Good News and Bad News

Let’s start with the bad news. I have had no time to post or to read. I have been preparing for trial which concluded yesterday. I am in trial again next Tuesday and Wednesday, so this week does not look much more promising in terms of spare time to read or blog. I will get posts up, but am somewhat unlikely to finish anymore TOB contenders before the giveaway closes.

The good news is two fold. First, I found this review of Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth which guarantees I am going to get my hands on it. (I have updated the 2010 TOB Pre-Tournament Prep with an excerpt.) The novel has an unfortunate first round matchup in the Tournament of books, so it may not go anywhere, but I will read the book and post on it eventually. Plus, my daughter may enjoy it. We’ll see.

Second, and more importantly, the concluded trial went spectacularly awry. For opposing counsel, I mean. I felt bad for her, but it certainly made my day much less stressful. Her client has very limited English skills and she made the unfortunate choice of proceeding with a “friend” as interpreter. The judge allowed it, over my objection. It soon became clear, however, that the friend was cutting corners and was neither qualified or competent to handle the task. I renewed my objection and moved to strike the testimony elicited through the interpreter. The motion was granted. Opposing counsel requested a continuance which was denied. She tried valiantly to elicit testimony from her client without an interpreter. It could not be done. Her client had to step down from the witness stand. The case was essentially over. The remainder of the day felt like watching the post-impact portion of a highway accident in super slow motion. I just tried to avoid stepping in any blood.

This is not going to become a law blog, but I did want to explain why the usual early-week post never appeared.

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3 Responses to Good News and Bad News

  1. Here is a client story for you, Kerry, to help you in your preparations. In my previous life as a newspaper editor/executive, I spent a fair bit of time in court as the corporate officer — I’d proved to be a good witness in my first trial (“best witness I have ever had in my court” the judge said after I had spent five days on the stand) so got to have the “job” for about 10 years. It usually involved about two trials a year (mainly libel, but a few contempt of court — we liked to challenge judges — as well). Always as the defendent, I must say.

    The counsel who trained me for that first appearance (“don’t think, don’t anticipate — just answer the question as directly as possible by telling what happened. Expand a bit for me, answer opposing counsel in as few words as possible.”) represented us for most of those years. He introduced me to the concept of “the leaning tree” — as in, “I can usually tell on the first day which way the judge is leaning — and believe me it is hard to make that tree lean the other way.” (I have found that this “leaning tree” applies to my reaction to books and a number of others have found the metaphor useful.)

    While we only lost a few of those trials (when we were wrong, we always tried to settle early), those are the memories that live on — and which your post brought back to mind. I have much sympathy for your opposing counsel, even though she brought it on herself. I remember only too well my most disastrous experience — a two-week libel trial, out-of-town so there were no distractions beyond dinner available, where we discovered on the first day that a key assumption we had made was wrong, at least in the eyes of the judge. For 10 days, I got to sit in court and watch the huge tree come falling down on top of me, slowly, slowly, slowly. Ironically, when the written decision arrived a few months later — finding not only against us, but that we had acted with malice — and the judgment was only $20,000, it felt like a tremendous relief.

    I have great respect for litigation lawyers as a result of those appearances. So good luck next week and we understand the lack of posts. Heck, I just missed a few because I was spending all my time watching the Olympics (I am pleased to report that I saw every Canadian medal live).

  2. Kerry says:

    Kevin,

    Thanks for the stories. That really was quite interesting. And I do like the leaning tree metaphor. I may appropriate it to my own use. Plus, good advice from your counsel on the testimony.

    It really does stink when you are the one on whom the tree is falling. And I loved that “slowly, slowly, slowly.” It does hurt. I too felt bad for my opposing counsel. She was very professional and courteous, but, with respect to choice of interpreter, unfortunate.

    By the way, congratulations on the Candian Hockey win. I didn’t watch the gold medal game, but I understand it was a far more exciting and well-played game than their earlier meeting. In fact, my understanding is that it was one of the greatest Olympic gold medal games ever (not exactly, The Miracle on Ice, but a great game nonetheless).

    Canada did an outstanding job as host, too. Well, that’s what I hear. I wasn’t there…..maybe Rio?

  3. Probably the worst part of the 10 days was waiting for our witnesses (who of course could not be told how things were going), knowing full well they were going to get slaughtered when they took the stand — and that I’d get to hold their hand afterwards. Fortunately, the plaintiff’s lawyer was not only good at his trade, he was a decent person. At the end of the trial, he came over and asked if I would take him on a tour of the newspaper the next time he was in Calgary. Which I did — and he bought me a very nice lunch for doing it.

    It was an excellent hockey game. In fact, if they were all that good, I’d resume being a fan (I was pretty rabid way back when Calgary won the Stanley Cup but have been bored by the game ever since). With the facilities from the 1988 Games here, we are used to a steady procession of international athletes here on a year-round basis (the speed-skating oval and bobsleigh training facility operate through the summer and the women’s hockey team is based here) which is a very nice touch.

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