Friday, September 14, 2007

Judge Jeri Beth Cohen Gets Her Man (Off)

We didn't exactly have a bet on it, but, as it happened, Alex of Stuck on the Palmetto and I both wrote posts on Rafael Izquierdo's comportment on the witness stand, in which Alex claimed that the absentee-for-life father was a guajiro macho (he-man country bumpkin) and I claimed he was no guajiro (noble representative of our country's finest virtues). No doubt we were talking past each other, as usual. I suppose that someone who understands us both might be able to reconcile our positions; for I don't deny that the guajiro may be in some ways uncouthe, and Alex, I am sure, is not oblivious to the guajiro's homely virtues. Still, it seems that, strictly from the facts, I have the advantage on Alex; for no "guajiro macho," as he calls Izquierdo, would break down on the stand when being questioned by Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, whose attitude towards him has always been "there's-nothing-you-can-do-or-say-that- will-ever-stop-me-from-ruling-in-your-favor."

But break down he did after a week of defiantly answering questions or defiantly refusing to answer questions on both examination and cross-examination. He had acted throughout his testimony as a bully, the kind of man who projects an image of domination and no self-control; completely unsympathetic from beginning to end, loud, bellicose and strangely detached from his circumstances, perjuring himself and obstructing justice every step of his tortuous way. Really, who would want such a man for a father? Even having him sit next to you on a bus would be an unpleasant experience.

What could Rafael Izquierdo do to reverse the loathsome image he had painted of himself on the witness stand? Only one thing: break down in tears under the sympathetic gaze of Judge Cohen; show the world that it was all a front, that he really is a tormented soul seeking to vindicate his (long-renounced and -neglected) parental rights; no mere stooge of the Castro regime, which pays for "his" lawyers, his lodgings and his victuals, besides providing him with a generous allowance and all the "protection" they can foist on him in a free country, while he pursues their vendetta against Joe Cubas.

The tears worked. They affected the only person that they really had to affect — the judge. Of course, even Izquierdo's sneezing affects her. Indeed, it is very affecting to see the woman who said in that very courtroom in 2005 that the way to eliminate crime in Miami would be to deport all Cubans to Cuba, coddling and almost caressing with verbal-petals this suborned perjurer whom she should have remanded to prison along with his ex-girlfriend and his whole legal staff for contempt of court and obstruction of justice.

"I am honest and sincere," he said.

Well, that was good enough for her.

Judge Cohen assured Izquierdo that his lies are not enough per se to strip him of his daughter's custody: "It [the perjury] doesn't mean you are a bad guy. It doesn't mean I don't believe other parts of your testimony. It doesn't mean you don't love your daughter."

Whereupon Izquierdo became "unmanned," as they used to say. That is, he lost it. This testimonial of the judge's high opinion of him was too much to bear in silence. So he wept; wept for joy, really, because he realized that he had this bitch in his pocket like half the women of Camaiguán.

Then he apologized to the court for losing control of his emotions.

And the judge, seeking to console him, approved and validated those rare tears (a lot of dabbing of his eyes with a blue handkerchief but no visible tears):

"You have nothing to apologize for, and you don't have to be embarrassed about crying," the judge said, leaning closer to the witness box. "But I needed these answers from you." "I hope you don't feel I've ganged up on you," she said.

So, in effect, Judge Cohen ended up apologizing to him for doubting Izquierdo's veracity, the perjury, falsification of evidence and obstruction of justice notwithstanding.

The worst was yet to come, however.


One of the lies that Rafael Izquierdo was compelled to retract on the witness stand, so overwhelming was the evidence contradicting it, was his prior assertion that he did not know of his ex-girlfriend's mental illness, and, therefore, had acted in good faith when he surrendered sole custody of his daughter to her in order to facilitate her immigration to the U.S. If he indeed had been in the dark about Elena Pérez's mental illness then he would have been a bigger lunatic than her. Everybody in Cabaiguán was aware of her mental illness. Elerna Pérez had been the town crazie before, during and after her relationship with Izquierdo. Her reputation in fact extended to all refugees from her native Camaiguán in the last 15 years, who could have been called as witnesses corroborate that she was widely known to be crazy and that it would have been impossible for Rafael Izquierdo not to have known that his daughter's mother was crazy.

Unable to plausibly deny it, Izquierdo admitted that he did know. It was a pivotal moment in the trial: irrefutable proof that he had abandoned his daughter into the hands of a lunatic whose illness put her at risk of doing violence to herself or others, especially, of course, to those who directly depended on her and over whom she had absolute control. The abuse had already occurred in Cuba. Why would it not re-occur here?

After Izquierdo's belated and opportunistic tears, Judge Cohen, without so much as an explanation for her action, excused his perjury on that score by ruling Izquierdo's knowledge of Elena Pérez's mental illness irrelevant, and ordered the Department of Children and Families to drop all charges of abandonment flowing from Izquierdo's indifference to it as it concerned his daughter.

This will be a very hard case to win, she admonished the state for 603rd time, having just made it that more difficult by her arbitrary decision.

The question naturally arises if mental illness with suicidal ideation and abusive behavior poses a clear and present danger to children in the custody of such a parent so afflicted, a danger which other adults, and particularly the other parent, are obliged to protect them from. Judge Cohen has ruled that no such obligation exists on the part of the sane parent. It follows, naturally — or unnaturrally — that the sane parent must not avail himself of the insane parent's insanity to deny custody to the insane parent, and should not be held accountable if by ceding such custody to the insane, the child is abused or even killed by the insane parent.

Makes sense to you? Of course not. Elena Pérez is not the only lunatic in that courtroom.


Vana said...

Crocodile tears if you ask me, he's proven to be a liar and a cheater, yet the judge felt sorry for him, will wonders ever cease?

Fantomas said...

I still love that word comport

it is out of this world

Albert Quiroga said...

Why hasn't the defense asked that "judge" Cohen recuse herself from this trial? It would seem obvious, even to non-experts in judicial procedure, that she is highly prejudiced, is disregarding the best interest of this child, subtly or not-so-subtly, and is very likely incapable of handing down a JUST verdict? In other words, making sure JUSTice is done.

This is one case where the defense needs to play all the cards. Let this judge be outraged at the request; it cannot make things any worse than they already are.