Thursday, August 31, 2006

Diary of August 25, 2006

Strange how things work out for me. Even with all the mishaps I encountered, it turned out to be a productive day.

Najeeb got directions to the courthouse from the Internet and gave them to me. There were inaccuracies in those directions once you get closer to Sacramento. I left home at 6:15 am and reached Sacramento around quarter past eight, but then it took me a while to find the right way to reach the court on 'I' street. When I reached the court it was 8:40. I could not find street parking so I parked in the garage facing the courthouse. I needed to first attend the court session—obviously I could not take my cameras with me. That meant I needed to first go empty handed in the court and after hearing the sentence run back to my car in the parking structure, grab the cameras, and run back to the court building to be there on time for Umer Hayat’s press conference.

As I entered the court building I found Demian Bulwa of San Francisco Chronicle in the lobby. I greeted him; he could not remember my name—although we had met in Lodi, he talked with me on the phone when I was in Karachi, and had also communicated with me via email. Busy reporters do meet a lot of people and it is understandable that they cannot remember everybody’s name.

My breakfast that morning had a lot of fluid in it so I needed to use the restroom right away. After using the restroom I took the elevator to the 13th floor. Umer Hayat was to be sentenced in Courtroom number 10 on the 13th floor. There were still a few minutes till 9 when I entered the courtroom. I read the list of cases to be heard that morning. Umer Hayat vs. US Government was on top of the list. In the courtroom clerks were chatting with each other; there was a small audience mostly comprised young men and women. I liked the grandeur of the court décor. Heavy wood furniture commanded respect and made you wear a very serious face in that room. I thought about the evolution of courtroom architectural design and imagined the discussions architect of that building must have had with the contractors. Soon the room started to fill up. Attorneys in business suits holding files and briefcases showed up. Spectators too started taking seats. Umer Hayat entered along with his attorneys. Then all of us were asked to rise. Judge Burrell entered the room and the court came to order. I could not understand most of the court proceedings not only because of my lack of knowledge in legal matter but also because I had a hard time hearing Judge Burrell. But I understood that part when Judge Burrell asked Umer Hayat if he wanted to say anything before Judge would read the sentence. Umer Hayat had a female interpreter on his right hand side. This interpreter would start whispering in Umer’s ear even before the Judge would finish his sentence. Either she had excellent skills to hear and speak at the same time, or she already knew what the judge was going to say. I was very disappointed to hear from the interpreter that Umer Hayat did not wish to say anything before the sentence. I thought a short speech in Pushto would have been very effective; such a speech in Umer’s native tongue would have highlighted the language-divide between the prosecutor and the accused. I also thought Umer was inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Instead of wearing a suit he should have worn shalwar-qameez along with a turban on his head. Just imagine the drama of watching this foreign-born man, dressed in strange clothes, making a speech in an incomprehensible language!

As soon as the sentence was read and court moved on to the next matter I left. I hurriedly took the elevator down, and then ran out of the building to go to my car in the parking structure. When I came back with my cameras, video and still, all the TV station cameras had lined up a few feet away from the building entrance. I too waited with them.


Anonymous Anonymous said... is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.
payday cash advances
payday loan

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Frances said...

Those who live within the Sacramento area could benefit from checking out what used cars Sacramento has to offer for their needs in transportation.

8:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home