April 12, 2005
This was our day. The day, the jury would be able to hear us. Hear our voice. I was terrified. Damon was too but never showed it. Our attorney had specific instructions for when we were on the stand. Speak clearly and speak to the people on the jury. Look into their eyes when we spoke. Sounds easy enough.
Damon was first. Lizzy’s dad. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?” This was real. Hand on the Bible. He was asked many questions about Lizzy. Many questions about the night I was in labor. Questions about how life has been with a child like Lizzy. I looked at the jury at one point and saw the men crying. You could hear the sniffling, whimpering, and pulling tissue from the boxes. Damon broke a few times and that was hard to see. It wasn’t often that I saw this man cry. I saw his hurt. He was sad about Lizzy.
We decided not to find out the sex of the baby. This was our first and wanted to be surprised. We went to a new parent class at our local hospital and we were the only couple that didn’t know. Damon “just knew” it was going to be a boy. So much that he painted the baby room blue!! It was called angel blue. Our baby showers were generic with gifts that could go for a boy or a girl. I’m sure he had all his teaching friends that he was having a boy too. We were getting a lot of blue gifts. I mean a blue pack and play. At one point, I said, “There is a chance we are having a girl D.” This is when he said, “I will do everything with a little girl that I can do with a little boy, so that would be great too.”
April 12, 2000
After our attorney finished with Damon, the defense just pounced. We had our depositions maybe two years before this. So for us to remember what we said and have the exact answer was a bit difficult. They would ask him a question and then give him a copy of his deposition and ask for clarification. Then our attorney would object and we would wait for the judge to discuss the answers with both attorneys at her bench. This kind of stuff ate up a lot of time. Over all, Damon was strong and I am proud of him. This was difficult as I was to learn.
I remember asking our attorney if I should bring the “book”. He said yes, take it up with you discretely. I walked up to the stand and was told to raise my right hand and place my left on the Bible. I set the “book” in my lap and looked at Damon. I started to weep a little. I felt alone up there. He saw that and shot me those warm eyes with a nod of “you got this babe”. I immediately felt less tense.
The very first thing was to show a video of Lizzy to the jurors. This was the first time they would put a face with a name. Lots of smiling through tears. Apparently, I was the witness they were really waiting for. I was her mom. I experienced everything. I carried her and gave birth to her. My testimony would be crucial.
After the video, my attorney started with some simple questions to get me warmed up and comfortable. I had a very hard time looking at the jurors. I couldn’t because of the crying. They were crying for us. For Lizzy. They were parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, sisters, and brothers. It was hard for them to sit and listen to this. Not being able to look at them, my attorney moved right in front of them so I was forced to “look” that way. I remember being up there for some time. His questions were easy to answer.
During the defenses opening statements, they immediately put abuse at the forefront. Calling our lawsuit a frivolous one. They wanted the jurors to know that my doctor that delivered Lizzy was well respected in the community. She had a successful 25 years as an obstetrician/gynecologist with many healthy babies being delivered. She sat with her attorney’s everyday and never looked at us. Its not everyday you get accused of abusing your precious baby girl. I know what abuse is and have experienced it first hand. We tried for years to have a baby and she was wanted and planned for. So I was ready for everyone in that courtroom to see the “book”.
I was playing a game of scrabble with my mother in law and had Lizzy in her car seat on the floor next to me. She was sleeping and was going to wait until she woke up to take her out of it. While playing, I knocked off a pocket dictionary off the table and it fell on Lizzy. She woke up and cried for 30 seconds and I rocked her back to sleep. I put her in her crib and that was the end of it. This “book” is part of a desk reference set that had 75 pages in it. It was a hardbound book. It was the smallest book in the set. Lizzy had no markings on her from it. I was honest about everything and made sure it was in my deposition.
April 12, 2005
Knowing that that incident could not cause the kind of disability we were experiencing, I was not worried. What I was worried about is the jurors thinking this is what caused her to be the way she was. This was the reason for having the “book”. When the defense attorney made his opening statement, he said that I purposely dropped a huge dictionary on her. I immediately strongly disliked him and the two women he had with him.
My attorney finally gets to the “book” and I get butterflies. He said “Lisa, you have been accused of dropping a huge and heavy dictionary on Lizzy. Do you have this huge book with you today?” I said, “Yes sir.” He then asks me to hold up the book for everyone to see. So I hold it up and look at the jury. Lots of smiles, which made me, feel good.
The defense had their time also. They scared me. They asked questions about her Medicaid and expected me to know all about it. All I know about Medicaid is that they were paying for all her medicines, doctor visits and therapies. They tried to trip me up, but the judge wouldn’t have it. My experience on that stand was like no other. I felt so many emotions while there. Anger, sadness, bitterness, hate, love, compassion, loneliness, and fear.
We were done. I was the last witness. It was their time. Tomorrow will be hard; as they would try to convince the jury we abused her.