Call Your Mother! The Judge Says You Have To

A thousand jokes come to life.


Jean Rosenbaum managed to get an "order requiring the plaintiff Richard Rosenbaum, her son, to telephone her no less than once every three months and to meet her in person at least once each year." To be fair, we should note that her son and daughter-in-law sought an injunction "to restrain [the mother] from contacting the plaintiffs by telephone at their home or at their places of employment, and from contacting any personnel at their places of employment." The judge issued such an order, but provided:

Plaintiff Richard Rosenbaum shall telephone defendant no less than once every three months, which telephone conversation by Richard shall extend for no less than one minute.

At least once each year, starting on or about September 26, 1986, Richard Rosenbaum and defendant shall meet in person at a neutral place to be agreed upon, with arrangements to be made through Edward A. Berman or one of defendant's other children.

The order must be vacated, the trial court later held, and the court of appeals agreed:

In the instant case, plaintiff son has chosen not to keep in touch with his mother. This is a sad and unfortunate situation; however, it takes more than a mere secular tribunal to command filial devotion.

The case is Rosenbaum v. Rosenbaum (Ill. App. Ct. 1989); old news, I realize, but I just came across it.

NEXT: No Sealing of Case Based on "Defendant['s] ... Damaging Assertions Against Plaintiffs"

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  1. You often find the most interesting opinions from family law cases.

    I remember having an assignment during law school of going and observing the local courts and noting the evidentiary objections and issues in family law cases as opposed to civil and criminal cases.

    It was like a different world.

  2. Mr. Volokh often cites “amusing” cases like this one. I wonder why he never cites other “amusing” cases, like the time the New York Times fired David Boies’ law firm for its ‘reprehensible’ work for Harvey Weinstein. Isn’t it a bit “amusing” that one of the most respected lawyers in America would get down in the mud on behalf of, well, Harvey Weinstein? Sure, everyone deserves a good defense, but does that include spying on reporters to prevent your client’s “activities” from being exposed? For a paper that you’re representing? The Volokh Conspiracy covers a wide variety of fascinating and important topics, but the embarrassing fact that a very large percentage of the American legal community’s funding comes from covering the ass of the rich somehow never comes up for comment.

    1. “but the embarrassing fact that a very large percentage of the American legal community’s funding comes from covering the ass of the rich somehow never comes up for comment.”

      First, if you don’t like the subjects the VC covers, read something else. Or ask Blackman. I mean, the guy writes about 500 posts a day. I’m sure he has the bandwidth.

      Second, if you are shocked and surprised that lawyers make their money working for the rich, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

      1. I think he would be more interested in my beach front property in Kansas.

    2. Maybe he never cites that case because there was no actual case to cite. NYT fired a law firm. So what? They can do that for any reason or none. As far as I know, no law or court decision was broken or even implicated.

      1. It is kinda hard to follow, but I think he is actually praising the NYT for firing Boies’ firm, and condemning the firm for their ‘reprehensible’ representation.

    3. I don’t see the point of criticizing someone for not doing something that is unrelated to the topic and they have no obligation to do.

  3. I like your restraint in not speculating about the parties’ ethnicity given their family name, or referring to stereotypes in that regard.

    1. Had he done that it would have been a “microaggression.”

    2. The first thing I thought of when I saw the case caption was the Dr. Rosenrosen scene in Fletch. I chuckled, and then I got a little depressed, because that scene is 35 years old.

      1. I get depressed when I think of Fletch, because I think that Fletch was funny, and Vacation was funny, and then I remember that Chevy Chase is a giant (posterior)hole.

        1. I learned a long time ago to segregate politics and personality from my evaluation of art and artists.

          1. Politics?

            I was thinking more that he was such a giant (posterior)hole, no one wanted to work with him in Hollywood.

            Given his (early) talent, it is impressive how few credits he has. Mostly because, even in the world of Hollywood, Chevy Chase stands out for everyone hating him. Seriously- just think about how much of a giant knob you have to be to stand out in the crowd. Really.

            1. I included both personality and politics.

              In Chevy’s case, he was also able to make his obnoxious personality stand out through his truly heroic consumption of cocaine.

              He’s funny in Community too, though.

              1. I loved Community!

                Chevy was great in that … until he had to leave the show because he was such an amazing …. (posterior)hole. And it wasn’t the cocaine. 🙂

                Seriously, it’s really really hard in Hollywood to have such a terrible personality that it costs you opportunities. I mean, usually having a terribly personality is required to be a star.

                1. I agree that it is sad to see talented people screw up their careers by being jerks/knuckleheads and/or through drug and alcohol abuse.

                  It is sometimes even clearer in sports, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden being two examples from my youth.

                  1. Sports and Hollywood are similar in that way.

                    You will be enabled for as long as your talent > headache.

    3. Martinned: Come now, surely the subtitle (“A thousand jokes come to life”) qualifies! I was trying to be a bit subtle, but only a bit.

  4. That is amusing. I’m glad to see that it was overturned though. I can see a excuse for mandating contact for underage children, but once your an adult, well the ones who overturned it summed it up pretty well.

    1. I don’t see much of an excuse for mandating contact for underage children, especially not if both parents agree to no contact. I should think there ought to be a very strong presumption that the parents wishes to enforce no contact be respected unless there is some sort of very strong evidence that outside supervision of the kids is required. But in that case, I would think the evidence would suggest the custody might be transferred to the grand parents (or some other 3rd party) and the parents would be asking for visitation!

  5. This is sad. Mom has no doubt tried many things. I wonder if she’s tried looking within.

  6. Some people are so toxic in your life it is much better to refrain from all contact with them as much as possible. It is not within the courts authority or power to make that decision for you.

  7. Plaintiff Richard Rosenbaum shall telephone defendant no less than once every three months, which telephone conversation by Richard shall extend for no less than one minute.

    When I was eight, my parents sent me to summer camp, which made us write a letter to our parents once a week. (This was ancient times, mind you, when people communicated by writing letters on paper and mailing them. I know, hard for the younger generation to ponder.)

    So I wrote to my parents:

    Dear Parents,
    I am writing to you because my counselor said I have to.
    Your Son.

    One wonders if this order had been upheld, what kind of one-minute conversation the son would have had with Mom once every three months.

    “Hey Mom, the judge ordered me to phone you once every three months for at least a minute. So I am calling you. How are you? Oh, whoops, minute’s up. Talk to you in three months.”

  8. A few people are so poisonous in your life it is greatly improved to avoid all contact with them however much as could be expected. It isn’t inside the courts PTCL Duplicate Bill authority or ability to settle on that choice for you.

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