Diary of a Rookie Lawyer: The Prosecutor and His Doctored Child Witness – Ify Korie

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Can’t you just quit lying?” I screamed inwardly. I detest lies. In fact I have an aversion to lies and liars in general. Although I verily understand the intricacies and technicalities of the profession, however I still detest lies. Especially lies without any cogent and factual foundation.

It was a cross examination at the magistrate court. The witness was a child. I knew she was just a child. Even the people in court I guess knew she was just a child but she presented herself on adverse advice as a young adult.

Her oral testimony was obviously doctored. Of course on cross examination, not only was she extremely contradictory, her testimony was glaringly conflicting with her statement at the police. And I kept recalling the silent rule about such inconsistencies in evidence. The girl tried all she could to navigate between the truth and the lies they have asked her to tell. At some point the prosecutor was helping her to remember the lies and she was trying hard to catch up but the damage was ultimately done.

Despite my intense dislike, I do have a profound respect for liars. Yes I do. Naturally the truth does not cost much in terms of mental energy as compared to lying. It has been scientifically proven that lies and lying creates more biological and mental stress on the body. Hence lairs should be good players possessing sharp and active memories. This is so because every lie must have a factual foundation which serves as a premise to convince the listener and hence the liar should possess the uncanny mental ability to recall with such speed and accuracy both the lies and it’s foundations.

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This child witness though bold in both examination in chief and cross examination was inconsistent with her testimonies and manifestly contradicted herself. At some point my irritation with the procedure became amazement. I was truly amazed. Amazed at the prosecutor as to how he could be foolish enough to school a child’s oral evidence forgetting that there would be cross examination. But he did that anyway. I was imagining the poor girl just telling the story of what she saw. I am very sure she would have done it perfectly well. She would not have been through the harrowing experience of saying one thing and changing it and then looking helplessly at the prosecutor to save her. A child would always be a child as she also eventually admitted that she was doctored.

I wondered what would have influenced the police prosecutor to undertake such a fruitless task.  Well the damage was done, the witness of the child amounted to nothing and it was all futile effort. I could only imagine the efforts put into this.

Being on the side where you are able to relax and watch how the opponent damage his case is a good feeling. We closed our questions. Of course the damage had been done all to our advantage.

Each experience helps one way or the other, for today, I learnt a great lesson, the greatest mistake you can make as a prosecutor or even lawyer is to doctor your witness. It would backfire and mess up your case. Cross examination is one hell of a trick. It unsettles the best prepared how much more the doctored. It was a child but it would not have been any different if it was an adult. I saw the struggles to remedy situation. I saw the disappointment and the helplessness.

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For police prosecutors, they have consistently convinced me that many of them are not fit for the job. Sometimes they are clueless. Sometimes they mess up good cases. Lawyers leverage of that a lot. My take is simple, if you cannot handle these cases with due diligence honourably step down and let a more competent person assume your office?

Korie Ifeoma Chisomaga is a young counsel who believes she has what it takes to make a difference in the profession. 

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