You Know What Happens When You Assume…
ORIGINALLY POSTED 10/5/11–I have a sign in my home-office: Chaos, Panic & Disorder: My Work Here Is Done! Yep, last Thursday was one of those days. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry, but for sure, I learned some valuable lessons about assumptions.
My professor needed volunteers to conduct a trial—a prosecutor, defense attorney and a police officer. Everyone else would play jury. Suddenly, “I’ll be the prosecutor,” escaped from my mouth. Instant volunteer-remorse.
I tried to prep, but with only the police report I’m confused about how to admit it as evidence. It’s clearly hearsay….right?? I composed a list of thirty questions complete with my anticipatory objections and thought I was ready.
Wrong! Turns out, all the rules of Evidence apply in an examining hearing EXCEPT hearsay. The professor purposely neglected to identify the officer, but I assumed it was the one that wrote the report. Wrong, again! It was a “reader” –someone unrelated to the case so that his statements can’t be used later for impeachment; he’ll not even attend the trial. My whole game plan fizzled. Uncomfortable? YES!! But better this occur in class and not in a real trial. The defense attorney was just as confused, but the “judge” prodded him along as to when he should object.
Later at work, Randy had me call the DA to ask about getting documents from their file for use on our civil case. I called, got transferred a few times and was told to talk to the attorney on the case. I asked for the phone number, got it, and confirmed that it was for the DA. I called and, wow…he answered. I began telling him what we needed and Randy came to take the call. In seconds he mouths to me, “This is the Defense attorney.” The color drained from my face; I’m mortified. Randy salvages the call and then tells me that this is a good learning experience. He explains how he knew he was not talking to the DA and how, as a novice, there’s no way I’d have known. In this teachable moment he reminds me to always confirm the information I get from others because, even though you should be able to rely on what they say, people make mistakes.
Moral of the story: There’s always room for dessert, especially if it’s humble pie.