Monday, May 01, 2006

Mary's Day in Court

There is a man, Mark Bonaquista, who has done a lot of work around my house. He has replaced rotted boards on the deck, replaced light fixtures, done plumbing work, and painted the outside of the house, including the garage, the decks, porches, and the railings. His work for me has always been excellent.

So, when last week he asked if I would be a character witness for him in a court case, I was happy to do so.

He had done an interior paint job for a woman who claimed he had done a bad job and refused to pay him. He was sueing her for the $400 for the work and she was sueing him for $1700 to have the work redone. i don't know the woman; she is in the process of moving from California.

I went to court this morning at 8:30. The Chester County court room is no longer the huge, ornate, and beautiful one on the second floor of the courthouse; that is the room where the trial took place in the movie Walking Tall. Because there is no elevator in the courthouse, beacuse of the Americans with Disabilities Act, court is now held in a nondescript room in the Public Safety Building across the street.

The cases prior to Mark's were interesting but some were heartbreaking. For example, poor people who had bought furniture but were now sick and out of work and could not make the payments. They would be sincere in their testimony. They tried, but they just had no money.

Then Mark's case was called. He had a lawyer, Lloyd Tatum; she represented herself.

Tatum first called Mark who told his version, then called her who gave an entirely different version. But she had pictures and video tape of the room.

Tatum decided to only call Patsy Bulliner as a witness and not me. That was fine. Patsy did a good job of testifying to her complete satisfaction with all the work Mark had done for her.

The audience did not see the pictures but the woman showed them to Patsy who conceded there were problems.

Lloyd Tatum thought he was going to win because he urged the judge not to split the baby and give no one anything because then Mark would not be paid for his labor.

The pictures must have been convincing because the judge ruled in the woman's favor and gave her $1200.

Patsy later told me that the pictures did look bad. Mark said they were taken before he was finished.

I am perplexed. Two people testified under oath and told completely different stories.

Mark has always done a good job for me. He has never made a mess WHILE the work was in progress.

The paint job on the house is wonderful. The house is one color; the deck and porch floors a second color; and the railings are a third, a lovely bright white. The paints do not bleed over to each other; there are no paint drops on the wrong place. When I drive into my driveway, I think how great the house looks.

So what happened here? I surely don't know. I would not like to be a judge, having to make a decision on conflicting testimonies.

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