Saturday, October 30, 2010

Case Closed

I am in Cyprus, walking on the beach in Larnaca when I get the call from my brother's lawyer. He asks if I know who he is.

- Yes. What does a corrupt New Jersey lawyer have to say to me?
- I want to know if you are going to participate in the hearing tomorrow.
- I was notified by the judge by email. Why do you want to know?
- I need to prepare.
- Well, corrupt New Jersey lawyer, I will call the number the judge provided me by at the time arranged.

The court had informed me that I will be a telephone participant in the hearing the next day to determine whether my brother should be removed as executor of our mother's estate. My brother's lawyer has already written to me that his fees will entirely deplete the assets of the estate. I have already written a letter to the judge telling him of this threat, and relaying to him my brother's confiding in me the year before that he was laundering money for casino operators in Atlantic City in the course of his house building business, and that he claims he had to pay twice for the same funeral expenses, with other excellent reasons for my protest.

For me this is all a joke. It cost me a $20 filing fee to lodge the complaint months earlier, and now the legal machine is set in operation way over there in a place I have no connection to.

The next day I walk over to the call center, and directed to a cubicle along the wall by the Indian attendant, make the call to the Atlantic City court house. The judge's assistant answers and I am placed on hold while the hearing gets under way.

The first thing the judge does, after asking if I can hear him - apparently I am on a sort of speaker phone there - is read out-loud to those assembled in the court room the letter I had written to him, in which I accuse my brother of laundering money for casino operators. I can hardly believe it. I set down the receiver on the shelf and step out of the cubical. I am too busy smiling to listen. My brother must have made enemies in that town. After a few minutes I go back in, hold the receiver to my ear. I hear my brother's voice, and set back down the phone. I would like to go to the beach, how could it get better than this? But my curiosity is too much for me, I decide to stick around. When I can hear the voice change I pick up the receiver again, it is the judge speaking. He is talking to me. Do I have anything to add? No. Would I be willing to come back to New Jersey to execute the will if I was appointed? Yes. Do I have any qualifications for the job? I wonder what expertise is needed for settling an estate supposed to have no assets. The judge delivers his decision: since our mother chose one brother to execute the will he sees no good reason to deny her wish. Case closed.