Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Unborn Witness

How can your son be a signatory witness to a property document 18 years before he was born?


My first day in court (as a mere observer of court proceedings) was not without its intrigues. This day will remain as one of those days I will live to remember.
The object of this post is based on one of two cases that interests me the most.

FACT IN ISSUE
A woman filed for divorce accusing her husband of infidelity and had caught him in the act on several occasions. She even went as far as "flushing the womb" of her housemaid who supposedly took in for her husband.
She claims her husband does not provide for their upkeep so the whole responsibility fell on her.
Furthermore, he batters her severally of which she presented photo evidence to that effect.
They have been married since 1995,  have three male children at ages 19, 17 and 15 respectively.


FACT RELEVANTLY IRRELEVANT TO THE FACT IN ISSUE
During the course of proceedings, counsel to the husband pointed out a flaw in one of the documents tendered as exhibits. It was a document attesting to ownership of a plot of land by the woman given to her by her father in 1979. The woman had earlier told the court that they had built on the plot which serves as their residence.

The problem is, the document was signed by both her and  father in the year of our Lord, 1979 with her son as witness whom she gave birth to in 1997! (Oops!)


Your father gave you a land in 1979 with supporting documents in your name. The witness to the agreement was your son who signed on the documents as witness in 1979 but was born in 1997. How is that possible?


You can only imagine the expression on the woman's face as she stood in the witness box...The word 'shame' doesn't touch it. "Objection my lord!" shouted her counsel.

To me, I wondered what  the lawyer was objecting to? The truth? Was it to save face or was it to show solidarity to her client...like....I'm here with you no matter the humiliation. Because, that woman really felt lonely in that box for some few seconds.


After swearing before the judge and declaring that you will say nothing and nothing but the truth while holding the Holy Bible in your hand and hitting it like twice on your head?

The thing is, this fact(of the woman's son being a witness years before he was born) was not relevant to the fact in issue(the divorce case). The judge stated it too. But the husband's lawyer wanted to make a point...this woman is not to be trusted. And that was a real punch! I admire his cleverness.

But the woman's lawyer should have spotted this from the beginning. What was she doing? She could have avoided this great embarrassment to both her and her client. I was embarrassed too. Those of us in the gallery observing the scenario felt embarrassed as well though it was no concern of us.


LESSON
Brilliant lawyers like to look for loopholes to exploit and discredit evidence. So as an expert or intending witness, you must ensure you do your homework well.
Secondly, lying is not good...especially when standing in a witness box before a judge. It feels lonely...


How can your son be a signatory witness to a property document 18 years before he was born?
Wow!