Friday, 20 April 2012
A Good Write Up
At the start of the trial, I was trying to take notes where I felt that there were inconsistencies in witness responses under questioning from the Prosecution and Defence Counsels. I was determined to be the best juror I could be, to assess all the evidence as objectively and with as much clarity of recall as I could, so I started off taking basic notes on the notepads provided for that purpose in the court room. After all, there would be no slide decks "available on the website after the event"!
In trying to capture one point, I realised I was missing another, and another... And my handwriting was just not up to the task! In desperation, I started scribbling notes without looking at them, as I tried to watch and listen to the to-and-fro between the players on the floor of the court. As a result, my notes were becoming more and more illegible - and therefore irrelevant. I was in danger of - literally - losing the plot.
So I decided to take a more relaxed view, sat back and started really paying attention, listening closely and hoping that my fellow jurors - many of whom were not taking notes either - were paying similar close attention, and that all the necessary discussion points would arise in our deliberations as and when the time came for us to consider our verdict. This was going to be a real test of memory and recall then. Ironically, after six days, the Prosecution withdrew its case and we were directed by the Judge to acquit the Defendant. My notes were redundant anyway!
On reflection, I realised that, partly due to the A5 size of the cheap lined notepads supplied, I had not attempted to note-take in my preferred style, which is to mind-map on A4. This is my default, everyday method of organising myself. My work Day Book is page after page of daily maps; I capture all my own meeting notes in mind-maps; I do shopping lists in mind-maps; my To Do Lists are mind maps. They suit my way of thinking and allow me to free-flow ideas, capture thoughts that may not have occurred to me at the time, spark ideas, get everything onto one page, etc. as well as let my inner graffiti artist/doodler/cartoonist loose at the same time. Somehow, that approach did not feel right for the seriousness of my juror responsibilities.
And before anyone points it out, yes, I am aware of and do use mind mapping software as well. I have an old version of MindJet's MindManager on my work laptop and I have a personal MindMeister account as well. However, they were not an option for my Juror role, for the reasons already mentioned.
So, is it too late to re-learn how to write neatly? Can I undo 50 years of ever-deteriorating handwriting skills? Does it matter? Evidently tech is not the answer to every situation where physical writing skills are required. How are your hand writing skills? Anyone got any ideas? If you do, don't expect a hand-written thank-you letter!