Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...

On the whole, I am glad that my career path led me down the road of appellate work. I like the writing and the focus on the law. I like waxing poetic on grand concepts, which doesn't happen much in the nitty gritty of trial level work. (It probably shouldn't happen so much on the appellate level, either, but it works for me.) I like that I can avoid early morning work as 8 am and I do not get along well. And I have been assured by friends with district court experience that district court judges would drive me crazy with their sometimes more casual approach to applications of case law and statutes. Not to disparage anyone. There is just a certain level of winging it that goes on in district courts (an effect of over-crowded dockets?) that would break this precision-loving lawyer's heart.

I am certainly not sorry I have not ever had to conduct jury selection and I sincerely hope I never have to. But that is a topic for another blog post. (coming soon)

But like any smart-ass lawyer (is there another kind?), I do still fantasize about conducting that awesome cross-examination that catches the complaining witness in a lie fatal to the state's case.

And I have always wanted to give a closing. A killer closing. A closing in a case like that in "Twelve Angry Men" where guilt seems so obvious, where everyone fully expects the defendant to be found guilty, where the media has already sentenced the guy to life in prison, but where one brilliant lawyer (ok, so in the movie it was a persistent juror, but work with me here) piece by piece shreds the state's case so thoroughly that the vote for acquittal takes all of 5 minutes. What defense lawyer doesn't want to give that kind of closing at least once in his or her life? I've given oral arguments that I felt really good about. I've even given one or two where I think I changed a judge's mind. But that closing argument still haunts my dreams.

I've been thinking about that this week as the Amanda Knox appeal trial (where in Italy the appeal is essentially a second trial of fact, unlike our appellate process which only looks at the law) has been in closing argument. Because her trial also involves some civil suits (which hurts my heart because they really need to be separate), there have been 4 different parties giving closing argument since last Friday. Amanda's lawyer has yet to go. As you might recall, I got sucked into the internet craziness that surrounds this case back in June when I wrote what I thought was a fairly innocuous blog post. That post is by far (by a magnitude of at least 4) my most read post. By far the most comments of any of my posts. And it introduced me to the weird, undergound internet world of Amanda Knox Guilters. A cabal, really. They're nuts, as you might have learned if you followed any of those 250+ comments. So because I'm a compulsive researcher, when they started challenging some of my views, I researched so I could respond. Not assuming that I would refute everything they said. I certainly wouldn't have assumed that everything they would spew was nonsense. But it is. And they go around the internet continuing to spew their nonsense.

So now, without really meaning to, I have gotten sucked into this case. I have read 4 books on it. I have corresponded with people. I have come to realize just how much misinformation persists about this case. Even the BBC's online news archives still includes stories that are provably false, with no update, no asterisk, no retraction. So it's become easy to understand why regular, intelligent Americans who aren't as obsessive as I am still think she might have had something to do with it, if for no other reason than that she lied too many times, changed her story too much. (She didn't, but it's become part of the white noise surrounding the case that too many people simply accept that as gospel truth.) And if you know me at all, you know I can't let that stuff go. This case has become my perfect storm this year: a wrongful conviction, misinformation all over the internet, and illogical arguments. You know what all of that means for me, right? I HAVE TO FIX IT!

And so my dream has morphed from not just giving any old closing argument, but giving THIS closing argument. Because I know this case that I have absolutely no connection to, and I now know I would rock this argument. No, I would knock it out of the park. I would knock it so far out of the park, it wouldn't even be able to see the park. It would go all the way around the world and come back into the park. And I wouldn't have to resort to name-calling, like the civil lawyers against her have. I wouldn't need to write a 400 page document like the Judge did in justifying her conviction. (Hint: if you have to work that hard to make your case, you don't have a case.) No, I think I could bang that argument out in half an hour. And I could get a jury to acquit in 20 minutes. (The first 15 minutes would be the jury oohing and awing over my brilliant closing, of course.) Because the "case" against her is so ridiculous and I am in most in my element when I am knocking someone else's totally illogical claims down. You really want to see me go on a tear? Say something really illogical in my presence and I will go all kinds of Julia Sugarbaker on you.

But I won't get to give that closing. Or any other closing any time soon. So it will remain just a dream. But I will have you know that in my dream, I nailed it. Whatever closing I had in my head that day, I freakin' nailed it.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

5 comments:

A Teacher said...

I'm sure you did. Closing arguments were always my favorite parts of crime drama TV. :)

A Voice of Sanity said...

"And it introduced me to the weird, undergound internet world of Amanda Knox Guilters. A cabal, really. They're nuts, as you might have learned if you followed any of those 250+ comments."

They aren't unique. My working hypothesis (NOT based on research) is that 98% of people are as dumb as a sack of rocks. On most subjects they can fake the appearance of intelligence, but on law they fail miserably. They guess wrong and can't support the positions they take with reasons.

I have even come across a few who literally don't grasp the concept of thinking - they think that everyone guesses the answer then tries to come up with a way to support the guess. That astonishes even me.

You should hear the demented 'reasoning' they come back with on this:

Three separate witnesses to innocence

BellsforStacy said...

Okay if the knife isn't the murder weapon, why do they keep saying it is? I'm so confused.

I hope this verdict is a good one.

S said...

I know, right, Stacy? Why they keep calling it that, though some are at least calling it the "alleged" murder weapon, is beyond me. At least report that there's a controversy and that it doesn't match the physical evidence at the scene...

I'm really nervous waiting for this verdict. I know this doesn't affect my life in any way, shape, or form, but I really hate to see wrongful convictions.

S said...

Huzzah!

 
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