Day on Trial

I never believed that I would be sitting in the hot seat like this. Me, a sixteen year old girl, being interrogated by a stony faced lawyer, the thought was unbearable. The room was charged with so much tension that the very particles of air seemed to crackle menacingly around me. It was much more crowded than I expected and my heart thudded in the silence. My head spun and I felt sick to my stomach. The conference room and the people in front of me became unfocused and resembled a Jackson Pollock painting through my blurred eyes. Thoughts raced in my all ready humming brain. What was going to happen? What would the outcome be? Why did I have to be here? My breath caught in my throat as the lawyer opened his mouth.

That morning began just as any other mundane Thursday in February. I woke up and immediately began the process of getting ready to leave. It ended up taking less time than I thought , so I had a surplus of time before I had to leave for the lawyer's office. Time seemed to pass in a mockingly slow fashion, and during this time my mind was whirling with anxiety. At last the clock struck 11 A.M. I double checked that I had everything I needed. After I was sure everything was in order, we began our trip to Youngstown. My mother really didn't know where to go because the official subpoena I had received was in pieces from a recent snow storm. We went the long way through Boardman and stopped at Panera Bread for lunch. At the time , I had very little appetite, but I forced myself to eat something anyway. It didn't take long to reach the office, and once we did, my mother pulled the car into the parking lot and paid the attendant. As we sloshed across the street, I looked up at the building. It was huge. The lobby was very small and cozy with an elevator down the hall. I had no idea where we had to go, but I followed my mom to the elevator. She pushed the button and the doors opened just as my stomach sank to the floor.

We reached the fifth floor and walked to the receptionist. She took us back to the attorney's office. As we sat at the small table, my boss sat down with my mom and me. She could tell I was nervous, so she attempted to make small talk but I was only half listening. I was busy pondering why I was even here at all! Sure, I understood a little of what was going on, but I really couldn't wrap my mind around why they needed any information I could give. Really, I hardly knew anyone involved with this lawsuit, let alone where I really fell into the whole picture. I only knew that certain duties on my job the previous summer at Canfield Township hall were subject to question by the differing sides of the union. I only had done what was asked of me; I never believed that actions as simple as answering the telephone or greeting someone at the door was considered "union work." I also knew that the woman who originally sued the township had been laid off a few years before, and apparently she was supposed to be offered my dinky part time job first before my boss had the right to hire someone as young as me My thoughts were interrupted and left unanswered as my boss's lawyer came to drag me to my doom.

My mother, the lawyer, and I began a small procession down another tiny hallway to a conference room off to the side. I made a mental note that there was a restroom close by in case I needed it at some point that afternoon. The conference room was much smaller and more informal than I expected, and it was much more crowded too. The room was longer than it was wide and the ceiling seemed to be sinking in places from water damage. I was ushered to a chair next to the court reporter and the opposing lawyer. I tried to take in the ten or twelve people squished into that small room, but it was too difficult for me to focus. My mother was seated behind me and my boss's lawyer (who was helping to defend me), was seated in front of me. The court reporter turned to me and swore me in. She spoke so quickly that I was surprised when she didn't stutter. After I pledged to tell my side of the story with honesty, the atmosphere of the room changed again and became ever more tense. All eyes were on me as the opposing lawyer turned to begin the interrogation.

The opposing lawyer looked like the crypt keeper! He was very old with grayish-silver hair and a hunchback. He sat in the chair with an air of pride and dignity about him that came across as cocky. He looked me straight in the eye as he asked me basic information about my age, schooling, and job status. He started out slowly, but he soon began to fire questions at me that made me feel uncomfortable because I wasn't really sure how to answer. For all I knew, the entire case could have rested on what I said during this session. I was curious to see what the reaction of some of the audience members to these questions were but I was too hypnotized by the opposing lawyer's gaze. My head was pounding in time with my heart as the questions becoming more difficult to answer. Suddenly, the lawyer asked me if I had ever worked for the trustees, and believing I knew the answer, I said yes. The lawyer began to scribble furiously; I wondered why. My heart sank when my mind caught up with my mouth. I had answered a question incorretly! I had not worked for the trustees, but my boss, the fiscal officer. Now what would happen? Luckily for me, my boss's lawyer rushed in to save my blunder by correcting me. The union lawyer was obviously not happy for my miraculous rescue, but I definitely was! From that point on, however, the manipulative lawyer continued to trip me up and make me say things I didn't mean. After making many more mistakes, I was worn out, but the meeting continued. I could hear my mom's heavy breathing in the background and could picture her in my mind, like a mother tiger, protective of her young. The opposing lawyer was obviously very experienced with his profession, but he was very rude to me because he kept making statements that were completely uncalled for. Eventually the lawyers stopped spitting hairs and put the discussion of telephones and my other various duties aside. The lawyer slammed his papers and books shut with a note of finality. "I have no further questions, you may go." I struggled to my feet, my knees were beginning to buckle, and there was a strong need for me to run out the door. A man stopped me on the way out the door and introduced himself.

He said, "Hello Emily, I am a representative from the Union. You remind me a lot of my daughter and you seem sweet. I am so sorry that we put you through this." At that moment , it seemed like that was the final blow. I had been ripped from a school day, dragged to the bowels of the underworld and back, been humiliated in front of an entire room of lawyers and township officials and he had the nerve to apologize now when it was over? I bowed with respect to the people in the board room, and walked out the door with my mom tailing me closely. Not two feet from the room I had left behind, I went to pieces. I didn't care that my face was dripping with tears and my makeup was melting off. I walked out the door of that building with every bit of dignity I still had left.


The court case has yet to be solved at this time. I have not been told the results, nor have I been contacted by anyone from work. In retrospect, this entire event should be looked at as a learning experience. While sitting in that board room, I learned that people are not always as they seem. The many people I had worked with the summer of 2009 had been kind face to face with me, but they actually had ulterior motives. I have learned that in the midst Of chaos and confusion that it is best to keep a cool head and to fully think things through. I have also learned that I am stronger than I appear to be. It is my hope that one day I can look back on this event and laugh, but that seems to be unlikely right now. Besides, how many students can say that they have been put on trial?





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback