Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Time of Late

I reported somewhere, either here, on my other blog, or on Facebook, that last Tuesday, April 17, I received a subpoena to give a deposition on April 25th at a certain attorney's office. The issue being litigated is a dispute between a development company and the engineering company they hired (not us). I'm involved because this project was in Centerton, Arkansas, and from 2000-08 I was the de facto city engineer for Centerton. CEI had the contract to provide those services, and I was the one assigned to do it.

The project became complicated, however, in the fall of 2007 when the developer fired their engineering company and hired CEI to complete the project, thinking it was a simple surveying task and finishing up a couple of months of construction. However, shortly after CEI (the design part) took over the project, CEI (the city engineering part) found even more items that needed correcting in the previous engineer's design, along with a number of construction warranty items that hadn't been addressed. As the new engineer, CEI (the design part) had to deal with it.

Turning the clock forward several years, those who were directly involved with the project for CEI (the design part) are no longer working for us, so the only one still on staff who could talk with the lawyers about what CEI (the design part) did was CEI (the city engineering part).

So yesterday I spent seven hours in the deposition (less break and lunch time) giving sworn testimony, trying to make an extremely complex engineering/construction situation understandable to an attorney. Actually, to three attorneys, one plaintiff, one defendant, our CEI, and a court reporter. I had spent almost all my working hours in the eight days between subpoena and deposition going through the files, refreshing my memory, and being prepared.

The deposing attorney, for the defendant, had already prepared a project timeline, no doubt as given to him by his client. He asked me, question by question, to fill in the holes in the timeline and produce documents to back-up either what he said or what I said. By the end of the day we had 21 exhibits identified, pulled from my somewhere-around 3,000 pages of files. They were well organized, to the point where the attorney called me "anal retentive", but that was off the record.

During my testimony I mentioned an e-mail where someone said something critical four or five years ago (the project started in January 2004). The attorney wanted to see it, but I couldn't find it. When you look for something in a hurry, something you know is somewhere in one of two 3-inch stuffed full binders, it's hard to find with eight people waiting on you. I couldn't find it, and was instructed to find it sometime after the deposition, back at our office, and make known to our attorney when we had found it. I spend from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. trying to find it, and did so just before 6. It wasn't an e-mail, however, but a comment in a lengthy minutes of meeting that I had prepared in August 2006.

I went home last night brain dead and exhausted.

That project required limited work by me today. I tried to get back to things that have been piling up for the last nine days, and had a little success with that, but my brain just wasn't in it. So I shifted to filing about 300 sheets of paper that have accumulated over the last three to six months, actually some much longer ago than that. Such work is best done when you are otherwise brain dead.

During this time, I've been through most of the season coordination of In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I should be able to finish it tonight, including marking any needed changes in the printed manuscript. Over the weekend I hope to get all those edits typed. Monday will be re-printing day, at which time I'll begin rereading it, slowly and carefully, as the final edit. I plan to pitch it to an agent at a writers conference on May 4, but realizing it will have almost no chance of being accepted (and even if accepted the draconian contract provisions publishers throw up at first-time novelists will make my acceptance of that contract close to impossible), I plan on self-publishing it about a week later. I've already pulled the trigger on the cover, and have begun some research on marketing. More on that in another post, maybe on my other blog.

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