The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries
August 1994 - 2/2
As if that were not enough, my father never missed an opportunity to badmouth the Jews, even our classmates with a jewsish name. It baffled me that he seemed to know them without having met any of them. How could he tell that theywere this or that? I learned later that he could tell from their last name. He was particularly venomous about a smart girl, Sabine Vitos, who had said to my sister Sophie that her dress looked like a frock. My father was stung by this comment that implied that his daughter was not dressed well enough and he repeated the sentence with a strange accent which the girl didn't have because in his view, all Jews had an accent that gave them away. But this one only one of the Jews he berated. He seemed to be very angry at them in general just because they were Jews and from his teaching I learnt to figure out who was a jew and who was not from their last name. He also said that people who had the last name of a city, like Paris, were also Jews.
I must have established the connection between the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and my father's anti-Semitism. He was actually supporting the people who committed these atrocities. But I was too young and too dependent to consciously aknowledge that my father, given a chance, would have committed these atrocities himself. But I knew it. Only I repressed it. And the guilt that my father should have felt but didn't, I felt for him and took upon myself.
And it is to atone for this guilt that later on, I allowed Jews and people of a different race to abuse me, including sexually and emotionally, to give them a chance to compensate for the injustices done to them of which my father was guilty. I am certain now that this diffuse feeling of shame and guilt that weighed upon me was due in large part to the shame and guilt my father should have felt but didn't. And it is not totally impossible that I allowed the Slavits to abuse me because from their name I knew they were Jewish.
And since I have understood that to control me, my parents, particularly my mother, used shame and guilt for leverage and put me in one double bind after another, I conclude that the idea to make me read the books about the Nazi medical experiments came from my mother. It is quite possible that she asked one of my sisters to pass them secretely to me. We were all attending the same catholic school. Now I know she was quite capable of it. The double bind was that she gave me the knowledge and then made me feel guilty about knowing and prevented me from speaking about it.
Mon. 08.22: Another tiff with the woman neighbor around eleven a.m. Understandably I have been very tense lately, and I am particularly sensitive to noise and this woman is nothing if not noisy. I arrive home and she is cleaning her mop in the bathtub in the bahroom across my room. Her two year old daughter is with her. The water is running loudly and the door wide open. I grab the door handle and start closing it while asking : "Do you mind if I close the door?" She starts yelling instantly and opens the door. I pull the door shut again, protesting that she acts like she owns the place. From inside she calls out to Glen, the garbage man, while I brace myself with one leg against the wall to prevent her from opening the door, but I realize that this is called "unlawful imprisonment" and I let the door go. She threatens to hit me with her broomstick. She says that she's going to ask her husband to take care of me and that I'd better watch over my shoulder when I go out because I'll be in a wheelchair before the end of the year. All I can say is "You're a bitch, you're a bitch." I feel I'm trembling, my heart is pounding, my blood is racing and makes my ears buzz.
I enter my room and call police emergency regarding threats of physical violence, and I go out to wait for them. When they arrive I tell them what happened, what the woman said to me and without going out of his car the driver writes his report. He asks me what's the name of the woman but I don't know. At the same instant the woman comes out of the building with her daughter and I say "Here she is." The cop asks her a few questions. What she says is that I am messing with her daughter, I make her afraid, and she won't tolerate anybody to do any harm to her daughter.
After she's left the cop tells me to stay away from each other. Easier said than done. He writes down the phone number of the 24th precinct and tells me to call tomorrow to get the complaint number.
In the afternoon Bonarti parks in front of my window. He lingers on the sidewalk with his head inside the passenger side but doesn't seem to be doing anything except display for my benefit the italian moccassins that he's wearing. Usually he wears sneakers. He and his personnel seem to know that I like nice shoes, because Glen and Joey in the past have complimented me on my shoes. I believe they try to make me like them by flattering me on a subject they know I am sensitive to, and now Bonarti tries to make me like him by wearing shoes he thinks I like.
Tues. 08.23: Complaint number 9705.
Sat. 08.27: As I'm preparing to go out, the woman neighbor complains loudly in the hallway that her daughter is all nervous and upset because of me. She speaks of me as a "fucking white bitch". Now the racial epithets. As I go out I say to her that her daughter is afraid not of me but of what she says about me. She's in the kitchen and her door is ajar. Her dog sees me at the door at the end of the hallway and runs to the door just as I'm about to open it. "Can you keep the door shut until I get the dog?" she asks pleadingly. "Sure" I say. I stick my leg out to keep the dog away from the door and I wait for her to get her dog. I understood right away that the situation was reversed compared to what happened monday. Now it was she who asked me to keep the door closed, and I could, out of revenge, have ignored her, opened the door and let her dog out in the lobby but I thought it would only feed the bad feelings.
Out on the sidewalk, I am crushed by her meanness. Considering my love for children, her saying that her daughter is afraid of me is one of the worst things she could say to hurt me. And calling me a "fucking white bitch"! First I'm not fucking but it's the "white" as an insult that hurts so much. Now I know what racial discrimination feels like on the victim's side. My heart is still pounding and my ears buzzing. I defused an explosive situation but I'm hurt all the same and I feel terribly unhappy.
Tues. 08.30: Oral argument is scheduled for September 1st. I decide to check out where the courtroom is and what Judge Lippmann looks like. I'll be less stressed if I know this in advance. Maybe I'll also get a chance to hear oral arguments and get a feel of how it goes. The address is not at the main building of the Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street but at 80. There's no security check at 80. One good thing. In the lobby there's a panel that indicates in what room each judge is sitting. I see Judge Toker's name and room number, and Judge Lippmann's. Judge Toker is the judge who was overseeing my case until I dismissed the Slavits, he is the one who heard the previous motions and the one who signed the subpoena.
I never questioned his good faith, even though I found out that issuing a subpoena to a party was a violation of the laws governing disclosure. The Uniform Rules of the Supreme Court 202.8(a) and 201.12(b) require that parties should try first to resolve issues between themselves and to resort to the court only when they are unable to do so. In the area of disclosure of documents, a party may make a motion to compel the other party to show his papers and if the party doesn't comply with the order the judge may order sanctions and in any case a subpoena is a means of last resort between parties in a civil action. The law makes a clear distinction between a party and a non party. It is quite OK to subpoena a non-party witness or non-witness. But overall, subpoenas duces-tecum are issued to criminal defendants, where there is a well-founded assumption of unwillingness to cooperate with the fact-finding process. And curiously in the press, not only the Law Journal but the New York Times as well, there have been such subpoenas duces-tecum served on suspected corrupt officials who funded campaign funds with bribes, and the photograph shows their ledgers were carted off their offices in boxes on handtrucks! It is not the first time that the press, the news, are closely related to what's going on in my life, and in a way it confirms what I'm standing for.
This is a very clear example of this phenomenon, and it's as if God was helping me in this way, giving my voice the backing of the news. Another good example is when the front page of the Daily News announced "I Lied Under Oath!" about a witness of the Rosenbaum killing. There also was the Personal Injury jury awards that showed on the front page of the Law Journal how much each body part brought the injured party, and the arrow that pointed to the knee said $500,000, not 150,000 as Ed Leonard and Leonard Slavit had told me. So what must all the people involved in my case think when the news tell them that I'm right? They must feel uncomfortable because the impact of the news permeates the atmosphere that surrounds my particular case. Corrupt cops kill themselves with their gun? Grit to the mill. But this was just an a-parte.
On the second floor of 80 Centre street you don't know whether to make a right or a left. On the right there's a sign visible from the elevator bank that says Parole Board Room XXX and there is no other indication. On the side the arrow points to, the hallway stops in a dead end, on the opposite side there's a bend and it goes further. I go that way, walking along endless offices with opaque-glass partitions, and there is no light behind any of them, and around the bend there's carpeting and the walls are painted in a pleasant pink hue and the lighting is warmer. Doors bear signs of Jury room, part numbers and judges' names. So there we are. I find part 52. Hey, that's the year I was born!
Since the proceedings are open to the public I open the door cautiously but confidently and take a seat. The A.C. is going full blast very loud. Two men who look like two brothers in the blue collar ethnic immigrant class are sitting in the spectator area. Witnesses probably. At counsel table are a man and a woman. "In God We Trust" is written on a cheap sign taped to the judge's bench. Judge Lippmann is writing with his eyes downcast and I look at him. He's a lanky man over sixty in a business suit. A rather long face, prominent lips, hair almost completely white, complexion rather dark for a white man.
When he's finished writing the clerk who's sitting against the window between the counsel table and the bench asks me what I want. I say that I have a motion argument scheduled on September first and I just came to see the room. "What's the name of your case?" the clerk asks me. "Picart against the Transit Authority" I say, approaching. Then I say "I have learned that..." and then I can't find the word "Judge" and instead I say "Honorable" Lippmann, and against my will I swear I couldn't help it, I slip a smidgen of irony while pronouncing "Honorable"- ..."is going to hear oral argument on my motion on September 1st."
Hearing this Judge Lippmann motions with his head to the attorneys to go to his chambers in the back and the three of them leave. The clerk tells me to return tomorrow for oral argument. "Oh, there will be motion practice tomorrow morning?" I ask, interested and start leaving. "Wait a minute, Miss, listen to me" he says. "What's today's date?" "It's the thirtieth, Tuesday the 30th." I say. "Oh then it's not tomorrow, it's the day after. Motion practice is every Thursday, the other days it's trial. Today and tomorrow it's trial." "Oh then, I say, I won't have a chance to see motion practice before it's my turn. But it's okay." Then I ask him what IAS stand for. He knows about the I and the A, it means Individual Assignment, but not the S. I say it's a good rate of success and leave.
How could Judge Lippmann, I thought, enforce a subpoena that is so patently illegal? Why did the defendants request an oral argument? There is nothing to argue about, they broke the law and I didn't break any. They broke the law not only because the subpoena is an undeserved compulsory measure, and because he documents they're requesting are irrelevant and/or protected, but also the law stipulates that the party who is to be subpoenaed must be advised at least one day in advance that the other party is filing a motion for an order to issue the subpoena. So it gives the person a last chance to show their papers without the court getting involved. If they don't take the chance, at least they've been given a fair warning. But in my case I received the subpoena out of the blue, it was given to me with the mail and I was furious and went to see Jose the super and he said that somebody had just slipped it into the window and disappeared, and instead of bringing it to me right away they had read it because it was not even in an envelope, and given it to me as an ordinary piece of mail. And there was a check for fifteen dollars stapled to it, to defray the cost of my time. Even when I was starving I didn't put it in the bank.
To me this subpoena and the way it hit me was a blatant proof that my lawyers were betraying me because even though at the time I didn't know the laws, I knew that they had allowed this to happen to me, a threat of fine and/or jail if I didn't bring to court tax returns which I didn't have, and my passport. Damn them, my passport! They had no right, I knew that much! This was the last straw, and if I harbored strong suspicions that my lawyers were deceiving me, now I was certain and that's why I dismissed them.
On the way out I make a note of Judge Toker's room number. I would like to ask him why he allowed the defendants to hurt me so with the subpoena. Why did he sign it? It must have been a mistake! I thought about him with fondness, with the affection a child feels for an adult who loves and protects him from harm.
Next I go to the Record Room in the basement at 60 Centre. When the counterperson hands the file out to me, I realize instantly that the file is much lighter than it was the first time I held it a few weeks ago. After spreading he contents on a table, I notice that two bills of particulars have been removed, and more importantly, the quarter page handwritten accident report by the bus driver to his employer the TA, Anthony Pizzimenti, of 8 Tiberi Court in Trenton, NJ, dated a few days afer the accident in May 1990, which said what I had done when in his testimony (the transcripts of which, let's remember, were stolen from my file on or before July 1993) he said that he hadn't seen anything.
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