In his fictional autobiography, Judge Timothy Philpot discusses many real life events both outside and within his courtroom including descriptions of actual cases. Listed below is the fourth set of disguised characters and clues about their actual identities
Anthony is a litigant in Dependency, Abuse and Neglect Court. He is described as a “Single black dad,. His child was now at the grandmother’s because the mother had disappeared—on drugs again. Anthony was just out of prison two months and insisted he and his girlfriend could take care of his four-year-old son. But the record showed that his girlfriend was on a list of “Most Wanted” in Kentucky, and he was five thousand dollars behind on child support.”
26. The Davis family
Jefferson Davis is a litigant in Juvenile Status Court who appears before the judge on his 12th birthday. He is a bespectacled runaway, cat-killing, arsonist son of convict skinhead and “druggie mom “who has a talent for hot-wiring cars. He has a twin sister Sara in Stanford, lives with his “grandpappy’s girlfriend” and has been led astray by his mischievous friend, Lewie Karr. On learning that it is his birthday, the judge persuades some black people, who rely on his largesse, to throw a birthday party for him, amused by the fact that Jefferson Davis shared his name with an enthusiastic slaveholder and Confederate president. Jefferson attends accompanied by his grandmother, Teresa Butler and the judge. Basketball is discussed and merriment ensues.
27. The Dawids
This Kuwaiti, Muslim couple are litigants in the judge’s Divorce Court. Mr. Dawid is portrayed as a deceitful man who mistreats his family and conspires with his convenience store owning brother to avoid paying support to his wife until he is threatened with jail. The details of his transgressions are not clear, but his general lack of love is devastating to his wife who seeks a divorce after becoming certain that their marriage is irretrievably broken. Curiously, even though the judge is certain that the wife pretends not to understand English to obstruct the judge’s attempt to divide marital property, he ends up awarding her “almost everything except love and respect”. Another oddity is that in case of this Islamic marriage, the judge does not see fit to order an “Irretrievably Broken Hearing”, taking Mrs. Dawid at her apparently perjuring word. This story leads onto a discussion of Muslim oppression of women when the judge’s secretary Karen Martin (Karen Stewart in real life) lends him a book titled “ I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced” written by a Yemeni girl and her French biographer. When the judge reads the book in private, it excites him to new heights of judicial passion:
“The part that really got to him was the advice she got: “Go to the courthouse. Ask to see the judge—after all, he’s the government’s representative. He’s very powerful, and he is godfather to all of us. His job is to help victims.” The words stuck in Judge Z’s heart like a knife.”
The Yemeni Judge mentioned in Nujood’s book and whom Judge Philpot idolizes, in a tour de force of “discernment counselling” initially proposed that Nujood should return to her violently abusive “husband” after a break of three to five years until she was more suitable for sexual activity. He appeared to share Judge Philpot’s misgivings about easy divorce, but was eventually persuaded by the firm advocacy of Nujood’s lawyer to grant a dissolution of marriage. Therefore, contrary to Judge Philpot’s interpretation of the book, the real hero of the story, other than Nujood herself, appears to be her feminist lawyer Shada Nasser who won international acclaim for securing Nujood’s divorce.
28. The Masons
Joe and Nicole Mason are an exemplary black couple with two children who serve as model African-Americans for Judge Philpot’s utopia. Joe is a thirty-four year old associate pastor at Second Street Consolidated Baptist Church (“one of Lexington’s biggest inner-city churches”) and a basketball coach at Clark County High School. He invites the judge to a “Monday night Fatherhood Initiative” at his church. The book does not specify whether the goal of this project is to actually achieve fatherhood or to promote it in some other fashion. Joe is called as a witness by the judge to an “Irretrievably Broken Hearing” and “testifies on the impact of fatherlessness in the black culture” even though neither of the divorcing parties is black. His wife Nicole is a law student the judge encounters while helping to teach a law school class at the University of Kentucky. Her father had been one of the first black judges in Virginia. The judge is so impressed by her pedigree and her eloquent recital of his own conservative religious ideology that he wants to offer her a job in his court on graduation. He is so besotted that, in contravention of several legal rules, he enlists her as his primary assistant to block the requested divorce at the hearing which is central to the plot of the book.
29. Josephine Conrad
Judge Philpot appears to have a love-hate relationship with the press, reflected in his autobiography novel. He introduces several real life national media figures who cover the sensational hearing that is central to his book’s plot including Dan Rather, Greta Van Susteren and Megyn (alias Megan) Kelly.
Closer to home, he makes halfhearted attempts to disguise the names of local newspapers and reporters. One exception is the Georgetown News-Graphic whose name is unchanged, presumably because it is not critical of the judge in the story although its owner’s identity is changed to “Byron Krause.” The Lexington Herald-Leader is named the “Lexington Times” even though the judge enjoys friendship and golf with its publisher while the Louisville Courier Journal is dubbed the “Louisville Post.”
Jake Tolliver and Marvin Crossfield (Thomas Tolliver and Al Cross in real life) are two pesky local newspaper reporters, and perpetual thorns in the judge’s side who make his eccentric courtroom behavior front page news, inciting a national media frenzy. The weasel-like pair receive their comeuppance when the Judicial Conduct Commission inexplicably exonerates the judge, forcing them to eat humble pie and never report critically about him again.
Josephine Conrad is an editorial contributor for the Herald-Leader who incurs the judges displeasure for writing critical op-eds pieces about him whose opinions are dismissed because she ” had been divorced three times and had given up on marriage long ago. Judging by her signed columns, she believed that the only rule was no rules.”
30. Professor Zhiu and Ms. “Duck Chow” Yang
This couple spark the central plot line of Judge Philpot’s book when the wife asks the judge “What means ir-trievably broken?” Their story reveals aspects of Judge Philpot’s attitude towards those he perceives as foreigners, in general and “Orientals” in particular.
Professor Zhiu works at the University of Kentucky and is seeking to divorce his wife whose first name the judge transliterates to “Duck Chow”, presumably because he has difficulty saying or writing it (similar to the case of the Zambian man “Dr. T”). They have a two year old daughter and their law firm was “Web, Google & FreeLegalAdviceDotCom”. Mr. Zhiu had moved out to live with one of his female students, also from China. Excerpts from their story are below:
“ The judge asked, “Sir, you are the petitioner so I will ask you some questions first. Your name is?”
His answer was impossible to understand, but the judge kept moving. In China, being impertinent to a government official could land him in solitary confinement for twenty years.
The wife nodded, with one eye on her husband, following his cues. The husband gave her a sharp look and she dropped her head to stare at the table. He would answer the judge’s questions.
With no lawyers present except Florence, the judge felt free to ask some nosy questions that most lawyers would find objectionable.
“Sir, who is this girl you live with?” he asked. “When do you see your daughter?” “What is your status to be in the United States?” “Do you plan to return to China?” “Do you have children in China?” “Exactly how much money do you make?” “What are you researching at UK?” “Do you plan to remarry?” “Was this marriage some sort of arranged affair to legalize everyone’s immigration status?” “What’s going on here anyway?” “
He was getting no good answers. Mr. Zhiu was more nervous with every question, fearful that the man in the black robe would send him back to China or to prison to be re-educated.
“I’m going to find that this marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation,” Judge Z said, winding up the brief hearing. He did not feel good about this, but he eased his conscience by ordering the husband to pay an outrageous sum of child support and maintenance. If Mr. Zhiu had a lawyer along, the lawyer would scream bloody murder, but it seemed fair to the judge.