Shell Shocked: You can’t handle the truth
Will I be given twenty lashes at “Ding” Darling before being sent to CROW for rehab if I were to use a tired old clich here truth is stranger than fiction?
Well, give me those lashes because I’m going to give you an example of how justice works in America. I was recently asked actually required is the right word to be a witness in a civil lawsuit in New York City. It was to be an EBT or an examination before trial. An EBT takes place before a judge rules on whether the evidence is sufficient to have a jury trial.
EBT’s are taken of both a plaintiff and defendant by lawyers for each. Additional witnesses that have knowledge about the events being adjudicated are also called to testify. That’s how I got interrogated by both my lawyer and the defendant’s in an EBT.
But here’s where the truth is stranger than fiction syndrome came into play. I was interrogated for an entire day but almost 50 percent of the time was taken up by bickering between the two lawyers.
Here is an example which was taken directly from my EBT as recorded by a court reporter:
Lawyer one: We have just had the court reporter read back my last two questions and your answers. Now, would you kindly instruct your witness to answer any of those two questions?
Lawyer two: Could you just ask a question, please.
Lawyer one: I’m asking the question.
Lawyer two: What is the question? I don’t know what the question is.
Lawyer one: That’s because you objected to two questions.
Lawyer two: I understand.
Lawyer one: And you lost track of the question.
Lawyer two: What is it you want the witness to answer?
Lawyer one: The last question or the one before that. Either one, take your choice.
Lawyer two: If you know what the question is, you can answer it. It would be useful for you to clarify the question for him.
Lawyer one: I’ve forgotten the second question. I’m sorry.
Lawyer two: My opponent seems to be unable to rephrase it.
Lawyer one: We have a Harvard grad here, a Ph.D. Why don’t you rephrase the question yourself?
Lawyer two: If you’re going to be insulting
Lawyer one: That’s a compliment.
Lawyer two: I didn’t take it as a compliment. What is the question you want answered?
Lawyer one: You said you don’t remember.
Lawyer two: Ask the question.
Lawyer one: Read it back.
Lawyer two: You keep reading it back. What is the question you want an answer to?
Lawyer one: It’s clear.
Lawyer two: It’s not at all clear. If you are going to do that, we are going to call the judge.
Lawyer one: Let’s call the judge.
Lawyer two: Let’s do it. Let’s call the judge if you are going to refuse to ask questions.
Lawyer one: You refuse to allow me to ask the questions.
Lawyer two: You got to tell us what the question is.
Lawyer one: Lower your voice.
Lawyer two: I’m not lowering my voice.
Lawyer one: You are shouting at me.
I was watching all of this unfold. I sat there for fifteen minutes without having the opportunity to answer a question. The two lawyers were bickering and trying to one up each other. I wished that the two of them would simply forget the word play and put on boxing gloves and have it out.
But that’s not the way justice is served. Justice is served by having two opposing lawyers shout into each other’s faces to see which voice box gives in first.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.