Zoom Court

March 5th, 2021

I’ve been to court before, many times.

Usually I have attended court proceedings as an observer, although I have been on a jury twice in my life. I was chosen as foreman both times. Yesterday was first time that I found myself as a participant in a court case, although not necessarily as a very active participant.

Karin and I, via Zoom, were involved in the Asher’s case in Children’s Court yesterday morning. That was very different than all my other court experiences, mostly because we were not actually in a courtroom. There is something about being in a courtroom that is unique. It is almost like being inside a church or a temple. There is a formality about the place that separates it from the laidback lifestyle of the rest of American culture. Court cases follow a certain kind of ritual, and it often feels almost religious in nature. The judge wears robes like a priest. In a courtroom people come to worship the goddess Justice.

With Zoom, that formality is lessened. The stakes are still as high, but the setting is much more casual. The whole process doesn’t feel quite right. In a courtroom, in the presence of your friends and enemies, a person can sense the emotions of others. On Zoom, well, it is much easier for people to wear their masks.

Karin and I said almost nothing through the brief hearing. There were three lawyers present: one for the mom, one for the ex-boyfriend, and the guardian ad litem, Asher’s advocate as appointed by the State. Karin and I, as Asher’s caregivers really didn’t have much to say. The father, the mother, and the judge have more legal heft. Karin and I just sat there holding up Asher so that his mom could see him. The young woman hadn’t seen her boy for over a month.

Why were we all there?

Ask anybody on that Zoom conference why they attended the meeting, and they would no doubt tell you,

“I’m here because I want to help Asher.”

They would all be speaking the truth, but in different ways.

I cannot speak for anyone else. I know that I love Asher dearly, and I want the best for him. I also have to admit that I feel frustration toward perhaps one other person in his life. I don’t know how much my love for Asher motivates me in contrast to my negative feelings toward this other individual. I wish that I could say that all of my intentions are pure, but that would not be true.

The court appearance, short as it was, was nerve wracking for me. I clearly felt that Karin and I were at the mercy of people and powers beyond our control. There are forces stronger than we are. I know that.

I understand that the influence that Karin and I have on Asher’s life is decidedly short term. We are old. It is doubtful that we will live long enough to see Asher reach adulthood. Somebody else needs to lead him into the future. I do not know who that should be.

Karin and I care for Asher each and every day. I just fed him and changed his diaper. The boy sleeps quietly next to me. Maybe tomorrow someone else will love and care for this young man.

Today, if only for today, I do.

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