I may have just witnessed the greatest courtroom performance this side of Atticus Finch.
As I’ve mentioned, my DC was arrested following our 20-year HS reunion for crack blocking someone on the squash court at the country club where the event was held. Today was his bench trial. Ordinarily, my cousin the workers’ comp attorney – whom I have on retainer (unlimited use of my parents’ timeshare in Westminster, SC) for our youth football team’s legal issues – would represent him. However, my cousin (allegedly) filed an affidavit executed by someone who may or may not have been dead when they executed said affidavit. As a result, he’s been suspended and cannot appear in court for the next 60 days.
My DC decided to represent himself and waive his right to a jury trial, and it turned out to be the right move. During the State’s opening statement, my DC interposed a variety of objections that, frankly, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. He went on tangents about the hearsay rule, the “best evidence” rule, removal to federal court, and the Daubert standard for expert testimony. The judge and the attorney for the state both tried to tell him it’s not customary to object during opening statements, to no avail. The judge also had to instruct the bailiff to confiscate my DC’s cell phone after he made a couple of phone calls during the prosecutor’s opening statement.
My DC’s opening statement was a rambling diatribe about how this entire event stemmed from the fact that he was wrongfully passed over for defensive player of the year his senior year of high school despite leading the region in tackles. The judge asked him on several occasions to stop using profanity and barking at the prosecutor.
The state opened its case by calling the guy who actually won defensive player of the year our senior year because he was an eyewitness to the crack block and events leading up to it. My DC’s cross-examination of him was really a sight to behold. He started off by asking a series of questions about their respective senior seasons, and when the witness claimed to have led the team in tackles, my DC pulled a football program out of his shirt (I mean that literally) and slammed it on witness stand. The prosecutor complained she hadn’t been given the program ahead of time. My DC responded that he was about to “impeach the bejesus” out of the witness unless the prosecutor agreed that the court could “take judicial notice” of his high school statistics. He then started reading (in truth, shouting) his statistics into the record when the judge tried to resolve the dispute.
By the time the defensive player of the year left the stand, nearly three hours had passed and it was time for lunch. My DC promised the judge that the “smoking gun” would come to light in the afternoon, when he would be “aggressively cross-examining” himself. The judge announced we would reconvene in an hour, but begged the prosecutor to “for the love of God, try and work something out with this man so we can stop this.” The prosecutor ended up just agreeing to drop the charges in exchange for my DC agreeing not to go to that country club again.
In short, justice prevailed. We can now turn our focus back to where it belongs – on continuing our youth football team’s reign of dominance.