“Doctor Bareilles, I’ve read your defence plea: congratulations, you’ve done an excellent job. I’ve been analysing it with Doctor María del Carmen Fernández, I thought it was essential for the adviser to know everything .The problem is complex, not at all easy to decide. What you request is delicate, to deprive Ms Artigas of her rights, to take custody of the child away from her...”
It was eight in the morning. Burán and his lawyer were in Judge Bisson’s office; the previous day they had presented their defence against Juanita’s lawsuit. In her document, Rocío described the situation in detail, especially the result of the search of Álvez’s apartment.
“Your honour,” said Rocío, “I’m going to speak with complete sincerity: I think the evidence we present is conclusive... Bear in mind that we are petitioning based on a higher interest: that of little Agustín Burán. You know a long trial is inevitable, that the judicial process is mediocre, complicated and slow. Until there is a firm sentence, years will go by... Do you think it makes sense for the kid to stay with his mother in the meantime? Doctor Bisson, we believe the facts speak for themselves: Juana Artigas had herself artificially inseminated exclusively for money. That’s how it is, there’s no doubt...”
Doctor Bisson treated them attentively, in a more relaxed manner; she was sure, the accumulated evidence and the events reported by Rocío explained everything. The magistrate believed Burán’s version, there were too many coincidences to doubt his word; however, from the legal point of view, it could not yet be considered proven. To deprive the mother of custody, there had to be exceptional circumstances...
“Doctor Bareilles, I understand your concern, it makes sense, but you have to put yourself in the court’s place. We’re just starting this process... You’re asking me to practically decide the base of the matter. Don’t forget: Juana Artigas hasn’t been condemned... We cannot presume that she’s guilty. On the contrary, we must assume she’s innocent. To deprive her of custody is almost like declaring that she’s a criminal without a penal sentence.”
“Your honour,” Rocío insisted, “We’re here simply to ask you for a quick decision. Right now, the most important thing is for the child to be separated from the mother. She’ll have a terrible influence on him; we’re offering him a decent home, the affection of an honest man. Don’t you think it’s vital to give the child the best?”
“It’s not that simple, Doctor Bareilles, the case is unique... I acknowledge that there are evident irregularities, but to remove the child when he’s only a few days old...”
“I’ll spell it out, Doctor Bisson: the evidence of the case undeniably reveal criminal activity...”
“Perhaps,” said the magistrate, “but it’s not that simple, I have to act on firm foundations. Remember that the criminal trial has only just started, that in principle custody belongs to the mother, except in very serious cases: danger to the minor, for example.”
“Don’t you think there’s danger in this case?” asked Rocío. “I don’t think it can be denied... Can you imagine the harm that woman could do to the child? She’s amoral, she doesn’t deserve any consideration.”
“Please mind your language, Doctor, ” said the experienced magistrate, “you’re judging Ms Artigas in advance... I repeat that I must limit myself exclusively to the proven facts...”
“I’m basing myself on them, your honour, I’m not making anything up... I beg you to consider the importance of the documents found by the criminal judge.”
“I repeat, Doctor Bareilles: it’s not that simple, the items seized all belong to Doctor Esteban Álvez. Juana Artigas is only the author of the will, she isn’t sufficiently incriminated.”
“Do you really believe that?” asked Rocío. “Bear in mind, Doctor Bisson, that she behaved in bad faith. Did she not offer Doctor Álvez as a witness, a man who is undoubtedly her intimate friend? Isn’t it true that she hid that relationship from you, your honour? This cannot be denied, nobody names a stranger as guardian of their son... I maintain that this will is deeply significant in this trial. Meanwhile, there are serious, precise and concordant suspicions... The statement of the witness Estela Cáceres in court shows that there is much more than a simple friendship between Álvez and Artigas. Can there be any doubt about this?”
“Yes there can, Doctor Bareilles... until there is a court sentence... no one can be sure about anything.”
“But your honour! We can’t wait that long! The child’s interests should come first. I beg you to take into account Doctor Burán’s good character, which hasn’t been placed in doubt at any time. He’s a professional with a solid economic situation. He has a good reputation and is an excellent father, what more could you ask for?” He assumed his responsibility, subjecting himself to the biological tests. Doctor Zimbrein’s report confirms the authenticity of the filial connection, what are we waiting for?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk about, Doctor Burán. According to Doctor Zimbrein’s analysis, the little one is your son. The matter is settled through your full acknowledgment, is that right?”
“Absolutely,” answered Roberto.
“Well,” interrupted the magistrate, “let me think a little, don’t rush me. Things done in a rush turn out wrong. I’m going to think about the questions involved. I’ll discuss it with the incapacity adviser. Perhaps there’ll be news last thing this evening. Ask at the court if a decision has been announced. It’s been a pleasure, see you again soon...”
|Copyright ©||Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990|
|By the same author|
|Date of publication||November 2002|
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