I want to write about one of the best trials , in a way , that I’ve seen . An Iranian -American husband sent his wife back to Iran for a month to visit her family . During that time he sent her a quit-claim deed for her to sign . He had written the “sign this” note in Farsi . He instructed her to hurry-up and return the thing . She spoke no English . She did as she’d been told , and when she got back to the states he had thrown out all of her stuff and he was living in the house with another woman .
But first , before any more of that , I’d like to mention my wonderment that so many of the jurors on my recent jury duty had never been called for jury duty before . I mean , with me a year or two might go by without a jury summons . But , I’ve been on several juries over the years . Ain’t that happening with ever-body ? I guess not .
I was on jury duty with the city of Burbank several years ago , although I didn’t live in Burbank . They were experimenting with a new ( at the time ) call- in system . Instead of showing up at the courthouse each of the ten days , waiting in the jury room and wondering if you’d be called for a panel , the idea was to call in each morning . If they needed you they’d tell you to come in .
But a juror had to put in ten days minimum of service . I thought the call -in was great , at first . I was substitute-teaching that year , so I put in my call to the court , never knowing if I’d have to go in to court that day , and I also waited for the sub-desk to call with work for the day . Three weeks of calling- in passed and I’d done only two days of jury service . This call-in stuff might go on forever , I thought . It became a real hassle for me . It was awkward to accept a teaching job for the day only to possibly have to call the sub-office a little later to say I wouldn’t be showing up after all . That wouldn’t help my prospects for future jobs.
After about four weeks , having completed three days of service so far , I requested a hardship release from the jury service . Oh, they let me off , but they weren’t nice about it .
By the way , Los Angeles now has a call-in system too , but it lasts one week . If they don’t need you during that week , then you’re done .
Defense attorney , interviewing his client :
” What do you do for a living ? ”
Him: ” I park cars .”
Attorney : ” How much money do you have in the bank ? ”
Him : ” Two hundred and fifty dollars . ”
Cross-examination by her attorney :
” Did you make a large cash withdrawal on ( here he makes a point of looking at his notes ) April 13 ?”
Him: ” Yes .”
Her attorney : ” How much did you withdraw ? ”
Him: ” Eighty thousand dollars . ”
” What kind of car do you drive ? ”
Him: ” Porsche .”
Her attorney : ” What year ? ” That year’s , he admitted . At this point he’s beginning to squirm , just a little .
” Cash . ”
” How much did your house cost ? ” He related a price . I don’t remember the cost . L.A. prices .
” How did you pay for that ?”
By this time he’s squirming a lot more . ” Cash .”
Her attorney : ” You’re not telling the court that you’re a poor man , are you ? ”
Him: ” I guess not .” And that was the beginning . He had witnesses that lied on the stand . Her lawyer easily and quickly caught them in the lie . One after another . One guy claimed to have overheard the wife talking to her friend a month before she went to Iran about her intention to sign the quit-claim deed .
Her lawyer , to the witness : ” How many languages do you speak ? ”
” English . ”
” Any other languages ? ”
” No.Just English . ”
” She doesn’t speak English , so how could you have overheard the conversation ? ”
Lying Witness : ” I guess couldn’t have .”
Her Attorney : ” Why did you tell us you did ? ”
Lying Witness , pointing at the husband : ” Because he paid me twenty-five dollars ! ”
One witness after another was caught in a lie and brought to that same moment of truth : ” He paid me twenty-five dollars ! ” One after another . It was like an episode of Perry Mason . Things like that don’t happen in real life . But , in this trial , they did .
I was thinking two things : 1. His lawyer should have advised him better . 2. Twenty-five dollars ? Really ? You get what you pay for .
One guy said he witnessed the wife signing a quit-claim deed . He was sitting in his car at the time , and claimed to have seen the signing from there . Her lawyer had measured all of the distances and mentioned all of the corners from the parking lot to the office , and asked the poor liar how it would be possible to have seen around those corners , through those doors , for such a long distance , watching from his car , but still be able to see the documents , etc .
Lying Witness : ” I guess that would be impossible .”
Her Attorney : ” Why did you tell the court that if , as you say , it would be impossible ? ”
Yeah . Absolutely . He pointed to the husband : ” Because he paid me twenty-five dollars .” I looked over at his lousy lawyer once again . Shouldn’t you have told the man that in this country he would actually have to present some kind of a case ?
I mean , it was one after another : $25 ; $25 ; $25 . The jury had their hands over their faces , trying to hide uncontrollable smiles , trying not to laugh out loud .
I couldn’t help thinking about the final scenes of Perry Mason , when the guilty person finally blurts a dramatic confession out in court . But , things like that don’t really happen in court , do they ?