Bio: Amanda Petryschuk is a Toronto improviser and secretary with a colourful past. This past led to the experience referred to here. You can follow her on Twitter or catch her around Toronto performing with Impatient Theatre Co. and other improv groups like POMP. You can buy her a drink and pick her brain about anything if you happen to meet her.
Note: I was recently subpoenaed as a witness for the prosecution in a criminal trial. I learned quite a bit about the justice system, and about myself. This is some of it.
- I talk a lot, without first thinking it through. Particularly when I’m nervous. I already knew this, to an extent (see the bio on my Twitter), but watching a two-and-a-half year old video of my original statement to the police really hammered it home.
- The justice system takes a very, very, VERY long time. To wit, the two-and-a-half year old statement, which was followed by years of hearing nothing in the way of updates. It’s not surprising that there were things I said in that statement that I have no recollection of, much less telling the police. I received my subpoena less than a week before the trial was due to start. To sum up, going to trial takes a long time. But when it happens, it happens fast. I’ve never been a teenage boy trying to lose my virginity, but I feel like it’s a very similar situation.
- The women’s washroom in a courthouse is a sanctuary when the person you’re afraid of seeing is male. Yes, there’s a victim/witness sequestering room, but it’s full of other witnesses and victims, and therefore chaotic. The woman reading her book and mumbling Arabic prayers under her breath constantly was a real treat. Also, it’s cold in there.
- The Superior Court of Canada is a fancy place. There are sadly no barrister’s wigs, but they do wear the robes and ascots. Both prosecution and defense counsel were decked out. An attractive man suited up as such makes me feel like I should put on a corset and star in a Victorian bodice-ripper.
- Arrogance will cause someone to fight a charge in which it seems a foregone conclusion that they are guilty. Add to that, men in the adult industry and men who like to exert superiority are often arrogant, and it’s not surprising that there are so many cases bogging down the system and creating the aforementioned slow-moving system.
- Being on the stand is nerve-wracking. Even when the Crown was questioning me, and most of what he asked about what directly out of my statement, I could only stare straight at him, for fear of catching the eye of the accused. Having to describe his attire and identify him in court brought home that I was, at that moment, making an enemy for life. I would have chosen to avoid any conflict, had the decision been up to me.
- If simply being on the stand is nerve-wracking, then cross examination is purely terrifying. The accused knew me, and therefore would be able to speak about me to his counsel. I was asked about things that I only vaguely remembered, and only because they were mentioned. I did not like feeling like I was being asked questions designed to lead to an answer I would only know because of the process of memory by recognition (instead of memory by recall).
- The judge really DOES interrupt with “relevance?” He was a towering figure (if short in stature), but when he did that, I did feel like he was protecting me. It felt nice. That’s right; I’m one of those girls who like to be protected by a man. Don’t be judgin’.
- Good opportunities can come out of bad events. Due to my involvement in this trial, my story has been heard by conference organizers, and I have the opportunity to help teach law enforcement how to protect, and not prosecute, young and vulnerable women.
- Waiting on a verdict, while probably worse for the accused, is close to mental torture for a prosecution witness with a vivid imagination. Am I going to be targeted for retribution? Now is the time to strengthen ties with those who can make you feel safe. And Joshua C. Bowman. He works out. Hopefully, I can provide a verdict update, and thus a conclusion to this list, in December.