Court Hearing 11/24/98
. . TRUTH METER
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF JACKSON
In the Matter of the Marriage of: )
SUSAN SAMORA COUTSOUKIS, ) Petitioner, ) .
vs. PHOTIOUS COUTSOUKIS, ) Respondent. )
Case No 94-3846-D-3 __________________________________)
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
November 24, 1997
3:45 o'clock p.m.
Before: The Honorable
G. Philip Arnold,
For the Petitioner: Cristina Sanz
Attorney at Law
two North Oakdale Ave.
Medford, OR 97501
For the Respondent: Photious Coutsoukis, pro se
November 24, 1997 3:45 o'clock p.m.
. . .
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, this is Judge Arnold again. We're on the record now with the Court Reporter.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Oh, terrific.
THE COURT: The issue that we're dealing with today is the proposed order prepared by Ms. Sanz dealing with the hearings that we held on September 12 and October 7th.
We had previously addressed off the record -- but I want to make a statement on the record now -- paragraph 5 on page two, you had objected to that, and Ms. Sanz has agreed that should be removed, and it has been removed.
You have objected to the phrase "based on the child's medical needs and the importance of stability for the child" in paragraph seven, and I had denied that objection. And then on paragraph seven you have objected to the way that was proposed -- I'm sorry, that's paragraph seven on page eight. You had objected to the way that was proposed, and I had changed that to state "The Petitioner shall seek to amend the New York State order of protection," and leaving in the rest of it as proposed.
Are all of those statements correct, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Yes, but there was additional information for the record, if I may.
THE COURT: Go right head.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. On item seven, I had brought out a motion which apparently before I was on board Ms. Sanz told the Court she did not receive, although I had faxed it, and after I spoke with her, actually she called back with the number, and I asked if she got it, and she said she did. I sent two faxes, and she should have one by now, and the other one is for Tony to keep in her records in case it gets lost in the future, in which I mentioned that my daughter's health had taken a dramatic turn for the worse, and that the reason for that motion was that -- well, I'm sure if the Court is sincerely interested and concerned about my child's health and her life and it is my duty and my responsibility as a father, it is my desire because I love this child, and my legal right to try within the bounds of what I'm allowed to do in this society to prevent her health from getting worse. That was that motion.
THE COURT: And that's your motion to remove custody from the Petitioner?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Correct, which will probably, you know, following the procedures of the Court, will be filed as a motion to show cause at some future time.
THE COURT: Yes, and I've indicated to you that that's the correct way to do it. We can't do that without and evidentiary hearing.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Right. Regarding seven, the one you just mentioned, what I had read the Court was the New York decree which stated that "This order of protection is not on behalf of the child, so there is no provision with regard to visitation," and therefore, it states in item number seven that she has to change -- that the visitation aspect is not relevant. What we're changing here is the communications limitations of that decree, namely, that neither Susan -- and I believe how it states in here, it says that if either party wishes to communicate with the other, they will do so through a third party.
THE COURT: Okay, I'm going to -- We also stated before when we were off the record that -- And I might state that we were off the record because I had not understood you had paid the recording fee. We were not trying to do it off the record, I just didn't realize that you had requested that it be on the record.
What I would like to do is -- It has been indicated that Ms. Sanz and you have talked. She has a list, and I want to take her list, because she has the list that you have discussed. If there are any other issues you want to take up, we'll do that after we've gone through her list.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay.
THE COURT: Ms. Sanz, what's the next one on the list?
MS. SANZ: I'm only bringing up those items, Your Honor, that Mr. Coutsoukis and Mrs. Coutsoukis still disagree on.
THE COURT: I understand.
MS. SANZ: The next one has to do with Thanksgiving visitation.
THE COURT: Paragraph what and page what?
MS. SANZ: Page 4, paragraph C.
THE COURT: Do you have that, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I do.
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. SANZ: And we are proposing the language that's there, and Mr. Coutsoukis is requesting that he have visitation in odd years on Thanksgiving day and the day thereafter; in other words, to have them overnight.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Which is the customary thing to do for visitation.
MS. SANZ: The reason my client is proposing to limit it more than usual is because there have been some complications with communication back and forth in terms of Teddy. She was hospitalized, she had seizures, we question whether the ketogenic diet is being followed --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Objection, Your Honor. I would like to point out --
THE COURT: Just a second, Mr. Coutsoukis. You're going to get your turn, but I'm going to give Ms. Sanz a chance to finish --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Erroneous and misleading information is coming out.
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, now, you're going to wait your turn.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay.
MS. SANZ: That was a concern that she had. The child was just hospitalized last weekend with some seizures. You know, this is an ongoing situation, and I just wanted to see how this went first.
THE COURT: Okay. Mr. Coutsoukis, your position is that customary is two days?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: My daughter had a grand mal seizure accompanied by vomiting. This is the first time my daughter has had a grand mal seizure since Dr. Skouteli put her on anticonvulsant medications years ago, and prior to that she had a seizure only on Susan's watch. This seizure took place two weeks after I last saw my daughter. This has nothing to do with me. This is a vicious rumor which I'm trying to also address in my motion that I had something to do with this. This happened two weeks after I last saw Teddy. I got a call from the hospital on Friday two weeks after the Sunday that I returned her to Susan in better condition that when I received her. And for Cristina to somehow accuse me of not following the diet or having something to do with that seizure is not only vicious, it is also trying to cover up the fact that it is their side who had her for two weeks before the seizure, and on the day of the seizure, if it had anything to do with it, that seizure happened that morning that her brain activity took place, not two weeks before.
What she is doing here again, is malicious rumors, trying to deny me access to my child. That is the only way --
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, you're just repeating yourself now. Give me just a moment here now, and I'll make the decision.
I will allow visitation from 10:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day through 5:00 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving Day.
The next issue, Mrs. Sanz?
MS. SANZ: It's the same page, page 4, letter G and letter H. Letter G -- They're similar, so I'm going to try to address them both at the same time.
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. SANZ: Letter G is Mr. Coutsoukis' birthday. He's suggesting that he have his visit from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We object because his birthday may fall on a day that Teddy is in school or that she has therapies, whether it's vocational, speech, or --
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. SANZ: Therapy. Letter H, he's requesting that he have his visit with Teddy on her birthday between 1:00 and 7:00, and for the same reasons we're objecting, because that day may fall on a day when she has therapy or is in school.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: May I address those?
THE COURT: Of course. You're turn now.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. Regarding the day car, the so-called school, number one, the therapy that they receive there which is speech therapy, you can call it that -- I've observed it, and it's lacking -- but regardless, that is supposed to be according to the School District, when I was in contact with them before this Court order, that she is an itinerate speech therapist and can change the schedule accordingly. This is not somebody who works intensely from 8:00 in the morning until the evening with 35 patients. Okay. The same applies to her birthday, and if that is not possible, how about if either my birthday or her birthday falls on a weekend? Can we at least do that? That's all.
THE COURT: Okay. I will agree with that, that if it falls on a weekend day, that it would be 10:00 to 7:00.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: And can we say non-school?
THE COURT: Non-school is even better. thank you, Mr. Coutsoukis.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Thank you.
THE COURT: And on Respondent's birthday, and if it's a non-school -- or maybe we need to define school, but we know what we're talking about right here. You may call it -- you may add another term, Ms. Sanz, if it makes it clearer. And on the child's birthday, if it again is a non-school day, from 1:00 o'clock to 7:00, I'll agree with that.
MS. SANZ: Your Honor, if she is scheduled for any type of therapies, then I think there is a provision in the order that says that he will continue to bring her to therapy and keep those scheduled appointments.
THE COURT: Correct.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I have no problem with that. As a matter of fact, if it's a school day, I have no problem taking her to the day care school place myself. I've been there.
THE COURT: Okay. We've clarified it. It will be 4:00 to 7:00 if it's a school day. If it's a non-school day, it will be the additional hours that we've set out.
The next issue?
MS. SANZ: The next issue is that same page, page 4, line 24, where it talks about where the exchange, a neutral exchange will take place for the parties and the child. My proposed order mentions BJ Wholesale. It's a store. On second thought my client decided that that probably isn't appropriate. Where they're actually exchanging right now is the Peekskill Police Department. The problem with that -- What we're proposing is that the exchange be made at a different police department at Croton-On-Hudson.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay, may I --
THE COURT: Just a second.
MS. SANZ: Just a few more comments. The reason we would like to change is because Peekskill is five minutes -- I understand five minutes from Mr. Coutsoukis' home, but 35 minutes from my client's home, so it's not equidistant. I think the Croton-On-Hudson would be a lot more equidistant, and that's the reason for that proposal.
THE COURT: Okay, go ahead Mr. --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. I don't know that it is such a big inconvenience for Susan to bring Teddy here, or for Teddy to come here some way or another. I have never been to the Croton-On-Hudson Police Department. I don't know what the parking situation is, what the child-friendliness situation is. I don't know how busy Susan is that spending 35 minutes with the child in her car is such a big deal. It's not 35 minutes, by the way, you know, but it's still closer than here. I just don't if it's appropriate, that's all. Otherwise, I would be happy to --
THE COURT: I'm going to order that it be equidistant. If Croton-On-Hudson is -- You go check that place out. If there is some problem with that .
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I don't mind driving there to pick up my child. It's just that I have never been there. I don't know if it's warm enough, if it's friendly enough, if it's cozy enough, and parking and all that.
THE COURT: Okay. Apparently, your client has checked out the police station at Croton-On-Hudson?
MS. SANZ: She has only been there one time, and she said there was awaiting room, so it might work.
THE COURT: I'll order it at the police station at Croton-On-Hudson, then.
MS. SANZ: The next item, Your Honor, deals with child support, and that is on page six.
THE COURT: Okay.
MS. SANZ: If I can just clarify, Photious, I know there are other provisions you wanted to discuss, but I'm just going based on my list, and I may be going a little out of turn.
THE COURT: We're going to get everything you want.
MS. SANZ: We're going to get everything you want.
THE COURT: Page six --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Item?
THE COURT: Apparently item 4.
MS. SANZ: Yes, child support. He wants payment to be made to DHR. We have no objection to that, except that he hasn't paid since we've been arguing about the form of this order, hasn't paid from October on, so we're requesting --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I'm sorry, I haven't paid what?
MS. SANZ: Child support.
THE COURT: From October until --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I wasn't asked to.
MS. SANZ: And so we're requesting that payment be made up to date directly to Susan Coutsoukis until December 31, and then starting January 1st that those payments be made through the DHR.
THE COURT: Any problem with that, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: How many payments am I making to Susan?
THE COURT: October, November, December.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: October is past.
THE COURT: October is ordered and hasn't been paid, they're telling me. Do you have any problem with setting it up that way?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No.
THE COURT: Okay, We'll set it up so that October, November, and December are paid directly, and then beginning January they're paid through the DHR.
MS. SANZ: And also this is one area that I didn't have a chance to speak to Mr. Coutsoukis about, are but there are apparently some co-payments of costs that are not covered by insurance, and we're requesting that the standard language be used that each party be responsible for one half.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I have no clue of what she's talking about.
THE COURT: Any payments for medical bills that are not covered by insurance, the standard procedure is they'll be paid equally by the two parties.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Well, depending on what plan Susan chooses, there could be a payment of $20,000.00. I don't want to be at the mercy of Susan's decision of choosing -- you know, she's not an arithmetic genius --
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, just a second. These will be medically necessary. If there is a challenge to whether they're medically necessary, We'll deal with them at that time.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No, I'm not concerned with that, I'm concerned with whether the person who chooses the insurance plan, meaning Susan, has the ability to choose one that will not cause horrible financial hardship. I mean keep in mind I was rich before, you know --
THE COURT: I will require that she send you a copy of the insurance plan, but We'll also set up the language that requires equal payment for items that aren't covered by insurance. If you want to challenge that insurance plan, you'll have a copy of it.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. And also I have no input as to what we're doing medically, so for the record, you know, I'm going to be responsible for Susan's decisions here, and Susan has not traditionally made wise decisions.
THE COURT: And as I've told you, they will have to be medically necessary before they fit the standard. Go ahead.
MS. SANZ: The next items are not addressed in the order itself. Mr. Coutsoukis --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: We didn't finish. On item four mine is blank as to the amount.
MS. SANZ: Sanz that's the child support amount, Your Honor. He and I had discussed that. Based on the calculation it's $363.50.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Total?
MS. SANZ: No.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. Can you give me the total, please?
MS. SANZ: It's $429.00 total. Apparently, Mr. Coutsoukis --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I'm sorry, what was that?
MS. SANZ: $429.00.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Even?
MS. SANZ: Even.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Zero cents?
MS. SANZ: That's correct.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay.
MS. SANZ: Apparently, Mr. Coutsoukis did not want to pay the medical insurance that he has been paying, so she is going to pay that --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Well, let's phrase that accurately, please. That is not what we're saying here. What Mr. Coutsoukis said is that if Mrs. Coutsoukis is to select the insurance company and deals with that, I would rather pay her the amount and she can pay the money or whatever she does without me having to pay people that I'm not allowed to talk to.
MS. SANZ: He's under the impression that he cannot pay the insurance because of the --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No, I'm not -- Please don't put words into my mouth. I know my impression. I will pay for the insurance. I want the insurance to be part of the total payment, and I make one total payment to Susan for as long as I'm required to make them, and it's Susan's business. There are plans where she can save money if she wants to choose that over what I'm asked to pay. She can spend that on other things. I would rather have one total payment to Susan for child support and leave it up to her to deal with the insurance company, because I'm not allowed to speak with the insurance companies and the doctors, and she is.
THE COURT: So the number is 429?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: That's correct.
THE COURT: It will be 429. Let's go to the next thing.
MS. SANZ: Mr. Coutsoukis is requesting that if the Monday following his weekend is a holiday, that he have his visitation extend to that Monday, and the objection from my client was that again that would interfere if she had therapies and things to that effect.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: On a holiday? On a Monday holiday she would have therapy? No. They don't do therapies on holiday Mondays. They don't do day care centers on holiday Mondays, either.
MS. SANZ: For example, Veterans Day. I don't know whether we would define that as a holiday or not. She had therapy on Veterans Day.
THE COURT: I will allow that request by Mr. Coutsoukis.
MS. SANZ: Okay. The next item is that he would like a provision to state that he be able to send letters or talk with the child on the telephone.
THE COURT: And what is your client's position?
MS. SANZ: Well, it really gets into -- You know, it's kind of touchy with the restraining order there. We don't mind, if he wants to send letters, no problem, but the telephone contact has become a problem, and we just need clarification on that.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. The Consent Decree in New York does not have any -- any -- and it specifically says so -- restrictions regarding my communication for visitation in any form with Teddy. This order of protections says its not on behalf of the child, so there is no provision with regard to visitation where there is no order of protection for my daughter.
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, you may send letters without limitation to your daughter. You may have one telephone visit per week for up to 15 minutes, and you'll designate the time of that visit, Ms. Sanz.
MS. SANZ: Okay. The next item he proposes -- it's that if my client is -- We have agreed that if the parties are running more than 15 minutes late, each will call and notify the other party. If a situation comes up where the party is late an hour -- and he is saying that my client may be late an hour -- he wants his visit to be extended that one hour, and I think we have reached an agreement on that, that that would be -- we would work that one out. He doesn't know that. I just wanted to up date the Court on that one.
The last one is health emergencies for the child. On page six, line B it states that Mr. Coutsoukis shall be able to visit the child if and when she is hospitalized. He would like it to be an additional provision that he also be notified of every health emergency at any time she's in the hospital. Now, this last time she was hospitalized my client made sure that the hospital notified him. They're having trouble. My client can't find a third party who will volunteer to contact him, but she will try to find hospital staff to do that.
We get into a situation of what is considered a health emergency. I think if we want to include a provision like that, since she is willing to give that information to Mr. Coutsoukis, that it be defined as a perceived life-threatening situation.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: May I --
THE COURT: Your turn, Mr. Coutsoukis.
MS. SANZ: The reason I'm requesting that is the time when Susan was hospitalized for four days at Columbia Medical center -- and that happened about a month or so ago for the first time ever -- things are getting worse here with that side -- I found out from a third party three days after she was already in the hospital that Teddy was in the hospital, and when I called to ask the staff whether I could visit, they said it was up to her mother, and her mother had told them to instruct me not to visit.
THE COURT: So what is the language you want? The language here on page six, line 14, is to visit the child if and when she is hospitalized. What else is it you want?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Where is that? I'm sorry.
THE COURT: Page six, line 14. It starts with a small D.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay. Well, all it says here is for Susan to inform us of medical emergencies. There have been other cases after I obtained medical records for Teddy for the purposes of the hearing we had. I found out that Teddy was taken to emergency by Susan on her time --
THE COURT: Stop, Mr. Coutsoukis. Tell me what you want.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay.
THE COURT: What do you want this line to say?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Respondent to be notified when Teddy is having a health emergency or when she is in the hospital or near the time of the event, not at its conclusion.
THE COURT: Okay. What I'll do is I'll say "To receive notice and to visit the child if and when she is hospitalized." That requires Ms. Samora to notify you.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: But it does not require her to notify me if she is in the emergency room for eight hours.
THE COURT: I agree. Well, it depends on whether it's in the hospital or not.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: In other words, if she takes Teddy to an emergency room, I'm not supposed to know that something happened to her?
THE COURT: I've asked you now several times to give me some language that give my some language that --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I will.
THE COURT: And you won't do it. I'm willing to say if she's taken to the emergency room or hospitalized. How about that?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Fine.
THE COURT: All right, so he is to receive notice and he is allowed to visit if and when she is taken to the emergency room or hospitalized.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: I apologize, Your Honor. For instance, she might have a seizure, you know, a grand mal seizure like now, and Susan might decide not to take her to the emergency room. Shouldn't I be notified?
THE COURT: I'm going to leave it at the emergency room and hospitalization, Mr. Coutsoukis.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay.
THE COURT: Are there any other items?
MS. SANZ: Yes. I missed this one. Page six, Paragraph B. The language now says this -- This is where we're amending ORS 107.154.
THE COURT: Correct.
MS. SANZ: He would like this -- and I don't know how more to draft it. Letter says from Ms. Lori "This paragraph should be modified so that when both parties are present at a school function mere presence will not be a violation of the protective order."
I think that's common sense already is it is, but if you want that in there, I guess I have no objection to it, but it's --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Well, are we going to violate the consent decree?
THE COURT: Well, let's just add that sentence, then, that it's not to be construed as a violation when both parents present.
MS. SANZ: The next item is 3 F, no contact with the school staff, medical staff, etcetera, and he wants language to say that any inadvertent contact is permitted.
THE COURT: I'm going to leave it like it is.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Where do you see that?
THE COURT: This is on page six, line 18.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No, no. Cristina, where do you see that I asked for that?
MS. SANZ: On Beth's letter, her paragraph 12. It's page four of her letter.
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, have we covered everything?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No. Let's see.
MS. SANZ: There is one issue that he raised with me, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay, tell me about it. I'm sorry, I thought you said we had the last one.
MS. SANZ: I had forgotten about this one.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: A lot of forgetting on the other side.
MS. SANZ: Last weekend Mr. Coutsoukis was supposed to have -- Two weekends ago Mr. Coutsoukis was supposed to have his visitation for the every other weekend. Teddy was hospitalized, so Ms. Samora scheduled that his visit would be made up this past weekend, since he missed that last weekend. Mr. Coutsoukis essentially wants make-up visits for whenever the child is hospitalized, and --
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Well, no, no, no.
THE COURT: Okay, what do you want, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay, number one, when Teddy was out of the hospital on Sunday, Susan refused to allow me to bring her over, and --
THE COURT: So what is it you want, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: When she decided on this weekend, I said If I see her this weekend, fine, but, but let's not deprive me every the regularly scheduled --
THE COURT: Mr. Coutsoukis, tell me what you want.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Okay, I wanted to say that if she misses a visitation, she will make it up the following week, and then we go to the normal schedule, meaning the following week. In other words, If I have week two and four, and on week two I'm not allowed to see her because Susan has some reason, and I see her on week three instead, I still get to see her week four as previously scheduled, that we do not move the schedule forward every time Susan misses a visitation, because then I get screwed on schedule.
THE COURT: You're correct.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: And I asked Susan about this, and she doesn't want me to --
THE COURT: Well, I've ruled, and you're correct.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Can we say that, Cristina, some way?
THE COURT: Yes, we can. Anything else, Mr. Coutsoukis?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Yes.
THE COURT: What?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: There is a statement from the CDC which we requested --
THE COURT: No, sir, this is about this decree. That's all we're talking about today. Anything else on the language of this order?
MR. COUTSOUKIS: No.
THE COURT: Okay. Thank you, sir. That concluded the hearing on this. Ms. Sanz will make the changes that we've talked about that I've ordered, and then they'll be presented to me for signature, they'll be submitted to you, Mr. Coutsoukis, in accordance with the local rule that requires them to be submitted to you first.
Thank you, sir.
MR. COUTSOUKIS: Thank you, Your Honor.
MS. SANZ: Thank you.
. . .
STATE OF OREGON )
COUNTY OF JACKSON )
I, BEN GAULT, an Official Court Reporter for the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for Jackson County, hereby certify that the foregoing 27 pages of printed matter constitute a full, true and correct transcript of my verbatim stenographic notes taken at the time and place specified in the caption hereof.
DATED at Medford, Oregon this 30th day of December, 1997.
Ben Gault, CSR
State of Oregon
Certified Shorthand Reporter
Certificate No. 90-0031
Thank you for making this an award winning site
By Photius Coutsoukis, Respondent.
"I Was There"
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