Without Precedent,

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From the livestream of a Michigan district-court hearing held in March, in which Coby Harris was charged with assaulting his girlfriend, the complaining witness.

assistant prosecutor deborah davis: Who called the police?

complaining witness: Technically me.

davis: Your Honor, I have reason to believe that the defendant is in the same apartment as the complaining witness right now, and I am extremely scared for her safety. She’s looking off to the side and he’s moving around—I want some confirmation that she is safe before we continue.

judge jeffrey middleton: [Witness], where are you right now?

complaining witness: Um, I’m at a house.

middleton: What’s the address?

complaining witness: It’s my house.

middleton: Okay. Mr. Harris, where are you?

coby harris: [Address redacted], Your Honor.

middleton: Um. All right, what are you on, a laptop or a phone?

harris: Me?

middleton: Yes.

harris: Phone.

middleton: All right, I want you to walk out to the front of the house, show me the number.

harris: Uh, why? I, I don’t even think this phone has the charge for that. Sir, I’m at, like—I’m at like two percent right now. I’m hooked up to this wall charger right here.

davis: Your Honor, the police are at [the witness’s] apartment right now, knocking on the door.

middleton: Would you go answer the door?

complaining witness: Give me one second.

davis: We may need to adjourn this.

middleton: So it appears Mr. Harris is there at that house?

davis: I believe so, Your Honor.

middleton: This is an issue we didn’t have when we had live court. This is the first time to my knowledge that this has occurred.

harris: Your Honor.

middleton: Yes?

harris: I’m sorry I lied to you. I knew the cops were outside. I don’t know why I lied.

middleton: Mr. Harris? My advice is don’t say anything else. Take the cigarette out of your mouth. The hearing is adjourned. Your bond is canceled. If you have ten million dollars, you can’t bond out. We’re as serious as a heart attack. It’s the first time I’ve ever had anybody sitting in the next room potentially intimidating a witness of assault.

harris: I never attacked her.

middleton: You’re digging your hole. You hit bottom and you’re continuing to dig.