With a commanding presence, Warron slid his seat back deliberately, causing a slight squeak as it rubbed on the tile floor. He stood erect and turned to face the jury. Beginning at the lower left of the jury box, Warron ensured that he had the attention of each juror. Scanning the last juror seated in the upper right corner, a young male college student, he felt confident on whom he should focus to provide the desired results.
Obviously, he needed all twelve to be able to acquit his client, and that was the ultimate goal. However, success could also be measured with a single “not guilty” verdict, since a hung jury would reset the entire legal cycle, which favored his client in two ways. First, it gave Warron even more time to build a better case through the learning he had acquired during the first trial. Second, lengthy legal proceedings would stretch the resources of the district attorney’s office, causing the state-appointed counsel to weary of the case.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he began. “You will recall that when you were selected a little over two weeks ago, Judge Etherton shared with you some instructions that you must apply during your tenure as a juror in this court. First, he mentioned that the defendent must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As you look over at Mr. Joonter, I trust that none of you have looked at him as a guilty man during the course of this trial. When you walk into your room to deliberate, you must then decide whether there is ample evidence to convict this man of the serious crimes with which he is charged. Because my client is innocent of any wrong-doing, you hold the fate of his future in your hand.
“Second,” the lawyer started pacing slowly along the jury in order to make direct eye contact with each of its fourteen members, “the judge instructed that you do not need to determine his guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt, but instead, you must determine whether there is ‘reasonable doubt’ in the evidence presented to you by the prosecution. With that said, it is my duty to convince you that there is most certainly reasonable doubt in this case. In talking with my client, in reviewing the details of this case, in hearing the arguments put forward by the district attorney, I can certainly assure you of that fact.
“Take a look at the character of Mr. Joonter. He was born into the most unfortunate of circumstances. His parents, murdered by a carjacker, left him orphaned at the age of two. A kind couple adopted him and gave him a chance to succeed in life. As an adolescent, he admits that he was grateful to his adoptive family, and yet always felt that he didn’t quite fit in, being the only athlete in a family of cultured artists and intellects. We have learned how devastated he was when his athletic ambitions ended prematurely from an unfortunate injury that he incurred while playing freshman football. And even in that time of tremendous depression and soul searching, he was reached out to and befriended by his football coach, who saw great potential in him. Stunned that his coach would take such a personal interest in the life of a youngster who could no longer play for him, Paol grew curious about the life of this good man. Finding out that he was a devout Christian, he sought religion in his life, and has become an admired member in his congregation today.
“I have brought before you many of the acquaintances of this fine man: neighbors, fellow parishioners, co-workers. All have vouched for his character. All have confirmed that the crimes committed are not only inconsistent with his character, they are simply inconceivable. Consider that while this business deal turned out very unprofitable for his high-tech company, we have shown convincingly that there have been other deals which he has championed that have even gone worse. Yet, nobody associated with that deal mentioned that it angered or embittered him to any degree. He simply learned from his experience, and capitalized on his mistakes to improve the quality of business.
“Now let’s review some of the details of the case. The district attorney has reminded us that fingerprints leapt off of the gun, yet surveillance video shows that he wore latex gloves during the incident. Why would my client buy a gun, smear his fingerprints all over it, and then wear gloves during the shooting?
“And what of the discovery of the murder weapon? It was found in a dumpster of the Atlanta Airport, where four different eye-witnesses claimed they saw Mr. Joonter in the airport terminal in the late night hours of the 28th of March. Yet, his itinerary showed that his flight was not until the 30th, because he had yet another day of meetings on the 29th. Why, then, would he go through the trouble of driving to the airport just so he could discard the weapon there, and then show his face in such a crowded public location, only to drive back to his hotel and surrender to local authorities in his hotel room?
“But then we must ask ourselves, what of the audio and video? As for video, we know that it is too easy these days to create very realistic masks of anybody. Halloween shops are able to receive portrait and profile photos of an individual and create a very personalized mask that will fit a specific person used to masquerade as somebody else. Several suspects have been acquitted in other cases where this technology was utilized in order to frame the suspect of a crime he or she did not commit.
“As for the audio, experts have said that—and I quote—‘the quality of the speech waveforms implicated Mr. Joonter, although they did not match his voice perfectly.’ Under oath, they pointed out that the voice was slightly deeper than that of my client, even though the shape of the waveforms were sufficient to give ‘a high degree of confidence’ that the voice recorded at the scene of the crime was that of Mr. Joonter.
“I now ask you jury members, how confident are you? Experts did not say that they knew ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. They said, ‘with a high degree of confidence.’ There are many questions that remain unanswered in this case. Does that not give you ‘reasonable doubt’?
“Finally, let me remind you that one of your peers has already been removed from their service by the court for suspicious interactions, leaving two alternates left here today. We do not know exactly what these interactions entail, but we believe that they were approached by an unscrupulous individual seeking a verdict against Mr. Joonter. It was a very odd development in the case which only left this courtroom filled with more questions, and fewer jurors.”
Warron paused to take a deep breath and looked earnestly over at his client. “This man, Paol Joonter, is a good, hard-working businessman, whose award-winning accomplishments as CTO of LifeTech, Incorporated are widely-known in his industry, and are widely-appreciated in our homes and lives. I implore you to know what I know—that this man is innocent of the crimes for which he is being charged, and to return a verdict of not guilty. Thank you.”
With his case closed, he nodded to the judge as he took his seat. Without fanfare, the judge gave final instructions to the jury, and adjourned them for deliberations. Paol Joonter watched as the jury was led out of the courtroom by the court clerk. As the door closed, he knew that the fate of his future—and that of his family—was left in the hands of this group of people who certainly did not know who the real murderer was any better than he did. He was completely powerless in the matter now. The jury now contained full discretion over his future.