Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Feb 2019 - End of Week 5

It was Tuesday night and I hoped/prayed for three things as I prepared for my day in court the following morning:
1. That I wouldn't have to testify.
2. That the justice would be served; the accused would get a fair sentence. (Maybe a stint in rehab for drug and alcohol issues?)
3. That there'd be someone strong to accompany me.


In Sept 2017, some young men broke into our place at Cultus with an axe and some attitude. The RING security cameras captured their images with Canon 5D clarity. One of the young men was identified and arrested in March 2018. In December 2018 (on a Thursday at midnight) I was served with a subpoena to appear in court to testify on Jan 30.

I intentionally did not allow myself to think abut it til just before the court date; I wasn't going to allow the fear of testifying, rob me of the joy that I could/would experience over Christmas and the new year. But I did google the accused and saw that he had also been arrested and tried for three armed robberies which took place shortly after our break in.

When I was finally ready to worry (Jan 23), I asked a few friends as well as my co-workers to pray for me. I was afraid.
I was afraid of so many things:

  • the court experience. Where would I sit? How would I know where to go? What did a courtroom look like? Would I have to swear on a Bible? How long would it take? Would the accused's family be there? 
  • Had I compromised/bungled up everything because I had posted about the breakin on Facebook the day after it happened? Would the defense lawyer point his finger at me in a dramatic and loud way and say, in a menacing and accusatory tone, "Did you in fact post words about this on your Facebook page for a few hours on Sept 15, 2017!!??" And the Crown Counsel would groan and throw up her hands in defeat because I had ruined everything with my innocent post about praying for/watching out for the boys who broke in. And my life would be ruined.
  • What questions were they (prosecutor and defense lawyer) going to ask me? How could I prepare? How good was my memory? What if I forgot a detail? What would it be like on a witness stand? Will the accused be watching me/giving me the stink eye? His family; what will their response be? 
  • I had a sneakin suspicion that I was the only witness. Was it going to be the weight of my words that convicted him? How was I going to deal with that? Maybe I was OK to add to the conversation, but I didn't want to BE the conversation. It felt like I was responsible for how this young man's next years would play out. Would he be going to jail because of my testimony? (I know, I know, if he went to jail it would be because of HIS ACTIONS, but by making me testify, I was getting my knickers in a knot about my role in it all.)
  • He's 22 years old. And likely dealing (or not dealing) with some drug and/or alcohol addiction/abuse issues. Is jail really the best place for him? 22 is an adult, but it also feels so very young. Could he turn his life around? What are the chances he'll get help? I get that one must face the consequences of committing a crime; that being punished is and should be a result. But is rehabilitation part of the equation? I was afraid that sending him to jail would just make him a smarter, more bitter criminal. 
  • I do alot of things by myself. I'm getting used to it. But 'getting used to it' doesn't mean I look forward to walking into funerals on my own,  or attending weddings as a single, or sittin alone in church, or entering the cabin late at night with no one else who'll check the closets for boogeymen ... So I was sure I could handle doing this alone too. But I didn't want to. I was praying that someone would be there. That when I got to the courthouse, I would have a person, my person, a strong person, just waiting. Someone who drove themself, didn't need to talk, didn't need me to calm their nerves, didn't want me to explain anything. Someone who brought their own snack, had a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Someone who loved me and just wanted to be alongside. I wanted a pillar of strength to be available in case I needed to lean on someone. Haha. Some days I give God difficult requests. 

Also on Jan 23,  The Official Start Date of Worry, I called the court notifier to ask her for help. Apparently it's her job to walk someone through the process in advance so they feel calmer. Sadly she had either a speech impediment or a tongue piercing, because I was struggling to understand her. After a few minutes she stopped mid-sentence and said, "Oh, Crown Counsel has just walked in. I'll transfer you." I chatted with the prosecutor for 2 minutes:

Me: Hi. I'm Jane. I'm supposed to testify next Wednesday.
Prosecutor: What's the case #?
Me: 12345...90
Pros: I've been off for the past 4 weeks and today's my first day back. Lemme see... Ah, yes. I'll give you a call as soon as I get caught up. I'll walk you through the process and let you know what questions I'm planning to ask. Don't worry, you'll be well-prepared. No surprises. 

By 5 pm on Jan 29 (17 hours before I was to appear) I still hadn't received that return phone call and I was getting anxious. So I called her. And left a message. She called me back later:

Me: Hello, Jane speaking.
Pros: Hi! Just looking at the files now; it's been crazy 'round here. Sorry I didn't call earlier.. OK... Tomorrow. I'll ask you questions that confirm who you are; like, are you the owner? When was the last time you were there? How did you secure it/lock up? Did this young man have permission to enter? Was he invited? Do you know him? And then I'll have everyone watch the nine security videos. Which are awesome, by the way. SO clear. Just amazing. One thing I'll ask you to explain is the discrepancy with the time stamp.
Me: Time stamp? Discrepancy? 
Pros: Yes, I understand the incident happened on Thur Sept 14 between 4 - 5:30 pm. But the time stamp on the videos is Sat Sept 16 between 1:20 and 1:26 am. I'll need you to explain this discrepancy to the judge.
Me: Erhhmmmm, time stamp?
Pros: Yes, every time I view the videos, the time stamp comes up. This will be an issue. I'm sure you'll be able to explain...

I've never noticed a time stamp on the security videos, ever. I hadn't a clue what she was referring to. She asked a few more questions about how I sent the videos to the Constable. And it took a few minutes to recall that at that time, I didn't realize the videos were stored on a cloud and retrievable, so Clint was the one who emailed them to the police officer in charge of our case.

Pros: Could I chat with your son? Would he be able to appear in court in the morning? He sounds like an expert in Ring Security systems and clouds.

I called Clint and asked him to phone the Prosecutor. Which he did. Then he called me back to say he had to appear in court because they weren't confident I could answer the video questions.


Well, that was one answered prayer. Haha. God chose well. If I was to have a strong, unemotional, very independent companion for the day, Clint fit the bill perfectly.

But he was not very happy about it.

So there was that.

I spent the evening writing out a timeline, gathering police reports and insurance papers while dealing with a stomach that could not handle my nervous energy. I prayed alot. Because, you know, maybe He didn't hear me the first 10,000 times.

I fell asleep around 2. Got up at 7. Started driving east at 7:30. Parked at 8:45. Was sitting in the lounge area between four courtrooms at 9, waiting for the prosecutor to find me, and go over everything in person. (The trial was to begin at 9:30)

She came in a few minutes after 9, weighted down by an armful of files, and apologized that she had two trials both scheduled for 9:30. She was going to be juggling us all. Her office was right in the courthouse, located in a closet between the courtrooms. No windows. No internet. Just enough room for a desk, four chairs and a photocopier.

She talked to a young(ish) (early/mid-30's) man with a satchel.

Me: I bet that's the defense lawyer. They're probably discussing a plea bargain. We have video evidence of him breaking in, but because they disconnected the wifi, no evidence of when they left or what they took. Of the three charges (breaking and entering with intent to caused damage, theft over $5000, damage over $5000) I bet the only charge that'll stick is the first...

Clint: It's too late to plead guilty. Court is starting in a few minutes. This thing is going to trial. This isn't like TV.

Me: Maybeeee.

Clint, working on his laptop: You need to ask her about those timestamps.

Me: What? I thought you knew what she was talking about...

... A few minutes later we were ushered into her office.

Pros: Hi Jane and Clint. First of all, I need to tell you that the young man has pleaded guilty to the first charge ... I talking to the defense right now, for the first time, and he just let me know that his client is waiting sentencing on three other charges....

Me: Armed robberies? McDonalds? Esso? Panago Pizza?

Pros: Yes! Exactly. I had no idea... Anyway, he's been tried and is currently in jail, waiting sentencing. So here's the thing.... (she gave us a thorough explanation of how he'd be spending the next few years of his life) ... Ultimately, our goal is to turn this kid's life around. And if we accept his guilty plea and work with the defense about his sentencing, you won't have to testify.

(It's almost as if God heard my prayers. Haha. Three for three. 1. I didn't have to testify. 2. Sentence would involve drug rehab. 3. I had a support person at my side.) 

Prosector then asked: How are you feeling about this? If you feel strongly that we should proceed/not accept his plea, I'll go over the case with you to let you know how I will present/move forward.

Me, turning to Clint: What do you think?

Clint: I think you're the most emotionally invested person in this room. How do YOU feel?

(I was surprised that my opinion was taken into consideration. After all, I wasn't a plaintiff. I was a witness in these proceedings. But I guess I was also a victim, so my voice was invited to the conversation. I wasn't expecting that, but I appreciated it.)

I told them I was in agreement with the plan, as presented, and we moved on to some unfinished business. Namely the issue of those time stamps. Clint asked her to show him, exactly, what she was referring to.

For those of you not familiar with computers (as was the case with the prosecutor AND the defense lawyer) this probably won't mean anything to you, but for everyone else - the time stamps were just the created/saved-by dates that those files were saved to the constable's computer. I KNOW. RIGHT? Her laptop didn't have word processing software, so she's never saved a Word document. And she doesn't have email or internet, so she's never downloaded or saved anything found online. (When I tried to submit my Victim Impact Statement, she said my options were to put it in the mail, or drive it out to Chilliwack. A third option was to find a fax machine and transmit it that way. Yes, I am serious.)

(I felt like I was on an episode of Mayberry RFD/The Andy Griffith Show, straight outa the 50's. It was quaint and alarming.)

Pros: I see. So these time stamps have nothing to do with the date and time the videos were recorded? Is there no way of determining that?

Me, whispering to Clint: Do you still have the emails in your SENT file? Is there some info you may have included when you...

He was way ahead of me. Already in his SENT file, he's scrolling back two years.

And then, the #herooftheday holds up his phone. There, in his SENT file are the subject lines of the nine emails he sent... Video 1 - recorded at 4:05 pm on Sept 14. Video 2 - recorded at 4:07 pm on Sept 14 and so on, one for each of the 9 videos recorded and sent.

(And I was a proud momma bear. My boy does video stuff FOR A LIVING. This is his world. If he's transferring files, he's gonna label them well.)

Pros: How can I get that info? Can I photocopy your phone's screen?

Clint: How about I take a screen shot, then email it to you?

Pros: I don't know what that means.

Clint: My phone will take a photo of what you're seeing on this screen. I'll email that photo to you.

(I am in awe of his patience and lack of sarcasm.)

Pros: I don't have email. Let's just photocopy it, OK?

Clint, respectfully: I'm pretty sure that's not goin to work...

Pros: Don't see why not. I photocopy everything. This is a very reliable machine...

(Clint, with no heavy sigh or eye roll action, hands her his phone, and with genuine interest waits for the results.)

Pros: Oh. You're right. You can't really photocopy a phone screen, can you. Hmmmm. How can I get that printed out? I need to add it to my file.

(Just then the defense counsel walks back in.)

Pros, excitedly: OH, look! I want to show you something... See? These time stamps next to do DVD files? Well, Clint here explained what they are! They're NOT the times the videos were created, it has something to do with when they were saved. I don't really understand it, but he's very certain...

Defense Guy: Well, now that he's pleading guilty, it's a moot point, right? Doesn't really matter... But it sure woulda been fun going after that in court. I was looking forward to a good fight about that...

Pros: Yeah, but here's the thing! Clint has the times, the correct times, on his phone! Clint show him! See? It's all there. Now if we could just figure out a way to print that out so I could add it to my file.

(I get that there's a chance you don't have a clue why I'm even posting this conversation. But I was the oldest person in the room and the least educated AND EVEN I KNOW ABOUT FILE SAVING DATES VS FILE CREATION DATES. AND I FOR SURE KNOW HOW TO SCREEN CAP A PIC AND EMAIL IT TO SOMEONE.) (I also know how to use google and social media to get information about people and situations.)
(I could totally be a lawyer.)
(I felt very smart on Wednesday morning.)
(And I was so very proud of my boy. I mean, I know he's quick and wise and skilled and thorough. But he was also professional and patient and respectful. Which is a side of him that doesn't show up when I ask him to help me set up Netflix on my TV.)

Clint: How about if I screen shot this and email it to the Constable. She can print it off and bring it over to you. Or fax it or something.


ANYWAY - long story short (haha, who am I kidding? This is a long story and I'm taking FOREVER to tell it), Clint had to go to work, so he left. And at her suggestion, I stuck around to watch the court proceedings. I needed to see him. I had just been part of a meeting that was determining how/where he should live for the next couple years and I felt I should not slink away.

To be honest, the in-court side of things was pretty very boring. The accused was brought up from lock-up, (22 is so young), words were said to the judge, and 3 minutes later it was time for the morning break (the judge had been working non-stop since 9:30 am, and it was now 10:45), so that was it.

It was over.

I drove over to Safeway to buy fresh hotdog buns and weiners (I had a craving), but the buns were all over-baked and gross, so I bought some chocolate and went to the lake. (I make very mature decisions when I'm emotionally spent.) I sat on the couch, tipped over and woke up four hours later.

That evening I debriefed with Heather while catching Pokemon in Fort Langley. Because this is how mature women handle life's challenges.

On Friday night, I met Dayle and Kelley for dinner and a marathon catch-up session in the world's loudest restaurant. On Saturday I took my mom to church, then we went out for dinner. And on Sunday, at Danica's suggestion, my kids came home for dinner.

(So many dinners out.
So many evenings not spent at the gym.

I suck at this whole gym thing.)

Back to my kids:

(I love how capable and interested they are in preparing food. By food, I mean the meat the veggies. Grown sons are really The Best.)

Max's Christmas gift for Dani finally arrived; twas Christmas Part Two in the kitchen:

And thus ends week 5.

I hope week 6 is a little boring.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. A very LIGHT snowfall on Sunday.

2. Answered prayer.

3. Moments of great peace.



  • Proudest moment this week: Clint had been hired by Focus to do video work this week, so on Thursday morning he flew to Calgary to tape some interviews. He flew back in the evening. One of my co-workers was there as well, and on Friday he popped into my office to let me know how impressed he was with Clint's professionalism, style and ability to put everyone at ease. Definitely a proud mom moment.
  • Most embarrassing moment of the week: I was out with for dinner with a friend on Monday night, and we sat in restaurant til it closed, crying. Haha. Our poor waiter. We had so much to catch up on, and she's been through a rough patch, and so the tears flowed. Oy. Someday when I have my own place again, we (friends and I) can go back to the ol Murrayville ways and cry in my living room. 
  • Funniest moment of the week: Pfffft. I cry with friends. Not laugh. Hahaha. Will I ever have a funny moment to share? 
  • Biggest achievement of the week: Surviving the court ordeal. 
  • Best moment of the week: Sitting down to supper on Sunday with my kids around the table. (This was Danica's suggestion, "Hey, we should get together on Sunday for supper".) Clint texted me on Friday, "Who's birthday is it? Why are we getting together?" My mom asked, "Why are you doing this? What's the occasion?" Max came downstairs and wondered, "What are we celebrating?" So. Very. Thankful. For. Danica.
  • Best holiday memory of the week: Next Stat holiday isn't until Feb 18. Sigh
  • Best advice I heard this week: "Just be like me." "Do what I do..." Haha. I have so many confident women in my life. So very sure that their way is the right way. 
  • Most grateful for this week: Answered prayer
  • Favorite family memory of the week: A week with TWO family memories! I loved having Clint at my side on Wednesday morning in court, for sure. But I also loved having all my kids over for supper on Sunday night. 
  • Biggest regret of this week: I've been trying to cut back/eliminate sugar/chocolate - and this week was a bit of a massive fail in that area. Not very proud of myself. 
  • Best thing I learned this week: I learned a number of things about our court/legal system. And how it's almost exactly like it's portrayed on TV.
  • Biggest change I made this week: I moved over to the other side of the bed. Haha. Now that I'm not sleeping with my phone in my room, I decided to sleep closer to the clock radio so I don't have to heave and roll over in the morning to hit the snooze button. 
  • Best gift I received this week: I was treated to a fantastic dinner (S+ L in South Surrey. CRAZY how that area has been developed) and inspiring conversation on Friday night. Thanks, Dayle and Kelley for a great evening. 
  • New friend this week:
  • Most inspiring person this week: While prepping for the bring-your-lunch and watch-a-chapel-service thingy I'll be hosting this week at work, I listened to a few speakers. By far the most inspiring was Lee Strobel. I am so looking forward to watching it again with my work friends. 
  • Word to describe this week: Emotional
  • Unexpected obstacles I faced this week: Every obstacle I faced was completely expected. 
  • Unexpected surprise this week: Even though it was forecast, the snow was a lovely surprise on Sunday. 
  • Best place I visited this week:
  • New skill I learned this week: Clint showed me how to double finger scroll on laptop pad. 
  • Biggest obsession this week:
  • Best food I ate this week: Grilled turkey, cranberry and brie with cream of potato soup from the deli just down the road from work. 
  • Best TV I watched this week: Shetland. With Subtitles. Those Scottish accents are rich, yo
  • Best viral video I watched this week:
  • Best meme I saw this week:
  • Best movie I watched this week: No good movies out right now. Winter really is a bleak season. 
  • Best song heard this week: I am determined to have a new-to-me song in this spot next week. 
  • Most excited about this for NEXT YEAR:
  • New skill I want to learn NEXT YEAR:
  • Place I want to visit NEXT YEAR:
  • Something to try NEXT YEAR:
  • One thing to work harder on NEXT YEAR:

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