Guy Kawasaki wrote in “Reality Check“ about a friend at O’ Hare International Airport. He was watching another passenger scream at the airline attendant. The ticket agent was amazingly calm.
After the tirade was over, Kawasaki’s friend got up to the counter. He asked the agent how she was able to stay so calm. “That’s easy. He’s going to Paris, but his bags are going to Sydney”.
Last week, we settled a case that involved a head-on crash between our client and the defendant. In the case, we had not gotten retained until sometime after much of the evidence, like skid marks and grass and gravel indentations, had disappeared or been washed away.
There had been an eyewitness to the crash, who had told the police officer that the defendant had caused the crash, by traveling into the client’s lane. The police officer had written the name and phone number of the eyewitness on a piece of paper. Unfortunately, that paper disappeared. The officer regrettably advised that he had failed to put the witness contact information in the investigation file, and that it had somehow blown out of his car.
Now, we were dealing with a defendant who was saying that our client came into his lane, versus our client’s testimony of the exact opposite. (a “he said”, no “”he said”) Because of hearsay evidence restrictions, the officer would be unable to testify about the statements of the eyewitness, at the scene.
At the scene, the defendant was extremely belligerent to the officer. He refused to do a field sobriety test. He claimed that he was in too much distress, to do a breathalyzer test, to determine alcohol in his system. At the crash scene, he did have enough energy to measure skid marks. It was also later determined that after the crash, he called his sister; who is a registered nurse. Posssibly, he told her that he had been drinking and, maybe she gave him some advice on what to do at the scene. At least there was some possible inference that might have let the jury consider that as a possibility.
Ultimately, the insurance company and defense attorney apparently thought that there was enough evidence, that a jury would believe our client. In fact, at the hospital, the defendant tested with .03 of alcohol in his system. That’s almost 1/3 less than the legal intoxication limit of .08. It does not appear that he was drunk at the scene, after all.
The defendant could have done the field sobriety tests and breath/alcohol test for the officer. Instead, he was argumentative and not cooperative.
I believe that it all came down to the attitude of the defendant. The way he acted at the scene, was also how he seemed, throughout the case. I’ll also venture a guess that the defense attorney was glad that he did not have to represent him in front of the jury.
Like the airline passenger story, it’s a reminder how our attitude can make a difference. In this case, it also made a difference as to who was the most credible, as the cause of the crash.
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