Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our Day in Court

Yesterday I was a witness in a court case. Then later I was a juror in a different one. It was a long day. Confused? Ok, so they were mock trials for one of Sergio's classes. There were actually three altogether, one on Friday night and two on Saturday. I was tired, but Sergio was really exhausted, having done all three and switching between plaintiff and defense each time. And I have to say, the defense had an almost impossible case. Not only that, but after each "trial" two to three judges (real local judges and lawyers) would tell each team of lawyers exactly what they did wrong, and then allow the jury (a bunch of people who knew next to nothing about the law) to do the same. Brutal.

I was the witness the defense was trying to pin the crime on, rather than their client. I was the person to actually run over and kill the 12 year old child. Cheerful, huh? It turns out I was also a convicted felon and had two DUI's. I was given a deposition and no other information. This means that when I took the stand I didn't even know what kind of car I had been driving. If the deposition didn't say it, then I didn't know. We were also told that we could make small things up to fill in gaps, but we couldn't just pull stuff out of our butts, as it were, if it could affect the case. I did really well, I think, right up until the defense lawyers got...creative. Here is an actual exchange that took place.
Lawyer: "Ms. Dalton, your cell phone bill proves you were on your cell phone at the time of the accident. Is that right?"
Me: "It would appear so."
Lawyer: Ms. Dalton, do you have a hands-free phone set?
Prosecutors furiously nodding heads in the background, defense team shaking heads ominously.
Me: "Um...well...I don't really know about that."
Laywer: "Is that a yes Ms. Dalton."
Me: "No"
Lawyer: "Ms. Dalton, were you driving a manual or an automatic the day of the accident?"
Me: "Um, I really don't know that."
Lawyer, leaning in and whispering: "Just make something up."
Entire courtroom bursts into laughter.
Prosecutor: "Objecti..."
Judge: "Sustained!"

It was kind of fun to really see the process, and play around in the city courthouse. I think Sergio is really happy that it is all over. Not just the trials, but that whole class and his B paper, which is required for graduation. Beteen this and the FST's at the police department, law school has been a learning experience for us both on so many levels.

By the way, this is our 200th post.

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