Almost-Live Blogging the Whacky Fun Car-CrashTrial: Day One

5:30 a.m. - I leave Bellingham, having received no additional follow up that my case has been magically moved to yet another venue and/or time. Have my room, judge, and associated directions with me and some coffee for the road.



7:30 - Having survived some snarls of traffic in Everett, I am thrilled to have enough time to drop in on Mr. (W)right for a good morning kiss, a reheat of the coffee and a short something pleasant to start the day.

8:30 a.m. - Have located semi-reasonable (it's all relative) parking, passed through security, and located my room on some very neat little teleprompters that make me feel like I am an arriving flight at an airport (my name broadcast on floor one with my location!! Fancy). I walk up and down 12-13 flights of stairs to burn some steam and some time

8:45 a.m. - Get into the room. My attorney is busy being jovial with the other attorneys. My co-defendants have a different attorney than I remember. She has a fabulous pink hounds-tooth jacket on and is surprisingly charismatic.

9:05 a.m. - The judge has come in and we do "introductions" - nobody is asked to share a "fun fact" about themselves and the actual parties are mostly ignored. Despite names being identified, nobody can get anyone else's name correct.

9:06 a.m. - Motions in Limine (snicket) - This is kind of where the actual case up until that point gets eviscerated into some pale limpid fragment of what it used to be. Contributory negligence: out. Police reports: out. Tickets related to case: out.

9:30 a.m. - We're still throwing out virtually anything and everything about the actual event. It's like some kind of party game, like Taboo, except you get roughly 2,000 buzz words that you can't actually say for fear of losing a point or being electrocuted.

9:40 a.m. - The motions continue. I don't think the judge really cares for "Insurance company attorneys." The weird thing about all of this is that nobody wants to talk about insurance. It's verbotin to mention at trial. Insurance adjusters are to be called "agents of the Defendant" ... any reference to insurance is redacted from. documents. There has been a huge fight over whether the plaintiff can say she lacked financial resources to go to the emergency room or get better care for her injuries without also admitting that she did not carry medical or automobile insurance. We all play act that these are our attorneys, even though my Codefendant's attorney has "AllState" on her court badge, and the judge keeps asking which of us is which company.

10:05 a.m. - Our judge is a sassy bugger and is turning the fact that none of the attorneys appear to be able to cite the appropriate Rule of Evidence to give a brief lesson in what the actual rules are and what arguments the attorneys should be or should have been making.

10:20 a.m. - "I tell ya, it's admitted but it shouldn't be" (on a very inadmissible document offered under ER 904 and to which nobody objected.

10:30 a.m. - Argument over what the neutral statement of the case should be - particularly whether it should be a four car accident, two two-car accidents, or an accident involving four cars.

10:45 a.m. - Battles over how many peremptory challenges each side gets for the jurors. Codefence counsel is citing a case and saying it's "clear authority" - never say clearly to a judge. It riles them as much as it riles law profs apparently.

10:50 a.m. - "We" demand a twelve member jury with one alternate. According to the judge: "insurance companies never agree to a six person panel. They like their jurors."

11:00 a.m. - Codefense Counsel gets permission to allow the defendants to stand up and stretch. I may fall down on my feet and worship her for this action.

11:20 a.m. - A jury pool of 36 potential jurors are herded in to the room. There are very complicated rules about which jurors get placed in the jury box and how we shuffle them through the process. I couldn't begin to explain, but it involves large cards and reminds me of an LSAT logic puzzle. Now I see why those were the slightest bit relevant to law school! It was always voir dire!.

11:25 a.m. - First question in voir dire was has anyone been involved in a a rear ender accident. The entire room raises a card. This is very much not promising. Twenty jurors gets released almost immediately for cause. Some have been rear-ended several times.Some have been in multi-car pile ups several times. A few were rear-enders, themselves, but there seems to be a consensus among most that rear ending means tailgating which mean spawn of Satan. I don't feel super optimistic about my chances at this point.The judge later admits that was the most people who have ever confirmed this

12:00 p.m. - Plaintiff is just mid-way through his voir dire when lunch is called. They are to come back at 1:20.

12:30 p.m. - I have lunch in my car with strains of Mardi Gras celebrations wafting up from Pioneer Square. I want to go celebrate, but I have a glaring headache and an increasing preparedness to lurch into some ashy gloom of the subsequent lenten calendar at this point.

1:20 p.m. - I briefly educate Codefense counsel on the existence and utility of collaborative law. Elevator speech accomplished!

1:25 p.m. - Codefendant's wife was not at the accident but has relevant testimony. There's talk about trying to get her to testify today so that she can be at home with her sick granddaughter tomorrow. Plaintiff's attorney seems skeptical and indicates that it's unlikely we'll get to witnesses today.There's a camaraderie developing betwixt the litigants - we are universally bored, confused, and desperately heeding all the thing we need to be doing instead of sitting in a court room doing nothing and pretending  to be the slightest bit relevant to the proceedings.

1:40 p.m. - The judge warns us that with peremptory challenges, we will be down exactly to 13 jurors. If one more juror is dismissed for cause, we will have to start the entire selection process over again.

1:45 p.m. - The jury returns... mostly. Juror # 37 has gone AWOL. Flurries of phone calls and conversations ensue.

1:48 p.m. - Prodigal Juror #38 returns. I feel like we should applaud, but instead we just stand as he shuffles to his seat.

1:50 p.m. - Plaintiff's attorney asks if any one has sizest biases (the plaintiff, herself, is quite overweight). On juror - one who had previously admitted to being a horrible driver and having been in five accidents, and to preferring acupuncture over chiropractors - says she kinda does. She's not staying. We can kinda tell.

2:10 p.m. - Defense one's chance to Voir Dire a little bit. This is my attorney and he gets a little more personal, asking questions of specific jurors. Of the remaining few, almost all of them have some kind of ties to the legal profession (the horror) and many are skeptical of chiropractors. One juror simply doesn't believe in them. He's not likely staying much longer either.

2:15 p.m.- One juror announces she thinks she may know the plaintiff, but can't say from where as it's work and confidential. Plaintiff says she doesn't know her, but juror indicates that she might not be aware of the connection. The rest of the jurors are excused so we can find out what she's talking about. She doesn't actually know the plaintiff.

2:20 p.m. - Another jury is called back in to give the verdict on a case from the day before. I can only assume they were moderately phased by seeing an entirely different room of parties upon their return, but we get to sit through the reading of the verdict anyhow. The defense attorney for that case is pissed - both because of the exorbitant reward given to the plaintiff in that case, and because just two hours before a pre-verdict settlement for significantly less was rejected by the defendant.

2:25 p.m. - And it's recess time. Wheeee. Up and down the stairs ten more times. The judge mentions that we may want to try settling again after hearing that insanely high verdict. The plaintiff appears to be joshingly writing one up. I want to scream that I would gladly pay the $20,000 they had previously asked for to be spared of two more days of this! I do not. I am told that as a party opponent, I must be very careful about anything I say to any one, which makes it awkward talking to... any one. I already over think every thing I say and under-speak.

2:43 p.m. - Codefense counsel's turn to voir dire. She is darned personable and leads the jury candidates through something that feels more like a seminar on what it means to be a juror, what negligence really is, what should we do when assessing fault/damages... I'm almost inspired and certainly intrigued. Better than most of my law school classes on similar subject matter. She asks how many of them would actually want to be on the jury... one person raises her hand.

3:00 p.m.- A line of questioning is getting us dangerously close to dismissing yet another jury candidate for cause. The judge quickly calls the attorneys for a sidebar.They return. I spot a note between codefense counsel and my attorney reading "he'd never allow another jury to be called."

3:25 p.m. - Voir Dire has been concluded and now it's time for some more musical chairs. The judge gives some inspirational speech about how jurors shouldn't feel hurt if they're dismissed.

3:30 p.m. - Lawyers all rush back to talk to the judge again about something to do with the order of peremptory challenges and... ok I have no idea. I never did, but I certainly don't anymore!

3:35 p.m. - Challenges have all been exercised and we have - thank god - a jury. They are sworn in and given very detailed introductions about the process, their responsibilities and how they have to wear their badges everywhere and at all times so as to never accidentally even make eye contact with a lawyer/judge/party. We must pretend that they do not exist. Shades drifting through a world.

3:50 p.m. - The orientation is over and there's no time for opening arguments. I will, most likely, be in trial for the next fifty days. After which I will likely be found to be an evil tail-gating rear-ender who must let her insurance company pay some amount of money I may never hear about.

4:00 p.m. - I narrowly avoid another fifty accidents attempting to get out of the parking garage and back to Andrew's house. Can I have a self-driving google car yet??


4:20 p.m. - Back at Andrew's making a piddling attempt to "work" but failing to get my brain past mush-stage. Write one email to a client, stare at the collaborative law minutes I need to get out and then stare less purposefully at a distant wall, and then to the remains of what appears to have been a grizzly cupcake massacre.. Listen to Andrew's early-twenties roomies disucuss the "proper" nickname for a "360 pound black man" (apparently Chocolate Thunder is in the running and I wonder what Kevin Smith movie we've staggered from)

And the first day of course is done. Time to locate the Ibuprofen and snuggle in for a loooooong couple of days!




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