Thursday, February 4, 2010

The (next) Day After, and another three weeks, and then?

Will justice be served??? 

Tired, sore, tired, weary, achy, sore.

Just all the sensations after a long day in court, another day after another court day. Even being in court for an hour is tiring but this was 9:30 to 4, with a lunch break and a few other short breaks; it followed last Friday, another cold day, with snow crippling my house yet again, when I could not get into town at all and multiple attempts through neighbors failed to get the message past the courthouse administration's answering machine for hours, witnesses having to wait around and miss work, judge irritated, and at home, no water or heat to be had, impossible to fix with or without help, even to this day. Minus forty with the wind chill factor is not the best of weather to deal with power outages. Once I could finally leave the house on Friday afternoon, I was horrified to find the highways still slippery, with ridges of ice and snow between the tire tracks, making it dangerous to change lanes or even take an exit.

First thing yesterday morning, dumping my files in the fast-food seats anchored to the floor of the lobby, I was a bit astonished to see the AC officer approaching in the most friendly way possible, not to offer help but to ask for a preview of what questions I might ask him on the stand (for the second time). Trying to organize the unruly mass of papers plaguing my files, I was not quite up to a conversation with the man responsible for this entire ordeal. I was very grateful that Jenn Richardson was with me, as Brindi's most faithful supporter, Bob Riley, was in the hospital for surgery last Friday, and couldn't make it again yesterday due to medical appointments. Looks like he may not even be able to attend court on the 23, when the judge will be announcing her decision. Turns out that the officer, Tim Hamm, went to school with Bob's sons, though he didn't mention it till a few weeks ago. 

Representing yourself in court is something most people would never want to do. It certainly was the very last thing I wanted to do. Even though the search went on and on, I never expected that it would prove so difficult to find a good lawyer. Even then, I felt it was preferable to having to confront the indecipherable maze of the legal system by myself. Being in court on your own feels like trying to dance to foreign music while surfing (which I don't know how to do). Preparing for this last day was worse than cramming for an exam for a course I skipped all semester. On the one hand, by yesterday at least I had some idea of what was supposed to happen, but the short interval of time since last Friday didn't allow much time for rest and re-organization. There was barely time to write up and obtain subpoenas and then serve them, which I had to do after learning last week that the prosecution was not going to accept affidavits at all. As it is, I didn't have the heart to subpoena all six people who had signed affidavits exactly a year ago. 

Oddly enough, a year ago to the day, I was arraigned on charges that dated from events nearly seven months earlier - Feb. 3, 2009. January 29, 2009 was the day that Judge Murphy, who is now hearing the trial, declined to hear an application to quash the warrant that was used to seize Brindi the previous July, stating that she didn't feel she had the authority to do it. Her colleague said the same thing when I asked him in February and May to consider releasing Brindi, and she repeated it in December when I asked her to allow me to resume visits and to transfer Brindi to a kennel suited for long-term stays. 

My last lawyer somehow never bothered to give me the files, as the judge had ordered him to. I faxed this information to the court a few days ahead, and phoned to see if the fax was received, but nobody returned the call and I never heard back. In the confusion on Friday, I forgot to even bring this up before the judge. I didn't think about it again until the end of yesterday's session. It brought a look of concern to the judge's face, and she asked if I was missing anything important, but how would I know?

After last Friday's session I slept for nearly three days straight, first of all, and tried to overcome disappointment about the affidavits - which my previous lawyers had not only advised me to solicit, but asked me to write and organize, which I dutifully did, with the kind help of people willing to sign them. Most had already supplied letters soon after Brindi was taken. I had no indication from my lawyers that affidavits are not commonly used for this kind of case, no indication from the prosecution - present or previous - that they would be flatly rejected. Having imposed on them a few times already, I was really loathe to subpoena people who weren't expressly willing to be there in person. Yet I had no choice, and as it was, about half of them didn't make it for one reason or another. It was one thing to set up live testimony, another to prepare for it, and I didn't even have time to re-read the transcripts from October, let alone the application for the "abuse of process" claim that was supposed to be presented simultaneously in this proceeding.

In fact, defending this case was a three-layered affair: the charges, euthanization, and abuse of process... Not being anything close to a lawyer, I could only hope to tackle one of the layers with any effectiveness. Ignorant about the process and argumentation for the abuse of process, unsure exactly how and when to fight a possible euthanasia order. Another sleepless night was a given; the weather again cold, my car was crystalized, my toes and fingers numb, and my mind wishing I were almost anywhere else but on the cold road to Dartmouth Provincial Court.

A long day in that grey building, juggling papers, facts, conversations, and emotions. No way to eat anything, let alone finish an apple juice. Time going by and each segment scarier than the last. Glancing backward during the day, I saw the brand-new courtroom #5 gradually went from empty to full, with staring faces I recognized from the SPCA and HRM. No sign of media. I didn't take time to send out a press release myself. After a long year of a virtual media blackout, there was no point anyway. 

That's about all I can put down for now, as I'm about to pass out again...