Wednesday, June 29, 2005

how innocent the moon

i spent a few days recently at mercer university. they host the national criminal defense college. my job was to portray clients and witnesses for public defenders from around the u.s.
i played a homosexual framed for murder in chicago's grant park, a c.i.a. special agent guilty of impeachment in an espionage trial, a cross-dresser being cross-examined over a double-crossing client, and a bad cop willing to say anything to prosecute for a tidy reward. all without changing my hair or wardrobe.
the participating lawyers learn how to move for impeachment, how to move away from an overtly affectionate client, how to stand their ground in the face of contradictory testimony. they also explore the process of voir dire:
jury selection.
based on themes present in each case, defenders weed out jurors with a bias against their client. on a panel of three prospective jurors were myself and two locals. they answered an ad in the macon telegraph promising $10. ed is a white 72 year old retired military man, tall as a tree, stark white hair. lakeisha is a black 23 year old paralegal, smart and articulate. voir dire means "to speak the truth." we all did just that when pooled and questioned for each case.
one particular case was this. a black man with a very low i.q. is charged with the rape of a white co-worker. they were cleaning a hotel room together. evidence points to consensual sex.
the lawyer asked what we each thought of pre-marital sex.
ed: "i don't care much for it, but the kids these days seem to have an appetite for that kind of behavior. i can't do nothin' about it, i wouldn't speak on it, but i don't support it."
: "i think what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is their business. the moral implication is that waiting for marriage is a healthier, safer choice."
: "i'm all for it."
the lawyer then asked what we'd think if we saw a white woman holding hands with a black man in macon.
me: "i'm from atlanta, the city too busy to hate. that's nothing out of the ordinary."
: "i think it's downright stupid. what's she trying to prove? that's not right. she obviously showin' off, or has some kind of self-destructive notion."
: "uh....well...."
around the room, lawyer jaws flopped open. one guy laughed.
afterward, we were walking in the halls, ed blithely struck up a conversation on local politics with lakeisha and me as you would anyone at a bus stop. the out of town lawyers were convinced honest ed was the actor out of the jury panel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. And to think I just watched Rosewood for the first time Tuesday...


6/30/2005 10:30 AM  

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