home-town judgin'

I was sixteen and I was getting a restraining order against my father when the letter came in the mail from the court. The first page said that the hearing was being rescheduled. The dates were typed in with that darker ink in the spaces in the form for the old dates and new dates, and I didn’t understand why these things that I thought were concrete were changing. Under “reason” the box for “other” was checked and somebody had typed in something to the effect that the magistrate had recused herself. Why would that happen? I assigned extra signifigance to everything, because that is what you do when you are sixteen and getting a restraining order against your father.

There was a second page, which was the form that the magistrate had filled out to recuse herself. She’d checked a few boxes and then written in “I am biased. The respondent has previously threatened my life.” I read her name a few more times, and I couldn’t place her at all. So I called my mom, and it turned out that the magistrate had been her lawyer back in the day when she was getting divorced from my dad, and he had threatened to blow her car up with her in it.

Last year she taught my little sisters procedural law class. My sister didn’t remember her, but she sure knows everything about us when we were little kids. I mean, this is the woman who pieced together doctors reports and counselors notes and tried to prove that my dad was raping me way back before my memory even begins.

Next week I’m getting my name changed, legally, to the one I’ve been going by for the last couple years. Guess who the magistrate is? Yep, it’s her again. Cradle to coffin judging.


  1. It’s one of the benefits and drawbacks of small towns. The good people who live there, you’ll know all your life. The bad people who live there, you’ll know all your life, too.

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