Witness to the Witness
1st Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
Welcome to CoffeeHour @ Chicklit Power and Trench Classes United! I’m so glad you could join me for a little break. I have a true story to share with you so grab your favorite beverage, your strand of faith and come with me to a deposition in Los Angeles, in one of those real fancy high-rise law offices where you can look out the windows and see for miles…on a clear day of course, and the conference room is like 20 feet long, and the staff is as nice as you see on T.V., oh, and they are video-taping this one!
I was all set up and had made sure my time was in sync with the videographer’s time, I had put in my signs for each of the attorneys – there were three – and finally the plaintiff and his attorney walked in. Now, I don’t know what I was expecting, but surely not what walked in and sat in the witness seat. He was about 6 foot 7, a few tattoos and clean-shaven, black T-shirt, black shorts to go with his dark skin. He is African/American and he had a great smile that lit up the room…but he was somber, humble, and it was obvious he was a little nervous.
I like to put the witness at ease so I introduced myself and noticed right away he was gentle in an unsuspecting sort of way, and he was soft-spoken! This giant did not have a giant voice. Everyone introduced themselves and the videographer did a sound check and just like that we were on the record, introductions first and then I swore him in. I always like to look ‘em in the eye and add, “as you shall answer unto God,” and see if they squirm! ☺
Anyway, the deposition got going off with a bang, which means it was flying but the problem was this witness was so soft-spoken I was straining to hear and by the time I figured out what he had said, the attorney was on to the next question over someone else objecting. It was quite stressful, to say the least. And it’s soooo very challenging not showing my frustration!
The content was also something a bit disturbing; it involved an improper arrest with some pretty aggressive police officers and this witness as well as three of his friends. As the evidence unfolded, it was easy to see how the police officers, and the lawyers, too, had put this witness in a box by lumping him with all the other African Americans who had fallen short, done bad/wrong things to law enforcement.
But this guy, well, he has quite a story: he’s a teacher, and very involved with afterschool programs that he himself began. He also mediates in troubled families by teaching kids how to respect and parents how to listen. In other words, he’s not who they thought him to be! A color and some ink is not what makes a person a criminal or a bad guy/girl!
When counsel agreed to play the arrest recording, I cringed at the aggressiveness of the police officers, yet I understood that they were just doing their job. They thought they saw a gun; they made a mistake. They acted on their assumption and it wasn’t pretty. As the recording continued I watched this six-foot-seven gentle man crumble in his chair pushed down even further by the tears he could not control. They almost shot him…he saw his life flash before his eyes and he has been traumatized by it.
Now, I don’t want to paint a picture of a sissy; no quite the contrary. He was a very tall, well-built gentle giant with a kind spirit!
The fight for his innocence was not made any easier. Our system is overloaded and in spots very broken. Listening to what he had to go through for his criminal trial was gut-wrenching. All the twists and turns, one error begetting another and this was his opportunity to do something about it, to stand up for what he believed was unfair treatment based on being put in a box with all the other people who make bad choices, because he’s Black and has some ink and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
And yet, we can’t put these officers in with all the other officers who make bad choices either! Two wrongs never equal a right.
At one point, one of the defense attorneys asked for a break and the plaintiff and his counsel stayed in the conference room. Usually I’ll do a little bit of editing and then take a quick break as well while checking for messages from my assistant. But for some reason, my butt stayed glued to the chair and what happened next could have cost me my job!
I called him by name, looked him in the eye and said: “You are not a victim. He says ALL things work together for your good and His glory, ALL things.”
He looked at me, his eyes suddenly big as saucers. I continued.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about; this didn’t knock Him off His throne and He didn’t decide that this incident doesn’t count under the all things. He wants to work this out for your good, so if you’re here on a matter of principle, be confident, strong, knowing He fights for you as well because He loves you.”
I looked at his attorney and thought oh, crap, I could get in some serious trouble here. A stream of stress dripped down my back as returned my attention back to my computer at the same time saying: “Now I’ll shut up so I don’t get in trouble, but just know you are not alone in the fight. He will use this for your good.”
His tears started again, but these looked to be tears of relief. It’s funny what a word of encouragement will do for a weary and discouraged soul. Father, thank you for helping me be prepared to give an answer to a weary soul for the reason of the hope that is within me with gentleness and fear!
May I challenge you this week to be looking out for opportunities to defend your faith through encouraging another!