Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 32 - Competition Day

View from 18th floor of the Courthouse
I woke up early, put on my freshly dry cleaned suit, tied up my running shoes (it's REALLY hilly in San Fran) and confidently marched my way to the courthouse.  The boys told us there would be breakfast and coffee available at the competition, so we didn't bother stopping on the way.  We'll call this Mistake #1.  There was no breakfast, nor was there a way to purchase water (or anything else for that matter) once we were in the courthouse.

Our team first represented the plaintiff, which meant I was a witness for the first round.  I was told I was "more than feisty," which I chose to consider a compliment.  The opposing attorney tried to get me to admit to having said something that was not in the prepared deposition.  In such situations, an attorney may ask a witness if viewing a copy of their previous statement would help refresh their memory.  Instead of properly asking if viewing the deposition would refresh my memory, the opposing counsel asked if I would like to have my memory refreshed.  My response? "Not particularly."  SHE WAS PISSED!!!!  The jury members (who scored the trials) started laughing out loud and had to turn away to compose themselves.  Sorry girl, but you asked for it.

Our plaintiff's attorneys did an excellent job and it was definitely a close round.  Unfortunately, the court room was at least 80 degrees.  The result of not having breakfast and sitting in a sweltering courtroom for a 3+ hour trial in a suit was that we were all moments away from passing out.

We only had about an hour to quickly eat lunch and prepare for our next round, during which I was a defense lawyer.  Mistake #2, about 3 minutes prior to the start of trial I managed to spill a cup of water all over myself and a stack of our exhibits.  Fortunately, it wasn't noticeable when I buttoned my jacket and the documents dried out before we needed to use them.  It threw me off my game for the first few moments of my opening statement, but it didn't take too long for me to find my stride.

The opposing counsel for the team we were against in this round were ridiculous.  The girl introduced herself and said her name was Vassi, as in "V" for Victory.  I threw up a little in my mouth.  To their credit, they were very competent in regards to how to work a courtroom and had clearly memorized EVERYTHING they had planned to say.  BUT, they made up evidence, grossly misconstrued evidence and raised objections that were contrary to their argument.  For example, V for Victory Vassi objected to the fact that John used leading questions on cross examination.  Genius.  Those are the only type of questions you are supposed to ask on cross.

I also managed to frustrate this team.  They had blown up an exhibit, which I objected to because they had rearranged and eliminated some information.  For the purposes of competition, the judge allowed them to continue with their questioning of their witness.  Then on cross examination, I told them that they had created a fantastic document and asked if I could use it (of course they couldn't say no).  I then made their witness on cross examination use their exhibit to prove MY case.  Suckers.

Team C Girls
At the end of the day, we did not advance to the final rounds.  We got some great feedback (apparently I talk too quickly and thanked the witness on cross every time they said what I wanted them to) and learned a lot going through the process of preparing for and going through a full trial.  I am really proud of my team and of the performances we gave.

Team C Boys
After learning that we were not moving on, we walked what felt like a million miles in heels (mistake #3) to find a mexican restaurant.  The food was great, but we had a LONG uphill walk to get back to our hotel.  Due to the extreme heat in the courtroom all day and not drinking enough water, I got pretty dehydrated and woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible migraine.  I forgot to pack any meds, so I got to walk the city streets alone at 2 in the morning trying to find something to stop the excruciating pain.  Not the greatest end to a long day, but at least it was over.  Nothing left to do but enjoy the rest of the weekend in sunny California!

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