Warning : All my stories are pure FANTASY. None of them are real, nor do I wish them to be - the purpose of a fantasy is to be what the reality isn't, what the reality shouldn't be. Any resemblance to persons living, dead or otherwise is purely incidental, and in most cases is the result of an overactive imagination. I don't know, nor do I think I wish to know, anybody engaging in incest.
"With that, Your Honor, the prosecution rests."
The District Attorney, Mr.Hammonds, took his seat. Our eyes met briefly, and I gave a slight nod as if to acknowledge that he was indeed a worthy opponent. If the case had not been of such magnitude, I am sure he would have been insulted by my gesture - after all, he was a twenty-year veteran of courtroom trials. I was a kid starting out as far as comparisions were concerned, but neither of us felt complacent about our strengths. We were too much criminal lawyers for that.
This was not an ordinary murder case that we were handling. This one had all the potential of reaching those big boys back in DC, the ones who charge $400 for a toilet seat. In fact, I was sure, this case held within it the future of the relationship between justice and law. If that sounds melodramatic, take this - my clients, who selected me for defense counsel, were being tried on charges of criminal incest.
I am Ray Wilkins, aged thirty-eight. Fresh out of Law School, I was picked up by a famous firm, where I broke my back for over ten years before I made partner. After another three years, I had made enough to last my family generations, so I dropped out of the clock-by-hour circuit. I took up pro bono work, the only senior in my firm to do so. My colleagues were okay with the arrangement since I was always available for advice, strategy talk-throughs and personal words. I became the ES Gardner of my firm, the Moses of all the troubled attaches and aspiring partners. They had a problem, they came to me. When they went away, the problem was solved.
The adulation, therefore, came into good use when I decided to take up this case. The previous defense attorney was glad to be let off the hook, citing that the case was too hot for him to handle. I had come to know of this case through a stroke of luck, an accidental overhearing of a harried lawyer's woes. When I stepped in, he was glad to step out. But I must mention that the guy had done a fine job - in cases of this kind, the lawyer often goes for a guilty plea, but this guy stuck to his guns when it counted. The pre-trial had gone off smoothly, but as the grand trial approached, his acquaintances had done him the greatest of evils, viz, convinced him of failure and ostracization. Anyone who says there is no honor among lawyers isn't one himself.
Mr.Jose Patrick and his daughter Debbie were the defendants. If two people had ever so obviously been in love, this was the couple. You could see it in their eyes, the sparkle when they spoke. If I had entertained any doubts before, there was none now. I wanted to win. For them. For others like them.
The case was fairly open and shut. There was plenty of evidence to prove that they had been sleeping with each other, things like suggestive pictures and home movies. A couple of neighborhood busybodies testified that they had seen the silhouttes of the two people making love. I could have gone for identification, questioning its credibility, but in the long run, it wouldn't be worth it. Somewhere in the flow of evidence would be one picture, one letter, that would confirm their identities beyond doubt. Besides, the issue was larger than that. Neither Jose nor Debbie wanted to be let off for lack of insufficient evidence - the society would still condemn them and they would still be in danger of being caught.
It was either a conviction or an acquittal. The latter would free them from further indemnity by virtue of the 'Double Jeopardy' clause. A conviction could extend anywhere from a couple of years to preventive separation. For my clients, the last was the most painful punishment anybody could ever hand out to them. They would be forced to start new lives, legally prevented from seeing each other again. It was time to change the law.
I am also thankful for my family. My wife Carla didn't ever ask me to drop the case. In fact, at times, she seemed to be more enthusiastic about it than I was. She was a social worker, having dropped out of law school a year prior to graduation owing to the arrival of Gregory, our first-born. A couple of years later, at the local hospital, another member entered our little family, our sweet little baby Laurie. For sixteen years, ours had been a happy family, until a May evening when Greg was stabbed to death when he tried to protect his girlfriend. His death was a tremendous blow, and when the Judge had finally acquitted the bastards in court, I had all but loaded my sdhotgun when Laurie pleaded with me not to take the law into my own hands.
"Don't do this, Pop," she cried, holding onto my free arm. "I don't want to lose you too." Carla was still in shock at that time.
A couple of days later, though, I had my revenge. The men had managed to drive into the tracks of an oncoming train - one man's finger was never recovered.
Thankfully, this latest case did not destroy the sense of togetherness we were once again feeling as a family. At dinner, we would openly discuss the case. Even Laurie had her inputs. Without mentioning names, she would remark that one of her friends liked having her Dad feel her up, or that another liked kissing him more than anything else. Carla would chip in with useful statistics like unwed mothers, deserting boyfriends/husbands, sob-stories, etc. By the time the first hearing took place, I had a boxload of facts to back up my tactics.
Unlike other family cases, though, the current one had a jury sitting in. The purpose was not only to bring forth a sense of justice into the case that had received wide publicity; it was also to ensure that the public be represented in some sort in the decision. As far as anyone knew, this case would be the turning point in how the society in general and courts in particular viewed the taboo of incest.
"Your Honor," I began my side of the case. So far, I had kept my cross-examination to a minimum. Predictably, the opposition, not to mention the Judge himself, was confused. As I said earlier, the key was not the identification, it was the archaic view. That would be the Achilles' heel that I was aiming for. "I call Dr.Elmore Freund to the stand."
The reaction from the prosecution would have exhilarated any defense attorney, and I was even happier when I noticed that their shock had registered on the jurors. They were unconsciously straining on their seats now, expecting a bombshell to be dropped at any point.
Dr.Freund came to the stand and was sworn. He was the consummate professional, glancing at everyone before him with amiable eyes. I could tell the jurors immediately liked this man, and to tell you the truth, he was an even better professional than he let on. He was the ideal witness - if he were asked to explain his conclusions on the basis of his observations, he would deliver, depending on his audience, a precise account in a sufficiently technical or laymanesque fashion. He was as much at ease on the stand as he was behind his desk.
"If the prosecution deems it necessary, I will prove Dr.Freund's credentials," I offered. Mr.Hammonds politely declined, saying a mere unconditional stipulation would be enough. Hammonds knew when to knife the butter, but he also knew the difference between butter and rubber. To challenge Dr.Freund's expertise would be the equivalent of 'harakiri' - suicide. The stipulation was duly recorded.
"Dr.Freund, what is your occupation?"
"I am the chief examining officer, CEO, if you will, (this brought a smile to even the Judge's face) of the Government Mental and Recommendation Facility here in Baltimore, and in anticipation of your next question, was so employed last month."
"Thank you, Doctor. Now why would I ask you about last month?"
"The defendants, Mr.Jose Patrick and Ms.Debbie Patrick, were brought to me for examination, to see if there was something wrong with any one of them."
At this point, Hammonds inserted an objection. "Confidential and privilged information," he offered.
"Overruled," the Judge said. "Unless the information is pertaining to others."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Now, doctor, when you said that the instructions to you had been to determine their sanity, did you mean the defendants?"
"Yes, of course. I was asked to look for the Electra Complex in Debbie and the Suppressed-Oedipus Syndrome in Jose, if I may be permitted to use their first names. Would you like me to explain these terms, Mr.Wilkins?"
.... There is more of this story ...