Dream of: 26 August 1998 "Psyche Phelebots"
I was sitting in a courtroom packed with people; every seat appeared to be taken. I was a bit nervous at first because a criminal trial was about to begin and I was the attorney representing the defendant, a Hispanic-looking man accused of murder. As I braced myself for the beginning of the trial, my nervousness began to abate. I sat down in the rear of the courtroom, far in the right corner from my perspective. Also at the back of the courtroom, sitting at a table on the left side, was the prosecutor, a slender dark-haired woman (probably in her early 30s). The judge was also a woman, a tall slender woman (probably in her mid 50s), sitting robed in black at the front of the room. The jurors and the spectators were all sitting together so it was unclear who was who.
The trial finally began when the prosecutor made a statement. As I listened, I began to realize how unprepared I was. I didn't even know some of the essential details of the case. I knew the murder had been brutal, but little more. I hadn't even undertaken any discovery. That fact alone was rather startling. I wondered what the judge thought about my trying a murder case without having filed any discovery motions. Was the jury going to realize I really didn't know what I was doing? It looked as if this trial might end up being a short one. It was amazing that I could be so negligent to let a man's life be decided in a few short hours without adequately preparing for the trail.
But now the trial had begun and I would just have to make the most of it. A witness was on the stand and suddenly it was my turn to ask questions. Before I began, I pulled out a book and asked the judge if I could read something from the book. The judge was willing to indulge me and I began reading a section of the book which contained a complicated mathematical formula. I had much difficulty because I didn't know how to express in words what I was seeing. Some of the symbols in the formula were foreign to me. One symbol looked like an exclamation mark while another looked simply like a vertical line. Nevertheless, I read as best I could. One section of the formula contained several "i's." Another section had several "f's" in brackets. I thought the "f's" stood for functions, and that was how I read them. At the same time, I pointed out that this formula was so complicated that no one in this courtroom could understand it anyway.
But, suddenly a man in a light gray suit, sitting in the courtroom, spoke up. As he continued speaking, I realized he was trying to explain what the formula meant. I broke into what he was saying and asked the judge if I could question the man. Even though this wasn't the correct procedure, the judge allowed it. I first asked the man his name. He gave it, but I immediately forgot what it was, and all the while I questioned him I unsuccessfully tired to remember his name. Meanwhile the man paid little attention to my questions, but simply began trying to describe on his own what the formula meant. He seemed to know what he was talking about, but I didn't understand him and I doubted that anyone else in the courtroom understood him either.
At the same time another man sitting on the witness stand spoke up and began giving his impression of the formula. The witness said the formula could only be used in the case of a person who was having a psychotic episode or who was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime. I wondered if I might have made a mistake by introducing the formula. It wasn't my intention to say that my client had committed the crime while suffering a psychotic episode or while under the influence of drugs. I had intended to completely deny that he had committed the crime.
Other people took turns on the witness stand until finally the prosecutor stood up and objected. The judge however overruled her, stating that the prosecutor had asked some questions about some "square cabinets." I was unsure what the judge meant by this statement, but I concluded that because the prosecutor had asked some particular questions, she had opened the door to the type of questions which I was now asking, and that I would be able to continue.
Finally, Wheat took the stand and began talking. Wheat hadn't talked long before the judge announced that we were going to have a recess. People began standing up and disbursing. I also stood and walked outside onto a sidewalk by the city street. As I stood beside a parked car, eating a baked potato off a plate, the judge walked up to me and began talking. I could immediately tell that she was upset with Wheat, that she thought he was a communist. I tried to be as friendly with her as I could, not wanting to antagonize her. She seemed to understand that although Wheat was my witness, I myself wasn't a communist. At one point she was even friendly enough to pick up a piece of one my potatoes which had slipped off my plate onto the hood of the car and put the piece back on my plate. When she finally turned to leave she seemed well disposed toward me.
As soon as she walked away, I saw Wheat on the sidewalk. Another lanky man had walked up to him. Suddenly the other man began making some abusive remarks and threatening Wheat. It sounded as if the man were even threatening Wheat not to testify further. When the man walked away down the street, I immediately followed him. This looked like a good opportunity for me. I intended to take the man before the judge and force him to testify about what he had just said.
When I reached him, we stood in front of each other facing each other. He was much taller than I, and I had to look up at him. I knew his name was "Psyche Phelobots." I wasn't quite sure what to make of him. I thought he might be a dangerous person, but nevertheless I grabbed him by the wrist, intending to pull him back into the courtroom with me. Once inside I hoped to put him on the stand and question him in front of the jury, showing how he had been trying to influence the trial by threatening a witness.
The main thing on my mind was the direction the trail was taking. I was beginning to think that my ultimate strategy should be simply to try to avoid the death sentence. If my client could be sentenced to life in prison, it could be a great victory. Of course there was still the possibility of a total acquittal. I still hadn't seen the evidence which actually linked my client to the murder. The prosecution would have to bring forth the evidence that would prove that my client actually committed the murder. Mere surmise wouldn't be sufficient. So I still needed to concentrate on showing that my client wasn't even at the murder scene. It looked as if the trial was going to take a good deal longer than I had thought.
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