Revenge Should Have No Bounds 121

[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
before proceeding.]

For §§ 1-110 (Chapters 1-18), see here.

111    112     113     114     115     116     117     118     119     120

Revenge Should Have No Bounds  121

Chapter 19 (11 of 13): Trial – Phase One

“Oh?”  Natalie’s feigned astonishment is reflected in the genuine astonishment showing on the faces of the jurors.

“No, I said the hair found was consistent with the hair from the defendant.”

“I see,” Natalie says slowly.  “Consistent with.  Maybe I don’t see.  What exactly does that mean?”

“Microscopic comparison of the evidentiary hair – that’s the hair found on the body – with the exemplar hair – that’s the hair taken from the defendant — indicated a great many similarities between the two sets.  Things you can’t see with the naked eye.  Things like shaft thickness, curliness, flaking, pigmentation, cuticles, nature of the medulla – the center of the hair — surface smoothness, artificial colorings, things like that.”

“And how accurate is this kind of analysis?”

“Oh, it’s pretty accurate,” Joey Sung says confidently.

“Pretty accurate?  That’s pretty vague, isn’t it?”  A wave of laughter rises and falls in the pews.  “What are we talking about here?  Ten percent accuracy, five percent, what?”

Sung gathers himself together on the edge of his seat and pulls the microphone closer to his mouth.  “The error rate is something on the order of one in maybe five thousand.”

“One in five thousand?  In other words, if you did five thousand analyses, only one would be wrong.”

“That’s right.”

“Yes, I see what you mean.  One in five thousand – yes, that is pretty accurate, isn’t it.”

She begins to pace slowly back and forth along the jury box, her tapered fingers again trailing along the gently knurled cherry wood of the railing.  The male jurors seem to fixate on the deep red of her nail polish.

“Yes, ma’am, it is.”

“Mr. Sung, do you know what the population of this city is?”

He is taken by surprise and, casting a quick glance at the prosecution table, shrugs his shoulders.  “No, I don’t.  Two million, maybe.”

“No, it’s actually closer to three point two million.”  She addresses the judge.  “Your Honor the data I previously submitted from the census bureau corroborate this point.”

“Very well.  Let’s move along.”

“At this point I would like to call the court’s attention to the television monitors in the well.  My co-counsel, Mr. Hochstel, has hooked up his laptop to the monitors so that you will be able to follow the simple arithmetic he is about to perform on a spread sheet.”

Technicians from Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar are working smoothly with court personnel to initiate the ELMO presentation system that allows the big-screen monitors to show everything that is on the computer screen.  “Ready,” Danny says to Natalie, and punches a few keys.  An empty spread sheet pops up on the monitors facing the pews, the jurors and the judge and witness.

“Let’s divide one by five thousand.”  The number 1 is entered in cell C5 and 5000 in D5;  an equal sign is entered in E5 and the formula =C5/D5 in cell F5.  Danny leaves the formula in F5 long enough to be sure everyone sees it, and then punches the enter key.  The answer pops up immediately in F5:  0.02%.  “The accuracy of the identification method Mr. Sung has described to us is 99.98%.  That is, in his words, pretty accurate.  Now, let’s enter the population of the city, three point two million, in cell F7.”  Danny does so and the monitors register his action.  The audience, enchanted by the change of pace and an injection of more ‘technical’ and, subliminally as well as inferentially, more ‘real’ and ‘hard’ data from the computer, hang on every wavering flicker of the monitor screens.  “And now in cell G8 let’s multiply F5, the percentage of error, by F7, the population of the city.”  Danny enters the data and, once more, allows the figures in G8 to sit there long enough for everyone to see them.  Then he hits enter and gets the answer: 640.

“Six-hundred-forty,” Natalie intones.  She turns to the jury.  “Now, the U.S. census data show that the Caucasian population of this city is approximately 68%, so let’s take 68% of 640.”  Danny enters .68 in cell G9 and then in H9 multiplies this cell with cell G8.  The answer is 435.2.  “We’ll say it’s 435 people,” Natalie concedes magnanimously.

“Mr. Sung,” she says, turning her attention from the monitors to the witness, do you know how many people are in this courtroom.

Sung is again thrown, but glances around and after a moment says, “I don’t know, maybe a hundred?”

“Actually, there are 120 seats, maybe twenty people standing in the back, twelve jurors and six alternates, five lawyers, one judge, and, let’s say, a dozen court personnel.”  She nods to Danny, who enters the figures and sums them: 176.  “One hundred seventy six.  In other words, Mr. Sung, given the identification error rate for microscopic hair analysis that you have testified to, the hair found on the body of the murdered woman could have come from two and half times the number of people in this courtroom.  All right,” she hastily corrects herself, “making allowances for ethnic mix, roughly twice as many people as are in this room could possibly have been the source of the hair you are testifying is consistent with that of the defendant.  Is that a fair statement?”

“Yes, but …”

“Thank you, Mr. Sung,” she cuts him off sharply at the knees.  “A simple ‘yes’ will do just fine.  Thank you.”  Out of the corner of her eyes she sees Kerzy starting to rise with an objection half formulated on his lips, but then sit down again, dejectedly.  The D.A., she thinks, arrogant and over-confident as usual, has not done is homework on this one, and neither have his co-counsels.  Thank God for big favors!

“Now, Mr. Sung, just one more point and we’re all done here.”

He nods, wearied and beaten.

“These hairs that you got from the body, you said they were in telogen phase.  Correct?”


“And according to your earlier testimony that is the phase of hair that is loosely attached to the scalp, and therefore easily falls out, right?”

“Is it known how much hair we lose in a day?”

“It’s been estimated that about one hundred strands fall out daily.  From washing, combing, running your fingers through your hair, lying on a pillow.”

“On a pillow?”

“Yes.  If you check your pillow in the morning when you get up, chances are you’ll find strands of your hair on it.  All telogen phase, and that’s why they’ve fallen out.”

“I see.  Thank you, Mr. Sung.”  To the judge she says, “That’s all I have for this witness, Your Honor.”

“Mr. Kerzy, redirect?”


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