Setting: Courtroom---Defendant, dressed in jeans and a white t shirt, is brought into the court, wearing handcuffs on his wrists. Two armed guards are on either side of him. One of the guards uncuffs the defendant. Defendant’s wife is sitting behind the table.
Guard: (to defendant) Sit down. (shoves him into a seat at the defendant’s table).
Amy: Brad! (stands up and reaches for husband)
Guard: (forcefully to Amy) No contact with the prisoner.
Brad: Amy, it’s ok. (to guard) It’s ok. No one’s touching, alright?
Guard: Watch it. (walks over to side of courtroom and joins other guard) He won’t last long. I hear some of guys have a pool to see how long before he breaks. I give him a month.
Second guard: I give him an hour.
Guard: Put your money where your mouth is. (both laugh as they exchange money for the bet)
Brad: (to Amy as she hands him a dark colored blazer to wear) Where is he?
Amy: He’ll be here. Did they hurt you?
Brad: I’m fine. (puts blazer on-looking nervously around the courtroom) Where is he? You said he’d be here.
Amy: He will be.
Brad: I don’t know. I got a strange feeling about this. We should have gone with…
Amy: Who? No one else would take this case.
Amy: Brad, there’s no one else.
Brad: This is a nightmare. Why is this happening to me?
Amy: Honey, I’m here. We’ll get through this. I love you.
Brad: I can’t imagine what you’re thinking.
Amy: I’m thinking we’ll get through this.
Brad: (putting his hands through his hair) It’s just so sudden, you know? One minute I’m in my office talking to Steve, and then…how could this happen so quickly?
Amy: Shhhh. It’s gonna be ok.
Brad: Of course, it has to be ok. No one would believe that I…
This is just happening way too fast.
Amy: I know. I love you…
Brad: (still nervously looking around) I thought you said this guy was good. Where is he?
(from the back of the courtroom the prosecutor enters. He is impeccably dressed, and flanked by several assistants carrying briefcases. They reach the prosecutor table. The prosecutor looks at Brad and smiles)
Brad: (to Amy, motioning to Prosecutor) Maybe I should have cut that deal with him.
Amy: No, no. We have to trust our guy.
Brad: How can I trust him when he’s not even here?
Amy: He’ll be here. (leans in towards Brad, catches guard’s eye, then stops.) I’ll be right back. (leaves courtroom)
Prosecutor: (coming over and leaning on the table) Ready to take that deal?
Prosecutor: Really? Maybe you don’t quite understand the seriousness of your situation.
Brad: I understand.
Prosecutor: I don’t think you do. The minimum sentence attached to your charge is…
Brad: I know.
Prosecutor: So? Do we have a deal? Spare your family the anguish of watching you on trial. ( as he is talking, he opens the carton of evidence and shows Brad some of the contents—we cannot see it, only Brad and the Prosecutor can) I might go easy on you at the sentencing…maybe get you a more “comfortable” cell. Trust me, you don’t want me insisting on maximum security---which is what you’ll get if you go through the motions of a trial. (pause) I have the power to do it.
Brad: I need to talk to my lawyer.
Prosecutor: Sorry, this offer expires in one minute. Take it or leave it.
Brad: I didn’t do this. You got the wrong guy.
Prosecutor: Mmmmmm, they all say that.(repacks the carton) Oh, well, time’s up. See you on the other side.
(Brad stands and starts to talk to prosecutor when Amy comes back in. she gets in between Brad and prosecutor, and Brad sits back down.
(from the back of the courtroom the defense attorney walks in. He is a bit disheveled, wearing jeans, a wrinkled maroon blazer, carrying a briefcase with papers sticking out of it. He walks up to the defense table. He looks at Amy and smiles warmly)
Defense Attorney: Hello, Amy. Hello, Brad. (opens briefcase and begins to set up table with crumpled bits of paper and files)
Amy: Oh, I’m so glad you’re here.
Brad: (looking at defense attorney) So you’re the guy.
Defense Attorney: (trying to organize mess of paperwork) Yup.
Brad: You know, when my wife first told me about you, I thought she was crazy.
Defense Attorney: Many people react that way.
Brad: She promised me you were the best. I should trust you.
Defense Attorney: Do you?
Brad: Well yeah, but I’m starting to get nervous here…I mean, no offense…
Defense Attorney: None taken.
Brad: Are you sure you’ve done this before?
Defense Attorney: Oh, yeah.
Brad: Well, I’m still not sure.
(Bailiff comes in before the Judge)
Baliff: All rise. The Criminal Court of this great state is now in session. The Honorable Judge is now presiding. All ye who have business with this court shall now be heard.
Judge: Please be seated. Is the state ready to proceed?
Prosecutor: Yes, Your honor.
Defense Attorney: Yes, Your Honor.
Judge: Good. (looks over papers in front of him) I see we are asking for an evidentiary hearing? Bail?
Prosecutor: Your honor, due to the severity of the charges we are asking the defendant to remain in custody until this proceeding has been completed.
Judge: Yes, yes, I’ve reviewed the Grand Jury Indictment against the defendant. The defendant will remain remanded until the end of the evidentiary hearing, at which time the court will enter in the plea and hear arguments for bail.
Brad: I don’t get this. What does that mean?
Defense Attorney: It means you remain in custody for now.
Brad: (loudly) WHAT? I need to see my kids. Can’t I just go see my kids?
Judge: (bangs gavel-points at Brad) You are out of order. Council, please inform the defendant he will be held in contempt if we have another outburst.
Defense Attorney: Yes, Your Honor. A moment with my client?
Judge: Yes, alright. Make it quick.
Defense Attorney: (to Brad) Keep calm. We need to get through this part.
Brad: What part?
Defense Attorney: The prosecutor will outline the evidence against you. After that, we enter a plea.
Brad: This is all happening way too fast.
Amy (leans forward to Brad) Honey, please. Just do what he says, ok?
Brad: Yeah, ok.
Prosecutor: We are ready to proceed, Your Honor.
Judge: Go ahead.
Prosecutor: Thank you. (clears throat—walks about a bit in front of the judge’s bench) In all the years I have had the pleasure of serving this great court, I have never confronted an act so horrendous as the one commited by this man. (Pointing at the defendant) The defendant has perpetrated a crime so malicious, that even I am shocked. (walks back to prosecutor table, places hands on carton of evidence) Your honor, the overwhelming evidence will show that the defendant did willfully and with grievous intent commit this offence and this case should be tried as a Capitol offence.
Amy: Oh, no.
Brad: What does that mean?
(people in courtroom galley disrupt proceedings with shouts-the next lines are spoken fast, almost on top of each other)
Prosecutor: (speaking very loudly) According to the Penal Code section R6 subsection 23, the punishment for this unspeakable crime is death!
Brad: No! I didn’t do it!
Judge: (banging gavel) Order, order in the court.
Brad: There’s been a mistake. You got the wrong guy! (Brad stands up and the two security guys come over and shove him back down)
Amy: (to defense attorney) You promised he wouldn’t face the death penalty!
Judge: I will have order in my court! Silence!
Brad: Please, please hear, me, you got the wrong guy!
Judge: (pointing at defense table) Last warning, council.
Defense Attorney: (puts his hand on Brad’s arm) Brad. (Brad relaxes and goes quiet-to Judge) Your Honor, I ask for a five minute recess to review state’s evidence and confer with my client.
Judge: Motion granted. We will take a short recess. (bangs gavel)
Prosecutor: (to defense-handing over carton of evidence) Read it and weep, pal, read it and weep. (to Brad) You’re gonna fry. Should’ve taken that deal. (Prosecutor and his team walk out of courtroom)
Amy: You promised…
Defense Attorney: I promised I would get you though this.
Amy: But they charged him with…
Brad: (cutting in) Listen, buddy, I’ve just about had it. I don’t think you’re the right guy for the job here.
Defense Attorney: (starts to pack up his stuff) Well, if you feel that way, I’ve never forced my council on any client..
Amy: No, wait. (turns to Brad) He’s our only hope right now.
Brad: (gives a little snort) Some hope.
Defense Attorney: Tell you what, Brad. Let me review all this evidence, and tell you what I think you should do. If you still want someone else to represent you here, then I’ll walk away.
Amy: Yes, we’d like that.
Defense Attorney: Amy, it’s his decision.
Brad: Fine, you can review that trash. But I’m telling you, I’m innocent.
Defense: OK, let me get to work. (takes box to the back of the courtroom and starts to look through it)
Amy: (wanting to touch Brad) Honey…
Brad: (anxious and distracted)Yeah.
Amy: You know I love you.
Brad: (looking past her) Uh huh.
Amy: (trying to ask him something)Honey…
Amy: What’s in the box?
Amy: What’s in the box? You can tell me. You can tell me anything…
Brad: There’s nothing to tell.
Brad: (a little more on edge) That’s it? Not gonna grill me any more?
Amy: If you say it’s nothing, then it’s nothing.
Brad: ‘Cause if you don’t believe me…
Amy: I trust you.
Brad: But you don’t believe me, do you? (pause) Honey, I’m innocent.
Amy: Let’s not talk about this now, ok?
Brad: No, not ok. I didn’t do it.
Brad: I can’t believe this--my own wife…
Amy: It’s not important.
Brad: Of course it’s important! How can I get through any of this if you aren’t on my side.
Amy: I am on your side.
Brad: Really? Doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing.
Brad: You should just go. Please, give me a moment.
(Amy starts to walk away-turns back to Brad)
Amy: I know…
Amy: I know what’s in the box.
Amy: The prosecutor…he showed it to me…he wanted me to convince you to take the deal.
Brad: He had no right to do that.
Brad: It’s a lie---I’m being framed.
Amy: I saw it!!! It’s all right there in black and white.
Brad: It’s not what you think. I can explain it!
Amy: This isn’t one of your business deals going south, Brad. This is life and death.
Brad: And I’m telling you it’s not what it looks like! There’s a reason…
Amy: Reason? Are you kidding me? (quietly-intensely) There is no reason to justify it, no excuse for what you did.
Brad: (sarcastic) Fine. Great. Why are you even sitting behind me?
Amy: I’m here to support you and help you. And…in spite of everything, I love you.
Brad: (beat) Look, let’s just get through this part, for my sake, and we’ll talk about all this when I get home, ok?
Brad: Please, Amy.
(courtroom begins to come back to order from recess. Other people file back in to hear the rest of the proceedings. Defense attorney comes from the back carrying the carton and sits down next to Brad)
Defense Attorney: I’ve got a plan. (Brad lets out a sigh of relief) Let me handle everything, ok? Just follow my lead. (looks over at Prosecutor and his team which have come back, too) What I say might seem a bit unorthodox…
Brad: I don’t care how you do it. Let’s beat this thing and get me home.
Defense Attorney: (sees Judge is back from recess) That’s the goal.
Bailiff: All rise. This court is back in session.
Judge: (to defense attorney) Counselor, have you and your client had a chance to confer?
Defense Attorney: We have your Honor. At this time defense would like to stipulate to the charges stated on the indictment.
Judge: Mr. Prosecutor?
Prosecutor: (surprised but pleased) We accept.
Judge: Fine. Charges are formally accepted and entered.
Brad: (softly to Defense Attorney) What does that mean?
Judge: Alright, next order of business. (looking at defense table)What is the plea?
Defense: (beat) The defendant pleads guilty, Your Honor.
(courtroom reacts—Amy cries out)
Brad: What???! No…
Prosecutor: Your honor, the prosecution accepts the plea and moves for immediate sentencing.
(Amy slumps over and falls onto her chair, head down )
Brad: Amy?(reaches over to her) Amy? Someone get a doctor.
Judge: (motions to Bailiff and second guard to take Amy out of courtroom. First guard stands by Brad to prevent him from following) Five minutes for this court to get back in order. (bangs gavel)
Brad: My wife…(turns on defense attorney) This is your plan? (hits him in the chest)Are you crazy? I never said to plead guilty!
Brad: You are not my lawyer. As soon as that judge comes back, I’m getting a new one.
Defense Attorney: No one else will take your case.
Brad: That’s what you think. I’m changing the plea. I’m going home to Amy.
Defense Attorney: (opening lid of evidence carton) Brad. You need to really look at all of this.
Brad: What kind of defense attorney are you?
Defense Attorney: (taking out folder of papers, pictures and tries to hand them to Brad) Brad…
Brad: I don’t want to look at this. It’s all a lie.
Defense Attorney: No Brad. It’s all true. You know it.
Brad: I didn’t…I didn’t…I did not do this!
Defense Attorney: Yes, you did.
Brad: No….no..(looking through evidence---breaking down) Oh, please…no… I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry. I did it.
Defense Attorney: I know. I’m here. (Defense attorney putting arm around Brad)
Brad: It was all me.
Defense Attorney: I know.
Brad: I’m guilty… tell my wife… tell my wife I’m sorry.
Defense Attorney: I will.
Brad: I hurt her so badly…tell her I love her.
Defense Attorney: She knows.
Brad: Please..please…forgive me. Help me… Amy…my family…What do I do, what do I do? (shuddering, at breaking point, inward) God, Help me!
Defense Attorney: Give me your jacket.
Brad: Huh? (still in shock)
Defense Attorney: Put this on. (takes off his blazer, switches it out for Brad’s---looks into Brad’s eyes) Ok, just follow me. That’s all you have to do. (they go back to front of courtroom. Defense attorney places Brad on the other side of himself. Brad is overwhelmed, in a deep state of shock and cannot speak or move on his own volition. No one seems to have noticed the switch)
Judge: Is the defendant ready?
Defense Attorney: I am your honor.
Judge: (looking directly at the defense attorney--pause) There are reasons for the law. The law is in place for guidance, for wisdom, for direction, for the good of society. The Law, when broken, demands justice to be handed out swiftly and definitively.
Justice demands to be served.
This court hereby sentences you to death. Guards, take the prisoner away. Court is now adjourned! (bangs gavel-exits without looking at defense attorney)
(guards move forward---put handcuffs on defense attorney, leaving Brad at defense table.. The courtroom empties except for Brad, standing in shock.
Brad: (quietly to himself) He took my coat. (shaking his head, slowly) He took my coat…he took my place. You got the wrong guy. (realizing what happened— whispers to the empty courtroom) You got the wrong guy!
(author's note--suggestion---follow this drama immediatly with the song "Not Guilty" by Mandisa---they fit perfectly together)