Courageous & Outrageous - Real-Life Drama?

By Pat Nichol

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What do you think of when you see news items about trials and incidents that have to do with our judicial system? If you are like me, you think of Law and Order, Perry Mason, Matlock and all the ensuing drama. Certainly, that was my view, and it terrified me when I thought I was going to be caught up in the claws of justice. Recently, I had reason to be part of a trial resulting from a motor vehicle incident a number of years ago. The week before the trial began, I had trouble sleeping. Every waking thought compounded, and I became more and more fearful of the unknown. The only other time I had been in the courthouse was years ago, and when we walked in everything had been settled. I didn’t even get to see inside a courtroom.

On the day this trial began, I walked into the courthouse with trepidation, attempting to look as though I had not a worry in the world. I obviously succeeded, as people seemed surprised when I asked for directions to the assigned courtroom. Dressed in black, maybe I looked like all of the lawyers.

I had been advised that I was not to make faces or roll my eyes, if I didn’t like what was being said. So, I did what I tend to do when I am worried or scared, I wrote notes. The first line in my notebook: “This courtroom is much smaller than on TV.” With just enough room for the judge, the court clerk, the four lawyers and a row of seats behind the railing, it didn’t seem quite so frightening. As we went through the first day, my notes grew and grew, then on through the second day, and my fear began to dissipate.

There certainly wasn’t the drama that happens on TV! I mentioned to a lawyer how frightened I had been, and how much I was enjoying the give and take that was happening in front of me. She asked me to write this column as they had expert witnesses who were terrified to appear. From a layperson’s point of view, I can tell you it wasn’t television! And if you ever find yourself in the position I was in, there is little reason to fear.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt





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