Columns

Courthouse chuckles

Clinton Chisholm

Monday, September 16, 2019

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The impression that most people have of a court is that of a deadly serious place, but my six-year experience of working in the resident magistrate's court does not exactly match that impression.

I have witnessed times when even the resident magistrate and lawyers are cracking up with the police on duty struggling to say “order” amidst his own laughter. A riot!

My family, students and close friends know that I am not as serious as I may look.

In this one case the victim of a knife attack, a countryman, after giving evidence, was being cross-examined by the attorney for the defence who kept on badgering him with contrary versions as to what really happened: “I am suggesting to you…” the lawyer kept on saying. The countryman was visibly annoyed and began turning his side to the lawyer. Then, in disgust, he turned his back to the lawyer. The resident magistrate sternly instructed him to face the lawyer and respond to the suggestions being put to him. When he turned around, he faced the resident magistrate and said, “Mirannah, beg yuh taak to da lawyer, ya yuh nuh, 'cause mi nuh waan rude to him.”

Then turning to face the lawyer, he politely asked: “Beg paadn, please, Lawyer, on di day in question, where was you?”

He proceeded to fold his arms and look away, while all of us, including the defence lawyer, started laughing like crazy. “Order in the court,” was what the laughing policeman tried to say, but no one took him seriously for a good few minutes.

Another corker involved a missing ganja exhibit, with the late Justice Boyd Carey on the bench. I recall it as if it were last week. The case had been adjourned a few times because the exhibit was not in court. The police in charge of the store had been mandated to appear with the ganja in question but appeared in the witness box minus the exhibit. Justice Carey was curt in asking him for the exhibit, to which the policeman mumbled, “Your Honour, the exhibit is not available because the store has ratbats in there and one of them apparently ate the ganja.”

Airtight explanation, right? Wrong! Said Carey:

“Officer, my wife is a botanist, and she tells me that ratbats can't digest ganja, so you go and find the guilty ratbat, cut it open, and bring the ganja to court at the next court date or else…”

The policeman 'tun fool' in the witness box while even his police friends and all others were laughing at his plight.

So, one day a gentleman came with a young boy in tow to take out a summons for someone who had used indecent language to him. After I had written up the basic information on the standard form I spun it around and slid it under the grill for him to sign at the bottom of the form. He promptly placed the form before the boy. I told him that the boy cannot sign for him and repositioned the form before him. He again put it before the boy. Again I put it before him. He once more put it before the boy and explained, “Him young, mek him ketch him practice; him haffi learn.”

That exchange between us went on for a couple minutes until I sternly informed him that since it was he, and not the boy, making the allegation, he had to sign the form. The man made one big bout of bawling and blurted out: “Jeezas Chrise, sum parents can wicked, sah, nuh sen' dem pickney go a school.”

I then asked him if he could make an X, and he could, so the saga came to an end.

Now this last one, I read about in a Barbados newspaper. This lady was appearing before a judge for the fifth time as the complainant in a rape case. So in puzzlement the judge asked: “Ma'am, how is it that you end up before me so many times as the complainant in a rape case. How?”

She said: “Well, Your Honour, you have to understand, I does rape easy!”

Hmm!!!

clintchis@yahoo.com


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