Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Fought The Law (well, my attorney did) And I Won

This post is literally two years in the making, but like many stories it wasn't ever going to be worth telling until it was over. And today it ended. What makes this story worthwhile to me is that it entails the dumbest thing I did throughout my divorce, and in the end I was lucky enough to dodge a bullet. I'm right chuffed about that.

If you've ever been divorced or know someone who has, you know that they are nothing if not the ultimate in he said/she said productions. Depending on who you talk to or whose "side" you're on, you might possibly hear a completely different tale than those listening in on the other side. It's not that big of a deal, except that sometimes a person in that circumstance can get a little desperate if they feel like they're about to get crushed by the narrative.

Two years ago in August I was in that exact predicament. My divorce was a longer time coming than I understood at the time. My ex was unhappy for a lot more reasons than she ever let on at the time, but either way let's say some of the ways in which she chose to make her exit weren't exactly above board. For legitimate reasons I don't really care to go into I was aware of a multitude of PM's, emails, and Facebook posts she made at the time (even after being blocked from her feed), and it's fair to say her version of events wasn't quite the way I saw it. I'm fairly sure I do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I know I didn't "torture" her for nine years. I know I was never violent toward her or our kids, nor did I ever threaten her with violence. I wasn't a doormat but I wasn't an ogre either. Suffice it to say anyone who'd ever known me through her might not have believed that based on the multiple tailored versions of "what happened" that she was sharing. And while I wasn't too bothered about what her high school friends from 1987 thought of me, I took offense at her siblings and extended family being led to think that way.

In our July divorce mediation I'd asked for sole legal and physical custody, basing that request on many factors including behaviors, activities, and trajectories that I didn't want displayed for our children. After protesting for about five minutes she agreed, to the literal shock and disbelief of our unsuspecting mediator (who tried to talk her out of it - kind of a no-no in mediation situations). But her communications with me and her correspondence with others gave me the impression that she was considering disregarding our signed agreement and "lawyering up" for a fight (one I was not in a position to afford). With most of her family and many of her friends being primed to describe my shortcomings, I started obsessing about how I might get her hidden "rest of the story" out there. After about two weeks of worrying about it and picturing what would happen in court with her story being spun, I ended up logging (at midnight) into a blog she'd abandoned without bothering to change its login credentials. Years earlier she'd invited me to post what and whenever I wanted, so I wrote four or five posts in which I pasted her own writing describing the various events, opinions, and activities she'd neglected to share with her cohorts. And yes, I gave them the full compliment of my own sarcastic introductions, posting as the "new and improved (ex who won't be named)." It's not like she had more that ten or fifteen people following that blog, but they were the right ones, if you get my drift. And of course, after the glow of having hit enter wore off I thought better of the wisdom I'd displayed in posting such nonsense.

Now remember, this was the middle of the night. I figured OK, I need to delete this crap and get it together... And as I sat down to do so an email from a mutual friend of the ex popped up. It said, "Dude, did she really write all this?" I was mortified. I deleted it all and wrote back with a mea culpa, explaining myself. But in that few minutes my ex had seen it too (it seems she had her blog set up to send an email announcement to her followers whenever she posted a new piece). Oops. I emailed her the next day and apologized, but I guess the damage was done.

And out of the many police reports my ex filed over the seven or eight months following our separation, that one ended up in charges being filed.

A few months after the incident I got a call from a cop who, unlike all the others I spoke to, seemed to be intent on intimidating me (rather than asking to hear my side of the story). After his threatening to arrest me and on the advice of an attorney I was using as a result of other shenanigans my ex had pulled, I declined his invitation to "come in and talk about it." And a year after the incident I found that I had been charged with a class B misdemeanor, "Computer Crimes." Of course the court and/or prosecuting attorney never contacted me. I found out because I started receiving junk mail from criminal defense attorneys and I knew from the ex's previous DUI that that meant I was in the system somewhere, so eventually I got online and looked it up. But you know what? The court never did contact me, serve me, or subpoena me. They just filed a $1000 warrant for my arrest and waited to see if I'd get popped at some point... It's a good thing I don't drive my old Camaro anymore...

Anyway, a month ago I started wondering what had ever happened with that charge (because again, they never told me I was charged) and I sent a note to an attorney friend to ask what I should do. He sent me a note five minutes later saying, "Call Me. Now." That's how I found out about the warrant (six months after it had been filed). So after plopping down a discounted but still substantial (to this poor student) retainer, my friend the attorney became my attorney attorney and he got to work getting the warrant dropped and a court date set, which finally came today.

Long and short of it: He informed the prosecutor that my actions, while technically not nice, didn't really violate the statute under which I was charged. He also told him my ex wasn't at all interested in testifying or pursuing the case (which was true, we're in a workable truce these days), but he thought I might be willing to plead to an infraction level disorderly conduct charge (I think that's what it was... similar in seriousness to a parking ticket). The judge seemed amenable and after informing me of my rights she pronounced sentence, I went downstairs to pay my $90 fine, and went to pick up my boys with no more legal threats hanging over my head.

And while I didn't really enjoy the stress of this stupid episode, and while I know I really shouldn't have posted that stuff, at the end of the day $90 is not a bad price to pay for yet one more ridiculous story about my adventures in the land of crazy which was my marriage and its assorted cast of characters.

The End.


Anonymous said...

And, yes, you've got a crazy story that nobody would believe unless they knew the cast of characters.

Do we see a screenplay in the future? (I don't go to R-rated movies, so I won't be able to see it until there's an edited-for-television version.)

The police after you for exposing the truth about somebody that was doing harm to you.

Yep. That makes a lot of sense...

Old Man C said...

There were a few times in the last two years that I really wanted to write a book about all this. I have just about every email and piece of correspondence I traded with my ex from our first contact and counting. At times she was a prodigious journal writer as well, so I could draw from those too. The problem is that I couldn't write it honestly without it being completely inappropriate and unreadable by anyone who tries to avoid rated R content, let alone content that wouldn't even qualify for the R. Maybe under a pseudonym some day?

>The police after you for exposing the truth about somebody that was doing harm to you.

Every other cop I spoke to (there were four or five police reports that I know of) listened to my version of events and ended up commiserating and giving me advice on how to properly deal with a raging ex without getting arrested. The only exception was the one in this story. He was hell bent on making sure I knew he could take me down, so I just blew him off. I don't care now though. I'm free.

ShellHawk said...

HI, G,
Just tuned in to this, and I really understand where you're coming from. The last husband did some very similar things and succeeded in demonizing me about as much as anyone can be.
Twelve years later, I'm in a great marriage with a wonderful guy, living a life that while very challenging (due to my suicidally optimistic habit of over-committing myself)sometimes, is wonderful in ways I would never have imagined when I was with that dreadful man.

Rock on, Old Man, and keep being a great dad to those beautiful children of yours!

Old Man C said...

Thanks, ShellHawk. I'm glad you ended up with a great guy. I'm holding out hope on my end that things will keep improving (and working toward making it happen). :)