Tuesday, December 15, 2009

sitting in court

Last week I had the wonderful experience of spending the day in court. I was called to testify and told I needed to be at the courthouse at 9am. I was there. The way the court works here is that everyone called to appear for the day enters the room at the same time and they go through each case. No-one ever leaves the room to call into the lobby and see if you are present. If you aren't in the room then you miss out - and pay the consequences.
I was a "little" freaked out that there is no-one at all at the entrance checking people as they enter. No wand, no metal detector, nothing. At one point a gentleman began to yell at the judge and the sheriffs jumped to their feet and ran towards him. The judge told him to leave and he did - but not before I had scoped out which exit I would take if things got nasty (and which people I could beat to the door!)
About 50 people were in the room at the beginning of the day. It started out with closed Circuit television showing people in the remand center as they came up on the docket. Then we went through the docket for the day. I was trying to pay attention and see if there was any rhyme or reason - alphabetical, age, reverse alphabetical - but I couldn't see anything that explained how cases were being called. It didn't even appear to be going by the date of the incident. I was there for an incident that happened on October 7th, but there were incidences that happened more recently than mine which were called before mine.
I had a LOT of time to sit and try to figure out the system of names being called because I was the ABSOLUTE LAST case to be called for the day.
Those court benches are insanely uncomfortable. In the provincial building where the courtroom is located there are no vending machines.
Granted - there were some interesting things, but nothing so interesting that I was thrilled to be there or that made the time pass more quickly.
So I went. I waited all day. I testified. I was cross examined (which was the most interesting part of my day).
Then yesterday I received a message on my phone from the RCMP to let me know what had happened in court. Apparently there was some breakdown in communication because as the officer was reading to the message machine what had happened in court he says "I see here that you were subpoenaed. I don't know why that happened, it was not necessary, and I hope you didn't miss work to sit in court for that."
If I had the energy to muster frustration I would have. While it was not the most painful day I have ever spend, it was by FAR anything I would have selected to participate in. I didn't know I had a choice once I was subpoenaed to not show up?

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