Tuesday, July 27, 2010

child custody lawsuit deposition revelations

Additional information about the legal ordeal unfolding around Nikki Araguz was published by the Houston Chronicle newspaper on Monday. It turns out that before the present probate/inheritance lawsuit was filed by the ex-wife Heather Delgado, Nikki Araguz and her late husband were already involved in a child custody lawsuit filed against them by her. Most often, the adversaries of transsexual people in child custody lawsuits try to convince courts that merely being a transsexual-person makes the transsexual parent a "danger" to the children and an "unfit" parent. All too often they succeed unfortunately, with many transsexual parents losing touch with their children, often for no other reason than the fact that the financial burden alone of trying to wage such legal battles can be insurmountable. In the child custody case against Tom Araguz and Nikki Araguz, his ex-wife seems likely to be using Nikki's criminal history has leverage as well.

Among the significant news items reported regarding the Araguz child custody case, is that Thomas Araguz and Nikki Araguz both gave depositions in that case during April 2010, before his July death. These days depositions are often recorded on video in addition to being transcribed by a licensed court reporter, meaning that both the written transcripts and the videos could be presented at any future trial(s). Most importantly, Nikki Araguz has now admitted that both she and her late husband perjured themselves during their depositions in that case, under the misguided belief that doing so was in the best interests of the children. I would imagine that there are likely to be multiple dire consequences for Nikki Araguz that will result from the lies she told in that deposition. It seems apparent already that she isn't likely to have any future contact with her step-sons in any event. Here are some deposition excerpts reported by the Houston Chronicle:

(quotations from the deposition in the same newspaper article)

The depositions were taken in April for a child custody case filed by Thomas Araguz's ex-wife, who did not want their two young sons around Nikki Araguz, attorneys said.
"That deposition is a lie," Nikki Araguz said from her Wharton home Monday night.
"At the time, Thomas and I thought it was in the best interest of our children to lie. They were the center of (our) lives," she said.

"Do you know that your wife was formerly a male?" asked Frank Mann III, a Bellaire attorney representing Thomas Araguz's ex-wife and the mother of his children, according to the deposition transcript.
"No," Araguz responded.
"You have no knowledge of that?" Mann asked the firefighter.
"I have no knowledge," Araguz responded.
During another part of the inquiry focusing on Nikki Araguz, Mann asked her husband, "Would it surprise you if it said male on her birth certificate?"
"Yes," Thomas Araguz responded.
"When did you first tell your husband about the fact that you had that prior name?" Mann asked Nikki Araguz during her deposition.
"I don't recall ever discussing that with him, to be honest with you," she responded.

Because Nikki Araguz has admitted to lying during the deposition in the child custody case, attorneys for the opposition against she and her husband in that case could file a motion to have the court find her in contempt, for which the usual penalties in civil cases can include monetary fines and rarely even short jail sentences, which a judge in such a case can order forthwith without addition due process or hearing. When such a fine is imposed, often as much as $500 to $5,000, it becomes a court judgment that if unpaid becomes a blemish on one's credit history, and for which the holder of the judgment can execute using writs of seizure and foreclosure.

What seems far worse for Nikki Araguz, is that her admission of perjury makes it nearly impossible for her to give future deposition testimony, because every time she does, every attorney doing so is sure to bring up her previous perjury, and do everything possible to characterize her as a pathological liar, about whom little she says should be believed. I can't imagine how either of the lawsuits Nikki Araguz is involved in can move forward successfully now, after her admission of perjury, especially when juxtaposed with the other layers of character evidence against her, which together seem to destroy her ability to function as a credible party in either lawsuit. Because of this, it seems like the attorneys for Nikki Araguz are going to have to focus on developing and presenting evidence in the form of documents that corroborate the facts and other witnesses without a direct interest in the outcome of the lawsuit. Hopefully the attorneys for Nikki Araguz will also find ways to keep the lawsuit focused on the relevant factual, medical, and legal evidence and issues, and work hard to avoid bringing the character of either party into the matter as much as possible.

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