Tuesday, I had an email from the district attorney saying the defendant pled guilty so I will not have to testify. Great! Now that I am retired, I no longer get paid when I have to go to court which is annoying! It doesn't seem fair. My parking gets paid and I get paid for mileage but nothing more. And, in the afternoon mail, I get yet another subpoena for a trial at the end of January! It says that I am to be available for telephone standby from 1-26-2010 to the completion of the trial. Well, I already have airline tickets and I am away from San Francisco from 1-29-2010 at 3PM until 2-6-2010 at 6PM. I hope my testimony can take place on the 27th or 28th of January!
I actually don't mind going to court. It's been part of the job for the past twenty-one years. I am not intimidated by the courtroom and I am clear about my role as a forensic nurse. I testify as to what I did and I don't step outside my scope of practice or my area of expertise.
While I would never discuss the specifics of a case, I can share with you a couple of humorous anecdotes. In our role as child forensic interviewers, we have a very specific format we follow, all geared toward not asking the child leading questions so that the interview is not disqualified in court. We begin by introducing ourselves to the child and explaining the room, the fact that others will be watching, and that the interview will be videotaped. I always tell the child that I am a special nurse whose job it is to talk to children. I also let them know that there will be no
We wear regular clothes, not uniforms, and I usually match my eyeshadow to my clothes, as I have done all my life - usually wearing three different colors. One day, I had finished my introduction with a five-year-old girl and was well into the interview, when she stopped and looked very closely at me. "Is there something wrong?" I asked. "Well, she said, "I was wondering, are you a movie star?" I guess all that explanation about my being a nurse didn't
make an impact when she saw the eyeshadow!
Another time in court, when the defense attorney. asked the child if he remembered the nurse who took care of him in the middle of the night ( this was about two years later ), he answered emphatically, "Yes." The defense attorney wanted to know how he could remember something that long ago. The child answered, "The eyes."
I'm not the only one who gets remembered because of distinguishing facial characteristics. My dear colleague, for the past 21 years, has always worn bright red lipstick. Once, when we interviewed siblings, the sisters recalled the nurses with the "eyes" and the "lips" though they couldn't remember our names years later when the district attorney met with them.
We usually end our interviews by thanking the child for coming to talk to us and asking if they have any questions they would like to ask us. Once, a little boy, very unabashedly asked, "Are you always going to be as fat as you are now?" Wow, I will really be embarrassed when that video gets played in court. I hope I'll be a lot skinnier then!!