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IPSE DIXIT: Partially True Tales from the Litigation Trenches

March 19, 2014 By Jennifer L. Rowlett

Recently, I was sitting in a courtroom waiting for my trial to begin.  There were trials before mine so  I used the opportunity to provide some pointers to my client.  The trial involved an accident between a car and a motorcycle.  It soon became clear there was a major dispute of fact.  While Plaintiff testified about her version of the accident, I occasionally leaned over and whispered pointers to my client (e.g. “we will sit at that table”; “that’’s why I told you not to guess about time and distance”; “do that”; “don’’t do that). 

The Defendant, the operator of the motorcycle, took the stand and gave his version of the accident which, predictably, differed starkly from that of the Plaintiff.  It was apparent based on some intermittent questions from the bench, that the judge did not have a clear understanding of what the Defendant’ was attempting to convey about how the accident occured.  

Now, until this point in the trial, I was making slight adjustments to my trial notes so I was only half listening to the testimony. Suddenly, my brain started setting off alarms.  Something definitely was off.  I looked up and the Defendant had mounted the witness stand (using it as if it were his motorcycle), and he was re-enacting the accident.  The man was literally riding the witness stand like a barroom mechanical bull.  My jaw dropped to the floor and remained there for the duration of his testimony. 

I turned to my client, my jaw still unhinged, and he said to me, “”Let me guess.  I should no’t do that?””  I assured him that Defendant’s demonstration was definitely not the way to go.

The event reminded me of the age-old adage: “Just when you think you have seen it all . . .”