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Let It Be Brought...

"Let the body be brought before the judge."

This famous statement is from the Habeas Corpus Act. This British law was passed in the XVII century and then gained in strength in many other English-speaking countries. It guarantees that nobody can be held in prison without trial.

I met a man who followed the words of Habeas Corpus in Ukraine. He was not a criminal or even a suspected person of crime. He was not brought to court in a civil case. On the contrary, he loved to visit the courts.

This man was nearing sixty. As he explained 10 years ago he invested money in some European companies and then he could live on passive income. He had much spare time and spent it in the different non-profit organizations. "I do it just for physical shape," he said. He hired me as a lawyer to represent the interests of these organizations in the courts.

In some cases we could choose the court to bring a lawsuit. Typically, the man made his choices in this way: "Hmmm... Svyatoshinskiy court or Obolonskiy? The first one is closer to my home. But we were there the last time. It seemed to me that the girls working there were not so beautiful like the girls in Pecherskiy court. I love Pecherskiy court... I love the legal world with pretty young female officers in the courts. All these short, stylish, close-fitting dresses and high heels are so exiting! May we bring our lawsuit to Pecherskiy court? No? Ok, let's explore new territory. Let's go to Obolonskiy court. I feel future success."

One day in early spring we were in the court and waited for a hearing. I felt a little bit stressed because I expected a bitter strife in court room. I turned over the pages of the Civil Code. My client stood at the window with arms crossed and calm face. He looked through the window. He said "It's good time to visit Egypt now. I was 20 times in Sharm El Sheik."

"Really? What was so interesting for you there?" I asked him. "Colorful fishes in the sea, camels in the desert? Anything else?"

"Fishes? Camels? Are you kidding me?" a man said. "It was so amazing to put on the mask and the breathing tube and swim along the coral reef holding the hand of pretty girl. It was like walking in the garden."

I could not read the Civil Code after his words. I forgot about stress before court hearing and laughed to myself.

He laughs best who laughs last, you can tell. I know the real meaning of this proverb. I learned it from my first case. My client was a woman who lost the case because she was absent on the hearing. We appealed against the judgment on formal reasons because some evidences were not verified by the judge. And we won. The case was returned to the first court for new trial.

The second judge started to consider our case. It should be said that it was a small court in the village and only 3 judges worked there at that time. As you understand they were not just colleges or friends. They could be even godparents. It happens often in Ukrainian state organs.

The second judge did not want to consider the case in a different way as his college had done before. But I was young and bold. It was my first case. At the debate I used a Latin quote: "Non exemplis, sed legibus judicandum est." This maxim means we should judge by the laws, not the past events. I meant that new judgment should be given according to the laws, rather than according to the decision that was made by the first judge.

Not sure if you remember, but Gary Potter used the Tongue-Tying Magic when he said "Mimblewimble". After this spell his opponents could say nothing except a few sounds. I didn't say "Mimblewimble." I said "Non exemplis, sed legibus judicandum est." But the judge reacted on my lofty aspiration in a specific way. It was: "Шо, шо?" I repeated the Latin maxim again and explained its meaning. There was the same reaction from the judge. I repeated a quote and explained to him again. "Aaaa" uttered the judge and dropped his eyes. He looked disappointed.

We lost the case. The judge satisfied our opponent's lawsuit. But after leaving the court I and my client were laughing our heads off at the judge's reaction! "You were like Cicero," said my client and we laughed until we cried. It was not the finish of the case because we appealed against the judgment and it was reversed.

He laughs best who laughs last.

Your Honorable Judges, fellow Toastmasters and guests! No matter what your profession is and regardless of what you're working on, I wish you joy, fun and laughter would be brought to you in your daily routine.