I’ve been officially summoned to a court of law.

I received a subpoena in the mail recently, telling me that I have to appear in municipal court to give testimony as a witness in an incident to which I was a party.

At first I didn’t understand what was going on. I got scared ‘cause I assumed I was in trouble. But as I read the subpoena I figured out what was going on. I’m being summoned to be the “star witness.” The subpoena didn’t actually say the words “star witness” on it but I’ve watched enough episodes of “Law & Order SVU” to know that my testimony will make or break this case. And I’m taking that very seriously.

On a side note, I thought it was odd that something as important as a subpoena to appear in a court of law is just MAILED to someone. I mean, what if I was on vacation and didn’t check the mail in time? Or what if someone had stolen my mail? What if I had moved? They just HOPE that the subpoena gets to the right person? That seems odd to me.

But I digress.

My day in court is coming up and as the star witness (which is what I’m going to request to be called during the proceedings), I want to make sure that I do everything I’m supposed to do. So I Googled “How to be a Star Witness”... and there was actually a website that told me how to do that. Here’s what it says.

“If you are about to be a witness in a deposition, trial or arbitration, here are a few pointers:

1. Prepare — Before attending court or your deposition, attempt to recall the facts and circumstances about which you will be expected to testify. ......Got it. I remember the incident like it was yesterday.

2. Talk To An Attorney — I think I can bypass this one. I’ve re-watched “A Few Good Men,” the 1992 legal drama with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, and I’m pretty sure it has accurately prepared me for my day in court. Plus, I’ve got countless hours of “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” under my belt.

3. Read your Deposition — No clue what that is. I’ll just wing it.

4. Don’t Memorize — It said don’t attempt to memorize your testimony. Don’t worry, I intend to speak passionately from the heart and I’m also prepared to perform an interpretive dance of the incident if that would help illustrate it better for the judge and jury. I don’t know if there’s a jury at municipal court, but I certainly hope so.

5. Look Good — This website says I should dress in “neat, clean and conservative clothing.” I guess I’ll just wear what I wear to work or church and hope that’s good enough.

6. Don’t Gossip — OK, this one’s gonna be tough. It says that I should avoid talking about the testimony or the case at the courthouse or within earshot of strangers ... I feel like that ship has sailed.

The website I looked at had a lot more points on how to be a star witness but I didn’t have time to read all of them. In essence it told me to be nice and speak clearly and to make sure I understood questions that were being asked of me.

In preparation for my day in court, I’ve made a list of legal terms and jargon that I’d like to use during my testimony. I feel that using these particular terms will endear me to the judge and make it seem like I really have a firm grasp of the judicial system, adding weight and gravity to my testimony.

1. Habeas Corpus — My friend John explained what this means but I don’t understand it. I think it’s Latin. However, I’ve heard it used many many times on TV and I think it will be expected of me to say.

2. Counsel is Badgering the Witness — I really wanna use this one. Since I’ll be the witness, I’ll know if I’m being badgered and can stand up and direct this to the judge, who will then say “sustained,” which means he or she agrees with me.

3. May I Approach the Bench — I’ll say this when I want to speak privately with the judge. He or she will allow me to come forward and I’ll say something witty and he or she will laugh, praise my “sharp legal mind” and we’ll carry on with the proceedings.

4. You Can’t Handle The Truth — Jack Nicholson delivered this line in a very powerful and emotional scene in “A Few Good Men.” When the judge asks me if I swear to tell the truth, I will cry out “you can’t handle the truth” and everyone in the courtroom will realize that the information I possess could have tremendous impact.

5. Nolle Pros — once again, absolutely no clue what this means. But I’ve heard attorneys use this term all the time so if I want to fit in I’ll have to find a way to work it into my testimony.

6. The Scales of Justice — This is a really good expression that I intend to use toward the end of my testimony ... something along the lines of “And in conclusion, your honor and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would like to say that I hope my testimony today has tipped the scales of justice toward righteousness and truth” ... or something like that.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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