Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who Got Court?

When you spend the day the Commercial Court in Milimani it’s not a fun day. It’s a dreary and boring rotation of procedures and observations of roles played by (mostly) young lawyers, who learn to master the art of speaking.

When a case is called, lawyer stands up and states their name, "I am Odinga for the plaintiff" or "Kibaki for the defendant", and wait......... for about a minute while the judge scribbles out these details. The sequence is repeated for about another ten minutes, as a lawyer speaks for about ½ a minute at most, and the judge writes out the details. Only one lawyer speaks at a time, while standing up, and only at a glance, or reminder, from the Judge to continue or speak up

As with all Courts in Kenya you bow as you walk in or out when court is in session and please don’t have your phone rings in the presence of a mischievous judge.

The Judge is like a teacher who takes homework from in a particular case. Who filed their affidavit? Who has not filed their reply? Who is not ready to proceed and why? This is often the outcome in each case as one or more parties is not ready to proceed and asks their lawyer asks the judge to indulge them with an adjournment – another two weeks to reply, get evidence, issue summons etc.

The court is low key, no guards, bailiff, handcuffs, cells, and metal detectors etc. that are found in criminal court houses. You are unlikely to spot a famous defendant, and there is rarely the colorful testimony as you would find a criminal court where the theft of a chicken is before the court.

It is a back and forth of civil, not criminal, disputes between two parties or companies over money, mediated by their lawyers and governed by documents, evidence, contracts etc. The cases are often open and shut, but one party is too stubborn to honour a contract, and gets a lawyer who goes through the charade of filing a case or a defense - Bank vs. debtor, debtor vs. bank, company vs. supplier, etc. The lawyers know this, and know each other even as they refrain from throwing barbs at each others clients. Parties to a dispute are often encouraged to settle out of court, or come to this conclusion after many months of legal bills and mountains of evidence.

There are few smoking guns or surprise Perry Mason like moments that overturn the course of a case, these sometimes happens – and a lawyer friend of mine has won shocking cases on technicalities such as with this example.

That’s a day at the Milimani Courts.

the famous question/phrase who got court? is attributed to the Late ODB of the Wu Tang Clan who uttered the phrase when he discovered, in the middle of a press conference, that he had another court hearing due. Listen below to the clip from the Howard Stern radio show on You tube – Part II has the phrase, Part I is the funnier one to be listened to first


Anonymous said...

Banks this is a masterpiece. artfully written (in my view) and highly entertaining.

I am till laughing my head off! Ever thought of writing humorous articles?

Mburu Kamau said...

This piece is comical in essence. I wouldn't wish to be a judge in Kenyan courts. Writing all the Latin the lawyers vomit! The best part though, is being called a Lord and, of course, earning a whooping salary!

Good work though.

nayansavla said...

at 5min 45sec
odb:"girl i like how you stand with that camera"
reporter:did you go into court this morning?

Amka Kenya said...

hahahaha LOVE it! and i love the odb reference :-)

Maishinski said...

Fantastic piece.. i see the years of writing are unravelling into a story telling TALENT..

Maishinski said...

Oops! I saw the ODB clip.. i honestly don't think it is funny.

Howard Stern and his colleague arer just being mean and cruel.

So many nasty comments. Analysing the interview word by word and faulting ODB to the minutest level possible... insinuations and innuendos.. Daimm. After what ODB went through..!

Howerd stern is a moron. Not to mention he's boring and sounds like he's gay.

Thumbs down on Howerd stern.

bankelele said...

Mburu Kamau: they handle serious business, but there are a lot of frivolous cases that should not be entertained,

Amka Kenya & Nayansavla: incomparable ODB

Maishinski: very funny, and the Stern Show was one of the greatest radio shoes ever. If you listen to Part I (youtube) you’ll get a better perspective on the ODB press conference

Maishinski said...

Banks, I tried. Honest. Gave up when he started using the "N" word...

Greatest radio show? Really? in redneck territories prerhaps.

I listened to both clips and it confirms my suspicions that the guy is a moron and a hater who profits from other people's misery.

Howard stern is washed up. shallow, cruel, nasty, unimaginative and a total loser.



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