After (approximately) 7.14 hours spent waiting and fuming at Phoenix Coffee Shop, I was finally called to the stand to testify in the Woodmere federal discrimination case. And -- surprisingly-- the experience was, dare I say, fun?!
I took the stand at 10:15. My first surprise:Turns out all those law dramas are wrong (I know! shocking, right?!) Witnesses don't swear on a bible. Instead, they swear on ...nothing at all. Pshhh. Does the justice department, like, really expect people to tell the truth when the only consequence of lying is mere perjury charges and decades in jail?
Anyway, so I took my place in the courtroom and did the whole "state your name" thing. Then the prosecutor asked me about my journalism resume, the classes I took at Northwestern, my reporting techniques, my conversations with the mayor (who in depositions claimed that never in her 48 years on earth had she ever experienced or witnessed or even viewed racial discrimination of any kind), and my age. The judge objected to this last line of questioning, saying it was "against the law to ask women these questions" (oh that Judge Nugent was a witty one!).
Then it was defense's turn. Clearly, his aim was to paint Scene magazine as a sensational, National Enquirer-like paper. He totally underestimated the jury's intelligence. First he starts out by quoting from my article: " You say that after Amy Mengay got the job, she popped a bottle of champagne ... correct?" To which I responded, with a slight roll of the eyes, "Um that was an ANALOGY. it's just another way of saying she was happy." (The jury, who totally loved me, nodded their heads vigorously at that one). The defense attorney, who clearly couldn't read the mood in the court room like I could, tried to continue with this line of thought: "You say here that Amy Mengay spent her childhood with the boys..." Again I responded, "that was another analogy. I just meant that she was a tomboy." Then the defense attorney tried to bring up something from Amy Mengay's deposition that I had never seen. The prosecutor objected and the judge called for a sidebar. Apparently, the defense lost their argument, for the lawyer only had two more questions for me after that. "So, are you saying you had no agenda when you wrote this article?" "Correct," I replied. "And you stipulate that everything in the story is accurate?" "Yes," I said again. After that, the attorney had no further questions for me. I was done!
In summary, I think I totally kicked ass --even if my attorney friends disagreed. "The goal of a witness is simply to tell the truth, there's no winning or losing," they lectured. Whatever. I still think I won.