SOCIAL MEDIA, DOCTOR FREUD AND “MARINATING IN A MUTUAL HATRED”: THE JUDICIAL USE OF FOOTNOTES
Regular readers of this blog will need little introduction to the work of Canadian judge J.W. Quinn. J. Here I look at the use of footnotes in his judgment in a family case of Bruni -v- Bruni in 2010 (this is far more interesting than it sounds). They show the judge’s assessment of witness credibility.
“In recent years, the evidence in family trials typically includes reams of text messages between the parties, helpfully laying bare their true characters. Assessing credibility is not nearly as difficult as it was before the use of e- mails and text messages became prolific. Parties are not shy about splattering their spleens throughout cyberspace.”
“When the operator of a motor vehicle yells “jackass” at a pedestrian, the jackassedness of the former has been proved, but, at that point, it is only an allegation as against the latter.”
The judge was deciding a hotly contested dispute between husband and wife.
THE OPENING LINES OF THE JUDGMENT
This gives a good indication of what is to come.
“ Paging Dr. Freud. Paging Dr. Freud.
 This is yet another case that reveals the ineffectiveness of Family Court in a bitter custody/access dispute, where the parties require therapeutic intervention rather than legal Here, a husband and wife have been marinating in a mutual hatred so intense as to surely amount to a personality disorder requiring treatment.”
THE FOOTNOTES: EDITED HIGHLIGHTS
“2 At one point in the trial, I asked Catherine: “If you could push a button and make Larry disappear from the face of the earth, would you push it?” Her I-just-won-a-lottery smile implied the answer that I expected.
3 I am prepared to certify a class action for the return of all wedding gifts.
4 It is likely that, in the period 2004-2006, Larry was having one or more extramarital affairs. Interestingly, Larry’s father was married five times, in addition to going through several relationships. Perhaps there is an infidelity gene.
5 The home in which Larry and Sandra live is jointly owned by the two of them. Larry did not reveal this fact in his financial statement filed in these proceedings.
6 This is always a telltale sign that a husband and wife are drifting apart. [The wife tried to run the husband over with her van]
7 The courtroom energy level in a custody/access dispute spikes quickly when there is evidence that one of the parents has a Hells Angels branch in her family tree. Certainly, my posture improved. Catherine’s niece is engaged to a member of the Hells Angels. I take judicial notice of the fact that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization (and of the fact that the niece has made a poor choice).
8 When one considers that the parties then had been separated for a mere four months and that Larry was exercising access, this is a remarkable request. What does it tell us about Catherine? [She wanted her new partner to adopt the children]
9 Donna is a devotee of the literary device known as, “repetition for emphasis.” I do not know whether Donna is the niece who is engaged to the Hells Angels member. If she is, they may be more compatible than I initially surmised.
19 In fact, they were represented by lawyers through 12 court attendances over two years (according to the endorsement section of the continuing record), during the babysitting phase of the proceedings and before the heavy lifting began. This case should have been identified by the lawyers in the beginning as one that was impossible to settle and pushed quickly to trial, without the endless toing and froing present in typical cases. The legal fees for the 12 attendances would have been better spent on the trial.
20 A further testament to the hopelessness of the custody/access situation is that the parties and their common- law spouses are unable to jointly attend Brandon’s ball-hockey games without erupting into mutual conflict. This is very stressful for Brandon.
21 A finger is worth a thousand words and, therefore, is particularly useful should one have a vocabulary of less than a thousand words.
22 When the operator of a motor vehicle yells “jackass” at a pedestrian, the jackassedness of the former has been proved, but, at that point, it is only an allegation as against the latter.
23 In recent years, the evidence in family trials typically includes reams of text messages between the parties, helpfully laying bare their true characters. Assessing credibility is not nearly as difficult as it was before the use of e- mails and text messages became prolific. Parties are not shy about splattering their spleens throughout cyberspace.
24 These do not strike me as the statements of someone who is concerned about precipitating a Hells Angels house call.
25 I confess that I sometimes permit a lengthier hiatus than the schedule of the court might otherwise dictate, in order to afford the parties an opportunity to reflect on the trial experience, come to their senses and resolve their difficulties like mature adults. It is touching how a trial judge can retain his naivety even after 15 years on the bench.
26 The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines “dickhead” as “a stupid person.” That would not have been my first guess.
27 And all of these prohibitions by Catherine are taking place with a trial date already inscribed on her kitchen calendar.
28 I am uncertain whether this would be considered a hand-held communication device, now illegal while operating a motor vehicle, under recent amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. [“Sandra testified that Catherine “gave me the finger while driving on Bunting Road””]
29 It takes a special level of audacity to utter threats under the roof of the Court House.
30 I gather that this is Larry’s version of the Big Bang Theory [“Larry said to Taylor: “You put shit in this hand and shit in this hand, smack it together, what do you get? Taylor”]
38 Although some authorities appear to distinguish need and self-sufficiency, I view them as synonymous. If one has need, one is not self-sufficient; if one is self-sufficient, one is not in need.