This is absolutely 100% a true story.
A few semesters ago at a campus far away, I completed a witness examination moot. The preparation period was about 4 weeks and it all went swimmingly well. The scenario was straightforward and our instructions were clear. My partner and I divided up the work and were both completely prepared and ready for the moot. We were going to absolutely nail this thing. Nothing could possibly go wrong…
On the morning of the moot, I checked my black suit for dog fur, made sure my ironed shirt was looking spiffy, and gave my shoes one last shine. I arrived at uni and made my way to the moot court and found my partner nervously pacing in the hallway. I reassured her that “hey, we’ve got this” and that with all our preparation and awesome mooting skills, we were going to trounce it.
Our case is called. We bow on entering to our esteemed judge and make our way to the bar table. We shook hands with our learned friends and sat down at the bar table and made sure our notes were all easily accessible. Her Honour gave her spiel “I want a good clean fight. Let’s get it on!” – oops sorry, wrong day – “Ladies and gentleman, the prosecution will commence and defence will follow. At the finalisation of the moot, I will give you feedback”.
I listened carefully to the prosecution case and made furious notes adding questions for my cross-examination. I was ready. This was it. I was going to show the world just how damn good I could be. I would best Denny Crane, Marshall Eriksen, Atticus Finch and even Perry Mason. I took one last look at my notes and went to stand. I say went to, because the best laid plans of mice and men….
As I tried to stand up, the wheelie chair I was sitting on scooted quickly out behind me and sent me off balance whereby I face planted the bar table at speed. I came to a few seconds later on the floor with our esteemed judge looking over me with concern saying, “Jennifer, Jennifer, are you alright? Do you need anything?” Other than the ability to travel back in time or the power of invisibility, the only thing I was in dire need of was an ice pack, and one quickly arrived. Her Honour then gave me the opportunity to sit it out and complete a supplementary moot in 10 weeks. After all of my preparation, I refused the offer. I just wanted it done so I could go and find a nice dark room and hide for the rest of the semester.
Ice pack in hand (and on head), the moot recommenced. I completed my cross examination of the prosecution witness with an ever expanding googy egg on my forehead. I ploughed on even though I was seeing double and could not read my absolutely stellar notes. (This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should never plan to rely solely on your notes.)
It wasn’t perfect, and I know I could’ve done better were I not slightly concussed, but Her Honour was very kind to congratulate me on my fortitude and applaud me at the end.
The most important lesson I learned that day was not the art of witness examination. It was the art of getting back up, when life and law knock you down, sometimes in the literal sense.
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