Saturday, April 14, 2012

26. A Happy Ending, the Story Goes (I)

Well, this is the promised script and there are the twelve jurors. It’s for you to watch the video again, assign an identity to the jurors, and pay close attention to what they say and how they say it. Believe it or not, the captions are only partially faithful to what is actually being said, so you might say you’re in for a surprise; you'd better take a piece of paper and, while keeping the distance in time marked by the rules of the use of tenses and reference, transfer the information to Indirect Speech but keep the introductory verbs in the present tense. Why? Well, because it means a lot for the effect it has on the intensity of the debate itself. It’ll take you a lot less than it took me to transcribe it, I’m sure, and in the end the advantages will outweigh the trouble you take (it would be only fair for you to take the trouble!).

<<All right, I don’t have anything brilliant. I only know as much as you do. According to the testimony, the boy looks guilty. Maybe he is. I sat there in court for six days listening while the evidence built up. Everybody sounded so positive, you know, I began to get a peculiar feeling about this trial. I mean, nothing is that positive. There are a lot of questions I’d have liked to ask. I don’t know, maybe they wouldn’t mean anything, but...I began to get the feeling that the defence council wasn’t conducting a thorough enough cross examination. I don’t know, he let too many little things go by, little things.
<<What little things? Listen, when these fellows don’t ask questions, it’s because they know the answers already. They think they could be hurt!
<<Maybe, but it’s also possible for a lawyer to be just plain stupid, isn’t it? I mean, it’s possible.
<<You sound like you met my brother in law once.
<<I kept putting myself in the kid’s place. I’d have asked for another lawyer, I think. I mean, if I was on trial for my life, I’d want my lawyer to tear the prosecution witnesses to shreds, or at least try to. Look, there was one alleged eyewitness to this killing someone else claims he heard the killing and that the boy ran afterwards...there was a lot of circumstantial evidence. But actually those two witnesses were the entire case for the prosecution. Supposing they’re wrong?-
<<What do you mean, supposing they’re wrong? What’s the point of having witnesses at all?
<< Could they be wrong?
<<What are you trying to say? Those people sat on the stand under oath.
<< They’re only people. People make mistakes. Could they be wrong?
<<Well, no. I don’t think so.
<<Do you know so?
<<Come on, nobody can know a thing like that. This isn’t an exact science.
<<That’s right, it isn’t.
<<OK, let’s get to the point. What about the switch knife they found in the old man’s chest?
<<Wait a minute, there’s some people who people haven’t talked yet. Shouldn’t we go in order?
<<They’ll get a chance to talk. Be quiet a second, will ya? What about the knife this fine, upright boy admitted buying the night of the killing? Let’s talk about it.
<<All right. Let’s get it in here and look at it. I’d like to see it again. Mr Foreman?
<<We all saw what it looks like. Why do we have to see it again?
<<The gentleman has a right to see exhibits in evidence. Say, could you bring us the knife?
<<The knife? Sure.
<<Thank you.
<<The knife and the way it was bought is strong evidence, don’t you think?
<<I do.
<<Good. Now suppose we take these facts one at a time. One: The boy admitted leaving out of the house on the night of the murder at eight o’clock at night after being slapped several times by his father.
<<No, he didn’t say “slapped”. He said “punched”. There’s a difference between a slap and a punch.
<<After being hit several times by his father. Two: He went directly to a neighbourhood junk shop where he bought one of those...
<<Switch knives.
<<Switch-blade knives. This wasn’t what you call an ordinary knife. It had a very unusual carved handle and blade. The storekeeper who sold it to him said it was the only one of its kind he had ever had in stock. Three: He met some friends of his in front of a tavern about 8:45. Am I right so far?
<<Yes, you are.
<<You bet he is.
<<He talked to his friends for about an hour, leaving them at 9:45. During this time, they saw the switch knife. Four: They identified the death weapon in court as that very same knife.  Five: He arrived home at about ten o’clock. Now,this is where the stories offered by the State and the boy diverge slightly. He claims that he went to a movie at about 11:30, returning home at 3:10 to find his father dead and himself arrested.
<<He also claims that the two detectives arrested him throwing him down a half a flight of stairs.  
<<Now what happened to the switch knife? He claims that it fell through a hole in his pocket on the way to the movies, sometime between 11:30 and 3:10, and that he never saw it again. Now, there is a tale, gentlemen. I think it’s quite clear that the boy never went to the movies that night. No one in the house saw him go out at 11:30, no one at the theatre identified him, he couldn’t even remember the names of the pictures he saw. What actually happened is this. The boy stayed home, had another fight with his father, stabbed him to death and left the house at ten minutes after 12. He even remembered to wipe the knife clean of fingerprints. Now, youre trying to tell me that this knife really fell through a hole in the boy’s pocket, someone picked it up off the street, went to the boy’s house and stabbed his father with it just to test its sharpness?
<<No, I just say it’s possible that the boy lost his knife and that somebody else stabbed his father with a similar knife, it’s just possible.
<<Take a look at this knife. It’s a very unusual knife. I’ve never seen one like it. Neither had the storekeeper who sold it to the boy. Aren’t you asking us to accept a pretty incredible coincidence?
<<I’m just saying a coincidence is possible.
<<And I say it’s not possible.
<<Where did that come from?
<<It’s the same knife!
<<What do you think you’re doing?
<<Where did you get it?
<<I went out walking for a couple of hours last night. I walked through the boy’s neighbourhood. I bought that at a little pawn shop just two blocks from the boy’s house. It cost six dollars.
<<It’s against the law to buy or sell switchblade knives.
<<That’s right, I broke the law.
<<You pulled a real bright trick. Now supposing you tell me what it proves. Maybe there are ten knives like that, so what?
<<Maybe there are!
<<What does it mean? You found another knife like it. What’s that? The discovery of the age or something?
<<You’re asking us to believe that somebody else did the stabbing with exactly the same kind of knife?
<<The odds are a million to one.
<<It’s possible!
<<But not very probable.
<<OK, fellas. Let’s take our seats. No point standing around all over the place.
<<You know, it’s interesting that he’d find a knife exactly like the one the boy bought.
<<What’s interesting about it? Interesting!
<<I don’t know, I just thought it was interesting.
<<But there’s still eleven of us still thinking that he’s guilty.
<<Right. What do you think you’re gonna accomplish? You’re not gonna change anybody’s mind. So, if you want to be stubborn and hang this jury, go ahead. The kid’ll be tried again and found guilty, as sure as he’s born.
<<You’re probably right.
<< So what are you gonna do? You know, we can be here all night.
<<It’s only one night. A boy may die.
<< Well why don’t we set up house here? Someone send for a pinochle deck and we’ll just sweat the whole thing out right here.
<<I don’t think you ought to joke about it.
<<What do you want me to do about it?
<<Oh, listen, I don’t see why all this stuff about the knife has got to do with anything. Somebody saw the kid stab his father. What more do we need? You guys can talk the ears right off my head, you know what I mean? I got three garages going to pot. So let’s get done and get out of here.
<<The knife is very important to the district attorney. He spent a whole day...
<<He’s a 15th assistant or something. What does he know about it?
<<Hey, let’s hold it down. These side arguments are only slowing us up. Well, what about it? You’re the only one.
<<I have a proposition to make to all of you. I’m going to call for another vote. I want you eleven men to vote by secret written ballot. I’ll abstain. With eleven votes for guilty, I won’t stand alone. We’ll take in a guilty verdict to the judge right now. But if anyone votes not guilty, we’ll stay here and talk it out. That’s it, if you want to try it, I’m ready.
<<All right, let’s do it the hard way.
<<Yeah, that sounds fair Everyone agreed? Anyone doesn’t agree? OK, pass these along.
<<Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Magritte, The Blank Signature
Not guilty. Guilty.
<<Boy, how do you like that?!
<<Another chap flips his wings!
<<All right, who was it, come on, I wanna know.
<<Excuse me, this was a secret ballot. We all agreed on that, no? If the gentleman wants it to remain secret...
<<Secret? What do you mean, secret? There are no secrets in a jury room. I know who it was. Brother, you really are something. You sit here, vote guilty like the rest of us, then some golden voiced preacher starts tearing your poor heart out about some underprivileged kid just couldn’t help becoming a murderer and you change your vote. If that isn’t the most sickening – why don’t you drop a quarter in his collection box?
<<Oh, now, just wait a m- listen, you can’t talk to me like that. Who do you think you are?
<<Calm down, calm down, it doesn’t matter, he’s very excitable. Sit down.
<<Excitable?! You bet I’m excitable, we’re trying to put a guilty man in the chair, where he belongs. Someone starts telling us fairy tales and we’re listening! What made you change your vote?
<<He didn’t change his vote. I did.
<<Oh, fine.
<<I knew it.
<<Would you like me to tell you why?
<<No, I wouldn’t like you to tell me why.
<<I’d like to make it clear anyway, if you don’t mind.
<<Do we have to listen to this?
<<The man wants to talk.
<<Thank you. This gentleman has been standing alone against us. He doesn’t say the boy is not guilty, he just isn’t sure. It’s not easy to stand alone against the ridicule of others. So he gambled for support and I gave it to him. I respect his motives. The boy on trial is probably guilty, but I want to hear more. Right now the vote is ten to two. I’m talking here! You have no right to leave this room!
<<He can’t hear you. He never will. Let’s sit down.

 You’ll find a suggested variant in the following post, that’s for sure.
(Source of images: Google Images)

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