My pal and I have been involved in an employment dispute with his ex-employers for wrongful dismissal for approaching a year now. Yesterday I was involved in a conference call with the Judge that will be hearing the case and the Barrister who will represent the Company.
As I am not by training nor profession a Solicitor nor Barrister, representing my pal in Court [Employment Court] will pose some challenges, which I hope to work out and solve prior to the two day hearing scheduled for February 7/8 2012. Now as investors/traders, I’m confident that we can outwit the professionals who populate the legal trade.
The very basic background to the case is as follows:
On December 16 2010, 5 Officers were responsible for providing transport and security from NRCF Prison to Kaikohe District Court for prisoners appearing in Court that day. Prisoner ‘X’ during his Court appearance, had to be removed from Court for aggressive behaviour. [We have a statement from the District Court Judge to this effect]
Some 3/4 hours later, Prisoner ‘X’ was to be returned to prison. Upon leaving his cell, he still had in his possession a ‘sandwich’ that upon 4 direct orders to relinquish, he refused, and attempted to hide it behind his back. My pal ‘FS’ attempted to remove the sandwich physically, which, at some point prompted a C&R [Control & Restraint] action involving a further 2 Officers.
The prisoner was transported back to prison without further incident. The incident became the subject of 5 Officer incident reports, two of which were very negative, and in due course prompted the disciplinary hearing by senior officers.
When ‘FS’ became aware that he was to be subjected to a disciplinary process, he called me to accompany him as a ‘support person’ which is part of the process. I did so, and we traveled to Auckland for the first meeting. Our plan was to initially say nothing until we had obtained a copy of the transcript from Court of that particular day.
I’m going to cut to the chase, although I shall return to this initial meeting and all aspects of the case in greater detail in later posts. After 4 disciplinary meetings the Company ‘Summarily dismissed’ FS for the following reasons:
[i] That you used inflammatory language to Prisoner ‘X’ when attempting to take a sandwich from him and that this was the ’cause’ of the incident.
[ii] That the initial ‘use of force’ to take the sandwich from Prisoner ‘X’ was unwarranted and created a situation where restraint of the prisoner then became necessary.
[iii] That you subsequently engaged in a discussion with Prisoner ‘X’ after he had been restrained by belt and cuffs, in which you ‘offered to go one-on-one’ in a cell with him.
Those are the 3 charges that form the basis of the dismissal and associated evidence provided by [i] 5 Officers [ii] Prisoner ‘X’ [iii] District Court Judge [iv] Regional Manager of Corrections [v] Senior Management of Company and the ‘process’ followed. I’ll be presenting all the evidence that appears on paper, viz. the evidence that someone has signed their name to.
In addition, the Court will call various ‘witnesses’. This is where it gets interesting. The Company’s Barrister will supply to me a list of witnesses that she intends to call. I then can call any others that have not been called, and prepare a ‘Brief of Evidence’. There are a number of ‘hostile’ witnesses, who would likely require a ‘summons’ and the Court will provide their ‘Brief of Evidence’, I would not be required to do so.
Where it gets ‘interesting’ is with the potential hostile witnesses that may not be called. That would necessitate a decision as to whether to summons them, or simply rely on their ‘written statements’ of which I already hold copies. I will reproduce the various ‘statements’ of all the participants so that I can clarify in my own mind the best or optimal course of action.
So I am looking for any bright ideas, curly questions that might come my way, weaknesses in our case, etc. Obviously as I progress I will provide all the detail that would be required to provide said help.