Tag Archives: client

Jury Duty – It’s Not As Bad As You Think

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jury duty picture

 

Jury duty is dreaded. Everyone who is called for jury duty finds it annoying and a waste of time. I know, I understand but it is really is important. It is not only our civil duty but one day you may need a jury to help you out on a case that is important to you. Some aspect of your life may depend on it.

I just finished three days of jury duty on a civil trial case in Queens, NY. I have been called for jury duty many times but I was never picked until now. In the past I have testified as a witness in a number of cases in front of grand juries and mediation so I am familiar with the court process.  Here’s what my experience was as a juror.

Day one of the jury selection process is where at least 150 people wait to be doled out to the different courts. It is a grueling process because there is a lot of waiting. This is where I was picked for the civil case.

Day two is where we showed up in the afternoon to weed out jurors who wouldn’t be good candidates for this trial. After the judge made his selection of 6 jurors and 2 alternates we hear the opening statements of the attorneys and call the plaintiff to the stand.

Mr. K representing the plaintiff began because his client brought the case. In this civil case we were asked to decide only who was at fault in causing a car accident that happened two years ago. There were no other details given about the case. The plaintiff is an 81 year old woman and the defendant is a 20 year old man at this time. Mr. K asked all of us if the age of each driver was an issue in deciding whether a driver is a capable driver and can we be unbiased in deciding the case without age being an issue. He explained how the accident happened on behalf of his clients understanding and reminded us to reconstruct the details based on testimony to find the truth.

Mr. N the attorney for the defendant did the same and added he believed the plaintiff believes her own truth but the pictures entered as evidence could prove his client was not at fault.

Here is where the fun started. The plaintiff takes the stand to testify.

Mr. K began questioning his client on the stand to bring her out as a capable and aware driver. The plaintiff testified and was asked to recall the details of the day of the accident. She reminded me of a sweet senior who was traumatized by this incident and wanted some recourse or retribution in having her car totaled by ending up smashing into a tree with the defendants car squishing her like an accordion. She said she was in the correct lane advancing to her destination. We were shown pictures of the deployed air bag, points of impact on both cars, mangled front ends and back ends, black scrapes on the light car, white scraps of paint on the dark car and the poor tree victim. There were pictures of the road and questions about how and which way she was going. It was noted she was going to pick up MRI films and that was her intentional destination.

The plaintiff had an easy time recalling some of the details but most questions were answered vaguely and with I don’t remember.

I was riveted with attention in listening to the words used and watching the body language of the plaintiff and the two attorneys. Mr. N cross examined the plaintiff and was in fine form in working for his client. His launch began. His questions where direct and fast not to confuse but to prove the plaintiff was not recalling the details as they actually happened. What were the names of the street?  Why don’t you remember? Do you usually go this was? Why did you go that way at that time? Which lane were you in? Mr. K objected at least ten times to Mr. N’s questions and the judge sustained seven times with three side bars. Each attorney was giving their best on behalf of their clients. After about half an hour it was wrap up time until the next day. We were advised by the judge not to talk to anyone etc, etc, etc. We were then dismissed.

Day three was about hearing from the defendant and his two witnesses. Mr. N questioned his client in a way that showed him to be a responsible and efficient driver, student and part time worker. Asked to recall the moments leading up to the accident the defendant says he was already in the right lane and the plaintiff came from the center without signaling, smashed into his car hooking his bumper on to the other car and the both went up on the sidewalk with the plaintiffs car crashing into the tree and the defendants car right behind hence producing the accordion effect. I can imagine the sounds and confusion of the moment.

Mr. K cross examines the defendant. Why did he not know the exact second he tried to apply his brakes? Why did he leave his home without a licensed driver with him because he did not have his adult drivers license yet? Why did he pick up his friends? Where they paying him to pick them up? Mr. K was launching an offensive to save this clients case. Mr. N cries objection, judge sustains, there are three more side bars.

The defendants witness testified with the same information as the defendants. Here come the closing arguments. Mr. K revisited the testimony presented and asked us to seek the truth via testimony. Mr. N revisited the testimony and asked us to see the truth via the pictures in evidence.

I was completely absorbed in the process, it felt important. As we, the jury, left the court room, I had a hard time looking anyone in the eye because I didn’t want to feel anything. I liked everyone, I didn’t want to choose. Stuff happens and it is unfortunate to have to litigate about it. If the parties in a court case cannot settle, litigation will bring hard feelings because it was important enough for someone to have their case heard. It was important to win and be right.

The court officer brought us to a small stuffy room and briefed us on the paperwork to be filled out and promptly left. Once inside the energy was high with each of us handling the pictures again. It was exciting to collaborate and join together as a group. Juror 1, the plaintiff wasn’t believable, Juror 2, the damage on the vehicles show the defendant did nothing wrong, Juror 3 the plaintiff was not cooperating with the line of questioning. Juror 4, they hooked onto each other so the plaintiff had to be in the center lane moving to the right. Juror 5, the pictures show the truth, Juror 6, The defendant  was bumped by the plaintiff sending them into the tree and sidewalk.

I felt sad to pick one over the other because both sides and their attorneys were nice guys and in a perfect world, in my world, there would have been a compromise. But in this sad reality we had to objectively pick a winner. So we did pick  in favor of the defendant unanimously.

Here I have come full circle when I remember the cases I testified on. I won each case and was a believable witness because I told the truth and sought justice. The jury that heard my cases listened to me the same way I listened to this case. Those jury panels were more important than I gave them credit for and I truly appreciate their time and effort and I know my time and effort was deeply appreciated too.

Jury duty may be your civil duty, and despite the temporary inconvenience, you are helping all parties involved to get justice, you help the attorneys service their clients and you have mediated justice in a lawful and objective way. And done so without any pre-qualifications but only as the law states: Trial by an impartial jury. Period

The next time you are called for Jury Duty don’t look at it as a time waster, look at it as a service to someone who needs your help in getting justice. It’s good Karma and you never know when you may need a jury to help you too.

Martie McNabb – Personal Historian – Memories Out of the Box

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Martie McNabb Profile Picture

 

I met Martie McNabb at one of the local chapter Association of Personal Historian meetings last year. She owns and operates a business in Brooklyn, NY She is a visual artist who tells personal history stories in books (& other display products) using only photos & memorabilia. Her books are created to let the reader tell the story in their own words. Which makes for a better story. Martie has been in business for over nine years and she is graciously going to share her wisdom and insights with us today.

Purelysimplewords (PSW): Welcome Martie. I know you are really busy so thanks for your time.

Martie McNabb (MM): Not busy with a lot of paid work.

PSW: It’s like that everywhere.

MM: It’s a standard thing. It’s the three stages of building a business. Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. Memories Out of the Box is heading into the Profitability stage but we are not there yet.

PSW: How long have you been doing Personal History work?

MM: We are coming up to 9 to 10 years.

PSW: That’s a long time!

MM: Personal Historians in general have a difficult time selling our services. At least people know what to do (as a memoir writer). There are no words (text) in the work I do, except those that are in documents or memorabilia. Occasionally if a client wants it but then they have to do the work. But the majority of my clients don’t have the time to caption anything. They look to what I create as an opportunity for storytelling. They pull the book off the shelf and sit down with their family and they go through it and reminisce and remember and reconnect with one another and that’s where the words come in as part of an individual, family or organizational oral tradition.

PSW: How did you get started as a Personal Historian?

MM: I was a high school Biology teacher in the city here for 8 ½ years. I wasn’t burnt out but I was crispy around the edges. I knew I couldn’t stay doing it. Mainly I love the kids but got burnt out by the administration and politics of education. As we know all the money is going into testing. Companies like Pearson Testing and curriculum companies are making a fortune off of it but the reality of it is you need to train teachers really, really well then you give them all the support they need to become excellent teachers then leave them the Fuck alone.

PSW: I agree with you on that one.

MM: No administrator would go into a cardiac surgeon’s operating room and tell them what to do. Teachers need the same respect. It’s not the money. The money is really good but it was all the other stuff. Anyway I had to leave there and I was just trying to figure what to do. I went back to my first career which was sign language interpreting. Which I still do occasionally if I need cash. Then I said, “What’s next?”

I decided to take a 16 week business class called Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO) which met once a week, we had homework. It cost me $99 and they had a curriculum they taught you and had different people who came in and taught you about different areas of building a business. It was an opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs too. I was not thinking of one business and around that time I went to visit a friend in North Carolina. I hadn’t seen my friend in 6 years . When I saw her she felt it was so important to tell me that she had become an aunt in that 6 year period. Her twin sister had two girls and all she wanted to do was show me pictures of her nieces. She spent half the visit going back and forth to her bedroom trying to find the right dresser drawer with the right envelope with the right picture in it. It occurred to me, why do we document the heck out of our lives. We take photos, we collect all kinds of stuff that document the things we remember. Touchstones that really make a difference for us. We hold on to them but so rarely do anything with them. They just sit in a box, mainly that’s how Memories Out of the Box came about.

I wondered how many other people have this problem. Needless to say it was a very informal marketing search. There is no known research about it at this point. All I can tell is we can see hundreds and thousands of old photographs at tag sales and flea markets and antique stores, the problem of what do you do with your photos have been around for a very long time. Because they are ending up in tag sales and flea markets and auctions. Someone in whatever family did nothing with them. You find old scrap books from the 20’s and 30’s and even earlier that have nothing in them. Perhaps the first couple of pages have photos in them and the rest nothing. I think the challenge of what we do with our photos, documents and memorabilia of our lives has been going on for a long time. But again I don’t have hard and fast truth of it. I started to think about it and ask people about it and said OK what valuable service can I offer because there seems to be a big need for it. Let me try opening this business. And so I did.

PSW: What do you enjoy most about doing this type of work?

MM: The most difficult part of this work is getting more work. It’s getting the word out to people to say I can do this work, people don’t understand that they can hand me their boxes, bags or key to their storage unit or whatever and I can do the majority of the work all by myself. Without them being there.

The next thing is I don’t spend enough time actually doing the work, because the clients are motivated to do it but it is not on the top of their priority list, especially for my clients basically since they handed it off to me and given me a check. It sometimes takes a little while to get back to me so I can move forward on these projects.

But the best part is when I am finally getting into my studio and start to work on these projects it’s pure joy. Time just stands still and I just get into this space of loving to be a part of telling this story. Of this visual narrative and I get to know the characters, I see where they go and what is important to them, what they do and who are their friends. I see children grow up and the weddings that have been in boxes for 22 years. They finally get into a beautiful book and get delivered to a husband and wife for their 23rd wedding anniversary. It’s the joy of creating the finished display product that is what I love and also it’s just being able to know that when I hand these projects back to my clients they are so thrilled. Many of these people thought about what to do with these boxes for years if not decades. Here when I say it is not a priority. I say it is not a top priority, but it is in the back of their minds and they think they have to do something with these. I have to find those wedding photos, the trips we took or my daughters baby book that I never finished and now my daughter’s is graduating from college. All of these things that were in the back of their minds but they have not done anything with it. The sense of relief they have when it’s done, they can sit down and look through it, share and reminisce. I have had some that were so excited to get the finished book, sit with some wine and go through each page and relish every moment. These are some reasons I love doing what I do.

PSW: Do you put the actual pictures in a book or do you scan them and put the scan in the book?

MM: It all depends on what my clients want and what the end product is. 1. I can take the original photos, documents, postcards, letters cards, teeth, locks of hair,. brochures, maps and all of that put them in a photo safe scrapbook with adhesive that is photo safe and archival quality. This is called a one off. A big challenge for the client is what to do with the originals if they want a digital book. There is still a preservation issue to that. Many of my clients don’t have a lot of storage space so they may never do anything with the originals. 2. I can scan each individual photo and document to create a digital book that can be printed. Either way is fine but I often ask what the clients plan on doing with the originals.

Many clients just want one copy because they know they are not going to do anything with the originals. The best protection for the items is to be in a book. That gives the archive the most probable chance of surviving and being preserved.

PSW: What is digitizing?

MM: Scanning and digitizing is the same thing, most of the books I create are large. Most are 12 x 12 or 14 x 14. They can’t be scanned in a typical scanner. I have a friend who is a product photographer and takes high quality photos. His studio is set up so that he can photograph each page which creates a digital image. I can then have a back up copy to send off to a book publisher or printer and have a copy made.

PSW: You have been in this business for a long time. From where you began to where you are now what has not worked and what have you learned from it?

MM: Needless to say I have had many failures. This is my first forte in owning a business. No one in my immediate family has ever owned a business. My great grandfather and his six brothers started a company back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Other than that it’s been hit or miss on my side. I am primarily on my own. Because it is a new industry and concept even before I knew anything about the Association of Personal Historians I started Memories Out of the Box. There was no road map. There could be other companies out there that do the work I do but I can’t find them. There is one that is similar by a woman in Oregon. Also Taylor Whitney in Albany, NY. But no one does the visual story telling as I do.

My clients are not the type to send their precious items out to be organized/scanned so I decided to open an store in Brooklyn, NY that sold photo albums and scrapbooks and frames, I had classes, workshops and studio space for those who had these projects in mind but no room in their house. Some people worked with me on a coaching basis. I got great feedback from people in the area. As a result I got over 400 email addresses. If I got a nickel for every time I was told this store is a great idea I would be rolling in it now. I did acquire a great client who I still work with. I am working on book 9, 10 and 11.

Unfortunately, the store did not work out for various reasons like the economy and my lack of business experience. It was in essence a “failure”. So what did I learn from it. By living in this neighborhood for 20 years having a store increased my visibility and credibility. I was smart enough to adjust my path to continue the work that I do. Which is all I want to do. I did not give up. I continued to offer my services I learned I hate retail. I learned I can fail, learn from it and make better mistakes next time. I learned to take my financial life seriously. Being CFO of my financial life is new to me and I am learning to handle that.

PSW: Who would you say is the most interesting client you have ever had?

MM: This is a woman I met when I opened my store. She is like a hurricane and has a huge heart. She takes the time to sit down and really listens and connects with you . As I mentioned I am working on book 9, 10 and 11 for her. She inherited a box of stuff from her mother dating back to the 18 and 1900’s that I organized, curated and placed in a book. When her son was 13 I made a book for him. I have seen her family grow. I have taken trips with them, and she is welcoming, friendly, and trusting. She makes me feel I am part of that family and I really love that about her. Hopefully I will be there to do wedding albums for her sons and daughter as we move forward. It is wonderful to be a family’s visual narrator.

PSW: What advice would you like to pass on about having your own business and being a personal historian?

MM: First is you learn important things about yourself, deep things. Having your own business is not like having a job. It’s about starting and growing a business you believe in.

In terms of a personal history business there is no question that it is in the beginning stages and it will grow. We are the life story people after all.

I just connected with Story Corp. They say that they make recordings that go into the Library the Congress so your great great great grandchildren can listen to your story. Sadly I think this does not happen though because Story Corps doesn’t help the individuals preserve the DVD they are given &/or create a tradition that makes sure the family knows that this recording even exists. When I come across CD’s & DVD’s in the boxes I work with I make sure they are included in my end product and backed up in some way so these ancestral voices aren’t lost. Personal Historians are not only concerned about telling or recording stories but also about preserving them for future generations that know that they are there.

PSW: is there anything else you would like to add?

MM: I encourage everyone to check out our Show & Tell events. They are great opportunities to share lives and legacy. It’s a fun event. The events are free too.

Join us online:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/showandtellit
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Show-Tell-it/

PSW: Thank you Martie for sharing your world with us.

Martie is talented and generous with her expertise. Her visual narratives are unique and each one of her creations is one of a kind. She is passionate about everyone not leaving the story of their lives stuck in a box.

To find out more about Martie McNabb, her portfolio, the process she uses, adult show and tell events and her work go to: memoriesoutofthebox.com. (718) 398-1519 Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY