While I was in law school (2003), my mentor, Frank Bailey, allowed me to sit second chair on a trial in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was a wrongful death trial with a very sad situation. The trial was scheduled for several days. I was extremely nervous. I wanted everything to go just right.
On the morning of the first day of trial Frank had me running errands quite frequently. I had to run out to the vehicle to grab a visual aid. I had to go find some case law. After voir dire (jury selection) Frank had me run down to the clerk’s office and copy a document he wanted to use during opening. This Courtroom was on the second floor and the copy machine was on the first. I ran down the stairs, met the clerk, made copies of the document, and ran back up the stairs. When I say run, I mean run. As I was coming up the stairs, the toe of my left shoe caught the one inch lip of the top stair and it ripped the sole of my shoe off all the way back to the heel of my shoe. So when I walked my sole would flap and make the most awful motion and sound.
My face turned red. I panicked. I did not know what to do. Fortunately, there was no one at the top of the steps in this area outside of the courtroom doors. There was a small room where attorneys can meet with their clients before hearings and trials in the hallway a few feet away from me. I slipped inside. There was a roll of scotch tape laying on the table. I took the tape and proceeded to wrap my left shoe, strapping my sole back onto my shoe. I wrapped it from my toe to the shoe laces. Well, I thought this was a pretty good solution other than it looked funny with the tape across the top of my foot and it wasn’t a little bit of tape.
My adrenaline was rushing, so I went into the courtroom with the document in my hand. Frank proceeded with opening and the jurors and the defense attorney listed intently. About half way through, Frank motioned for the document. I stood up and started walking toward him. If you have been in a courtroom, during opening statements the room is deathly quiet if the attorney is not talking. As I walked my left shoe went crunch…crunch…crunch with each step and it sounded like someone was ringing a bell, at least to me. When I sat down, the jurors were staring at my feet and whispering to each other. I couldn’t hear what they said, but I know I heard something about that boy needs shoes.
Honorable Judge John Fogleman was presiding over this case. And naturally, he is very serious when he is on the bench. That morning, on the first break, Judge Fogleman said, “Mr. Bailey and Mr. Oliver, approach the bench.” I sure thought we were in some sort of trouble. When we were listening intently, Judge Fogleman smiled and said, “Mr. Bailey, as soon as this trial ends today, I want you to go and buy Mr. Oliver a new pair of shoes.” Well, you can’t argue with the judge.
That evening, Frank took me to Dillards and bought me the most expensive pair of black Cohans in the store. I’m still wearing those shoes. However, I give them a thorough inspection the day before trial.