Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Day in Court

So I had my first subpoena and trip to the courtroom the other day. I gotta tell you that it was definately an experience and I came away from the proceedings with the opinion that I never want to be in a courtroom as a defendant.

Since I work for a doctor, I was subpoenaed by a detective to be a witness in a drug faud case. The defendant was illegally calling in drugs to different pharmacies using my doctor's name. I was not nervous at all about what the district attorney might ask me because the facts were pretty clear cut and all I basically would be required to do was state that the said defendant was not a patient of my doctor.

I actually was very nervous about driving to a new area, parking, and finding the right court room. For those of you that know me, you know I am directionally challenged (and borrowing an expression from my middle son) not qualified to drive to a place I've never been before. Fortunately, my practice administrator at work, took pity on me and decided to drive me there. ( Bless you!)

I'm sure the proceedings were fairly routine in the courtroom that day, but I gotta tell you that the whole deal was a bit overwhelming. The attorneys were speaking legalese, the judge was asking questions of the defendants like: "You are pleading guilty. Were you coerced into giving up your rights? and Do you understand you are giving up your right to ever question your accuser?" and various other very final type questions. There seemed to be a firm, no nonsense, even intimidating type atmosphere in that court room.

We heard a couple of cases that day. One about a guy who was doing 88 mph in 55 mph zone. He must have had some other things in his history too but it all happened so fast I couldn't keep up. He ended up losing his liscense for 3 months. I was shocked to hear he could have gone to jail for 12 months... The penalties all seemed pretty stiff to me, and the baliff actually took him away in handcuffs. So there he was in his suit and handcuffs .
Another case was a girl that looked about 18 who was stealing money from her employer. Her little baby was out in the hall in a car seat. The district attorney seemed a little nicer to her, but the judge was all business and kept wanting some way to monitor her payments of restitution. She didn't get jail time because it was suspended and she didn't get taken away in handcuffs.

The case that I was subpoenaed for was for 16 counts of felony drug fraud. The guy ended up pleading down to 6 counts. He evidently has made a practice of obtaining drugs illegally since 2003, been in and out of jail in the past, and continues to plague the detectives and legal system. None to the people who were subpeonaed that day in this case were actually asked anything since he took the plea bargain deal. He doesn't have to report to jail until April. I looked around at the witnesses and thought what a horrible waste of time this all was. There was an emergency room doctor, 2 pharmacists, one office administrator of a big doctor's office, one nurse, and a detective present. All those healthcare workers and the detective definately were pulled away from important jobs without any real resolution to this guys drug problem. The gal sitting next to me said, " I would probably be put in jail for jay walking and this guy gets off with very little."

It is an interesting analogy that the one guy was taken away in cuffs and the other will have many more free days before he must serve. I could only think: Well, that gives him time to call in a bunch more drugs till April, but that shows my cynical side.

Lesson learned for me was that I never want to be in any courtroom, except as an observer.


neva said...

I am so with you about being only an observer...and yeah he is going to be calling in more drugs....and the other guy(in the suit)will wonder why he is calling a cab at his own expense to go to work!

Anonymous said...

If the author of this article made it to the stand, I wish I could have seen it.
Question from lawyer:
Madame, How many times do you have a record of the offense?

Witness answer:

Well I got this call from ...

Judge: Madame, answer the question

Witness: ok I'm gettin to that, As I was saying, I got this call from the pharm....

Jugde: Madame: answer the question

Witness: ok I'm gettin to that, As I was saying, I got this call from the pharmacy on Tuesday right after lunch...

Jugde: Madame: answer the question

Witness: ok I'm gettin to that, As I was saying, I got this call from the pharmacy on Tuesday right after lunch. I knew it was after lunch cause I had a wonderful...

Jugde: Madame: answer the question

Witness: ok ok 14
Judge to Lawyer: No further questions please.