We should never forget when reading a written decision by any Court that there are people—real, live, breathing people—behind the words laid down in the Court’s opinion. I was recently reminded of this fact when I received a call from Tom Giraldin, son of William A. Giraldin, whose estate I discussed in an earlier blog post.
The Estate of William A. Giraldin has been the source of many year’s worth of litigation over various Trust issues (discuss in more detail in my previous article). And in that previous article, I said that a son of William Giraldin, specifically Tim, was sued by “his siblings.” Well I had that slightly wrong. Tim was not sued by all of his siblings, but actually sued by four (namely, Patricia Gray, Christine Giraldin, Mike Giraldin and Philip Giraldin) of the Giraldin’s seven older children—my mistake.
But that’s not the interesting part. The more interesting part is talking to Tom Giraldin and getting an inside look into the people and family relationships that underlie the Appellate Court’s opinion in Estate of Giraldin. What type of person was William A. Giraldin (a strong business man), how did the facts come about (years of living), and did the Appellate Court get it right (yes, so says Tom)?
If you think about it, a lot of actions have to occur before a California Trust or Will case is heard and decided by the Appellate Court. People have to live their lives, things have to happen in those lives, someone dies, people get upset and sue, the lawsuit takes over five (5) years to wind its way through the Courts, a party loses, decides to appeal, and then we get the Appellate Court opinion—coming at the end of what may be over a decade (or more) of actions in the making (both inside and outside of Court). Whew! Makes me tired just thinking about it.
But the lives lived and the things that occur during those lives are the substance of these cases. And while the Appellate Court may provide us with a pretty cut-and-dry rendition of the facts, life is never so cut and dry. And the way in which each party, each child, sees those facts is also very different—which is why the lawsuit is filed in the first place.
So the next time you read about the facts of a case in the Courts, in the newpaper, on the web, or in someone’s blog; its interesting to keep in mind that these are people we are reading about and they may have plenty of other facts behind the case that never come to light.