Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CROOKED (04/30/20)
TITLE: Trial by PC
By David Butler
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‘Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard the case against this man, if indeed a man he is.’
He pointed contemptuously in the direction of the accused, who sat glowering next to his lawyer, his head bowed.
‘It is quite clear from the testimony of many reliable witnesses, and the clear and damning evidence provided by the police, that he has committed nearly every major crime possible, short of murder.’
He summarized the details of the case decisively: Theft, fraud, rape, assault and battery – and much more. It appeared to be an open-and-shut case. The general impression in the room was one of shock and condemnation, judging by the dark glances turned towards the defendant.
‘What else can we say, ladies and gentlemen of the jury?’ the prosecutor concluded, dramatically and emphatically. ‘This man is a crook! Completely crooked! “Guilty” is the only possible verdict.’
He sat down triumphantly to slightly restrained applause. Not for nothing was he appointed District Attorney.
The judge, a gentle soul, began to invite the defence counsel to address the jury, but the counsellor would not wait for the correct protocol and leapt to his/her feet.
(The counsellor’s gender was not quite clear.)
His/her manner was quite aggressive, even pugnacious.
‘People of the Jury! I will not offend you with this patronizingly sexist “Ladies and Gentlemen” label that this so-called lawyer here tries to pin on you. It’s an old social construct that should have been superseded years ago.’
He/she cast a sneering glance at the prosecutor’s shocked countenance, ignoring the mild protest from the judge.
He/she paced up and down before the jury like a caged lion, staring each one down.
‘Now, listen here folks! It’s time we dispensed with judgementalism and extreme right-wing attitudes! What we have not yet heard is the pain, the trauma and the desperation my client has had to go through. How would you like it if you were an unwanted child? Take note that he wasn’t born white and privileged like most of you. Was it his fault that he grew up with a drunken father, violent brothers and a meth-addicted mother? (At least she had the sense to abandon them all and live in a same-sex relationship. So much for your precious traditional family!)’
She/he stopped pacing and stared fiercely into the eyes of the startled foreman of the jury.
‘You! Mister!’ She spat the last word with loathing. ‘Why is it that important posts are always filled by white, male, middle-aged, “respectable”, middle-class Christians? Don’t you know by now that Christianity is a dead, outdated and irrelevant religion? This precious Christ of yours was crucified for our sins, you say, then rose again. What sort of a weird fairy-story is that?’
At that point, she was interrupted.
First, there was a gasp from the Indian lady in the jury, whose eyes were shining.
‘That is the message I am hearing this morning on the radio!’ she cried in wonderment, forgetting where she was. ‘He was dying and rising! Then it is all true!’
She sat back with an ecstatic expression on her face.
The defence faltered in his/her diatribe momentarily, confused at this unexpected response.
The counsel for the prosecution couldn’t contain himself any longer. He exploded to his feet.
‘Objection! This is all extremely irregular! It is inappropriate to be debating philosophy and pushing political views during a trial.’
‘Objection sustained,’ responded the judge mildly. ‘Kindly return to the matter at hand, Miss Clarke.’
To his surprise, the counsellor rounded furiously on him.
‘Here we go again!’ he/she shouted. ‘You white male supremacists just can’t be challenged, can you? I am NOT “Miss Clarke”, thank-you-very-much! I am “Ms Counsellor” to you!’
Ms Counsellor turned and glared at the prosecution, still standing, agape at his opponent’s rather unusual tactics.
‘And YOU! You can go creep back into your hole, little man! DON’T interrupt me when I’m addressing all this (expletives deleted) in such an outmoded institution like this!’
This was too much, even for the judge. He hammered his gavel and arose in wrath.
‘Remove this woman (or whatever it is) from this court, immediately! Court is adjourned until the defendant has a SUITABLE defence counsel!’
Even while she was being dragged out, Ms Counsellor would not be silenced. She was thoroughly enjoying herself.
‘Look at this! I am a victim of an oppressive regime! My client isn’t the crook here. YOU all are!’
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