Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The witness stand

It seems I’ve unintentionally dragged myself into writing another series. How the crap did this happen? Well, at least this one concerns an enjoyable topic. Jury Duty.

No, I’m not ditzy . . . today. For some reason I found my time as being part of the 12 chosen enjoyable. I had the power of the world at my fingertips. I planned to use my power wisely.

Okay, if you’re familiar with blogging you know to click on the pretty highlights to read the other two posts: the jury selection and the opening proceedings. Everybody else who paid attention, please find your designated seats so we can commence with the next part: interrogating the witnesses.

Oh, and seeing how many ways a photo can be taken.

The photos were the main, and only, evidence we had for this case. These photos were taken by both skinny Laurel lawyer (representing Garage Man) and fat Hardy lawyer (representing Cast Lady). The beginning part of the trial illustrated that one of the lawyers was crooked in presenting his facts concerning these photos.

Hardy lawyer (representing Cast Lady) was up first. He passed out pictures showing the many different camera angles on where it looked liked the debris was on Garage Man’s side. This was the only frustrating part of the trial for the jurors. There was about twenty photos and not one provided showed a straight closeup in line to the property fence. Every single freaking one showed the debris at a left or right angle or so far back we had to squint just to make out the sidewalk.

Once Hardy refreshed our memories of his opening statements the day before (reminding us of the emotional and physical anguish his client had endured), he now entertained us with a slide show of photos. Then he goofed up.

Using a laser pointer, he drew an imaginary line from the fence boundary. It wasn’t a straight line (boy, was it NOT one) as he made it appear as if half the debris were on Garage Man’s property. We saw it, the judge smirked about it, and the other lawyer cried, “OBJECTION. That’s not a straight line. Do it right.”

And so Hardy conceded without having the judge say anything. He showed only a small pile of stones had trespassed the boundary line. Needing to do some damage control, he then called up Mr. Wit.

Mr. Wit wasn’t at the scene when it happened. He was to be a character witness for Cast Lady before she took the stand. He was also the person who snapped the majority of the photos. He was gruff when answering Hardy’s questions.

The time came for cross-examination by Laurel (representing Garage Man). For you to get the full appreciation of this fiasco, I’ll write out the conversation.

Laurel Lawyer tapped photographs in hand as he addressed the court.

Laurel: “Please state you name for the record.”
Mr. Wit: “Mr. Wit.”
Laurel: “Mr. Wit, what is your relation to Cast Lady?”
Mr. Wit: “I’m her uncle.”
Laurel: “Could you please look at these pictures and tell me if you are the person who took them?”
Mr. Wit: “Why are you trying to fool me?”
Laurel: “I’m sorry? Nobody is trying to fool anyone. I just want to verify that you are indeed the person who took the photographs.”
Mr. Wit: “I’m not playing these games. Can’t you people see how much pain my niece has gone through?”
Laurel: “Mr. Wit, could you please just answer the question.”
Mr. Wit: “Naw, man. My niece has gone through hell and you lawyers are just playing games. Look at her. I SAID LOOK AT HER! She had her arm broken. She had to sit in that hospital while the doctors put bolts into her bones. It’s someone’s fault and all you want is to lie and play GAMES!”

By this time, the judge was close to laughing his ass off. The situation was more incredulously funny than threatening. But knowing we were wasting valuable taxpayers’ dollars, the judge tried to cajole the witness to behave.

Judge: “Mr. Wit, calm yourself or I’ll have to find you in contempt of court and the bailiff will remove you from the room. What the lawyer simply wants is for you to verify the evidence.”
Mr. Wit: “Fine.”
Laurel: “Are these the photos you took?”
Mr. Wit: “Yeah.”
Laurel: “Can you please tell the court when the photos were taken?”

Mr. Wit now completely dismissed the lawyer and spoke directly to the jury box.

Mr. Wit: “My niece has suffered enough. Look at her! Having to deal with all this mess because some asshole can’t pick up his garbage. She doesn’t deserve this. Put yourself in her shoes. How would you feel?”
Judge: “Mr. Wit, I will warn you again. If you keep up with these outbursts then I’ll have the bailiff escort you from the courtroom. Please do not address the jurors. Answer the lawyer’s questions so this case can proceed.”

Mr. Wit grunted and crossed arms over his chest.

Laurel: “When were these pictures taken?”
Mr. Wit: “Around three weeks after the accident.”

Totally flustered and sure that if he kept going it would come down to another shouting tirade from Mr. Wit, Laurel said he had no further questions for this witness.

By this time the judge rightly saw we could all use a break. We were told not to discuss the case and were dismissed for lunch. Upon our return, Hardy called his remaining witness: Cast Lady.

To move this story along, I’ll just summarize. Hardy asked for her account. She told the same thing as was in the lawyer’s opening argument. The only difference was that she detailed her hospital experience trying to buy sympathy votes. The cross-examination was more interesting.

Laurel fileted her.

He first brought up her sordid past involving the money theft from the business in the same amount she now sought in the lawsuit. Then he discussed the time discrepancies on when the accident took place and when she sought medical treatment - four hours after Cast Lady left the celebration she attended. Laurel talked about her alcohol consumption and how convenient it was to be dropped off at the bus stop at that exact spot so late at night instead of at her residence. For his final question, he brought out the big guns.

How did Cast Lady know if she (or one of her friends) hadn’t shifted the debris onto Garage Man’s property when scrambling to get her off the ground after she fell?

This question called for Hardy to cry out, “OBJECTION. He is leading my witness.” The judge sustained, since Laurel had to present hard evidence and not conjecture. Laurel ended his cross examination. Hardy had no other witnesses and closed his case.

It was time for Laurel to present his side. After another refresher course for the jurors, he called his client Garage Man to the witness stand.

Garage Man was a quiet person with a foreign accent. He admitted he knew about the debris and had asked the property owner on numerous occasions to clean it up. During cross-examination, he claimed he didn’t know any of it was on his side because he had closed his garage for the season to go on vacation. He said he was sorry to hear someone had been hurt and would have cleaned up the entire pile of debris himself. Then Garage Man was dismissed from the stand.

Laurel had only one other witness. House owner’s signed affidavit. He somberly presented it (in slide show format) showing the house owner’s admittance that it was his debris on the sidewalk. Then Laurel closed his case.

Next installment: Closing arguments and the verdict.


  1. OMG. Your trial was almost as comical and ridiculously wasteful as mine. Amazing.

  2. Oh good grief. . . Uncle is a real piece of work, ain't he?

  3. Yep, sounds very similar to my experiences in court as a juror. Right down to the idiotic lawyers (although to be fair, one side of lawyers in my trial were actually competent). Keep 'em comin' Michelle, this is great stuff :)

  4. Michelle, thank you! We are fortunate that you have a good memory and have made a record of this experience to share with us.

  5. Suldog: At least mine was only for 3 days. If I remember correctly, wasn't yours a full 8 days?

    Desmond: That uncle just wouldn't shut up. He even kept snarking while sitting in the back of the courtroom.

    Eric: The biggest beef I had was with the lawyers. They just seemed shady, and their questions never got to the heart of the matter. It seemed like one of those, "get 'em in-get it done-pocket the money the quickest we can," cases.

    Elizabeth: I plan on dragging it out longer than I sat in the juror's seat.

    Lime: Yes, and it's a real shame...

    Sarahlah: You're welcome. I try my best to keep things entertaining with my posts. Thanks for commenting!

  6. LOL. Why did these people go to court. This could have been settled out of court---especially if her uncle got hold of the garbage man. LOL.

  7. Demon Hunter: I think THAT'S the best question both lawyers could have asked their own clients!


People want to comment here?'s your two-cents, Bub. Spend it wisely!


Related Posts with Thumbnails

ESPN NHL Standings