|Death penalty? Confession?|
No pressure here!
And my client confessed on videotape.
The stakes could not be higher, especially since the Bear believed his client to be innocent (and still does). The Bear successfully eliminated 68 jurors in a row on challenges for cause, setting each up to deny that he could render a fair verdict if the defendant did not testify. (This was necessary to exhaust the jury pool and get a change of venue: an essential element in the Bear's strategy.)
Pretrial motions had been numerous and complex. We had secured the testimony of an expert witness on the issue of false confessions, which had never been done before or since, to the Bear's knowledge. At trial, the Bear and the prosecutor stalked the courtroom as in a fight to the death. Which it was: my client's.
|And I get paid, too?|
Then one day, in the heat of battle, the judge summoned us to the bench.
"This is a serious case. Please watch your demeanor. You're not here to have fun."
In other words, the prosecutor and I liked each other and it showed in a manner that was perhaps not appropriate for a death penalty case.
The Bear was usually found prowling about the county courthouses of his state, especially the southern part. It was a small criminal bar. Most of the lawyers and prosecutors knew each other. Today's PD, or colleague was tomorrow's prosecutor or judge. More times than he can remember, he had lunch with a prosecutor during trial -- usually undetected. We knew that it might look as if the whole thing were rigged if someone connected to the trial saw us sitting amiably at the same table.
(This friendliness did not exist with federal prosecutors, and there is no point in the Bear going there.)
Not only were we friendly outside of court, we were respectful in it. The Bear will never forget the role of the prosecutor, expressed as "to strike hard blows, but fair." It was an ideal, anyway, and one the Bear still tries to put into practice.
One of the vices of the internet the Bear supposes he'll never get used to is the incivility. The Bear was trained as a criminal trial lawyer in the U.S. Navy: very formal. Combine that with the friendliness of a small criminal bar scattered over the lower half of the state, and the Bear thinks you should get up on your hind legs, and use niceties like, "May it please the Court, Counsel and Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury" before closing argument. And you should act the same way on the internet.
It's just polite and professional. And, as the Bear and the prosecutor discovered in the 2003 case of People v. Pontious, it makes work fun.
The Bear is not thinking of anything in particular. The woodland's resident troll -- more of an anti-troll --Roke, has little to do. It is only natural if things get somewhat heated when talking about important matters. The Bear is going to try to be just a little more pleasant when making his points. Except where mockery is called for. He just thought an example of how people can employ every bit of heart on opposite sides, yet still be civil, even friends, might be salutary.
The Bear hoists a glass of Korbinian Doppelbock and makes a toast to peace and politeness.