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Lowering the Bar
May 21, 2014 1:40 PM   Subscribe

"The Parties Do Not Need a Judge; They Need a Rather Stern Kindergarten Teacher"
posted by flabdablet (46 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
If only Luis Buñuel were still alive to make a movie out of this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:01 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


Delightful.
posted by General Tonic at 2:16 PM on May 21


I must say, I fear that Mr. Taerk may suffer some loss of business what with this opinion being publicly available.

I'm glad this all took place in Canada. Were it in the U.S., the acrimony would probably have led to bloodshed by handgun.
posted by janey47 at 2:17 PM on May 21


A tit for tat dispute makes the whole world titter.
posted by ardgedee at 2:17 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


At risk of restating what the blog post explicitly says, I cannot overemphasize the importance of reading the judgement itself in all its splendour. No article, blog post, or distillation can top the prose of a pissed-off judge.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:19 PM on May 21 [27 favorites]


That was delightful. He missed a real opportunity to close with and may god have mercy on your soul, however.
posted by Diablevert at 2:21 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I like it up until the end. The defendants should have gotten their costs because this was a ridiculous action brought for no good reason. In the context of the War to Annoy The Shit Out Of Each Other, the plaintiffs kinda just won this battle by making the defendants pay out of pocket to defend it. What was the cause of action here, even?

Also I think a lot of what the defendants did is not all that unreasonable. I'd be pissed if someone had video cameras on my house at all times too, and I might do something petty like pretend to snap photos all day to drive the point home. And if someone is shouting profanity at me every time I leave the house? Come on, the guy was perfectly justified recording it.
posted by Hoopo at 2:31 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


"The parties are advised to chill"
posted by daninnj at 2:34 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


At risk of restating what bicyclefish has already restated... you really do must read the judgement itself.

Can't wait for the The Good Wife episode.
posted by procrastinator at 2:35 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


These aren't just any people. These are Forest Hill capital-P People. The kind of People who complain that the new plastic $100 bills are no good for wiping one's bottom.

Spoiled brats be spoiled.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:36 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Youth is wasted on the young, but wealth is wasted on the rich...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:38 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Forest Hill is the worst.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:42 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


The blog post is a total waste of time and everyone should just go straight to the judgement.

The judge's write-up is amazing, but he did have some pretty fantastic material to work with.

I imagine the lawyers in this case find it especially hilarious.
posted by aubilenon at 2:54 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


...there is no claim for looking at the neighbour’s pretty house, parking a car legally but with malintent, engaging in faux photography on a public street, raising objections at a municipal hearing, walking on the sidewalk with dictaphone in hand, or just plain thinking badly of a person who lives nearby.

This is something Douglas Adams might have written.
posted by bonehead at 2:58 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


In what is perhaps the piece de resistance of the claim, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants – again focusing primarily on Ms. Taerk – sometimes stand in their own driveway or elsewhere on their property and look at the Plaintiffs’ house. One of the video exhibits shows Ms. Taerk doing just that, casting her gaze from her own property across the street and resting her eyes on the Plaintiffs’ abode for a full 25 seconds. There is no denying that Ms. Taerk is guilty as charged. The camera doesn’t lie.

That is a positively sublime level of restraint from the judge, and it pays off so well.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:06 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


I kinda agree with Hoopo, unless the times the defendants called the police turned out to be unjustified (which is possible, but given how deranged the plaintiffs seem to be, not necessarily.) If someone has been coming out of their house to spit invective at you when you walk pass their house, displaying a recorder seems like simple self-defense, not "provocation".
posted by tavella at 3:09 PM on May 21


[3] In this motion, the Plaintiffs seek various forms of injunctive relief on an interlocutory basis. It all flows from the Plaintiffs’ allegation that the Defendants have been misbehaving and disturbing their peaceful life in this leafy corner of paradise.
oh god I was already giggling and this made me burst out laughing out loud at work.

well done, Justice Morgan, well done I say.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:09 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


daninnj: ""The parties are advised to chill""

Holy shit, is that real? Everyone needs to read that link right now.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:10 PM on May 21


The judge strongly implies that (he believes) the defendants deliberately goaded the plaintiffs into filing a meritless lawsuit, in which case sticking them with their own costs seems the right thing to do.

It certainly seems that they can all afford it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:12 PM on May 21


Likewise, there is no claim for looking at the neighbour’s pretty house, parking a car legally but with malintent, engaging in faux photography on a public street, [...]

My only complaint: missing the opportunity for the pun 'fauxtography'.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:19 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


The judge strongly implies that (he believes) the defendants deliberately goaded the plaintiffs into filing a meritless lawsuit

How does one goad someone into filling a meritless lawsuit? I'm not sure how that would work.
posted by Hoopo at 3:19 PM on May 21


I commuted to middle/high school smack dab in the middle of Forest Hill for seven years. From what I know of the students who were actually from the neighbourhood (and their parents) this does not surprise me in the least.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:21 PM on May 21


I'm just going on the line "Having acted provocatively to egg the Plaintiffs on and to prompt this gem of a lawsuit, the Defendants did not need to bring any claim themselves. The Plaintiffs have been their own worst adversaries."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:22 PM on May 21


I cannot get over the fact that they had the defendants' housekeeper deposed over her dog-walking habits. Ah, to be rich...
posted by Partario at 3:27 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


...or had a bunch of neighbours/former neighbours called as witnesses who basically said "uh, no, sorry that's not the case at all". Like, did you not vet these people?
posted by Hoopo at 3:31 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I cannot get over the fact that they had the defendants' housekeeper deposed over her dog-walking habits. Ah, to be rich...

It was their own housekeeper, actually. One of their complaints was that the defendants had taken pictures of their housekeeper walking the dog. Another was that the defendants let their dog urinate on their property (they had photographic evidence).
posted by junco at 3:42 PM on May 21


If you like angry Canadian judges, I recommend most highly this divorce case. It's long, and it alternates between sad and funny, but it's completely, utterly, totally worth it. Don't forget the footnotes.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:55 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


What is true regarding the death of a family pet is certainly true regarding the scatology of a family pet.

Good sentence or best sentence?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:59 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


If only Luis Buñuel were still alive to make a movie out of this.

Fortunately, a Canadian cinematic genius already has it covered.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:50 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


> The defendants should have gotten their costs because this was a ridiculous action brought for no good reason.

To echo HZSF, both sides are equally... uh, flawed here.

The real punishment both families face is the loss of face over a seriously childish ego war, which has more meaningful consequences to well-off professionals living in the nice part of town and whose own professional trajectories are in part defined by their public images. Cash fines would be affordable, and rulings that dictate changes of behavior would be easily appealable. Being declared by a court to be guilty only of acting like an unruly kindergartener... that's got consequences if Mr. Oil Executive has eyes at the C-level table, or if Dr. Psychiatrist wants to attract well-heeled clientele.
posted by ardgedee at 4:54 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


You guys would seriously not go to a shrink on the basis his neighbour sued him for nothing and lost? Guy got in a spat with a neighbour, it happens.
posted by Hoopo at 5:17 PM on May 21


Another of the neighbours was asked to recount the rude nicknames that some neighbourhood children had given Ms. Taerk when she was a substitute teacher at a nearby school.

Justice Morgan has my undying respect for not saying at this point, "NO. Sit the FUCK down, counselor. We are DONE here."
posted by Etrigan at 5:19 PM on May 21


Everyone needs to read that link right now.

AFFIRMED.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:47 PM on May 21


I emailed a link to the decision to my dad (who is a lawyer.) He emailed me back to say he sent it to every lawyer he knows.

I did not ask if he used BCC because I know he didn't.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:52 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


After delivering the statement Justice E.M. Morgan dropped the gavel at arm's length, said "Peace out", and proceeded to the judge's chambers.
posted by Spatch at 8:35 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Linda_Holmes: "If you like angry Canadian judges, I recommend most highly this divorce case. It's long, and it alternates between sad and funny, but it's completely, utterly, totally worth it. Don't forget the footnotes."

Previously.

posted by Chrysostom at 9:14 PM on May 21


This kind of wonderfully mean decision, done at the rightful expense of people with more money than brains, is my favourite part of the law. I've always liked this case for its remarks, including:

[The defendant], on the other hand, I found to be a devious man and an unbelievable witness who would do or say anything to advance his position. He was maddeningly unwilling to respond to the simplest of questions and often had to be asked the same question over and over (no doubt using the time gained to visit his pantry of untruthful answers). He was evasive, non-responsive and verbose in his testimony. Throughout the trial, I patiently waited for a Phoenix-like moment that might serve to rehabilitate his credibility: it never came. All in all, he was an exasperating witness who told untruths too numerous to catalogue and insulting in their breadth.
posted by ZaphodB at 9:29 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


"[the plaintiffs' teenage son] speculated, but could not entirely recall, precisely what he and the young woman were doing in the car at that moment." Priceless!
posted by monotreme at 9:54 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Oh man. I just spent the better part of the past six months hanging out with Forest Hill and Rosedale progeny and holy crap does this sound like so many of their parents.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:25 PM on May 21


I note that the above-linked divorce case and the one that Zaphod links to are written by the same judge Quinn of St. Catherines.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:39 PM on May 21


It's not just the rich that are like this. Every damned day it seems like I talk to some person who has been carefully "documenting" all the unending petty "grievances" they face every day, like having to do what their boss says or people failing to say hello when they come in the door or, God help us all, people posting mean things about them on Facebook. The only difference is poor people can't actually afford to lawyer up and go at it in the official judicial record, so they just stick with the shouting and the cell phone cameras.

This is the modern human equivalent of when chimps throw sticks at each other and then run like hell.
posted by Scattercat at 10:48 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Disputes between neighbours, or how we keep the spirit of Jarndyce v Jarndyce alive and kicking in our courts.

I'm a lawyer (specifically, an English barrister) with a fairly wide practice that includes commercial/consumer disputes, family law and land law - the latter including neighbour disputes, often over boundary issues.

In a consumer dispute (e.g. house-owner sues builder) the bad interactions are in the past and the parties typically only see each other at court. A family dispute over children is worse, because the parents probably see each other every week when they hand over the child or children for contact. But neighbour disputes are appalling because the parties continue to live next to each other and have the opportunity to wind each other up every single day. The most trivial act becomes a calculated affront in the eye of the other side, seized on as yet further evidence of a malicious campaign of harassment.

I can only cite the opening words of Lord Justice Ward from his judgment in Thompson v Collins [2009] EWCA Civ 525:

This is another expensive boundary dispute. Each of the parties will have spent in the region of £40,000 in bringing their case to this court; far more, one suspects, than the land in dispute could ever be worth. But that is the insidious nature of a boundary dispute. The lesson is never learnt that those who fight for their principles frequently end up paying for them, or, as one wise old managing clerk once said to me a long time ago, "They'll never learn, sir, that even fighting cocks lose some feathers."

But here we are in the Court of Appeal concerned with the boundary between two substantial dwelling houses...

posted by Major Clanger at 12:34 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


The kind of People who complain that the new plastic $100 bills are no good for wiping one's bottom.

They clog the toilet when you try and flush them when the cops are at your door.
posted by avocet at 8:54 AM on May 22


And their faux maple scent makes a terrible smell when you use them to light a cigar!
posted by bonehead at 9:08 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


But they do waste less coke.
posted by flabdablet at 10:53 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Cripes. I can't believe the plaintiffs' attorneys were willing to press such a frivolous lawsuit. Sure their clients have deep pockets, but how utterly embarrassing.
posted by Safiya at 12:37 PM on May 22


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