Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Crazy Lady Lawyer

I'm starting to believe there is something in the water here in central Florida. I've spent the last two days deeply involved in the Seminole County justice system as a member of a jury. The case was simple; a misdemeanor incident to another, larger case. The court had only scheduled the courtroom for Tuesday (Monday is used to select all the juries for the entire week, which saves a great deal of time over the traditional way of doing jury duty.) The expectation was that we would be out early afternoon at the latest. Well....

Everything started off efficiently enough with the judge telling us how real courtrooms work as opposed to how they work on TV. We made it through opening statements from the lawyers and the prosecution's entire list of witnesses by 10:30AM. Sweet. Then the defense took over and everything went off the rails. The first problem that became immediately apparent was that there really was no defense. The police car video, which we would come to loath with a white-hot passion, pretty much told the story. Secondly, every defense witness was either a provable liar, contradicting what was clearly visible on the video, or completely supported the prosecution's case. But the biggest problem was the defense attorney: she was probably one of the most unpleasant human beings I've ever met, and seemingly had no concern other than wasting our time while collecting her taxpayer-funded fee. By the end, it seemed obvious to me that she would stoop to any level to force a mistrial.

She wanted to show the police car video, the only physical evidence, over and over; forward, backward, pause, play, skip back and play the same few seconds again and again. Which all would be bad enough, but she didn't know how to use her laptop or the video software she was using. The prosecution team bailed out her sorry ass a number of times, including loaning her their laptop, then finally feigned ignorance out of self-defense. She constantly violated the basic rules of court behavior, requiring the jury to be tossed out of the courtroom every few minutes while the judge gave her a verbal spanking. She needed to use the restroom more than any human on the planet. She claimed she couldn't hear anything. Her bad knees wouldn't allow her to stand to object, so the judge was constantly having to stop the proceedings to ask if she was objecting to something or if she was just mumbling to herself. (I found her mumbling especially odd given her constant interruptions because she couldn't hear what other people were saying.)

In other words, she wasted so much time that we were still waiting for closing arguments at 9:00PM. But even then, we weren't done. Her closing argument turned into a screaming diatribe that degenerated into the point-blank claim that if we found her client guilty we were a bunch of racist, homophobic neo-Nazis with smelly armpits. I couldn't even watch her because I was afraid I would burst out laughing. The prosecution team and the judge were too stunned to even try to stop her. Then she just ended mid-sentence and wrapped up with a sarcastic comment that we were going to do whatever we wanted no matter what she said. Um, exactly? Opening and closing arguments are not evidence and only serve to inform then remind the jury of what evidence was given. But at least she had finally shut up and we headed back to deliberations.

As the only person who had been on a jury before and the token male of the group, I ended up as the jury foreman. I took a quick poll and we had a unanimous decision without discussion, but I got everyone talking anyway. After ten minutes, it was pretty clear no one had the slightest doubt about their initial vote, so one last poll and we told the court officer we had a verdict. Unfortunately, Ms. Defense Attorney from Hell wasn't done with us. She had left the building. So we sat around another fifteen minutes venting about this idiot woman. Finally we were back in the courtroom and the verdict was read. Florida actually does the sentencing for misdemeanors right then and there, so we had to sit through that. We finally began working our way out of the building at 10:05PM.

Holy. Crap.

As a taxpayer who funded this public "defender", I want a refund.

1 comment:

Rio said...

Interesting! We all need refunds. Check: