7. Maureen Monks, a Different Judge of Her Signature Tricks
Author: Gang Xu, Ph.D. Posted on 12/16/2019
Except for one emergency hearing, each time in Judge Maureen Monks’ courtroom, my case was always among the last to be called, so I had ample time observing others in the room. Once, a senior on a wheelchair was called. As he was moving closer to his position, Judge Maureen Monks greeted him with a regardful and caring look, like a nice neighbor to an elder in a good community. The fact that Judge Maureen Monks is fully capable of grace and decency makes me wonder what has made her the type of judge she is.
In the whole legal maneuver against me from 2016 to 2017, I fought in two Middlesex County courts and had appeared in front of three judges. Although I was deprived of my right to be heard at Malden District Court in the two hearings following the Ex Parte order, I was able to retrieve, after a fight, a copy of the hearing tape for the first of the two hearings that I was excluded from.
The tape turns out to be exceptionally informative: Not only does it offer strong leads as to who might be complicit in the stealthy plot that tried to frame me up for a crime, but it also showcases an example of how a fine judge conducted his public duty.
Judge Benjamin Barnes undoubtedly commanded respect, even awe, from attorneys and his staff. When my cased was called in the 06/20/2016 hearing, his assistant immediately reported that “Judge, I did not see notice of service in the file for the defendant.” When ex-wife’s attorney fabricated and tried to misimpress him, Judge Benjamin Barnes asked the right question: “Where is Mr. Xu? “ The attorney’s voice sounded theatrically distorted—suggesting his nervousness—when he answered, “Mr. Xu resides in Malden.” After three more questions, the Judge made his ruling, “So we can only extend for a short period of time, giving police time giving him notice.” Clearly the Judge and his assistant were very conscious of my right and the “ten court business days” rule for extension of an Ex Parte order.
But Judge Benjamin Barnes was not an egotist. Later at 10:52:33 am, he was apparently a bit disturbed by ex-wife’s attorney’s inquiry and insistence. But still, he accepted the possibility of fault on the part of his staff and yielded to the attorney.
Evidently, Benjamin Barnes was a judge you cannot mess up with, with respect to “protocols and rules.” In contrast, Maureen Monks was also a judge you cannot mess up with, but with respect to “her,” as I learned the hard way.
Another judge at Malden District Court also won my respect. Judge Cesar Archilla was a character. In the hearing on 01/11/2017, I showed him ex-wife’s Financial Statement that was filled and submitted by her attorney, which claimed that she did not have any bank account and hadn’t paid any retainer while living in an apartment that rented for $2,650 monthly. Judge Cesar Archilla instantly saw my point. At one point his tone and expression sounded sarcastic when referring to the other party. He scheduled a full hearing, in spite of the false claim that a full hearing had already been done, and instructed me to bring everything I could that would show the credibility of the other party. The restraining order against me at Malden District Court expired after the attorney and ex-wife failed to show up for Judge Cesar Archilla’s hearing on 03/01/2017.
When I pointed Judge Maureen Monks, three times on August 17, 2016, to the same reckless falsification in the Financial Statement filed on behalf of ex-wife, she ignored my message and took it as merely a financial issue.
On her bench, Judge Maureen Monks was there not to judge; she was there to pick, to trick, to rig, and then to cover.
As a judge, she had seemingly developed a style of her own signature in carrying out hearing. She was not giving equal opportunity to both parties, nor routinely allowing the other party to respond to false statement or allegation. She was good at wielding her body language and intonation in a subtle yet unmistakable way. She would occasionally roll her eyes or lift her head up--a bit tilted, in a defiant or challenging manner--to show her disapproval. Once she got a statement she wanted, even obviously a false statement, she would lower her head and start to write the ruling, which would be the end of the hearing on the matter. When she was writing, she would say something to placate the party she was ruling against, or promise the wretched party with a wisp of hope, another chance, or illusion to be exact.
Yet this was just some little trick. Her true feat was to preset the excuse to exonerate herself and to erase the trace of her manipulation in advance, when she rigged a case.
For example, she blocked my subpoena in the 10/05/2016 hearing and ruled, “I am going to select a Discovery Master. So I am allowing the motion to quash the subpoena to Bank of America and MIT. However you may be able to renew those if the discovery master so directed. The discovery master would be a neutral attorney who determines what is the scope of the discovery, especially in light of the issues in the case.” She used a hatchet man to do the dirty job but specify her expectation beforehand that the Discovery Master “would be” “neutral,” so that she would not be responsible for whatever happened outside her courtroom. When I contested Discovery Master’s decision later (see Part VIII of this series), she knew I disagreed with the Discovery Master’s report but chose to remain silent, yet she marked on paper that “Defendant has withdrawn his objection.”
She was very street-smart, you have to admit it.
Interestingly, Judge Maureen Monks showed a strong mentality of elitism. In my first hearing in front of her on August 17, 2016, she advised me that “Sir, you are strongly encouraged to get some legal advice about your obligations to file a pretrial memo.” When I was committed to identifying an attorney to represent me and, on November 30, 2016, asked the court to suspend my case so I could find an attorney, citing her earlier advise, Judge Maureen Monks interrupted me before I even finished: “Sir,” she continued, “I tell that to everybody that they are far better off if they can get any legal advice whether it is in court or outside court about the process about their own cases because it certainly benefits everyone to have that guidance about the process you don’t necessarily be familiar with.”
One thing really telling was on August 17, 2016. On ex-wife’s daughter’s abuse prevention complaint, Judge Maureen Monks used a Latin word “verbatim” in instructing ex-wife’s daughter to literally translate my whole email. Ex-wife’s daughter was just a high school graduate and a new immigrant; she was clearly totally confused and lost.
When Judge Maureen Monks had that taste, her associate followed suit. On November 22, 2016, her Discovery Master Victor J. Tagliaferro used a Latin term Quantun Meruit to deny my claim, even though he clearly knew that I did not understand the term, even though I soon found out that the term was not applicable in my case.
But Judge Benjamin Barnes did not use any Latin word on June 20, 2016. Judge Cesar Archilla did not use any Latin word on January 11, 2017 either. Judge Cesar Archilla was actually quite grounded; he even used the expression “horse has left the barn” to characterize my situation.
Other parts of the series