You may be seated. -Hello, Your Honor.
-Hello. This is the case
ofPortis v. Middlebrooks.Thank you, Jerome.
Good day, everyone. [audience] Good day. Mr. Portis,
you and your mother have petitioned the court for a DNA test because you are certain you are not the father of the defendant’s
daughter, Avah. [Portis] Correct,
Your Honor. [Judge Lake] You say
your life has been ruined and need today’s
paternity results to set the record straight. -Is that correct?
-Correct, Your Honor. Ms. Middlebrooks,
you say you are tired of the plaintiff’s
paternity denial, and you and your aunt
claim he better step up once these results prove
he’s Avah’s father, -is that correct?
-Yes, Your Honor. Mr. Portis, explain
to the court why today’s results
are so important. This started
about two years ago. I started paying child support
$75 for this baby and I never knew
if she was mine or not.-We never took a DNA test.
-[audience]Aw!We tried to, but it didn’t
go through.[Jasmine] Don’t you have
to get a DNA -before you can be
put on child support?
-We went together. You didn’t show up
to court twice. -[Portis] It was once.
-So hold on. You’re paying child support
for this baby? -Yes.
-[Trent] Yes. -Thousands of dollars.
-[Judge Lake] But you say
you’ve never had a DNA test? No. And that’s because
you had a court date– -[Sheila] And he missed it.
-And you missed it. [Trent] He missed court date. So you were named
father by default– And they established
at the time… -Yeah.
-[Judge Lake] That’s how
it works. -Yes.
-Thank you. [Trent] True. But after
that happened, we had tried to get it
all situated out by trying to get
two tests done with this court. I can actually look at my court records and see. You had a court date on my docket the last year. Ms. Middlebrooks
didn’t show up. -[audience] Ooh.
-No. Right. ‘Cause I preferred to do this outside
of this. Why do we have
to come here for him to finally
do a DNA test? I went to get swabbed, I did the whole thing
that I was supposed to do. But she didn’t do it. Why couldn’t we
do it outside of here? [Judge Lake] So tell me
about the nature of
your relationship with Mr. Portis. Were you boyfriend
and girlfriend? Uh, we started talking first and then eventually
started dating. It happened fast though. [Judge Lake] At what point did you find out
you were pregnant? [Jasmine]Um, a few
months later.[Portis]But when she got
pregnant, we stopped talking.[audience exclaiming] So, like, we weren’t talking at the time that
she got pregnant. Like, we weren’t talking. But when she…
After the fact
that she got pregnant, she hit me up
and was, like,
“Hey, I’m pregnant.” And be prepared
for child support.
And all this other stuff. -Wait. So, wait–
-[Jasmine] We were
definitely together, we were definitely together, I called you after
I got the test. No, we weren’t,
because I found out that she had
another boyfriend. [Judge Lake] Okay, wait,
how did you find out she had another boyfriend? Because I looked
on her Facebook and I seen her
with this dude. And I’m like,
“Who is this?” And then, she like, “Somebody
I used to talk to.” But he was
still in the picture. How did you know that? Because of… After she got pregnant,
a letter she sent him. -[audience exclaiming]
-Wait a minute. I sent the guy a letter
telling him that I was pregnant letting him know
what was going on. Hold on. Wait a minute,
wait a minute. Wait a minute. Now this is exactly why young people don’t have
no business -making babies.
-[audience applauding] You can’t… You can’t even tell a story
to make no sense. Right. Ms. Middlebrooks, what was your relationship
with this other guy? Uh, we were dating. -When?
-Before Bryant Portis. So you dated him before
you dated Mr. Portis? Yes. -But when you met–
-Then he went away
and we broke up. He went away, you all
broke up, then you started
dating Mr. Portis? Yes. How soon after you -and Mr. Portis
-No. …did you find out
you were pregnant? [Jasmine] Um… a month or two later. -A month?
-A month or two later. Your Honor, she…
I took her to the hospital, she found out she was, like,
a month pregnant, the other guy
that they talkin’ about a letter did go out
to him and she told him that she was pregnant
and he is not the father. I didn’t know… We didn’t know
anything about this guy here, we only knew about the other guy
at the time that– But, wait, Ms. Middlebrooks, you knew about this guy,
Mr. Portis, right? -[Jasmine]Yeah.
-[Judge Lake]So why was
your first instinctto send a letter to the guy
that was away?[Jasmine]No. When I found out
I was pregnant,I called him.We pretty much we…
He was distant after— [Trent] When was there
a relationship? I mean,
when were they– Did I have intercourse
with you? Were I with you? -[audience gasping]
-No, I didn’t think so. -Well, nobody
talkin’ to you.
-Your Honor. -Well, I’m talkin’ to you.
-Well, I ain’t talkin’ to you. [overlapping dialogue] -Hold on, ladies.
-[Portis] You can stop
disrespecting my mother. -I’m not talking to you.
-[Portis] That is why
we don’t… -we don’t talk to you,
we don’t like you.
-Ladies! Ladies. Mr. Portis, tell me how you found out
Ms. Middlebrooks was pregnant? -[Portis] She had told me.
-What was your response? I didn’t really believe her
at first, honestly. Why do you think she’d lie? -I don’t know.
-Unfold your arms. I don’t know, Your Honor. I don’t know why she would lie. I just… I didn’t
believe it at the time. Now take ’em
out your pocket. [audience laughing] -So you didn’t believe it?
-[Portis] No. When did it become real? Well, I pulled up to her. I pulled up
to her house one day and I saw that she had
a little bump, so I knew it was real. -[audience laughing]
-Oh, so… So, wait. You… You don’t show at a month or two,
like that soon. No, but what I want to
understand is where you at the birth,
Mr. Portis? No, I was not,
Your Honor. He had the opportunity to, but he wanted
nothing to do with her. Did you go to
doctor’s appointments? -[Jasmine]No.
-[Trent]No.[audience]Aw!-[Jasmine]He had nothing
to do with the pregnancy.
-[Trent]She wasn’t talking-with my son.
-She wasn’t communicating
with my family at all. She wasn’t talking to us
or nothing like that. -Every time she would
talk to us…
-[Trent] How could he… -…she would be disrespectful.
-…go to any appointments
or any of that? -She was not even
talking to my son.
-That’s the only time she would talk to us,
she would be disrespectful. -Who was with you
at the birth? Hold on.
-[Portis] Texting my mom… Hold on. Who was
with you at the birth? -My ex was. He stepped up.
-[woman in audience] Wow. -[Judge Lake] The ex was there?
-She wasn’t messing
with the ex though. Yes. When I had her,
yes, he was there. [audience chuckles] So he was away and by the time
you had the baby, -he was home.
-[Jasmine] Yes. -And he was at the hospital.
-Yes. -And you say he stepped up.
-[Trent] But you gave
my son an opportunity… -Yes.
-[Trent] What? Your son wanted nothing -to do with me
or the pregnancy.
-He was holdin’ her. You do not know.
You’re not your son. I wasn’t in your business,
I’m his mom. I’m not communicating
with you, I’m communicating
with your son. -I’m his mom, though.
-You’re not being truthful. -Right. Be honest.
Tell the truth.
-Be honest. [Judge Lake] What is she
not being truthful…
Hold on, hold on. [Jasmine] You cover your son– Let’s get some order.
Let’s get some order. Let’s get some order.
Let’s get some order. -Ms. Middlebrooks–
-[Trent] Disrespectful. I realize that you may
not agree with Ms. Trent. But you have to understand that when you’re dealing
with someone who’s your elder, right or wrong, -just keep your mouth shut.
-[Jasmine] That doesn’t
give her– Hold on. -[Judge Lake] I am going
to be very clear.
-[audience applauding] I have not heard her speak badly about you, and if she does,
I will correct her as well. You all can disagree
on the points, but let’s not go there. You’re a young girl
with a beautiful new baby. And we’re here
to support that baby and you. Because if we don’t
get this answer, your child will always live
in limbo… -[Jasmine] Mmm-hmm.
who her father is. -[Trent]Right.
-[Judge Lake]And it’s best
we resolve it.And I know. That’s why when young girls
start poppin’ off like that, I know it’s just coming
from a place of pain. You’re hurt. [audience agreeing] Scared, disappointed,
a whole bunch of things. Just be that. This court room
is about truth, so when you come
into this courtroom, just be in your truth. Mr. Portis, what I want
to know is your truth. Why did you
shrug this off? Why didn’t you go
to any doctor’s appointments, why weren’t you
there at the birth? Why? Her ex that she was
dealing with had contacted me on Facebook. -[audience murmuring]
-Okay, and what did he say? Now I’m starting to understand what’s happening here. What happened? He was basically saying like,
“Yo, Bryant, Jasmine, does she have you
on child support
and stuff like that?” And I’m, like,
“Yeah, she does. She’s been having me
on child support.” He was like, “Well, that’s crazy because
I’m taking care of her too.” -[audience exclaiming]
-So it’s like, -it’s like, it’s just like
a imbalance here.
-Okay, okay, so see, this is what I need to know. You all waited all this time to come in here and act like
you can’t say nothin’. [Portis] He was in her life like he was there,
like, holding her and you know what I’m sayin’, havin’ a relationship
with her… [Judge Lake] But you were
the one on child support. A month? Ms. Middlebrooks, I want to come to you.
To your aunt. When your niece found out -she was pregnant…
-Yes. …who did she tell you
the father was? At the time, the only person
I knew was the ex. -No, I didn’t ask that.
-So… That’s not what I asked. Who did she say
the father was? She said the ex. Okay, I already knew that song. -I said the ex?
-At first. [Trent] But I thought
it was my son on the line. -[Judge Lake] No, no, hold on.
-[Jasmine] Now you really
[bleep] me like that. [Judge Lake] Hold on.
I could tell by the way
you were telling that story that you were trying
to be evasive about something. -[Sheila] But–
-Hold on. Don’t do the but yet. All I’m saying is,
this is what we need to know so we understand why this paternity
question even exists. So when you asked her
who the child’s father is, she told you the ex. All of us, we know
was just the ex. [Judge Lake] Was there
some point where you told Mr. Portis that he was not
the biological father? No, I never told him
he was not the dad, ever. Did she ever tell you you were not the dad,
Mr. Portis? Yes, Your Honor. She told me that I wasn’t
the biological father, she told me to stay out
of their life, don’t talk to her,
don’t be in Avah’s life,
don’t do none of that. I told you if you were
gonna jump in and out,
you might as well stay away. -So therefore, I stopped
talking to them.
-[Trent] When have you been -able to be in our life?
-I don’t talk to them.
I don’t do none of that. You’ve never even
brung the baby around. -Your Honor.
-But she still wanted
my ching ching from me. -Your Honor, this is the thing.
-[audience laughing] -Sixty dollars in two weeks,
come on, y’all.
-[Judge Lake] Hold on. -Seventy-five. $150 a month.
-Hold on. -Get it right.
-[Trent] It’s somethin’. -He didn’t have like a–
-That’s nothin’. -Can’t make too much–
-[Sheila] Be quiet. Stop. -[Judge Lake] Hold on.
-…for a stack. -Come on, bro.
-Let’s get some order.
Let’s get some order. What I want to understand
is Ms. Middlebrooks, if your testimony is you said it was
the ex’s baby how then did you give
his name for child support? That came later on down the line
when she was one. [Sheila] Mmm-hmm. -So they found out–
-[Judge Lake] You did the
child support a year later? Yeah, they found out
much before that that he was the dad. -[Judge Lake] At some point,
you came clean.
-Yes. -Not even long
after that. So…
-[Sheila] Right. So did you let your ex raise
the baby? Avah’s two, is he like…
He was at the hospital, you let him raise her? Yes. Mr. Portis, I want to understand,
from your vantage point, what’s happening? She’s pregnant, the ex is there, you’re just thinking
the ex is the child’s father, do you have any contact,
are you calling to check in? What is your relationship
at that point? -You just completely moved on?
-[Trent] They weren’t talking. We weren’t talking. She told me
to stop talking to her, -don’t talk to them, stay away.
-[Judge Lake] And you knew
nothing until you got that summons which is a year after
Avah was born? -Correct.
-[audience exclaiming] So this child you’ve been
paying child support for… [Portis] Only seen her
four times in my life. -[audience groaning]
-[Trent]And I’ve never
seen the baby.But I’m supposed
to step upand be a grandmother. I didn’t ask you
to step up. I want Bryant
to get the DNA test. You message my phone
talking about your son– What do I need you
to step up for? What do I need…
Yes, because you’re not
encouraging him -to get the DNA test done.
-I cannot be a grandmother
to a baby I’ve never even seen. As his mother, you should
encourage him to get
the test done. -I did.
-You backed out. I did. -I encouraged my son.
-You backed out. Whoa, Lord Jesus. Your Honor, this is the thing. If he was put
on child support, why you didn’t just
go back to the court, file the paperwork,
and take her to court? But do you understand, Ms. Middlebrooks,
when you didn’t show up
to court whether you wanted
to do it or not, that just fueled
his doubt even further? Yeah, I understand. That she’s trying
to avoid something, -she’s got something to hide.
-I understand. She’s not going to… She doesn’t want
to come clean. I understand. Just like when
he didn’t show up
to child support court. -[Judge Lake] I’m sorry?
-Just like when he didn’t
show up to child support court. That’s me telling…
You scared, you running.
That’s how I felt. -That’s how I felt.
-No. No. I wasn’t running. -Your Honor,
can I say something?
-He was at work. -[Sheila] When, Bryant?
-[Jasmine] You can’t call off
of work for one day? Me not being experienced with court and everything
like that– [Trent] I was telling my son -to go to court–
-I didn’t know that I was gonna be defaulted
as the dad if I didn’t go. -‘Cause that was
what’s gonna happen.
-I was in training I was in training
for management and I didn’t know,
that, like, you know
what I’m sayin’ if I was to miss this court
it was gonna be
this big of a situation. -[Judge Lake] Oh, yes.
-Now I know. -[Judge Lake] Yes.
-But I was inexperienced
with all this stuff that was goin’ on
at the time. [Judge Lake] And this is
exactly why I tell people, -you makin’ babies…
-Correct. -…you gotta understand
-Yeah. Correct. -[Judge Lake] So we here now.
-[audience] Mmm-hmm. With all of this drama, there is still
a very real possibility, -you’re Avah’s father.
-[Portis] Yes. [Judge Lake]
And if you’re not,you may not be ableto get yourself
off child support. ‘Cause you now
may have waited too long. -[audience exclaiming]
-That is the court’s decision. -And the court will follow…
-[Trent] That is not right. …what is in the best
interests of the child. [audience murmuring] Sometime we have to learn
lessons the hard way. [Portis] You’re right,
Your Honor. [Judge Lake]
But that doesn’t change
the fact that we’re here now because we don’t know
for certain who Avah’s
biological father is. This thing with the ex is a little bit too close
for comfort for me. I’ve heard many a story. And wherever I hear
one to two months, that’s a window
for error. [audience agreeing] Jerome, I’m ready. [audience applauding] These results
by DNA Diagnostics and they read
as follows. In the case
ofPortis v. Middlebrooks,and they read
as follows. When it comes to… two-year-old
Avah Middlebrooks, it has been determined by
this court, Mr. Portis, you… are the father. -[audience cheering]
-[Jasmine] I told you. You are Avah’s father. [Portis] Thank you,
Your Honor. That is your
beautiful little girl. -[audience]Aw!
-[Portis]Appreciate it.[sniffles] What do you feel,
Ms. Middlebrooks? -Can you tell me?
-Now she knows… [sniffles] Now she knows. -And that’s a relief for you?
-[Jasmine] That’s a relief. When I said one to two months
is too close for comfort, I saw your face and your body language. You nodded in agreement. I think you knew that there was
reason to doubt. Yeah. And I think you did
what many young girls do, is you played both sides
of the coin, you did what we call
the double dip. [audience chuckles] I’m not even laughing,
’cause it’s out of desperation, because you know
you don’t know, but you know you want your child to know
the dad, so you just entertain
them both. [Portis] Which wasn’t right, ’cause now I’ve been
out this baby life for her whole life, like… [Sheila] The thing is,
are you gonna step up now? Well, now that you know,
where do we go from here? I’d like to ask
Ms. Middlebrooks if it would be okay, for Grandma Ms. Trent,
Mr. Portis, to meet baby Avah
in my chambers. I will be there with you. That’s fine. [Judge Lake] But I think
it’s important that they begin to build a bond
with this beautiful little girl because they are
the other half of her world, that she deserves
to know and love. -Is that okay?
-Yes, ma’am. Excellent.
Court is adjourned. [gavel banging]