Friday, August 22, 2008

A day in my life

What a crazy day!

I'm set for trial on an accident/no test DWI case next week. I had an interview scheduled this morning with a witness -- but it had to be early because the witness' attorney had to be in Austin this afternoon. The only problem was that I was already set to plead out a case this morning. I also had a motion to suppress on a DWI case down in Galveston at 3pm.

No problem (I thought) after I spoke to the Judge and the court coordinator about coming in before docket call to plead it out (we already had an agreement). I asked the chief prosecutor in that court to have someone there about 8:15am to take care of the matter. When I got there, the only assistant told me he couldn't sign off on anything and I would have to wait for someone else.

Now by this time my client is freaking out -- but I had to leave the CJC no later than 9am to interview my witness. So I head out to my car to go.

Once I get to the other lawyer's office I have to wait because she's taking a recorded statement from someone. In the meantime I get a phone call from a client in a civil case that settled wanting to come in and sign the release. I tell him to come to the office at noon.

Then I got a call from the court coordinator in Galveston wanting to know if we could move the hearing on the motion to suppress to 1:30pm. I told her "no" but suggested 2pm as a compromise. I was kissing lunch goodbye.

I called my client on that case to let her know the new time and she asked me if we could just reschedule the hearing?!?! I politely told her she needed to be at the courthouse an hour earlier.

I finally sat down to interview the witness. I get the information I need and head back to the CJC sometime after 10am.

I get back to the original court and find my client. We approach the Judge and enter the plea (a DWI-first in Texas -- following 3 DUI's in Georgia in the 90's). I had already prepared my client for the realization her driver's license would be suspended when the Judge hands up a gift -- he didn't suspend her license. Unbelievable. I must have earned some capital in his court after trying a breath test case at the end of July.
Next I needed to run upstairs to another court to look at business records filed by the State prior to next week's trial. But to my great surprise -- there were no business records on file! The prosecutor called me later to tell me she couldn't find any records filed by the prior prosecutor on the case.

Now I had to gas up for my drive down to Galveston and get to the office to meet my noon appointment. We signed the release and then I attempted to fax it over to the defense attorney so we could get a check cut. Ooops -- big mistake. The minutes flew by as I attempted to get it all done. Now I was going to be cutting it VERY CLOSE on the Galveston hearing.

I decide to take I-10 to the Gulf Freeway instead of Memorial Drive, figuring it would be quicker at 1pm. Boy was that a dumb decision. The traffic getting around downtown was horrible -- now there was no time for a splash and dash at the Whataburger in LaMarque!

I finally get down to the courthouse and pull into the parking lot at 2pm. Through the metal detector and up to the 2nd floor and it was time to argue.

I thought we had a decent shot at getting the arrest (and the .18 breath test) tossed out. The officer wrote in his report that he stopped my client for having a defective license plate lamp. All I needed to do was get him to say he was more than 50 feet from her when he made up his mind to stop her. Things went well until i asked him how far away from my client's car he was when he first spotted the defective license plate lamp.

I knew it was over when he said "Five feet." Now the hearing turned into a deposition. We may have lost the hearing but I've got the officer's (ridiculous) story on the record for use at trial. He started adding detail to a 1-year-old offense report without field notes. He claimed to remember that my client stopped walking 3 times on the Walk and Turn test and that she almost fell over (funny how those details were noted in the report he filed the night of the arrest). At the same time, however, he couldn't recall how many times she stepped off the line, how many times she missed a heel-to-toe and how she messed up the turn. This is going to be fun when we finally get to trial (scheduled for November).

My day done it was time to head back to Houston for dinner with my wife, two girls and her folks. But first I had to stop at Whataburger for lunch -- at 3:30pm.

At about 5 minutes after 5pm my work day was officially over as my oldest daughter jumped into my arms when I got to my in-laws place.

A crazy, exhausting day -- but a good one, nonetheless.

No comments: