July 25, 2009 § 14 Comments
My father is a former chief investigator. During his service, he investigated and solved numerous criminal cases. He was also a law expert, specialized in training young officers with the basic knowledge of enforcement procedures. It is always worthwhile to listen to my father, recounting the numerous crimes he investigated. One of his most enthralling stories is a famous case study whose details should be very familiar to most law students.
The story took place many years ago in Paris, France. At that time, a menacing serial killer was terrorizing the city. As with most serial killers, this particular criminal was very random in his killing leaving both the police and the public stumped and frustrated as to who he was or what his true intentions were. For months, Paris was looking like a deserted place. People were afraid to leave their homes and most of the shops were closed. Fortunately, the police soon got a break. The killer was apprehended right at the scene of his latest crime.
The evidences against the suspect were overwhelming. His fingerprint matched perfectly with those found at the scenes of the other killings. He even verbally admitted to being the perpetrator. It seemed as though it was only time before the killer will be sent off to the guillotine. Things would get a bit more interesting, however, when Paris’ most famous and successful attorney agreed to represent the suspect in the trial.
Nonetheless, most people were unconvinced that the famed attorney will be able to acquit the suspect. The evidences against the suspect were just too devastating, they thought. But the negative sentiments did little to sway the attorney, who had never lost a single case in his illustrious 30-year career, from tackling this very complex case.
After weeks of preparations, the trial was set to start. Surprisingly, most of the deliberations were quite tamed. The defense attorney seemed lethargic, failing to deliver any real compelling arguments on his client’s behalf. In his final deliberation, the prosecutor passionately appealed to the jury to convict the defendant. His emotional speech was greeted with thunderous applause and a strong collective approval from friends & families of the victims.
It was now time for the defense attorney to deliver his final deliberation, and he started with a bang. He immediately declared his client to be innocent of all charges on the basis that the crimes he had been charged did not even exist. He even asserted that the victims were currently alive and were present at the courtroom. His comments caused quite a pandemonium inside the courthouse.
When the judge was about to flag him for his absurdity, the attorney quickly followed up his claim with a dramatic revelation. Gesturing his hand towards the door, he claimed that the victims were standing there. All eyes quickly turned towards the door. The victims, however, were no where to be seen.
At that very moment, the attorney exposed a grin smile of satisfaction and began to reveal the true reason behind the commotion. He cited the single most famous clause in the history of the laws as the main reason why his client should be acquitted. According to the laws, a person can only be convicted of a crime if and only if his guiltiness is beyond the shadow of a doubt. Since everyone looked at the door when he asserted that the victims were still alive, he argued, it proved that his client’s guiltiness was not beyond the shadow of a doubt. If the crowd was totally convinced that the suspect was guilty and his victims were dead, they would not have looked at the door. Upon hearing the explanation, everyone in the courtroom realized that they had all been duped. They had been tricked into becoming involuntary actors and actresses, acting in a brilliant scheme.
The attorney’s astute maneuver put the jury in a serious conundrum. If the jurors follow their hearts and do what is right which is to convict the killer, they would create a precedent that could seriously undermine the foundation of the laws. If they abide to the laws and acquit the killer, they would shake the confidence of the people on the effectiveness of their government in protecting them. Sensing hesitancy among the jurors, the judge called for a court recess.
An hour later, the court reconvened and the jury was asked to deliver its recommendations. In a stunning fashion, the jury found the suspect guilty of all counts of first-degree murder. The verdict left the defense attorney absolutely baffled. He unleashed a strong tirade against the verdict and threatened the jury with retribution. The judge quickly took control of the court and ordered the lawyer to stop his antics so he can explain the reason behind the verdict.
The jury found the suspect guilty on the basis that while people were looking towards the door, the killer didn’t. This proved that he was the perpetrator, since only the real killer would know for sure that his victims were dead, and thus effectively thwarted other arguments and considerations. Upon hearing the explanation, the attorney was completely stunned. He realized that he had been defeated by his own assertion. In a world full of injustices, it is nice to have a happy ending.