlessly buoyant bullshit: woke, dope and Chron.com.
Truth: everything else is distraction; it’s the prison rodeo.
Silence is power.
Don’t engage crazy.
/s/ Scott K. Boates