Courtroom experiences

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by Ersatz, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. Ersatz

    Ersatz

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    Anybody feel like sharing that moment in court where they felt like leaping at the pros/defense attorney? Alternatively, run into any memorable lines of questioning?
     
  2. Hollywood D

    Hollywood D

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    Everytime i get off the stand I feel like walking past the defendants table and slapping the defense attorney in the face. I honestly don't know how they can do that job with a clear conscience.
     

  3. trifecta

    trifecta

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    I've been lucky so far in my dealings with them. No two day visits to the stand while they ask the same dumb question 52 different ways. Part of that is luck, and part of it is doing the right thing and paying attention to detail during investigations and report writing. A friend was deposed recently for about 6 hrs and I think he was about ready to lose it.

    I try hard not to dislike attorney's too much. Without them, our justice system wouldn't work. Do I think there are some worthless lazy prosecutors out there? Oh ya. A defense attorney is just doing his job. I work real hard at doing the right thing, but that doesn't mean I won't need one tomorrow. I better have at least one I can get along with if that happens.
     
  4. sargespd

    sargespd

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    Three instances stand out most from 23 years. First, and most serious, was a case of a 22 yr old guy who raped a 10 yr old boy in a public restroom in our city. I was first responder, and first to talk to the little boy and his mom. My own son was close to his age at the time so it hit very close to home for me. When I testified at trial, the defense atty tried everything he could to discredit my testimony, fortunately to no avail. Freak got life. Second was a drunk driving case. Guy crashed, caused injuries. Trial time, the prosecutor asked what my training consisted of. I spoke in general terms, noted that at the time I was certified by the state to teach roughly 75% of the curriculum in the basic police academy (pretty much everything not related to physical fitness:) ). The prosecutor offered to stipulate to my level of training, but the defense atty wanted a full breakdown. So in front of the jury I got to spend several minutes giving a full list of my training from about 15 years on the job. The jury members all looked impressed, and during a recess, the court reporter came to me and said that was one of the dumbest things she ever saw an attorney do. Finally, on a humorous note, in our Mayor's court one afternoon, a local thug type showed up as a witness for one of his friends in a petty theft case. His testimony was, "Yo, I might gank me a pack o' squares, but not him, he my role dog". The magistrate looked at the prosecutor, the prosecutor looked confused. I was court officer that day, so I said, " I believe that what Mr. Robinson is saying is that while he himself would probably steal a pack of cigarettes, the defendant would not. He considers the defendant a role model." I almost said, "Excuse me, I might be able to help, I speak jive", but didn't know if everyone would appreciate the Airplane reference.
     
  5. pal2511

    pal2511

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    LOL nice!

    None memorable I don't go that often
     
  6. Broke Hoss

    Broke Hoss

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    Let’s see if I can tell this comedy of errors in a fairly short way.
    I stop/cite what turns out to be the Municipal Judge’s ex-wife. She pleads not-guilty & asks for a jury trial. Generally, a smart move cause juries will find not-guilty even if you say “I did, but not on purpose”. She acts as her own attorney, but really did a fairly good job; did her homework & came in with a game plan.

    Because the defendant was his ex, the judge excuses himself. The replacement is a prosecutor from the DA’s office, who had prosecuted several cases with me previously; so we knew each other. The City Attorney presenting the case was dating a fellow police officer/good friend of mine that I had graduated the academy with. So we knew each other well. But we can all get through this professionally; right?

    I’m called to the stand & approach the stand. I stand there looking at the sitting judge & she looks back at me & asks what I’m waiting for, in a whisper so others don’t hear. I tell her I need to be sworn in & raise my right hand. As I stand there, she shuffles around on the bench & then asks if I know where he keeps a copy of the oath. I say that I figure he has it memorized. Judge looks back at me & says “Hang on we’re gonna wing it.” It wasn’t straight out of the code, but close enough.

    Prosecutor begins questioning me. EVERYTIME she addresses me it’s “Jim,,,, er I mean Officer”. :embarassed: And we can’t hardly look at each other without snickering. But again, we manage to bumble through it.

    The defendant, like I said did a good job for representing herself. She began to attack my memory of about how far she was back from the intersection when the light turned; other traffic on the road; time of the yellow light & such. She did so by setting up how many cites I write a week; how many stops/contacts I make; and how out of all these can I remember this particular stop in such great detail.

    I point out I take good notes and the cite is given to her to show what all I had noted. This included her approximate location at the time the light changed, other traffic present, weather and such. I also point out that I noted that as I explained the procedure for telling the judge she was contesting the cite I quoted her as saying: “I don’t have to go down there to see that SOB. He’s my ex-fXXXXing husband!” And that made this particular stop stand out in my mind from all the others.:tongueout:

    She was found guilty & fined.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2010
  7. Philly K-9

    Philly K-9 Run! I Dare ya!

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    Ahh, where do I begin. I'l star you guys off easy. Narcotics Unit buys from a BG several times from inside his home. Each time they make a buy the UC would see a 5 year old boy running around the house. Right before they hit the house the UC makes the last buy. When he does he sees a loaded pistol on the coffee table. The kid is also in the room. When they hit the house the BG grabs the kid and runs out the rear and down an alley. He's charged with all the felonies in the world. He also has several prior drug and gun arrests.

    He's found guilty and was sentenced to.......... SEVEN (7) YEARS PROBATION! Again, SEVEN (7) YEARS PROBATION. :faint: :steamed:

    Ready for another one? Sit down......

    Two female plain clothes cops are on patrol in an unmarked car. They begin to follow a Jeep as he circles the same block several times. On the last go round they see the BG (driver) on the phone. When they come around again another guy comes out from the shadows and starts shooting a .45 at the cops. One of the slugs comes to rest in the front passenger seat head rest, less than an inch from her head. Fast forward a little, we get the Jeep stopped and arrest the driver. Myself and my dog track the shooter from the corner to the rear of a house on the block. SWAT ends up bringing him out of the house. Turns out that the shooter is related to the driver and the house the shooter was in is also the house where the driver of the Jeep lives. So, we figure that the driver called the shooter and had the cops set-up.

    At trial the Defense gets the Jugde to disallow anything about the K-9 tracking the shooter, makes one of the female cops cry on the stand, and has the entire jury shaking their heads "NO" whenever the ADA spoke. The verdict? Take a guess. :whistling:

    Want some more? How about funny one? I lock-up a BG for Heroin. Before I stopped him he tosses the bundle of dope. Now, in PA we have some really messed up case law. One is called "Forced Abandonment". That's when the cops "force" the BG to abandon his contraband. This is done simply by saying something to the BG. Really, I couldn't make this up. Ok, so I'm in court and the Defense chick asks me if I said anything to the defendant. "No ma'am". "Did your partner ask my client anything?" "My partner?" "Yes" she says, looking down at her file "Police Officer "JUSTICE #K-541? Did he say anything to my client"? At this point the judge and the audience are trying not to laugh. So, I say...."Yes Ma'am he may have." "What did he say?" "WOOF!" "Woof?" she says. "Yes ma'am, woof. He may have also growled at him!" The Judge ends it by bursting out laughing and says "His partner is a German Shepherd!!!!" True story. :wavey:
     
  8. msu_grad_121

    msu_grad_121 BOOSH

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    I did have one guy I locked up a little over 2 years ago for B&E, ran from us, then turned and fought, ended up going to the hospital, then jail.

    Fast forward 15 months (which included 6 adjournments), and finally idiot boy decides he wants a bench trial. His only witness was his girlfriend, who wasn't there and couldn't give the correct time, month, location, pretty much anything of importance, but got on the stand anyway. What cracked me up was what she wore to court: a WAY too tight t-shirt that said "You wish you could hit this", mini skirt that covered less than my duty belt, bright yellow stockings, and black thigh high spike heel boots. This of course discounting the bright red weave and several facial piercings she had.

    I just about cracked up when, as she took the stand, my partner leans over to me and whispers "Bet you she's seen the judge a few times, what with all the prostitution arrests she's had." :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2010
  9. Broke Hoss

    Broke Hoss

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    Local narc is on the stand, at the time he is looking down; studying the evidence intently; looking for his secret mark to insure that it is indeed the same item seized from the defendant. As he does this, the prosecutor asks the judge “May I approach?”
    The narc, who was obviously concentrating way to hard, says without looking up: “Sure, come on up.” The courtroom breaks out in laughter.
    As the the narc is finishing up on the stand, it is approaching the noon hour. The judge suggests a recess and everyone to return afterwards. He then turns to the narc, who is still on the stand, and asks “If that’s alright with you?”
     
  10. CanIhaveGasCash

    CanIhaveGasCash

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    I had DUI case where they brought in an ex cop to testify as an expert witness. He attacked the way I did roadsides and said that when he was trained that they never did vertical nystagmus. I wrote the prosecutor a little note. During cross examination he asks the "expert witness" how many DUI's he did his last 5 years on the job. The answer was 3. He then asked him when the last time he had been certified in SFST's... he couldn't remember.

    I ended up losing anyways in the dumbest ruling in the history of our courts, but it was still fun to watch the "expert's" testimony get thrown out.
     
  11. Patchman

    Patchman Florist

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    Be as prepared for court as you can. When you're in the witness stand, you're on stage. Your opportunity to be the star, the center of attention. The jury is hanging on to your every word and action. Embrace the limelight. But win or lose, it's all part of the game. Nothing personal.
     
  12. janice6

    janice6 Silver Member

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    Auto lawsuit. Gave the defense a deposition. Went to trial. Lawyer was a ***bag. questioned my abilities at my job. He said, were you hurt? I said yes, I had physical injuries---Then the defense lawyer asked for a mistrial on the basis that I had perjured myself by not disclosing my injury during the deposition. My Lawyer said " but you didn't ask him if he was injured!"


    Even the judge laughed at that one.
     
  13. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

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    My favorites are from traffic court. We had a no nonsense County Judge. And if you tried schooling him you were in for big trouble.

    I don't remember what the ticket was for anymore but this jerk gets up and the first words out of his mouth are,

    "Your honor I am from Miami and in Miami.......BAM...judge slams down his gavel.

    "You're not in Miami! Guilty! pay your fine right over there.
     
  14. BamaTrooper

    BamaTrooper Retired

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    Two-
    Testifying at a traffic homicide trial, the defense attorney asked my about a line in my narrative where I said I expected to see severe injuries to the right side of body and head. He asked about the severe injuries, so I looked at him, then the jury, then him nad said, "The victim is dead. That is about as severe an injury as I know of."

    The other, I was talking to a defendant I had written several tickets, telling him if he pleaded to two of them, I would recommend we drop the others. One of the defense attorneys watched the proceedings, then as his case got called up, he asked the judge if I should be acting as council. I told him, and the whole court as I was walking out, "I do kinda feel like a defense attorney. On that note, I'm going home to take a bath." :supergrin:
     
  15. MSW

    MSW

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    represent the “people” and are supposed to put forth the victim’s side.
    My big complaints are not usually with the defense lawyers, I figure these folks have a job to do and the ones I’ve dealt with generally do it fairly well. Many of them are appointed to represent scumbags and they fill a role in the justice system.
    My real complaints are against the prosecutors who do not do their jobs.
    Here are a few examples (some examples occur so often that these folks should be fired – but that’s for another thread).
    1. Not listing the correct arresting police officer on the subpoena list therefore the evidence chain is broken and the defense lawyers wins the Motion to Suppress because the correct cops are there to testify. This really makes me mad.

    2. Not having read the arrest reports (and the supplemental arrest reports – all under the same file number) and charging by Bill of Information (not Grand Jury) a WITNESS to a crime – not the perp. The defense lawyer for the witness called me to say that her client had been charged in this case and I sort of blew her off saying “no, I’m sure your client has just been subpoenaed to testify”. Well after hearing the docket called and hearing the witness’ lawyer stand up and say “We’re ready for trial your honor” did I start to think that the ADA had charged the wrong person. I took the public defender out in the hall and she explained to me that she’d tried to tell the ADA that she represented the witness, not the person I arrested but got blown off”. – At the end of the docket call the Judge says “who’s ready for trial?” My case goes. ADA – who has not bothered to respond to my phone calls or my phone calls to his investigator – starts our case – I’m the first witness (Judge Trial) and the ADA starts to question me about the actions of the defendant (really the witness). After about 10 questions about exactly what the witness told me (the public defender is not objecting to hearsay – really she was just waiting for the ADA to shut up) the ADA finally asks me a question that I can answer on direct exam “Officer, isn’t it true that the defendant (really a witness) told you that he committed the crime?” My response is well, “yes the witness did tell me that she saw what the real defendant did but – well Mr. District Attorney – you actually charged the witness to the crime and not the defendant”. At this point the Judge is furious because we’ve wasted the court’s time. The DA is just stumbling because he realizes that not only did he screw up by no reading the report but his staff of investigators didn’t read the report. The judge grants a mistrial and chews the ADA’s butt for screwing up. The “witness” who was arrested on a DA warrant and spent a few nights in jail filed a 1983 Civil Rights action against our department and the DA’s office and gets pretty good cash judgment – which was well deserved.
    3. The other bone head thing that I’ve seen ADA’s do is they “lose the evidence”. We recently had an ADA who kept “losing guns”. Turns out he was checking guns out of evidence and taking them home. Some of the guns he sold, some were recovered. The bad news is all the cases were screwed up because of the chain of custody had been broken.
    4. While these sound bad, my all time favorite is when I’m subpoenaed for court and I call the DA to confirm the case is going to go (keep in mind I’m off duty and either caring for my kids or supposed to be working extra duty) and am told “yep, it is going” so I show up. Only to discover that the defendant plead out a week before and the case really isn’t on the docket. Since it is not on the docket, I don't get my witness fees, I've had to make other arrangements for my kids and I've lost money because I can't work my extra duty.
    5. I could go on and on. Yea, I get angry with defense lawyers sometimes but I get madders at the ADA’s who don’t do their jobs allowing the defendants to get off. The public defenders have a job to do but so do the DA’s and I find a lot of the times it is the DA’s who are not doing their jobs properly.

    Having appeared in both state and federal criminal courts as a witness for a very long time I’ll echo the statements above about being prepared for court.
     
  16. HISEASCOWBOY

    HISEASCOWBOY

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    Where to start? There was a high price defense attorney asked an older man how far he could see under moon light. The man respnded "I can see the moon. How far is that?" The court room erupted in laughter :supergrin: .
     
  17. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

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    Nothing terribly significant I guess. A couple of douchies implied (or just said outright) that I was lying while under oath. Our judges tend to see right through that and the defense attorneys were shut down pretty quick.

    Honestly, the most memorable occasions are from defense attorneys who were SO BAD at their jobs, their line of questioning essentially proved the case for the prosecutor.
     
  18. Bobshouse

    Bobshouse

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    One that really sticks out in my mind is we had an escape attempt from the recreation yard and I was involved in the shooting to prevent the escape.

    In court I was examined by the defense attorney and questioned on if I had seen the inmate on the fence. I replied yes, I saw his two arms reach up and grab the barbed wire running across the top of the fence, and fired a warning shot in front of the inmate.

    This guy stepped up to the witness box, looked me dead in the eyes and asked if I had seen a body attached to those arms...

    I couldn't help it, I gave a glance over to the jury and gave them one of those "WTF??" looks and answered his question.

    Never did find out why I was asked that question..the convict was found guilty and received an additional 5 years for attemped escape.
     
  19. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Oh... just a few that I can recall....

    Mostly in traffic court, the defendant tries as best they can to just ask you what you can recall and see and you just respond, "YES" when they ask if you saw them commit the violation. Gee, you just wanted to confirm it or you really expect me to say "NO" when you asked if I knew what I was doing?

    I laugh at defense attorneys, really. They have a tough job sometimes doing what they have to do but sometimes there are some real scum though that do anything to pervert justice.

    I had a guy pull a knife on me and ask for money while I was off-duty. My friend next to me (blackbelt) snatches the knife out of the guy's hand. Guy takes off running. Guy didn't get 2 blocks before getting arrested by locals. Case goes to court, I show up in full uniform, find the DA and he tells me the guy is on probation and fighting the case. I ask the DA if they know the victim is a cop. DA says it's in the report but he doesn't know if defense read the report. DA walks over to defendant and defense attorney, points to me, says, "That's your victim." they whisper, I hear defendant yell, "HOW SHOULD I KNOW HE WAS A COP?" DA walks back, tells me they'll take a deal. Judge was on the bench watching this whole thing, just cracking a smile but glad a case is off his docket.

    Speaking of DA's not doing their job... I had the good fortune to live through the experience of being subpoenaed as a witness when I wasn't there on a case. One of my non-cop buddies got into a fight with some gangster punks. My buddy is 6 feet 1 inch of solid muscle and a few little 5 feet 6 inch wimply gangster punks decided to try their luck and got their asses handed to them.

    Of course, the cops came and arrested my buddy who was the one standing while the punks lay on the ground bleeding. Case goes to court, I was in court with my other friends who were there at the fight. They all got subpoena'ed as witnesses. DA confers with gangsters, looks at me, asks the judge to issue a subpoena for me because the gangsters identified me as someone who was there during the fight.

    During the break, I tell the DA she's making a big mistake and I wasn't there. I tell her she better interview me before putting me on the stand but she won't listen. She says her witness says I was there and she is going to put me on the stand. Defense attorney did the smart thing and talked to me about the case before I got on the stand and I honestly answered that I wasn't there and didn't see a thing.

    So I get up on the stand... and it went something like this:

    DA: Where you present during the fight?
    ME: No.
    DA: Where were you then?
    ME: At home with my girlfriend. She can testify I was home with her.
    DA: How can you be so sure and what were you doing at home with her?
    ME: I don't think that will be appropriate to discuss in open court what I was doing with my girlfriend at 230am that Saturday night.
    DA: That won't be necessary then. So you were not with the defendant at anytime during the night?
    ME: Like I tried to tell you when you subpoena'ed me, I was not with him that night.
    DA: My witnesses say you were there. Are they lying?
    ME: They must be, because I wasn't there. You can ask every one of the defense witnesses too and they'll tell you the same thing.

    At this point, the DA had no more questions but she looked very clueless as to what had just happened. The defense (DF) took over immediately:

    DF: Can you tell the court about your background and experience as it relates to courtroom testimony?
    ME: Police officer and attorney at law for XX years.
    DF: So you are a sworn LE officer as well as an officer of the court as an attorney?
    ME: Yes.
    DF: So it's fair to say you know your obligation to tell the truth?
    ME: Yes.
    DF: Has everything you testified to today been the whole truth?
    ME: Yes, including me telling madame DA to not put me on the stand.

    My buddy won the case. I think I tipped the scales in totally discrediting the DA's case and her gangbanger witnesses since nobody took them seriously after that.
     
  20. TexasSchool Cop

    TexasSchool Cop

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    Where to start. One time during a deposition, the attorney entered a letter as evidence and then proceeded to ask me if if I said what is listed in paragraph 3 of the letter. I look at the letter and see that they have the name wrong.

    Attorney: Is that what you said referenced in paragraph 3
    Me: No
    Attorney paragraph 3, says you said " yada yada yada.
    Mo. No counselor I don't see that
    Attorney gets up and walks over to me and takes the letter and points to paragraph 3 and says. "Right there it says you said yada yada yada.
    Me. No counselor, it says Sgt. Wrong same said yada yada yada, and I have no idea who the hell that is".

    Stenographer comes up later and tells me that is the funniest thing she has heard in 20 years.

    Another time, I am testifying on a Indecency with a Child case, and the suspects attorney is real nasty aggressive. During my cross he asks me if I am part of "the" conspiracy. I ask him which one, the Second gunman on the grassy knoll or the one about area 51. He was pissed. Judge just looked him and said, "you asked the question".

    Best ever was one my Lt did in court. Defense attorney asks him. "If you was headed north and you turned right, would you say that you was headed east? Lt answers "No"

    Attorney repeats the question the exact same way and gets the same answer. Getting frustrated, attorney then asks "If you was headed north and you turned right, which hay would you be headed. Lt answers "east".

    Attorney then says. "I asked you if was headed north and turned right, would you say you was headed east".

    Lt. answers, "You asked me if I would say that, I have no reason to say that".

    Attorney: Your Honor, the witness is badgering me.

    Court bursts out in laughter.