Okay, bio-statisticians probably don't do it.
I'm talking about humor. What the humorologists call Black Humor. You know, like this:
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area."See, not a funny subject, not even a bit. So why did you smile?
Below is a compilation of some of those moments that cropped up in court, moments that despite the gravity of our job, the subject matter, made people smile. And by "people," I mean me, of course.
The first occurred when I took over a hearing from an ADA who had to leave the courtroom on urgent business. She asked me to handle the hearing instead of my friend and colleague Luis (note: Luis was the perpetrator, and recipient, of numerous practical jokes. Yeah, one of those guys). So he decided to have a crack at me in front of a full courtroom:
Judge: "Where is Ms. Taylor, isn't she arguing for the State?"
Me: "No Your Honor, I'm taking over, she had to leave."
Judge: "I see. Very well then."
Luis, standing and grinning: "He is judge, but that doesn't mean the State is giving up."
Everyone turns and looks at me.
Me: "Correct, Your Honor. If we were giving up, Luis would be arguing for the State."
In a recent trial, our main witness was a self-confessed drug addict, a man aged about 50 with (it turns out) poor eyesight. During direct examination, and in the usual manner, the ADA paused then asked him:
"And the man who fired the gun, do you see him in the courtroom today?"
The witness took his time looking around the court, eying the judge, the jury and then finally... a wavering finger pointed towards the defense table:
"There, I think that's him."
The finger had shifted and a surprised deputy looked up, identified as the man firing off shots the night of the murder.
A surprised female deputy, in full uniform.
In voir dire, as I've explained before, one thing I do early on is present the elements of the crime on a poster board to the jury panel, so they know what I have to prove. It's a moment that captures the jurors' interest, partly because of what we're talking about, but also because it's the first exhibit or demonstrative I use. They want to see it, to know what it says.
And so with great gravitas in a recent voir dire, my tone and voice serious, I announced:
"Ladies and gentlemen, these are the elephants of the crime."
A few people smirked.
A few more didn't bother smirking, just laughed.
I then explained, with a shake of the head and a smile of my own, that I have three little kids and I see a lot of elephants.
And for those of you who missed it, there was the witness who looked at me like I was insane when I asked him if he smoked dope the night of the crime.
"No, man, I don't smoke dope. I was smoking weed."
Which is when I learned the difference between the two.