Rush to Judgment/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on July 3, 2011

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Cy Vance became the District Attorney for the NY borough of Manhattan less than 2 years ago. The local newspapers have declared “open season” on Mr. Vance after high-profile court “losses” were followed by the recent news that a rape case he has chosen to prosecute, against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a candidate for high office in France, may be tainted by recent discoveries. It seems that the woman claiming sexual assault has lied about her visa application, her income, her tax status, and past (false) reports of sexual assault. Not the kind of witness you want to take with you to Court!
The new discoveries may cause the criminal charges to unravel. These things do happen in court and only careful fact-checking can avoid them. Why is this information pertinent to a blog piece that deals with civility in divorce? Au contraire. The alternative to civil dispositions of divorce matters, is litigation. Attorneys can convince their clients that their case is air-tight and that the Court of law will see matters in a most favorable light. But what happens when there is a discrepancy between the appearance and the reality? What happens when the other party’s story is equally compelling as your own? What happens you find that you rushed to judgment on the motives and actions of the adversary? What happens when you find they are not as bad as was originally suspected. (The NY papers gleefully called Strauss-Kahn “pervert” in weeks of screaming headlines. Now they are surprisingly silenced.)
The answer to the above rhetorical questions can be readily filled in. Litigation is filled with twists, turns, and surprises. It can be brutal. Is there not an alternative? Fortunately there is. Check with local divorce mediators or collaborative attorneys if you feel, as the old Holiday Inn ad declared, that “the best surprise is no surprise”. Leave the litigation for the Cy Vance’s of the world. They have their employment tied to the litigation model. For you, civility and discussion just might be the best option to exercise. Mediate don’t litigate.

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