"The C . . . I . . . A . . ."




             “Judge, it is imperative that the tapes of these proceedings be destroyed!”  The young lawyer from Washington, D.C. was both sincere and strident in his argument.  When I told him there was “no way” that I would authorize the destruction of the tapes, he asked me if I loved my country.  This brought a small smile to my face, as the inexperienced lawyer seemed to transform into a caricature of a G-Man from the 1950’s. 


            There is very little of the broad expanse of American life left unexposed to a Family Court judge.  Divorce impacts people from all occupations, including secret agents.  The husband in this case worked as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.  At each preliminary hearing, the wife’s attorney, a forceful and effective advocate, would always find a way to announce in a stage whisper – audible throughout the courtroom – that the husband worked for the  “C . . . I . . . A . . . “.  He emphasized that he had trouble accurately ascertaining the husband’s income because he ran two businesses that were CIA front operations.  He presented a strong argument that he had an obligation to determine the finances of all businesses in which the husband held an interest and to ascertain the value of his interest. 


            I explained to the husband, his attorney and the government attorney that I understood that the husband and the government wanted to protect top secret information but, as the Family Court judge, I had to allow the wife’s attorney to conduct financial discovery concerning all of the husband’s financial dealings.  I then suggested that if the matter was as important to the CIA as was represented in Court, then it would make sense for the CIA to help the husband resolve the matter by meeting the wife’s financial request for settlement.


           I suppose it is fitting that in the end the case was as clandestine and intriguing as it was at the beginning: the wife received her settlement, but I will never know if the husband paid, the CIA paid, or both.  As for the tapes, there was less mystery there – by special impoundment order they are held separately under lock and key in the judge’s lobby.


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