As I sit and type, I am on a computer in the courthouse, waiting to find out if I’m going to be called as a juror or not. It’s pretty great that they provide computers, otherwise, I’d be bored out of my mind.
Aaron took his seat along side the defendant as the trial was called to order. He straightened his tie and tried to ignore the fact that his client was one hundred percent guilty.
It wasn’t that Aaron had never represented anyone guilty before. He had done it many times, in fact, often winning them their freedom. He had a knack for showmanship, and when that failed, for finding technicalities. If nothing else, there was always a plea of insanity.
The way he figured it, you’d have to be at least a little insane to murder anyone.
But this client was different. Today he was representing an assassin for hire, who had been indited in not one, but seven murders. It was the trial of the year, possibly even the century. The public loved a serial killer, but it wasn’t often that they got to watch the freak show that got paid for what he did.
Most of his former clients had shown some remorse for their actions. Those that didn’t were at least upset that they had been caught. At least, those that didn’t cling to the motion they were innocent, or that that mattered.
But this assassin was cold as steel. There was an almost humor in his eyes as he watched the trial unfold. He seemed to salivate at the gruesome pictures of the crime scene, as if he was reliving a favorite childhood memory. It gave Aaron the creeps.
One night, while prepping for trial, Aaron asked a question he shouldnt’ have. Many of his fellow defense attorneys made it a point not to ask if their client was guilty or innocent, for fear that it would bias their performance. Aaron, on the other hand, felt that knowing the truth only strengthened his skills. If the client was innocent, or claiming to be, he could use one defense. But if the client was undeniably guilty, he’d have to go in a different direction.
So he asked. And the assassin was all too happy to tell him all of the dirty details. Aaron’s stomach had squeezed as he listened, but he let the client talk, hoping that he could find some angle or mistake that would free him. As the client continued, for the first time in his career, he began to wonder if this was a case he could represent.
He shrugged off the idea. It wasn’t in him to quit. The law was a game, and winning was everything. The rest didn’t matter.
He proposed that they would go with an insanity defense, but the client declined. He said that he wanted a trial, the media spectacle, and to take his chances with the court.
That was almost a year ago. The trial dragged on as Aaron worked all the magic he could muster. The assassin was virtually a ghost. They weren’t even sure they had his real name. So character witnesses and alibis weren’t an option.
He tried his final trick, which was making the jury like him, and forget that they hated his client. He seemed to charm a couple of the jurors, but his hold on them wasn’t strong enough. He knew that he was going to lose.
As the prosecutor gave his closing arguments, he began to wonder if it’d be so bad if he lost. Sure, his client would either die in prison or get the death penalty. And Aaron would lose a little face. But he could bounce back. No one could fault him for losing this trial, and the world would be a safer place for it.
Aaron gave his closing speech. It was less impassioned than normal. He feigned sincerity and said all the words that he had planned to say. But without his dazzle, they were meaningless, and he knew it.
The jury came back quickly with a verdict in hand. The assassin was found guilty on all charges.
Aaron breathed a sigh of relief, but felt ashamed that he had let this client get to him.
The guilt ate at him, day after day. The gnawing reality that he hadn’t represented his client to the best of his ability. It tore at him until he couldn’t take it any longer.
He found his client on death row in a maximum security prison. He made arrangements to visit him. He was led into a private room, and the assassin was brought in, wrist and ankles chained together. They tethered him to the table and left the two alone.
The assassin still had a smile in his eyes, and a sense of calm about him.
“I’m here to work with you on the appeal,” Aaron said.
“Don’t want one.”
“They’re going to execute you. You get that, right?”
“Then why don’t you want to appeal? I know that I failed you in court, but give me another chance. I think I can get you freed. Or at least, not killed.”
The assassin leaned back in his chair.
“You really don’t get it, do you?” he asked.
Aaron shook his head, unsure what the assassin was asking.
“The trial, the media circus, it was all a show. They’ve caught me. They’ve sentenced me. Which means that my employer will not be implicated. Which means that my family will be taken care of.”
“You never mentioned a family.”
“Didn’t want them brought into this.”
“If they’re holding them, forcing you in here, we can use that.”
“I told you, no.”
The assassin leaned in close. Aaron wanted to pull back, but sank his head slightly forward, coming eye to eye with the assassin.
“What you don’t get is that I wasn’t just paid to kill. I’ve been paid to die.”