Ecce Mortis: The Accused: The Defense Attorney

Plantman was welcomed to the building by a sharply dressed Official of the CGC.

“Welcome to The City Government Complex,” said The Official. “Important personages wish to avail themselves of your renowned horticultural techniques before you undertake the odious task of attending that miserable little…specimen of Accused.”

“You know secrets of The City?” asked Plantman.

“Secrets? What secrets?” answered the Official.

First task to serve the lowest of all CGC officials: The Defense Attorney. Office clutter of papers, books, ashtrays overflowing. Dying Ivy lined the windowsill. The Defense Attorney drunk on cheap liquor.

“Media. Media. You make matters worse. Worse than you can imagine,” said The Defense Attorney. “You pick ‘alleged facts’ here, ‘alleged facts’ there, sew them into a story. Don’t know meaning of the words ‘patience,’ ‘dignity,’ ‘wisdom.’”

Quite drunk, raving drunk; cheap suit soiled, ill-fitting. Plantman expended much time explaining that he, Plantman, had no association with Big Media. Finally, The City’s most revered horticultural technician’s notoriously phlegmatic temper blew.

“You’re a caricature. Look at you,” said Plantman. “You’re what one might expect from a Big Media movie about a case like this. No wonder Big Media hounds you.”

“You don’t know. My role as Defense Attorney. I must be rumpled and I must come cheap. The City provides people like me for Defendants. Their sly way of telling the poor wretches they are doomed. That I am all that comes between a man’s life and The City’s wrath is indeed disturbing. It drives me to drink. The System is stacked higher than The TKI Obelisk with rickety stories, and I’m one of them. Perhaps I’m noble. Perhaps the PYRAMID itself is upside down.”

“Your defense was obscene,” said Plantman. “You incensed the prosecutors to excessive action. You made them furious. Why?”

“‘Why,’” you ask. “‘Why?’ What to do? The Accused wanted me to prove…The only way. Convince the court of the validity of his actions and they might acquit. We pleaded for leniency. More than leniency. Understanding. Final appeal. No ‘two weeks from now’ two weeks from now for The Accused.”

“Do you care whether The Accused lives or dies?” asked Plantman.

“Irrelevant. This is my career. How many losses can a man survive? That’s their game. Drive Defense Attorneys insane. Weed out the bad ones. We’re all bad ones. They’re looking for the best of the bad, the ones who can outfox them. Once a Defense Attorney wins, which is rare, they make him a Prosecutor. They all, those Prosecutors, had to go through this. You can’t become a Prosecutor unless you’ve won a case as Defense. The odds are stacked heavily against Defense. Few win. Only the cagiest, most deceitful, most obsessed prove themselves ‘material’ for Prosecution duty.

“I could linger in Defense forever. Don’t think a future in corporate law means you step out of The Law School to work one of The City’s corporations. First, unless you were born of wealth, payment for your education, which translates to at least three years service in Defense. Win a case at any time, the world is yours. You don’t win a case within three years, you can auction yourself on the open market.

“They examine your record. See if, though you’re not top, top notch, or even top notch, you might be just regular notch. Good enough to preside over contracts, research lawsuits, do their paperwork. How hard did you work to win for the accused? They scrutinize the nuance and oratory of your cases.  If you did something interesting, say, conducted a defense with subtlety and wit, there’s a chance you can go on to make real money. I’ve been a Defense Attorney for six years. Going on my third tour of duty. I might be here forever. Of course, if you’re a Prosecutor, the world is yours. You can leave at any time to take one of the top corporate cushion spots, or run for Judge, or try for public office. ‘Serve’ the people of The City in a high profile position.”

Plantman doctored the Defense Attorney’s pathetic Ivy.

“A Defense Attorney has no privileged access to The Pyramid 2.0 Database,” the beleaguered man went on. “He can scan the stacks of law books, or tap into the public Pyramid databases, but he never sees the whole picture. His case is relegated to human experience and the ‘facts’ at hand. That is, whatever exculpatory information he can scrape together. But the Prosecutors and their numerous Officials, not to mention the Judges, have full access to Pyramid. They know what you’re doing, every move you make, all the information they care to call up on anyone and everyone involved with your case.

“Tell me what genius can win against such odds? I’m beginning to believe I’ll be a Defense Attorney forever. Though the high profile nature of this case, my rugged, thorough defense of The Accused, might possibly lead to a position in the private sector. Possibly.”

The Defense Attorney stepped briefly from drunkenness. Wild-eyed, impassioned.

“I’m hooked. Obsessed. I cannot leave until I win. Me versus Pyramid and the golden boy Prosecutors and toady Officials with privileged access. To win a case would be a vindication, a triumph few outside The Law could understand. I might even remain a Defense Attorney of my own accord! Show them all. Beat the Pyramid a second time, a third. Exist to be a thorn in their blubbery, collective side. They’ll beg me to leave. Maybe offer me a Judgeship. I’ll refuse. ‘A Defense Attorney I began,’ I’ll say, ‘a Defense Attorney I’ll remain.’ Fuck Pyramid and all who run their grubby privileged algorithms through its data.”

The Defense Attorney was less distasteful than Plantman had previously assumed. Noble, in whatever sense the word can apply to such circumstances. No starry eyed idealist faker pretending love of law and justice. Just a fighter who wanted to fight, armed with the sling of his own will and stubbornness, against the Goliath Law and its awesome armory of data. Man versus The City Law Machine (and the Pyramid Database that kept it on top of all things always).

Nobody can beat The Law, except a cunning few. But if he beat it, The Defense Attorney would spurn rewards. Stay drunk and rumpled, his only reward the ecstasy of triumph.

Proving himself the better man, the stronger man, the human man. Seen this way, his seemingly ludicrous defense based on “natural selection” not only made sense, regarding the peculiar case of The Accused, but described the Defense Attorney’s own battle with The Law itself.

The Staff of /dev/null is the Staff of /dev/null. Read other articles by The Staff.