By Tony Spokojny
I met my client on the first floor of the courthouse. She was there to get divorced. She was a middle-aged woman, now working for the government. He was a successful Iranian doctor, who had escaped the country with family riches intact during the overthrow of the Shah. When they met, she was a kid – middle- class suburban, impressionable, naive. He was an established gynecologist. They went out and he plied her with sumptuous dinners and wonderful gifts. They were married and, for a while, they were able to make their mixed cultures work. They had three beautiful boys, 10 to 14. But after 15 years of hearing about his greatness, feeling dominated and unappreciated and belittled, she'd had enough. She wanted out. He couldn't understand it, refused to understand it. How could she reject him, his success, his wealth, his pedigree. She was nothing without him.
As we walked into the court's anteroom, he was waiting with his lawyer and the Friend of the Court attorney, an older, hardened woman, gray hair, who had seen every character, heard every argument, endured every excuse during her career. She'd had had it, too, with the doctor. Exasperated. At a prior meeting in court, we had placed a detailed, carefully negotiated property settlement on the record before a court reporter and the presiding judge. .The Judgment of Divorce, the actual written document, was prepared to reflect every detail of the settlement, but the doctor refused to sign the judgment. He still couldn't accept that the marriage was over. He wasn’t going down without a fight. He rushed to me as we entered and he began to plead with me to convince her to come back to him, as his lawyer helplessly sat by.
"She eez a child," he exclaimed with his prominent accent. "Tell her to kome beck to me. She kennot do dees. She hez no brains. Dese women, dey hef no brains, non uf dem, Mr. Spokojny. Belief me. I hef exemint ten tousand vomen, and non uf dem hef brains!"
"Doctor," I said in an elevated tone "you're looking in the wrong place." I couldn't resist.
Was it that obvious? Did he leave that opening for my quip on purpose? he Friend of the Court attorney ran out, slammed her door shut. From what she apparently believed was the safe side of her door, she could be heard laughing. Squealing. About 10 minutes later, she emerged with tears still in her eyes. She clutched my left hand with both of hers, bent over and looked up and the same time as if to bow, totally out of character. She just nodded, almost gratefully, afraid to say anything that would cause the suppressed laughter to explode, once more, from her lungs. She went to retrieve the Judge. I could tell she explained the events of the prior few minutes because they both entered the court smiling. After a brief hearing, the Judgment was signed and the parties were officially divorced. I approached the opposing attorney to apologize for my reflexive barb. He stopped me. "I would have said exactly the same thing."
Tony Spokojny has been practicing law in Michigan for over 40 years.