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Jim Porter: courtroom bloopers

Jim Porter
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Everyoneand#8217;s favorites and#8212; actual courtroom testimony goes awry.

Counsel: Your Honor, may I approach the bench?

Judge: Whatand#8217;s the purpose? We have no jury.

Counsel: Oh, Iand#8217;m sorry, I and#8212; thatand#8217;s my favorite line, sir.

Q: And why did you take the tank?

A: I donand#8217;t know why, sir, except to run over my car. Thatand#8217;s the only reasonable answer that I can come up with.

Psychiatrist, testifying on behalf of accused who attempted to murder his wife: He was somewhat hurt that, after bestowing watches and mink coats on his wife, his wife had given him a pair of tweezers for Christmas.

Q: You say youand#8217;re innocent, yet five people swore that they saw you steal a watch.

A: Your Honor, I can product 500 people who didnand#8217;t see me steal it.

Judge: Does the defense have an opening statement?

Counsel: Your Honor, the defense would make a brief opening statement. Entrapment. Thank you, your Honor.

Q: Private S, do you believe that you were in violation of the regulation by having a switchblade in your possession on the date in question?

A: Well, sir, because of the situation itself, right, where it is confusing to me on the point, right, where as I know that I was wrong in having, you know, possession of it myself, right, but seeing that itand#8217;s not mine, you know, like I went out and bought it and I take it from another person because, you know, confusion between other people, and thatand#8217;s how, you know, you get confused and everything.

Q: On the 29th of March, 1982, did you have occasion to perform an autopsy on Jane C?

A: Yes.

Judge: Not likely.

Counsel: Pardon me, your Honor?

Judge: I said itand#8217;s not likely, as she is seated in the courtroom.

Q: Have you enjoyed your military life?

Accused: Yes, sir, I have, up until today.

Q: And what did you see when (the accused) pulled down his pants?

A: It looked like a penis, only smaller.

Q: What, if anything, unusual occurred that evening?

A: Well, at approximately 1730 I received a phone call from an unknown person – at the time- claiming that he wanted to commit murder, suicide, and go AWOL.

Q: Was he upset?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Do you remember noticing whether (the victim) was cut or her clothes were-

A: I looked at her shorts. They were cut.

Q: Did you see any blood at that time?

A: No, sir. I guess she was so scared she wasnand#8217;t bleeding.

Judge: Any suggesting of what prevented this from being a murder trial instead of an attempted murder trial.

A: The victim lived.

Q: Was (the accused) rational when he was talking to you that evening?

A: No, sir.

Q: What was he?

A: Everybody, you know, was just normal; no one was rational.

Q: What prompted W to swing the punch at M?

A: They were having an argument over who was stupider.

Q: You say you had three men punching at you, kicking you, raping you, and you didnand#8217;t scream?

A: No, maand#8217;am.

Q: Does that mean you consented?

A: No, maand#8217;am. That means I was unconscious.

Q: Have you learned anything from this?

A: A whole lot, sir.

Q: What?

A: Donand#8217;t harass anybody and#8212; man, woman, or anything/anybody and#8212; unless you first have their consent.

Q: Tell me in your own words why you reached in his pocket and took out the billfold.

A: Something to do, I guess, sir.

The defendant, when first observed, was atop the victim in a sublime position.

Where was she?

In the living room?

Is that where you placed her under arrest also?

Yes.

Did you then unarrest the defendant?

Yes.

How did you communicate that to her?

I told her she wasnand#8217;t under arrest no more.

And then did you arrest her again?

Yes.

And then did you unarrest her again?

Yes.

When did the second unarrest take place?

When the captain told me I was going to be reprimanded.

For arresting her or unarresting her?

No, arresting her.

So you arrested the lady, the captain told you to unarrest her, and the captain told you you would be reprimanded for arresting her, then you arrested her again?

I arrested her, the captain told me to unarrest her, and knowing that the captain was wrong I arrested her again and then he told me, well youand#8217;d better unarrest her. And I unarrested her.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governorand#8217;s appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firmand#8217;s web site http://www.portersimon.com.


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