Friday, September 30, 2011

Why Proper Trial Prep Doesn't Matter

It's Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. I'm due back in court at 2:00 p.m. We are smack in the middle of my trial and on a lunch break. The current witness on the stand had finished her direct examination and the cross examination would continue after lunch.

However, that witness jumped off the witness stand as soon as she was excused for lunch. She jumped off without waiting for my instructions on what time to return and where to meet. 1:45 p.m. and all my phone calls to her are going to voicemail. If she doesn't show, the judge will tell the jury to disregard her entire testimony.

The doctor was supposed to come in at 1:00 to prepare his testimony for the afternoon. His office told me he left at 1:15. It's a ten minute ride with traffic. Still not here.

The stabbing victim and another witness were supposed to be in the office at 1:00 as well. They would testify after the doctor. Nowhere to be found.

Fifteen minutes until I'm supposed to continue the trial and I don't have any witnesses. Is it time to panic?

2:00 p.m. and I'm waiting outside the courtroom. The current witness on the stand saunters in and resumes testimony. At 2:45 the doctor appears and testifies. Shortly after, the next two witness show up and testify. Despite my arrangements and meticulous preparation everyone showed up late. As it happened their tardiness didn't affect the flow of the trial or the testimony.

Welcome to trial. No matter the preparation and arrangements, you can rarely control the situation. You can only control your stress level. Check back this weekend to see the result.


  1. haha wow. Is this mayhem typical or do most trials tend to go as planned?

  2. In every trial, issues like these arise. A last minute witness appears or disappears. Someone gets sick. Sometimes it's a small issue or sometimes you appear in court and aren't sure if anyone else will. I've had murder trials run smoothly and DWI trials where I prayed my officers would show. The trials usually go as planned, but there are always obstacles to overcome along the way.

  3. How does it affect you when things don't go as you planned during trial? How does you teach yourself to "expect the unexpected"?

  4. I've done enough trials to learn to roll along with what happens. Every witness who takes the stand says something different than you expect at some point. Whether it be nerves or memory it will happen. Just move on like nothing is out of the ordinary and no one will know something unexpected occurred.

  5. Oh my God. I would have been having heart palpitations out the wazoo. You have to be a special sort to deal with all that!