Friday, July 24, 2009

SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT


It was very strange today to find myself sitting in the witness chair, testifying. I have, of course, been in the courtroom on many occasions over the last 23 years. I've always been there as an advocate, questioning witnesses or arguing points of law. Today, however, was different. Today I was called to testify on behalf of a very good friend who is going through a major custody battle. I was called as a fact and character witness to testify as to my opinions and observations about my friend's parenting abilities.

I was happy to do this. I am very familiar with the situation, and was glad to be able to express my views and opinions. It so happens that my friend is a wonderful father, as I have observed many times over, and I told the judge that without reservation. Still, the experience gave me a new perspective. I was anxious and cautious to make sure that I was honest and thorough in my testimony. I wanted to make sure that everything I said was right. I hope that all witnesses sworn under oath feel that same weight of responsibility. The experience gave me a new appreciation for what witnesses go through.

I know that some witnesses lie under oath. I would be naive to suggest otherwise. But I truly believe that most people are honest, and that it means something to the majority of people if they raise their hand and swear to tell the truth in a court of law. At least I hope so.

I will remember this experience, with a greater degree of empathy, the next time I am the one conducting the examination. We are never too old to learn something new.

2 Comments:

Blogger white rabbit said...

I've given evidence three times - twice as to character and once when a guy I'd acted for pleaded guilty but later wanted to vacate his plea. I can't say I enjoyed the experience one luittle bit.

Keep eating the butties ;)

8:37 AM  
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