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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Jesters in modern courts

Without being disrespectful, sometimes things do get hilarious inside the courtrooms.

I HAVE just realised that motorcyclists have to pay toll whenever they pass the Tun Salahuddin Bridge in Kuching.

I was riding my bike to get to the High Court Complex in Petra Jaya across the Sarawak River last week. Apparently it is the same for motor-cyclists crossing the Lanang Bridge in Sibu.

Motorcyclists do not have to pay anything when using toll highways in Peninsular Malaysia. Is this not another case of ordinary folk not benefiting from a privatised project?

It is not that the toll concessionaire has built the road for free. They get tracts of land plus a three-decade concession.

It is one thing to get those riding high-powered bikes pay, but quite another to squeeze the money out of ordinary folk on 125cc kapchais who are already struggling to make a living, particularly those who have just lost their jobs.

This brings me to Tuesday where I was at the Labour Court representing employees who were terminated suddenly by a company that had stopped operations. The employees were claiming for termination and layoff benefits.

I am not going into the merits of the case as it would be subjudice as the hearing is still on-going. What I wanted to share is the questioning session, which went something like this:

For the record, please state your full name, IC number and your current address.

Witness: My name is Batman Robin. My IC No XXXXXX-XX-XXXX and my address is Lorong XX. Sorry, hold on — let me check my handphone.

You mean you do not remember your own address?

It is in my handphone (address list).

You younger Generation X are so dependent on gadgets that you cannot remember any more.

So true. However, those from the older generation like myslef is equally guilty as well. I don’t even remember my son’s phone number, forever relying on digital memory. Years ago when I was a teller in a bank, I could remember at least half of the 12-digit account numbers of customers.

Having said this, I cannot imagine living without modern technology. It is amazing what today’s gadgets, especially smartphones, can do. The challenge, however, is to know when it can be a toy and when it can be a tool. It has been a big help in my work. When I’m on the road, sometimes I write this column via smartphone.

Anyway, back to this witness. Sometimes it can be exasperating when questioning witnesses during trial. They tend to take you through a story-telling journey when all you want is a straight answer. It can get quite funny at times.When I asked him this:

What is your date of birth?

Witness: April 1.

What year?

Every year.

Well, lawyers themselves are no better. Here is an example:

Lawyer: Can you recognise the person in this picture?

Witness: That’s me.

Were you present when that picture was taken?

I thought since it’s April Fool’s week and after the sombre story of flight MH370, it might be helpful to loosen up a bit and recall some courtroom funny and embarrassing antics.

While they’re far from being original, they’re still worth a good laugh.

Lawyer: Can you describe what the person who attacked you looked like?

Witness: No. He was wearing a mask.

What was he wearing under the mask?

Er...his face?

Lawyer: This dementia — does it affect your memory at all?

Witness: Yes.

And in what way does it affect your memory?

I forgot.

You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you’ve forgotten?

Lawyer: How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Lawyer: What happened then?

Witness: He told me: ‘I have to kill you because you can identify me.’

Did he kill you?


Lawyer: You were there until the time you left, is that true?

Witness: Obviously!

Lawyer: The youngest son, the 20-year-old — how old is he?

Lawyer: Were you alone, or by yourself?

Lawyer: Do you know how far pregnant you are now?

Witness: I’ll be three months on Nov 8.”

Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8?


What were you doing at that time?

Lawyer: She had three children, right?

Witness: Yes.

How many were boys?


Were there girls?

Lawyer: Did you ever stay all night with this man in New York?

Witness: I refuse to answer that question.

Did you ever stay all night with this man in Chicago?

I refuse to answer that question.

Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?


Lawyer: Were you acquainted with the deceased?

Witness: Yes, sir.

Before or after he died?

Lawyer: Could you see him from where you were standing?

Witness: I could see his head.

And where was his head?

Just above his shoulders.

Lawyer: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?

Witness: No.

Did you check for blood pressure?


Did you check for breathing?


So then, is it possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


How can you be so sure, doctor?

Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

But could the patient still be alive nevertheless?

Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law somewhere!

Now you can see the reason why I don’t practise law. I just handle cases at Industrial and Labour courts.

It’s enough to tear your hair out.

Tags / Keywords: Sarawak , THIS week I just realise that motorcyclist have to pay toll whene using the Tun Salahuddin Bridge in Kuching I was using riding bike to g


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