zen.org Communal Weblog

November 30, 2004

Now on the resume: Expert Witness

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:12 GMT

This summer I was asked to take the role of technical expert witness in a case in the High Court here in Ireland. My first. Holy cow.

It involved Internet filter usage in libraries, and I was on the side of the person filing suit for no filters being in place. Today, finally, was the court date. Last week I finished my official opinion, all 21 pages of it, and today it was going to be submitted to the judge as part of my appearance when the whole trial started.

In a very anti-climactic way the trial ended up not happening. There was no judge available to hear it, so there ended up being some kind of settlement since apparently neither side really felt like waiting til February or March for another try. The system is very different from America, at least using my Law & Order-based perspective: you learn at 11am whether or not you can get one of the three judges that listen to cases in this group, whatever that may be. If you get one, you may start in half an hour. Or you lose out and have to reschedule for some later date. Very down to the last minute.

Turned out only one judge was available, with three separate cases vying for position. The first case on the list, with us in third place, won out. I arrived at the court at about 9:45am ready to rock, and finally left after tons of cafe latte and tea at about 2:30pm. Most of the time was spent waiting around to learn if there would be a judge, then waiting for a settlement or a later trial.

Overall it was an interesting experience where I got to take part in two consultations (meetings with the client or the barrister involved), do a few technical evaluations of what’s currently set up at the library, research a-plenty, and reread my written opinion a few times en route to the Four Courts to make sure I would remember the important stuff. Lots of work but I think it was worth it. (Hmm, am I overstepping my bounds by putting it on my resume if I never actually spoke in the courtroom?)

Maybe I’ll be lucky and get to do it again some time. Hey, maybe I’ll even make it into the witness box.

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