By John Boyle | Citizen-Times
At my house, we celebrated the first day of spring by watching snow pour down in buckets.
For a good 15 minutes. Sadly, it was the best snow we’ve had all winter, and it wasn’t even winter.
Obviously, you can’t explain spring weather. But I vow to do my best with your burning questions, my smart-aleck responses and the real deal.
Keep those questions coming, folks. Let’s proceed.
Question: I was recently subpoenaed to give a deposition in Asheville concerning out-of-state civil litigation. Prior to being deposed, the stenographer had me raise my right hand and swear on a Bible to tell the whole truth, etc. When questioned about this, she said N.C. law requires this oath to be sworn on a Bible. Both out-of-state attorneys present said they never heard of such a thing and that federal court practice forbids making people swear on a Bible.
On examining the ancient Bible I was given to swear upon, I discovered it wasn’t in English. The stenographer said she believed it to be in German. Since I’m a fluent speaker, I assured her it wasn’t but that it was written in one of the Scandinavian languages. My question: Was the stenographer correct that state law requires someone who testifies in a court proceeding to swear on a Bible, in English or any language? If so, is this something the ever-vigilant ACLU needs to pursue?
My answer: I don’t know about you, but nothing screams, “I’m telling the truth here!” more than swearing on a Scandinavian holy book you’re pretty sure is from a religion you don’t subscribe to.
Real answer: Buncombe County Clerk of Court Steve Cogburn, who’s been practicing law for 25 years, stressed that his office does not dictate these rules but noted he is familiar with the swearing-in process.
“If you give testimony in a court proceeding, you are asked to give an oath or an affirmation,” Cogburn said. “The affirmation is that your testimony will be the truth and nothing but truth, but it does not involve the Bible.”
At the courthouse, they keep on hand numerous holy books to accommodate various religions, so witnesses or others involved in legal proceedings can give an affirmation on the Torah or the Koran or other holy tome. They can also opt to involve no holy book and simply raise their right hand and affirm that they will tell the truth.
Cogburn also offered an interesting little bit of trivia.
“The reason you raise your right hand is that they used to mark felons on their right hand with an ‘F,’” Cogburn said. “I guess once they saw the ‘F’ it would be up to them whether or not that person was capable of giving a solemn oath and telling the truth.”
Question: With this new rule in food service in 2014, will the food trucks have to pass the course Managers ServSafe? I was told by the Health Department that all food service eateries must have one person on premises with the certificate while they are open.
My answer: I pondered this the other day when I bought an “exhaust-blackened tuna filet wrap” at the “Something’s Fishy” food truck.
Real answer: Marc Fowler, environmental health director at the Buncombe County Department of Health, took this one on.
“Mobile food trucks are required to have a manager present that is trained in basic food safety through ServSafe or an equivalent course, just as a restaurant does,” Fowler said. “Enforcement of this rule through loss of points in an inspection will begin in January 2014 for both mobile food units and restaurants.”
Question: How often are road bridges inspected, and do they take a special look at them after heavy rain and flood events?
My answer: I suspect it’s always special when you’re looking at a bridge that’s collapsed into a river.
Real answer: “All the bridges on the state highway system are inspected on a biannual basis,” said Ed Green, division maintenance engineer with the Asheville office of the N.C. Department of Transportation. “We have an independent group which is responsible for this task and they provide a complete inspection report for each bridge every two years. Additionally, if there is suspected damage to a bridge due to an accident or weather-related event, we can request a special inspection, which we routinely utilize.”