Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stumping The Legal System

While everyone else was enjoying the Inauguration, I was in Court as a witness in a contempt trial between a divorced husband and wife. This is the third time I am testifying, but not the last. I generally end up wasting two days waiting to testify around 45 minutes.

Strangely enough, the actual testifying is much easier than the waiting. You see, I can't go into the courtroom until I'm called, and outside the courtroom is boring. The area has no magazines, no TV, but being up-to-date, there are two (2) pay phones at each end of the hallway. So you sit there waiting, doing nothing, until you're called to testify. Turns out, I was the last witness.

I was called to the stand, and the Judge greeted me as I made my way to the witness chair. I said, "Hi Judge" and smiled. This was our second time together and I really liked him. The attorney who called me to the stand asked me about 15 minutes of questions, some to the objection of the other lawyer. Then, the other lawyer took over and started her cross-examination.

First, she waived reading my background information. Then she asked me information about how the office ran. When I started talking about the economy, she objected as I hadn't been qualified as an expert. The judge over ruled her as she had waived reading my background. Then it got fun for me. There was an issue of a $22,000 note. Given assets of approximately $2,750,000 the first question was how much income could that generate. My immediate answer was $27,500 and then I pointed out that the broker wouldn't get that because the broker/dealer would have charges first and the broker would be lucky to get half. It's really a small margin business. Then I was asked how many more assets would be needed to pay off the note itself given the overhead, and I immediately responded another $2.2 million under the same assumptions if no salaries are paid.

The cross-examining lawyer and the judge couldn't believe I could do math that fast. I told the Judge that moving the decimal to the left was the same as multiply by .01 and moving it to the right by two decimals was the same as dividing by .01. While the lawyer was calculating, I leaned over, covered the microphone, and whispered to the Judge that I was no good at the Law, and that everyone had to be good at something, and he laughed. All things being equal, I tried to open an account with both the Judge and the cross-examining lawyer while testifying. The lawyer pointed out it would be a conflict of interest if they accepted. I pointed out how difficult the environment actually is for wealth managers today.

We need law in our society, it's important. It is not streamlined. I am not educated enough in the law to know if it works well or not. Legal reasoning is not logic. The law is rooted in English Common Law, which started as the Magna Charta, a contract between the King and his nobles as to what was allowed and not allowed by the King. This happened in 1215. As England grew, the King couldn't preside over the King's Court all over England, and Judges took his place, hence Judges are viewed as G-d as the King was.

I'd bet that a serf in 1215 understood the law a lot better than we do today. The original Magna Charta (there were something like 15 originals made and signed in Latin) along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution reside in the National Archives just a block off the Mall. Have a great weekend, I have a crazed kitten waiting to play!


NoRegrets said...

Ha, what a charmer...
Enjoy your kitty. I've been thinking about a friend for mine...but in today's economy and extra $150 for a new cat might not be the best idea.

Brook said...

One of my favorite romance novels from oh gee, 20+ years ago was written around the events leading up to and the signing of the Magna Carta. It made quite an impression on me and I did a little research on my own. Intersting times for sure. And I am glad just to be able to estimate my grocery tab and calculate a tip-I think moving decimal places would do me in!

Eris said...

I'm so bad with numbers in my head that even your nifty decimal trick would require the use of a pencil and paper for me. Being a witness sounds facinating under the grounds that the case isn't life or death and no one got hurt. Plus, even if waiting is boring, you get to put on a suit and be a part of the American justice system.

I expect pictures of the new kitty now please.

Mel said...


I suck at math but I do know the trick!

Unfortunately, I transpose numbers on calculators AND I get the line items in the budget report bassackwards too.

Just sayin'.......


You just keep wowin' 'em.
And bring a good book next time? they have wireless internet--cuz that could be fun!

M@ said...

Good thing you weren't high.

PhoenixHearse said...

Am I the only one here who is seriously worried by the fact that someone who passed a BAR exam can't multiply or divide by 100's?

katherine. said...

can you bring your laptop while you wait to testify?

I bet everyone enjoyed your testimony...

The CEO said...

Hi NoR, Jake would love to meet Billy. He wants to play ALL THE TIME.

Hi Brook, when you come to DC, you should go to the Archives and see the Magna Charta. As for the math, some of us are good at math, some of us are great cooks, no one is good at everything.

Hi Eris, I was in a coat and tie, and I tend to be good at math. I'll send you some pics of the little monster.

Hi Mel, I never thought you were perfect, close maybe, but not perfect. You're right, I should have brought a book.

Hi M@, I'm not so sure, I might have fallen asleep.

Hi Heather, they can't do arithmetic, but they know the law. Everyone is good at something.

Hi Katherine, I don't know about the laptop, I doubt they have wifi. I know the judge liked me, and there was some laughter when I testified, hard to do with economics.

Open Grove Claudia said...

You are kind to participate in the system. So many people wouldn't have bothered to show up.

The math thing doesn't surprise me at all - you are very mathy

The CEO said...

Hi Claudia, you made chills go up my back calling me mathy, thank you very much!

Echomouse said...

I don't know how you do it. Seriously. Having to witness in court re: finances.

Cripes that's bloody awful. Although you seem to enjoy it and be good at it :)

A lawyer I used to work for told me this:- "they don't teach anything in law school. all you have to know is how to use a library and find precedents." True story. And I don't doubt it.

Glamourpuss said...

Golly. I hope they settle it all quickly and as amicably as possible. I've only had a couple of brushes with the legal system but the judges I've met have all been charming.

Well done.


david mcmahon said...

Trust me, the serfs in 1215 could recite the entire Magna Carta!