Oleh: ARIFF AZAMI BIN HUSSEIN
I had a trial in a magistrate's court today and the DPP was very junior and I was told that it was her first case ever as a DPP. Unfortunately for her, she was given one of the most challenging and trickiest offense to deal with that is a cheating case and it was not a straightforward use-the credit card-at the petrol station type of case. In the end, I felt like it was more of a sparring session between a black belt holder against a white belt holder enduring her first ever bout. As gentleman as I would like to be, I had to interrupt and object a few times as she was committing not only basic mistakes but bordering the blunder territory already.
I have been in her shoes. When I was assigned my first ever case as a DPP it was a firearms case involving the sentence of natural life. The respons that I got when I tried to refer to my seniors including my boss back then was sweet answers that sounds like; "takpalah kamu cuba study dulu" and "kamu tahu library kat mana kan? ha pergilah baca". Sounds like very helpful and really enjoining the slogan "kepimpinan melalui teladan". In a way it indeed helped me as it forced me to be independent, not resorting to spoon-feeding and above all confident in myself. Having said that, it did'nt prevent me going trough my first ever trial as a newtai by being bantai by the judge.
Actually, we are all newtais everyday as we learn each and everyday through our daily routine and surely we will be confronted with new issues, new challenges and at least new twists to similar scenarios that we go through every day. Take an example if you are a counsel doing a running down matter. In your daily task you will definitely stumble upon new set of facts, new kind of accidents, new problems from the bench or at least new species of clients to haunt you. To have this mindset in our mind, actually decreases your stress level significantly as others too are more or less are in the same boat (satu kapal).
People used to advise me not to show your juniority or newness. They say it will open the floodgate where seniors can take advantage of your shortcomings and lack of experience. I did the contrary though. I always declare to my opponents how junior I am. But, it doesn't mean you go to court battle without any preparation and strategy. Tiada M16 lastik pun berguna. Preparation in criminal practice is about 20% only as most of the action happened spontaneously in court. Nevertheless, that 20% of preparation might differentiate you between a formidable junior that can't be treated lightly or otherwise. By doing so you gain advantage either way; if you make mistakes people know its due to your lack of exposure. Otherwise, if you perform above expectation you will gain respect in no time even from seniors.
Another thing worth mentioning is the difference between mistakes and blunders. For me its simple. Mistakes are the ones you commit without having knowldege or lacking in skill or experience to deal with it. By mistakes it should not include basic things that a reasonable newtai is expected to know, say how to adress the court. Blunders on the other hand are the ones commited due to lack of preparation or due to attitude problem or repetitions of mistakes that should have been rectified. Sounds like dosa kecil that has been upgraded to dosa besar. Minimise the mistakes and don't repeat them. Blunders are a big no and normally won't occur if you've prepared enough.
As a person just embarking the journey of an illustrious career (its everybody's dream)'try to take it one step at a time. Being gelojoh will only expose your rawness but being too slow and steady will hamper your progress. So be moderate and never stop learning. We can learn from various sources including the judge, our opponent and even from the accused, interpreter and witnesses. By being humble in attitude but persistent and industrious in your work in court, I am sure all newtais will become otais not only due to age and seniority, but also otais in skill, experience, performance and also attitude that can inspire others to follow suit. Wassalam