Monday, October 27, 2014

You don't get to choose your trial witness

One day I appeared in court at 8:30am, the time trial was scheduled, only to find my witness subscribed to the philosophy of "you won't develop a hangover if you stay drunk."  He REEKED.  All the stereotypical attributes--bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, swayed when he tried to stand, then held the walls.

At 8:30 in the morning!

The defendant didn't show up, so this "trial" would be easy, I just had to do a simple prove-up of my case and get a judgment.  So I tried to ready the witness in the hallway, leading him through my standard prove-up questions and learning what his answers would be.

Me:  "The first question I'll ask is, Please state your name for the record."

Witness:  "Please.... say.... name.... record."

Me:  "Yes, that will be the first thing I ask you."

Witness:  "Please?"

Me:  "Can you tell me your name?"

Witness:  "Name?"

Oh boy.  There was no way I could get through a standard prove up.  The only thing I could do, is ask the judge for a continuance of the trial.  So when my case was called --

Me:  "Your Honor, Plaintiff requests a one-week trial continuance."

Judge:  "Why?  This appears to be a prove-up."

Me:  "My witness is ill."

Judge:  "He's here, isn't he?  Can't he get through a two minute prove-up?"

Me:  "No, Your Honor."

My witness then attempted to join me at counsel table, and held onto the table so it wouldn't escape from the courtroom.

Judge:  "Please join me at sidebar, counsel."

I told my witness to stay there, and I went to sidebar.

Judge:  "He doesn't look ill to me, but he does look something else."

Me:  "He's too ill to answer any questions.  I know.  I tried out in the hallway."

Judge:  "Okay, I understand."

I went back to counsel table and the judged granted my one-week continuance.  Then I went out into the hallway with my witness and called his assistant to give him a ride back to the office.

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