Who Needs Hollywood When We Have Family Court?
Who Needs Hollywood When We Have Family Court?
When Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice Quinn was assigned the case of Larry Bruni v. Catherine Bruni in 2010, he was not looking for entertainment. What he found was a family in crisis with parents feuding over their children.
After Larry and Catherine were married, they had two children, 13-year-old Taylor and 11-year-old Brandon. Larry’s close friend was Sam. They worked together. Larry was the best man at Sam’s wedding.
A few years later, Sam separated from his wife. This was around the same time that Larry and Catherine also separated. Sam and Catherine are now together and live very close to Larry and his new partner.
After Mr. Justice Quinn presided over this trial (where neither parent was represented by a lawyer), he sat down to write his judgment.
How not to handle a divorce
In his opening paragraph, he writes:
“Paging Dr. Freud. Paging Dr. Freud.”
And then, he continues:
“This is yet another case that reveals the ineffectiveness of Family Court in a bitter custody/access dispute, where the parties require therapeutic intervention rather than legal attention. Here, a husband and wife have been marinating in a mutual hatred so intense as to surely amount to a personality disorder requiring treatment.”
The following are some quotations of Justice Quinn in the judgment:
“In the midst of this social stew, perhaps it is not surprising that Larry and Catherine are having problems, serious problems, regarding the custody of, and access to, their children. The source of the difficulties is hatred: a hardened, harmful, high-octane hatred. Larry and Catherine hate each other, as do Larry and Sam. This hatred has raged unabated since the date of separation. Consequently, the likelihood of an amicable resolution is laughable (hatred devours reason) and a satisfactory legal solution is impossible (hatred has no legal remedy).”
“At one point in the trial, I asked Catherine: “If you could push a button and make Larry disappear from the face of the earth, would you push it ?
Her ‘I just won a lottery’ smile implied the answer that I expected.”
“It is likely that, in the period 2004 to 2006, Larry was having one or more extramarital affairs. Interestingly, Larry’s father was married 5 times, in addition to going through several relationships. Perhaps there is an infidelity gene.”
“Larry gave evidence that, less than one month later, Catherine “tried to run me over with her van.” This is always a telltale sign that a husband and wife are drifting apart.”
“On November 21, 2006, Catherine demanded $400 from Larry or her brother was “going to get the Hells Angels after me.” The courtroom energy level in a custody/access dispute spikes quickly when there is evidence that one of the parents has a Hells Angels branch in her family tree.
Certainly, my posture improved. Catherine’s niece is engaged to a member of the Hells Angels. I take judicial notice of the fact that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization (and of the fact that the niece has made a poor choice).”
“On August 13, 2007, Catherine’s niece (Donna), telephoned Larry “and told me I will get a bullet in my head if I don’t sign the adoption papers. She called back later and told me I’m as good as dead.” She called a third time “to tell me her father and uncles are coming to kill me.” Donna is a devotee of the literary device known as “repetition for emphasis.” I do not know whether Donna is the niece who is engaged to the Hells Angels member. If she is, they may be more compatible than I initially surmised.”
“Larry, who regularly drives by the residence of Sam and Catherine, often shoots the finger. A finger is worth a thousand words and, therefore, is particularly useful should one have a vocabulary of less than a thousand words.”
“On another occasion in July of 2009, Larry said to Taylor: ‘You put shit in this hand and shit in this hand, smack it together, what do you get ? Taylor.’ I gather that this is Larry’s version of the Big Bang Theory.”
“The parental alienation in this case reflects an intent by Catherine to destroy the relationship between Taylor and Larry; it is shocking conduct. It also amounts to a hideous repudiation of the relationship between Catherine and Larry as co-parents of Taylor. The harm here probably is irreparable.”
In his final expression of exasperation, Justice Quinn writes:
“It is touching how a trial judge can retain his naivety even after 15 years on the bench.”
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