Monday, February 28, 2011

The New Journey........... the Replevin Hearing .......

Part One

I can tell you that day in court was a tough day. While I did debate in high school, it's just not the same thing as going to court as your own attorney. Of course, I have seen hearings on tv but they don't show you how things get started there. What you usually see is the hearing already in progress. All those attorneys and clients waiting. Who's here, who's not? What order they're going to proceed. I was lost.

I had no idea what to expect of the process. I knew court etiquette but didn't understand what I was supposed to do there as my attorney. Paperwork was one thing but hearings something totally different.

It was the order of things that confused me most. I'd said everything in my paperwork, did I say it again? Would they tell me when I should talk or was I supposed to know? All these things were running through my mind as well as keeping track of what was going on between BG and his attorney. I didn't want to miss anything there.

I had what I wanted to say written down on paper but didn't see where getting that into the record fit so totally missed that opportunity. It was not pretty.

BG on the other hand came strutting in all dressed up with his beautiful young daughter on his arm trying to look like an upstanding citizen. His chest was so inflated like a rooster ready to crow that even Dave, who is normally oblivious to such things, couldn't help but notice. BG thought this was going to be simple, as did his attorney and he was feeling pretty proud of himself.

WF was not there but then neither of them were required to be. This was just a hearing and not a trial. It could be done without either of them present. Only their attorney needed to be there.

I can remember as they escorted us to the table we belonged at as plaintiff's my stomach was doing flip flops and my head started to spin. For a brief moment I thought I was going to pass out and then I remembered I needed to breathe. I thought how odd that riding in big classes and even at nationals didn't even cause me to hold my breathe and here I was turning red over talking to a judge.

Breathing was good and it did stop my head from spinning but I needed to be careful I didn't go the other direction and hyper ventilate, I was that scared. I remember I hadn't been that frightened doing debate or even some of the public speaking I have done as an adult. This court thing really had me going.

I was glad that my friend, Wendy, had taken time off work to be there for me. If I got feeling too crazy with fear, I could turn around and see Wendy sitting there and know I was ok. I also knew that Wendy would be another set of eyes and ears for things I might miss. She was a real comfort to me.

We were asked to raise our hands so we could be sworn in and so was BG. Anything we said would be considered testimony. My mouth was so dry my lips were sticking to my teeth. I had to free my lips before I could speak and that wasn't easy. My tongue was as dry as my teeth, and thick too, so as I tried to push my lips off my teeth my tongue just stuck to the whole mess. I was trying to figure out how I could politely use my hand to pry myself free when all of a sudden something gave and my lips sprang open so I could talk. Believe me it did not get better as time when on.

There sat Dave looking at me like I was some kind of legal whiz kid and I was really hoping I didn't wet my pants. I knew this whole thing was dependant upon me. I needed to pull myself together if I wanted to keep this action moving the way it should.

I knew part of my fear had to do with rules. I have lived my whole life by them. They are important to me. I have used them as a means to know how to navigate my life. I've always figured as long as I lived within the rules I wouldn't find myself in trouble or have people mad at me so I have always stuck them them, even when it's not been easy sometimes. Not knowing what was expected had me in a panic. I was so afraid I might do something wrong, I was frozen.

I had to remind myself they were going to give me some room to make mistakes because I was representing myself. I had already seen small examples of that. If I spoke out of turn they would tell me, not kill me. It would be ok.

If I heard something I didn't agree with I needed to say so instead of wait my turn. Being polite in that kind of context would not be good. If I spoke out of turn at least they would know I had something to say so that should assure I would be given the opportunity to say what I needed. I took another deep breath and tried to focus on what was at hand instead of worrying about making a fool out of myself.

Looking back I can see I should have made an opening argument. Something that said, "Your honor, we entered in a contract to exchange work for this horse. The work has not been done and I want my horse back." I didn't need to be eloquent, just factual but I said nothing.

Next thing you know, BG's attorney is talking and I don't remember exactly what she was saying but I do remember when she mentioned there was only one reason for BG and WF to have those papers, I surprised myself by jumping in, "That's not true. It's a standard practice in the industry for paperwork to be transferred before the terms of a contract are meet so that a horse can be shown in amateur owner classes." Then I proceeded to tell the judge the man had not done enough work to pay for the horse.

I could see the surprised look on BG's attorney's face as she processed my references to the paperwork . I could also see the look she gave to her client and I think she asked him some question right then and there. My guess from the expression on her face was "What is this about?" or something comparable. She was clearly upset.

The woman was caught off guard and she didn't have a clue yet how far off she was from the particulars in this case. She wasn't going to get that information for some time, I figured. Actually I counted on that. Her being in the dark about her case gave me power. For the first time, I relaxed just a bit knowing I had just dropped a bomb on their case.

It didn't take long for the judge to realize there was more to this case that meets the eye. BG's attorney was talking about a dispute about board and I was busily shaking me head this was not just about board. The judge could tell there was more to it. He asked how much work BG said was done and they threw out that ridiculous mearly $38,000. Then he asked me how much I said was done to which I responded I was not absolutely certain but I thought around $10,000. Then he asked how much money board was per month. When the answer came back at $325 (which in actuality is board for a stall in the barn, not the amount he charges clients for having a horse in a pen.) the judge just shook his head, then uttered "This is a far cry from board."

BG's attorney gave her client another one of those looks and I could see the light was beginning to dawn. She muttered something else to him that I couldn't quite hear. Whatever it was, the big puffed up chest of BG's was suddenly deflated and the color drained out of his face. His height dropped at least an inch or two sitting there in his chair.

The confidence BG had entered the court room with was now gone. Mine was growing just a bit. Although I was smart enough to know that I was a long way from winning this case and I was still ill equipped for that journey.

To be continued...................

Part 2

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  1. Ooh. This is getting exciting now :-)

  2. All I can say again is, Wow! I'm full of Wows in this story. What a detail--that your lips stuck to your teeth!! I can only imagine how scared I'd be in the same place. I don't know how you did it, but I'm glad you did.

  3. I don't blame you for being scared. Who wouldn't be, you were out of your natural environment. And court is tricky if you don't know the rules or protocol. Sounds like after the first attack of nerves you got your footing.

    If I would have seen him strutting in there like a rooster it would have really got me going. Glad he got a pin stuck in his bubble and deflated as the day wore on.

  4. I love the way you tell this. I can really feel all your anxiety. I also have a lot of respect for you, going through this sans attorney. Keep up the great work! It had been easy to follow and understand that eventually all the small parts make part of this journey.

  5. I also want to express my sorrow at the way your relationship with MD and GD was damaged by this journey.

  6. Wooohoooo! Love hearing that he is finally being told by someone other than you guys that he is way off base.

    You must have been so nervous, I was nervous for you just reading about it!

  7. Leah, I'm glad it's exciting for you, LOL, it sure wasn't for me.

    Linda, I have never experienced my mouth being so dry, not in my entire life was anything near close to that dryness. It was awful.

    Arlene, once I convinced myself to focus on what I was doing instead of my fear, I felt better. I'm not going to say I was as effective as I would like to have been but I was not totally steam rolled.

    The best part of that day was seeing his bubble burst.

    Nicole, from here forward the peices should begin to fall into place.

    As for MD and GD, they are responsible for their choices in this. As much as I know BG worked them as he could, they are the ones that chose sides.

    horsemom, I don't know if she told him he was off base or not but I'm pretty sure she questioned him right there in court. It was obvious she really thought the whole conflict was about a charge for board, that board he wasn't supposed to be charging me. She had bought everything he said. She really was at a disadvantage not knowing or understanding anything about horses. I actually felt sorry for her.

    As for nerves, I was a wreck. Didn't I sound like one in my narration?

  8. "Fake it 'till you make it" is more true than I am comfortable with. I've had those moments of "WTF am I doing up here in front of all these people pretending I know what I'm talking about??!?!"

    And then I just have to take a deep breath, and act like I know what I'm doing. It's still *damn* scary and I have so been there afraid I'm going to pee my pants.

  9. Oh my goodness I'm nervous and scared for you all in one and so wanted to be there to hand you a glass of water when needed. Cant wait to hear what happens next .....just want to know now! that it all ended ok

  10. I'm on board with everyone else, this is nerve wracking just reading it, I can't imagine!
    Why is it that people think that dragging a kid around makes them more honest/innocent/harder working in instances like this??
    My first thought at BG's deflation was, "Oh how the mighty has fallen!"

  11. If that last one comes up Chad, its really Nikki. I forgot to log onto my own personal acct... (0:

  12. Mikael - I can't believe you stood up there and did that on your own (with support from family and friends). You are one brave woman! I've been through a trial before, as a witness, and it was incredibly stressful and intimidating...I can't wait to read more :).

  13. Laura, it's definitely a scary feeling and I think this time around I didn't really think I had enough idea of what was going on to even be able to fake it.

    sally, I remember looking around for water somewhere. From what I could tell there wasn't any there except maybe up at the judge's desk. I know that you're not allowed to bring bottles of liquid into to court house or I would have had one. But thanks for the thought it was nice.

    Nikki, I remembering thinking that his daughter was there solely for what kind of impression she'd make. She told me from the first time I met her she really didn't get along with her dad and her she was now looking like they were one big happy family. I wonder what that cost her, a little self respect maybe?? Pretending in a situation she had to know was not true because she lived at that place as well. Or was I supposed to think she would be someone who would testify for him saying what ever he wanted. It was odd.

    Great reference for BG's deflation, that's certainly what it looked like.

    JJ, I sure didn't feel brave at the time. What I felt was scared and inadequate and that was with previous experience. I had testified at the criminal trial I've mentioned (got angry on the stand) and also at the arbitration for the vehicle accident. That I had done quite well and I knew that I was considered to be a credible witness. Neither helped in this situation. It was just plain hard.

  14. Sounds like things are starting to look up, even though its just beginning.

  15. Scary ! I was inches from having to go to court over a wrongful dismissal ,with a lawyer, and still threw up for a week before the offered a settlement , no idea what I would have done if I had actually had to go to court.Funny how sick and upset we get when we are faced with the law having done nothing wrong, yet those who are decietful and dishonest seem perfectly calm

  16. Crystal, there were a lot of ups and downs along this journey.

    fern, interesting point you make about the deceitful ones being confident which the honest people are a wreck. That is so true and I really hadn't really thought about it before.