Baltimore graffiti

Cross-examining a pro se petitioner in a CPO case

Jamison KoehlerDomestic Violence, Trial Advocacy

PRO SE PETITIONER:  Your Honor?  Your Honor, before we begin [defense counsel Smith’s] questioning, I have another important matter in his case.  I would like to lodge a formal complaint.  Mr. Smith has been contacting me outside the normal means of communication through webex and through the, what is this system called, the remote court, yes.

THE COURT:  Right, so let me stop you right there.


THE COURT:  Mr. Smith is actually required to do that.  You’re a party so to the extent he has communication with the Court, he can’t have communication with the Court, submit something through the Court without cc-ing you.  That’s the way it works.  Just like if you had communication with the Court and you didn’t cc him, we would forward him what you sent, so that’s how that works.  None of that is inappropriate.

PRO SE PETITIONER:  Your Honor, the, the, the process is that he should submit it to the, the share file and not contact me directly and I, I, I see that as a violation.  The, the law –


PRO SE PETITIONER:  — on this says respondent shall not contact petitioner in any manner including –

THE COURT:  He is not the respondent.  

PRO SE PETITIONER:  — but not limited to –

THE COURT:  Mr. Jones, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this.  I have a bunch of cases and I’m trying to finish by the end of the day.  But he’s not the respondent.  He’s the respondent’s attorney.

PRO SE PETITIONER:  It says, it says –

THE COURT:  Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones, I’ve ruled.


THE COURT:  Let’s move on.

PRO SE PETITIONER: It says to a third party –

THE COURT:  Mr. Jones, I –


THE COURT:  Mr. Jones, I’ve ruled.

PRO SE PETITIONER:  Then I’ll take it to the District Attorney.  Thank you.

THE COURT:  Mr. Smith.  You can proceed with your questioning.


Q:     Thank you, Your Honor.  Mr. Jones.  You testified that you came to Mr. Washington’s apartment on November 1, 2020.  


A:      I was looking for Linda. She and I —

Q:     — Is, is that a yes?

A:      I came to his apartment looking for Linda.

Q:     Was she expecting you?

A:      No.  We had that kind of relationship.  We often showed up at each other’s houses.  That is just — 

Q:     — You had that kind of relationship?

A:      Yes.  She and I would –

Q:     That kind of a relationship?  What kind of a relationship?  The kind of relationship where she blocks you?  She blocks your phone, your email, she blocks you on social media?

A:      Your Honor, I object to this line of questioning.

THE COURT:  What is the basis for your objection, Mr. Jones?  

PRO SE PETITIONER:  Relevance.  Best evidence.  Authentication.

THE COURT:  Overruled.  You opened this line of questioning.  You may answer the question.


THE COURT:  Mr. Jones.  You do not need to say exception every time I overrule one of your objections.


THE COURT:  Overruled.  You need to answer the question.

PRO SE PETITIONER:  I don’t remember the question.

THE COURT:  Mr. Smith.  Could you please re-ask the question?


Q:     Mr. Jones.  You testified about your relationship with Linda.  You testified that you didn’t have that kind relationship.  I think that is the way you put it.  I wanted, I wanted to ask you about that relationship.  Isn’t it true that she had blocked your emails?

A:      No.  That is not true.  She has never blocked me, at least that I am aware of.  

Q:     Mr. Jones.  Do you use the email

A:      I plead the Fifth.  That is part of our case in Maryland.  

Q:     That is in fact the email you used to communicate with the court, right?  In advance of this hearing? 

A:      I plead the Fifth.  

Q:     Have you ever used the email

A:      I plead the Fifth.

Q:     Have you ever used the email

A:      I plead the Fifth.  This is part of the case in Maryland.  

Q:     In fact, every time she has blocked your email, you have taken out a new email to get around the blocking, right?

A:      She has never blocked me to the best of my knowledge.

Q:         So she has blocked your communications on –

A:         — she has never blocked me.

Q:         So she has blocked all communications from you and because she has blocked you, you decided to go visit her in person.  

A:         Yes, I went to see her.  I knew that her son was about to —

Q:         — Was she aware that you were coming?

A:         Your Honor, I object –

THE COURT:  Overruled.


THE COURT:  Mr. Jones –

PRO SE PETITIONER:  — Relevance.  Best evidence. 

THE COURT:  I have overruled your objection.  You need to answer the question.


A:         I don’t know if she was aware.  You would need to ask her.  Is she here today to testify?


Q:         In fact, she wasn’t home that day, was she? 

A:         I, I don’t know where she was.  You would have to ask her.  

Q:         So she wasn’t home but Mr. Washington was home, right?  At his house?  At his own house?

A:         It was an apartment.

Q:         And it is fair to say that on November 1, 2020, you didn’t just come to this house, this apartment, Mr. Washington’s apartment, not just once but you actually came three times, right?

A:         I don’t know that I came three times.  I, I know that I came and knocked on the door, and Mr. Washington started berating me.

Q:         Berating you?

A:         Yes.  Berating me.  I don’t know why he couldn’t act like a normal being.

Q:         Like a normal human being?  I don’t understand.  You wanted him to invite you in for tea or something?  What exactly were you expecting?

A:         Not tea but yes.  He should have acted like a normal human being.

Q:         And you don’t know if you went one time or three times?  To Mr. Washington’s apartment?

A:         This was 5, 6 months ago.  I don’t remember.

Q:         You remember in great detail the sound of the metal on the door, the sound of his gun tapping against the door.  But you can’t remember how many times you went to his apartment?

A:         That was a long time ago.

Q:         So it could have been one time?  It could have two times or three times?  You don’t remember?

A:         Like I said.  I don’t remember.  That was a long time ago.