Friday, June 1, 2012

Day in the Life of an NYC ADA (continued)

Check out part one here.  The series concludes on Monday.

The courtroom was three floors below the grand jury.  Sunlight bled through the windowed hallway assaulting me and mocking me at the same time.  The sun seemed to know what kind of day I had in store.

In movies there is always a dramatic moment when someone expected pushes open the double courtroom doors.  Pulling a door open doesn't have the same effect.  But when I entered, the judge looked up from the bench, smiling.

"Mr. Prosecutor," he said, ignoring the case currently on the record.  The judge did use my real name, however.

I smiled back.  "Here, your honor."

The judge directed the attorneys he was speaking with to step aside and the clerk to call my case.  I stood behind the wooden table.

"Mr. Prosecutor, I'm sending your case out to Judge Smith, forthwith.  The defendant is ready for trial."  This judge ran what was called a calendar part.  He simply churned through cases and either resolved them or sent them to other judges for the trial.  His caseload stretched into the thousands.

I looked at the defense attorney who fourteen hours ago told me he would also be requesting an adjournment.  He refused to look at me.  I contemplated telling the judge I was ready for trial and watching the defense attorney try and back out of it.

I decided against it because my reputation was worth more than playing that game.

"Your Honor, I'm sorry, I'm not ready for trial.  I am in the middle of a grand jury presentation as my colleague told you earlier.  Also, Mr. Defense Attorney told me last night he was seeking an adjournment too."

"Well, Mr. Defense Attorney has had a change of heart apparently.  You're going to trial.  You can take up all your issues with Judge Smith."  The judge smiled at me again.  "Judge Smith loves to hear excuses."

Laughter erupted from the gallery.  Everyone joined in the fun the judge was having.  The conservative Judge Smith did not tolerate excuses.  Judge Smith was the judge I would love for my trial, if I was ready.

It was time to push back.  "Judge, except for grand jury, I'd be ready for trial.  How about this?  It's a Friday anyway.  Can we ask Judge Smith to start the trial on Monday?  I will have my witnesses here and we'd only lose one day."

The judge leaned back.  He saw what I was doing.  He asked the clerk to call Judge Smith.  Judge Smith must have agreed.

"This case is scheduled for trial on Monday in front of Judge Smith.  Case adjourned and the time is chargeable to the People."

I stared at Mr. Defense Attorney who cast a sideways glance towards me.  Other attorneys moved to take our place.

"Judge, Judge?"  Mr. Defense Attorney stammered, holding his phone in his hand and his glasses were perched on his nose.

"What is it?"

"I can't do it.  Looking at my calendar, I'm scheduled to start another trial in Manhattan on Wednesday next week.  It's an older case."

Shrewd move, using another borough to delay a case.  I suspected Mr. Defense Attorney did not want to try a case in front of Judge Smith.  The judge stopped me before I spoke.

"Mr. Defense Attorney, you stood there for forty-five minutes and didn't say a word about this trial while I found you a courtroom to try this case.  Now it comes to your attention?  I think you'll have to speak to the Manhattan judge and explain that you're already on trial in the Bronx.  You'll see Judge Smith Monday."

The judge winked at me before I left.  I took it to mean "well-played."  I didn't stop to speak to the defense attorney.

It was going to be a long weekend too.

I went back up to the grand jury where I found my victim waiting for me.  11:00 - only two hours late.  Still no eyewitness though.

The police called my phone and said they knew where the witness was and they would be bringing him in.  I decided to put the victim into the grand jury and then see if the police showed.

I waited in line to get into my original grand jury.  I used to be first in line.  The grand jury coordinators promise to sneak my suffering victim in before lunch.  These were the special privileges getting shot in the head grants you.

The grand jury was made up of three rows of stadium seating.  It was a private chamber.  The only people allowed in are attorneys, grand jurors, stenographers, and witnesses one at a time.  Defendants, defense attorneys, and judges are not allowed to view anyone's testimony.

It was 12:55 before we get in.  The grand jurors were grumbling and checking their watches.  This was their second week, so they knew the drill.  1:00 was lunch time, but cases routinely went over.  We finished testimony at 1:10.

The grand jury broke for lunch and I checked my messages.  The attorney for my shooting defendant in grand jury called and verified his client was definitely testifying after lunch.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I love all the secret strategizing, trying to play everything just right. I see a lot of that on the civil side. I love this!