When I returned from court this morning, the first thing I did was re-read My last Post. I wanted to compare the day with how I had anticipated it might go. In many ways it went very much as I had expected it would, yet it was also completely different from anything I had imagined.
There were many subtle details I had forgotten about, starting with the list of those expected in court that morning, which included a disclosure package for some. My friend’s name wasn’t even on the list (no disclosure package). We were advised to ask duty counsel why his name was not on the list, so We did. Almost a complete waste of time but not entirely – when the lady was unable to convince Joel that he should apply for legal aid, We were redirected to the information desk.
Information desk directed Us to the administration office, administration office said it was common for names to not appear on the list for a first appearance, especially if there has been no request for disclosure. I as King of them where I could make the request for disclosure and was redirected to the third floor. The lady told Joel that a lawyer has to request the disclosure and he introduced Me as his counsel.
“Are You a lawyer?”, she as King of Me.
“Yes, I am.”
She glared at Me for a brief moment then slid the request form through the window and I helped Joel fill it out – pretty straightforward stuff. We handed it back to the lady and made Our way down to courtroom number 5. Ah, another one of My favourite numbers, I knew it was a good Omen.
The courtroom itself was not what I was expecting. Every courtroom is similar in that they are all somewhat dreary and intimidating, yet every one is very different. Visually, I was expecting it to look more like the (municipal) courtroom in Guelph, and in many ways, it did. I think this room was a little bigger and the chairs and desk that the lawyers and crown were sitting at seemed a little nicer, though there were paper cups and cheap looking water pitchers which seemed completely out of place. I distinctly remember Guelph having water glasses and silver or glass pitchers. I was also told I could not bring My coffee cup in, but one of the other lawyers did, along with an mp3 player, headphones and all kinds of other gadgets he was clumsily trying to cram into his briefcase as another lady was speaking with the judge. I thought it was very rude but no one blinked an eye. I figure they must know this guy.
I did take off My hat, mostly because I didn’t want to take any chances offending the judge on My first appearance as a ‘lawyer’. That was one of the Words I had to get over today. “Are You legally qualified to act as his lawyer?”, was one of the questions duty counsel asked Me. I said yes because I am… And I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless I got comfortable saying so. Even running around the courthouse for the disclosure helped Me to get a feel for My new role.
There were four of Us. Joel, two of his friends for moral support, and Me. I think We finally went into the court around 8:45 or so. I was already concerned that We might be late because the promise to appear was for 8:30. I realized that I am totally confident in My knowledge of law but not at all confident with the rituals and etiquette. I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt anyone speaking to the judge. But whenever one matter was finished, they would be onto another before I even had a chance to stand, much less speak. After watching the process for a few cases, I got fed up and approached the little gate without passing through to where the lawyers were seated and politely eyeballed the judge, letting her know I wanted to speak. She did acknowledge Me and I was next to speak, though not for long.
“Excuse Me Your Honour but My client has a promise to appear in this courtroom this morning.”
“We have several cases in this courtroom today, You Will have to wait Your turn,” and motioned to the other lawyers.
I’m sure I looked a little confused because I wasn’t sure if I should walk through the gate and sit with the lawyers, or return to My seat with Joel. One of the lawyers said to Me that she only had a couple of matters and would be done shortly. There were only three chairs at the table where the lawyers were seated and they were all occupied. There was another table in front which I presume I could have chosen to sit at also, but I wasn’t certain and didn’t really want a front row seat My first day, anyway. So I turned around and sat beside Joel.
They did get their business dealt with very quickly, the lady who had said she only had a couple of matters was done and gone in a couple of minutes, a vacancy opened in the ‘lawyers’ seating area. I wanted it. I also didn’t want to get up and interrupt while someone was speaking with the judge. The next guy only had one matter and was up and gone very quickly, too. I was beginning to think that if the next guy was as quick, I wouldn’t need to go behind the gate at all, they would all be gone. Then some fancy dressed lawyer walks in and has no problem walking through the gate and making himself comfortable while the judge is explaining something. I know this is all common but it just seems very rude for a place that is all about Honour. Anyway, it made Me just angry enough to get up and claim the other chair that was available, sitting right beside the lawyer that had just walked in. My friends insist I didn’t bow as I passed through the gate, though I am sure that I did.
Just as the other lady was finishing, the lawyer beside Me (who had just walked in) stood up! So I did, too. He looked at Me, “You have something?”
“Yes, and I was here first.” Yes, I actually said that. And he respectfully sat back down.
The judge gives Me a nod… Showtime!
“I’m here to present Joel for a promise to appear.”
I began reading off the case number and the judge interrupted Me,
“No, the appearance number, the number on the sheet on the desk in front of You.”
I felt a little foolish but it seemed as though what I had done was a common error and as soon as I saw the list, I realized it was the same list We had checked earlier and Joel wasn’t on it.
“That’s actually part of the issue, Your Honour, My client’s name does not appear to be on the list.”
“Can You pass Me the Promise to Appear notice?”
I handed the Appear notice to the bailiff and there was some discussion about the case file before it is handed back to Me. I wait for a few moments as the clerks check their information and do whatever it is they do. They can’t find it.
“There doesn’t seem to be any information on the file.”
“So where does that leave Us?”
“The police have failed to provide the information, I Will issue a summons.”
I kind of stood there for a moment wondering what more there might be to do, it seemed like that was pretty much it. Can’t continue if there is no evidence!.. And that was exactly what the judge determined.
“Pass up the Promise to Appear and I Will make sure it is on the court record that the defendant was present, he fulfilled his obligations, the police failed to produce evidence, he’s free to go, nothing for Me to continue with.”
As I was taking My leave, I asked the judge one more question,
“Your Honour, if I had wanted to challenge the style of the name, would that be something We could address today or on the next court appearance?”
I could tell the judge was surprised by the question, there was some hesitation before she replied, “Next time.”
“Thank You, Your Honour, have a great day.”
“Before You leave, I need Your full name for the record.”
Sean von Dehn. And I spelled it out. I did want to say ‘King Sean, House of von Dehn’, but I was worried that it might actually be considered dishonourable. My title is on the record, they should know it without Me having to say it. I am also expected to respect the current jurisdiction, as well as the judge’s capacity and standing. That’s why My intention was to challenge the style of the name which would accomplish the common law. Everyone has the right of King in the common law, so there is no dishonour to the judge.
I had a lot of fun today. I would like to become more familiar with the etiquette but I can tell You it wouldn’t take Me long. Now My name is on the court record as a criminal defence lawyer. Pretty cool day for Me.
Love and blessings, thanks for being here.