A while back, I was handling a trial in which a phone call was important to both sides, depending upon whose version the judge believed. There had been various unnecessary difficulties in the case which left my nerves a little on edge and I suspect most everybody else's in the courtroom. The defendant calls a buddy of his who, with some prompting, backs up every bit of the defendant's version, telling the court that he was on "a three way" and heard the entire conversation. Then comes my turn to question him.
Me: You were on the phone all at the same time?Okay, now that's obtuse, but maybe not purposefully so.
Me: Where were you during the conversation?
Him: My apartment.
Me: Were you using a land-line or wireless?Okay, that is being purposefully obtuse.
Me: Was he on a land-line? (pointing at defendant)
Me: And what room was your phone in?
Him: My phone's cordless. I can take it to any room. (petulantly) What particular conversation are you asking me about?
Me: We all know exactly which conversation we're talking about.The gallery breaks into laughter.
Him: There has been more than one conversation.
Me: The conversation we've been talking about today. Where were you in your house?
Him: My kitchen . . . I don't know . . .
Me: Where was he?
Me: The Defendant.
Him: I DON'T KNOW. ASK HIM!
Judge: If you don't know, just say . . .
Him: I DON'T KNOW!
Judge: Then just say you don't know!
Him: I DO NOT REMEMBER.
Me: But you remember the words of the conversation clear as the nose on your face?
Him (disdainful): Yeah.
Me: And you remember everything else you did with the defendant that day absolutely perfectly?
Him: sigh, Yeeeesssss, snort
Me: But you don't remember anything about where you were when the phone conversation was taking place . . .
Him: ALL RIGHT! I WAS SITTING ON THE TOILET!!
Judge (almost leaping over the bench at the witness): YOU'RE GOING TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU'RE ASKED WHEN YOU'RE ASKED!! OR ELSE I'M GOING TO HOLD YOU IN CONTEMPT AND SEND YOU TO JAIL!! I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN!
Him (glancing at the deputy who has materialized behind him, slightly chastised, but not totally): This is nuts. I apologize.
Judge (looking at me): Any more questions?
Me: No sir.
Judge (looking at him): Get out of my courtroom!
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