Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back to the Bench

Found this and realized I hadn't posted it yet.

I give you my most recent court observation write-up!

Picking a floor at random, I stroll down the hall hoping to catch whiffs of interesting legal material. Outside of Department 28, a uniformed police officer sits conversing with a suited man. Both direct me to a preliminary trial going on inside that they will be testifying in. Score! I settle into my plush chair and wait for the games to begin.

I enjoy coming into a case cold – half the fun is figuring out what happened. First thing I notice is that the witnesses had obviously never seen a court show in their lives to know what the deal is as far as the swearing in process. Very similar to depo introductions, the lawyers counsel the witness on the fact that the court reporter cannot take down uh-huhs and hu-uhs…which the court reporter promptly takes down for the record. I find it interesting that the lawyers made a point of finding out that the child (14) understood the difference between the truth and a lie, but such conversation is never had with adults. I’m thinking some adults could use it.

Seeing/hearing that the witness seemed to lack adequate vocal chords for a room of that size, Prosecution asks that the microphone be turned on. Before he is done with the second syllable, Madame Court Reporter is in action. I’m sure she has been waiting for the chance.

Witness is asked if he recognizes someone in the room. I realize that it might be like that in all cases we hear in class…there is only one person in the room besides counsel, clerk, et cetera. How awkward t’would be if the witness recognizes someone they weren’t supposed to!

The witness continues shyly and inaudibly answering questions, hesitating before each “yes” or “no” and I’m thinking that this sounds easy. I pull my air writer out and throw down a few practice strokes. Piece of cake. I’m confused, though, because presumably, the kid had been asked these questions before, yet he seemed to be hearing them for the first time now. Prosecution pulls out his phone while hurriedly saying, “Your Honor, just using the phone for the calendar.” Well played, well played.

I lean forward with anticipation as the story begins to become clear. We have John and Jane. Jane has two kids from a previous relationship (Son 1 and Son 2). John gets together with Jane and they live at Jane’s parents and subsequently produce offspring (Son 3 and Baby). They then move to a house to themselves. Our alleged altercation begins when, around1:30am, John comes in and wakes up Son 1 and 2 to “help clean” the kitchen. His demeanor? “Acting dumb and complaining.”

Prosecution tries to extract the story, but Son 2 doesn’t seem to remember ANY of the events that night…except for the fact that it involved sitting on the couch at some point. Thereafter, the police report states that Son 2 alleged the night in question that the John was pacing and yelling (and acting dumb) about their lack of respect and that Son 2 was “the weak one.” Son 2 then says to back off of the family. John subsequently takes a kitchen knife and holds it to Son 2’s neck and says he will kill them all. There is a scuffle, Son 2 escapes out the door into the street, followed by a large pot thrown by John which subsequently shatters in the street.

Areas of contention seem to be the ownership of the knife recovered by police at the scene. None of the witnesses recognize the knife in question as even coming from their kitchen. Photograph exhibits showing red scratches and marks alleged at the time to have been caused by the knife were from a “skating accident.”

DEFENSE: You told him to sit down. Was he standing up or sitting down?

WITNESS: I don’t remember.

Q: was he walking around?

A: I don’t remember.

Q: Would you tell someone who was sitting down to sit down?

A: I don’t know.

Q: When you walked out the door, did you take a frying pan with you?

A: No.

Q: Do you normally walk out of the house with a frying pan?

A: No.

Q: So you would remember if you had?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Did the defendant throw a frying pan at you?

A: No.

Q: Do you remember telling the officers that your step-dad was swinging a knife around in the air yelling, “I’m going to kill you all!”?

A: No.

I think that Prosecution is getting a little miffed with the witness, and I know for certain when he says:

Q: Do you routinely come up with stories to get people arrested?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Do you normally spend time making up stories to get the police involved?

A: I don’t remember….

When the next witness is called (Jane), I really wonder if there is TV in the house to familiarize the witnesses with the swearing in process. At least Jane seems to want to answer the questions. Too bad she doesn’t remember anything about the night in question except for what John didn’t do and that she and the offspring sat around while she coached them with a story to get John arrested…the details of which are hazy at best.

A: I don’t remember anything that happened that night.

Q: You don’t remember anything from that night?

A: Well, I remember some, but not very much.

Q: You were awake when you woke them up, correct?

A: Yes.

Well, if she hadn’t been, that would answer a lot of questions.

The story appearing to be the one that the witnesses want to spin (possibly with help from the defendant) is that Son 2 got into a physical altercation with the John in the same period of time that he, Son 2, had a case open in court. To avoid getting slapped into Juvie, he fabricated a story about John that was convincing enough that two police officers showed up in court and lied their heads off about how realistic it was.

The bench really heats up when the suited police officer was asked about things that Son 2 had told uniformed police officer (still in the hallway). Defense didn’t like that one bit and put on his objecting pants.

DFNS: Hearsay within hearsay under 115.

COURT: Overruled.

DFNS: Your Honor, that’s TWO LAYERS of hearsay!

PRSC: It was in the police report, Your Honor. Under 115.

COURT: Overruled.

His Honor decides to break for lunch, as it is noon. Both lawyers, having heard I am there for observing, approach me and ask if I have any questions (to my surprise). I clarify what 115* is and Defense tells me that he still didn’t think it should be allowed. Prosecutions confides to both of us that he didn’t think it should either and that he was surprised it worked. When Defense walks off, Prosecution asks me if I think the defendant is guilty.

“Well,” I say, “I doubt it went down exactly like the kid originally said it did, but something happened, and it’s not what they’re saying.”

He gives a shark grin. “They’re all lying right now. It’ll go to trial.”

Conclusion: Domestic abuse cases must be really frustrating for the lawyers and the judge.

*115 has to do with hearsay rules and that police officers are allowed to recount things other officers have said, like a verbal report or something.

Filling the Gap...and Onward!

Greetings, fellow lurkers!

Bursting forth through the twilight of a semi-jobless state, I return to the battlefield of customer service, ready to gather stories into the basket of plenty.

I abandoned the homestead after obtaining the job of *gasp* phone surveyor. Gotta use that sexy phone voice, right? A few things about that job didn't quite stack up to expectation.

I found that I really didn't enjoy calling in every day at 2:30 to see if I had work at 4:30. That may have just been me. I was allowed to have my sense of long as it wasn't on the phone. Can't be biasing those surveys. And really? Those surveys were either:

A) So ridiculous they were funny
B) So boring my brain found a way to make them funny

Whether you reached your call quota was mostly luck. My last day, I was expected to reach a quota...all while calling elderly woman in their 90s. The very last survey I did was an 18 minute survey with a 96-year-old woman that took over an hour to complete because we needed to fill that age/area quota.

And finally, I didn't relish suddenly having no income for over a week because there wasn't a survey going when I had to pay rent.

Cue: new job search!

My deal is that if I can just land the interview, I can get the job. I don't know if it's that I'm lucky, that I've had crap jobs all my life (oh, wait, no, that's not the case), or that I put on a great show of sparkly competent charisma, but that's my experience. But, there's the key. (lol @ pic = bad pun)

I began applying right and left, flailing about the Intenets for jobs. I stopped keeping track of what I was applying for. Finally, one day coming back from lunch:

Friend A: You're phone was vibrating like crazy.

Me: Really?

Friend B (yes, I have more than one): Like crazy.

Me: Ha...maybe it's a job offer.

Them: (Pitying smirks)

Me: (listens) actually is.

Well, it was an interview offer at least. It was for a Customer Service Rep at a Vet hospital.

Her: ....are yous still looking?

Me: (HELL) yes :)

One of the questions asked was, "Why do you want to work at a veterinary hospital?

Me: Ummm...well, because I like the professional aspect of running a hospital, but enjoy the atmosphere of helping animals and all that junk.

Just kidding. I left the last part out. I enjoy working around animals, especially now that I don't have a pet of my own and can't see to get one in the near future. The next hurdle was that the job she was offering was full time...during the day. I told her about school, and it basically came down to that, if they liked me, they would put a night person on day shift and give me the night.

Interview went very well, was there for over two hours and started hearing the "when you work here" phrase. Queue forward to the working interview (make sure the rest of the team doesn't hate my guts on sight/I don't run screaming out the door), and we're back to "we'll let you know in a few days."

I don't mind saying I really wanted the job at this point. REALLY wanted it, and thought I was on my way to getting it. But oh well.

Then, as I'm chatting in pharmacy, the call comes from ... let's call her Diane, to see her in her office. First words out of her mouth: "I've been waiting to hear from my boss so I can hire you."

Oh yeah.

So here we go, Readers! Jump on the train leaving the station, making stops at awkward faux pas with customers, irritating co-workers, sub-intelligent phone conversations, and overbearing clients! I, Redgirl will head to the trenches and take one (or more) for the team to bring you the goods.

To start you off:

Man is standing by check out.

Me: Have you been helped?

Him: Yes, picking up.

Me: Animate or inanimate? (Like, you know, prescriptions or your pet after surgery or something)

Him: Inanimate (<---pleasant expression)

Two minutes later, see coworker come 'round corner with ... a box of ashes. Apparently, "pet" and "inanimate" are not discrete categories.

*Mentally updating personal venn diagram references*

Ah, well, that one's on me.