#1) My client was charged with drug possession after a police officer found them in a hard carton cigarette pack (one made out of cardboard) because when he picked it up and shook it, “sounded like drugs inside.” I argued that the officer would never have had discovered the drugs unless he had opened the box, and that the mere sound of the contents of the shaken box could not possibly have given the officer probable cause to open the box.
So at trial I produced from my jacket the hard carton cigarette pack box and shook it in the presence of the officer and the judge, then asked, “Did you hear me shake this box?” The officer responded that he did. I then asked, “Does it sound like there are drugs in it?” The poor guy had to say yes, and he did. I then opened the box and showed him two capsules, then asked, “So what sounded like drugs to you may be drugs, right?” The officer had to say yes, and he did. Then I asked, “Officer, can you tell me what kind of drugs these are?” The officer responded with “I don’t know.” I then popped the capsules in my mouth and started chewing and said, “Let the record reflect that they are two white Good n’ Plenty candies.”
I moved for summary judgment and the motion was granted.
#2) I was in a hearing with an attorney who was incapable of posing a question that wasn’t objectionable. He just didn’t know how to ask questions properly, so with virtually every question he posed I stood and made my objections. Rather than taking the offending attorney to task, however, the judge got upset with me (not because I was in the wrong, but because the judge just wanted to get through the hearing and I was slowing us down—yeah, that happens, folks). Eventually, the judge made this order, “I am now ordering that Mr. Johnson cannot make any further objections to opposing counsel’s questions to the witness,” at which point I wasn’t upset because I now knew I’d all but certainly win the case on appeal, given the judge’s misconduct.
I never got to appeal the judge’s decision.
Because after I was barred from making objections, opposing counsel mistaken took it as a license to formulate even worse questions, but through it all I just sat there and gazed about the courtroom, doodled on my legal, pad, etc. One thing I did not do is pay attention to the case anymore. I didn’t need to. There wasn’t much I could do anyway.
When suddenly the judge interrupted opposing counsel and announced, “I previously ordered Mr. Johnson barred from raising any objections to opposing counsel’s questions. I am now rescinding that order. Mr. Johnson, do you have anything you wish to say at this point?” After hesitating a moment to gather my thoughts, I responded with: “Objection? (I had no idea what I was objecting too-remember, I’d stopped paying attention long before). SUSTAINED! The judge thundered back.
#3) I represented the respondent in a civil stalking injunction case (in Utah). This is an example of how it went, back and forth for an hour, as both men told basically the same story:
Q: And what did he say to you?
A: He said, “If you ever come on my property again, I’ll kick your ass.”
Q: And what, if anything, did he say in response?
A: He said, “You try to kick my ass and I’ll kick your ass, and I told him, ‘You try to kick my ass and I’ll kick your ass.’”
Q: Did you take him seriously when he said, “I’ll kick your ass”?
A: You bet your ass. And if you threaten me and my family, then I’ll kick your ass.
I don’t think I will ever, anywhere, hear the phrase “kick your ass” spoken more times in the space of an hour than I did then. Not once did the judge admonish either party or me for using the phrase the entire time (and to be fair, I think the judge correctly believed that these men were incapable of describing the situation without using the phrase).
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