Wednesday, February 27, 2013
You hate me, but that's OK. I don't mind. Really.
Cops hate me. And I love it.
A familiar scene played out in the courtroom yesterday. The prosecutor had just finished a "by the book" (i.e. "boring") direct examination of a uniformed police officer, a K-9 handler. I got up for my cross-examination; watching the officer every step to the podium.
Wait for it . . . wait . . wait. . ah, there it is!
The officer stiffened in his chair. The jaw clenched. His eyes shot Taser prongs at my testicles. The sneer of disgust let the whole courtroom know just exactly what he thought of me: hatred. Pure, unadulterated, vile, some real "If I saw you were drowning, I would not lend a hand" kind of hate.
I couldn't have been happier. I had already won this cross and hadn't even opened my mouth.
"Good afternoon Officer," I said cheerily, placing my thick folder on the podium. The file was a prop; I wouldn't be needing it.
"Afternoon Counsel," he begrudged, like his Momma was making him say it.
I wasn't sure until this moment which cross style I was going to use; "Bulldog," "Sympathetic Friend," "The Professor," "Moral Outrage," all have their uses but for this cross I decided to go with "Columbo."
"I'm sorry, you said just a few minutes ago that your K-9 was a "sniffer" dog and a . . . a what kind of dog?"
He rolls his eyes. You're an idiot, you can't even remember what I said 5 minutes ago. "A patrol dog."
Puzzled. "And I'm really sorry Officer, I guess I don't know what that means. Could you explain that?"
"He helps on patrol." Duh.
This went on for awhile, me the confused idiot asking silly questions about the attack capabilities and the viciousness of his K-9. The officer's contempt for me morphed into a I can't believe this knucklehead, this case is about a drug sniff attitude. His short, clipped responses came out as jeers.
"You wouldn't let your K-9 loose in a schoolyard?" K-9, not dog. Dogs are cute, cuddly, Man's Best Friend; K-9s are military. Vicious. They bite.
"Of course not." Looking over at the prosecutor. Can you believe this crap?
The prosecutor is a smart guy. He knows where this is going. He knows an objection won't save his witness at this point.
"So it's important for you to have strict control of your K-9 at all times - so innocent people don't accidentally get bitten?"
"Your K-9 is trained to obey your every command?"
"He is very well-trained." For the first time he smiles. He's proud of his dog. Besides, this cross has gotten way off topic. I haven't asked him a single question about the drug search. He knows I must be desperate. He's flailing; he's got nothing! The smile becomes a smirk.
I step away from the podium; my head hanging low. Defeated.
Slowly I lift my head up, eyes locking firm with the officer's. "And yet you want this court to believe that this well-trained dog - who obeys your every command - "inadvertently" jumped into my client's car before you could stop him?"
Boom goes the dynamite!
The officer's face gets red. "Well . . . you have to understand . . . when he gets really . . . excited around drugs . . ." he continues stuttering. His answer doesn't matter.
"No further questions Your Honor," as I walk back to my table.
The officer's hatred and contempt of me blinded him. It distracted him as my befuddled cross carefully, methodically walked him down the plank. Poor fella didn't even realize he was drowning until he was half-way down his plunge into the ocean.
He stormed out of the courtroom. Later that night his colleagues probably all agreed with him, over beer and shots, that I was the biggest dick ever.
And that's just fine by me. Because he won't learn from that experience. The next time he's on the stand he'll hate me even more than he does now. That hatred will blind him and he won't even realize the buttons I'm pushing.
And I will win that cross every time.