Thursday, April 26, 2012

Road trip

Today was a road trip Wednesday. I had a client with a commercial driver's license who got a speeding ticket up in Brazos County. Since he had a CDL our only choices were to plead the case or try it. He chose to go to trial.

Now it's one thing to try a case on your own turf - but trying a case on someone else's turf is quite another story. After we finish questioning the jury panel the judge asked us if we were ready to make our strikes. Um, Judge, I've got a few folks I need to challenge for cause. After I announced my challenges I felt right at home as the judge proceeded to do his best to rehabilitate each of the jurors who announced that they were biased against my client in one way or another.

Trying the case was pretty much the same as anywhere else - with the exception that, in Brazos County, police witnesses apparently are allowed to read from their notes when the testify. Oh, silly me. I guess I should have read the local rules in advance.

After testimony was completed we gave our closing arguments. I wasn't aware that it was customary in Brazos County for the prosecutor to take my demonstrative aid and throw it across the courtroom. I think that was Local Rule No. 2. Well, either that or not giving the jury a written or oral charge.

The judge told the jury to go back and decide whether my client was guilty or not. I asked if we could approach and I asked to see the charge. He handed me the verdict form. I asked him where the charge was and he told me I was looking at it. Luckily someone told me that this judge didn't give the jury a charge so I had already taken the time to draft a charge that the judge ended up sending back with the jury.

About 45 minutes later the jury informed the bailiff that they were deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial and sent us all off on our way.

I ended up at Rudy's BBQ on Jersey. Rudy's is a chain - but still serves some pretty damn good barbecue. I had my usual - brisket and sausage - with a side of creamed corn. The brisket was moist with a health smoke ring. Rudy's smokes their meat with a healthy dose of oak. The jalapeno sausage was cut lengthwise instead of sliced and had a bit of a kick to it. My only complaint was the slightly funky taste of the sweet tea. I know I should probably go back to getting unsweetened tea and using the pick packet of cancer-causing sweetener - but I digress.

All in all, it was some good stuff.

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