Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Even Speak

Yesterday, on my way to court, I was told that if anyone on the defendants' side should say something to me, I should not respond but should inform one of the deputies. The day before, several friends and family of one of the defendants became very vocal outside the courtroom about a decision by the court to allow certain evidence. They were well aware that Justin's father could hear them; yet they ranted on. Earlier in court, some of them had laughed at a description of a picture of Justin flashing a "peace" sign. His father and I engaged in a stare-down with the gigglers, I admit. So, antagonism between the two groups of family and friends seems to be growing. Thus the warning not to engage in any conversation with "the other side."

Before being told this, I had already had a conversation with a defendant's mother, and we continue to speak whenever we have occasion. I have made eye contact (nonhostile) with some of the others, but have received little indication they want to engage. Fine with me. In the hallways, bathrooms, and streets outside the court, I have also run into defense attorneys, jurors, court employees, and even the judge--and they have all made a big show of not speaking to me. Not even a hello. Not even a nod. Nada. It's a wierd situation, but now I understand why no one seems inclined to show simple politeness.

As for the case, the prosecution seems close to resting its case. The lead detective finished testifying in cross-examination, and now the ADA is calling witnesses to testify about "similar transactions." These are prior bad acts of assault, robbery, gun possession, even murder committed by the defendants. After this, the dreaded medical examiner will take the stand. I have decided to sit this day out.

I hope by Monday the defense will begin presenting its case. What kind s of witnesses will they call? Already, two people on thier witness list have been told they will "not be needed." One was clearly going to perjure herself, and evidently did not want to go to jail. No doubt they will call a string of people to say what wonderful citizens these boys are, how they could not possibly have been engaged in the crimes with which they are charged. With any luck, it will be a short presentation and the case can go to the jury early next week.

Stay tuned.

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