Fighting Back – How to Handle the Narcissist in Court

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There is a good chance that you have either encountered your particular narcissist in a court setting or you will do. This is because of two factors which are especially prevalent with our kind:-

1.      Our behaviour results in the necessity of bringing court action;

2.      Our need to win prolongs such court action necessitating a court hearing.

Most people either avoid behaving in a way which causes a legal action to occur in the first place or if legal action occurs, they look to mediate and bring about a settlement without the necessity of a final court hearing. The three main arenas in which you will find a narcissist involved in a court hearing are as follows:-

1.      Proceedings involving children – whether it is proving parentage, addressing issues of residence or contact and similar;

2.      Criminal proceedings where the narcissist has committed a crime against you;

3.      Proceedings involving property or money – usually divorce proceedings, but will also include proceedings for child support, the return of money or property owed, or you may even be on the receiving end of a claim brought by the narcissist.

I am not referring in this article to the actual legal action itself, I have addressed that in the articles Courting Trouble and The Dirty Divorce which both give you insight as to how we approach the legal process. This article is about what you can expect and what you should consider doing at a court hearing where we will be present.

The first aspect of this is to understand our mind set. What do we want to achieve from this court hearing and how do we regard this hearing?

1.      As you would expect, we want fuel. We want fuel chiefly from you – whether you are angry, frustrated or upset – but we also want to gain fuel from the lawyers, the judge, the jury, the reporters, the police, the probation service, the experts and anybody else who happens to be in the court room.

2.      The hearing is a stage for us. We are the main attraction and as a consequence we regard this as an opportunity for us to make it all about us. This means that we will draw attention to ourselves, we will pass comment repeatedly about what is being said (even though it is not necessary or appropriate for us to speak), we will engage in exaggerated gestures to draw attention to ourselves – headshaking, nodding, waving our arms around, pointing and so on – even when we are not in the dock or giving evidence.

3.      Exhibiting our usual contradictory behaviour, we revel in the fact that we have been given this stage for the gathering of fuel but we also resent the fact that we are having to appear in court. If we are taking action against you, we resent having to give up our time to do so. If we are defending a claim brought by you or involving you, then it is all your fault that we are facing this imposition on our freedom of activity and you are impinging on our sense of entitlement to do as we please.

4.      We are here to win. We do not ordinarily engage in compromise (unless doing so provides us with a further advantage) and therefore we want to win by getting what we regard as ours, keeping what we regard as ours, defeating you and escaping charges. Whatever the nature of this hearing, our intention is to win because this accords with our sense of superiority.

5.      We do not recognise the authority of anybody inside the court room because we out rank them all. The judge is an idiot, the expert does not know what she is talking about, your lawyer is a fool, our lawyer is only good because we are his or her client, the jury consists of morons, the child psychologist is biased and so on and so forth. We are doing everybody a huge favour by turning up at court.

6.      We will not accept anything which goes against us. This is as a consequence of our sense of entitlement and also our inherent need to escape accountability. Any witness which gives evidence against us is a liar, any ruling against us is biased, the expert which provides evidence against us is bent, the police officer who testifies against us is corrupt and we can stand when we want, sit when we want, speak when we want and we will argue with anybody and everybody who tries to shackle us in some way.

7.      This hearing is a marvellous opportunity to provoke you, intimidate you and punish you and we will be looking to use this court hearing to achieve these things. Be in no doubt that the instigation of court proceedings against you is a hoover. Any court hearing (whether you started the legal process or not) is seen as an opportunity to hoover you because you are there. You have entered our sphere of influence, so there is a Hoover Trigger, we know there is fuel on offer (because of the heightened emotional nature of a court hearing) and we have a direct means of engaging with you, thus the bar is lowered on the Hoover Execution Criteria, accordingly we will want to engage with you and we will keep trying throughout the hearing. We will stare at you, try to speak to you, goad you, make comments when you are giving evidence, gesture at you and engage in any action which allows us to interface with you in order to draw fuel.

It is worth explaining how the three schools of narcissism will generally behave so you can factor this into your considerations.

The Lesser Narcissist will not be able to keep his fury under control. He will engage in frequent outbursts, threats and protestations. This means his lawyer (if he has one) will be tasked with trying to calm him down, there are likely to be frequent adjournments (continuances) to allow the over heated Lesser to cool down for ten minutes or so and the smooth running of the hearing will become fractured. Do not be surprised if a brawl breaks out and the Lesser is held in contempt of court and removed from the court room.

The Mid-Range Narcissist will see this as an opportunity to provide an Oscar worthy performance as if she is starring in a Shakespearean tragedy. Frequent pity plays, turning on the water works, fluttering eyelashes, dramatic pauses, feigned fainting fits, requests for adjournments so she can compose herself, asking for a glass of water and so on. All attention seeking, all designed to delay and garner sympathy from all of those in the court room and most of all designed to test your patience because you have seen it all before and can see through it.

The Greater Narcissist poses the most significant problem for you albeit you are far less likely to have been ensnared by one since the Lesser and Mid-Range are far more common. The Greater, having a far more scheming mind, greater level of control and a Machiavellian mind will apply considerable manipulation in order to secure the win for himself and therefore his approach will be more subtle, more effective and harder to displace.

Knowing our mind set and how we approach the court hearing, what should you do?

1.      Ensure your lawyer, if you are using one, fully understands narcissistic personality disorder and has dealt with our kind previously. This is fundamental. If you do not, not only do you run the risk of not being believed by your own lawyer (and probably regarded as a fantasist, histrionic and so on) he or she stands to be manipulated by us so that they pressure you into accepting a situation which is less beneficial for you – expect comments such as “He seems like a decent enough chap and wants to put this behind him, so you might want to consider this new proposal” or “It is clearly upsetting her having to deal with this, so I should imagine we can get a settlement sooner than later.”

2.      Ensure anybody who is invited to conduct an assessment of the narcissist for the purpose of the court proceedings – for example a court appointed psychologist or a probation officer – understands what NPD is and has dealt with it before. Similar reasons to those advanced at one above are applicable to this as well.

3.      Arrive at court early. Do this to ensure you are not arriving flustered but also so you can secure a consultation room prior to court. In criminal proceedings you may have victim support available to assist you in this regard, but in matrimonial, financial and child applications there is no guarantee of this. Securing a consultation room is very important. This is so you can have discussions with your lawyer etc privately, but also because it creates a barrier between you and us. If you have to sit or stand in a public area, we will be hovering trying to catch your eye, we will walk over and speak to you, we will stand nearby and speak in a loud voice, cracking jokes etc to unnerve you. Get a consultation room and sit with your back to the door so that you cannot see us keep walking past through the window because we will do this.

4.      Ensure you are prepared. Arriving early allows you to compose yourself, gather yourself, get your bearings and ensure you are focused. This is especially important if you are representing yourself. We are more likely to try and wing things because of our expected right to win owing to our sense of entitlement.

5.      Do not expect our lawyer to see through us. They will have little idea what we are, they will be manipulated by us and ultimately they are our hired gun. Accordingly, whilst it may seem that our lawyer is just as bad as us, keep in mind why this appears to be the case and this will provide you with reassurance.

6.      During the hearing ensure as far as possible that there is somebody between you and us who will block a direct eyeline. When we give evidence from the witness stand or appear in the dock we will be eyeballing you in order to draw fuel. Do not look at us. You ignoring us will criticise us, wound us and may cause an ignition of fury. An ignition of fury is likely to assist you because in such a situation we are far more likely to lash out at other people, thus showing the true colours and inviting the disapproval of those in attendance.

7.      Give us enough rope and all (save the most controlled Greater) will hang themselves. Your aim is to bring about an ignition of fury. This should not be done by goading us (as this is fuel) but by ignoring us. This will wound us and our need for fuel will mean that we will lash out at others. This might be arguing, shouting, insulting, being sulky, storming from the court room and so forth. Whilst you will be explaining to the court about our unreasonable behaviour the best thing to rely on is us exhibiting this ourselves and the best way is to cause the ignition of our fury. This will not take much with the Lesser at all and thus the court will be able to see our true colours in all their glory which will damage our position and improve ours.

8.      By comparison we will be doing all we can to make you react and accord with the picture that we will have painted you as, namely a liar, violent, unhinged, crazy, promiscuous, hot-tempered and so on. Not only will your reaction give us fuel and tell us we can keep provoking you to get more, we are also damaging your prospects of success. We have always known how to draw a reaction from you and we will be counting on this in this final court hearing, so prepare yourself and increase your resolve to give no reaction. No reaction means no fuel. No fuel weakens us. No fuel means we have to draw it elsewhere. No fuel increases the chance of your comments and actions wounding us resulting in an ignition of fury.

9.      When giving your evidence, do not look at us or our lawyer but rather direct all your replies to the judge. Not only will this make you feel calmer but it will criticise us because you are ignoring us. It also lessens the control we have over you (either direct or through our lawyer).

10. When giving evidence do not challenge us or our lawyer with your own questions. That is not the time to do it. It will fuel us and also indicates to us that we are getting to you, which will encourage further provocation.

11. When giving your evidence or making submissions, do so in a fuel free manner. Remember we are just waiting to lap that fuel up and therefore you need to get your emotions under control and deny that to us.

12. Ensure your lawyer understands that all discussions are lawyer to lawyer and take place outside of the consultation room. Your lawyer can then return to you and convey the upshot of those discussions.

13. Ensure you take a trusted friend with you who stays with you throughout and acts as barrier should we try to speak to you, enter the consultation room, follow you to the toilets, cafeteria and so on.

14. Always refuse any attempt we make to get you on your own by having a “heart to heart to sort this out”. This is just a ruse to isolate you and drawn fuel from you. If you are not represented, use your trusted friend to convey messages so you keep a barrier between you and us. Your whole approach should be as if we do not actually exist. That way you will provide no fuel, feel less anxious and you will cause criticism.

15. Be aware that we will use third parties to approach you and also turn up with Lieutenants and coterie members in tow. They should also be ignored and not engaged with in the ways described above.

16. Refresh your mind beforehand of all the forms of manipulation that we engage in so you know to spot them when they are rolled out at court.

17. Do not give in unnecessarily just to make the matter go away. We are counting on that. The longer you stick to your guns (without being patently unreasonable as to what you wish to achieve) the more likely you are to cause us to erupt which will either cause us to walk off and thus matters are more likely to go against us, we lose interest in the process and agree to a deal (be mindful you will have to enforce it as we will not stick to it even if agreed) just to be able to go and do something else or the eruption in itself will go against us in some way.

18. Be aware we will try to get messages to you to draw a reaction from you. This means passing notes, texting you/ringing you (you may consider it prudent to switch off your ‘phone and organise for urgent messages to be sent to your lawyer/trusted friend instead) , through social media,  through third parties and even using the court tannoy under some pretext.

19. You will experience frustration with how we are behaving. Whether it is milking the situation through pity plays, engaging in a character assassination when giving evidence and/or asking questions, smearing you and raking up sensitive matters, this is all being done to provoke a reaction from you and gain fuel. Understand this will happen and know it will feel unpleasant but focus on keeping yourself fuel-free which will aid your outcome.

20. The reason most court hearings have to go to a final hearing is as a consequence of the unreasonableness of one of the other parties, otherwise it will settle beforehand through agreement being reached. We of course revel in unreasonableness owing to our sense of expectation, refusal to accept blame and desire to draw fuel. There will be occasions where we can pull the wool over people’s eyes and get the result we want, but this is usually because the non-narcissist has fallen into one of the traps detailed above and failed to maximise their chances. If you adhere to these points the unreasonable position of the narcissist will eventually come to the fore and be rejected by a judge.

21. When leaving the court wait for some time to ensure that we have left the vicinity (this also applies to lunchtime adjournments) as if we remain at liberty we will be looking to pounce on you to draw fuel. This might be gloating if we have been successful or to berate you if the hearing has gone against us. Be mindful of being ambushed by us in this manner.

22. Don’t use social media to comment on the forthcoming court hearing, comment during it or afterwards. This is likely to fuel us in some way and may invite response from us or our coterie.

Knowing who you are dealing with, how we will seek to manipulate you, how we want to use the platform to gain fuel from you and applying the above recommendations will serve you considerably well when you have a final court hearing involving our kind.

Except when Judge Tudor is presiding.

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40 thoughts on “Fighting Back – How to Handle the Narcissist in Court”

  1. Thank you very much for this post and also for the other two you posted last year, HG. Very valuable information.

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  2. My friend is dealing with a divorce case now with her narc… Thank you will be carefully translating it for her this weekend ❤

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  3. Great information! Your last line was tongue in cheek I know, but it can be quite a carnival when the Judge and/or Lawyer, Chief Investigator, witnesses, etc are Narcs. I’m sure the theatre of it all is the cause of many cases being dragged out longer than need be.

    In a humourous aside: StepN went to court for careless driving with my Mother in tow (who has been ordered to repeat his version in an endless loop to get it right). They appear before the Judge and he tells his version (complete horseshit and of course not his fault).

    Judge: Thank you. Now I would like to (turning to focus on my Mother) ask a few questions of your wife. Mrs……..

    StepN: (interrupting) What do you want to talk to her for? Shes only going to tell you the same thing!

    (Courtroom erupts in laughter)
    Judge: (still smiling) Well that may be the case but I would like to hear it from her.
    StepN: (does the dramatic shrug and ok face with palms held out)

    (More courtroom laughter)
    He gets off with a slap on the wrist

    Funny but not really.

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  4. Could you tell me how this would play out with a mid range charged with a criminal offense? This is a life felony for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. Is there any chance he would not fight and except a plea deal to save the embarrassment of a trial? Other aspects of his secret life will be exposed as well. I don’t see him admitting to any of these horrific acts, yet just being charged should expose him for who he really is, thus… no more masks – game over. I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you HG.

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  5. this is one of your finest posts. And had me chuckling actually. You damn damn people are lunatics!!. Lol. Although not so amusing when one is in the midst of it; this article was rather amusing, TUDOR.

    It seems to me that many different characters write your posts. Whether it is your various personas or actual various people, this one is the best methinks.

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  6. Thank you for the artical. If we can ever get a court date I am confident the decision will not please my ex.

    I am worried about what a narc does after what he percieves as a loss. I can’t find any articals on this topic.

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    1. Generally speaking, a loss equates to criticism which wounds. This will invariably result in the ignition of fury dependent on the type of narcissist.

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  7. HG,
    Should I anticipate the same fight from my Narc who is facing a life sentence? The charges against him are humiliating. I had hoped he may except a plea deal to prevent further embarrassment during a lengthy trial.

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  8. Wow HG!!! Were you in the courtroom when my victimized alcoholic narcissist sued me? I was sued over a house that I bought with my ex. He wouldn’t take a reasonable buyout (he demanded 3x the amount) and he sued me to force the sale instead. After he discarded and sued me, I discovered some stolen intellectual property from his company in the house. Yes, I turned him in. As a result, he lost his 6-figure high-profile job, he lost his professional reputation, he is facing federal charges for misappropriation, he lost money in legal fees, at the last court hearing he had been unemployed for a year, and the judge gave me all the possessions that he left behind when he discarded me and moved in with his new supply (about 20k in new appliances and furniture that he bought). To add insult to injury, he was ordered to pay 1/2 the mortgage on the house that he no longer lived in while unemployed and until there was a resolution. And (to the judges dismay) he kept fighting me. In the end, I agreed to sell the house and his payout barely covered his legal fees. It didn’t cover the money lost on the mortgage payments for the house he couldn’t enjoy. It wasn’t worth losing his livelihood. What gives? Why wouldn’t he just take the buyout and his new supply and move on?

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  9. I have lost all faith in the justice system through being a journalist, reporting on crimes and criminal cases and seeing the media corrupted as it is. This was before I sought help for domestic violence, when narc police told me to ‘move on’ or re-traumatising me by playing with me. The Victims of Crime counsellors were narcissists. I even got hoovered from them via emails long after I told them I didn’t need help.
    This is a stinking, disgusting world where you’re on your own.

    I think that’s why I came to identify with my narc family. Not because I loved them but because they were right in so many ways.

    How does a narcissist feel seeing an empath acting like one of them? Or at least, playing without a conscience?

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  10. You were correct as usual HG. I honestly didn’t think he (ex midrange child molester) would ever deploy a sympathy, pity play in court. He did! Just as you said he would. So glad Judge Tudor was not presiding! He was not having any of his bs. This was a hearing to modify the conditions of his bond. He wants off the gps monitor. The monitor is big, bulky and humiliating. Therefore his dating, gym and boating days are over.
    He has not broken the court ordered no contact, but he did everything in his power to try and get my attention in the court room. Thanks to your advise I didn’t even give him the satisfaction of eye contact. I arrived late with a support person. I sat in the back and turned to her every time he would turn around to look at me. We would talk, smile & laugh…I could feel this wounding him. I wrote the Judge and gave the letter to the States Attorney just prior to court so that he and his attorney would not have long to discuss it. I watched as he and his attorney read over my letter. When counsel got up to hand the letter back to the state, he put his head in is hands, then in his lap. After he lost his pathetic argument, I turned my back to him as he left the courtroom.
    This was the first time I felt any hope. I seized the power and it was such a tremendous relief. All thanks to you HG! I could not have done this without you!!

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  11. You were correct as usual HG. I honestly didn’t think he (ex midrange child molester) would ever deploy a sympathy, pity play in court. He did! Just as you said he would. So glad Judge Tudor was not presiding! He was not having any of his bs. This was a hearing to modify the conditions of his bond. He wants off the gps monitor. The monitor is big, bulky and humiliating. Therefore his dating, gym and boating days are over.
    He has not broken the court ordered no contact, but he did everything in his power to try and get my attention in the court room. Thanks to your advise I didn’t even give him the satisfaction of eye contact. I arrived late with a support person. I sat in the back and turned to her every time he would turn around to look at me. We would talk, smile & laugh…I could feel this wounding him. I wrote the Judge and gave the letter to the States Attorney just prior to court so that he and his attorney would not have long to discuss it. I watched as he and his attorney read over my letter. When counsel got up to hand the letter back to the state, he put his head in is hands, then in his lap. After he lost his pathetic argument, I turned my back to him as he left the courtroom.
    This was the first time I felt any hope. I seized the power and it was such a tremendous relief. All thanks to you HG! I could not have done this without you!!

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  12. I believe I’m dealing with a greater narcissist. I’m terrified. Can you offer additional advice for this level?

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  13. How will a narcisist react if they know you have managed to get a case against them re opened and they face court and exposure and possible jail ?

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  14. This is awesome advice – very timely. Nearly ten years later, we are back in court. Ten years ago, nothing like your site existed on the web – so glad it does now, thank you.

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  15. I’m currently in a situation with my narc ex. He basically wont return a car I paid for. The only reason it had to be put in his name is because im currently medically restricted from driving and last year we made the agreement that it would still be my car (I just cant be the one driving it until im healed). I didnt want it under my moms name because shes already a narc and my dad lives out of state. Am thinking of taking the ex to court because he won’t return my car after the break up. I even made a deal that we can sell it and he can keep half the funds (he already has his own car anyways) but he refuses. In fact, what hurt the most is that he wouldn’t do this after he found out about my medical condition getting worse. Im a young adult in college with organ failure and need funds for surgery ASAP. I wanted him to take my car I paid for off his name so I can sell it and use the funds for surgery so I don’t potentially die. Is that too much to ask??? 🙁

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  16. Wow this is such a good article and so helpful. Thank you for the information on how to fight back against someone that has no remorse, no accountability for their actions, plays a victim when there a predictor, and they take what they want.

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