Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Divorce Lawyer Pride

So, today, I was having a conversation with my friend Peter.

As a prologue, those of you who read the blog frequently understand I am looking to represent women who are victims of domestic violence, because I believe the system does a terrible job of addressing the problem. And what that means, in short, is I am going to spend a great deal of time in the world of protection orders, divorce and custody.

Now, when I told my mother what I was thinking of doing (and I apologize if I'm repeating this), she said, "Oh, Michael, don't do that. All my friends who are married to lawyers, as soon as they say their husband's a lawyer, will say, 'But he doesn't do divorces!'"

I mean, let's admit it. The term "divorce lawyer" doesn't exactly sound as selfless as, say, "firefighter," "Make a Wish volunteer," "humanitarian aid worker," "missionary for Christ." Indeed, even I opened a paper I wrote for a writing credit last year thus:

It is hard to imagine a professional in American life today who gets less respect than the divorce lawyer. Seen as a shark feasting on the misery of his or her client’s soon-to-be ex-spouse, these conniving creatures are thought of as willing to go as low as possible to exact an extra pound of flesh for their client. All this in the name of a hefty retainer and another notch in the attorney’s belt.

You think divorce lawyer, you think of some slimy little guy rubbing his hands and saying, "Ahhhh -- a marriage is coming apart! Let me run around under it and see what money I can find to spend on my next cruise to the Mediterranean."

So, I've been pretty good at the semantics of this. I tell people I want to represent victims of domestic violence. I don't say I'm a divorce lawyer.

Well, when I told Peter this, he said, "No. You're spinning. You are a divorce lawyer. It's what you do. Do it well, and be proud of it."

I have to admit, it's a pretty good point. What am I? I'm a lawyer. What will much of my work be? Divorces. OK, so, you put those two together?

I'm not doing it because I enjoy seeing people who thought they'd live their lives out together forever get bitter and angry at each other. I'm not doing it because I like dealing in misery.

I'm doing it because I've seen how bad the system deals with it and how much the bad guys can get away with, and because I'm completely pissed off and want to make things happen. It's what I'm passionate about.

So, I guess this means my mom can just start saying that I do handle divorces.

Because I am, after all, a divorce lawyer.

The Things Linds Finds...

You seriously must check out the 2006 State of the Union Drinking Game.

Why We Love W

Witnesseth, my friends, the little town of Randolph, Utah, where George W. Bush got 95.6% of the vote in 2004, and it appears they know who the seventeen people were who voted for John Kerry. This includes the postmaster, who one of the village residents refers to as "the village pseudo-intellectual." (He'd better watch his step, now, or his appointment won't last for long.)

Randolph sounds like about the kind of a place where you'd expect a 95.6% vote for the President.

When they talk about religious diversity, they mention the Catholic woman married to the illegal immigrant.

Race? Three African-Americans in the county. Two (twins!) on the cheerleading squad.

The author posits that Randolph has many reasons to be fond of the President:

There have been no funerals here from Bush's war on terrorism. There are no unemployment lines, no homeless people sleeping in doorways, no sick people being turned away from a hospital because of a lack of insurance, no crime to speak of, no security fence needed around the reservoir, no metal detectors at the schools.

Terrorist threats? That's anywhere but here. Iraq? That's somewhere over there. Hurricane Katrina? That was somewhere down there. Illegal immigrants? Not here, where everyone is fond of Ramon, who came long ago from Mexico and is married to the Catholic woman, who is the one non-Mormon everyone mentions when the conversation turns to religious diversity. As for racial diversity, everyone says there are three African Americans in the county, including the twins on the high school cheerleading squad, which also includes a Hispanic, according to the superintendent of schools, Dale Lamborn, which means "we've probably got the most diverse cheerleading squad in the state."

Yes, Bush is loved by most everyone in Randolph, including the woman who nearly dropped dead of heart failure and is working because of the health insurance, as well as the 77-year-old who works part time because social security won't finance her modest life.

Golly, I'm proud to be from Ohio today.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

So, Ken, Is This Like When You Said Enron Was Going To Turn Out Fine

Enron's Ken Lay: Trial Will Turn Out 'Fine'

Check it out

Thanks to Linds for this clip. (Ignore the stupid ads on the sideline.) Here's a challenge for those research-minded among you: Can we show the President where the $12.7 billion cut is he doesn't know about? It appears to have something to do with student loans...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday stuff

OK, so, the head of the Abramoff investigation just got appointed to a federal judgeship, which means he has to step down from being the chief prosecutor on Abramoff immediately.

Anyone have a pblem with this? Anyone?

I mean, W, I know we reelected you last year, but we aren't dumb. We do understand what's going on.


My condo overlooks a harbor, and I'm on the "porch" right now (unfortunately, since it's the only place where my so-called "wireless connection" works...) About half of the harbor is water, the other half is ice that is dissolving rather quickly. It's fascinating to watch.


Could someone please pass a note to John Kerry that he's not going to be President of the United States? That ship has sailed. So he could stop trying.


I will say it was a cheap shot for the White House to claim Kerry was calling for a filibuster of Alito from the "slopes of the Swiss alps" at a five-star ski resort. Even they knew perfectly well he was at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Being able to use your law license to fight for causes you are passionate about is awesome. I love being a lawyer.


Being paid for same is also a good thing. I love being a lawyer.


A friend of mine talks about "moments of grace." I had one the other day. I kept expecting one of these to come along after getting through the bar, being sworn in, getting my license, and having something click to go, " did it." And I had a great number of those emotions but no sort of "Eureka!" moment. Which sort of surprised me.

Our court of common pleas uses a computerized docket system to keep track of the status of cases. The other day, I had occasion to check a case of mine on the system, which I had not done. (I have used the system numerous times before when working for the prosecutor's office and doing research on other things, but never on one of my cases.) The attorney's name is listed across from the client's at the top, and then after anything filed by an attorney, the attorney's last name is in parentheses.

I have to admit, when I saw both of these things, it made my day. Major moment of grace.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What Hamas, etc.

Wellll, here we are fighting this war on terror and it just went and won an election in the Palestinian Authority. (Wait -- I see the next step in this. Bush declares democracy doesn't work, and decides no more elections, starting here.)

This is not a good thing. It leads to all our diplomats running around and bumping into each other going, "What are we going to do?"

You -- you being US foreign policy muckymucks -- can't talk to a group that finds Israel's very existence offensive. As Chris Matthews said this evening, "Hamas not being against Israel is like Mothers Against Drunk Driving not being against drunk driving." Especially when they harbor terrorists and assist folks like Al Qaeda.

On the other hand, we would like a peace process. But you can't have peace when you can't talk to one of the two warring factions, and you can't talk to one of the two warring factions when it wants to destroy the other warring faction who's a close ally of yours.

I, Michael Bassett, do solemnly swear, that henceforth when I think that representing survivors of domestic violence is tough, I will remember I could be trying to bring about peace in the Middle East.


I did hear W use the phrase "Osama bin-Laden" today, which was interesting. I thought he might have been hoping we'd forgotten who he was. Or else he did.


We're back to arguing about executive privilege again, vis a vis the investigations into thef ederal response to Katrina. I'm generally sympathetic to claims of executive privilege and think we ought to be careful about intruding upon the advice the President receives from advisors; on the other hand, Michael Brown was recently paid to give a speech to a group about the advice he gave the president. So I think he should have to testify.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Your papers, please?

The Alex Hotel claims they are a "serene and welcoming environment."

That wasn't the case for Karen Kelly, who went to the hotel to meet with a business associate, and was told that she would hav to present her passport just to have a phone call placed to a guest there.

They will keep her passport on file for five years. (They initially told her one.)

And the manager is more than happy to admit this. Besides security, she didn't want a "bad element" in the hotel.

It grows more and more difficult to be anonymous in this country. And something about that disturbs me.

Monday, January 23, 2006

In Which Our Blogger Proves What Kind of a Nerd He Is

I am sitting here watching election results.

From Canada.

CANADA, for Pete's sake.

Why, you ask?

Because in my book, NOTHING -- with the possible exception of the Michigan/Ohio State game -- beats an Election Night for drama, adrenaline and excitement.

And I never get to watch US election results on TV in that happy isolation where I can surf the Internet or change the channel at will, because I'm always at some victory party or other.

So I poach relentlessly off of other countries. Great Britain; Canada; whomever. (Although when the UK did their election results last year, it was the night before my final law school final of all time, so I was studying more than watching.)

Yes, I'm a poli sci nerd. But at least I'm an international one. :) I'm going to sound like Linds...

...who will occasionally post something saying "I had a good post started but Blogger died/I'm setting up a website/my cat ate my post."

Well, I had a good post started yesterday.

In fact, I had a good DAY started yesterday.

I was going to do some email, read, write a post, and make a few tweaks to this site. I was even going to watch a little football.

So, I sat down to read my email and found an email that gave me a good idea for a post. It appears Ken Blackwell's latest tax relief plan could make life difficult for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This was pure blog gold.

So, I sat down and started to write.

It was around this time a box appeared in the middle of my screen saying "Freepod" was downloading.

I didn't want Freepod. I didn't know what it was, granted, but I was pretty sure I didn't want it. I imagined it would involve random popups and such.

As my grandfather on my mom's side would say, "And how."

Random popups would have been a dream come true compared to what I was getting. I was getting my browser hijacked -- literally, looking at one page and taken to another. I was getting ads in the middle of my screen, independent of any browser.

This was, to put it mildly, annoying.

And thus I spent pretty much the rest of my day until about 6:30. Finally upgraded Norton to Internet Security, which then spent the rest of the night and the morning running and getting rid of these programs.

Although I did visit the Drudge Report yesterday long enough to learn that they're taking "The West Wing" off the air.

This did not make my day more pleasant.

So, we'll chalk January 22, 2006 up as a lost day. Grr.

(I wish I could figure out who the purveyors of that spyware are. I'd like to send them a bill for the time I wasted dealing with their schtuff. )

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Grumbling Gourmet

You may recall that, back in December, I said I was going to try to learn to make one new healthy recipe a week. I said that if I liked the recipes, I might put them on the blog. Tonight, I made tortilla soup.

Here is where the recipe would be, if I liked something that tasted a lot like what I imagine the net effect of soaking nachos in hot water and putting garlic powder over it would be.

The raw materials sounded promising -- onions, nachos and then tomatoes and garlic paste pureed in a blender. It was a fairly slow-cooked soup, taking an hour of slowwwwly adding things in.

It didn't take nearly that long to decide I wasn't going to hang around to see what it looked like tomorrow.

Ah, well. What's the old saying? You've got to break a few eggs to make an omelet?

Anywho. I'll have to go back to the recipe pile. Anyone have any good sites for healthy recipes?

While we're waiting, here's a Bassett family favorite: Cucumbers and mint. This is an easy, quick and delicious salad.

Take 2-3 cucumbers; cut skin off. Slice.

Combine with yogurt. (Enoguh yogurt that the cucumbers are swimming in it.)

Add mint. (My parents like to add garlic. I leave it as is.)

Mix well. Enjoy.

Make this recipe if you want to eat something that's relatively good for you and tastes good. Make the recipe I made tonight if you just want hot, soggy nachos with no cheese. And want to spend an hour of your life making it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So, Let Me Get This Straight...

There was a plot to kidnap Tony Blair's son.

Led by the "Superdads," Britain's movement of the fathers' rights movement.

So, a group of people who spend their time complaining they have had their custody illegally and unfairly taken away from them were going to illegally and unfairly take away someone else's custody of their child.

Hmm. Isn't this enough evidence to stop pretending these people care about custody, and realize it's really mainly about control with them?

Monday, January 16, 2006

My Parting Words of Wisdom to My Brother, Departing for a Year in Macau, China

"Just remember, if you're arrested, you have the right to...uh...nothing."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Expressions Educated Persons Should Not Use (Vol. 1)

On this morning's edition of Meet The Press, Tim Russert had Ambassador Paul Bremer on the show. He read Bremer a passage criticizing his time in Iraq by the Inspector General of something or other, and asked for Bremer's response.

First thing Bremer said: "Let me answer that."

Paul? Paul? That was surplus wordage right there. We didn't need that. We asked you the question. We EXPECT you will answer that. It's appropriate to say "Let me answer that" when, say, some guy is accusing you of impregnating his sister and has pulled back his fist to punch you. (You'll want to evaluate if you have a good answer, of course.) But no one was trying to keep you from answering that. We expected you to answer that. You'd only have had to ask permission if you were going to do something unexpected. Like, "Tim, you've just accused me of mismanaging millions of dollars in my handling of Iraq, and I am deeply offended you think the Bush administration could mismanage anything. Now, let me dance a jig." That would have been unexpected. Your answering it was not unexpected and, hence, did not require our permission.

Sheesh. Do I have to spend my time explaining everything to Republicans?

Sunday Sundry stuff

I agree with Linds. It's January. It's Ohio. It's supposed to be cold.

Now, I don't particuarly enjoy the cold, but I don't like seeing the sun so much in January, either. And I still think there's nothing like watching a gorgeous snowfall from snug inside your abode. Looking out at water that's not iced over with a blue sky and green grass in January is...creepy. To the max. Makes me think of global warming. Crud.


BTW, Linds, I will be linking to your new blog address when I do a little maintenance on Ye Olde Template here sometime this week. (Nothing major, just some additional content for the sidebar, updating of links, et cetera.) I hate getting into my template, because even though I'm competent enough to work my way around it, there's always the fear I'm going to completely decimate it.


Are any of you other "West Wing" fans out there having a hard time seeing John Spencer in the opening credits, knowing that, sooner or later, Leo is going to have to go?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I Have Been Remarkably Gloat-Free...

...about the recent passel of scandals plaguing Republicans in DC, but this thought just occurred to me:

Everyone seems to agree that after forty years in the majority of the House, some Democrats grew a little too comfortable, and forgot who they represented.

It took the Republicans exactly ten.

On Thin Ice

I had forgotten
What it's like
To watch people skate their hearts out
With dreams of Olympic gold

To listen to beautiful music
(Alan Silvestri, John Williams, anyone?)
And be pacified by it
And yet, simultaneously, horrified
At the prospect

Some poor sophomore in high school
Could see her dream fall through the ice tonight
With one fall
One trip
One misstep

Or could win Olympic gold.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Alittle on Alito

I was getting my oil changed the other day (more accurately, my car's oil), and sitting in the waiting room watching the Alito hearings. In walked a fellow about my age who sat down, looked at the TV, and said, "Isn't this ridiculous? All the guy wants is to do a job and do it well, and they're asking him all these questions. Like it really matters."

I wish I'd have known where his car was, so I could have checked for the W04 sticker.


Yesterday, when I tuned in briefly to CSPAN, I caught some of Russ Feingold's questioning of Alito, and he was asking if the fact fellow judges of Alito were coming to testify in Alito's behalf would mean Alito would have to recuse himself from hearing cases of theirs appealed. Feingold asked Alito how he would analyze a recusal motion. Alito said he'd never thought of it.

I found that vaguely disturbing. (Although I'm not sure I agree with Feingold, I wish it would have run through Alito's head, at least.)


Completely different subject: Last night on the History Channel, I found a show that I thought was quite interesting called "Declassified." They talk about documents kept secret by the government and what they reveal.

I thought it was interesting because they were talking about John Lennon, who I've always enjoyed hearing about. But I also had to admit to myself that part of why I liked the show was that it reminded me of public records law and some of the arguments that go into it. (I have a friend who refers to me as the "Public Records Nazi.")

And people wonder why I don't get out more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Going Postal

The price of stamps went up $.02 the other day.

So, as a good American, this is your chance to complain, moan and whine about the postal service and what a lousy job they do and how you can't afford $.02 more.

And if you believe that, you probably voted for W out of a sense of patriotic duty, too.

Look, I've got a proposition for you. I'm going to send a letter to California. I'd like it there soon. I'll give you $.39 for your trouble.

Any takers?

OK, I'll raise my bid to $.78.

All right. So, you won't be the transporter. Perhaps you'd like to be a cog in the well-oiled machine that will get it there. You will be expected to deliver in rain, sleet, snow and hail. Be attacked by every Doberman on your route. And then there's the occasional perception that you are prone to workplace violence.

Anyone? Anyone?

First one to volunteer can complain about the recent postal rate hike. The rest of you, shaddup and lick it.

BMCC '06: Appealing

Blogger's Note: This is the third of what will be several entries on the 2006 Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, which I attended over the weekend. It was an experience in which I learned and absorbed a great deal about things as wide and varied as the system, those who manipulate it, are manipulated by it, and are victimized by it, and about myself. To try to do this all in one entry would not do it justice.

This'll be fairly quick, as I'm out the door in a moment, but it did occur to me one thing that was encouraging in Albany was the idea that appellate courts are at least starting to get an idea of what's happening to battered mothers out there. The word is that 2/3 of custody cases where custody is awarded to batterers get reversed at the appellate court level. (Of course, that assumes that the battered mother has enough money and energy to fight that long -- many of them don't.)

The Bridget Marks case, which I mentioned a bit earlier, was a victory, where an appellate court in New York recently returned custody of children to their mother on a unanimous 4-zip decision.

And, in the course of looking at some of this stuff, I was pleased to find that the Tenth District Court of Appeals in Ohio has some understanding of what's going on. Neat that they identify it as such, even better that they are willing to say something. Too often, guardians ad litem stop advocating for the best interests of the child and advocate for the parent they think should get custody -- even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. So, it was a delight to find this little nugget:

The trial court also should have considered taking the time to explain its ruling on the contempt to the three young women/girls. Although the guardian ad litem could normally fulfill this role, the guardian ad litem in the contempt hearing conducted himself in many ways as if he were a second attorney for the girls' father, cross-examining the mother in very hostile fashion at times. Schottenstein v. Schottenstein (Dec. 12, 2000), Franklin App. No. 00AP-285, unreported, quoted by Schottenstein v. Schottenstein (November 29, 2001), 2001-Ohio-3987

BMCC '06: The Lawyers

Blogger's Note: This is the second of what will be several entries on the 2006 Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, which I attended over the weekend. It was an experience in which I learned and absorbed a great deal about things as wide and varied as the system, those who manipulate it, are manipulated by it, and are victimized by it, and about myself. To try to do this all in one entry would not do it justice.

No one is exactly wild about divorce lawyers.

When I first told my mother I thought I wanted to represent battered women in custody cases, my mother (who despises the idea of any child being abused with the very fiber of her being), replied, "Oh, don't do that. All my friends who are married to lawyers make sure to say when they explain what their husband does, 'But he doesn't do divorces."

But, to get a divorce, you need a lawyer. And, at the Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, it was clear that lawyers were pivotal people.

By way of perspective, one should understand that these people were in high conflict divorces, and it was not uncommon to meet people who were in their third, fourth, fifth, seventh or twelfth year of litigation.

It also appeared very clear that most people were on their second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth lawyer. (The average is four.) This is because many lawyers don't understand domestic violence or the dynamics of it. Several people referred to their first lawyers as bozos or slightly less polite words.

However, there were a number of presenters in Albany last weekend who not only understood the dynamics of domestic violence but spend a great amount of their time representing the victims of it.

Preeminent among them was a fellow by the name of Richard Ducote. I first came across him when I read a terrific article he authored called "Guardians ad Litem in Private Custody Litigation: The Case for Abolition." (It is peppered with such section headings as "Rules? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!" and "Fees: There Goes The College Tuition.") Since then, I have learned he is the preeminent attorney for battered women in custody cases. Among others, he represented the aforementioned Sarah when she sued her multimillionaire father to help with her college tuition (they lost.) He also represented Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, the mother who fled to New Zealand with her daughter rather than force visitation between her daughter and the father who the daughter said had molested her.

Ducote (along with Lundy Bancroft, who presented on Friday night) was one of the rock stars of the conference. His whole demeanor indicated someone who was a presence in the courtroom, and I think it would be a heck of a lot of fun to watch him cross-examining a guardian who hasn't been doing their job.

I don't get out much, OK?

Also at the conference were Charles, Kristin and Diane Hofheimer. Charles and Kristin are a father-daughter team of lawyers who only represent women, and Diane is a paralegal. They spoke on a panel of about eight or nine lawyers that appeared Saturday morning. (Yeah, imagine -- giving eight lawyers microphones and 75 people to talk to. Short and sweet was not the order of the day.)

A few of the notes I took from the panel:

  • The idea that the system has an attitude of bureaucratic indifference towards domestic violence

  • The fact batterers can use privilege to define reality

  • The idea that a mother's maternal instincts work against her in court

  • Part of the problem with proving abuse is that skepticism works in the abuser's favor, because to buy the story of abuse, the judge must mentally "go there" and admit there are people who beat, molest or abuse.

  • A strong belief that we need to remember that family court is a real court. Too many practitioners and judges go in there forgetting that rules, laws, constitutions apply, and just want to play "Let's make a deal." A defense lawyer who did not follow up on inaccuracies or inadequacies of a police officer's investigation would be guilty of malpractice. So, why should attorneys let guardians ad litem get off the hook?

    (Often, because they have another case with the guardian ad litem the next day where the GAL is in their favor.)

    One of the stories we heard was of a woman who was held at Rikers' Island for 27 months after speaking out about custody of her daughter being given to the father who molested her. When an attorney came into the Clerk's office to file a motion to get the mother out, the clerks hounded him. Was he filing under Rule 7? Or perhaps Subpart 12k8b7-6? It was clear they didn't like that he was exposing what was going on. Finally, in frustration, he told them he was filing under the US Constitution.

    In other words, lawyers need to be lawyers. Even in family court.

Another attorney we heard from who impressed me greatly was a fellow by the name of Tim Tippins. More about him later, but he's gone so far as to subpoena the printouts of psychiatrists who make custody recommendations, only to find out that the computer programs that do some of the evaluation were intrinsically biased against mothers. (This starts to sound like weird, Black Helicopter stuff, but I promise you, we have gone so far off the map it is going to be very difficult to find our way back.)

And here's the other problem with the lawyers: They charge, a lot. And because the most precious thing in the world to a woman is her child, she will pay as much as she has. And when they have exhausted their resources, many women end up representing themselves.

As a result, they learn a great deal. The woman who spent 27 months in Rikers said she studied the law five days a week because what else was she going to do?

It was certainly more productive than thinking about how screwed up the system is.

Monday, January 09, 2006

BMCC '06: Courageous Kids

Blogger's Note: This is the first of what will be several entries on the 2006 Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, which I attended over the weekend. It was an experience in which I learned and absorbed a great deal about things as wide and varied as the system, those who manipulate it, are manipulated by it, and are victimized by it, and about myself. To try to do this all in one entry would not do it justice.

As I was preparing to go to Albany, it occurred to me that the stories of abuse that would be collected in one room would be staggering.

I was right, although not in the way I had contemplated. While I was thinking of abuse at the hands of a husband or boyfriend or father, the abuse that was center stage was abuse of a very different sort: that of a system that not only does not care about allegations of domestic violence, but often shoots the messenger, the person who brings bad news about what has happened.

The first speaker we heard was a girl named Sarah.

Sarah is nineteen years old, and was originally from Ohio. Her father is very, very prominent -- a multimillionaire with the family name on big buildings. In 1998, a divorce was filed, and Sarah says, she became a "pawn in my father's vendetta against my mother."

Because Sarah refused to say she wanted to live with her father, she became a target.

Sarah and her two sisters said they wanted to live with their mother because of his awful temper; because they found themselves hiding out in their rooms to dodge him; because they felt used since, while he fought to have them not spend time with their mother, when he had them, they were placed with babysitters.

Sarah attempted to tell these things to the guardian ad litem appointed for her; but he simply told her she needed to spend time with her father or her mother would be in serious trouble.

Sarah's father, who frequently told her that children had no rights, made sure that she became a moving target. Literally.

First, he put her in a boarding school in Connecticut.

She got out of there. So, he put her on his corporate jet, told her she was going back to Ohio, and instead flew her to Utah, to a juvenile delinquent camp.

Her mother couldn't find her, and had to get the FAA involved to figure out where she was.

When the Utah boot camp released her, he sent her to Kansas. To a psychiatric hospital. Her roommate was a coke addict.

Throughout this, he refused to address the fact she had lupus.

Sarah only got out of the situation when she turned eighteen and "aged out of the system." This is a fairly common phenomenon. When a child approaches eighteen and is loudly trying to proclaim her rights, the goal is to keep them in a holding pattern until they supposedly have no stake in the outcome. Of course, what that frequently means is a severing of sibling relationships.

Sarah spoke on behalf of an organization called the Courageous Kids Network, which is for children who've been abused by the court sytem. If the hair on the back of your neck isn't standing on end yet, visit their website. It will be.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Little bits

Little bits of my weekend at the third annual Battered Mothers' Custody Conference are all I can give you right now.

I can only process this a bit at a time.

I could tell you things that would make your skin crawl, your hair stand up on the back of your neck, your lunch to be disgorged.

I can tell you about women who have had the most precious thing in the world to them -- their children -- torn from them.

Here's a collection of news stories about Bridget Marks, one woman who presented today.

My favorite quote, speaking of the fathers' rights movement: "They have a lot of money. Of course, they don't pay child support." (Lundy Bancroft)

More later. Once I can process.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Four Things Meme

Thanks, TSC!

Four jobs you've had in your life:
1. Chairman, Ottawa County Democratic Central Committee
2. Member, Port Clinton City Schools Board of Education
3. Chief of Civil Research, Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office
4. Summer associate - awesome pay, great perks, almost no responsibility. What could be better? ;)

Four movies you could watch over and over:

1. "Father of the Bride" (1991 version)
2. "The Sound of Music"
3. "My Fair Lady"
4. "1776"

Four places you've lived:
1. Oak Harbor, OH
2. Port Clinton, OH
3. Washington, DC
4. Toledo, OH

and that's it!

Four TV shows you love to watch:

1. "The West Wing"
2. "The Simpsons"
3. "All In The Family"
4. "Larry King Live

Four websites you visit daily:

1. GMail
3. Blogger
4. Port Clinton News Herald

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Lobster
2. Beef stroganoff
3. Lasagna
4. Burritos

Four places you'd rather be:
1. Grand Cayman Islands
2. the pool at my grandparents' condos in Sarasota, FL
3. Aruba
4. Tempe, Arizona

Four albums you can't live without:
1. Frank Sinatra, The Main Event Live
2. The Beatles: 1967-1970
3. My One and Only Original Soundtrack
4. The Prince of Tides Original Soundtrack


You blog less when you must position your computer at your bar and sit on a rather hard bar stool.


Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, I am off for the 2006 Battered Mothers' Custody Conference in Albany, NY. The schedule of presenters looks like a who's-who of people whose names I've been seeing as I've researched how the system deals with domestic violence. It should be very interesting.


Does anyone else find it amazing that I can be driving down the street, hear a song, come home, type a few selected lyrics into Google, figure out the name and the artist, download it for $.99 to my computer into a little white oblong thing that holds, at this moment, 2.4 days of songs (3.31 GB of information), and then plug it into a tape player and flood my apartment with the sound, all in about ten minutes?


BTW, the song is "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter.


The other day, I was in Borders and I picked up a book that I'd seen before that looked interesting, Courtroom 302: A Year Behind The Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse. I read the first few pages and was hooked, and have remained so.

I worked for a prosecutor's office during the summers from the time I was a sophomore in high school until the summer before my final year of law school. One of the perks of the job is that you get to work with police officers, who put their lives on the line daily to ferret out the bad guys and keep everyone protected.

One of the things that is difficult for me reading this book is that it deals with some officers who aren't very professional. For instance, I didn't think the fellow who was being processed into jail and was asked why he was shaking by a deputy was treated very professionally. He replied, "MS," to which the deputy replied, "Oh, he has PMS." I also didn't like the officer who told a woman charged with drug abuse, "Your life is over. You might not want to hear it, but it is."

Well, there's an incentive to straighten up and fly right.

OK, if I had to deal with the folks these officers do, too, I would probably have a jaded view. I still find it disturbing.

But most disturbing is that it becomes clear from the book that the idea of the system in a place as large as Chicago is not finding justice or the truth or trying to prevent people from reoffending, but rather to achieve the all-powerful "dispo" or disposition. Move the case along, get it closed.

Now, I'm all for moving justice along. (For instance, there's a divorce that was filed during my first week of law school and is still going on, and I'd be all in favor of that one being concluded.) But I'm also for making sure that we know what we're doing and what's going on and that the "dispo" that we're choosing has some chance of getting at the heart of the problem. Because cases don't involve numbers; they involve people.

The book raises a host of other issues, including the question of whether we are truly waging an efficient war on drugs, as well as whether we would do better to invest in kids BEFORE we pay however much we pay to house them in prisons for years on end.

I think anyone who is a lawyer should be encouraged to read it. And anyone who wears a black robe should be required to.


I can't stop wondering whether Daniel Powter is related to the rather manic Susan Powter.


Me: "I think I've decided the first step to dealing with domestic violence more effectively in this country."
Anonymous: "What's that?"
Me: "Quit holding the Battered Mothers' Conference in Albany, New York during the first weekend in January. "
Anonymous: "Yeah, I guess they figured we haven't suffered enough."
Me: "Or else they figure they're all destitute, and rates are really cheap in Albany, because NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND GOES THERE IN JANUARY."


I'm sorry, but in my unbiased opinion, Bassett's Market has the best muffins in the universe.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sad Quote of the Day

"Mining safety regulations are written with the blood of miners."

-- Mining union official

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hey, Irish


Go Bucks!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

About Me

Hello, there! My name is Michael Bassett; I'm a resident of Port Clinton, Ohio, where I have a law practice.

I started this blog in May, 2005, to chronicle the experience of taking the Ohio bar exam. Once the bar was over, it became a chronicle of waiting for the bar results. And passing it. :)

But with the bar over, I was not ready to give up on the blog. After all, while I passed the bar exam, I was now a member of the bar. And I thought chronicling my experiences and thoughts on the law, as well as life in general, would be worthwile and something folks would find interesting.

I am a Democrat; an Ohio State fan; and very committed to the fight for battered women in court. I consider myself a little zany and occasionally a bit different. I think this is a good thing.

If you want to drop me a line, and aren't offering me the opportunity to deposit a million dollars into a Nigerian bank account, please feel free: bassettmichael-at-hotmail-dot-com. (Please just put WMTTB in the subject line, so I know it's not a piece of junk mail.)

Enjoy the blog!

WMTtB Domestic Violence Resources

Over the past three and a half years, I've had an eye-opening opportunity of watching a close friend of mine, who is a victim of domestic violence, go through the court system. As a result, I have learned that something you would think would be simple (namely, that the courts should not reward battering) is actually not very simple at all, and actually gets turned on its head (usually, the victim is the one who does not fare well in court.)

The system simply doesn't get domestic violence. Whether it's the courts, the police, the prosecutors, the schools, the doctors. Whether it's at the county, state or national level. We don't get it. We have a ton of work to do.

This is a completely awful concept to me, and one I devote a great deal of time to. As a result, here are some of my thoughts. Below are some resources to learn more about domestic volence:

WMTtB Domestic Violence Related Posts

Move Along, Nothing to See Here (other than a police department failing to get domestic violence...again..) (3/22/06): I am so unreasonable sometimes. I want law enforcement to enforce the law.

If A Duck Is Your Control Group, Don't Be Surprised When It Tests High For Being A Duck (And Please Don't Call It A Psychopath) (3/5/06): How the MMPI reads battered women in custody evaluations.

Divorce Lawyer Pride (1/31/06): I am what I am

So Let Me Get This Straight (1/19/06): On Britain's "Superdads"

BMCC '06: Appealing (1/11/06), The Lawyers (1/11/06), Courageous Kids (1/11/06), Little Bits (1/7/06): My thoughts and observations on the 2006 Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, which I attended in Albany, NY. I met a number of devoted practitioners and amazing mothers, who were talking about the important issue of a society that gives custody of children to batterers.

The Theory and Practice of Kum Buh Yah (12/22/05): My thoughts on PBS' excellent, and much-maligned, documentary "Breaking the Silence."

Why I've Been Awake Since 3:15 (12/14/05): A brief take on a horrid custody battle.

Can We All Be Clear? Keeping Children In A Cage Is Abusive. Not "Weird" (12/7/05): Yes, I actually had to write a post with this title.

In Which Our Blogger, Having Complained Loudly About the Judicial Systme Not Getting Domestic Violence, Proposes A Solution (12/3/2005): Title speaks for itself. This would help clean up the system, IMHO

I'm Glad We're Giving Terrorism Suspects A Hearing. Now, Could We Extend The Same Courtesy to Ten Year Olds? (11/22/2005): Again, I actually had to write a post with this title.

Security (11/21/2005): In which I praise some police departments, and pillory others.

Mission Statement & A PS to the Mission Statement (11/1/2005)

Quote of the Night From Our Friends at the Father's Rights Movement (10/24/2005): You won't believe it. You truly won't believe it.

Potpourri (10/10/2005): A few thoughts on domestic violence, and whether or not the system gets it.

Hometown Proud (9/30/2005): In which a police chief refers to people who help victims of dmestic violence as "nosy witches." For a followup, see A Good Update (10/11/2005).

What I'll Be Doing Tomorrow (9/12/2005): A primer on a trip I was taking to court. For followup, click here.

In Which Seven Justices of the Supreme Court Put A Stamp of Approval On Systematically Ignoring Domestic Violence (6/30/2005): My take on the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales. Not surprisingly, they didn't get it right. Plus, more on Castle Rock.

One Reason People Hate Lawyers (6/20/2005): It actually turns into a few reasons.

Stunning (6/19/2005): Fun with statistics.

What I Learned at the Law School That Was More Important Than The Bar (5/24/2005): My impressions on seeing Lundy Bancroft, an expert on battering, speak.

Domestic Violence-related Links

Battered Mothers' Custody Conference: The website for this conference. Lots of useful links here. A website for court-abused children. I know there are some from my county. There are probably some from yours.

Ohio Domestic Violence Network

Ohio Domestic Violence Resources Center

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