This is a part of Mr. Stolyarov’s play, Implied Consent. To navigate through the various parts of the play, go here.
(Enter DANIEL BAILEY, news correspondent, along with JUDGE BENSON, who face each other in front of the courthouse where the trial is to take place.)
BAILEY: This is Daniel Bailey, legal correspondent for Standard News, reporting. Today, three months after first filing their historic lawsuit against the Estate of Grummond, the family and heirs of incapacitated entrepreneur Quintus Grummond have, through the meticulous efforts of their attorney, the former Harvard professor Trent Roberts, been able to finally arrange for the trial to open. Standard News has arranged a pre-trial interview with the judge who will be presiding over it all, Judge Benson, also a graduate of Harvard Law School. Hello, Judge.
JUDGE: It’s good to be here.
BAILEY: It’s often said these days that the philosophy of the judge is more important than people think in determining the outcome of a given case. How true do you think that is?
JUDGE: I think that’s a valid assertion to make, given that the law codes have grown so large and perhaps internally inconsistent that one can find ten laws in support of the plaintiff, and another ten of equal credence in support of the defendant. Just by looking at the law books, it’s quite difficult to make a decision either way.
BAILEY: So, then, what is your philosophy as a judge?
JUDGE: Well, honestly, I try not to have one, even though this might somewhat conflict with what I said previously. It’s important for a judge not to be biased toward either side right away, and let the arguments in court determine the verdict. So I don’t need to have a philosophy to eventually be convinced one way or the other.
BAILEY: So, if one side argues the applicability of a given law or principle persuasively enough, you are willing to accede to their interpretation?
JUDGE: Sure, if that works for them. But once again, there are no preset standards or principles. Everything is contingent on what happens in that courtroom. And it’s not only arguing from laws or ideas that I will take into account, though I’ll take that into account as well. I’m looking for a balanced, holistic portrayal, where presentation and the skills that constitute it, like good emphasis, enthusiasm, oratorical skill, ability to evoke sympathy and compassion, also figure in to the decision. And we never know in advance how the sum of these factors will play out. So, I’ll take whatever works in the given case, I guess.
BAILEY: So you don’t think that some things are automatically more important than others?
JUDGE: That’s…um… not my decision to make. As a judge, I must represent society, for it is the values of the present society that are really supposed to determine the outcome of the case. Everything: laws, arguments, words, even facial gestures, are contingent on societal convention, so I’ll decide the case based on how well each side appeals to that ever-changing, ever-fluctuating norm that is never set in stone.
BAILEY: Well, thank you for those insights, Judge. I’m glad to see someone as open-minded and impartial as yourself presiding over this very controversial case on both sides.
JUDGE: I try my best.
BAILEY: From in front of the courthouse of the trial of the Estate of Grummond, this is Daniel Bailey, Standard News.
To read other parts of Implied Consent, go here.