Over the next few weeks I am going to spend an unnecessary amount of time preparing to go to court yet again in what feels like a never-ending, and for the most part, avoidable custody battle.
The mere thought of returning to court for my biannual battle with the ex is time consuming, unproductive, expensive and rivaling the Crusades for the longest war known to man. But enough about me for the moment. Everyone has problems, right?
I only bring up my own issues as a point of reference, the proverbial “sign post up ahead” as Rod Serling so famously said. My loathing of endless, angry, unresolved litigation comes in stark contrast to the resolution found last week between two families whose court case involved a matter of life and death.
In Los Angeles County Superior Court. Ani Voskanian, a 21-year-old Tujunga woman, pleaded no contest Friday to striking and killing 80-year-old Glendale resident Misak Ranjbar with her car last year while she was texting and driving. The plea allows Voskanian to avoid a possible guilty verdict, which could have meant serving time in jail.
Instead, Voskanian will serve three years formal probation, 300 hours of community service and lecture junior and high school students on the dangers of texting while driving. Her license was also revoked for three years, according to her attorney.
Like many people, I have been stunned at the site of drivers weaving and swerving just for the sake of checking their Facebook page. And I have often thought of how I might react to having some kind of road mishap because someone thought it was more important to tweet about Michelle Bachman’s latest political gaffe than pay attention to the road.
As I have passionately advocated for stiffer penalties against texting drivers on several occasions in this column, you’d probably expect me to voice some sort of outrage that no jail time will be handed out in a case where a life was lost and texting and driving seemed to be a contributing factor.
I was about to do just that when I read how Roger Ranjbar, son of the victim, decided to react. Evidently, Ranjbar told Glendale police Det. Ashraf Mankarios that the possibility of Voskanian going to jail for years appeared to be more of a punishment than a lesson.
Ranjbar also wrote the court on Voskanian’s behalf in the hopes of reducing her felony charge to a misdemeanor. And he offered to go with Voskanian and lecture on the dangers of texting while driving.
No slings and arrows. No looking for self-righteous retribution. Instead, an olive branch was extended as a way of beginning the healing process for all parties.
I’ve never met Roger Ranjbar and know nothing of his family, but I do know that releasing the anger and moving toward healing is an admirable move — one which will ultimately let him and his family preserve the memory of their father in a loving light instead of diminishing his life by dwelling any longer than necessary on the tragic event that took him.
In the end, having Voskanian out there advocating in schools against texting and driving as a real-life example of what could go wrong is a more beneficial use of time served.
Which brings me back to how this might apply to my and others’ court battles. Anger and resentment are like a cancer when it comes to litigation. I’ve seen firsthand how destructive those negative emotions can be — not just on the litigants, but on people close to the fray.
They delay any kind of healing and erase anything that was ever good in a relationship, making it impossible to see the other person as anything but an enemy. Sadly there are no winners in this kind of struggle.
Any victory that comes as a result of righteous indignation is a hollow one. It’s the smart ones, like Ranjbar, who realize that and get on with their lives.
GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.