THE BS OF THE TAIWAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM WAS A MAJOR FOCUS OF MY ANONYMOUS BLOG (here) IN 2015, AND IS NOW BEING TRANSFERRED HERE.
Around 24 hours removed from yesterday’s hearing, I am nothing other than downtrodden and crestfallen. Should I be? Well, it boils down to perspective (as does just about everything in life), but contemplating all, over and over again these last 24 hours, has allowed me to conclude that I am fighting not only a prolonged battle against a vindictive, petulant family here but also against a system and a culture, something that doesn’t bode well for me, at all.
The Judge at this latest hearing said her verdict will be delivered on the 18th of August. Her statement came just a few moments, literally, not figuratively, after she cut me off from explaining my answer to her final query, “Do you have anything else to say before we end this?”
Her cutting my answer short was not the first, but rather for around the tenth time during the short hearing.
At the very end, I barely had turned to the first page of a binder in which I’d placed newly printed emails and FB messages as primary-source counter evidence, and before I finished the statement, “I’ve got a few things I’d like to say in response to my ex’s document from last week, and this…” the Judge wrapped it up, stating her verdict will come soon and that nobody has to be present on that day.
[Background: The aforementioned document my ex’s lawyer had submitted had taken my translator FIVE hours to explain to me, as I typed it up in English side-by-side at a cafe, had taken me a good TEN hours to find evidence to counter the BS within and type up a response, and had then taken my translator TEN hours to put it all back into Swahili. Following that all, there was printing, collating, etc., at a copy center took additional time. That one rebuttal preparation time frame has been the norm for 1.5 years of court hearings, and that’s just responses to the defendant’s nonsense.]
Having been cut off mid-sentence by the Judge, I stopped and hung my head down, barely recognizing my translator sitting next to me, telling me about the upcoming verdict’s explanation in my left ear. During that time span, I barely heard, like it came from another realm of consciousness, my ex’s lawyer and her father leave the courtroom, my ex saying to the Judge, “Thank you,” before walking out, and the Judge herself leaving through a back-of-the-room discreet panel. The bailiff and stenographer (the man also responsible for all case documents) were busy with something off to my right.
My interpreter, a strongly faith-connected woman, my age, whispered a few times, “Hey, come on, ______. It is going to be okay.”
Coming back to my more tangible surroundings, I peered at the binder full of documents that I didn’t have a chance use to show as evidence, the piles of packets I’d submitted over the few days prior to the hearing, which I wanted to refer to in my explanations–to let the Judge know I’d gathered more valuable counter evidence, and then at all my notations, listed arguments with highlighted topics of interest, all in rebuttal to my ex’s latest, over-the-top, lie-filled document packet (which I’d received in the mail one week before).
My chin still reaching towards my sternum, I cried a short spell. Just as I had cried in front of my translator last Friday, the one who took five hours to simply explain all the utter BS in the aforementioned document. At that time, I’d unleashed tears because I’d become overwhelmed by the ridiculous accusations, not by them themselves, but by the prospect of having to supposedly defend all. This time, however, was based on hopelessness.
Actually, the courtroom cry was a few tears swelling up, whereas in front of my translator, the tears streamed heavily.
On that note, I know that, legally speaking, the burden of proof is on my ex, but because of the cultural bias that’s reared its ugly head, hitherto, time and time again, I always feel it is best to over-prepare to reveal her BS. In fact, with this particular document’s rebuttal packet, my first explanation was that she needed to provide evidence, and I was detailed in my following rebuttal to bring focus to her UTTER LIES and OVER-THE-TOP FABRICATIONS!
That very same document prompted me to include (as further evidence) professional letters of recommendation, former student Facebook comments about how I was/am an excellent teacher, and even love letters and cards from my ex and the kids (written by her at the time) about how great a daddy I was/am, etc.
Hundreds of dollars (US) have been spent just on copy center costs (or printing at 7-11s) these past 18 months.
In the month of July, alone, I paid out $700US in translation fees. Multiply that by 1.5 years (not all months being equal).
My 23-page rebuttal doc was dropped two days before the hearing, by one weary plaintiff (moi) at 10pm on Tuesday night! I had missed the drop off window closing time (11pm) on Monday night (I arrived at 11:15pm, much to my chagrin). Because I had my kids the past weekend, I simply couldn’t do any work on Court docs on Sat/Sun, so it was a 14-hour court preparation day on Monday, and about the same on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Talk about one fun summer vacation!
I felt incredible pressure that I didn’t get the packet in sooner because it left the Judge with minimal time, but I’d had no choice. Yet I worked my arse off doing the best I could in the time frame I was given.
Did I overdo it?
If I had actually been given the time to explain all to the Judge, the answer is a resounding “No!” My evidence EASILY counters the defendant’s nonsense. All of it.
However, when the Judge left the room hastily, with my having been cut off from explaining anything at all, way too many times in a mere 30-40 minutes, my staring at piles of unused, un-explained evidence simply destroyed my spirit. So much work invested. So useless sitting there in front of me.
My interpreter tried to soothe me, but it didn’t help when she explained that I fell into the trap that my ex created, by filling her document with nonsense claims that she knew I just “had to prove” wrong. My interpreter saying that made me felt like I’d wasted my time.
I explained to her that I’d referred to two Civil Code Articles here, in this country, about how one needs to provide evidence to all, and if not, the burden of proof lies on said individual’s shoulders. My packet’s second paragraph stated that, clearly.
However, I worked my fingers to the bone to explain and show that her lies were just that: Pure, nonsensical, utter fabrications. My goal, as I stated, was to reveal her crazy allegations AND to reveal that her father’s translation of my original emails (or even emails between my ex and my family in America) had been manipulated. He completely changed the meaning of a few original messages to feed my ex’s (false) claims, and I could have shown how they’ve falsified evidence, clearly, if I’d been given the chance.
It, all in all, left me with a total distaste for the whole system. The Judge was incredibly abrupt with me. She was gruff in her attitude throughout (which had been decently accommodating the first two hearings). She didn’t permit me say 98% of the things I wanted to, had prepared to, or had written in my notebook in front of me. I couldn’t get a word in edge wise.
Here’s a sampling of claims that were made in the last document packet:
Absurdly false claim: “He left the burden of childcare on me and my parents so he could study Swahili, and do his photography in 2011-2013.”
Truth: Her own emails (which I’ve screenshot) stated, “Your photography is so captivating. Why don’t you use photography to show my students in a class about traveling?” and “You should follow your passions.” and “I’m so proud of you for”… the travel talk slideshows I’d given at local coffee shops, which she attended with me, side by side!
And my emails from the past show, “Now that I am finished with my Swahili classes, let’s talk about scheduling more family time…” and my “Our goal was more family time so don’t take that job…”
Her other emails from then show, “Thanks for all you do for taking our daughter to PE and Music [and art] classes… thanks for being such a great daddy.”
Now in Court docs, I’m the worst daddy, ever, apparently.
Absurdly false claim: “He left me to travel in China when I was burdened by raising my daughter and suffering from the difficulties of pregnancy. He didn’t help during pregnancy and left it on me and my parents. He’s uncaring and selfish.”
Truth: Emails in 2011 from her father to me and her say, “We will watch your daughter when you go to China together! (but she soon after cancelled her going since she hates the Chinese and any notion of the place, and said, “you go if you want to”).
She also wrote emails that said, “Thank you so much for taking my classes during my pregnancy. I know it is a lot of extra work. I appreciate all that you do as a great hubby.”
And about traveling she said in emails over the years, “You have to follow your dreams. We know you’ll be back and you aren’t gone for long.” (And she neglected to mention my China trip came during her first month of pregnancy, just five weeks after she’d traveled to England for a week plus with our daughter, when I had worked and couldn’t get time off at all.)
Absurdly false claim: “He didn’t work in 2011-2013, so he “over-drafted” on my accounts. He is irresponsible. He embellished money from my account.” AND “The large deposit in the bank was a gift from my parents to me” AND “The large deposit in the bank was from family to me” AND “That large withdraw was so he could pay off his loans.”
Truth: I wrote her emails in that time period that stated, “I am doing 33 hours of private lessons each week and you’re doing 14. Can you take a private lesson someone asked me to take for two hours per week so that we can balance out our times more?” OR “Let’s focus on family when we move back to _______. We can do part-time work privately. I want to spend as much time with our daughter, especially after working so hard these last few years.”
We were still able to buy a brand new car, new furniture for new apartment, etc., during that time. Never was I irresponsible, lazy nor negligent.
My ex neglected to mention her email on the same date of the first large deposit into our savings account, which stated, “Show you our bank book tonight”, which was just a week before our wedding. Now she says her parents gave her a financial gift then!
The second large deposit shown in the bank books which she is using as “evidence,” which came right after our wedding, was cash [common practice in this country] that came from people submitting cash in envelopes at our wedding! Now she lies to the Court that her parents gave it to her.
And the large withdrawal shown in the bankbooks, which she claims was me sending money to my loans, came right before our 4-week honeymoon in Europe! We spent a month traveling in Spain and Portugal, staying in boutique hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, living large. Of course there was a large withdrawal, but it wasn’t that it was me “over-drafting” her account!
It is all so over-the-top ridiculousness that it is almost laughable.
Instead, I’d cried.
Summary of the sequence of events at the hearing on 7/30/15:
1. The very first thing my interpreter noticed on the teleprompter at my plaintiff’s stand, from the very get go, was that there was a statement about my PENSION payout from my time at my old school. WTF??? A case, for which I am the plaintiff, with libel, stealing of my work docs, extortion, and violation of my custodial and legal rights and subsequent/consequent hardship (during the abduction of my kids) being the main focal points… And the very first question went to my ex and her lawyer!!!! About my pension!!!! Why the hell did the Judge find that even necessary? It isn’t pertinent what my pension payout was, yet the Court apparently listened to my ex’s claims about my sending my pension payout back to my American account (when we were moving to another country that same year).
My ex was asked about the amount (and they stated $30K US for teaching from 2005-2010). The Judge asked me if it was accurate. I said no, explaining I worked there from ’04-’10, instead. Of course I wanted to follow up with “Why is this relevant?” but she immediately digressed to another topic!!! I raised my hand, but she pressed me to respond to the next topic, with the bailiff coming over to show my interpreter a document immediately, like it had been well-rehearsed.
The judge demanded to know if “it” was correct. I didn’t even know what it was (because all was in Swahili). Turns out it was a one-page detailed document from the police station on January 7th, 2014!!!! Imagine that!!! One year and six months later and the police “remembered” so much in detail!
All that was signed that January day (in 2014), when my ex and her father lied through their teeth to wrest MY car from my hands (as the sole and only driver of the car, even though emails were exchanged for three months prior that I’d take full possession of the title of the car) was a log book in the station. Now, 1.6 years later, they got the police station to do up a detailed explanation about that day!
THERE IS NO WAY WHATSOEVER THAT THE POLICE HERE HAD DONE UP A DOCUMENT LAST YEAR ON THAT DAY. IT WAS FED TO THEM, NOW!
Imagine if every rinky dink station in this city, in this country, etc., had to do such detailed documentation for each event! Ther would be stacks of paperwork a mile high shooting up from each station.
Incidentally, the station is in the same neighborhood in which my ex and her father run an illegal business (and have for 15 years), which I’ve been told, by others in this country (not just expats), could not exist unless they pay illegal kick backs to the local authorities, i.e., they have connections.
It is also the same police station from which a plain-clothes policeman came when I called the cops after nobody was home last year at their house (when I had a Court Order to see the kids), even after I’d given a four-day notice I’d be there, and that “policeman” wouldn’t give me any identification or show me a badge. Too fishy.
There are doubts about the station’s ethical conduct from those experiences–and to have them now produce a detailed, one-page document to explain that day way back on January 7th, 2014, is an absolute farce.
[Background: My claim, legally, is that my ex wife had no right to call the police to interfere with our financial dealings, for, 1) we’d already agreed in emails that I’d pay off the loan balance in January, 2) the Court deals with distribution of marital property when/if there is a dispute, 3) the police don’t make decisions about family financial dealings. I was forced to release the car. As a foreigner, sitting in that station for more than four hours, listening to them deal with all in their local language, being bombarded by utter lies about how I didn’t help the family financially, it was a nightmare.]
My interpreter read the doc, with the bailiff standing over us, arm outstretched, and the judge asking if I agreed, repeatedly.
The document said I had my lawyer there, but the lawyer who showed up did so after I had only called for advice that morning (and she didn’t charge anything for it). And the lawyer did nothing to help. Nothing. In fact, my claim that the lawyer’s presence actually hurt me could be easily supported. As a lawyer, she knew that COURTS deal with marital property. Since, she has neglected to remember enough about that day to be my witness, as I asked her to be via email a few months ago!
The police document states a policeman from the foreign affairs division showed up to speak English (but the damn cop who came and sat down next to my father-in-law that day immediately said, “My English isn’t good.”). He didn’t speak up the entire time during the four-hour ordeal at the station!
How the hell did the cops “remember” all these details 1.5 years later! I am willing to bet my life that daddy just told the cops and got them to type up his version of that day (the worst day in my life until 11 days later, when the kids’ mother took them out of my life for 189 days).
The Judge asked about the police station document and if I agreed with it. I was hastily attempting to jot down notes of what it said, with her demanding an answer. She kept repeating. I stood my ground and said the only thing accurate was the date.
“The rest is nonsense,” I retorted.
She asked why I took the $_________ pay out that the police document lists as them giving me that day. I replied, “I didn’t have a choice!”
She asked why I took money if that was not the agreement we’d made in emails. She was really pressing me for answers. It was more like an interrogation.
I wanted to scream, “OMG! Haven’t you read any of my documents that I’ve submitted with ample proof that an agreement was made in emails that I was going to take full ownership of the car and take the title? At the police station, that all went out the window!”
I started to explain that the police said only one person was leaving with the car… but the Judge repeated firmly about wanting to know why I took the money and what happened to the agreement that was made. She interrupted me persistently, incessantly.
I stood firm to say the first email exchange my ex had sent after separation was about me taking the title of the car and about how if I took the car into my name, half the value at the time (her half) was equal to the money she owed me for her Masters degree tuition, which she agreed to pay me back in earlier, early-stages-of-separation emails.
The Judge grimaced repeatedly, like she didn’t understand or that it was too complicated. My interpreter repeated a few things for me that I’d already explained. The Judge had the stenographer enter some of that into the system, but I had no chance to explain more about the whole nightmare fiasco.
In my binder I had a recently printed a two-page screenshot from FIVE days before my ex had called the police on me to take the car. My email asked my ex to please sign two documents (because she demanded I send her the remaining balance of the loan in cash and she’d take it to the bank representative and later send me the title) in order for us to make the exchange.
She’d already refused to give me the bank’s information so I could wire the money from a stateside account, saying that the bank rep told her the bank would have problems receiving a wire transfer (yes, I am sure banks in 2014 had hard times doing wire transfers). And she’d refused over the first 2-3 months of separation to split our joint savings and stock accounts.
I could NOT have trusted to give her $10K US cash and for her to give me the title. So I asked her to sign two docs, one promising she’d take my cash to the bank rep that held the lien on the car, and, two, one promising me she’d give me the title (by going to the DMV together). I was overly concerned she’d keep the money or not return the title to me, for valid reasons.
Her email response, printed and in my hand for the Judge, stated, “How dare you ask me to do that. Who are you in my life to ask me such favors?”
I wanted desperately to read it to prove that her mentality was exactly what transpired at the police station! At the station I said I needed three days to get the money from America and that I needed her and her father to sign a document to promise they’d provide the title. They refused to sign anything and demanded to take the car immediately.
When I told the Judge that I wanted to read that email response, the Judge asked where it was in docs I’d already submitted to the Court. She held up a pile of documents (I’d submitted) and started to flip through it dramatically, questioning, “Where is it? I don’t see something like that? What’s your document number?”
I asked, “Ma’am, can I just read it, please?”
She flipped through my docs with dramatic energy and zeal, repeating, “When did you turn it in? What number? I don’t see it.”
I had printed off a detailed list of all the docs I’d submitted, theretofore, organized by date and showing the focus of each doc, and because I’d highlighted all finance-related docs in yellow, I easily found dates I’d turned in car-related statements and evidence.
“Ma’am, it was on July 7th and…”
She mimicked the dates, going through the pile, but exaggeratedly reminding me I’d submitted “so much”.
[In my mind, I was automatically wondering why she knew so much about my ex’s submission of the police “record” and details about my pension payout, which the bailiff knew where to flip to in another court binder she told him to show me, but she had NO clue about my documentation!]
And at the start of the hearing, she asked me, “Did you see/receive this document,” holding up my ex’s packet, but SHE DIDN’T ASK if my ex had received my rebuttal. And why didn’t she know the answer already that I’d of course seen the packet, FOR I’D ALREADY SUBMITTED documentation to counter the BS packet.
I repeated that all of the evidence about the car and counter claims were submitted on the dates, saying them again.
She grimaced again like it was too much to handle.
She had the bailiff carry over a binder of evidence I’d submitted. I found the large car-related packet quite easily, adding, “It’s right here.” But I added, pointing to the two pages in my hand, that I’d found her emails recently about my request to have her sign a promise to fulfill her end, and that I just wanted to read her response to the Court. I added, firmly, “Ma’am, please give me the time to read it.”
She finally acquiesced but without a mumble under her breath, showing clearly that she didn’t feel like she had the time.
Loudly and confidently, I stressed my ex’s points, as I read, such as “Who are you to ask me…” and “How dare you…” and I then threw in the facts that in the police station, they refused signing anything, that I was forced to take cash.
But the Judge repeated the same question, “What happened to the agreement you made? Why did you take the cash instead?”
“Ma’am, I didn’t have a choice! The police said one person would leave with the car.”
NOW, this must be said:
It could be potentially that the Judge was stressing that if there was an agreement (all via email) for me to pay off the car loan’s balance and take the car’s title in my name, she could actually be siding with me by pressing for answers, stressing that such an agreement had been made.
On the other hand, she could be concluding that because I accepted the cash pay off my ex and her father threw in my face at the station (stating, “You take the cash or we’re leaving with the car.”), that I didn’t feel our email agreements were important enough–and that my accepting their cash showed I’d “agreed”–which I did not. I had ZERO choice but to take it.
So, it boils down to perspective. What was her intention in being so short? So terse?
Did she feel that there was enough evidence gathered for her to make a verdict in my favor, thus, she didn’t need more from me? Or was she blowing me off because she’s decided to side with my ex?
My gut tells me I’m fucked.
All in all, that was about it. At one point, the Judge warned me (or reminded me, depending on one’s perspective of what her tone implied) to not turn in too much evidence and to focus on the three original points I’d filed for as the plaintiff (libel, abduction of the kids and violation of my rights, her stealing of my professional work documents).
[Yet none of those aspects of the claims against my ex were addressed or even alluded to at this third hearing.]
Was she actually giving me a hint to not get overwhelmed, myself, by my ex’s absurdly false claims that are not pertinent to the case, or was she trying to excuse herself from having NOT read my evidence because I’d submitted too much?
That remains to be seen.
August 18th, I’ll know.
13 days to go, and I’m champing at the bit.
[This blog post in somewhat unfinished, but I’m posting it at this time because I need to return to Court documentation and preparations. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.]