Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
When Sally got home from school one Wednesday, she knocked on her mothers' door.
"What is it?" her mother called. Mrs. Thorin was a busy woman; she did not have time for much of Sally's 9-year-old prattle today.
"Mommy," Sally's shrill voice cut through the oak door. "There was a strange man today. A strange man that kept following me. He kept asking me questions."
Mrs. Thorin jerked the door open. "They have stalking laws to prevent that sort of thing! What did he look like?"
"He was old," Sally said, "and he had a big mustache. He said he was my father."
"Alleged father, young lady. I never let him take a paternity test."
"Then what, Mom?" Sally pouted, "Am I adopted? An issue of marriage?"
"Well, That Man and I were married at one point, but we had irreconcilable differences. I had you after we divorced. He tried to go for joint custody, wanted split custody, but got sole custody because he was a cheating, lecherous dirtbag. That means he's a noncustodial parent.
"What kind of differences?" Sally asked.
"Well," her mother hedged, "it was a corporate resolution. It was so serious, they even wrote it out and put the corporate seal on it. The man was not good for my career."
"But MOM," (Sally's brain was not moving too fast, as usual) "Why would the company care who you married to?"
"Well, my father, as you know, was the chairman of the board. he wanted to release more shares on the market, and he made divorcing that sleazy scumpod a condition if I wanted to keep my subscription right. He couldn't have had that sort of control if it was a public corporation, but it was a professional corporation."
The first thing an enterprising observer of the baser issues in life must do –besides locate the proper courthouse – is to decide on the content of the desired case. I, Madam Soon-to-be-Court Reporter took the lead from my fellow college delegates. I took their lead up to the sixth floor. I took their lead back down to the first. Finally, I found it. The menu.
I would like to submit into evidence Exhibit 1: the menu of the day, otherwise known as the court calendar. I scanned the day’s specials. There was certain allure to a homicide case being tried by a one Judge Savage*.
On the elevator, someone overheard our quandary. Two words were all we needed. Those words were “follow me”, and follow we did. We followed to Courtroom 41, a lewd & lascivious case being tried by a Judge Candy. Over the jury box, where the jurors would have to mutate into owls to see it, was a banner proclaiming “Jurors Make the Difference.” I find out through clever deduction that we are sitting in on a child molestation case. I deduced this from the judge and attorneys asking every juror if they’d ever been connected to a molester or molestee. One woman initially stated that she had, but it wouldn’t be a problem. Less than 10 minutes later, she decided it was. Oh well. Would that one more juror had bitten the dust so my favorite juror of the day could have taken the box. In his mid-20s, when asked what he did with his free time, the good-looking young man responded, “Mostly play video games, play my guitar…drink beer.” Life is good.
To lay the case out for any interested parties, I’ll summarize. An 11-year-old wakes in the middle of the night to his mom’s boyfriend getting personal with his “personals” while holding an abnormally large Chihuahua in his other hand (Really. That thing was too big to be a Chihuahua.). Upon the child’s awakening, Mr. Garcia says “Charlie”, aforementioned dog’s name, and deposits the dog on the bed. Then he goes to the wall and hits it, swatting, according to the victim, Jackson, a mosquito. Upon telling his tale to his mother in the morning, it is discovered that the elder brother also allegedly received alleged attentions from Tom Garcia. Panic ensues. Other incidents are now thought to be additional instances of molestation, like when Tom would sit in the bathroom while Jackson studies for a test and quizzes him through the shower curtain, et cetera.
The players are the People, a smartly dressed female attorney who constantly called the defendant “Tom” and stood close to the 11-year-old boy on the stand in a mothering fashion. The attorney for the defense was a man in a tan suit that had difficulty speaking above a whisper. In fact, I have it on good authority that Madam Court Reporter was going to strangle him herself if he didn’t speak up pretty darn soon. Mr. Perez-Tan-Suit refers to the defendant as Mr. Garcia, no doubt to attach respectability to him. Compatriots decide that he is an expensive private attorney. I agree. I also decide to stay for the cross even though I have my hours Just Because it looks Fun. He indeed starts the entertainment off with staying as far away from the boy as possible. I bet he’s afraid to appear threatening.
Let’s learn some testifying tips, shall we?
If you either want to change your testimony or you don’t like the answer that comes to mind, just say you don’t remember. After all, what can they do to you? Example (fictional):
Q. Do you remember telling your daughter that your neighbor’s dog would bite her if she left your property without telling you?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Yes, you do.
A. No, I don’t. And you can’t make me remember.
Tip two: decide the mental age of your witness. Do not talk down to them. If you do, try not to make it too obvious. Here’s what not to do:
Q. Was Mr. Garcia always the one that initiated the wrestling? I’m sorry. I shouldn't have used such a big word. It’s okay. I didn’t know that word at your age either.
However, once you have decided your witness cannot understand words of more than three syllables, and you have informed him that you don’t expect him to, do not do the following. It makes you look like a four-letter word that means “cad” approximately:
Q. Have you spoken to your father about this situation?
A. The what?
Q. About what happened.
Mr. Perez-tan-suit, why would you use big words when little words will do?
How about this: Do child molesters really think that they can sneak in, molest a child, have the child wake up and then leave? Like, “hmm…maybe he’ll think it was all a dream.” All I can say is wishful thinking, much?
And while we’re on questions, how about some observations?
Judge Candy seemed to be paying little attention to the case. He reminded me of a carnival fortune telling machine. You stick a quarter in, and out comes either “Sustained”, “Overruled”, and “Approach the bench”.
Defense wanted to bring up a time when the kid said that a tornado hit his school, but he had actually dreamed it and thought it was real. Defense wanted to bring it up so bad that he snuck it in there three times. I could have played tornado Yatzee.
Let’s wrap up with testimony snippits:
Q. How did you know Tom was calling?
A. [The phone] said ‘inmate calling’.”
Q. What don’t you like about mosquitos?
A. They can crawl on you while you’re sleeping.
Note: this is not why people don’t like mosquitos. Keep that in mind.
Q. Why didn’t you see his hand?
A. Because I wasn’t looking.
That is all.
*names changed in an effort towards discretion