Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Polish Cross-Examination

Quite a while ago, I posted a courtroom reminiscence (The Ten Commandments Cross-Examination). The urge is upon me again.

I was in the middle of a fairly lengthy trial in the BC Supreme Court. Generally, these are pretty serious and formal affairs. In Canada, we still wear the traditional barrister's garb, minus the wigs.

Because the trial was about events that mostly took place in Poland, many of the opposing witnesses required a Polish interpreter, which tended to slow down the flow of cross-examination.

One academic gentleman I was attempting to rake over the coals was particularly elusive and just would not give me a straight answer. Over the coffee break, I cornered the translator and asked him if he would please tell me how to say "yes or no" in Polish. He very kindly told me to say "tak lub nie."

Things went much better after that, as I could follow up my questions with a sharp "TAK LUB NIE?" I noticed the judge smirk when I caught his eye the first time I used it.

As the trial proceeded, my learned friend (that's what we call each other in court) introduced a note which his witness claimed had been written by my client. It was in English, but had obviously been composed by someone whose native language was Polish. I questioned the witness (who spoke English) about this.

DA:            So you say this note was written by my client.

Witness:     Yes.

DA:             My client isn't Polish, is he?

Witness:      No.

DA:              But judging by the wording, surely this note was written by someone
                    who is Polish.

Witness:       Well, your client was in Poland for a month. Maybe he became a little
                     bit Polish.

DA:               After this trial's over, I think we're all going to be a little bit Polish.

Judge:          Tak!


  1. If you continue with posts like the one above together with its 10-Commandments insert, I may never stop laughing.


    And don't worry too much about the 'Buddhist' stuff ... Buddhism, at its core, is big on laughter ... not the snicker-snicker kind, but the honest belly laughs.

  2. Monty Python himself! This was hilarious, as was your link! lol :)

  3. Ha! Ha! Clever! Thanks for the smiles. :)


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