Ride the Ducks Trial Day 16: The Safety Director


Jury is filing in.  Am standing off to the side to let them pass.  Realize still wearing sneakers.  Judge has noticed and chuckles.  Rush to chair.  Sit and buckle ankle straps of heels.  This looks better with stockings, black criss cross in the front bcbg skirt with raspberry toned red Moschino jacket over free people wildly batique-ish top with key hole neckline. Costume bangles accompanying apple watch.

32 years ago my supervising partner had just come off the superior court bench.  This was back when there were very few female judges in Seattle.  She gave me strict rules for court appearances.  This included tailored suit, stockings, no visible jewelry except wedding ring and an ugly broach – in her case a bejeweled lizard that looked like it was climbing up her chest.  She had an old watch that she would sub out her expensive one for.  There was no dangle or shine allowed. And my hair had to be shellacked back.  She would fall over in a faint if she could see me now.

Moti Krauthammer is Director of Safety for Ride the Duck Seattle.  Chose him as their first witness, because…well…because having taken his deposition knew it would be a disaster for them.  He fought me the whole way through his deposition, never answering questions and defending his company to the hilt.

He is in a blue ill fitting sports jacket with a bright yellow tie – company colors.  Large glasses.  An extreme comb over hairdo.  He rambles so much that without my request Judge Shaffer repeatedly instruct him to answer the questions.

Have two choices: attack or sweetly lead him to implosion.  Give this some serious thought.

Nala used to have severe leash aggression which made it difficult to go for a run with her.  Scolding did nothing.  Leaning down and giving her frown – nothing.  She did not respond ever to  negative suggestion and still to this day will give you a puzzled look.  Instead came up with a positive reinforcement system.  Filled pocket with peanut butter doggie treats each the size of a pencil eraser.  When we approached a dog if she went after it, no treat.  However if she could pass it without lunging/barking/acting totally crazed – she got a treat.  Usually she chooses treats.  But every once in a while, she just can’t resist.

There is nothing more would like to do than rip this witness to shreds.  It would be immensely satisfying. Instead, no matter how much he prevaricates, evades, or tries to plead his case, do not so much as raise an eyebrow.  Ever respectful.  Patiently asking questions sometimes repeatedly so that he can fully answer them.  Doing everything not to obstruct.  Letting him do that all on his own.  He is perhaps the worst corporate witness – certainly safety director – ever in the history of Seattle trials – at least that is my suspicion. 

His testimony should take an hour and half.  We go twice as long including 10 minutes of pointed jury questions.  He answers these by smiling at and making gentle light hearted comments to the jury.  Not one set of lips turns up.

We end the day with Ryan Johnson, Director of Operations Ride the Ducks.  He is not bumbling nor as evasive as Moti, but there is no way for him to escape. The news cameras like his testimony the best.  We don’t finish.  As am walking back to my seat Andrew mouths:  what a blood bath.