Tag: lies

Artificial Fraudulence

Seth Godin stated it well when he wrote, “The ease with which someone can invent and spread lies [with advancing technology] is going to take most of us by surprise. It’s going to require an entirely new posture for understanding the world around us.”

This is especially true in family law.

We will soon reach the point (some are there already) in family law where a spouse or parent can create fake email, text, and audio and visual “records” of spousal and child abuse, substance abuse, infidelity, assets and debt, property damage, diminution and dissipation of assets, scientific data, etc. that is all but indistinguishable from the genuine article. The level and volume of fakery will be impossible for all but the wealthiest of litigants to discern (and even then, if a duped judge is too proud or to biased to acknowledge and remedy the fraud, all the proof in the world won’t protect the innocent). When truth is practicably impossible to verify in the legal process, truth becomes meaningless to the process.

I don’t know how best to address this problem (it may already be too late). Unless the profession takes immediate and wise action, the liars will make such a mockery of the legal process so fast and so pervasively that trust in the system will be irreparably destroyed (and with good reason). We may reach a point where society at large gives up on the notion of justice being a function of truth (reality).

One concern I have is members of the profession (both opposing counsel and judges) acting “offended” for outraged or “concerned” if somebody claims that deepfakes and other similar tactics are being engaged. I’m concerned that someone who may in the utmost sincerity raise legitimate concerns about the authenticity and veracity of certain evidence being ridiculed as paranoid, a vexatious litigator, unprofessional, etc. Not out of a genuine belief, but in the hopes that shaming or even persecuting the whistleblower will result in the claims being retracted so that the hard work of getting to the truth can be avoided and or so that the desired outcome is not impeded by the facts. When that happens, then who will judge the judges, and by what standard?

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Is the Johnny Depp divorce trial actually newsworthy?

The divorce trial wasn’t all that newsworthy or memorable (celebrities divorcing is expected), it’s his defamation trial against his ex-wife that is newsworthy. Why? 

Although his defamation case is not as relevant to the country as news that affects us all more directly (like economic news), it is highly relevant in the field of divorce and family law because it has brought nationwide attention to a problem we lawyers have known about forever but that others haven’t: the shabby treatment of men in domestic relations law. 

As recently as one generation ago, the thought of a man being a domestic violence victim was almost unthinkable. That’s not hyperbole. It was literally almost unthinkable. I’m not suggesting that women didn’t have their own legal prejudices to overcome (they clearly did then and to a lesser extent today, they still do), but it was an open secret that, with rare exception, the law ignored male domestic violence victims. 

On second thought, “ignore” is not the most accurate term because that would imply that the law didn’t pay any attention to male domestic violence victims, and that’s not true. It did pay some attention to them, but in the form of arresting, charging, and prosecuting them if they had the guts to speak up. 

What makes Johnny Depp’s defamation action against Amber Heard newsworthy today is because it focused the media’s attention (and thus focused the country’s attention) on a serious problem that needs and deserves to be solved now, not solved eventually. Johnny Depp’s defamation action against Amber Heard reveals: 

– how brazenly a woman can repeatedly commit and get away with physically and emotionally abusing her spouse or boyfriend; 

– how brazenly a woman can repeatedly commit and get away with physically and emotionally abusing her spouse or boyfriend, while claiming—and by claiming—to be the victim herself; and 

– the depth and breadth of institutionalized sexual discrimination that pervades domestic violence laws and their enforcement. 

– that it was (and largely still is) that combination of: 

    • 1) believing that men generally/realistically can’t be victims of domestic violence at the hands of women; and 
    • 2) blaming and prosecuting the man when a man complains of domestic violence that leads so many male domestic violence victims to keep silent (under such circumstances, who can blame them?) 

In fact, while men commit more acts of domestic violence that are more severe than those of women, women commit ever so slightly more “intimate partner” (i.e., domestic) physical violence than do men (30.6% women victims, 31% men victims, according to the CDC). 

Johnny Depp’s defamation suit against his ex-wife is helping to dispel the myths: 

  • that women don’t commit domestic violence against men; 
  • that there are male domestic violence victims (some people really do find that idea surprising); and 
  • that presuming a woman who claims to be a domestic violence victim must be a victim (i.e., “believe all women”) is ridiculous. “Start by believing” is equally ridiculous. Start by investigating. Presume nothing. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How do you go through a custody battle and the only thing they can use is making up lies, manipulating the children to tell lies?

If you want my answer, skip to paragraph three.

1. First, it may be the case (and it may be that you need to acknowledge) that the problem is not simply a matter of lies being told, but also a matter of lies being believed. Lies are useless to the liar (even counterproductive for the liar) unless they are believed.

2. Plenty of divorce litigants lie. Judges have come to expect it. Indeed, in my experience, judges expect to be lied to. As a result, most (most, not all) become skeptical of virtually everything they are told (and when you are lied to on not just a daily, but on an hourly, basis, one can sympathize with them to a point). These kinds of jaded, cynical judges instead rely upon their own subjectivity to deter who are the good guys and bad guys, the winners and losers (i.e., “I know’em when I see’em.”). The problem with this approach is that such judges come to rely upon stereotypes, conventional wisdom, and personal bias as substitutes for the difficult and tedious work of impartially ferreting out the facts and the truth.

3. If you have such a judge in your case, there is little to nothing you can do to overcome or improve your plight. As I see it, there are only two options open to you: 1) provide the court with indisputable, irrefutable independently verifiable proof that your spouse is lying and/or that you are telling the truth; or, if you cannot do that (and few can), then 2) scrutinize and analyze your spouse’s testimonial evidence to expose the contradictions, discrepancies, and other holes in it. In other words, show from your spouse’s own stories how and why it is harder to believe those stories could be true than it is to believe they are lies.

4. Let me give you an example of option 2 from my own cases. First, a little background. In many divorce cases it is standard operating procedure for many wives/mothers to take an “ends justify the means” approach, which includes accusing the husband/father of abusing and/or sexually abusing the children. This is done for the purpose of poisoning the court against the husband/father from the outset of the case, so that the court rules against the husband/father in making its child custody award out of disgust and/or an abundance of caution (i.e., “keep the children away from dad to ensure that IF he is an abuser, he cannot abuse them”[1]; this gambit only works because a) our culture is so willing to believe the lie that most husband/fathers are abusive and that wives/mothers almost never are; and b) even if the mother is caught lying, she is almost never held to account for it by the court.[2] So it was in this particular case where I represented the husband/father.

5. Before the divorce action was filed, the wife/mother filed for a child protective order, but fortunately told a clumsy, inconsistent story about it, which allowed me to persuade her attorney to persuade her to dismiss the request for the child protective order to avoid having her credibility damaged any more than necessary.

6. Of course, wife/mother—wishing to save face—would never admit she dismissed her child protective order case because she’s a liar. Instead, she claimed that she dismissed for child protective order case to “protect” the children from the “trauma” of being questioned about whether their father had abused them. Really, that’s what she claimed. The upshot of the mothers actions and her explanation for them was that she would rather the children continue to have contact with an allegedly abusive father than have the children questioned to see whether they would corroborate their mother’s child abuse allegations against their father.

7. Later, after the divorce action was filed, wife/mother tried to get temporary orders of sole child custody in the divorce action, again trotting out the same child abuse claims as the basis for her motion. I cited the court to the wife’s previous voluntary dismissal of her child protective order case and her bizarre explanation for doing so. Wife’s sole custody motion was denied. It doesn’t always work out this way, but in this case fortunately, it did.



[2] No fines, no jail sentences, no criminal prosecution for making false child abuse reports to courts and law enforcement.* Indeed, it is often the case that even when a parent (especially the mother) is caught lying about abuse claims it doesn’t utterly destroy the parent’s credibility in the eyes of the court. When the odds are so low of a) people being believed for telling the truth; and b) people being punished for lying, it should come as no surprise that people will lie and lie a lot.

*”Why?,” you may ask. Some will justify going easy on liars by arguing that if false abuse reports are harshly punished, then it might have a so-called “chilling effect” on legitimate abuse reporting. In other words, a genuine abuse victim or witness might fail to report the abuse for fear of being branded and punished as a liar. The problem with such a policy is that it ends up creating more victims than it prevents. When the presumption of innocent until proven guilty gets turned on its head, we get a policy and practice of “It is better that 100 innocent men go to jail to help ensure the 1 guilty man doesn’t go free.”

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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I paid my ex in cash for child support. Will the court give me credit for it?

I paid my ex in cash for child support. Will the court give me credit for it?

In Utah (where I practice family law), the answer is: yes. And while I cannot speak for all jurisdictions, I would presume that most other jurisdictions have similar laws or rules in place.

For those of you wondering why this is an important question, this is why: if you don’t have independently verifiable, documented proof that you have paid child support, and the child support payee/recipient claims that you have not paid, the burden is on you and you alone to prove you paid. And if the only evidence of payment that you have is your word against your ex’s, you will lose the argument every single time.

So, before I finish my answer to your question, a word to the wise: never, ever pay child support in cash, if you can avoid it. If you must, for some reason, pay in cash, get a receipt from your ex acknowledging payment (amount paid, date paid). pay child support by check, money order, direct deposit, or through the child support collection agency (in Utah, this state agency’s name is the Utah Department of Human Services Office of Recover Services (known as Office of Recovery Services or just “ORS” for short).

Indeed, in my professional opinion, the best way to pay child support and to have proof you have paid child support, is to have your states child support collection agency garnish your wages (also known as “income withholding”) or to pay child support directly to the child support collection agency. Whether you are garnished or pay child support to the collection agency, the result is the same: the agency will make a record of your payment and forward payment to the child support payee. This way, you cannot ever be accused of not paying child support because the collection agency is responsible for collecting that payment and/or keeps a record of you making payment to the agency, and so it would be virtually impossible for the child support payee to accuse you, successfully, of nonpayment. Just remember that if you don’t let the collection agency garnish or paychecks, and if you pay child support directly to the collection agency, you will still want to keep independent documentation of those payments, in the event the collection agency fails to give you credit.

So, if you have been paying child support in cash to your ex, and your ex is willing to sign a statement (usually in the form of a sworn affidavit, but if your jurisdiction requires that you use a particular form and/or follow a particular procedure, make sure you do exactly as required) and submit that statement to the court acknowledging that you have paid in cash and stating how much you have paid, you are an extraordinarily fortunate person. And while it’s only right for someone who has received child support to acknowledge it and to give credit where credit is due, there are far too many child support payees who get paid in cash, then deny ever having been paid, and end up double dipping on child support by getting a judgment against you for child support falsely claimed to have been “unpaid”.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Are there laws that protect one parent from being a victim of the other parent’s continuous reporting, through the other parent’s attorney, about violations of a restraining order that are all lies?

Are there laws that protect one parent from being a victim of the other parent’s continuous reporting, through the other parent’s attorney, about violations of a restraining order that are all lies?

Are there laws that protect one parent from being a victim of the other parent’s continuous reporting, through the other parent’s attorney, about violations of a restraining order that are all lies?

Practically speaking (and in my experience), yes and no.

I’ll start with the “no” part of my answer because it’s short. I say “no” because although there are rules against frivolous, bad-faith litigation (such as litigation based on lies), these rules are shamefully under-enforced. So even if you can make a clear case for an opposing party engaging in frivolous, bad-faith litigation, in my experience courts rarely punish such behavior. It’s one of the main reasons people lose faith in the legal system when they find themselves subject to the system.

The best way to protect yourself from having a court believe the opposing party’s lies is to prove them false by objective, independently verifiable evidence that cannot be denied. So, document your words and deeds six ways from Sunday. If it’s not a close call, the opposing side’s efforts to cheat won’t make any difference.

And here’s my “yes” part of the answer: Most jurisdictions, including the jurisdiction in which I practice law (Utah), have a rule or rules that is intended to prevent frivolous litigation. One such rule in Utah is the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure rule 11 (which is almost identical to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rule 11). Utah’s rule 11 provides:

(b) Representations to court. By presenting a pleading, written motion, or other paper to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or advocating), an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances,

(b)(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;

(b)(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;

(b)(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(b)(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.

(c) Sanctions. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that paragraph (b) has been violated, the court may, subject to the conditions stated below, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated paragraph (b) or are responsible for the violation.

There are also laws against making frivolous and bad-faith claims. Utah’s law is:

78B-5-825. Attorney fees — Award where action or defense in bad faith — Exceptions.

(1) In civil actions, the court shall award reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing party if the court determines that the action or defense to the action was without merit and not brought or asserted in good faith, except under Subsection (2).

(2) The court, in its discretion, may award no fees or limited fees against a party under Subsection (1), but only if the court:

(a) finds the party has filed an affidavit of impecuniosity in the action before the court; or

(b) the court enters in the record the reason for not awarding fees under the provisions of Subsection (1).

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277


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Is it advantageous to lie and sling mud at the other parent to win custody?

Today’s question is: Is it advantageous for the father to file with the court a 2 page document of fabricated lies about mother in a child custody battle as part of the ‘arsenals’ used to win a custody battle and prove mother is unfit?


My answer: If a parent has no conscience and believes he/she can get away with lying to the court to gain an unfair advantage for cheap or free of charge, then of course it’s advantageous and of course that morally bankrupt parent will try it. Such parents do it all the time. Courts are duped by such parents with an embarrassingly high level of success. In some settings, slinging mud is counterproductive, but if one is a skilled defamer, lying about a parent’s parental fitness or unfitness is quite effective and offers a high return on investment of time, effort, and (as I stated above) money, if any is spent at all. It makes sense: if lying to the judge weren’t so effective, people wouldn’t lie to the judge. 


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Why don’t the police help more with custody and parent-time enforcement?

In some jurisdictions, interference with or noncompliance with child custody orders issued by a court are not enforceable by police officers or sheriff’s deputies because there is no statute or statutes that authorize and empower the police to intervene. This is why law enforcement officers do not intervene in such jurisdictions. The only way that law enforcement officers can intervene in such jurisdictions is for a court to authorize and direct law enforcement officers to enforce child custody and parent time orders, and to do so by force if necessary. This is why, when a parent asking for the police to help with enforcement of a child custody or parent time order, will often receive this kind of response from the officer or officers called: “This is a civil matter. We do not have the authority to intervene to enforce your court orders.”

In other jurisdictions, such as Utah, where I practice divorce and family law, laws have been passed and are now on the books making interference with child custody and/or parent time orders a violation of statutory law. They are commonly referred to as “custodial interference laws”.

Do law enforcement officers in such jurisdictions enforce such statutes? Rarely.


Because being a law enforcement officer is a thankless job. Consequently, with rare exception, law enforcement officers hate enforcing custodial interference laws. Law enforcement officers generally dislike handling disputes between parents over enforcement of custody and parent time orders because it wastes their time and resources and interferes with their ability to prevent and solve serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, rape, burglary, etc. Some officers get lazy sometimes A) don’t enforce laws they consider not worth enforcing and/or B) don’t want to hassle with all the paperwork associated with responding to, reporting on, and enforcing custodial interference laws.

Instead, they will lie to your face and give you the “This is a civil matter. We do not have the authority to intervene to enforce your court orders” line in the hope that you will believe them when they tell you they cannot help you and thus stop asking them for help. [NOTE here: if you are someone who does not deal with law enforcement officers routinely, you would be pardoned for believing law enforcement officers do not lie and lie a lot. So fool you once, shame on them, fool you twice, shame on you. I know this may shock and sadden some readers—I felt that way when I discovered it and could no longer deny it.] Officers who don’t want to enforce custodial interference laws deal with parents who know of the laws on the books and aren’t fooled by the “this is a civil matter” dodge will simply threaten to arrest those parents who won’t back down for “disorderly conduct” and/or “disturbing the peace” (two favorite go to intimidation tactics that law enforcement officers frequently utilize to get people off their backs). Why? Because they can get away with it. More often than not, if you were to complain about law enforcement officers failing and refusing to enforce custodial interference laws, their superiors will nod their heads, thank you for “bringing this matter to my attention,” promise that action will be taken, wait for you to hang up the phone or leave the office, and then never give the matter a second thought.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Can custody evaluators see through a narcissist’s lies?

No, not simply by virtue of their being custody evaluators.

Sometimes custody evaluators and other mental health professionals give the impression (either deliberately or inadvertently) that they have magic, infallible powers of perception that make them able to detect lies at all times and in all circumstances. ’Tis not so. It can’t be so.

While custody evaluators and other mental health professionals may be better at detecting lies than those of us who aren’t trained in it, they can still be fooled and are regularly fooled because some narcissists (dare I say most?) are staggeringly good liars. No one is perfectly (or even all that consistently) able to tell when he/she is being lied to, and custody evaluators are no exception.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Defending Yourself Against a Protective Order

My friend is a good man. His wife is crazy. She put a protection order against him, to help manipulate the court proceedings. What should he do?

Defend himself with all he has because:

  • (regardless of how much the legal system will deny it) the prevailing presumption is that a man accused of domestic violence is guilty;
  • the unwritten, unseen even unwitting policies of the system are set up to ensure that presumption is affirmed; and
  • many (not all) courts grant protective orders routinely, without really making a considered determination of whether the standard of proof has been met to merit one.


One, no judge wants to deny a request for protective order, then have the woman wind up hospitalized or dead, and then be blamed for “failing to protect” the victim. So to ensure that never happens judges often grant any request for a protective order. That way they can never be blamed for “failing” to protect victims. The fact that “generous” issuance of protective orders victimizes innocent men just doesn’t get enough attention to give some judges pause.

Two, the job of a judge is very demanding, very difficult, and often thankless. These are the reasons why judges can become jaded and apathetic, especially on the subject of domestic violence.

The tragic results are often:

  • the accused’s reputation is irreparably damaged; and
  • he proceeds at a permanent disadvantage and under a cloud of public shame and loathing, if the “victim” follows the protective order request with a complaint for divorce (and that’s usually exactly what happens)

Your friend needs to:

  • Hire the best lawyer he can find to help defend him. If he tries to defend himself, the legal system can chew him up (strip him of his money, job, home, family, and good name) and spit him out.
  • You may assert, “But if he gets a lawyer, won’t that make him look guilty?” NO!
    • Indeed, I’d contend that not getting a lawyer makes him look like someone who’s so poor and stupid that he’s the kind of arrogant lout who probably beats his wife. Lawyer up.
    • There is plenty of empirical and anecdotal evidence that people who represent themselves in legal proceedings without an attorney get treated worse by the courts than people who hire lawyers. It’s not fair, but it’s reality. Lawyer up. Pay for a good lawyer. You simply can’t afford not to.
    • Although you may believe otherwise, you have no idea how the legal system works, and you will almost surely make numerous serious and irreparable mistakes if you try to navigate the system on your own.
    • Lawyer up. Do it as fast as you can. The legal system does not work the way you think it does. If you believe that all you have to do is go into court and tell your side of the story for a fair shake, you’re mistaken.
    • Don’t get me wrong: there are some judges out there who will care, who do understand the law, and you are not afraid of holding protective order applicants to the proper standards of evidence and burdens of proof. But why leave it to chance?
    • DO NOT speak to the police (without counsel). The police can lie to you and try to misreport or misconstrue your words. They are allowed to do that in the course of their investigations. They will avail themselves of this tool. So if they tell you that “you are not a suspect,” or “we just want to get your side of the story,” or even “this will go a lot easier for you if you cooperate,” they almost never mean a word of it.

When the police want to talk to you in this setting, it’s usually because they want to bury you, not vindicate you. You can’t afford to take the risk.

If you are approached by Child Protective Services, the Division of Family Services, or whatever such an organization is called in your jurisdiction, do not agree to speak with them without your lawyer present, and without you recording the interview from start to finish. You may ask why I do not advise you simply to refuse to speak with these agencies. The reason for this is a little unclear in many people’s minds: while you have a constitutional right to remain silent if you are questioned by the police, in most jurisdictions (although you’ll want to confirm this in your own jurisdiction) you do not have such a right if you are questioned by officials of child welfare agencies. In the course of my career and my dealings with child welfare agencies in the protective order context, this loophole is often exploited, and here’s how:

1) the child welfare agency official invokes the right to question you;

2) (and if you refuse to answer those questions, then the child welfare agency official will report this to the court, and your refusal to answer questions may, and likely will, be construed as evidence of guilt. The problem is that if you speak with the child welfare agency officials, they will frequently misstate and misinterpret your answers. This is why they rarely, if ever, make an audio recording of your interview: that way it becomes a matter of your word against theirs, and since they work for the state, the court typically places more stock in the word of a government agency than in the word of the accused);

3) then the child welfare agency official goes to the police and tells the police a slanted version of what you just told the child welfare agency officials (because you had to answer their questions), and on the basis of what you said to the child welfare agency officials, the police charge you with a crime.

Now you see how important it is for you not to speak with the child welfare agency official before you have lawyered up, submitted to questioning only with your lawyer present, and have made it clear that you will be making an audio recording of the entire interview with the child welfare agency officials.

The majority of the public believes (although this belief is slowly giving way in the face of some highly public rail-roadings) that whenever there is an allegation of domestic violence, it must be true, and it must’ve been the man who was the aggressor. With these stereotypes in mind, many people are falsely/wrongfull charged and convicted. If you don’t know how to defend yourself properly, and if you do not actually defend yourself properly, you will likely be failed and victimized by a system that does not care about you or the truth.

If you are innocent:

  • lawyer up now, now, now;
  • don’t speak to anyone without consulting with a lawyer first. Don’t speak to anyone without your lawyer’s advice, without your lawyer present, and without making a recording of the interview;
  • passionately profess your innocence. Vehemently deny wrongdoing;
  • gather every scrap of exculpatory evidence that you can possibly find. You’re going to need it. All of it. You need so much exculpatory evidence that you can win six ways from Sunday. The playing field is not level. Do everything you can to ensure that you have control over your fate. Do not entrust your fate to the legal system.
  • Prepare and file with the court–with the assistance of a very good lawyer–as soon as you possibly can a document asserting your innocence and the categorical denial of all wrongdoing. Do not wait until you appear in court to state your case.
  • Do not merely defend yourself. Go on the offensive. Don’t simply oppose the request for protective order and ask that it be denied. If your jurisdiction allows, moved to have the protective order action vacated as frivolous and without merit.
  • Make sure your lawyer 1) informs the court of the applicable legal and evidentiary standards and 2) holds the court to them. Don’t allow your judge to issue a protective order against you carelessly or out of bias.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What do the police think of lawyers?

What do the police think of lawyers?

Generally, we don’t like or trust each other. And for good reason.

I’m an attorney. I don’t like most law enforcement officers because the often lie and use their position of authority and their gun and handcuffs to intimidate and bully people.

Police don’t like most lawyers when they help criminals and other bad people (people who are guilty) get away with crimes and other bad acts.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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