(The scene is a standard courtroom. At the back is a tall judge’s bench, on either side and toward the office there are two tables. The one at the left seating the prosecution and the one on the right seating the defense. Michaels and an assistant DA are sitting at the prosecutor’s table and Gosa and Livingston are seated at the defense side. It’s closing arguments in the trial and Michaels steps up to give his speech.)
Judge: Mr. Michaels you have five minutes to make your closing arguments.
Michaels: (playing to the audience as if it was a jury) Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Far more than one man is on trial today. Our entire legal system that we hold dear hangs in the balance. For far too long a grave injustice has been allowed to take place simply because of the influence of power and money. If this grave injustice is allowed to be carried any longer, then we are saying to the world that our sense of justice, our way of life and all the things we built this nation on mean nothing in the face of a government office. You have seen the evidence, it’s plainly clear that Livingston is guilty. You have also seen how he has covered it up, obscuring the truth (voice crescendo) and even outright lying (calming down) to keep himself from justice. I for one will not let this continue and neither should you. The only way to vote is to vote guilty and if that man (points to Livingston) walks free after this trial, may God help this nation and it’s values for they are both clearly dead. (Sitting down)
Judge: Ms. Gosa, you have the same.
Gosa: (Getting up and beginning her speech) Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. With all of the talk of justice and truth, with all of the talk of fairness and decency, has it occurred to anyone that my client is the victim? Imagine, you come home to find a girl you had nurtured as if she was your daughter dead of a suicide and an understandably distraught young man accusing you of child abuse not realizing nor caring about the truth of the matter because of his rage over the death of his friend. Then, this boy attacks you and in the struggle you kill him. Now you are faced with charges of child abuse AND murder. But the charges are dropped; the nightmare seems to be over. Then, after many years two of your political enemies don’t find, but conjure up new evidence, in an attempt to take your freedom away from you simply because they were not happy with your political decisions. If you can fathom that reality, you can grasp what my client is going through. He doesn’t deserve to be locked up; he deserves an apology. He is no more guilty of these crimes than you or I. To lock him up would be to let him become a victim once more, and this time, to rob him of his life.
Judge: Mr. Michaels, you have two minutes for a rebuttal.
Michaels: (standing up and facing the jury) It’s ironic that Ms. Gosa would call her client the victim. It’s also quite laughable. Take a good look at Senator Livingston, (motioning toward him) he feels pain, he feels joy, he feels love and he feels hate. He feels these things because he’s alive. Two people no longer feel these things because of that man, one by suicide because of his abuse and the other by the bullet from his gun. With all this talk about victims, I just wish that the victims could talk to you. (Sits down)
Judge: Jury you have your instructions, you are to find Senator Livingston either guilty or not guilty on the charges of child abuse and first degree murder. I wish you the best of luck and may your decision be truthful. Court is in recess until they arrive with the verdict (pounds gavel). (Everyone stands up, gets their papers together and starts talking over each other, enter Davis who walks up to Michaels)
Davis: Great job on the case (pat on the back) I was really impressed. It looks to be a lock to me I don’t see a way in hell the Senator can escape this one.
Michaels: (ordering his papers) Don’t be so sure, if he gets let off it won’t be the first bad verdict a jury has given.
Davis: I saw the way they were listening to you compared to Gosa, they were paying far more attention to you. They seemed to find truth in your words.
Michaels: Listen, not to be offensive, but you don’t know anything about being a lawyer or how to tell what a jury is thinking. Leave that to me.
Davis:: (backing off some) Fine, fine, fine…. So what do YOU think?
Michaels: The evidence is overwhelming. I just hope I made it understandable enough for the jury. Your testimony was also a big help. I’m just amazed you didn’t crack under cross-examination.
Davis: (Glancing at Gosa) She was tough man, but your advice on how to get everything in order helped me not only answer her but show her every detail. One might say I put her on the defensive.
Michaels: (Enter Whitehall) One might… (To Whitehall) Mr. Whitehall… how are you? This is a surprise.
Whitehall: Please call me James. You did a wonderful job Michaels. Listen, I know you are under contract for just this one trial but Hughes, my lead assistant, is leaving me. I was wondering if you’d consider taking a full-time job with the DA again. We could really use you and your talents. It’s not just a re-hiring, it’s a great promotion.
Michaels: (Hangs his head in thought for a second and pauses) I’ll think about it, ask me after the trial is done and I’ll see how I feel then ok?
Whitehall: Ok. (Turns to walk away then turns back around to face Michaels again) One more thing, Livingston is toast, you nailed him to the wall. It’s just great to see a good prosecutor in action and I’d like to see more of that (wink). (exits) (there is a long pause where nothing is said) (Gosa comes over to talk to Michaels)
Gosa: You realize that even IF you win this round, I can always appeal.
Michaels: (Doesn’t even look up at her) On what grounds?
Gosa: You can name it, the judge didn’t like us, the jury was biased, this case reeks of grounds for appeal. I’m telling you, you cannot convict this man…
Davis: (interjecting) That’s where you are wrong. Not only will this man (points to Michaels) convict Livingston here today, no judge is going to stick up for a jailed Senator. He’s going to find out how few real friends he has.
Gosa: (turning to Davis) Now that’s where YOU are wrong…
Michaels: (intervening, shouting) How much money are you making from this Gosa!? How many of tens of thousands of dollars have you earned on this case? I hope it was a lot, I hope you’ve made millions because not only have you sold your soul, but the lease ends today. (slams briefcase shut, hangs head) I should know, I sold mine for pennies on the dollar. (Sits down) (Exit Gosa and Davis) (After another pause the judge returns to his bench)
Judge: I have been informed that the jury has reached a verdict in the case of the State vs. Senator Livingston, this court is now in order. (Everyone takes their seat) Foreman, will you please read the verdict to the court. (Enter Foreman)
Foreman: (slowly opens envelope, slides out the card, glances at it, looks up, glances again) We hereby find the defendant, Sen. Livingston GUILTY on the charge of first degree murder and GUILTY on the charge of abuse of a minor. (murmurs of excitement are heard all around, however, Michaels, Livingston and Gosa sit unmoving)
Judge: Order! (pounding gavel) ORDER!!! (murmurs die down)
Foreman: Your honor, the jury also has a statement it would like to read before the court with your permission (judge nods). We the people of this jury are appalled not only at this heinous crime but the flagrant abuse of power used to cover it up. We deeply hope for a swift and harsh punishment to beset this gentleman before us now. We ask for that in the name of the two people who’s lives he stole far too early as much as ourselves. Please let justice work against Livingston as strongly as he has twisted it to work for him.
Judge: All rise! (everyone complies) It is about time for this court to close so I will have to sentence you tomorrow. This court is adjourned until 10 AM tomorrow (pounds gavel) (Senator Livingston sits down and sips his water while Gosa and Michaels are sorting papers, suddenly Livingston starts to choke and eventually falls out of his chair onto the floor. Everyone huddles around him and is wondering what is going on, Davis charges in out of nowhere)
Davis: Get aside. I’m a doctor. I’m a doctor. (Everyone moves back some, he slides in and checks his breathing and his pulse. He gets a pained look on his face) (Softly) He’s dead. (Louder) He’s dead (Almost yelling) I don’t believe it, he’s dead!
Michaels: (anxious) How did he die, can you tell?
Davis: (sniffs above Livingston’s lips) (near shout) Cyanide. (Softly) Cyanide, a classic. That bastard…
Michaels: (shouting) How did he get the pills! Who gave him those pills? Was it in the water, where? Who gave him the…
Davis: (stands up and grabs Michaels) It doesn’t matter right now. (Hangs head) It’s over…
(The scene begins to disperse as Gosa leaves and Livingston’s body is carried off stage by the Foreman and two others. The judge leaves and only Davis and Michaels are left) (Michaels is just hanging his head while Davis is pacing some)
Davis: We should be happy. We won.
Michaels: No, we didn’t. We didn’t win anything. Our lives are STILL ruined, two kids are still dead and Livingston was never punished for it. We won nothing.
Davis: You got the conviction. He was so afraid of being punished he killed himself.
Michaels: That’s not why he killed himself. He had a nice house, a dog, a world-famous gun collection and even a nice car. He didn’t fear being punished as much as he feared being separated from those things, the things he truly loved. Prison would have meant nothing if he could have taken those things with him.
Davis: Maybe… (enter Whitehall)
Whitehall: I know this may not be the best time to ask but, how do you feel about the job offer?
Michaels: (Takes a long pause) I don’t know, I really don’t know. If I go back I sell my soul, if I come to you I wind up in constant defeat. Which is the lesser of the two pains, I don’t know. All that I do know is that I’m going to go to sleep tonight and in the morning maybe things will be clearer.
Whitehall: Well, you know where you can reach me. I would still love to have…
Michaels: (Raises hand to silence Whitehall) I know. We’ll see. (Whitehall exits)
Davis: So this is it I guess, this is how the tale ends, two lonely heroes in defeat.
Michaels: If we’re heroes, then I can see why there are so few. I don’t want it anymore that’s for sure.
Davis: Maybe we’re not heroes. But you can’t deny the fact we were brave and daring in the face of overwhelming odds to fight the forces of evil.
Michaels: You can view it that way if you want. But I’m going to call a spade a spade. (picks up his briefcase) It’s a tragedy and we are the last of its victims still alive. That’s all it is, that’s all it will ever be… (exits)
Davis: (aside to the audience) My father told me that tragedies never die, they just grow bigger over time. I learned in school that some cuts never heal and I learned in high school that sometimes you simply can’t repair what is broken. Maybe that’s the case here my friends, maybe…