It’s a cold, rainy day. The perfect ambience to set a trial date. At this point, any day is a perfect day to set my trial date. I’ve been ready and trying to do this for over three months. I get up early to get the day ready. I’m not nearly as anxious as I’ve been in the past. I know what to do. I know what to expect. It should be over quick. I don’t like waiting. If I were them, I’d want to rip the bandage off quick.
I get to the court house. The docket is long but there aren’t nearly as many people here as there was last time. I’m waiting for the courtroom door to be unlocked. The small talk among friends who meet in this place is interesting. There was a drug raid in my small town and one of the accused is beside me, talking about it. She says they were there for 27 hours. She says that for six hours, her kids were in the house. She talks about telling her kids not to worry. That they were not going to find what they were looking for. She says her kid witnessed one of the cops hold a gun to another adult’s head when he reached for something. She says the adult wasn’t phased, until he saw the kid looking at them. I think I know the guy she was referring to. He was here last month talking about it too. If it’s true, I’m appalled by the local law enforcement. Talk amongst accused criminals in a place like this feels so honest. We all know the procedures and can challenge any inconsistencies. Her story sounds genuine.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to courtroom one. I head to courtroom one. There is plenty of seating. My lawyer had called me that morning with his availability and instructions. I have been acting as sort of an agent for my lawyer, on my own behalf. It’s a lot cheaper this way and I am confident in this role. All the lawyers go first. The court asks if there is any other counsel wishing to set a trial date. I stand up and give the instructions I was given. The crown recognizes me and comes to speak with me. He says that because it is a ten-day trial, they want to get a Judge from out of town to preside exclusively over this case. He says they will have to stay the matter over for another week, so they can get his availability too.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. At least the time in between adjournments is getting smaller. I want to say that next week, on April 3rd, I will finally be setting my trial date but experience has taught me otherwise. If the crown wanted to proceed quickly, my trial would be over by now. The scales of justice are not in balance. I’m ready and willing, but disappointed again.
These techniques are designed to help you help your child protection worker understand why it is important to treat their clients with respect and challenge them to change the way they interact with you and other parents.
A child protection worker is a person just like you and me. Most operate within the invisible, elitist rules of their social class where respect typically only occurs upward. They really do have a hard job and face severe consequences from their supervisors if they do not do what they are told. Even if they are trying to act in a child’s best interest, they may face reprimands and even income loss at their yearly performance review if they chose a child’s best interest over the agency’s best interest. The agency is concerned with meeting ministry standards, regardless of the effects of this on children. Recognizing this conflict with your worker can help begin the process of change. The ministry standards are the rules in which the child protection worker must follow, such as timelines for investigations. Understanding these standards will help you and the worker to understand the reasons for their behaviour.
Ask your worker about his or her background. Why did they get into this field? Where did they study? This may help the worker to realize how their behaviour may be pushing them away from their goals. After reading the performance indicators on your local agency’s website, ask your worker if they feel these statistics accurately measure agency performance. Even if the worker does not answer, they will still begin to think about change and reasons for or against it.
Rolling With Resistance
Many workers may not answer your open-ended questions. Do not demand answers. Instead, just ask different questions. If a worker gets defensive, change the topic. You may never get an answer but these questions may start other conversations at union meetings and “around the water cooler.” Secretly recording your interactions are perfectly legal and may allow for less resistance than openly recording.
Support Self Efficacy
Commend the worker if they treat you with respect and dignity. Reinforce this behaviour at every chance you get. Eventually the worker will realize they are capable of treating clients with respect and the challenge of change will be realized.
To learn more about Motivational Interviewing, check out http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/UsingMIinSR.pdf.
The following blog refers to my upcoming criminal trial, with some fun with Shakespeare.
Two parties both alike in dignity,
In fair courtroom one, where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal error of incompetence grows,
A single whistle blower risks her life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows,
Do with her verdict expose the opposing party’s strife.
The fearful passage of her testimonial shall prove,
And the continuance of the agency’s rage,
Which, but their career’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the ten-day trial of our stage.
Which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
This is part four of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events. Photo credit: Perth courtroom No. 3. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia Network, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/egan-disorder-in-the-court-perths-horse-and-buggy-justice-building-in-a-wi-fi-age.
I go alone this time. I see a man on the highway. He’s hitchhiking. I stop to pick him up. We small talk for a bit. I mention where I’m going. He’s going there too. I offer him a smoke once we get there. We chat some more before going in. It’s oddly calming. I feel less alone. Less anxious.
The court house is packed today. Standing room only. I know a lot of these people. I have instructions from my lawyer to set the date. I get in the long line to talk to duty counsel. I figure I might be out of here quicker if I can get someone to speak on my behalf.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to court room number two. I will have to speak on my own behalf. I feel oddly confident doing this.
I go to court room number two. There isn’t enough seating for everyone. I’m one of the lucky ones to get a spot, beside the man I picked up earlier. I didn’t know his name until his matter came up on the docket. I guess he knows my name now too. He didn’t seem like the type. I wonder if he thinks I seem like the type. An alleged hacker and a guy who allegedly assaulted a cop, perhaps the beginning of a new friendship? I somehow doubt it. As people come and go, I keep shifting in the pew-like seats to make room. The walls are lined with people. The lawyers sit comfortably before the judge.
My lawyer told me to tell the court that he is available at the first two-week slot open for trials. This is also oddly calming. I made the decision to turn down the deal, a slap on the wrist. Setting the date will make it official. No going back. I don’t want to wait another second.
My name comes up. I tell the judge what my lawyer instructed me to say. The judge and crown do not want to set the date without my lawyer present. I tell them the instructions again, emphasizing my lawyer’s availability. The matter is stood down for another month, to March 27th.
Justice is a waiting game. Waiting for dates to set dates to set even more dates. A tactic to exhaust the parties into potentially unjust resolutions or a justice system that just can’t keep up to demand. I don’t understand why they don’t want to proceed. I’ve made my position very clear. Let’s just do it.