Thursday, April 26, 2007

You be the judge

Now that the noise has died down a little about Alec Baldwin's ill-advised phone message for his daughter, the newspapers and TV have had their fun, Kim Basinger's gone out an hired a bodyguard to protect Ireland from her 3,000 mile-away father, and Alec's been deprived of yet more "visitation" with his daughter, here's a question for you: if you were the judge, what would you do?

Despite considerable evidence to the contrary - at least enough to convict and condemn - I am still convinced that there are some good judges out there. Such people face a difficult problem with feuding parents and children stuck in the middle. What do they do? The law, conventional practice and general prejudice pushes them towards giving sole custody to the mother. Further practice, malicious prejudice and bad science push them to penalize the non-custodial parent proportionately for any conflict that they see, regardless of who generates it (please, no sanctimonious preaching about it taking two to tango), and especially if the custodial parent alleges abuse, regardless of any evidence.

If the custodial parent is clever about it, manages to demonize the non-custodial parent, confuses everyone's idea of cause and effect and plays to the gallery well enough she (usually) can write her own ticket, to the expense of the non-custodial parent. But once in a while, a judge must have an inkling that something whiffs unpleasant in the state of Denmark. That said, prejudice being what it is, it is at best described as "courageous", a euphemism for "I wouldn't if I were her", for them to go against the general flow and protect the non-custodial parent's rights rather than genuflect to the demands of the custodial.

In the case in question, it is more than evident that the custodial parent is up to no good. 14 counts of contempt of court denying the ordered visitation makes it pretty clear Kim's not exactly up to snuff as divorced moms go. And yet dad appears to be prepared to take out some of his frustrations on his daughter. That said, look at the provocation - several years of this and undoubtedly faced with a daughter who's being insidiously pressured to reject him. One would have thought that this would make it all the more important that he doesn't take it out on Ireland. But then again, how many of us would take this much pressure and not crack once in a while?

What's a judge to do? Well, the knee-jerk reaction took place and Alec got cut off from Ireland, again. After everyone's had a chance to calm down, Kim's had a chance to rub it in, Alec's been forced to eat crow in public and that public has gotten bored and gone to look for another low-brow scandal, what then?

So, dear reader, I offer you a virtual robe, and here, take the wig too, if you like. Very fetching. It suits you and lends an air of irreproachable authority. I am positively awestruck, yer honor. Please, after you to the bench, m'lud, and do be careful with the gavel, we wouldn't want any crushed fingers, would we?

Now, what would you do? Switch custody to Alec? Hmmm. Unlikely, and headlines are never all that good for a judge? Pretend nothing happened, lift the restriction on Alec and keep watching the circus as Kim looks for other ways to get in his face? More than likely, I'm sure, not in any way controversial and I'm sure you'll avoid any risk of being called courageous. Cut Alec off entirely? Probably not a good move, you'll just hand too much ammunition to those nasty fathers' rights scum. We can't have the peasants revolting any more than necessary, can we? Ireland? What about her? She'll just grow up to be yet another screwed up Hollywood kid and probably die choking on her own vomit. Shrug.

But seriously, what would you do?

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12 comments:

John Doe said...

Something went wrong with my comment system so I had to repost. Before that, sfd had commented:

I'd put Kim in jail for a couple of weeks to punish her for contempt of court. Alec can take care of his child during this time and doing a little re-bonding. It would send a message loud and clear to other mother's who are playing her game. Court ordered visitation is not a joke and violating it will eventually get you more than a wrist slapping. I'd say 2 weeks in slammer and she would have learned her lesson.

It would probably never happen, though. She's a celebrity AND a Mother. We barely ever put those types in jail.

Anonymous said...

What would I do? I would want to know a lot more about the situation before coming to any kind of decision. You criticize the knee-jerk reaction of the judge in the case, but he's undoubtedly privy to more details than any of us. As bad as she looks (and her behavior looks very bad indeed), I would never want to make a call based on what I heard about their custody situation from the media. And neither should you.

John Doe said...

Of course not, anon. (What was that I said about sanctimonious preaching?) For the purposes of this game, I am suggesting that we accept what the media tells us at face value, foolish although that might be. Even with direct, personal and painful experience of Baldwin's position (do I really need to add: with the exception that I have not left my kid any incendiary phone messages or their equivalent?) I am still at a loss to know what a judge should do. As it is my experience is that they fall back on blind, destructive prejudice like too many others. Personally, I like sfd's solution, but I am keen to hear anyone's novel ideas.

Anonymous said...

Put Kim in jail and hand custody to Alec? After that telephone call?

Not likely, the judge would get slammed for "disregarding the safety and well being of the child". The court of public opinion would hold sway and that ruling would be quickly appealed and overruled. Basinger would have overwhelming support for not complying. The situation would likely be the worst possible outcome for Alec and Ireland.

So, my premise, he can't do that.

What can be done? Well, what is the problem? Communication and relationship between the father and child obviously being damaged and hindered by the mother.

Give the mother (yet another?) warning on the contempt charges. Order some form of relationship therapy managed by an independant therapist,chosen by the court, for both Ireland and Baldwin that they both have to attend at the same time. Choose a therapist that is familiar with parental alienation.

Have the therapist present the court with their findings after, what, 3 months? 6 months?

Have Alec Baldwin attend court ordered anger management therapy. (Based on my opinion, this is not necessarily appropriate but unavoidable given the outburst).

Warn Basinger that failure of the child to attend will result in custody being removed from her and her incarceration. (Whether it would actually get done is irrelevant, the point is to get Ireland to the meetings).

Anonymous said...

Clearly there is more to this story than meets the eye. When I heard the message it was clear to me that it wasn't being left for Baldwin's daughter - it was being left for Bassinger. Am I the only person who listened to something OTHER than the "little pig" portion of the call?

I want to know why his daughter hadn't taken his calls, and - if I were the judge - would want a full accounting of the events that led up to the meltdown. It sounded to me alot like Baldwin was making ongoing and reasonable attempts to communicate that had been repeatedly thrown back in his face. Did he handle it well? No. Is Bassinger innocent? Hell no.

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard this story I was waiting for my car oil to be changed... when baldwin said, "I don't care if you're 11 or 12..." the woman sitting next to me turned to me and said with an air of disgust, "he doesn't even know her age."
My father never knew how old I was until I turned 18, and I lived with him! He's also yelled much worse than that, and that was spitting in my face, not on a voice mail. There's something I think of as respect, which gives a parent permission to yell at their kid, though I liked what Dr Phil said about hearing the pain in his voice.

In response to what John Doe said about Kim going to jail, what I think would more likely come of that is the daughter (who's been with her mom for how long?) blaming and hating him for her mother going to jail (more reaffirmation that he is indeed an ass, as her mother has probably been telling her) than any of that cute re-bonding you envision.

JQ75 said...

Well Kim has gotten away with this crap too lomg, clearly she's made quite a mockery of the court. I would have given her a big fat fine a long time ago with a warning that next time she's going to jail (so she could not cry for sympathy), then I'd make good on the jail term.

Can't go back in time? Then throw her in jail now. Besides she'll get a country club jail.

Alec should get some time with his daughter but he screwed up leaving thst message so it wouldn't be to PC now, probably have to delay that until he had some rehabilitation time and this blew over in the media.

Of course the whole problem is this winner take all mentality. Court orders should mandate shared parenting from the beginining, can't handle that, then court ordered therapy for the uncoperative parent.

Don't like that, tough, you had a kid, you have an obligation to deal with the other parent as needed for the convenience of the child who didn't get divorced (from their parents).

Withholding emotional support (visitation) should be punished just like withholding of financial (child) support, track your ass down, take your pass port, IRS returns, driver's license, bank accounts, and toss you in jail.

Oh and let's not forget the leech accomplices, the lawyers. If a lawyer was helping set this situation up. throw their butt in jail too.

I have seen these lawyer games first hand in chambers and seen the judge look the other way. I wouldn't. Gamesmanship would be rewarded with free room and board in the county lockup.

I kinda like this robe & gavel, I wouldn't be popular, but I wouldn't put up with these child abusive games either.

Oh and as for enough information to make a decision, you would die if you knew how they made "decisions".

First they try not to make decisions and let the lawyers duke it out, racking up fees.

Second they let the lawyers lie in chambers rather than taking sworn statements under oath. So the judge has all these lawyer lies in his head to make a decision.

Third, even with the lying info he has it is of too little quality and quantity to make a decision, there is likely more info in the media than the judge actually heard.

Fourth, the judges frequently do things their own way regardless of the facts they may or may not have listened too, which may or may not have been true. For example after three hearings on who's paying my wife's fees, he ignored it all and said the higher wage earner pays this. Evidence be damned.

How do I know all this? Over two years, cases of evidence, cases of court documents in a very gamey corrupt system. I leave the hallowed halls looking for a barf bag, Its a sad sick joke.

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Anonymous said...

I'd place the child with a foster couple at an undisclosed location and tell the parents they would BOTH be allowed supervised visititation once a month until they came up with a solution that would stick.

If/when a solution was presented, I would review it and, if it passed muster, order it implemented.

The solution would have to provide the child equal access to BOTH parents, and both parents equal parenting responsibility and rights. It would also have to be so set up that neither parent could manipulate or punish the other by using the child. (Let them beat each other up on their own time, if that was their wish.) I would further require that, if either parent violated the agreement, they agreed to jail time in advance, NOT monetary compensation, duration for each type of offense to be defined in the contract between them. I would finally require that the compliance with the contract be monitored by an independent party paid equally by both parents, monitoring to include observation of the child's emotional state.

I would finally add that, if either of them cares about the child, they would be meeting 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, to hammer out an agreement that would be best for their child. And if either doesn't want to spend the time, the other parent will receive custody by default. Any arguments about this would be considered contempt of court and treated accordingly.

Both parents in this case have money, status and power. They can either use it for their child, or lose their child.

TomP

Anonymous said...

Without hearing all of the evidence presented in the case (or even every media story on the case) I have to ask: Does it occur to anyone that Kim has been denying visitation to Alec for a reason? Like maybe she gave us a glimpse in the phone call?

Arby said...

It is certainly possible that Kim has a reason to be worried about Alec.

In my opinion that is simply not an acceptable reason to deny visitation. There are many options available to her, supervised visitation, etc, that they can certainly afford.

At the end of the day, if the court has said that Alec can see his child, why should she be able to unilaterally decide differently? He is just as much Ireland's parent as she is.

I agree with a poster above - shared parenting should be the default with therapy for the uncooperative parent.

Anonymous said...

well if I was the judge I would want to speak to Ireland.
She is old enough to have some real insight.
She is still young enough to tell the truth.
Ireland is the only person who can tell the judge if she wants to stay with mom or dad. Ireland should be allowed to decide on visitation.

Allowing an eleven year to hold this much power is a huge risk. Kids are quick to pick up the sword of manipulation but because Ireland is the one most at risk in this immature dogfight I think she has to be the one to decide what is toxic and what is not.