[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 122
Chapter 19 (12 of 13): Trial – Phase One
“No, Your Honor, no redirect.” The defeat in his tone says it all, and the jury members hear it loud and clear.
“As the hour is late, I suggest we conclude here today and begin again at nine o’clock tomorrow morning. Your final witness will be ready to go?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” Buzulethi Rowan answers. “The People are ready.” Kerzy is too shell-shocked to react and just sits, an unhappy lump, at his table. He sees his ‘sure’ conviction dribbling through his hands, his plans for a political career run over by the beating Sung has taken.
“Court is adjourned,” Lombard-Golde says with a hard bang of the gavel.
The usual frenzied rush for the corridor follows amid the usual voluble chatter.
After the defense team escapes into its private space under escort of five court officers, Natalie smiles for the first time. “That went very well,” she said. “I sense things are turning.” Danny is also excited, and the two of them comment enthusiastically on the afternoon’s cross-examination. Mazarine too senses that maybe there is hope here.
Natalie’s cell phone rings, and she answers. She says very little, but a slow smile spreads across her face. “Thank you so much,” she says and clicks off.
“What?” Mazarine asks.
Danny waits expectantly for an answer.
“Good news, guys. Really good news. But for now I’m going to sit on it.”
Mazarine and Danny look at each other, their faces question marks. But by now they trust Natalie, that she knows fully what she is doing.
“Let’s go get something to eat, people,” she says happily.
They seek out a popular steak place near the courthouse that is a regular with lawyers, judges and court groupies. There is a momentary hush and then increased conversation as they enter the cheery place and are immediately escorted by a maître d’ past the line of waiting customers to a table over in a corner where nobody sits behind them and they have an unobstructed view of the other diners.
“A call for reservations from Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar does wonders,” Natalie explains modestly as she unfurls a napkin in her lap and opens the heavy menu. After they place their orders they begin to talk trial again.
“Tomorrow is going to be hard, in the morning. They’re going to put Yukiko Darling on the stand and her job will be to say the worst possible things she can about you. All the time prompted by the prosecution.”
“What can she say?”
“Whatever she wants. She’ll try to get the jury to see you as a manipulative, monstrous bitch who would have had no trouble at all killing Trinh. In the view of the jurors she knows you close up because the two of you were roommates for several months.”
“Lovers, not just roommates.”
“Yes, that’s something the D.A. will soft-pedal, but I’ll bring it out on cross. It may generate some prejudice against her, but it would of course do the same for you. A wash, maybe, but I do want to get it out there and on the record.”
“And she can lie and say anything about me she wants?”
“Yes. Who’s going to refute her?”
“I guess I’m naïve, but I thought you swore an oath to tell the truth.”
Both Danny and Natalie spit out an abrupt chortle.
“You’re right, it is naïve. The theory is that certainly one purpose of a trial is to discover the truth in a particular matter. I’m not into the current fashion that declares truth to be relative, but in the case of a trial, there are in fact many contradictory truths vying for pride of place: the defendant’s truth, the prosecutor’s truth, the truth of witnesses, the truth of the experts, of the police, and so forth. The truth pretty much is what the jury believes the truth to be.”
Plato, groaning, is turning over in his grave, Mazarine thinks in passing as she listens to her lawyer hold forth.
“People,” Natalie continues, “lie on the stand all the time, and, what’s worse, everybody knows that they do it. The lawyers know it, the judge knows it, and sometimes the jury thinks it. But the problem is that unless you can impugn that testimony with strong counter-testimony, it turns into – as we said earlier – a question of she-says-she-says. Whom to believe? Who is most credible? And you have a strong handicap in that to some extent you are already guilty in the minds of most jurors. Their thinking will be that if you weren’t, the D.A.’s office, with the help of the police, would not have charged you in the first place and put you on trial. Frequently this is a kind of tacit assumption on the part of the jury the defendant has to get out from under. That’s why it’s extremely important that when she goes to work on you tomorrow, you have to sit at our table demurely and show no emotion at all. It’s fine for you to look at the witness, but reveal nothing with your body language or on your face. The jury will be watching you as much as her.”
“It seems outrageous,” is all Mazarine can get out. “And you’re not going to put me up there on the stand to tell my story?”
“For reasons I’ve explained, no, that is something we are definitely not going to do.”
“Then how can you refute or neutralize what Yukiko says?”
“That’s what Danny and I will be working on tonight after we get back to the office. For you, go home and relax and get a good night’s sleep. You want to be rested and relaxed tomorrow. And you want to leave the worrying to us.”
Their dinners are served, and they turn their attention to this expensive pleasure. People keep coming up to the table to say hello to Natalie, congratulate her on the clever demolition she has engineered that afternoon, chat about friends, plan to do lunch, promise to call each other, squeeze arms. Danny and Mazarine say nothing in the presence of the courtiers.
After a while the stream of well-wishers and those needing to bask in Natalie’s reflected glory of the moment runs dry. She smiles at Mazarine. “It’s just part of the hustle,” she says. “I’ve done it myself.”
They cut into their bloody steaks and crunch croutons from the Caesar’s salad. They discuss the latest films, recent books, national politics, the local prospects for the November campaign.
“I don’t know him personally, but barring a wildcard,” Danny confidently predicts, “Rany’s a shoe-in for one more term. Then I hear he’s headed for the senate. That’s the United States senate, my friends.”
Natalie, who does not think of herself as politically involved, always marvels at Danny’s apparently insiderish knowledge of such matters. She knows he is active in Republican politics and has, perhaps, himself some future ambition in that direction. “I don’t know the man at all, but I think I may have shaken hands with him once at some bar function.”
Mazarine, who knows Rany quite well and has shaken more than his hand, keeps her counsel to herself, chews slowly, and nods politely as the political gossip bounces across the table. When they finish eating, they order coffee but no dessert, and allow the conversation to drift in desultory fashion. Danny and Natalie take a cab back to their offices and Mazarine gets one to take her home to the apartment.
TO BE CONTINUED