KeysFortunately I have had no experience with the court system. However in my novel, The Medal, the main character testifies as a witness for the prosecution in a robbery trial. Armed with my pen and notebook, I spent a whole week in the Court of Justice, conducting research about the layout of the courtroom, its procedures and the kind of language used by the lawyers and the witnesses. Although I was sitting in on a prelim to a murder trial, it was long enough that I could get the full sense of the proceedings, and see how a number of witnesses were handled.

On the way into the courtroom, two police officers searched my belongings and ran their metal detector over my person. I think my sports bra threw them off because they ran the wand twice over my back without any sound from a metal bra clasp. They probably thought I was a bit weird when I told them excitedly, “This is the first time I’ve ever been searched!” By the end of the week, we were ‘old buds’.

The two accused had a cadre of friends and relatives in court to support them. Most had on blue jeans, T-shirts or tank tops and sported various tattoos, body piercings and dyed hair. One young woman was entirely pink (hair, clothes, purse, shoes, makeup) In contrast I sat on the other side of the courtroom, dressed in business casual with my leather case and notebook.

At the end of the week, while waiting for the murder prelim to reconvene, I was the only observer in the courtroom.  The judge looked quizzically my way and said, “I noticed that you’ve been here all week. I’m curious about what you are doing.”

I stood to respond. “I’m conducting research for a novel I”m writing, Your Honour.”

When he asked what the novel was about, I gave him the ‘elevator speech’ version. His response: “Good luck with that. I hope you spell our names right!”

I wonder what he would think if I actually did use his name in the book.