Hurry up and Wait

Being an expert witness has its ups and downs. One day you are packing carefully for an onsite examination  in Nairobi, the next day the proceedings have stalled and the thought of the cases you have turned down because of your travel plans reminds you how fickle is the justice system, both here and abroad.

I must admit, I was ready to believe that I was actually on my way to Africa for an inspection of a document and testimony of my findings in Kenyan court. That day may come, but it won’t be this month. Somehow, (tongue in cheek) the document suspected of being forged cannot be found (more on that, later).

If you’ve not had the pleasure of experiencing court procedure, you may want to consider yourself lucky. Never in my life have I experienced so many false alarms. The difference between me and you may be that I really like the challenge. Here’s the scenario: The court date is set, I prepare my notes and presentation materials, my monkey suit is fresh from the cleaners, reviewed appropriate research materials and I am ready for testimony, when, surprise, surprise. Something has gone awry. The evidence is not available, the judge is sick or one of the parties has asked for a continuance.

So, I put on my jeans and try to get my mind back on my other cases. That is not as easy as it sounds. When I prepare for court, there is much more involved than reviewing the evidence and my findings. I must also be prepared for any other line of questioning however remotely related to my case. For instance, if I have used an alternate light source to examine for ink differences within a document, I may be asked to describe the principle of light physics applied to the exam. Predictably, it takes a little bit of regrouping to adjust back to laboratory mode after focusing on these kinds of details.

The land of safaris and intrigue will have to wait for now. The evidence in question may never surface as often it doesn’t. I suppose that would make sense if indeed it was fabricated as false evidence to benefit the parties involved. Meanwhile, I will continue my work here, doing what I love. If I get the call, the “African Chronicles” will begin again.