Anonymous Tip: In Which Three Things Happen

Anonymous Tip: In Which Three Things Happen July 10, 2015

A Review Series of Anonymous Tip, by Michael Farris

Pp. 90-92

We have now come to a number of short bits, so rather than making this section drag out I’m going to hit three in one post. Last week, Gwen gave lawyer Peter a handwritten account of both social worker visits. This week picks up as Peter tells Gwen to check in with him later in the day to find out the scheduling of her exam with Dr. Schram, the psychologist.

* * * * *

After Gwen leaves, we get this:

Peter picked up the phone after a moment of staring at the door Gwen had just closed.

This is Farris’s way of signaling Peter’s not-so-innocent interest in Gwen. You know, in case we’d missed it. Seriously, poor Gwen. Is it that hard to get a lawyer not sexually or romantically interested in you in Spokane?

“Ms. Willet, Peter Barron calling. I’m calling to see if I can get your consent to an order allowing us to have Casey undergo a second psychological exam with a psychologist we have chosen.”

“Why do we need a second opinion? We haven’t even seen the first one yet,” she replied.

“That’s obviously not enough time to wait for your man’s report, evaluate it, and then try to decide if we need a second exam. And we’re entitled to the exam under JCR 23.2,” he added, citing the juvenile court rule he had copied the prior evening.

“You’re entitled to an exam for ‘good cause shown’ according to the rule,” said Willet, quoting the rule from memory. “And I don’t think you’ve got a good cause.”

“Well, that’s why we have judges. I’m going to present a motion asking Judge Romer to order the examination at two this afternoon. This is your phone notice of the ex part hearing. I’ll fax you the full set of papers in a half-hour or so.”

“See that you do,” Willet replied curtly.

Peter said, “Good-bye,” and then chuckled at Willet’s rudeness as he set the receiver down, shaking his head.

I’m not sure I see the rudeness Peter’s seeing. Or is following the rules rather than ignoring them considered rudeness now? Remember when Peter last got all upset with Gail for being hard to work with? It was when she insisted on seeing papers confirming that he was now Gwen’s lawyer before handing over records confidential to the case. Peter seems to be insistent on disliking Gail for doing her job like a professional prosecutor.

Note also that this passage highlights how much more knowledgable Gail is in this area of law than Peter. This is why, as a number of readers have noted, Gwen would have been better off looking for a lawyer who specializes in family law rather than a lawyer like Peter, who is a generalist.

* * * * *

And now we get a brief account of Casey’s visit with Dr. Ron Stratton, who is not the psychologist but rather a regular medical doctor. This is part of the evaluations the court has ordered. We’re told that Casey was a “timid little girl” but that Brenda MacArthur, the foster mother, tried to “encourage Casey as much as possible.” Farris then adds this bit to let us know what we should think of these characters:

Brenda was a merciful soul who quickly connected to every child she met. Stratton was a thorough professional and took child abuse allegations very seriously.

Farris speaks positively of the examination, saying that Dr. Stratton made sure his questions for Casey were within “the limits of a four-year-0ld’s ability to report a medical history” and hummed to make Casey comfortable.

After about ten minutes of checking and humming and listening and poking, Dr. Stratton said, “Well, Casey, you can get dressed now.” Turning to Mrs. MacArthur, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Perfectly healthy little girl. I can’t find a thing.”

Farris tells us that Brenda wanted to “believe the best” but was “experienced enough through her own years as a social worker conducting adoption interviews to wait for the psychologist’s report” before arriving at any conclusions.


Farris says Casey was “timid” but he doesn’t say she struggled or got upset. If she was as traumatized by the social workers’ strip search as Farris says she was, wouldn’t we expect her to have issues with having her clothes removed and being examined like this? Now perhaps the difference is that Dr. Stratton is careful to make her feel at ease, and removing one’s clothes for a doctor is more familiar to Casey than removing her clothes for a social worker in her bedroom without her mother. But I don’t get the feeling Farris has thought this through that far. I get the feeling he never thought through the implications of her trauma.

In addition, note that Farris says Brenda conducted adoption interviews as a social worker. In other words, she wasn’t the kind of social worker who takes kids away form their parents. No, she was the kind of social worker who helps good godly Christian couples adopt children. Farris needed some way to explain Brenda as both a retired social worker and acceptable to his audience, and here is where he found it.

Finally, Casey is still silent. I’s really like to hear from her how things are going.

* * * * *

We turn now to Peter’s second visit with Gordon. He’s going to ask Peter to sign an affidavit he’s prepared stating that Gwen is a good mother. I have to wonder, couldn’t Peter send Joe or some other assistant to get an affidavit signed? But perhaps Peter is so intent on getting this case right that he doesn’t trust errands like this to anyone else.

Peter’s second encounter with Gordon went more poorly than he had planned. He came to the door only after three minutes of off-and-on ringing and knocking. Clad in an old T-shirt and gym shorts, Gordon stood in the doorway and looked straight through Peter, making no indication that he wanted Peter to come in.

Peter tells him he’s come to ask him to sign the affidavit, and Gordon asks what it says. Peter says they should go inside so Gordon can read it, but Gordon insists on reading it outside. Farris tells us Gordon looked at the document “without actually seeing anything.”

Peter looked at his shoes, the hall, the doorbell, and the ceiling a time or two, trying to avoid an award meeting of the eyes.

Strange that Peter didn’t look at the trees or sky, given that they’re standing outside. Also, I’m starting to think he should have just sent Joe. Or Sally, honestly.

Gordon concludes that the affidavit is okay and Peter shows him where to sign, offering his briefcase as a hard surface. He then thanks Gordon and tells him he’ll see him next Tuesday. Gordon is confused by this.

“Whatdya mean next Tuesday?”

“That’s when the hearing is. You’re entitled to be there. And it’ll help Gwen and Casey,” Peter replied.

“Uh . . . we’ll see. I’m not sure if I can make it.”

Peter silently hoped that the nearest Albertsons would run out of beer and wine next Monday. “Lord, please help this man show up sober on Tuesday,” he prayed silently.

Gordon closed the door and collapsed back on the couch in his dimly lit apartment.

Somehow I think trusting to prayer alone on this one is probably a bad idea. Is there a friend of Gordon’s that Peter could ask to stay the night with him and make sure he lays off the drink, and then bring him to court in the morning? At the very least, Peter ought to have Joe or Sally pick Gordon up.

Farris is going out of his way to emphasize that Gordon is a drunk who basically just sits around all day and does nothing and can’t stay sober. I have to wonder, who exactly is paying for Gordon’s apartment? Does he have any family members who are helping him out? And for that matter, where are Gordon’s parents, Casey’s other set of grandparents? What sort of people are they? Are they involved in Casey’s life? Either way, this doesn’t bode well for anyone still betting Gwen and Gordon will be getting back together. Or perhaps Gordon simply needs to hit rock bottom.

Next week we move on to the ex parte hearing Peter earlier mentioned to Gail.

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