testify

27 Apr

When you feel something intensely, you want to write it down — if anguish, to stanch the bleeding;  if delight, to prolong the moment.

That was your daily Lanterns on the Levee for this Tuesday, April 26, 2011.  Just as true of writers in 2011 as it was in 1941.  It must be the memoirist’s curse.  All this intensity of feeling.  Far better to write it than to alienate all your friends with bitterness or overwhelm them with your effusiveness.  People in the delta can handle expressiveness.  It is expected.  Out here in the proverbial desert, they are quieter, unnerved by too much Southern gushing.  Some men think that I am in love with them and have asked to marry me and others think I must be a stalker, but they just don’t understand good storytelling.  It’s a combination of really wild experiences painted with good conversation and a colorful vocabulary.

I did something novel today.  I testified in a civil case.  I prosecuted a man for child abuse last summer and he was convicted and imprisoned.  The state child welfare department has sought to terminate the mother’s rights to the child because they say she should have known the abuse was occurring and done more to protect the child.

I testified about my education, my training, my employment experience.  The steps I go through when making decisions to charge people with crimes and how I examine the evidence and prepare for trial, and a lot of specifics about this case.  Today the gist of my testimony was that in my opinion as a prosecutor who had scrutinized evidence in this case, as a mother to three young children, and someone who is intimately acquainted with how hard it is to get your apparently healthy baby in to see the pediatrician, that this mother could not have known that the assorted strange occurrences were symptoms of child abuse, nor should she have been expected to take the child to the emergency room for a rash.

Tragic.  All of it.  Painful to relive.  But feeling like I did the right thing by telling what I knew?  Very satisfying.

I was direct-examined and cross-examined and I got to say “could you please repeat the question” and “I don’t recall” and my integrity was insulted and I was accused of being someone who cares more about securing a victory in the courtroom than making decisions that are in the interest of justice.  It was a banner day in mudslinging. 

And I just loved it.  Even though my face turned red and my voice raised the second time I said “That is not how I make my charging decisions.”

The judge has not ruled.  He took the issue under advisement.

In other news, Wade told me today that I could be a teacher at his school.  I asked what I could teach, and Anna piped up “second grade!” and I said “absolutely not.”  I mean, really.  Is there any age who thinks they are as grown up as seven and eight year-olds?  Fun, but oh my!  The energy level and the self-assurance.  They would totally do me in.

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