Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Courtroom Antics

I have two cases going to court in the next couple of weeks, one civil and one criminal. And it's got me to thinking about past forays into the justice system and how weird it can get.

Used to be, we were the only private practice up here for miles around, and we had folks drive from as far north as Dalton and Copper Hill for therapy. As a result, we were occasionally in courtrooms just about anywhere in the Blue Ridge circuit. Judges and attorneys varied wildly in quality. On one memorable occasion, I drove all the way up to Calhoun to testify in a divorce case in which I had already warned both parties that I had nothing to say that would be good for either of them. But one of them subpoenaed me anyway, so off I went at the crack of dawn to the wilds of north Georgia. No sooner had I been sworn in than the judge asked me if I wanted to waive privilege. I said "No," he excused me, and that was that.

Now I am no lawyer, but it is my understanding that, in the first place, the privilege is not mine to waive. It is the client's, and the soon-to-be-ex-wife, by subpoenaing me, had already waived hers. (Not to mention that, under Georgia law at the time, communications with me weren't privileged in the first place.) But whatever. I didn't want to be there so this suited me just fine.

Even some counties close in to Atlanta were pretty back-country when I started my practice. I was in Dallas one day for a child sexual abuse case. This Court liked to assemble all the parties, including witnesses, before beginning trial and was calling roll. The child victim was female, and was accompanied by her mother. The mother had brought her divorce attorney, who was female, as there was also a modification of custody action pending. I'm a woman, of course, as was the pediatrician who was going to testify to some physical evidence. A female police officer was there to testify as well. At about this point in his roll call, the judge, clearly exasperated, turned to the (female) ADA and asked, "Is everybody in this case female?" to which the ADA, straight-faced, replied, "No, Your Honor, the Defendant is a man." The courtroom broke up. Even the bailiff was laughing.

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