Expert Witness ?
Well, I’m not really an expert, but after testifying twice in court I feel like one. I went to court today because of the wreck that we were subjected to last January. You may remember reading about how the guy plowed into us while we were stopped at a red light.
His first court date got continued, and I was afraid this one would as well – but since the guy was escorted into the courtroom in an orange-striped jumpsuit, flip flops and handcuffs, I guess he didn’t have that option. He has been serving a jail sentence for spousal abuse (300 days.)
The Assistant District Attorney called me to the front of the courtroom before the judge arrived, and placed me in the witness section – which would have been the jury panel, had there been a jury. I sat among several Raleigh City Police and NC State Troopers, as well as a few Probation Officers. There is nothing like that crowd to make you feel safe.
The ADA asked me a few questions to confirm what I had told her on the phone several months ago. When the inmate’s attorney arrived, they called the case. The ADA presented her information (which the judge was already privy to, of course.) I had told her that since I have a cold, I wasn’t hearing well, so she raised her voice so I had no trouble understanding. She said that the defendant had lost his license permanently at the age of 18 for DUI’s. He is now about 36 and in the time since he lost his license, he has had 3 DUI’s and 4 instances of driving without a license. He also has several charges of spousal abuse, and another one coming up in February, plus another case of DUI in a neighboring county. This ADA really knew her stuff and she pled the case well, asking for more than the minimum sentence (60 days) to teach this guy a lesson.
She mentioned me to the judge and told him that I had reported that the defendant had asked us to lie about who was driving the car, if by some miracle, as he stated, his wife and mother got to the scene of the accident before the NC State Trooper arrived. I didn’t have to go to the witness stand, but the judge asked me a few questions and accepted my answers.
The defendant’s attorney then pleaded for his client. He had rose-colored glasses on when he mentioned the facts of the case. I understand that an attorney is supposed to get his client off, but in this case, he really went past the mark. He didn’t lie outright, but he surely did shade the truth.
The judge wasn’t having any of it. He sentenced the guy to another 120 days, to be served after the current 300 days sentence. Bear in mind that this guy has two more court dates yet to come (not involving me, thank God!)
After the proceedings, the ADA thanked me (as did the Probation Officer) and said I was free to go and unless the defendant appeals the sentence, I will not have to return. I told her I would come back if I was needed. They seemed to think that my presence helped to persuade the judge to give this guy a longer sentence than he got the last time he drove with a license. I was happy to help.
I think in my next life, I’m going to be a DA. The whole process was very interesting!