Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Ten Commandments Cross-Examination

Courtroom war stories are a bit off the beaten track for this blog, but I couldn't resist sharing this one.

Occasionally people have told me I’m too nice to be a trial lawyer, pointing out that I don’t even eat meat. My standard comeback is “yes, but I do eat lying witnesses...”

I represented a father in a custody dispute with the mother of their young child.  No need to go into details except to say the character of the mother’s new boyfriend was critical.

When she was on the witness stand, she described her boyfriend as being her fiancé. She also testified that he was a very religious person, that he said grace at each meal, and gave Bible readings every day.

Next day, it was his turn to testify.

He was a tall skinny guy with a little beard and very long hair, looking a bit like the caucasian Jesus pictures. He wore his stovepipe jeans tucked into cowboy boots and actually sauntered, I thought rather arrogantly, up the aisle and got into the witness stand.

My cross-examination went something like this:

DA:                 Yesterday your fiancée swore under oath that you are a very religious fellow. Are you?

Witness:         Yes. (What else could he say?)

DA:                 She swore under oath that you say grace at each meal. Do you?

Witness:         Yes.

DA:                 She also swore under oath that you give Bible readings every day. Is that true?

Witness:         Yes. (possibly sensing the paint brush in his hand)

DA:                 So ... what’s your favourite Bible passage?

Witness:         I don’t have to answer that.

Judge:            Yes you do. It’s a fair question.

There was a long pause while the witness stared off into a far corner of the ceiling. Just as I was about to say, “What’s the matter? Can’t you think of one?” he blurted out:

Witness:         The Ten Commandments.

DA:                 The Ten Commandments? That’s your favourite passage in the entire Bible?

Witness:         Yes.

DA:                 OK. I suppose different people have their own preferences. Are you familiar with the book of Exodus, chapter 20, verse 15?

Witness:         No. (dimly sensing paint covering most of the floor)

DA:                 Are you sure?

Witness:         Yes. (feeling his feet get sticky)

DA:                 Well, the Bible is right beside you. Why don’t you read it to us?

Witness:         I don’t have to do that.

DA:                That’s OK, I’ll read it (reaching over to pick up the Bible)

Judge:            Mr. Ashton, what is the passage you intend to read out?

DA:                 Oh, it’s the Ten Commandments, your honour. (The witness, just before losing consciousness, realizes that it isn’t paint on the floor, it’s his blood...)

Footnote: I am not a walking biblical encyclopedia [younger generation: An encyclopedia is an archaic multi-volume set of books with articles on a wide range of topics, something like Wikipedia but way heavier and not updated every second].

It was pure coincidence that I had written on my notepad, “Thou shalt not steal – Exodus 20:15,” and that Mr. Fiancé chose the Ten Commandments as his favourite Bible passage.

I was planning to use that quote in my next line of questions (You believe in the Bible, don’t you? You believe in the Ten Commandments, don’t you? You believe in “Thou shalt not steal”, don’t you? You would never steal, would you?) to set him up for the witness I had waiting out in the hall, a waitress from a local restaurant where he had recently done a “dine and dash”. Since he so obligingly shot his own foot off, I didn’t need to call her, and my client got custody.

I may get struck off the Buddhist blogrolls for knowingly publishing a blog post with no perceptible Buddhist content, but hey, I'm still giddy from surviving the Rapture....

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Thanks to Nate DeMontigny over at Precious Metal and the 2K11 Article Swap he organized, I'm honoured to host a guest post by TMC who writes a charming blog at Return to Rural, a place I happily frequent.

My life is filled with remarkable women. They’re remarkable in all the ways you’d expect: kind, loving, supportive, determined, concerned. They’re each unique unto themselves, and I feel their love and support in different ways. Their example makes me want to be a better woman myself.

If I had to pick one to model my life on, it’d be my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Georgia Hougaard Davis. She’s 98 now and I’m staying with her and my grandfather, helping around the house and just making sure everyone is safe. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to spend so much time with my grandmother. She is a classic woman: a dutiful wife, a mother of 5. She’s a modern woman: she graduated college, encouraged by her father, and taught home economics for many years.

Her nature is one of softness and grace, even with all the hooks and snags of old age. Her character is enviable, so sweet and caring, always wondering if people need something to eat or if the beds have enough bedding to keep us comfortable. Ever the lady, she gets up every morning to wash and dress, being sure to include a modest camisole regardless of what type of blouse she’s wearing. It’s simply something that a lady does, she once told me, in not so many words. Grandma’s humor is sharp and witty, playful almost. She makes jokes about her situation, her age (she doesn’t like to be reminded of her age but we all think 98 is pretty amazing), and pokes fun at grandpa.

She’s so amiable as we push and pull her through her day: sit here, grandma; come here, grandma; time to go to bed, grandma. But she doesn’t make any complaints. I hope she knows that we do what we do in her best interest, to keep her moving, to keep a sense of normalcy in her life, a sense of comfort.

Her short term memory is spotty these days. I know she doesn’t remember my name, and I wonder sometimes if she knows I’m her first grandchild. Even if she doesn’t know, her hospitality is unmatched – make yourself at home, what can we get you – without any sense of concern on her part.

My grandmother is a woman among women who’s had the same ups and downs that we all have. But you’d never know that she’d worried a day in her life, such is her cheerful demeanor. Everyone should be so lucky to have this kind of woman in their life. Any of us would be lucky to live up to even half of the invisible bar she’s set. And because of who grandma is, she’d tell any one of us that we can do anything, be anything, go anywhere.

Let us all heed her example and know ourselves well. Let’s not be swayed or feel powerless when we’re overwhelmed. Let us each be grandma’s kind of person for each other.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Poems

Puddin' enjoying the absence of the Dogs

Rather than blog about the sadness I feel about the outbreak of festivities at the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I thought I would post a few poems instead.

~   ~   ~

As I contemplate
The cherry tree
Another blossom falls

~   ~   ~

Yellow cedar mill
The scent awakens
My father's workshop

~   ~   ~

Crane fly
Died in the hot shower
I forgot to check

~   ~   ~

Wasting time
Wasted time

~   ~   ~

Through the window
The valley
Gazes back

~   ~   ~

1.  Mind
2.  No Mind

~   ~   ~

Why are my dogs
Happy to see me?

~   ~   ~

You can find other poems at Some More PoemsAnother Batch of Poems and Poems Batch 4.

Just a reminder about the upcoming blogging on May 8.  Nate DeMontigny over at Precious Metal has organized Article Swap 2K11 and paired up volunteers to write guest blog posts.  TMC from Return to Rural will be posting here, and I'll be writing a post for Danny Fisher's blog at Rev. Danny Fisher.

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