The jury expects trial lawyers to be jerks. So it doesn’t really bother them when a lawyer goes for the jugular. In fact, have a confession to make. Have gone for the jugular many times before. Mostly in the past. But every once in a while it just feels too good to resist. Have talked to jurors later who have said they were cheering me on as I ripped into the other side. Trial can be a spectator sport.
So as observe Adam (the defense lawyer) from my Pollyanna haze of serenity, am not for one minute thinking that if the jury doesn’t like him then we win.
Even so, I take extraordinary delight each time he steps into poo poo. Yesterday my favorite moment was when Judge E sustained the objection as Adam tried to improperly impeach Dr. McE by reading to him from his own deposition. Adam didn’t get why he couldn’t do that. The judge realized Adam was not being belligerent but was truly obtuse. Patiently explained to him (in front of the jury) that first the witness had to give an answer that was inconsistent with deposition testimony; then he could impeach him with the document. Oh. Said Adam.
Well, today comes the second lesson from Judge E and it is even better (from my perspective).
Adam is crossing a mom who volunteers at the school and is friends with Ms. Sh. She has straight blonde hair, clear blue eyes and is cute as can be. On direct, we are talking about how competitive it is to be chosen as room parent in kindergarten on the Sammamish plateau (a high end suburb). Because there is such a high parent participation rate. How she and Mrs. Sh cheered their kids at various sporting events. And other such darling topics.
Now remember, Adam comes from the school of thought that you cross everyone as hard as possible as a matter of principle. So he tries to whack her. Here’s the question that starts him down a path of personal doom: If Dr. H testified that blah blah blah, then how can you say, blah blah blah.
Adam pauses. Blinks. Can’t quite figure out what to do. So instead begins to ask the same question again.
Judge E says, counsel I sustained the objection.
But… says Adam. And he begins to argue with the court. Actually interrupts the judge.
I’m sitting still as can be in my roller chair. Cheering loudly in my mind. Go Adam Go!
You know what’s coming. You know what happens when you get in the face of a judge presiding over a jury trial. You know. I know. And soon Adam will know.
COUNSEL! Oh so stern. Judge E has a deep booming voice to begin with. It is now being used with full effect. I HAVE MADE MY RULING. YOUR QUESTION IS IMPROPER!
The room literally rings with the melody of Judge E’s castigation.
Nala is an alpha female. So undersized for her breed, that people still think she’s a puppy. When I run her around the neighborhood, I have to bribe her not to charge after every dog we pass. Chihuahua or Lab. It doesn’t matter how big they are. She is the alpha. A few months ago, a german shepherd was off leash. It rushed us. Nala froze. She then tried to hide behind me but wasn’t quick enough before that bad boy jumped her. I pushed him off her and ultimately skin was not broken. But the rest of the day, Nala was subdued. Ashamed most likely. Conscious that her alpha-ness was only in her own mind.
This is what happens to Adam. His aggressiveness is trimmed down a few notches for the rest of the afternoon.
All in all, today, the jury hears a total of three lay witnesses, two long doctor video depositions, and we have started on the direct of the husband.
An hour after court ends, am running down the hill from my house to pick up Nala. The sun is shining. Am letting my brain wander wherever it wants. And it hits me.
This is the first time in a couple of years, where I haven’t been obsessing and worrying about the jury. Have chosen to be positive Pollyanna. Committed completely to positivity, sweetness and light. We will do this as good as we can, as true as we can, and that’s it.
There is this little song I wrote
I hope you learn it note for note
Like good little children
Don’t worry, be happy
Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
But when you worry
You make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……
Don’t worry don’t do it, be happy
Put a smile on your face
Don’t bring everybody down like this
Don’t worry, it will soon pass
Whatever it is
Don’t worry, be happy
Song By Bobby McFerrin
This entry is derived from an excerpt in my trial diary of Sept. 2012.
Photo: “Aunt Sally” the skeleton in Judge Erlich’s courtroom