My not day in court

It was first supposed to happen on January 30th, but it was canceled the night before. My court appearance, my testimonial witnessing of percipient–that is, merely factual information–which had been compelled by a subpoena sent in the mail versus personally delivered, had been continued; that is, delayed. “Good news” exclaimed an unctuous junior prosecutor. “You can go about your day”. Thanks, I thought. So, the three or four appointments I’d canceled to make way for a hearing that might have happened at any point in a three hour window: I could call all those people back and re-instate their sessions could I? His name is/was Chad, and I never got a chance to pose this flippancy. I have history with guys named Chad. They tend to have girlfriends named Brittany or Saunders.

I hoped this was over, but knew it wasn’t. For the next subpoenaed appearance for the same case, I placed clients on stand-by, telling them I might make it the next day, or I might not. They were all nice and understanding, about which I felt lucky. After all, it doesn’t work in reverse. I have a cancellation policy and can’t operate on the basis of appointments that might happen. Anyway, my situation was unusual, so I deserved the benefit of the doubt, I think. Meanwhile, by this time, I had secured the services of a lawyer through my malpractice insurer, someone who would investigate the trifling details, the dense penal codes that would explain why subpoenas require personal service in some cases and not in others; why summons to some courts call for reimbursement of witness’ time, while others don’t. Above all, I wanted my lawyer to contact the public prosecutor (no longer Chad the second time around, due to a tag-team arrangement in their office, apparently), speak whatever dialect these people speak, and release me from an unnecessary “live” appearance.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care. The whole time this was happening I stayed mindful that my inconvenience would pale in comparison to the troubles of my client. I won’t go into details, partly because of confidentiality, and partly because the nature of his offense might prejudice the reader. Trust me that his incarceration, which continued in another sense throughout this period, was triggered by a technicality, though it stemmed originally, and inevitably, from matters relating to sex. So it was a criminal matter, and half-beknownst to me, criminal courts have more authority than civil ones. I was an unpaid servant at their beckon call, I guess, but it still didn’t make sense. I’d dealt with criminal courts in the past, in different contexts, often writing them letters which detailed the elements of treatment, percipient and not. But all the prosecutor wanted in this case was the basics of attendance; nothing else?

My lawyer didn’t buy it, but pledged to get to the bottom of the matter. She figured that live cross examination would begin with percipient questions, when and how often my client had attended therapy, but would then slip in questions calling for opinions, hoping to slide past the complications of an agreed upon expert testimony. However, much to my lawyer’s surprise, the DA stuck to the official position, insisting upon percipient information alone and adding that second hand information (reported by probation via my reports to them) was “unreliable”.

Interesting. Had a P.O. lost the reports? Were they shooting from the hip in response to questions? The competence of law enforcement was quietly in question, while I, and especially my client, would bear the burden, it seemed.

The second appearance was also continued. This time I got two hours notice, which was obviously too late for my clients to accommodate. On the back of this irrefutably unfair event, I was granted permission to write a more thorough letter, supplementing attendance reports with sign-in sheets, thus excusing me from court following a third subpoena for a hearing now past. My client’s still in jail, his program needlessly interrupted, which is a sadly common event for those mandated into care.

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