2. A Stunning Revelation by a Law Firm, If Chinese History and Reality Is Any Lesson
Author: Gang Xu, Ph.D. Posted on 12/06/2019
I am a naturalized U.S. citizen. I spent half of my life in China before coming to America to do my graduate school twenty-eight years ago. In the past decade, I run a consulting business in Boston, supporting Chinese students and families in their educational pursuits in the U.S. Before the start of my contested divorce in summer 2016, I traveled to China regularly to meet prospective student families.
My early years in China built in me the instinct to smell anything characteristic of China. My trips to China always reminded me that I was lucky running a business in America: I was saved from harassments by corrupt government officials.
As most Americans know, historically China is not a society operated on rule of law. Although China has a complete judicial system now, THE explicit and official position of Chinese government is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is above the rule of law.
CCP is an abstract notion; in everyday life, it is incarnated as various government officials who, in their individual territory, have the power to interpret rules and direct procedures “a little differently” from law. Frequently their decisions involve substantial economic and financial consequences, thus there is always a web of interested parties around every CCP official, forming a network of corruption. To protect their interests, many CCP officials and their entourages are ruthless and cruel, constituting numerous local tyrants and thugs, and together they make up the base of a totalitarian society.
The bottom line is: When you allow public officials flexibility in interpreting and applying the law, you are going to see corruption, you are cultivating tyrants and thugs, and you are building a totalitarian regime. This has been seen repeated again and again throughout Chinese history and is partly responsible for the so-called China’s dynastic cycles—periodic revolutions and dynastic turnover once every two to three hundred years on average.
That is why I was so shocked when I run into the statement on the website of The Lungo-Koehn Law, LLC, which proclaimed that “In Middlesex County, individual judges interpret the law and handle certain procedures a little differently than judges in other counties and even differently than other judges in Middlesex County.” (See Part I of this series). Earlier, after the first two hearings in Judge Maureen Monks’ courtroom, I felt compelled to learn more about the judge and I had found quite some comments about her in public domain.
So I immediately knew that the law firm had made a dramatic understatement with regard to difference in applying the same law by different judges in Middlesex County. For example, Dr. Philip Greenspun noted in a 2014 blog piece that “we pulled all of the cases for one judge, Maureen Monks in Middlesex County, for 2009, 2010, and 2011 (approximately 350 cases per year, though not all of them involved disputed custody). Judge Monks awarded custody via temporary order to the mother in nearly all of the cases examined except for one case where the mother was a drug addict and another where the mother was in a mental hospital (and as soon as the mother was released from the mental hospital, Judge Monks awarded custody of the children back to her). During the three-year study period no father was successful in going to trial and obtaining a 50/50shared physical custody situation from Judge Monks in the cases that we examined.”
This is way beyond “a little differently.”
So in Middlesex County, with certain types of cases, once you are assigned with a certain judge, or technically, given a certain case docket number, your case is already done, the outcome of your lawsuit is already sealed.
Then here is my Chinese instinct: Who decides the assignment of a specific judge to a particular case? Given the predominant role of a judge—instead of the merits of a case—in the final ruling in Middlesex County courts, judges expectedly become the sought-after resources and the allocator of such resources in each Middlesex court becomes the ultimate ruler.
I wonder how the power of such an allocator is supervised. What is the guideline in place that directs the process of picking up a judge for a particular case? If, as some might assume, a case is first assigned with a number in some kind of order, say, the next available number for the next case, how could a court make sure that its allocator follows such an order exactly?
If the website content of the law firm were posted in China, many Chinese would read that into a soliciting of bribery on behalf of the staffer who assigns case numbers. In China, similar positions are dubbed as “fat jobs,” usually reserved only for people having close ties with the head of an institution. When the head is in trouble—often because of political siding with a wrong higher office—people holding such fat jobs are the targets of criminal investigation and almost invariably found guilty of corruption.
I wish this is not the case with Middlesex County Probate and Family Court. But I do feel obliged to offer a perspective for those who are still serious about justice and their own rights. After all, it is more about human nature; there's nothing new under the sun.
I grew up in Zhejiang Province and received my college education at Shanghai. Zhejiang and Shanghai were in the region that was perceived as better-developed and quite civilized in China. In my childhood and youth, I had heard, read, and seen in movies numerous stories of blatant abuses by CCP rogues in rural areas, especially in the period of the so-called Cultural Revolution, but I had never experienced any of such things myself in China. Since I started my own business in Boston, I have had wonderful experience with business administration in Massachusetts.
However, in my struggles with two Middlesex County courts for my divorce, I felt like being thrown back to China, being put through all the horror, humiliation and torment that I had missed in China, and only worse!
I am still haunted, again and again, in my nightmares or in front of a desktop screen when I try to muster myself to finish some work, by the moment on October 5, 2016, around 11: 08 am, in Middlesex County Probate and Family Court courtroom 7: Her condescending, cold and insidious smile, her burning excitement and joy from her glistening eyes…