[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For §§ 1-110 (Chapters 1-18), see here.
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 113
Chapter 19 (3 of 13): Trial – Phase One
It has not, he reflects disconsolately, been an auspicious beginning for his project to advance to higher things. Where the fuck did all those names pop up from all of a sudden? He’ll have the leaker or leakers skinned alive and served for breakfast. He breathes deeply and does his best to ignore the tiny tendrils of terror shooting up the limp stalk that only an hour ago was his unbounded self-confidence. He sits down at his desk and buzzes impatiently for his two much younger and infinitely more trial-savvy co-counsels, handsome Jin-Soon Yook, a Korean who has clerked for a state supreme court justice, and the statuesque Buzulethi Rowan, black, and editor her senior year of the Review at the University Law School.
“Well, shit,” Kerzy muses gratefully, “at least I’m covered ethnically.”
A large crowd, like souls of the damned, mills restlessly in the limbo of the hallway outside the courtroom, waiting for some surly guard to allow ingress to the great drama about to unfold in Judge Shawn Lombard-Golde’s assize. It is standing room only, every one of the available seats taken. Pool video equipment has been set up near the front of the chamber, and the lucky stringers have taken their places in the space reserved for the media. The members of the jury, already ensconced in their box, are chatting lightly among each other. The defense table seats Natalie Siu and Danny Hochstel, Mazarine sandwiched between them. The prosecution has just made its ostentatious entrance – the D.A. himself, Jeff Kerzy, flanked by his co-counsels, Jin-Soon Yook and Buzulethi Rowan accompanied by two officers from court security wheeling a large cart containing showy piles of boxes filled with paper and documents. There is an air of uncontainable excitement in the room.
“All rise for the Honorable Judge Shawn Lombard-Golde. This court is now in session.”
Everyone in the room rises as the diminutive judge with the stentorian voice enters from her chambers to the left and mounts the podium, adjusts her seat, and lightly taps the microphone. She makes sit-down flappings with her hands, and all noisily heed her invitation.
“Good morning,” she says in general. She turns to the prosecution table.
“Good morning, Your Honor. Jeff Kerzy for the People. These are my co-counsels,” he points to the left and right, “Buzulethi Rowan and Jin-Soon Yook.” They are both standing with the D.A. and nod at the judge.
“Good morning, lady and gentlemen,” she says.
She turns to the defense table.
“Good morning, Your Honor. Natalie Siu of Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar for the defense. My co-counsel,” she says, turning to Danny, “is Danny Hochstel.”
“Good morning to each of you.” She shuffles some piles on her desk. “At this point, before we get started, I would like to ask everybody in this courtroom to turn off electronic equipment, including cell phones, watches, tape recorders, camcorders, and any other similar devices.” She motions to the video crew. “The pool is of course excused from this request.” There is light laughter throughout the room, and some of the heavy tension in the air seems to bleed off. “I do not want to hear any beeps or pings or electronic noise of any kind. Such noise will be escorted immediately from the room by the bailiff. Are we understood?” There is further shuffling in the pews, among the jury and at the lawyers’ tables as people double check their equipment to make sure it is all turned off.” When these sounds of compliance subside, Lombard-Golde says, “Very well. Are the People prepared to begin?”
Kerzy stands up, proud and erect. He shoots his cuffs, twitches his neck in its collar, and buttons his coat over his vest. “The People are ready, Your Honor.”
“Is the defense ready?”
“We are, Your Honor,” Natalie answers in a clear and authoritative voice.
The pool video is running and dozens of pens are marching across acres of blank pages.
“Let us begin, then. Mr. Kerzy.” The judge gives the prosecution the nod.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he begins, his thumbs inserted in the scalloped armpits of his vest, his coat unbuttoned so as to give conspicuous prominence to the little gold chain with the key dangling from it. He rocks gently back on the soles of his squeaky shoes and pauses dramatically. “You have before you in the next few days the awesome responsibility of seeing to it that the savage murderer of an innocent, beautiful young woman is brought to justice. A woman who was an immigrant to our shores. A legal immigrant, a naturalized American, a contributing member to our society. This dead citizen can no longer speak for herself. That is your job, that is my job.”
Kerzy begins to step, slowly, along the jury box, the heads of the jurors moving, as if attached by invisible strings, in concert with his leisurely pace. “We will show in the course of these proceedings, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person on trial for this heinous crime had motive: the people have witnesses who will testify to long-standing animosity, animosity arising out of sexual jealousy, between the victim and the defendant. We shall demonstrate, again beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mazarine Cape had opportunity: the people will supply other witnesses who will show that shortly before the victim was murdered she was seen in the company of the defendant. And, most important of all, we are going to present irrefutable physical evidence, once more without a reasonable doubt, that she had the means to commit this outrageous deed: hair found on the body of the dead woman will be an important element in our case.”
He stops about midway in front of the jury box and turns towards it, molding his immaculately groomed hands around the curvature of the balustrade and flexing his fingers. His face shapes itself into one of sorrowful gravity. “In this connection, we must not overlook the defendant’s … the defendant’s profession.” A murmur arises in the gallery but abates as soon as the judge looks up with a frown. “You will hear that she was a … a companion. What she was was a call girl, ladies and gentlemen.” He whirls and points at Mazarine, who stares straight ahead. The jurors follow his stretched out finger; some, mostly women, register distaste with a down-turned mouth, the men’s faces appear, for the most part, neutral. “As such, she had access to numerous … clients … clients of varied backgrounds and … abilities. Clients who could help her in numerous ways in her nefarious purposes.”
He resumes his measured pacing. “Does our community want a person on the street who is a criminal? Do we want a murderer roaming the street? ready to strike again? at any one of you?” He lets the questions hang in the air. “When we’re done here, ladies and gentlemen, I am confident you will do the right thing and find this defendant guilty of murder in the first degree. I thank you for your attention.”
He walks back to his chair and sits down.
Natalie Siu strides from the defense table and takes a relaxed stand in front of the jury. Mazarine admires professionally the subtle sway of her pelvis as the charcoal gray of the skirt whispers up and down the undulant thighs. The men on the jury can’t keep their eyes off her, which is good: they’ll give Natalie every benefit of the doubt. But the women are not quite so enthralled: Natalie Siu, beautiful, brainy, at five nine and probably one eighteen, is every rival who has ever stolen a boyfriend from them. Mazarine makes a mental note to herself to bring this up with Natalie. The trial won’t be over in a day, and she’ll suggest Natalie give some thought to the subliminal packaging she is presenting to the jury.
TO BE CONTINUED