Thursday, July 29, 2010

Perspectives on the Prospects for Nikki Araguz

Based on a cursory perusal of articles and commentary around the internet, a significant percentage of the transsexual population has reacted primarily emotionally, with indignation, and outright anger, about the lawsuits against Nikki Araguz. Many such people have bristled in response to the detailed information that has been published regarding Nikki Araguz, preferring instead, to believe that somehow mere righteousness might win the day in the face of a hostile Texas culture, presumably bigoted Texas judges, and a Texas judiciary whose appeals court decisions have already stacked the deck against Ms. Araguz. Various transsexual activists have focused on the lurid nature of the television and press coverage, reacting with anger and outrage. For example, on, the vivacious and valiant Ashley Love shared the following comment:
The media keeps on spreading misinformation about this case. Their offensive and innaccurate misreporting must be called out in order to aide the transsexual, transgender and intersex communities.
Ms. Love's comment is correct that nearly every news article has been slanted, misleading, inaccurate, often offensive, and designed to generate negative public sentiment toward Nikki Araguz. However, Ms. Love's statement doesn't identify any of this purported misinformation specifcally.

In fact, much of the core information published by the media, in the midst of its salacious approach to it, has been factual: statements from Nikki Araguz herself, video interviews with Nikki Araguz herself - including a video documentary of her from over fifteen years ago that is quite extensive, Nikki's own admission of perjury during an April deposition she gave, Nikki's own admission and her own apology for appearing on the Jerry Springer Show in 1994 in which she used that television program to blindside someone she had dated by disclosing her transsexual status to him on the program, the details of Nikki's criminal history which includes multiple felony convictions, court records that include her 1996 name change petition, and more. The problem isn't about the truth or falsehood of the media disclosures, the problem is their lack of relevance and the scurrilously misrepresentative nature of them, since few if any of them are actually relevant within the lawsuit itself.

While some people contend that some of this information is purely about Nikki Araguz's character and credibility, and irrelevant to the central legal issues in the probate case, this sort of character information seems likely to have a significant impact on Nikki's ability to testify on her own behalf in any future deposition and in any trial that may occur, especially her public admission of perjury. Admittedly though, if her case were to stand any chance at trial, it would be the quality of expensive medical expert witness testimony that would form the core of a trial court record for future consideration by an appeals court that seems likely to be most important to her case. However, the plaintiffs, Heather Delgado and Simona Longoria, seem quite likely to focus on Nikki's character to attack the validity of her marriage, including admissions of perjury, deception, criminal convictions, and her equivocation and attempts to prevaricate about the specifics of her medical history, and the sequence of events, including the surgery she received in 2008, that surround her two marriages.

Based on her own recent internet posts, Nikki Araguz appears to be in psychological denial about the impact of her own extensive public statements, and about the potential consequences of the factual information that has come to light about her, most of which seems irrefutable. I suspect she is likely to be bolstered by a segment of the transsexual population, and others who will support her in her cause, no matter how seemingly insurmountable the odds against her. In addition, she has a legal team that is apparently ready and willing to wage legal battle for her no matter what, possibly even pro-bono without charging her a fee and while incurring massive expenses for expert witness testimony, as part of a larger legal crusade for marriage rights regarding transsexual people. On the one hand it seems appropriate to wish them good luck, but on the other it also seems appropriate to be realistic about the lack of likelihood that they could prevail against such overwhelming odds.

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