This new episode of Catherine Reynolds, after an 18 months hiatus, was partially written a year ago and tells the story of a case that Catherine really didn't want to take: defending a man accused of rape.
The case of the Armed Robbery (Episode 2)
Letters : 39804 Words : 7337
Catherine Reynolds defends a 4.0 average university student accused of being an accomplice to an armed robbery he didn't commit. She also gets closer to Lily's family.
Being a criminal lawyer isn't an easy job. Most movies and books show criminal lawyers living in big houses, driving big cars and winning cases all the time.
The reality is that corporate lawyers, who have a stable flow of recurring clients, make most of the money. Most criminal lawyers starve while a few of them become superstars.
But I didn't want to become a corporate lawyer. I love defending a case in court and helping foreigners to the law.
To lawyers, judges, police officers and district attorneys, the justice system is familiar, easy, simple. For the person first arrested, it is daunting and scary, especially since if they lose their trial, they most likely will end up in jail, an even scarier place.
So, instead, I end up with only a few occasional clients, most of which are small time criminals and prostitutes. Sadly, their cases are usually short and pay little.
The only two reasons I am actually able to survive financially are that when my husband died, I was left with his considerable life insurance, and that the recent acquittal of one of my clients, Marc Finley ["The Case of the Falling Woman"], brought me a certain notoriety.
On a beautiful April Saturday afternoon in which I was relaxing in my backyard, picking weed that grew between my flowers, my office phone rang. Sadly, a lot of my clients get in trouble over the week-end, so I am used to it by now.
The parents of a 4.0 average university student are panicked because their son was arrested for armed robbery. He always obeyed the law, and they were sure it was a mistake. I was told the arrest was several hours ago, but their son only took his phone call a few minutes ago.
I quickly took a shower to rinse off the dirt and the sweat and drove to the police station in my work clothes.
I first asked details to the detective, Sergeant Sinclair. My client had already told his version of the story to the detective, and was fully booked. They no longer needed to talk to him before the arraignment.
I profoundly hate when clients talk to the police. Every innocent person thinks that if they just talk to the police, they can get them to release them. It never works.
The police just wants you to give your version of the facts as early as possible, before you can get your act straight, talk to your alibis to ensure they match, and get a recording of you so that later, they can discredit you if your version of the facts is slightly different, even if you simply made a mistake due to stress in the original deposition.
I met with my client, who was visibly very nervous. He looked clean and wore glasses which clearly showed him to an intellectual. If he dressed the same way in court, I wouldn't have problems painting him as a model student.
"Hello Jim, I am Catherine Reynolds. Your parents hired me to be your defence attorney. Can you tell me what happened ? Anything you tell me stays between you and me. The police cannot ask me to testify against you"
"What do you mean testify ? I told them what happened. They have to believe me. I am not guilty. Tom should go to jail, but I didn't do anything. I told them ! "
He was very agitated and scared.
"What did you tell them ?"
"Well, the police officer wanted to know what happened. But I am not crazy, I told him I wouldn't talk unless he turned off his tape recorder."
"What tape recorder ?"
"The one he had on the table to tape the interview. He said he preferred to tape it to better type his report."
"Jim. I don't want to scare you, but every interrogation room is filmed by an hidden camera 24 hours per day. Even if the police officer wanted to turn it off, he doesn't have the right to do so. Everything you told the police officer is safely recorded and can be used at the trial to discredit you."
Jim's face went completely white and he started shaking.
"He said all he wanted to do was help me get the story straight so he could let me go and let everything be easier"
"I have no doubt he said that. But his intentions was to get a confession out of you. The only way everything will be easier if for him. If you told him something that incriminates you, they will use it in court. If you told him something that helps you, we cannot use it in court. Jim we will deal with the tape, but listen to me, from now on, you do not talk to anyone about this case without my presence or my permission. Is that clear ?"
"Yes Mrs Reynolds. Sorry."
He started crying in his hands.
"Now, when you are ready, please tell me everything you told to the police, if possible, in the same way. The exact words you used can make a difference. They do play on words to convict you. For example, if you say : "I have never held a gun in my hand for my entire life" and they discovered that in 6th grade, a police officer came to your school and let kids hold an unloaded gun in their hands, they CAN use that to discredit you"
"He first asked me what happened. Where I met Tom. I explained to them that Tom and I were friends since grade school. I saw him less often now that I was at the University. He left school and started doing any job he could get, even sometimes dealing drug or robbing stores. I didn't know much more about him. Only enough not to hang out with him too much.
This afternoon was the birthday party of one of our friends and we were both invited. I don't have a car, but Tom has an old Plymouth, so he offered to take me. On route, I suggested we stop at a convenience store to buy some drinks.
I pointed the store on 7th avenue when we saw it, and Tom parked in front. Once inside, his demeanour changed. He became nervous. I went straight to the drinks, picked up a bottle of Sprite, and soon heard him and the Chinese guy behind the counter arguing violently. The Chinese guy had the phone his in hand, and Tom was ordering him to hang up.
The Chinese guy said : "I know it's you. Give me back my money you thief. Now I see you face, coward"
Tom said : "You are crazy, I never saw you in my life"
I asked : "Tom, what's going on"
When Tom turned to talk to me, the Chinese guy dialled 911 on his phone and yelled : "Robbery ! Robbery ! Help me ! The thief is here ! "
Tom took out a gun from his jacket, and ordered the Chinese guy to hang up. The clerk dropped the phone on the floor. "The police are coming They'll get you thief"
I asked Tom to stop it and to let down his gun.
Tom instead asked the Chinese guy to give me the cash in the account register. I didn't want to take it, but Tom yelled at me to do so, pointing the gun at me. I was stressed, Tom had the gun in his hand, and the Chinese guy practically threw the money in my hands.
Tom ordered me to leave with him to the car, and when we left the store, the police was surrounding us. Within seconds, the two of us were on the ground, with police officers on top of us.
The detective told me that since I am the one who left with the money, the DA want me accused not just of complicity, but rather of the actual armed robbery, but that he might try to help me. He asked me a few questions, such as if I knew Tom had a gun and I told him I knew he once owned one because he told me when he bought it, but I had never seen it before and I didn't think he had it with him to go to a party.
He asked me if I knew he had done armed robberies, and I told him I knew he did some crimes, but I had no idea he had previously robbed that store.
He asked me if I ever robbed a store before, or helped Tom in his crimes, and I was outrage, no, I never did. Then, I asked if I could call my parents, and I guess they called you."
"Is it exactly what happened ?"
"Yes, it what I told them"
"What I mean is, did you hide something from the police. Is there anything you are not telling me ?"
"No. Perhaps the words exchanged where not the same, but it should be roughly what I told you."
"I don't know yet what you will be really accused of at this moment. I am not sure they really know. The one thing I suggest we do is ask for a separate trial. If you are tried with Tom, his actions and yours might not be as well separated in the mind of the jury. I will start making that request as soon as I leave the room. I also suggest you volunteer to testify against Tom. In fact, it might be enough to get the police to back off and drop the charges against you, especially if you testify against Tom. It all depends on how much they believe you and what proof they actually have. Depending on them, I think we stand a chance at acquittal if you are accused, but it will be a long wait until the trial, but bail shouldn't be a problem."
"Bail ? Trial ? You really think I will be accused ? "
"There is a wave of convenience store robberies, and the current district attorney is trying to scare thieves by suing everyone to the maximum of the law. It makes him look good in the press, and the population of the city half believe that when one of them is acquitted, it's just a technicality. "
"But I am innocent"
"No, you are innocent until proven guilty, which they are possibly trying to do. I will push to have them drop the charges in exchange for your testimony against Tom. In the mean time, you will be taken to the holding cell until your indictment tomorrow morning or later this afternoon. I will be there. I recommend you plead not guilty to any of the charges they bring against you. And don't talk to anyone without my presence. Is that clear ?"
"Yes. Thank you. "
I left the poor boy in the interview room and found Sergeant Sinclair at this desk.
"What do you want Sergeant ?"
"Criminals behind bars. Can you be more specific ?"
"My client is innocent and you know it. What is it that you want ? For him to testify against his friend ?"
"Can you get him to testify against other crimes previously committed by his friend ?"
"He doesn't know of any other. He is a clean kid. You know that. Come on, what can we do to avoid a pointless trial ?"
"Have him plead guilty."
"Seriously ? You don't think he is innocent ?"
"Everyone's guilty of something."
"Ok, but do you think my client is guilty of armed robbery ?"
"No, he isn't. But he is an accomplice. For God's sake, he took the money ! We arrested him with the money and a bottle of Sprite in his hands. We have the camera footage showing he took the money. I don't care he if didn't want to commit the crime at first, he did at the end, and that's what counts. He even admitted it ! Now, if you want to plea bargain, I am open to discussion. The DA is too. He remembers you from the Finley case. This time, he is willing to talk and will settle for a nolo-contender. He can even have the kid in prison on week-ends only, so he can continue his studies."
"That's ridiculous. You and I both know he had nothing to do with it."
"Then, we'll see each other in court I guess."
I left without a reply, and drove to my client's house to met his clients. I explained to them the situation, we discussed my fees, and they made a check for the advance I asked. They were both in shock and blaming themselves for letting their son hang out with Tom, but I tried to reassure them it would be all right.
While I was still at their house, Sergeant Sinclair called me to ask me if the arraignment could be in 45 minutes. He told me the DA agreed to a separate trial if my client testified against Tom Riley. They thought that by acting quickly they would let the kid sleep at his house. I agreed and offered to drive his parents to the court house.
We arrived only 5 minutes early, but the bailiff let me and Jim's parent meet their son. I decided to leave them alone while I found the assistant of the district attorney. They decided to accuse my client of being an accomplice of armed robbery and petty theft. Jim pleaded not-guilty and bail was set to 10,000$.
At first his parents were devastated at the high amount of the bail, but I explained that if they paid cash instead of using a bail bond, they could actually only pay 1000$ to the court. They quickly settled the money, and I brought the 3 of them back home.
In route, I explained that the petty theft was most likely for the Sprite bottle.
I left them after another 15 minutes or so of counselling, and returned to my flowers, once I stripped down to my birthday suit. It feel good to be once again naked under the sun, instead of stuck in gray clothes in a court house.
Summer came and went. The naturist center filled itself by vacationers coming to the south for sun and relaxation, and emptied itself again.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Lily's family. Lily had now just finished kindergarten and is of the venerable age of 6. Her language skills has improved, and Sandra, her mother, is rather proud of her. Lily didn't remember me at first, but once we played together in the pool, she swam to me and hug me tight. At once, she remembered the lady who played with her the year before.
Lily's older brother Kyle spoke to me a little, but barely more than the first time, in which we didn't even exchange a conversation. Stephen was still working from time to time, but they all invited me over for supper and a movie on a Saturday evening, and I returned the favour the next week.
Slowly, I became more or less an unofficial baby sitter for Lily, especially when Stephan was at work and Kyle needed his mother's attention.
Lily was an easy child to get along with. She laughed a lot, was every extroverted and kindness flowed from her like light flows from the Sun. One of the things she liked the most was taking a walk in the nearby forest, an activity I particularly enjoyed.
After a few weeks, with the blessing of her mother, she invited me to a picnic in a small clearing we had found, and prepared the meal, the drinks and the table cloth to sit on herself. She even insisted on carrying the picnic basket herself, but eventually let me carry it when she grew tired of doing so herself.
We each ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but there was a tradition we had follow. At first, we each retrieved a waxed paper wrapped sandwich from the basket. Then, we had to give our sandwich to the other person. Finally, we had to eat one of the halves, and swap the other half with the other person.
She was very serious of her ritual, and said that thanks to the event, we were now officially friends forever.
To drink, we each had a juice box, but I had a second one because I am taller than her, so I need more juice to fill me.
On the way back home, she insisted on holding my hand. That night, she asked her mom if I could sleepover with her, but her mother explained that even thought we were friends, adults don't have sleepover with kids.
She was sad, but I reassured her I would see her the next morning, and actually tucked her to bed, instead of her parents.
That night, Sandra and Stephen sat with me around a small fire we made in front of their VR, and we talked about nothing and everything, realizing that we had a lot in common aside from naturism.
I even managed to talk about my husband a little, while my two friends remained silent, drinking to my out loud thoughts about marriage, death and loneliness.
During the rest of the summer, aside from when I had to visit the police stations and court houses to defend some of my semi-regular clients, I spent most of my time with the Langley's, especially Sandra and Lily.
The day they left the center for the beginning of the school year, my heart died a little. From now until the next summer, most of the residents would be retired couples and occasional one or two weeks visitors, leaving me almost alone in my age group.
Fortunately, the Langley family left me their phone number and address, so I visited them a few times in their house, after their assurance I wasn't intruding.
At first, it felt weird to meet them with their clothes on, but our friendship had grown deeper than our simple common interest in naturism.
To Lily's excitement, we did have a sleepover, but in the living room, with both her parents present in a sleeping bag. We all slept in the nude, but Kyle decided to sleep in his own room.
That week, I even visited Lily's classroom to talk about what defence attorneys do for a living. It was a rather big success.
Sadly, shortly after, Jim's trial arrived, unperturbed by my new friendship.
Jim was still doing well in school, and managed to organize his school schedule so not to fail any classes during the expected 3 day trial. It may sound long, for such an event but remember that the courts and the jury need to be reserved months in advance, so that if we lack in time, the whole schedule gets distorted.
Jim's parents and I reviewed together the entirety of the proof. I explained the relative importance of each of the piece of evidence, and explained I had subpoenaed the 911 tape from the clerk. I had previously listened to it, but when the family actually heard Jim asking Tom to stop, tears of joy ran down their cheeks. We also heard Jim refusing the money, which even Jim had forgotten he did, and his scared tone of voice when he finally took it.
"I had to pay a sound engineer to increase the signal quality. The police supplied us with a written recollection, but honestly, on paper, it doesn't do much to innocent your son. But with the voice recording, you can clearly hear that when he does accept the money, his tone of voice is scarred. Jim initially told the police he only took the money because he was scarred of Tom's gun. We will argue he acted under duress, and as such, is only a victim. We will present his school grades, talk about his personality, and try to show that he was just at the wrong place."
The first day of the trial began with the prosecutor's opening statements. The district attorney insisted that a robbery occurred, and that the defendant was a friend of the robber, and actually carried the money stolen at gun point outside of the store, also stealing on his own will merchandise picked up in the store. He explained that in the next 2 days he will demonstrate how the robbery proceeded and which actions my client took part in. He warned the jury not to believe that just because a young adult has good grades, he cannot commit a crime. That on that Saturday afternoon, a poor hard working immigrant who barely survives operating his convenience store himself 7 days per week, 16 hours per day, got robbed of his hard earned money and more importantly, of his security.
On my part, I insisted that my client was innocent and as much as victim at the poor store owner. That we didn't want to negate that the robbery actually occurred, but rather Jim, a 4.0 average university student, while on his way to a friend's birthday party, got stuck between a robber who happened to also be both his friend and his ride, and a robbery in progress. I explained I will try to demonstrate exactly what really happened, and not just the watered down version of the district attorney in which there is only one victim. I will show them the hard truth : two persons were robbed that day. My client was also robbed of his dignity.
The prosecutor case on the first day was then mostly filled with police officers presenting the case, starting with sergeant Sinclair. The gun was added as evidence, and I insisted that under no circumstances did my client hold the gun in his hands.
I also question Sergeant Sinclair on the actual role of my client in the robbery. He reluctantly admitted a few winning facts to defend our case :
First, he admitted that unlike his previous robberies, Tom didn't wear a mask or attempted to hide his face, showing he did not premeditate the robbery. As such, he admitted that it is indeed possible that my client had no way to know in advance that a robbery would occur.
Second, I had the tape from the 911 call played at the same time as the security camera footage, pausing both to ask questions to the Sergeant. He finally admitted that it did appear that my client refused the money until Tom turned around and the gun was pointed in his general direction. He refused to accept that Tom was actually threatening my client.
So I asked him :
"So, Sergeant Sinclair, if one of your friends did exactly the same as Tom did, and asked you to take the money in the same tone as Tom did. Don't you think you might feel threatened ?"
At the same time, I picked up the gun and pointed it at the Jury in the same way as Tom did. I then turned to them, and in the same tone, told the jury the same exact word Tom told him on the day of the robbery:
"Take the fucking money Jim.".
Even if the Jury knew the gun was unloaded at this moment, several reacted with fear when it was actually pointed at them.
The district attorney raised an objection, but before he could explain, the judge rejected it expressing he too wanted the answer to the question.
Sergeant Sinclair, who, since the beginning of his testimony, was looking either straight into my eyes or at the jury, closed his eyes and murmured. "I suppose so"
"Can you please repeat louder for the benefit of the Jury "
"I suppose that in the same situation, I would indeed feel threatened."
"No more questions for now your honour. I request the right to recall this witness later in the trial your honour."
The District attorney didn't have more question, so the next witness stepped up, the police officer who arrested my client.
He described he saw two man, one of which was armed, and the other one, my client, which had money loose in his hands and a bottle of Sprite.
I asked the police officer if it was typical for robbers to exit a crime scene with the stolen merchandise in their hands.
He admitted that usually, robbers hid the money they stole as soon as possible either in their coat or their pants.
That officer had not been a witness of the actual crime scene, so I stopped the counter interrogation. The district attorney asked if it was usual for robbers to exit the crime scene with the gun in their hands. Before he answered, I objected, explaining this had nothing to do with my own client.
The district attorney insisted he asked the question, so I was asked to approach the bench.
The district attorney explained to the judge that I was trying to paint Tom as a career criminal and my client as an innocent bystander caught in the moment, so it was important to him to point that Tom wasn't more professional in his action than Jim was.
I objected that this was Jim's trial, and not Tom's, and as such, it wasn't Tom's behaviour that was on trial other than in regard to my client.
The judge agreed to let my objection stand, which was a small victory, especially since the district attorney no longer had any questions.
Seeing we were making progress faster than expected in the depositions and that the next witness, the shop owner, was not arrived, the judge offered to call a diner break.
I met my client and his parents for lunch. I explained to them that everything was proceeding perfectly. I was convinced that my little stint with the jury was going to work. I also explained to them that we might be able to bypass offering a defence, which would allow me to offer the last closing statements.
But if we don't offer one, I would get to have the last closing statement, providing the jury with the last words before they deliberate.
Jim and his parents were unsure if that was wise, but I reassured them that we would only resort to that if the rest went really well.
The owner of the convenience store was available after lunch, as planned.
The district attorney had him offer a recollection of the events of the day. The witness had obviously prepared his testimony, because of a few details most people would have forgotten in the mean time.
Nothing really incriminating was said. The witness implied that my client was an accomplice, but I knew which questions to ask to dispel that idea in the mind of the jury.
When the DA questions were finally over, I stepped up to the plate.
"Mr Lee, when my client initially entered, did he behave like someone about to rob the store"
"Well, initially no"
"When you initially confronted Tom Riley and he took out his gun, was my client visible from the cash register"
"Yes, thru the mirror on the wall"
"From my client's point of view, was he able to see Tom Riley and his gun"
"No, I don't believe so, but he could hear him. He might have been looking to see if there were other customers in the store"
"Objection your honour, the witness is inferring on the intentions of my client"
"Sustained. Members of the jury, please disregard the last comment from the witness. Mr Lee, please answer the questions asked without adding personal comments. ". The judge turned to me : "Continue with the witness."
"When my client did approach the cash register, what did he have in his hands ?"
"A sprite bottle"
"The same bottle he is accused of having stolen from your store ?"
"When my client approached the cash register, was he threatening you ?"
"Did he ask you to give him money the money in the cash register ?"
"Did he ask Tom Riley to stop the robbery ? Remember, we have your 911 call on tape"
"Yes, he did ask him to stop"
I turned to the jury, to talk to them.
"So, instead of being an accomplice, instead of helping Tom Riley execute the robbery, my client actually tried to calm Mr Riley down and make him STOP the robbery, is that so ?"
"I understand that back then, with the gun pointed to your face, and the adrenaline flowing through your veins, you thought my client was an accomplice. I want you to remember in your mind the events on that day, and tell me. In your opinion, what my client an accomplice of Tom Riley"
The district attorney jumps up and yelled "Objection your honour. Mrs Reynolds is leading the witness in delivering the verdict of the trial"
The judge asked us to approach the bench and asked me what I was trying to do.
"I believe your honour, that both the police and the district attorney are wrong in accusing my client of complicity in the actions of Tom Riley. I am trying to point out that even the victim of the crime, Mr Lee, doesn't really believe my client is guilty. He is the only key witness to the crime. I believe his perception of the scene of the crime are essential to my case."
"You are on a thin line Mr Reynolds. I don't mind you asking questions, but if you push harder to force an answer from any witness, I will hold you in contempt, is that clear ?"
"Yes your honour."
"I will reject the objection, but please be brief."
The judge asked the stenographer to repeat my question, and asked the witness to answer.
"no, he did not act like an accomplice. But he did take the money from me."
"Yes, he did. When he did take the money, did he ask for the money ?"
"No, the other guy asked him to do so."
"Do you remember where was the gun was pointed when it was asked ?"
"Thank you, no more questions for now your honour"
The district attorney stood up to ask more questions, but after looking at me, opted not to and instead asked for a 5 minute recess.
I briefly met with my client and his parents. I explained that if the district attorney decided to rest his case, he would expect us to take the night off to prepare our witnesses, since the trial went faster than usual. However, if that happened, I would approach the bench, and ask the judge if he would adjourn in case we didn't present a defence.
If he doesn't adjourn, we could thus force the district attorney to present his closing arguments right away, without giving him time to prepare fully, now that he is destabilized.
I explained my ideas for the closing statements, and they all liked it.
Seven minutes after the recess, the district attorney finally showed up, and announced he rested his case. This meant that he decided not to bring any more witnesses or proofs.
As planned, I approached the bench, and noted it was only 2 PM. I asked the judge bluntly, if we decide not to present a defence, would he allow a recess for the day to let the district attorney prepare his closing statement ? I also explained that my own statement was ready, and that I would proceed immediately after the district attorney.
After being rejected a recess until the next day, the district attorney asked, and got, a 30 minute recess, and agreed to deliver his closing statement around 2h30 PM.
I withdrew to my office in the court house, and wrote the key points of my presentation, just to be sure. I decided not to meet my client, nor this parents. I wanted to stay confident and positive.
At 2h29 PM sharp, everyone was ready to proceed. The District attorney made a boring speech about that complicity of a crime meant, and explained that even if my client didn't plan on helping his friend, he ended up doing so, and in the process, stole a bottle of Sprite. He explained that none of the witnesses contradict these facts. He explained to stay away from emotions. The defendant did take the money, and in so, helped the criminal. That's complicity of a crime.
The only thing is, he spent over 20 minutes trying to convince the jury. After a few minutes, I could see that he no longer had all of the eyes of the jury members on him. Two were even playing with their pencils and one with her hair.
I had to do better, like I knew.
When it was my time to step up, I tried to sway them. I decided to be brief and clear.
"The question of this trial isn't whether my client took the money or not. The question is not whether my client took the Sprite bottle or not. Every witness told you he did. You saw it on tape. My client is even willing to admit it in court.
No, the question is bigger than that. The question is, did my client perform those actions under duress. Earlier, when I pointed the gun Tom Riley had in his hand that day at you, how did you feel ? You knew it was then unloaded. My client knew it was then loaded. My client knew his friend was stuck like a wounded wild animal. When Tom Riley point his gun at him and asked him "to take the fucking money" from Mr Lee, he wasn't an accomplice. He was victim. He was an hostage. He was threatened.
When he entered that store, the only thing on the mind of my client was to go later that afternoon at his friend Robert's party with his friend Tom Riley. When he approached the cash register however, he saw the life blink in front of his eyes. He suddenly was in the middle of an armed robbery. The person next to him no longer was his friend, he was a man with a gun. And when a man with a gun asks you to do something, you do it.
That is the way a victim reacts. That is the way an hostage reacts. That is the way anyone of you would react. It's normal. It's not criminal. You are under duress. You want to save your life.
But that day, a 4.0 grade student with a perfect life was a victim for a second time. Not only did he have to see his friendship with Tom Riley disappear. Not only did he have to miss the party he so longed for. But he was also accused of a crime he didn't commit.
Now, did he have to take the money ? Yes, he did. Tom Riley made sure of that by threatening him with the gun. Should he have left the Sprite bottle in the store ? Yes. Did he think about leaving it in the store ? Well, would you have thought about it ?
My client picked a bottle for a party, with the intentions of paying for it. In the mean time, a robbery occurred. He was threatened with a gun. Should he have left the bottle behind ? Yes. Did he think about that ? No. He just carried outside whatever was in his hands when he left, at gun point.
The law says you need to free my client completely if there is a reasonable doubt he is innocent. I am telling you, in my mind, there is more than a reasonable doubt that the only reason he took the money and the sprite bottle, was because he was under duress. Under threat. At gun point. Think about that during your deliberation, and ask yourself, what would YOU have done in his position ?"
Unlike during the district attorney's deposition, I was able to capture the attention of each and everyone of the 12 jury members.
The judge gave basic instructions to the jury, including a confirmation that if the jury believed with a reasonable doubt that the actions of my clients were only performed under duress, they had to acquit him of all of the charges, but that they could rule that he acted under duress when he took the money, but that they consciously stole the Sprite bottle if they believe he consciously decided to steal it.
The jury withdrew in their chambers to deliberate. I was giving my hopes to my clients when they returned, announcing the jury had a unanimous verdict.
The leader of the jury brought the written verdict to the judge for review, and upon approval, return to his position.
"We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty of the charge complicity of armed robbery and not guilty of petty theft"
Jim and his parents let a cry of relief escape while the judge dismissed the jury and the room slowly emptied.
A few reporters asked questions to my client as he exited the room, but I intercepted them. "My client would just like to repeat that from the beginning, he explained to the police that he was acting under duress, and that this trial has been a major loss of money, both for my clients and for the tax payers."
When I finally left the court house, I went to the first place that came in my mind, the Langley. I picked up a cake on the way, and rang a little past 4 pm at their doorstep. Sandra answered the door, and was really surprised to see me.
"I won my trial today. I am in such a good mood, I decided to buy a cake, and take your family out for supper. What do you say ?"
Sandra and Stephen listened to my recollection, and told me a little about what happened in their own family, since the last time I saw them.
When I left, I realized that their friendship was now one of the most precious things in my life, and felt really sad at the distance between us during the school year.
Fortunately, I would see them this summer almost every day, when they will return to our naturist center.