Blind Justice Doesn't Crucify the Innocent

by Matthew Gorman (University)

Honorable Mention

God enters. The old Bailard State Courthouse is crowded shoulder to shoulder in each of the rows of seating that look as if they could be pews with no standing room left. Spectators are lined up against walls on all sides in the back behind the darkened wooden rail that separates the people of the crowd from the officers and lawyers of the court. It is Friday, November 11th 2011. The masses of people standing with their back resting on the walls are facing the center aisle, slowly moving their eyes from the back door, to the defendant’s desk, tracking each footstep as he trudges through the whispering crowd. He isn’t as tall as one might initially assume when first told about an omnipotent power; actually, he’s only about five feet and nine inches. Some crowd members in the pews cringe their shoulders and crack their necks loosely at the sound of the chains scrapping and rattling across the wooden floor. Each link pulls and drags the other links in a chain that appears longer than it is, as if it is connecting all the wrong‐place‐wrong‐times of his older days and binding them together in a continuous spectrum of order and repercussions. His feet are bound and locked together only giving him twelve inches of space in which he’s allowed to shuffle his feet; he’s surely secured and grounded to the earth beneath him.

There’s no sound within the courthouse. All of the single‐paned glass windows are open looking out upon the silent autumn afternoon. No birds are chirping today. No geese squawking at their landing onto the pond. Even the sun begins to say goodbye hiding behind a mob of increasingly greying clouds. God’s attorney, Mr. Adam Burns, opens the waist high gate into the area where two adjacent desks are parted by an arm span length. He and God walk through the opened gate and approach their assigned desk, which rests on the left side of the courtroom. Judge Abraham Ramiels presides in his raised bench overlooking the lawyers, the people of the crowd, the armed guardsmen blocking the door out, God, and the recorder.

Mr. Burns gestures to the desk and points to a seat for God to take and sit. God pulls out his own chair and lowers himself down in the wooden seat, the first non‐metal piece of furniture he’s had to rest on since the law enforcement officers arrested him more than a month ago. The silence in the room breaks as Judge Ramiels picks up his gavel made of solid oak in one swift motion and slams it down three times on the flat surface of the bench before him. God blinks his eyes rapidly and gazes confusingly up at the judge; the gathered mob of eyes encompassing him from behind do not as easily sway their viewpoint; they stay fixed on God’s full‐head of curly grey hair and the number stamped on the back of his vibrant orange prison suit: 655321.

“Defendant,” orders the Judge, “rest yourself upon the stand on my left and we’ll get this underway.”

“Yes, sir,” he replies with a heavy throat as he takes the stand. God shifts in his side sideways and moves the chains holding him down away from the chair’s legs so it doesn’t get caught and trip him. As he walks over to the stand, his feet barely come off the ground with each step from the restricting of movement and weight of the chains around his ankles. When he gets to the stand and opens the small gate into it, he bends and struggles to lift the chains to take the step up to take the stand.

“The People may speak,” Judge Ramiels announces, giving the state’s assistant district’s attorney, Miss Elizabeth Evens, permission to continue the closing questioning part of the trial that has been going on for more than a week already. Both of her hands work together moving around documents resting on the table when she finds a certain piece of paper and scans the writing with her finger. She stands up at the prosecution table, straightens her white flowery blouse, and buttons the bottom three gold buttons of her charcoal black jacket as she approaches the stand where God sits with both of his hands on his knees silently awaiting the words of Elizabeth Evens.

“Thank you, your Honor,” she replies in a professional monotone that lacks any hint of emotion that would get in the way of serving her duty to the People. On her way to the stand, Elizabeth walks over to the evidence table and retrieves a copy of the Bible and makes God swear back in that his testimony will be a truthful account of the events that took place upon the night he was arrested. After he swears to the truth, Elizabeth walks back to the center of the room and stands still, looking down at the Bible in both of her hands. One person in the crowd nudges his neighbor in the elbow and points to Elizabeth as if silently asking, do you think she believes. The second man takes a second to think over the question but then shrugs in a suggestive manner, do you think it matters. The would‐be conversation is halted when Elizabeth drops the Bible slamming onto the floor, echoing through the empty halls of the courthouse, and faces God with a vengeful scorn of prosecution and voice of the law. She begins. “Tell the People once more where you were on the late night of October 10th of this year.”

“I was in Garden Park,” he answers staring back into her fierce eyes.

“Was anyone with you?” she says accusingly, knowing already what the answer will be.

God shifts his body around in the stand and repositions his hands into one another, interweaving his fingers and pulling them close together. There is almost no space left between his hands holding each other. He keeps his knuckles stern and pointing upward; he holds them in a way that resembles steeples on top of a church, but they are shaking, as he appears to be silently praying words through them while answering, “Yes.”

Elizabeth stands erect looking at the faces of the men and women in the jury box, staring into each of their blurry eyes. “Tell the People of the jury who was with you,” she quietly says with a stumble and a quiver.

“Ama‐“ he begins, keeping his focus on Elizabeth, who catches the stare from her peripherals and turns to face God once more.

“No, not me!” she erupts with her voice carrying through the ceiling like a gust of wind and her hand waving from him to pointing at each person of the jury. “Tell them who was with you that night, October 10th. Tell them her name; tell them!” She treads through the open area up to the stand and slams both of her hands down on the mahogany, staring into God’s clear eyes blinded by beliefs and faiths.

With a couple of tears forming at the rim of his bottom eye lids, he looks into the mass of faces in the jury box that are staring back at him, anticipating his next words. He glances up over his right shoulder and sees the judge leaning over the bench, both arms folded, with his lower lip reaching up covering his top. Judge Ramiels makes a motion with his head lifting his chin, cuing God to speak. God looks down into his lap where his hands have come unfolded and rest on his legs with his palms facing upwards. “Tell them!” Elizabeth demands once more. God snaps his head to attention.

“Her name is,” he begins with a half‐breath sigh. “Her name was Amanda. Amanda Lumen.” The tears falling on his face are like rain dropping on a waterfall.

“And you raped her,” Elizabeth said with a saddened tone finishing God’s words for him.

“That’s not true! I didn’t rape her! I was with her the whole time until she wasn’t there anymore. But I didn’t do that. I wasn’t responsible. I wanted to help her; I tried to help. I can’t be responsible for this.” The roots of God’s shoulder‐length grey hairs, where it meets the skin, are collecting the sweat swelling on the top of his forehead as a result of frustration and fear. His mouth hangs open weighed down by his words, and he searches the crowd of people for a face to sympathize, understand, or believe him.

Elizabeth looks down at him with a look that lacks pity and eyes that could glow a bright red around the edges to match the level of passion for justice ringing and trumpeting from her voice. “You did. You were with her that night and took her life away when you left.” Elizabeth turns her back on God to address the people with more of her words of justice.

“Objection, your Honor!” interrupts Adam Burns pushing his chair back as he jumps up to stand up on God’s defense. “Speculation. No evidence has been presented in this trial supporting my client even touched her.” Adam Burns keeps a sympathetic view on Judge Ramiels trying to carry a weight of behind him, but his words come across light without the weight of support from the People seeking truth.

Elizabeth is quick to rebut before the judge can voice his decision; she turns to face Adam Burns and aggressively states, “He was there, Mr. Burns. He was at the scene while it happened and furthermore did nothing to stop it or report it. That makes him an accomplice to obstruction of justice, sexual assault, and rape!” Elizabeth spins around and with a steadfast posture of lawful dominance over the defendant, looks at the judge who is weighing over the decision of whether to allow leniency in what Elizabeth is saying. “Your Honor?”

Judge Ramiels brings his hands together and threads his fingers between each other and rests his head on top of his knuckles pointing up. He closes his eyes. While he sits in reflection on the question asked of him, there is complete silence in the courtroom, quiet enough to hear the wind traveling in from the window and through the crowd, taking with it a chilling breeze that shakes and shivers the people in the pews. The clouds outside have entirely turned a dark grey and tree branches can be seen swaying in the wind. Elizabeth stands erect staring at the judge. The chilling breeze from the window reaches his face and lifts open his eyes; he tilts his head to face God and in that moment, decides, “Sustained. I’ll allow it.” Adam Burns retakes his seat, rests his arms on the table and twists his 30 percent silver ring around his finger.

God objects in his own defense once more and repeats, “This isn’t right; this isn’t true. I didn’t rape her!” Elizabeth furiously and rapidly walks back towards him with her right index finger guiding her path pointing at the center of God’s chest. “But you were there, yes?” She asks with a tone of accusation that shocks God and makes him reply quickly with struggle, stumbling over his words.

“Yes, bu‐“

“But you saw the rapist there too, right?” interrupts Elizabeth.

“Right, but I – “ God tries to explain.

“But you stood there watching a man throw a 12‐year‐old girl from tree to tree, banging her head against the bark, ripping her clothes piece by piece while she tried so desperately to get away, but couldn’t because she was too young, too weak to defend herself, looking for someone to help her. And you stood there. Watching the whole time, within arms reach of her hand asking for help. And you stood there. Watching her rapist zip up his pants and walk away in the moonlight, leaving her there to freeze to death. You raped her alright, you raped her of her life didn’t you?”She shouts, and the people of the crowd in the courtroom remain silent as the force of Elizabeth’s word transcends through the ceiling as if it were the wind carrying with it the weight of suffering and memory. The eyes of the crowd locked on to the top of God’s head as he bows, hunched over staring down at the hardened wood beneath his feet. She screams once more with anger and a yearning for justice in her words, “Didn’t you?”

God erupts out of his chair and screams at Elizabeth, “I didn’t rape her!” Their eyes are steadfast and see into each other not for a moment faltering. God screams with scorn, “You do not understand, I wanted to help that poor girl. What that man did to her is unfor‐, is not right. I was there with her from the beginning to the end ready to help her.” He speaks with the rising force of a forming hurricane or projecting volcano, but the linking heavy chains ground him to the bench and force him back down into his seat, subject to abide to the restrictions around him. He sits with his head bowed down resting his forehead on the knuckles of his clenched hands held together.

“But you let it happen,” she responds. Elizabeth walks back to the center of the courtroom and picks up the Bible that she dropped earlier. She lifts it to the level of her chest with both of her hands and stars into the black cover. She slowly walks over to the stand and places the Bible into God’s lap and pats it three times on the top with one hand. She wipes a single hidden tear from the right corner of her right eye and then goes to sit back down in her chair at the prosecution table. She brings her hands into one another and leans forward resting her forehead on the knuckles of her fingers interlocking with each hand and looks down. Another single tear drops on the piece of paper resting beneath her elbows. One of the papers resting on the desk is the death certificate of Amanda Lumen that states the cause of death to be internal bleeding and hypothermia.

Judge Ramiels looks over at Elizabeth not getting back up to question the defendant or giving any indication that she will be speaking again soon. The courtroom has become nostalgically silent and motionless. Some of the people in the pews are watching to see if Elizabeth will move, others themselves are also looking at the ground reflecting and wondering about the conversation and words said in this case. Adam Burns sits at the defendant’s desk holding a paper in each of his hands, but after looking at Judge Ramiels, puts the papers back in his suitcase and shuts it close. “Bailiff,” says the judge in melancholy tone, “bring the defendant out of his seat and present him to the People of this court.” A man removes God from his position while the Judge speaks, “Does the jury need time to deliberate?”

The speaker of the jury stands. He is tall and wears a pinstripe blue and white button‐up dress shirt with a solid blue tie that has gold trimmings on the edges. “No, Your Honor. We have reached a decision.” The officer of the court forces God to face the judge. Another officer collects a note from one of the jurors in the box and walks it over to the large pillar of wood that the Judge sits on and hands it to Ramiels. “The people believe,” Judge Ramiels begins with a low and heavy voice. – God lifts his head and turns right to glance out the window; the sky is the darkest is has been all day; rain falls down from the sky and as it profusely strikes a nearby tree, the droplets bounce off of the leaves as more engross its space, appearing to be set ablaze in a foggy mist, ‐ “that you are guilty on counts of obstruction of justice, sexual assault to a minor, rape of a minor, and murder. You will be remanded to Hellen’s Penitentiary until your time is come and sentencing will be carried out upon you. Bailiff, remove him from the People’s sight.”

The two officers of the court on God’s person standing on either side of him turn around and face the People in the courtroom. They begin escorting him through the sneering crowd to the back door. The two guards have to half‐carry him across the wooden floor because the chains on his feet have weighed him down and he stumbles towards the door with each of his last few steps on earth. God leaves.