Monday, July 19, 2010

Behavior Modification

Dear Reader,

The judges don't dislike you.  They don't want to punish you.  They don't want to make you cry.  They just want to change your behavior.

I don't know if I'll ever cease to be amazed by mere mortals' efforts to win the battle against a judge on the bench.  The battle takes many forms.  Some folks are down right antagonistic.  They'll attempt to argue with the judge.  "You can't do that to me," or some similar phrase will be cast out miliseconds before the judge asserts unrivaled control over the courtroom and, more importantly, over the miscreant who issued the ill conceived challenge.  And you thought the fourth of July had fireworks.

A craftier sort is the gamesman.  He thinks he's smooth.  (I write "he" but this is equally applicable to "she.")  He pretends he didn't understand what the judge told him to do, or his answer is far from unequivocal.  He is certain he is smarter than all of us and certainly smarter than the judge.  Of course, one could ask, "if he's so smart, why is he the one in jail on contempt?" 

The gamesman often thinks he's cute.  He likes to mince words.  He feigns confusion over the clearest of orders.  He's not oppositional, just obstinate.  His antics meet with no more success than the antagonist.

A judge might get riled by the antagonist, but seldom is really riled at the gamesman, though you wouldn't know it from observation alone.  In either event, the judge's chief and often sole aim is to modify behavior.  The judge wants compliance with her order.  She wants people to do what she told them to do.  Any resistence is futile.

This is not to say that there are no legal remedies to right an error.  But fighting with the judge or believing you can outwit her are not two successful strategies.  They are strategies for a quick one way ticket to an 8 x 12 gray room with two bunks and a guy named Tiny who is anything but.

So, if your attorney advises you to pay the $2.00 and go home, pay the $2.00 and go home.  Home is far more comfortable than the alternative. Unless, of course, you need a new best friend named Tiny. 

Michael Manely

1 comment:

  1. Many years ago I was on the wrong side of the law as I was way late on paying rent…enough that I was handed a subpoena to come to court. I showed up wearing a suit and tie and waited my turn. Name after name was called, all no shows, and the judge promptly ordered a warrant. Although I wasn't happy to be there in the first place, I quickly realized that if I hadn't shown up, one way or the other I was going to be in court! The judge called my name, and I stood. My former landlord's attorney was present. The judge suggested the two of us get together and work something out, which we did, and then returned to the courtroom. To my surprise, the judge actually thanked me for showing up. Watching the judge issue warrant after warrant taught me a valuable lesson. Rule #1: Don't mess with the judge!