Monday, December 15, 2008

What's up DOC?

When I shared pictures from my trip to Italy, Cara commented "Good thing we aren't on the witness stand." So, since it's related to both parts of the above sentence, I thougth I would share the story of the time that I was almost held in contempt of court.

It was a regular day - a Tuesday, I think. I had gone out to lunch with some of my coworkers, and I had been out for quite a while (an hour and a half, I think). When I came back, someone told me that I had been paged and that there was someone waiting in the lobby for me. My first thought was, "Uh-oh, I took a really long lunch today." My second thought was, "Who would be waiting for me?" So, I went downstairs to find out.

I get to the lobby, and there is a cheesy looking guy sitting on the bench. I asked the receptionist who was waiting for me, and she points him out. I walk over, and he asks my name. I tell him, and he whips out some papers and says, "You will need to appear on December 22 to show cause as to why you should not be held in contempt of court." WTF?!? I said, "Wait, what are you talking about?" He said, "You were supposed to analyze some evidence and you didn't do it, and I filed for contempt of court against you." Then he turned and walked out before I could ask him any more questions.

Of course, at this point, I start freaking out, because I can't be in court on December 22. I will be in Italy on December 22. I took my subpoena upstairs to my supervisor and the other senior examiner in our group. They, with all due concern for my worried self, started rolling on the floor laughing. Ah-ha-ha-ha, the U.S. Marshalls will be meeting your plane - when are you coming back again? Hope you look good in orange (prison jumpsuit color)! What's up DOC (that is, Department of Corrections)? Yes, I provided entertainment for an entire afternoon.

When they finally stopped laughing (I was still freaking out), they told me not to worry about it, they would find out the story. I was actually leaving the next day, so I didn't have time to track down the information. As it turns out, this was a defense attorney. He had requested an essentially useless analysis (it was requested out of order, so any evidence had likely been destroyed by other testing), which I had performed. Our rules say that the results in such cases be delivered to the investigating agency and to the judge handling the case. I had sent my report to both, but the judge had never informed the defense attorney.

I live in hope that the judge would hold himself in contempt, since he was the one who signed the order for me to appear, with the reasoning for it. But, I know that no one ever reads my reports anyway, so I can't completely blame him. The defense attorney could have simply called me, but many of them think that we work exclusively for the prosecution (not true, we will work any evidence in a criminal case, regardless of who requests it). Either way, I still have a record of being charged with contempt of court.


  1. Wow, what a story. Gee, I know about disclosure of evidence just from reading detective novels, what's up with the defense lawyer?

  2. Oh my. I would have been in tears, but I'm such a law obiding goody two shoes... :)