Queen of Swords: a novel

Chapter XXIX – The Prince of Swords

In the break between the prosecutor’s closing and the defense closing
I saw that Whitney had fled. Good riddance! Maybe she showed up to see the porn tape, and when the prosecution failed to cooperate she got bored. The Princess of Wands will never know what she is missing.

I thought smugly of my horoscope’s instructions: “Maintain aura of exclusivity. Follow your destiny. Good day to establish friendly relations with co-workers. You will impress skeptics. Feeling of confinement is temporary. You will learn what is going on behind the scenes.”

O’Hara rose before us, his reptilian face newly shaven and pink with what might be the heat of battle or carefully applied rouge, his wild mop of hair freshly cut and styled. He wore a blue “power” suit; a white shirt and a red “power” tie in elegant contrast with the prosecutor’s staid government grays; armor each of us had paid for. He fixed every jury member with his penetrating glance while the Bond Girl hustled forth the poster board. MURDERER, THIEF, LIAR, ADULTERER, CON MAN, CHEATER, PIMP, WEASEL, PORNOGRAPHER, DRUG ADDICT, DRUG PUSHER, DEADBEAT DAD, and PERJURER. An impressive list. I never bothered to add up my own distinctions but I doubted I could outdo Mr. Haymaker. My fellow jurors also frowned in disapproval. The Prince of Swords left nothing to chance.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the state and I certainly agree about one thing: Our justice system, both state and country, is the envy of the planet. And there’s a simple reason why: benefit of the doubt. Benefit of the doubt means that you don’t convict people because the police arrest them, you don’t convict them because other criminals say they’re guilty. You have to have actual, incontrovertible evidence. If another theory of the crime is just as probable, that’s doubt. And you give the accused the benefit of the doubt and let them go.

This case could have been created just to exemplify that situation. Here we have a defendant who is accused of a crime – several crimes actually – and there is no physical evidence whatever to link her to them. Usually in a courtroom juries are listening to gunpowder evidence, blood evidence, fiber evidence, trace evidence, ballistics and DNA. There’s none of that here. Why? Because the only evidence linking her with the crime is the testimony of one person – one person – a man who has already been convicted of the crime and who made a deal – handed the prosecutors his ex-girlfriend’s head – to avoid the death penalty.

I ask each and every one of you, would you execute a cat on that man’s evidence? On the evidence of a convicted murderer, thief, liar – well, you can read it right there for yourself. How could you? You must have at least some doubt that what he says is true. Now ask yourselves this, if you let this woman go free, what kind of threat to society do you think she is going be? Well, she’s going to stop complaining about other men and the problems they cause her and her loved ones, I can guarantee you that! Because that’s all she did – that’s all they can prove she did – and that isn’t a crime.

Here’s where Dr. Loden’s evidence is of the greatest importance. I wanted you to hear that it’s the textbook definition of this man’s diagnosis that this kind of person never takes responsibility but, in fact, always blames his crimes on someone else. It’s never his fault. You probably know someone like him from your own lives. Even if you catch them with egg all over their face they insist someone else made them do it, someone tempted them, someone suggested it to them, someone more powerful tricked, trapped and teased them into splattering themselves all over the face with egg.
Haymaker wants us to believe that Karen Sivarro – “ the defendant blinked innocently as he pointed in her direction –“ that little girl sitting right over there, is some kind of underworld genius, a Goddess of Men’s Destruction who engineered the whole thing. She’s is the reason he paid his drug dealer (with is client’s money) to shoot somebody. She’s the reason he’s in jail for the rest of his natural life. But we know for a fact that that man was a cocaine-abusing thief before he ever even met her. Long before he met Karen Sivarro he was headed for that jail cell. And that’s exactly what his own personal psychiatrist testified to you on this witness stand as the result of months of therapeutic assessments. He said that this man is a sociopath. This psychiatrist wasn’t anyone hired by Karen Sivarro’s team, this was Haymaker’s own doctor. Are you going to send this woman to jail for life – or to her death – on the word of a sociopath? I have every faith in you, ladies and gentlemen that you will not.

You may not like her. You may think that she is just another pretty girl who knew how to get what she wanted by taking advantage of her beauty and her sexual attraction, that she is a snooty broad who thought pretty highly of herself, and possibly had some contempt for others who didn’t match up to her high standards. You may even have a scar on your heart caused once upon a time by somebody like her – but you also know that you took an oath not to convict on such reasons.

Maybe she did give her brother in law – don’t forget there’s a dead man in this case – a hard time. Maybe she and her family actually threatened him. But with what? She didn’t shoot anybody. She didn’t hire anybody. You, on the other hand, ladies and gentlemen, each of you took an oath to convict on the evidence, and there isn’t any evidence.

It’s my article of faith, members of the jury, that when you sit down with the evidence of this case in your hands, it will disappear like the mist that it is. And you will vote to acquit. That’s what the evidence dictates that you must do, that’s what the law dictates that you should do, and that’s what your own consciences will tell you to do. Thank you.”

The judge’s instructions seemed calculated to put anyone to sleep. I was sleepy, and so I ignored him and took a pleasant nap. They call it a “power” nap.

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