Finger info for hendersa@icculus.org...


If I knew that updating a .plan file was this entertaining, I would have
started doing semi-regular updates a long time ago.  Oh well.  My web space
is located at http://nuthouse.org/~hendersa and I can be reached via e-mail
at hendersa@icculus.org.

Archived .plan entries can be seen at http://nuthouse.org/~hendersa/finger.

********************************************
*21 December 2003 - The .plan goes to court*
********************************************
At the time, I certainly wasn't in the best of moods.  After all, I had just 
spent the previous evening reading hundreds of pages of depositions after I 
had spent most of the previous day sitting on a plane flight from California 
to Florida.  I really didn't want to have to testify in court.  I wanted to 
be wearing the suit I was currently wearing even less.  But, a subpeona is a 
subpeona, so there I was.  At 0845 in the morning, none the less.

I was sitting on an uncomfortable wooden bench in the hallway of the third 
floor of Daytona Beach's civil court building.  I had been sworn in for my 
testimony a few moments before, and Faith's lawyer had invoked sequestration, 
so I now had to sit outside the court room and wait until it was my turn to 
go in and testify.  This meant that I had to sit tight, not discuss the case 
with any witnesses, and be bored out of my skull.

The hallway had been quiet for a few minutes, but there was another trial 
beginning to wind up in the courtroom across the hall.  From watching the 
hustle and bustle next door, I surmised that the case had something to do 
with a drunk woman that punched a bouncer at a club, was thrown out of the 
club, and was now trying to sue the club owner for some sort of damage to her 
ankle that was caused by the event.  

A lawyer involved in the case seemed to be in a state of panic because she 
was trying to reach another lawyer that had been retained for the case, and 
she wasn't having much luck.  She had been so preoccupied with pacing the 
hall and calling secretary after secretary on her cel phone that she never 
really noticed me sitting there.  She finally hung up her phone, sighed, 
turned her head, and noticed me.  Her face lit up and she asked me, "Say, are 
you from Orange County?"  I knew that she was referring to the Orange County 
in Florida, but since I was from that particular county in California, I 
figured I'd have a little fun with her.

"I AM from Orange County, actually", I responded. "What can I do for you?"

"Oh!  You ARE here!  Hold on!" she said.  She spun around and stuck her head 
into the court room and said, "Nevermind.  He IS here." She then spun around 
and began quickly telling me how I was going to have to question the bouncer 
from the nightclub in order to demonstrate that he had not shown excessive 
force when throwing the drunk woman out.

Uh oh.  I began waving my arms to cut her off.

"Whoa there!  I'm not involved with your case!" I said to her.  She looked at 
me for a moment and her face sank. "I'm, err.. I flew in from California for 
a child custody case.  I'm from the Orange County in California."  I then 
looked at her blank face for a moment before adding, "... but I charge very 
reasonable rates."

She sighed and stated that she could tell that I was a lawyer (which was news 
to me), but she had mistakenly thought I was involved in her case.  I waved 
my hand and magnanimously stated that it was perfectly alright.  She smiled 
at me and then scrambled back over to her court room to inform everyone that 
she hadn't found the lawyer they everyone was waiting for and that everyone 
should resume panicking.  She then turned my way and started asking a few 
questions about the case I was involved with.

"Flying in counsel from California?  This must be a high-profile case", the 
lawyer noted.  I nodded and informed her that I had been reviewing the 
materials for some time and was certain we had an excellent case.  She winked 
and said that she hoped I was charging a hefty per-diem fee for housing while 
on the road.  I decided to neglect to mention that I was staying at a Days 
Inn motel that was located across the street from a Waffle House in a 
less-than-cosmopolitan section of town.

"Well, good luck", she added.  "I need to get back to tracking this guy 
down."  With that, she once again began dialing her cel phone and yelling at 
various answering services and secretaries.

For the next several hours, I wandered the hallways of the court building.  
I'd wander back to the courtroom every 15 minutes or so, but I always saw the 
same woman on the stand when I'd peer through the tiny window on the 
courtroom door.  The woman being questioned was a custody evaluator that had 
written a 15 page report that said that Faith should be given custody of her 
son and that the father should grow up,  The father's lawyer was trying to 
attack the expert witness in order to discredit her report, but it was pretty 
apparent that she wasn't getting anywhere.  I saw the witness propping her 
head up with her hand and half-heartedly answering questions that I later 
found out were attacking her educational background, her methods of custody 
evaluation, and everything else that the lawyer could think up.  I could also 
see the judge getting more and more irritated by this.  After a brief peek, 
I'd wander back down the hall and continue my efforts to keep busy.

If you want to give up on humanity, I suggest you take a stroll through the 
civil court building of any major city.  It's like being backstage at the 
Jerry Springer show.  I saw a woman with two black eyes being flanked by two 
screaming little kids as she was rolling a stroller with a baby.  Turning the 
corner on the second floor revealed two people (whose ages added up to, in my 
estimate, about 30) making out on a wooden bench.  I saw a woman screaming at 
her teenaged daughter about how the daughter needed to stay away from "that 
man".  Wherever I walked within the building, I saw people in t-shirts, 
shorts and sandals arguing with various clerks, security guards, and each 
other about various family-related issues.

I also found out that wearing a suit in one of these court buildings 
automatically tags you as being a lawyer.  I had numerous people approach me 
and ask for my card because of various legal problems they had.  One lawyer 
walked up to me and told me that lawyers weren't allowed to solicit business 
within the court house.  He advised me to stop walking around the hallways 
because it appeared that I was trying to drum up business.  I assured him 
that I was from California and out in Florida on a special child custody 
case.  As such, I had no desire to take on any cases based out of Florida.  
He looked a little shocked at this, and he nodded, excused himself, and 
wandered back down the hallway.  I guess predators are always intimidated by 
larger predators.  Too bad that the closest I would ever come to being a 
lawyer would be if I bought a briefcase and filled it with shredded 
newspaper.

By the time noon rolled around, I was truly bored.  The circus in the 
courtroom across the hall was in full swing.  There was a gentleman sitting 
on a bench outside that courtroom, and he was roughly the size of an SUV.  He 
was the bouncer that had chucked the drunk woman out of the club.  Next to 
him was a sneaky-looking guy that turned out to be a private investigator who 
had recorded footage of the drunk woman wearing high-heels and dancing at 
another club a week after the bouncer tossed her out on her butt.  So much 
for the her claims of a hurt ankle.  Next to the investigator were two police 
officers that were rather irritated that they were subpeona'd to testify in 
such a stupid case. 

A few minutes after noon, the courtroom doors swung open.  I walked over to 
the door in the hope that it was finally my turn to testify.  But, it turns 
out that everyone was just breaking for lunch.  I watched as everyone filed 
out, and I saw the custody evaluator stabbing at the keys on her cel phone in 
a very irritated manner.  She started talking very quickly with an extremely 
irritated tone in her voice, and she began instructing whoever was on the 
other end to push all her appointments back because "that idiot lawyer is 
wasting everyone's time".  I made eye contact with Faith's husband when he 
walked out, and he quickly turned away from my gaze and looked at his feet.  
His lawyer sneered at me as she walked out, and I made a mental note that she 
looked a lot like the greeter at Walmart and nothing like a lawyer.  Faith 
walked out, shook her head, and said that everyone was breaking for lunch and 
that the trial would resume at 1300.  I shrugged, and then the two of us 
wandered out of the court building into the hot Florida sun.  

This whole trial seemed odd to me.  It was pretty apparent that the 
overwhelming amount of evidence and depositions in the case made it 
open-and-shut.  The husband's lawyer must have thought she had an 
ace-in-the-hole of some sort, and she was betting on that to pull her case 
through.  Faith's lawyer had shrugged and metioned that she had no idea what 
such a thing could be, if it existed at all.  So why go through the expense 
and ordeal of a trial?

Faith and I drove out to a KFC, and we commandeered a table in the back of 
the restaurant.  Neither of us felt like eating, but Faith needed to sit down 
and calm her nerves for a few minutes.  I related my various adventures from 
earlier in the morning, and she just shook her head.  "I can't leave you 
alone for five minutes, can I?" she said while smirking.  I pleaded innocence 
in the matter and blamed the suit for everything.  As such, I should never be 
allowed to wear a suit every again.  She said that she didn't buy into that 
line of reasoning as she reached out and straightened the knot in my tie. 

After sitting there for 30 minutes and getting stared at the entire time by 
almost everyone in the restaurant, Faith and I wandered out to the car and 
headed back to the courthouse.  The two of us sat on the benches outside the 
courtroom for a few minutes before court was back in session.  Faith remarked 
how uncomfortable the benches were as she shuffled her weight back and forth 
in an effort to make the bench a better sitting surface.  I crossed my arms 
and mentioned that she should try sitting on one for three hours while 
waiting to testify.  She sighed and told me that she doubted that the custody 
evaluator would be on the stand for much longer.  The judge had warned the 
husband's lawyer that he was tired of her badgering the witness and that she 
had better start proving some salient points or bring in the next witness.

Court was once again in session, and I resumed sitting on the bench outside 
the courtroom.  It was now about 1315, and I was starting to regret not 
grabbing lunch.  Oh well... it couldn't be that much longer of a wait, right?

When 1400 rolled around, I was beginning to think that God was punishing me 
for some long-forgotten thing I did when I was 4.  The lawyer from the 
courtroom across the hall saw me sitting there and remarked, "Wow, are you 
still here?  What are they doing in there?".  I remarked that the case 
involved the mentally handicapped, so it was going to be a drawn-out process.  
She cocked her head and asked, "How so?".  I shuffled back and forth and 
noted that it was because the opposing counsel was rather slow upstairs.  Her 
quizzical look melted into one of bemusement, and she stated that she knew 
just the type of person I was refering to.  The bouncer and police officer 
sitting across from me snickered.

At 1415, the courtroom door burst open and a very agitated expert witness 
poured forth.  She was waving her hands around and was attempting to say 
about half a dozen things at once.  This woman was clearly quite irritated.  
She turned to face me, pointed back into the courtroom, and told me, "Good 
luck.  Maybe you'll get asked some things that are actually RELEVANT."  She 
walked down the hall at a fast pace while stabbing at the keys of her cel 
phone.  The loud clunking of her high heels were telegraphing the message 
that people should get out of her way.

Sure enough, the baliff stuck his head out the door, waved me into the 
courtroom, and said, "You're Andrew Henderson?  Y'all are on, son.  This way, 
please."  I stood up off the bench, brushed a few rogue fuzzies off my suit, 
and started to walk over to the door.  Just as I was passing through the 
doorway, I heard the bouncer behind me say, "Good luck, man!  Kick her ass!"

If nothing else, I had made a friend.  A very large friend.

I took my position on the witness stand, and took a moment to scope out my 
surroundings.  The judge was to my left, and I could see him out of my 
peripheral vision.  A small podium was set up about 7 or 8 meters in front of 
the judge, and the lawyers performed all questioning from that spot.  A 
baliff was standing to my right about two meters away from me.  I guess 
that's so he could pounce on me to stop me if I attempted to strangled the 
opposing counsel.  All in all, nothing too fancy.  It was the atmosphere, 
rather than the decor, that made the situation intimidating.

First up was Faith's lawyer.  Her questioning of me lasted about 5 minutes, 
and they were basic questions such as "Please state your name for the record" 
and "What was the nature of your discharge from the Air Force?"  No suprises 
from her at all, so I chose to think of it as an orientation of sorts.  I 
used this time to glare over at Faith's husband and watch him avoid eye 
contact with me by looking downwards and contemplating his navel.  I also 
noted that his lawyer looked every more dowdy than my first glace had 
indicated.  His lawyer's assistant was wearing a blouse with poofy sleeves 
that were reminiscent of clothing Snow White would wear.  They certainly 
didn't give the impression of being a crack legal team.

Faith's lawyer stated that she was through with her questioning, and she 
abandoned the podium to rejoin Faith.  The judge grunted and made a motion to 
the husband's lawyer.  "Your witness for cross examination", he stated.  The 
judge was clearly not liking this woman after he had watched her batter a 
witness for hours when she didn't have anything to go on.  "Thank you, your 
honor" she stated to her briefcase as her assitant started shovelling paper 
into the lawyer's arms.

And then, the cross examination began.

Next Court Update: The .plan gets grilled
    

When this .plan was written: 2003-12-21 08:36:07
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Have her shaven and brought to my tent.