Court Appearance in the United States of America
By Mandar Gadre
I got an opportunity to appear in the Court of Santa clara in United States of America last year in the month of Mar 2016. I could not write about this since the verdict of the case was not given. Recently the verdict has been given and now I can discuss about this matter.
However as a part of secrecy I am not allowed to disclose the name of my client. So I am presenting this case as the case of Mr X from Pune
This valuations were required by the Respondent ( my client ) in the divorce case filed by the Complainant ( Wife )
1. Mr. X contacted me through his father who reside in Pune and he ( father ) briefed me about the properties.
2. Mr X contacted me over the telephone and requested me to carry out the valuation of certain lands in Pune.
3. On request of Mr X I visited 3 land properties in the presence of his father in the year 2015
4. The properties were as follows
· N A plot in Mann village
· N A plot in pirangut
· Farm house plot in Mugawade.
5. The valuations were carried out and subsequently the reports were submitted in the court. The Complainant had also furnished valuations from her side.
6. Respondents counsel pressed for out of court settlement but it failed, hence the respondent decided to go ahead with proceedings of the case. The court asked the Respondent to testify the Valuer in the court in connection with the valuation reports submitted.
7. I was summoned by the Santa Clara Court in California in mid dec 2015 to appear in the Month of Mar 2016. I accepted the summons and sent them a scanned copy as per their rules by email to the court.
8. I applied for the Visa and it was granted by the US Embassy .
9. Again we carried out fresh valuation and prepared the reports, but the court did not allow the fresh reports and the old valuations reports were referred since they were already part of the case. The fresh valuation was carried out to state that there is no change in the status of the lands in terms of development etc.
10. I reached USA and had an initial meeting with my client’s counsel. After the first meeting I realized that the Counsel was not aware of the many facts about the 7/12 extract, Index II etc. I spent a good time explaining how the procedure is carried out for registration of documents and the procedure till 7/12 extract in created. The Counsel had prepared a set of questions to be asked to me in the court about my report, but I realized they had to be reframed in a better manner.
11. I gave the Counsel a series of questions in such a way that my entire reports would be read in the court in the form of question and answers.
12. The day of the trial
a. In USA a case is given either full day or a half day for a case. Our case had been allotted a full day for the proceedings.
b. The day began with the argument between the Complainants Counsels and Respondents Counsel over the argument that the Expert Witness is not qualified to appear in this case. Our Counsel convinced the Judge that a fair chance should be given the witness to present himself. The Judge agreed and said she will decide whether the Expert Witness is competent to appear in the court. Till this time I was out of the court in the respondents counsel’s room.
13. The Court room in USA have a very good setup. All the courts are Air conditioned. The Judge is located at a higher place and the Respondents and Complainants have table and chairs to sit. A police officer is present to maintain the law and order. The witness box has a table and chair with audio system. The witness box is properly secured by balustrade. There are few chairs for those who want to witness the proceedings.
14. I was summoned to appear before the court and I took the oath by raising of hand which is a standard procedure in USA. The Judge then questioned me over my CV and the original registration certificates and qualification of education were produced before the court which the court accepted and accepted me as an Expert Witness in this case.
15. Our Counsel then started asking me questions one by one in respect to all the report , the questions were like
· Did you visit the property ?
· Who accompanied you ?
· Did you do market enquiry ?
· Why the ready reckoner rates in mentioned ?
· Did you check the actual sale instances ?
· And many more questions like this.
b. I had furnished my reports with due diligence and the sale instance were mentioned in the reports. My entire report was read in the form of question and answers before the court. The proceedings were recorded and noted. It was difficult for the court to understand Indian way of English speaking so couple of time spellings were narrated to clear the confusion and mistakes while recording.
c. The question and answer session lasted over 45 min where most of the question which the complainants counsel would have asked in his cross examination were dealt carefully which proved to be a good strategy for further proceeding.
d. The Complainants Counsel took my cross for more than 2 hours. I am jotting down some part of the proceedings of the cross in the form of questions and answers so that the readers will understand about the cross examination.
Q – Did you visit the property on xyz date ?
A – Yes
Q- Who accompanied you ?
A – Father of the respondent
Q – Are you competent enough to carry out such valuations ?
A – To which my counsel ( RC )objected since I was admitted as an expert advice, The Court asked the Complainant’s Counsel ( CC ) to withdraw the question.
Q – How many valuations you have carried out for divorce cases?
A- I have not kept track of it and RC objected saying that the Valuer has to carry out the valuation of properties and he has nothing to do with the result of the divorce case. The court accepted the reasoning the question was declined.
Q – You have not done valuation but just multiplied reckoner rate by area of land.
A – No , I have not multiplied reckoner rate and the area of land. Please read my report carefully.
Q – How have you arrived at the rate of land ?
A – Based on the actual sales recorded and the demand and supply in this area.
Q – Have you measured the land ?
A – No measurement of land was no possible but I have referred the registration document and the demarcation plan which was produced to me for the reference.
Q – Is the land levelled ?
A – No the land is sloping in one direction.
Q – You have multiplied the reckoner rate and area to arrive at the value ( 2nd time same question )
A – No I have not was my answer.
This same question was asked 9 times to which finally the Judge intervened and told the Complainant Counsel that the witness has answered this question with the same answer and you can not ask the same question again and again.
In this manner the cross was proceeding. The Complainant Counsel was trying to agitate me by asking same type of questions.
The lady Judge was completely impartial and had very good understanding of what was happening during the cross exmination. The Counsel was trying to deviate and delay the proceedings with the sole intention that the cross examination would remain incomplete and I would have had to appear again on the next date.
The Judge strictly clarified that the Cross examination should be complete today in any case.
Finally the Counsel produced a web based advertisements which were sourced from websites like 99acres.com, magicbricks etc. The counsel produced advertisement for sale of N A plots in the same project and said that this is a sale instance.
So I asked the Counsel again and again “ do you say that this is a sale instance “ to which the Counsel said “ Yes “. I requested the court to record this statement.
I then asked permission of the court to produce the actual sale instance printout which I had collected from the igrmaharashtra web site. The court had a look at it and even the Complainant’s counsel.
I explained the court that the Counsel is referring the advertisements and not sale instances. The sale instance has date of registration. Registration number and other things.
Out of the three properties valued one land was a Fram house land. I was able to justify the valuation based on the sale instances and the explanation of difference between the N A land and the Farm land and it potential.
16. My testimony was necessary since the valuation we had furnished was of ` 70 Lakhs for the farm house land and the figure in the mind of the counsel and the complainant was ` 522 Lakhs i.e a difference of @ 695000 USD. As per the state law in USA in case of divorce the division has to be 50% to each of the party. So if I had not attended the court, the respondent might have had to pay the complainant 50% of 695000 USD which is a big sum in USA.
17. Result of this appearance was that after six months the verdict was given by the Court and the parties were either requested to do the out of court settlement or approach the Indian Judiciary system since the Respondents and the Complainants were not citizen of USA( they were green card holders ).
18. My appearance in the court helped my counsel to save a huge amount of money and the divorce was granted on the same day of the trial.
Mandar A Gadre