Friday, June 14, 2013

A Role Reversal

Who makes the world's worst witness? Murderer? Rapist? Perjurer?

Wrong on all counts. The correct answer is a lawyer.

A case required my testimony this week, which meant I had to hop from behind the podium to facing it. It was the third time I have had to testify in my career. The reason for this testimony was  that I accidentally witnessed a confession to a crime (a story for another time when the case is over).

My presence was requested at 11 am and so I dutifully went to the courthouse at 10:50 a.m. with a lengthy book I hadn't found the time to delve into. I was the second witness for the hearing. Noon rolled around and my progress in the book was incredible. At 12:15, they broke for lunch. I returned at 1:15 and waited. And waited some more after that. I read my book, picking it up and putting it down about a hundred times. Even when I was reading my thoughts still wandered. I wondered what was happening in there. How bad was it for the other witness? It was taking so long it had to be a bad sign. What if the other witness and I didn't say the right things? Would I tank the case?

At 3:00 I was called to the stand, ready to match wits with the defense attorney, but thoroughly worn down by a long day of waiting and worrying. The attorney is a friend of mine, which made it more difficult than a stranger cross-examining me. The one thing I noticed is how bad the lawyer's questions were. My main goal was to tell the truth, but so many questions were vague and there is plenty of room for interpretation. I asked for clarification or outright corrected the attorney asking me questions. I slipped up once, using the wrong word and that caused me some grief.

I emerged from the witness stand an hour later, battered and carrying an immense appreciation for what it is like to be a witness before they testify.

1 comment:

  1. At least you were prepared for a long wait! It must be very strange being in the box instead of facing it.