21 June 2007

Citizen Complaints Part 2

Another part of citizens being able to go and file their own criminal complaints is that the citizen usually files paperwork subpoenaing witnesses at the same time. Of course, the citizen doesn't know whom to subpoena so some will subpoena everybody they think might be relevant. And they usually miss a necessary witness or two in the process.

It's a citizen complaint involving fraud at a family owned store. The citizen hasn't subpoenaed anyone from the bank to verify needed records, but she has subpoenaed everyone who has a store at the same mini-mall where her family's store is located.

1 p.m. rolls around and I walk into the courtroom. There are about 8 people sitting on the front row and before I can even set my papers down the lady on the end stands up:
Lady: Are you the county attorney?

Me: No ma'am, I'm the prosecutor.

Lady: There's no reason for me to be here. I don't know anything.

Me: Ummm . . . Ma'am, what case are you here for today?
At this point I notice that the other merchants who are sitting on the front row with this lady are starting to laugh.
Lady: I'm here for the case against Bobby. I live in Kentucky and I had to get up out of bed and come all the way up here for this and I don't know anything! I want to know why you subpoenaed me!

Me: Ma'am, this is the first time I've seen you . . .

Lady: First, time I've seen you too; don't have nothing to do with subpoenaing me.
At this point I notice that the merchants in the front row are doing everything in their power just to keep from howling in laughter.
Me: Ma'am, I didn't subpoena anyone to be here today. Which case are you here for?

Lady: The one he wants me here for. (points to a man sitting 2 rows behind)

Me: Let me talk to the gentleman and see what is going on.

Lady: You do that.
I go out and talk to the gentleman and realize that none of the merchants needed to be there at all. In any case, when I come back in the court the judge is on the bench. He immediately calls the case because the defendant hadn't been able to hire the attorney she told the court she was hiring and now wants a court appointed attorney. So the judge appoints an attorney and continues the case for a month. I motion all the witnesses outside to tell them what's going on and the last one out is the Lady.
Lady: I came all this way and you aren't even having a trial?
Sometimes all you can do is smile.

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