Overruled
Author:Emma Chase

It’s important not to look like you’re trying too hard. Not to appear shifty or sneaky—the last thing you want is to give off a “used car salesman” vibe. People know when they’re being lied to.

 

But, here’s the most important thing: whenever possible, you want to show them a good time. Give them something to watch. They’re expecting objections and out-of-orders, the pounding of tables and banging of the gavel. They’re hoping for a live reenactment of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. The system may be boring, but you don’t have to be. You can be entertaining. Show them you’ve got a big swinging dick and you’re not afraid to use it.

 

My dick is the swingingest of them all—juries can’t take their eyes off it.

 

Figuratively . . . and literally.

 

“You may proceed with closing arguments, Mr. Shaw.”

 

“Thank you, Your Honor.” I rise to my feet, buttoning the jacket of my tailored gray suit. That color is a big hit these days with the ladies—and ten out of these twelve jurors are female.

 

I meet their collective gaze with a contemplative expression, drawing out the pause, heightening the dramatic tension. Then I begin.

 

“The next time I fucking see you, I will cut your balls off and shove them down your throat.”

 

Pause. Eye contact.

 

“When I find you, you’ll be begging me to kill you.”

 

Pause. Finger point.

 

“Just wait, asshole, I’m coming for you.”

 

I step out from behind the defense table and position myself in front of the jury box. “These are the words of the man the prosecution claims is the”—air quotes—“victim in this case. You’ve seen the text messages. You heard him admit under oath that he sent them to my client.” I click my tongue. “Doesn’t sound like much of a victim to me.”

 

All eyes follow me as I slowly pace, like a professor giving a lecture. “They sound like threats—serious ones. Where I come from, threatenin’ a man’s balls . . . words don’t get more fightin’ than that.”

 

A series of low chuckles rises up from the jurors.

 

I brace my arms on the railing of the jury box, glancing at each occupant just long enough to make them feel included—readying them for the divulgence of a dirty little secret.

 

“Over the course of this trial, you’ve heard things about my client, Pierce Montgomery, that are unflattering. Abhorrent, even. I’m bettin’ you don’t like him very much. To tell you the truth, I don’t like him much myself. He had an affair with a married woman. He posted pictures of her on social media, without her permission. These are not the actions of an honorable man.”

 

It’s always best to get the bad out of the way. Like tossing out a bag of rancid garbage—acknowledging then moving on makes the stench less likely to linger.

 

“If he were being judged on human decency, I can assure you I would not be defending him here today.”

 

I straighten up, holding their rapt attention. “But that is not your task. You are here to judge his actions on the night of March 15. We as a society do not penalize individuals for defending their lives or their bodies from physical harm. And that is precisely what my client was doing on that evening. When he came face-to-face with the man who had threatened him relentlessly, he had every reason to believe those threats would be carried out. To fear for his physical well-being—perhaps for his very life.”

 

I pause, letting that sink in. And I know they’re with me, seeing the night in their heads through the eyes of the rotten sonofabitch who’s lucky enough to have me for a lawyer.

 

“My old football coach used to tell us a smart offense is the best defense. It’s a lesson I carry with me to this very day. So, although Pierce threw the first punch, it was still in defense. Because he was acting against a known threat—a reasonable fear. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this case is really about.

 

Standing in front of the jury box I take a step back—addressing them as a whole. “As you deliberate, I am confident that you will conclude my client acted in self-defense. And you will render a verdict of not guilty.”

 

Before taking my seat at the defense table, I put the finishing touch on my closing argument. “Thank you again for your time and attention, you have been . . . delightful.”

 

That gets a smile from eight of the ten—I’m liking those odds.

 

After I’m seated, my neutral-faced co-counsel discreetly writes on a legal pad, passing it to me.

 

Nailed it!

 

Lawyers communicate with notes during trial because it’s bad form to whisper. And a smile or a scowl could be interpreted by the jury in a way you don’t want. So my only visible reaction is a quick nod of agreement.

 

My internal reaction is a schoolboy snicker. And I write back:

 

Nailing things well is what I do best.

 

Or have you forgotten?

 

Sofia’s the consummate professional. She doesn’t crack a smile. And I’ve never seen her blush. She just writes:

 

Cocky ass.

 

I allow myself the barest of grins.

 

Speaking of asses, mine still has your nail marks on it.