A Place to Stand
Chapter 20 - Montague Student Trial


A Place to Stand
by
Dave Patterson

Copyright Notice

On Green Island



"Well, you know, I don't agree at all with this type of approach, this idea of 'getting students to think for themselves' - they're too young to know what to think, and there are too many bad influences that they might follow. These students are in high school now, and as far as I am concerned, they will do as they are told. They can start to think for themselves when they graduate and start university."
(a Prince Edward Island High School principal, circa 1990, in the infamous 'fundamentalist video case')

==========================


Winny's Whinge - a Green Island School Blog

(Ed: fortunately NOT hosted on the Montague Senior High Server!!!! - or you probably wouldn't be reading this!)

June xx xxxx

Well - this just gets to be too much sometimes. I guess I'll have to write Stephen (he has the most BEAUTIFULLLL EYES!!!! (ARE YOU LISTENING "SOMEONE"?????) or someone who seems to understand things about this or ???? We just had the pressrun of the Rebel STOPPED - can you FREAKING believe it?!?!?! - the school admin said that the trial piece was just too controversial - well excUUuuuse me - weren't we supposed to be over that shit haha excUUUse me around here?!?!?! My sister was in a class of 'Roarin' Mick Rorin a few years ago, and THAT story is STILL suppressed around here if you can beLIEVE it!! HALLELUJAH!!! A delegation of students is going to Charlottetown next week to see someone in AdminCentral - no point in going to the MLA here, as she was one of the Cons elected (and I use that word, as I saw somewhere else and need to practice!, advisedly, for sure) - but this is supposed to be new and modern Green Island, not stuck-in-the-sticks Prince Edward Island (yea yea it had some great stuff, but 19th century gov wasn't one of them!) - anyway, Lois McFar(out-of-it!!haha)lane the MLA is not exactly favorable to the new ways (I'm practicing understatement here, see if you can catch all the literary things - a prize to whoever emails me with em!!), so approaching her would be sort of like telling your Mom you needed a condom for the prom or something. Actually my Mom's not that bad about stuff like that, bad example, but you know what I mean, eh?

Anyway, to you lucky readers of WW on the WWW (or W2xW3), here is the article - they can't censor the NET yet (although a lot of people seem to think they are trying - but that would be a story for another day, and THIS one is going to try your patience, but there's a lot of stuff and we ain't got salaried editors at the Rebel yet as if it wasn't just like obvious rilly alriddy - if you got a hot date in 20 minutes, don't start this one yet!!! (but if you're on your own at home alone a-freaking-GAIN tonight - well, read on!!!!!) LOVE ya!!!! Now I got a hot date comin soon (no pun intended Sally -stopit!! hahahahahahaha!!)

SEX&DRUGS&ROCK'N'ROLL!!!!! (as Grannie Pat always said!!)
WW

(PS - ***PRIVATE!!!*** BOBERT - DON'T DO THIS TO ME!!! YOU CALL ME TONIGHT - I'M GOING CRIZZZY!!!!!)

===============


AGORA - Island Voice - Current Events Articles/Commentary -
dd/mm/yy - Montague Student Newspaper - The Montague Rebel


A Day in Court - Montague Students Tackle a Big Case

{{{!!!- as reported breathlessly but at some length and with various accurate quotes and a watchful eye on opinion masquerading as news by Winnifred MacIssac, senior editor of the Montague Rebel (haha status pending review - talk to your class rep NOW!!)

Sorry!!!!! I shall cease with the levity as of NOW. But I make the excuse that this is, after all, a story after the fact, and we all know what happened in the end. And I will be serious from here on, in respect to Jenny Gravieux, a young lady I did not know well but had met at a sports meet a year or so ago, and found her to be a very nice person. May she rest in peace, and I hope her family and friends found some satisfaction at least in the outcome of this case.

And finally, in the interests of full disclosure as we all learn is kind of important for credibility if there is anything the reader should know about the writer's relation to a story in any way, this story was read by a nice gentleman at the Island Voice newspaper, who made several suggestions about various things, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, impartiality of voice, journalistic things like that, most of which I have used... my thanks to the gentleman, I did not remove some adjectives he suggested, as I do believe they accurately reflect the things that happened, even if they sound a bit prejudiced, they are not. I think, you know I think, it's covered. Most people, for instance, would agree rape is a cruel thing, although 'cruel' can also be described as a POV or judgemental. You can read another account of this trial in the other Island newspaper, from a very different POV - I do not believe I have any obligation to pretend that that other POV is as impartial as this, and caveat everything I write to reflect that other article which treated the whole trial as a joke or something worse, and insulted everything we did in the worst way - they've certainly made no attempt at all to describe things as fairly as I have here, I think. If you don't like it, send me an email. If it's polite, I will respond. If not, I'll probably print the whole thing on my AGORA blog (with your address) and let others see what a jerk you are.}}}



Bang bang bang! - the sound of a gavel thumping on a cutting board (there is such a thing as a special piece of wood designed to have gavels banged on it, but we don't have one here - and for that matter, the 'gavel' was a wooden hammer from a child's 'pound sticks in holes' toy - this is, after all, an honest paper in an honest Island, and the writer would not wish to mislead anyone) on a desk rang throughout the large room, and the cacophony of voices immediately lessened in volume. After a few seconds the 'Bang bang bang!' was heard again, and at the front of the room, standing behind a table on a raised dais that served as 'the bench', a young woman of perhaps 18 years old, slightly on the anorexic side, dressed neatly but casually in a white blouse and black slacks, a dark green beret that matched her eyes holding back her medium-length blond hair, lay down the sort-of gavel and spoke into a microphone that was afixed to the back of the desk podium.

"Ok! Ok! Can we come to some kind of order here please! We have some business to attend to today, some fairly important business like, and the sooner we get started the sooner it gets finished! Will everyone take their seats or get themselves where they're supposed to be, please!"

And, in a surprisingly orderly fashion, only a couple of minutes later the pandemonium had resolved into an orderly room. Most of the people were seated in a large, shallow horseshoe sort of shape leaving an open area at the front and extending to the center of the large, rectangular room, and a number of others were arrayed behind various desks and tables in the open area. The spectator area included a number of tables around which several people sat, and in the middle of each table was a computer screen, somewhat recessed so it did not impede people's views; most screens that day were tuned to the AGORA system, and ongoing discussions took place as events unfolded.

The young woman looked around approvingly, a small smile of satisfaction or perhaps nervousness on her face, and once again raised the microphone.

"Ok. We are gathered here today, as you know, to decide what to do about a rather serious case that has been brought in front of the GreenWays Justice Council. Since I know this is still fairly new to a lot of you, and it is the first time we have undertaken such a serious case here in Montague Senior School, I am going to take just a minute to review the process, just to be sure we are all clear on what is happening and what the process will be."

- referring to some notes -

"OK. First I should introduce Mr. Walter MacDonald. I think most of you know him already - he was elected as one of the Independents in the last election, and is now the King's County Council President. He will be assisting in the proceedings today."

A middle-aged, slightly portly and slightly balding man, dressed in a grey suit but with no tie, longish grey hair and wire-framed spectacles, and with a no-nonsense sort of air, half rose from his seat off to the side at the front of the room as he was introduced, looked briefly around the room with a quick nod and sat again.

"For the record, I would like to note also that Mrs Lois MacFarland, the elected Montague area MLA from the last election, was also invited, but she informed us she had '..other more important ways to spend her time than at some high school mock trial activity'. That's what she wrote in the email, for the record. I also have the email she was sent explaining quite clearly this is not a mock trial but a real trial, with the info again about the website. I have no further comment. Why she was so huffy and patronizing is something you might want to ask her about sometime.

"Now. This first part is mostly from the Green Island Justice Councils website, and I have consulted with the Green Island Legal Affairs Transition Team rep as well - um, okay - Since this is the very first time this is being done here, I was advised to add a few words of introduction for the record, as they say - ummm - ok, wait'll I get my notes here - ok - The idea of the Green Island Justice Councils was begun because the old court system that was in place previously - and is still used in some form in most countries that call themselves democratic and still for some things here on Green Island as well - had, unfortunately, for various reasons, become very corrupt (as it is in most so-called democratic countries), and was being used more as a buffer between the powerful and the people, sort of a last-resort control system for citizens who were unhappy with the government or its laws - even if the citizens had legitimate grievances, which, as we know, they often did and do, the court system could be used to simply shut them up, and bury them in red tape or behind virtually impent - impen - oh! in-pen-a-trable financial or physical barriers. The so-called administration of justice was NOT for those without considerable financial resources - thus again, like so many things in the old ways, it served to uphold the 'rights' of the wealthy, and subdue the rights of the poor. With our new Green Island government of We the People, which actually now includes We the Students as well, a welcome change I must say, there is no need for that sort of repression, indeed we are most anxious to never see it again, but we still do have various problems that could be called 'legal' in nature and must be dealt with. And since We the People including We the Younger People, in council of the whole, _are_ the government, then it falls upon We the People to deal with the problems directly. Such as the one we have before us today."

"Hmmmph cough cough."

The speaker looked to the side, where MacDonald circumspectly gave a little circular wave of his hand.

"Yes. Well, then," continued the girl, returning to her notes, "in our more enlightened times here on Green Island, we have instituted a system of justice wherein the members of the community, after a period of discussion among everyone interested and concerned, decide on whether or not a crime of some sort has been committed and, if so, what punishment ought to be given to the person doing the crime, or how we should respond to the situation. If a crime is found to have occurred, of course. This is very important for us all, as it means that We the People really do run our own society, and are not just a bunch of sheep being looked after by some all-powerful farmer of some sort, who makes and enforces whatever laws he wants to, whether We the Sheep - excuse me, ahem, We the People - approve of the laws or not, which was the way things worked before. Although our media never put it quite that way, nor were students ever told that in the old education system. Which, now that we know the truth of things, makes the old system look not very good. But that is a story for another day.

"But as the first case of this sort to be tried here, we agreed that it would be good to have certain things on the record, just to show where we're all coming from, as it were. MmmHmm.

"So today, as part of this system, we are here to hear about a situation that happened recently, for which a certain party believes that another party ought to be punished, as the first party has suffered a considerable loss - the loss of a family member. More specifically, a student of another Green Island high school was recently in a car accident, in which another student lost her life. After some discussion on AGORA, and formal agreement by all local councils, with certain qualifications, it was agreed that the trial of this situation would be conducted here, by a group of citizens including peers, to decide if the accused person in this case is guilty of what he is charged with, and if so, if he then warrants any punishment for the crime of which he has been accused, as the relatives of the victim demand. The 'venue' as they call this sort of thing in legal terms, has been moved from one district of the Island to another to ensure that we have a group of people conducting and supervising the procedure whom, although they know of the situation, are not directly involved in some personal way with either party, although all of us, of course, are interested in seeing that true justice be served in this situation."

At one of the tables in the central part of the auditorium, where several people sat behind a collection of briefcases and yellow legal pads and water pitchers and glasses and stacked documents and other things that find their way onto the tables in such situations, a slightly beefy man of medium height in a well-cut grey suit rose from his chair, oily hair slicked back, and spoke to the young woman as she paused briefly, looking around the room taking a breath.

"I would like to raise an objection at this point, if I may, as any normal rules of procedure should allow, for the record. As I have previously said, this entire proceeding is most unusual - in fact, it is entirely without the law of Canada as established by the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, the Supreme Law of this country, and I wish to say that we object because you have no legal standing in the eyes of the government of Canada to be undertaking such a proceeding, which could have most serious consequences for my client. I..."

"Mr. Snake!" the older grey-haired man named MacDonald rose from his chair, and, speaking somewhat loudly to be heard, interrupted the speaker, "Please sit down and cease this ongoing, exceedingly annoying attempt to disrupt these proceedings! We have been over this point before, several times, and cleared it fully on the AGORA, a discussion to which you were part - the duly elected government of this province - affirmed by a full vote of the people of this province in a subsequent province wide referendum to approve of this system we are using today - has sanctioned this system of dispute resolution, as you well know. I - "

"We don't really care what this so-called government has done," loudly interrupted the man in the grey suit, " - as you well know, it's very legitimacy is in serious question, as we will see in a few days - but the New Government of Canada is the ultimate authority in criminal matters in this country, which still includes this province, as you yourself well know, and the Government of Canada has assuredly NOT sanctioned this proceeding, this juvenile, ad hoc idea of 'justice' that you are so cavalierly imposing on my client and his family, with potentially very grave consequences, as I noted previously. Thus I and my colleagues are here to stop this mockery of justice in this country, the ...."

"Mr. Snake!" the older man had taken a few steps, and was now standing in front of Snake's desk, leaning over and facing him eyeball to eyeball, and speaking even more loudly, rapping his knuckles on the table to emphasize his words, "I will not tell you again! This is NOT a free-for-all of some kind where the person who shouts the loudest or has the most expensive lawyer or biggest goons or corrupted judge wins! It is a duly constituted court with duly constituted procedures agreed upon by all of the members of this community! You will sit now and be quiet, participating in the proceeding in your turn according to OUR procedures, or I WILL have you removed from this room and charged with obstruction of justice and contempt to the people and whatever else my legal advisors can think of - and we still have the Sleepy Hollow jail open for intractable people, as you seem to be trying to establish you are! Our system is designed to be fair to all, and to let everyone speak, and you will, as you know, be permitted to speak today and have had ample opportunity to address the issues prior to today and the people ultimately making the decision will indeed listen to your words and your arguments yet once again and consider them fairly along with everything else they hear. But fairness does NOT require that someone obviously determined to derail a proceeding through some sort of one-man filibuster be allowed to do so - indeed, fairness to all the other participants and interested persons demands that you NOT be allowed to do so! You will be allowed to speak in due course, and also to appeal this proceeding as again you well know as we have discussed it before you and I - but for now, sit down - or be removed! And I'll hear no more of fairness - as you well know, this proceeding is being broadcast live over the AGORA, and also fully recorded, we have observers from several highly respected international agencies with their own recording devices as well, and unedited tapes will be made available to anyone who wishes, as records of all matters involving this government are so available. Now SIT and desist with this attempted disruption of the procedure - or be removed and face the consequences I mentioned. NOW!"

The man called Snake glared at the older man for a few seconds, and then at the several GRIPPs standing around the room watching with narrowed eyes, obviously ready and able to do as MacDonald promised, then slowly took his seat, shaking his head with a frown that was evidently meant to be threatening, and immediately leaning to one side to confer with one of the others at the table.

The older man continued looking at Snake for a few seconds. "I am serious, Sir - there will be no further warnings or discussions. One more interruption like that and you will be removed. We are very, very serious about the fair administration of justice in this province, People's Justice, and part of the reason we have to do what we do is that people like you have tainted the entire concept of justice in the modern world, where the administration of justice, one of the keys to a civilized society, has had its reputation so terribly stained by corrupt practices such as you represent that it is a desperately difficult uphill struggle to return credibility to such proceedings in the eyes of the people. But we will persevere, and justice will return to We the People as an absolutely essential part of a modern democratic society, and belong to We the People from whom it should never have been taken in the first place. The normal clients of modern 'lawyers' such as yourself - I do not in any way wish to besmirch the reputation of the young man whose family has rather ill-advisedly sought your services today - will no longer have carte blanche to do as you wish with a complete disregard for the true principles of law and fairness to all, based on their wealth and the corrupted judicial system you had put into place on this island and in this country. Including today, Sir! And again I remind you, do not forget that everything that happens here is being recorded and broadcast widely where it can be recorded by anyone who so wishes for a true and accurate record - " - he gestured briefly to several cameras scattered throughout the room, large and small, most noticeably the Green-Com closed circuit television monitor - " - so you will not be able to claim some nonsense later about how you were mistreated. The fairness of this situation - and all situations - is available for everyone here or anywhere to observe and assess. We have, as you well know, here today as well, observers from the NU, the UN and the EU, among others, who will, I am certain, be diligent in reporting any possible miscarriage of justice here - but more importantly than any officials, the people of the world, those we consider our true peers, will judge for themselves whether the new procedures of Green Island are better than those they have been living under for centuries, or not. Your objection has, once again, been noted on the record - and now we will carry on."

As he had spoken, he had turned briefly to a desk sitting against one wall, behind which two women and a man sat. The desk was arrayed with books and pads, and the lady in the middle gave a small nod as the man had looked towards her. Perhaps a small smile as well, but nothing untoward - more a smile of approval of the way he was handling the situation of an unruly lawyer.

"And why no observers from the United States of America, the very cornerstone of Democracy and Freedom in the world for the last 250 years?" asked the man called Snake, spoke somewhat resentfully from a half-seated position, evidently reluctant to be stopped so easily, but also quite aware of the GRIPPs around the room, and the evident willingness of MacDonald to carry out his threat to have him removed.

"Ha!! The question hardly deserves an answer, Sir," spoke MacDonald derisively, "Perhaps in the days of Jefferson or other ethical jurists the country has from time to time seen, your America could make some small claim to having good ideas about democracy or justice, although the practice was badly flawed even then - but now, and for the last 150 years at least since corporations took over that country with their amoral drive for wealth above all else, in the days of PNAC and the IMF and phony terrorist threats and Homeland Security fascistic laws against its own citizens, that country is the newage leader in lies and fascism and imperialism and oppression of its own citizens through kangaroo courts, not democracy or justice. Their very name is anymore despised by a modern citizen of this planet who loves freedom and democracy, and is so despised all around the globe, and we will speak no more of it today. Be silent, or be removed."

He directed a final glare towards Snake, then looked back to where the young woman was still standing behind her bench, giving a brief smile.

"Sorry about that, Ms Larch," he said, "This was not really supposed to be part of your experience today, although it was a useful enough interruption, as it is the way in which the rather less civilized world of corporate government 'law' outside of Green Island works when dealing with non-corporate or non-wealthy common citizens, which any today participating here may encounter at some time when away from home and must be aware of. But we normally introduce you to such things at a later stage, after you have understood through experience how a true justice system should function, and are thus equipped to deal with their chicanery and lies and abuse with the firmness they require. We were hoping for slightly less treacherous waters, but we do not always get what we hope for - any path to freedom and democracy will always be somewhat vulnerable to this kind of thing - it is a sign of our strength or lack thereof how we are able to deal with such things. Please proceed."

Ms Larch returned the smile with a nod of thanks and a thoughtful look at Snake, lesson received, then turned back to the matter at hand.

"Yes. Well, ok. As I was saying, this is quite a serious case. A young woman has died, and we all must decide what, if anything, should be done about the young man who was the agent of her death.

"I will be acting today as the facilitator of the proceedings..."

A snort of derision was heard from the Snake table - a glare from the older man was sufficient to ensure nothing followed it.

" - the proceedings, as We the People of Green Island, as embodied at this time in the Justice Council Hall created for this proceeding here at Montague Senior School, and to begin, to be sure we are all speaking of essentially the same matter, all information of which has been available on the Green Island Justice website for the last several weeks as required by law, of course, we will have Mr Samuelson briefly presenting the facts of the case, Mr Snake for the person accused of needlessly and carelessly taking this life, thus causing not only the loss of this life but considerable grief in the family and community, and then Ms Emorie speaking for the family of the deceased.

"So, to summarize, we are here today to determine if something more than an accident for which no one can justifiably be held accountable has occurred, or if there was some carelessness on the part of the accused here today, in which case some type of sanction will be considered, as punishment or deterrent or both. Mr. Samuelson? Can you begin? Are you ready?"

"Yes, I believe so," answered the young man, half-rising from his chair, then sitting again.

"Ok, let's get on with it then."

"Well," began Samuelsen, arranging himself and the pad to which he referred occasionally for guidance placed on the small desktop lectern he had moved to stand behind, on one side of the open area so he could address both Ms Larch and the observers, "the facts are clear enough, and generally agreed on, with only a couple of points of contention, I believe. What is clear and not disputed is that on a certain night two weeks ago, Mr. Johnny Curtain, of Mill River Pond, was driving a motor vehicle along a street in that community at about 10:30 pm, and struck a person who was crossing the street. The person died later that evening, after being taken to the hospital, from her injuries. There are no questions about this basic situation. Nor is there any dispute about the facts that there was a light rain that evening, or that one street light on the corner was burned out, so there was somewhat reduced light from what might normally be present at night.

"However, after that we come to differing accounts of some details. Mr. Curtain maintains that he was driving at a careful and reasonable speed in the circumstances, with due care and control of his vehicle, and that the young lady stepped out in front of his car with no warning and he had no chance to stop or slow down before striking her. But the two young ladies who were with the deceased that evening contend that Mr. Curtain was driving at a rate of speed too high for the conditions, and furthermore did not stop at a stop sign; they say they were legally crossing the street at a pedestrian walkway, and the deceased had no chance to avoid being hit when Mr. Curtain's car sped around a corner and struck her. We are thus here today to try to decide if this was indeed an unavoidable accident or, if not, what degree of responsibility ought to rest with Mr. Curtain - or, for that matter, with the young lady, if it should be found that she was not duly careful in her actions."

Mr. Samuelson paused, looking up at Ms Larch from the notes he was referring to in his hand, then around the room, frowning slightly. "Well, I guess that's about it, I think..." - and with another quick look around, he took a step to the side and sat back down in his seat.

"Thanks Jo-- - er - thank you, Mr. Samuelson," said Ms Larch, "that seems to clearly summarize the case from the position of We the People, the position, that is, that is neither prosecutorial or defensive, but is simply a statement of the situation that we are required to resolve today, or as soon as possible. Now I understand that the families of the two young people, the accused and the victim, would also like to be heard at this council. I'll begin with you, Mr. Snake, I understand that you have been retained as a spokesperson for the family of Mr. Curtain, and you have something you wish to say at this time?"

From the desk where he sat, the man named Snake looked up in some surprise at hearing his name called, from where he had been writing something on a yellow pad in front of him, then got to his feet.

"Well," he began, resuming with no apparent effort his former air of condescension, with only the smallest glance at the grey-haired mad sitting by the wall, "I had rather expected that someone would be presenting a case for the prosecution first, as my client is defending himself against certain charges, but I will say that it is certainly the intention of my clients to participate in this proceeding, but I am a little uncertain as to exactly what you are doing or what you expect of me at this time, legally speaking, as you are not following any Rules of Court which I am familiar with. As I have noted, this is assuredly not a normal court proceeding as we are used to in any province of Canada, under which federal jurisdiction any actual legal proceeding conducted in this province must ultimately answer to, and thus my preparation seems to be of little use, at least as yet, we shall see as the day goes on. I am, it is our official legal position insofar as the real courts of Canada are concerned, I might tell you, primarily here as a personal witness to these proceedings which, I have little doubt, will be found to be entirely, and, with prejudice, ex-judicio, and the lot of you will some day soon be facing a real judge and court yourselves on some rather serious obstruction of justice and impersonation of legal officials charges, among others no doubt. And I wish it well understood here as well that my participation, and that of my clients, who were coerced by thugs not recognized by the Government of Canada as a legitimate police force, is, again for the record, strictly non-prejudicial, let the record clearly show."

The man by the wall was watching closely, as Snake looked his way, but letting him speak.

"But having said that now by way of introduction, let me then say, for the record again as it were, that it is indeed our contention that young John, young Mr. Curtain, was driving safely and within the limits of the law, and although it is certainly regrettable that the young lady stepped out in front of the young man's vehicle and was struck and subsequently died of her injuries and perhaps other unknown at this time causes, he was at all times in full care and control of his vehicle, the accident was completely unavoidable, and he was in no way responsible, and we would strongly suggest that the grief he will be feeling for the rest of his life at taking the life of this young woman, a citizen of his own community whom he knew and cared for, will be more than sufficient punishment - indeed, no formal punishment from the law or society is called for, as he was in breach of no law, regrettable, as I have said, as the incident was. We are quite prepared to call several witnesses to discuss these things, and young John himself is prepared to take the stand and describe under oath what happened that tragic night as well. That is all I would have to say for now, but I do of course reserve the right to speak later, if and when necessary to protect the rights of my client."

And he resumed his seat.

"Thank you, Mr. Snake, for being brief," said Ms Larch, arising from where she had been seated while Snake spoke, "and may I assure you that there is no need to 'reserve' any right to speak later - it is the purpose of these proceedings that anyone and everyone is allowed to speak as much as they wish, in turn of course, and at least as long as they do not try to dominate everything or silence others by doing so and they don't get completely irrelevant somehow, as judged by the people present. And I have noted as I prepared for this case at least a few of your submissions on the GWJ website on this case, so I expect most people are aware of them as well - if anyone feels it necessary, including yourself of course, we can hear from your witnesses or anyone else in person here today. Now - Ms Emorie, you wished to speak in person for the young lady's family in this situation?"


From a table on the other side of the room a young lady, short dark hair, in a dark blue vest and skirt with a white blouse, rose from where she was sitting with an older couple and three other young women - apparently the deceased's family and perhaps a friend or two. The older woman was holding a handkerchief to her face, and had apparently been crying; the young women had their hands clasped together.

"Thank you, Sandy - er Ms Larch," she said, "Yes, the Gravieux family is very distressed, understandably so, and does not wish the death of their oldest daughter, which they feel to be criminal in nature insofar as reckless driving was involved, and then an attempted coverup through failing to admit to the real situation, to go unpunished. They believe that the young man was driving carelessly - "

- on the other side of the room the lawyer known as Snake - apparently reflexively, noisily pushed back his seat and jumped to his feet, "OBJECTION!! - I - " he said, apparently about to begin a longer tirade, but he was interrupted by the man named MacDonald rising to his feet with a seriously black warning look on his face, and two nearby GRIPPs also coming to attention and taking a step towards him who were evidently about a heartbeat away from taking him under physical control and doing something, probably removing him from the room and some of those other things he had been warned about, and stopped in mid-tirade, or mid-word really, as his projected tirade hardly got under way, regarding MacDonald. After a few seconds of eye contact, Snake gave in, and, mouth downturned and eyes narrowed and perhaps just a bead or two of perspiration appearing on his face, a few hairs on his shining head just a touch out of place, resumed his seat with a small thud, immediately scribbling a few lines on his pad before returning his gaze to where Ms Emorie had stopped talking during the brief interruption.

"Yes, well, as I was saying..." continued Ms Emorie, not much put out by the interruption, getting used to life in a courtroom perhaps, "The Gravieux's believe that the young man was driving carelessly that evening and their daughter would be alive today had he been driving with due care and control of his vehicle - " she paused briefly to see if there would be any further interruption, looking directly at Snake, who remained sitting quietly, not, however, a happy visage, " - and feel that it would not be right for the young man to go unpunished, as their lives will undoubtedly have a large empty space for as long as they live, a large empty space that would not be there had he been driving carefully. The family feels that at the very least a lengthy period of incarceration is appropriate - their daughter will no longer be walking and running in the streets and fields of this beautiful Island, which she so loved to do, or dancing and singing and loving and having children and everything, and the Gravieux's feel it will be unbearable if they are forced to come into contact with this young man, free to live and enjoy the life their daughter is no longer free to have. The Gravieux's feel that if there are no consequences to the young man for his carelessness, then there will be no reason for other young people not to drive and kill at will, and this would not be a good way to live on our Island, constantly in fear of death from some unheeding driver."

Ms Emorie paused for a moment, then turned and had a quick hurried conversation with the people around her.

"That is all for now, thank you," she finished, "We will perhaps have more to add later, after the court, or the justice council, has done what it will do to determine the facts which are in contention," and sat back down again.

Ms Larch, this time from a sitting position, waited for a few seconds, noting something on a pad before her, then spoke again.

"Good. Thank you all for your brief summaries of the differing versions of what happened which is what we must first try to resolve - the question of the facts - was John Curtain driving carelessly that night, or not? And later we may or may not be required to deal with the further question - if he was - if, that is, the death of Ms Gravieux was indeed something more than an accident, something that should not have happened, something that was caused by the careless behaviour of a resident of Green Island - what punishment if any do the people of the community wish to apply?

"But first we must do what we can to establish facts, and we will hear in person today from those witnesses who were present at the scene, both the people who were directly involved, and also the GRIPP officers who arrived at the scene of the situation shortly after it occurred.

"Before I call our witnesses, again for the record as this is our first such hearing in this venue, and one of the first on Green Island using the new system, I must say to all the witnesses that as a secular society on Green Island, we do not have our witnesses swear to tell the truth on a bible of some sort. And as a society which believes in truth and honesty, which indeed is founded on these highest values, we do not presume to insult those who testify before us by demanding they swear in some way to tell the truth - nothing less than the full and honest truth is expected from everyone here at all times. As we have seen repeatedly in courts in other jurisdictions, such oaths have little meaning anyway, as the many contradictory stories constantly heard in trials in other places clearly indicate that someone has been lying after taking an oath, which they clearly regard as meaningless. In our Council here, if we find there is contradictory evidence from our witnesses, and are thus unable to resolve our situation on the original evidence alone, we will then carry on to the approved method of questioning of the witnesses a second time to attempt to resolve such conflicts. The witnesses will be aware that anyone who chooses freely to lie in front of this court and is later exposed as a liar will not only be punished for so doing, but will receive a much worse punishment in the form of lost credibility in the eyes of his or her neighbors.

"Very well. Let us proceed. First, we will hear the evidence of the young ladies who were walking with Ms Gervieux that evening..."

Again there was a scraping of the chair behind Snake's desk, but no loud shouting or anything. He simply stood and looked from Ms Larch to Mr MacDonald, and once he saw he had their attention, not to mention everyone else's, he spoke.

"May I apologize for interrupting the court, but I must object to your choice of hearing the evidence of these young ladies first. I think we all understand in any conflictory situation that the first established point of view often achieves a certain legitimacy in the mind of a listener, whether such credibility is deserved or not, and those who might contradict a first, already so-established story inevitably face an uphill path when they contradict it. In the absence of any recognized Rules of Court here, might I ask why or how this particular order has been chosen, and why young Mr. Curtain should not give his evidence first?"

And down sat Mr. Snake.

The man named MacDonald remained seated, looking to Ms Larch, who was evidently taken a bit by surprise. But she had not been chosen for her role as facilitator based on her looks alone, and after only a few seconds of thought, quickly responded.

"Mr. Snake. You bring up a good point, it seems to me. It might have been helpful had you raised it somewhat earlier during our discussions, but perhaps it only just now occurred to you. We must allow the benefit of the doubt. My initial feeling is that although in certain venues your concerns may be valid, this is a court of law, and a court of truth, and given our new procedures for ensuring we arrive at the truth in the case of contradictory evidence, the order of witnesses is not really important. And given that it is not really important, for myself, in consideration of Mr Snake's request, I am prepared to allow Mr. Curtain to speak first, if he so wishes. Are there any objections at this time?"

- and she looked pointedly at the table where Ms Emorie sat having a hurried consultation with the several people seated at the table and also in a couple of chairs in the front row of the audience close behind their table. After a moment, the discussion ceased and she turned to the front again and rose from her seat.

"Ms Larch, ideally we would like some time to think this over and talk about it more, perhaps with some more learned in legal things than we are, but also everyone is quite desirous to have these proceedings concluded today if possible - there has been a considerable wait already, with considerable discussion of everything, we believe that everyone is ready today and also wishes a conclusion so we all as a community can move on, and the healing process will not truly begin until there is some closure here. And we also feel as you do, that there is no obvious prejudice to the evidence no matter who speaks first - we are confident that with the new procedures in place, the truth will come out today, and there is no reason to try to play legal games when that is exactly what we are trying to get away from. And with everything being recorded as it is, and the commitment to truth and justice here, should there be any problems, we feel that they can be addressed at a later time. So we have no objections to Mr. Curtain speaking first, if he so wishes."

"Thank you Ms Emorie," said Ms Larch, "Well then, Mr Snake, shall we proceed?"

Snake was still in his chair for a few seconds before slowly rising and speaking.

"That's it? A two-minute conversation and you are willing to change the procedures? This is most unusual, Ms Larch. In a real court - "

- the words were no more than out of his mouth when MacDonald immediately pushed himself from his chair, stomping a foot as he did so.

"Mr. Snake!" he said, in a somewhat loud voice, "you have been warned before about your insults to the proceedings! To the great majority of the citizens of this Island, and many others as well, this court is a great deal more 'real' than the very questionable activities of your courts in upper Canada! Speaking here is a right, Mr Snake, but it is also a privilege, and I expect you or some of your assistants have at least made yourself familiar with the agreed upon rules we have established for dealing with people whose obvious objective is not assisting the proceedings, but simply trying to interfere with the process. You will conduct yourself in a way consistent with the responsibilities you have, Mr. Snake, as a temporary officer of this court, or you will be removed - in the full view of every recording, so the appropriateness of lack thereof of your actions or words can be judged by anyone who so chooses to judge. We have given you a great deal of leeway today, Mr Snake, with your disrespect and obstruction, but I tell you, you have had your last warning, Sir!"

And MacDonald sat. And Snake looked at him for a minute, then back to Ms Larch. It is impossible to know what was going through his mind.

"I apologize to the people present, Ms Larch, if my words offended. I was simply going to note that changing the order of witnesses seems like a fairly major change in procedure, and in - ah - other courts in which I have appeared, such a change would require motions and filings and discussions and decisions over a period of time, not this - ah - rapid decision which you appear to have formulated very much ad lib, as it were. I would thus like, at this time, to enter a motion to that effect - that these proceedings be suspended for at least a week in order that we may all carefully consider the full ramifications of the procedural change you are implementing in this situation. I assure you, all I wish is to ensure that justice be done, and be seen to be done, so there are no problems later on resulting from hasty decisions at this time."

Ms Larch considered her words for a few seconds, before rising once again from her seat, as Snake resumed his.

"Mr Snake," replied Ms Larch, eyes just perhaps a little bit blazing, a touch of something hard in her voice, "This is quite outrageous, and if I may say so, the very sort of thing that has brought the administration of justice in Canada and other western countries into such disrepute in the eyes of the public! First you object to the procedure we had agreed on for resolution of this matter, and then when we quite graciously accede to your desire, you protest that such a change of procedure is irregular and thus we should suspend the proceedings! Well, all I can say is that I am glad the eyes of the world caught this moment on the broadcast cameras, this taste of why the legal system you represent is so very dysfunctional, and disrespected. And your objection, insofar as we recognize such things here at all, is overruled. I am afraid you will simply have to forgo another week's worth of $500 per hour billings for your poor clients."

She then turned to the young man sitting beside Snake, who was turning a bit red in the face after Ms Larch's last comment, but apparently decided not to object. Perhaps he did not wish any further discussion in front of the television cameras of the world about his billing habits.

"Mr John Curtain, your advisor has requested the court to place your name first on the witness list, and we have so done. Please come to the front table here where your story will be heard by all."

Many eyes turned to Snake. Snake had his hands on the desk and his chair pushed back, and then his eyes quickly turned to the nearby GRIPPs. The GRIPPs were obviously ready for action, both with hands at sides but reaching forward a bit, and one foot also placed in a forward position, ready for action as well.

Snake froze for a long couple of seconds, then gave a small smile and relaxed back into his chair, then quickly taking a look sideways at the tripod several meters up in the corner of the room with the green light flashing on the camera it held, indicating the transmission was running, and his mouth turned down a bit. This surely was not how things were done in the Canadian courts he was used to working in.

**********************************

"And really, that's what happened!" the young man named John Curtain was saying, from the chair to the side of Ms Larch's bench. His attitude was a bit belligerent, his eyes a bit hooded and worried-looking, but still reasonably soft-spoken. "I stopped at the stop sign, and then proceeded around the corner - I had just given the car a little shot of gas to get moving, and then this figure - Ms. Gravieux, as I now know - stepped right out in front of me from the dark space under the tree where there was no street light, and I had no opportunity to even get my foot on the brake before I hit her. I'm really sorry about it, but there was really nothing at all I could do."

There was a few seconds of silence.

"Well," said Ms Larch, "that seems clear enough. Does anyone have any further questions for this witness? No? Fine then - you may leave the witness stand, Mr. Curtain. And now we will hear from Ms Ivy Weber - Ms Weber?"


"So," Ms Larch finally spoke, perhaps an hour later, writing briefly on a pad in front of her and reflecting a bit, after the last witness had left the stand, the GRIPP who had been the first on the accident scene had finished speaking, "it seems we have what we had feared from the AGORA discussions, then - a direct contradiction of stories. Mr Curtain maintains that he was driving safely and there was no chance to avoid hitting Ms Gravieux who stepped out in front of his car, while the friends of Ms Gravieux who were with her that evening have both stated that they and Ms Gravieux all had just begun to cross the street, after ascertaining that there was no immediate traffic, when the car driven by Mr. Curtain sped around the corner without stopping at all at a rate of speed such that he was on top of them almost immediately, and there was no chance for them to jump back to safety, and Ms Gravieux, a step ahead of the witnesses, was struck and received several severe injuries, of which she died quite quickly according to the autopsy from the blow she received when her head hit the street violently, with no chance to jump out of the way.

"So. Does anyone here have any further comment concerning this matter, before we proceed to the Truth Procedure, as has been discussed at length on the GWJ site and approved by a substantial majority of Green Island citizens during the referendum last month - over 80%, I believe?"

The man called Snake rose from where he was sitting, looking only momentarily towards MacDonald and the GRIPPs.

"Yes, we certainly do have a comment," he said, "what you are proposing has never been sanctioned in Canadian law, nor anywhere internationally outside of some secret cells in the dungeons of brutal dictatorship governments. It smacks of police states and torture, to subject an unwilling victim to dangerous drugs that are known to have serious potential side-effects, including life-threatening. It is unheard of that a witness's statement, which we offered to give under oath although this - ah - court - declined to take such oath, should be subjected to such treatment - we have, in the real world, lawyers and judges and juries to decide who is telling the truth in cases like this, based on a preponderance of evidence and expert testimony and credibility and other legal factors developed in western law over centuries, good and useful traditions you have evidently decided to cast carelessly aside. We are most vehemently opposed to the course you are proposing, the young man is not at all willing to subject himself to this procedure, and I can assure you of the most serious consequences if you proceed!"

MacDonald stood at this last, as Snake refused to sit and glared at him. The GRIPPs looked to MacDonald, who gave a shake of his head, instead, after a moment of though, speaking once again.

"Mr. Snake," said MacDonald, a frown on his face, "you are free to speak here, within reason as noted, for your client if he so wishes such representation, as is anyone, and we are making every effort to accommodate you in what I understand is a strange situation for you, but please do not threaten the assembly. This is NOT some 'ramshackle gathering of utopians with no authorized power' as I believe one of your website documents accuses, it is a duly constituted court of the Province of Green Island, approved of by a very substantial majority of the citizens of this community, unlike most of what you get up to elsewhere - and there can be no higher power in a free community than the will of its citizens. The procedures we have developed here are far more democratic, and honest, and expedient, than the ones you follow, from Canada, that used to make such a mockery of justice in this province and still do in the rest of Canada, regularly. Indeed, this assembly, I would submit, is by far the more democratic one, and thus legitimate one - it is your Canadian courts that function like a police state, with your restrictive laws and exclusionary rules and system so favorable to those with wealth and scornful of those who are not so blessed, with so many of its dealings conducted behind closed doors or even in official secrecy. We also do not have formal contempt rules, as we allow everyone to express their free opinions here, which is fortunate for you, I would think, at this time.

"And as for 'unwilling' - a young woman is dead in our province, I suspect quite unwillingly so, her life so full of promise tragically shortened by a man in a motor vehicle, which has also laid great burdens on many lives around her. The death is tragic, and not only the family of the young woman but the community itself demands justice. We all understand that any criminal who ever lived would love to be able to deny the community any jurisdiction over his or her actions on any grounds whatsoever - but there do come times in a community where those who comprise that community must establish their right to act together to punish those who act against the wellbeing of that community, whether such actions are committed intentionally or accidentally. If intentionally, we take it upon ourselves to punish the wrongdoer, not so much for revenge which is a negative sort of thing although restitution must be considered as applicable although such is not the case where there has been death, but, more importantly, we must act as appropriate to provide serious deterrance for others considering such actions, or careless of their duty to the welfare and safety of their fellow community members. And again for deterrance we must examine and punish the instigator, where appropriate, for those 'accidents' which are the result of willful carelessness for the lives or wellbeing or rights of others. We also acknowledge our great responsibility to persons accused of wrongdoing, that they are not punished unjustly in any way. And for all of those reasons, we have decided as a community, after lengthy and soul-searching discussion, that the lies and manipulations of the legal profession and so-called justice system as observed in Canada the last many years are not trustworthy or honorable, nor do they provide any form of real justice for the great majority of people dragged before those courts, and we must find something that offers a better hope for finding truth and thus offering appropriate justice to our community, as well as discouraging seriously disruptive or destructive unwanted behaviour in the future, and so have, after full public discussion, turned to this alternative method of truth finding. There can be no justice without truth, this is an unarguable precept - and in this way we are confident of our ability to arrive at the truth - despite the desire of some to hide it, a desire so well facilitated in the 'courts' of modern countries through the methods you defend and promote, but not to be tolerated in the community of Green Island.

"Now once again I admonish you, Mr. Snake - sit or be removed from this assembly! You have been allowed to have your say, and the people have answered!"

"Ms Larch - continue, please..."

Snake once again looked around him, noting with a frown the GRIPPs within a couple of steps, and again the various television cameras recording his every word and action, which were, he must have recognized, becoming ever less defensible as the afternoon progressed and there would be no denial or spinning of words later, or editing or locking of court records or publication bans or reinterpretations of arguments, things possible and even normal where he usually worked, with all these cameras rolling, and slowly lowered himself into his seat.


"Yes, well then," said Ms Larch, waiting a few moments to see if there would be any further interruptions, or if anyone else wished to speak, "Well - if we have come to this very unfortunate impasse, as it appears we have, and neither side is changing their story, and the demand for a decision, the necessity for expedient but just closure of this matter with the community, remains - it appears we have no recourse at this time but to proceed with the Truth Procedure, as requested by the family of Ms Gravieux. Might I first ask the attending physicians to come to the front, please..."

There was a shuffling at the back of the room, and a man and a woman, both around mid-30s, both very neat and smart looking as if they had stepped out of a medical grad school recruitment poster, could be seen rising from where they had been sitting at a table towards the back of the room. As they made their way to the front, it could be seen that they were carrying the sort of bags that doctors often carry. A stethoscope could be seen sticking out of the side pocket of the white jacket of the woman. And as the two made their way to the front, into the space in front of the dais, a somewhat special chair was wheeled to the front of the room from where it had been sitting unobtrusively at the side until now - sort of a cross between a small dentist's chair and a fancy office chair, reclinable to a semi-prone position, with padded arms and a head rest. Like a dentist's chair rather than a hospital bed, however, with no restraining straps.

Behind the doctors came three other official-looking people who had also risen from their seats, two women and a man, all older and conservatively dressed.

"First, for the benefit of everyone here and observing, and for the record, I will tell you that here we have Dr. Irene Dashki, a senior professor in the medical biochemistry department of Athenia, and Dr. Frank Wellsgood of the neuro-pharmacological staff of the Charlottetown Green Island Hospital. Both are very distinguished in their fields, and their CVs and other information are available on the GIJ board for this proceeding, and I'm sure a lot of people here have read about them. Both are internationally recognized experts in the field of medical pharmacology, and have published widely in top-tier international journals concerning both the ethics and medical effects of the procedures we will use today. And then, given the newness of this procedure, and our desire to be scrupulously fair to everyone involved, we have also invited some special observers. May I introduce Dr. Lars Islehy from Denmark, representing the NU government, Dr. Sandra Livingstone of the United States, but representing the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the WHO, and also Dr. Nguhundon Plasser of the Pan African-South and Central American Group - all of these people are also highly respected individuals in their fields and as human rights advocates, and all have been involved in the GIJ discussion as well. And their attendance here has been widely discussed and accepted by the People of Green Island as Fair Witnesses and Participants in this case before us today."

The five named people bowed briefly to the observers as they were introduced. The three special witnesses took positions behind the new chair, where they would not obstruct the view of the spectators or any of the cameras, while the two medical specialists set their bags on the front table and opened them. From each bag a smaller protective container was taken, which was unsealed and a rack of 10 vials was set on the table, followed by another container which opened to reveal the paraphernalia of giving an injection, needles and alcoholic swabs.

"Doctors, first I must ask - do you have experience and knowledge of the drugs you are about to administer? And, again for the record, what can you tell us of what these drugs will do, and any potential side effects?"

The two doctors looked at one another, with Dr Irene, evidently the younger of the two, nodding deferentially to Dr Wellsgood, who spoke.

"Well - all of these vials contain the latest version of a drug called Sodiathol V. It was produced in my laboratory yesterday, and it has not been unattended since then. It is about as safe as it is possible to make such a drug, with no reported side effects in trials stretching back over two years now outside of the occasional incidence of nausea. The drug has been tested on over a thousand people now - informed and willing volunteers from the criminal justice system in several countries - and has been shown to be safe and reliable - as with other things you have mentioned, there is a lengthy bibliography on the GIJ site for this proceeding. We ourselves have undergone an ST-V session - here in Green Island, as you know, the procedure for cases that must be resolved as we are doing today states that only medical personnel who have tested this drug personally, and are thus certain of its lack of harmful long term effects, shall be allowed to administer such to a witness. Safety above all, first do no harm, is the motto we all follow in the medical profession on Green Island, as you know. As to its use, well, after receiving a small dose of this drug, the subjects basically go into a semi-trance-like state for a period determined by the dose of the drug, during which certain areas of the forebrain enter a sort of somnambulent, hypnotized-like state during which all subjects so far have been essentially incapable of lying, according to all tests we have been able to devise - as I said, we are not yet 100% sure, but the reliability appears to be 99.99+%, and we have essentially complete confidence in the procedure - much more so than the previous mechanical lie-detectors, for instance, with a real reliability of under 50%. After the drug wears off - and it does so quickly, with a dose-effective half-life of only about 20 minutes for the amount we use in these procedures, as the truth takes much less time to establish than convoluted lies, it seems, the subject regains consciousness rather quickly, with no ill effects at all except, as I said, for the very odd bout of mild nausea."


"Very well, and thank you doctors," said Ms Larch, moving to the front of the table, "now - as you see, we have twenty vials of the ST V serum here. In order to ensure complete fairness of the procedure we will, of course, give a sample to all concerned parties for their own verification procedures should they so wish. It is a potentially dangerous chemical, as are most medical drugs, if used inappropriately, and we ask you all to take due care with your samples."

Ms Larch placed the two serum racks on a metal tray that had been placed on the desk ahead of time for just such a purpose, and carried it over to Mr Snake.

"Mr Snake, since you seem to be relatively more concerned about the procedures today, I will give you first choice, so you have no claim at all of unfairness later on. Please take one sample from each tray."

Snake looked at Ms Larch, and around the room, taking in the cameras once again, and the eyes of the NU, UN and PAA witnesses, silently observing, and apparently decided there was no point in objecting or protesting. He reached out and took one vial each from the two racks.

"There is also a special box for storing them in, to ensure the safe storage and transport of the vials," said Ms Larch, indicating a number of such boxes also on the tray; Snake took one, "and you will notice that once you close this container, it is sealed - we would remind you that for clear chain of evidence procedures, you should be very careful with this seal and careful documentation concerning any subsequent tests which you wish to perform."

Ms Larch then proceeded to the desk where Ms Emorie sat with the Gravieux family and others, and two samples were also taken, and sealed in the provided containers.

Two samples each for the three witnesses whose stories conflicted.

"I am sure you will all handle these drugs with the care they require," said Ms Larch, as she set the tray back on the desk.

"And now, would Mr. Curtain please join us - we will do the Truth Questioning in the same order we heard the witnesses originally."

Heads looked toward the table of Curtain, and there was a hurried whispered conference taking place.

"Mr. Curtain?" said Ms Larch, "Please join us."

With obvious reluctance, and some prodding and furious whispers from a man sitting beside John Curtain where he sat behind the table with Snake, who was rising to his feet.

"I cannot allow my client to voluntarily submit to this invasive procedure. We appeal to the representatives of the United Nations, the Nordic Union, the world! - to stop this torture! It is barbaric! - "

MacDonald rose once again to his feet, a troubled look on his face, but nodding to the GRIPPs, who immediately moved one on either side of Snake, taking his arms.

"Mr Snake, I quite assure you noone here really likes doing what we are about to do. But as Ms Larch and the doctors assured everyone, the drug we use causes no harm, and is not painful, so there is no torture involved. That sort of charge is simply a non-starter. Torture is done in dark secret rooms with pain and fear - we are searching for justice in the full light of openness in an open court, with no pain and no need for any fear from those who are telling the truth with, as you note, the eyes of the world watching. Secondly, I note again that we only do this with reluctance, and a great disinclination to violate the rights we do recognize of this young man to security of his person - but the alternative, to leave justice and truth untapped and unserved, and the resulting festering, unresolved wound in our community, would, we have all agreed previously, be an even greater violation of our community, and the right of all of our citizens to know they can live safe and secure lives in a society where truth is honored above all else, and if a liar must face some personal discomfort so that the rest of us can live securely, we have decided that price is acceptable. And do remember the young ladies will be receiving the same procedure after your client. So please be quiet for now - you will have every chance to appeal to the world or anyone else you like in the future. There will be no harm done to this young man, nor anyone else taking this test, physically. Those who are exposed as liars through this procedure will have to live with that fact, as they have chosen to do already. We do not create the lie or the liar, we simply expose them.

"For now, with my apologies to the young man and his family ahead of time, I will ask our attending GRIPPs to please restrain Mr Snake, and bring forward Mr Curtain, if he will not come voluntarily."

And two other GRIPP officers, this time two females, who had been prepared for such an eventuality, moved slowly over beside John Curtain, not wishing to take him by force, giving him every chance to cooperate on his own.

He slowly rose to his feet, and began to shuffle forward, the GRIPPs beside him but not forcing him, and took a seat on the prepared witness chair, but not reclining, feet still on the floor. He had a great frown and a look of great inner conflict on his face, obviously engaged in some great inner struggle.

Ms Larch picked up the tray, and spoke.

"Mr Curtain, please lie back in the chair. The procedure will not hurt any more than getting a regular booster needle, and we will be finished in a very short time. I will bring you the same tray I have already given to the others, and you may choose the vial which will be administered to you. Are you ready?"

The young man looked to Ms Larch, waiting by the table, and then to Snake, and around the room, and finally to the man he had been sitting beside. A few tears began to slide from his eyes.

"Dad, I'm sorry," he whispered, "but I can't do it. I know I will tell the truth with that drug, and they will find out anyway."

"I'm sorry too, Mrs. Gravieux," he said, turning to the mother of the dead girl at the table where the young ladies sat with Mrs Gravieux and others, starting to sob as he spoke, "it did happen like Ms Weber and Flossy said - I was driving too fast, a bit drunk and thinking about the party I was going to, and the girl I was going to see there, and came around the corner without stopping, and there she was, there they were, and I froze for just a second and couldn't stop quick enough and I hit her. I guess I just panicked, was afraid of what would happen, so lied .... The worst thing of all - it was her I was supposed to meet at the party..."

And Johnny Curtain broke down with big heaving sobs, covering his face with his hands, as there was a moment of shocked silence, before Ms Larch stepped forward and reached out to him, pulling his head to her breast, and the boy's father quickly came to comfort his son as well.

========================

"What will become of the boy?" answered Bigelow somewhat thoughtfully, "I really can't say. I am sure his confession and obvious unhappiness at what has happened will hold him in good stead - I don't think most people here are vindictive at all, that's an emotion that comes from a sense of unfairness in life, I think, and we're well on the way to getting rid of such emotions here along with the unfairness, and it was certain enough there was no premeditation, it was surely unintentional. But then his initial lying and defiance will be considered. I really don't know - this is the first time such a case has been tried here, and I am sure the AGORA will be busy with this for some time - as you know, whatever happens will be decided by the people of Green Island, truly a jury of the boy's peers, following full representation of whatever facts and arguments from everyone involved, and careful and due consideration, nothing done in haste to repent over in leisure. There'll be a few sort of extremists on one side who will hold it was an accident regardless and he should go free with no punishment whatever, and a few on the other extreme side who will hold he took a life and should forfeit his by at least a very lengthy jail sentence, but most people are likely in the middle somewhere, and someone will come up with a good idea that will get accepted by a solid majority consensus, which should be quite just. For now, as you heard, he will be kept in a sort of house arrest, with a couple of GRIPPs around to make sure his father doesn't try to spirit him off somewhere. What we do not have is some small elite group imposing their views on the majority, whether the majority approves or not."


It was an hour or so after the rather dramatic ending to the trial of John Coffin we had attended that afternoon, and we were all sitting on an open deck quite high on a hill overlooking the Montague River estuary, with fishing boats and sailing boats and white-capped waves and scree-ing seagulls all about. The large deck was part of a rustic little restaurant called the Lobster Pantry, where we had decided to come for some supper before catching the train back to Charlottetown - Bigelow had said the food was very good here. Conversation had been minimal - we were all somewhat drained from the many activities that day first, and then the emotional impact of the trial we had witnessed had left us all in somewhat of a thoughtful mood. But still thinking of it, and Bigelow had responded to a question from More.

"It's certainly an intriguing concept, that, the 'jury of peers' being all of one's fellow citizens - quite a drastic change from the police and lawyers and magistrates so in control of the generally accepted way of doing things. But don't you find some problems with simply knowing about the finer points of the law, the case law and so on, and interpreting things correctly, to really ensure that justice is done?"

I could see Bigelow perking up a bit, taking a swallow from his chilled glass of Green Island Suds and reaching for the pack of cigarettes he had left on the table.

"Well, first, I suppose learned magistrates and lawyers and suchlike might be fine - in a situation where the citizen could actually trust such people - but in a system such as has prevailed in western countries for the last few hundred years, a system quite openly the last few decades at least dominated by big money interests, all that happens is that such people quickly become corrupted, and then they are serving the wealthy and the elite, and not the people, and always, always, always, to the detriment of the people. Which, it seems to me, is one of the very purposes of it all, of such a system - controlling the people through means that can be described as legitimate, sold to the people as a 'true' justice system. It really is part of the entire chains package the modern citizen finds him or herself in - the people are raised from the day they are born to believe that the justice system is fair and impartial, along with all of the other control institutions, so no matter what it does they bow down to it. The politicians say it, the businessmen say it, the media say it, and of course the lawyers and judges say it - they even have a special law they can drag out at will and throw somebody in jail for 'contempt of court', or 'bringing the administration of justice into disrepute' - the final defense against people who dare to accuse them of the corruption they so commonly reveal in their prejudicial decision making, or who dare to protest some particularly stupid action by some halfwitted magistrate, of which there are no shortage. And who benefits from this? Why, the corrupt businessmen and politicians and elite bankers who run the country through their great wealth, of course, constantly using the courts to justify their actions, and to stop the citizens from interfering with their destructive behaviour.

"And then in terms of 'interpreting' the law - this is just a big smokescreen again, I think - the case we saw today, for instance, a fairly clear case it turned out of a death being caused by careless behaviour. But as we saw also, the lawyer Snake was prepared to fill it full of complexities and drag it out for months or years in order to try and get his client off, as he would have done in service to the boy's relatively wealthy family in any other part of Canada, with little regard for the victim, whose family does not have much money - which would have been an injustice to the girl's family, and the whole community for that matter, for we all suffer when we cannot trust our most important community institutions to try to do the right thing impartially and expediently. The only people served by making the law a hugely complex process are the lawyers and the people wealthy enough to hire those lawyers to enable them to undertake activities destructful to the community at large, but hidden behind books full of complicated laws and regulations, and lawyers and courts to protect them. The law as it was practiced before, still is in western countries, is not a friend at all of the common people, but rather, as I said before, simply another layer in the box of repression. If you get together a bunch of honest, reasonably intelligent ordinary people and present them with a set of facts and give them time to talk about it calmly and explore the various circumstances among themselves - why, they know what is right, and what is not, and they don't need ten million words of law books or high paid lawyers or judges to tell them what it is or justify it - no, the complexities are there for one purpose only, to justify the unjustifiable through great screens of big words, the maintenance of an elite uber-power in our society that few people are really aware of, an almost impenetrable buffer between we the people and that uber-elite. And we've tried to stop that here, and I think, to judge from I've read on the AGORA the last few weeks and then what I saw today, as far as our administration of a fair system of justice for everyone is concerned, it is going to work very well."

"Well," I interrupted my perusal of the lovely scenery before me with a comment, "as far as the corruptibility of a few people in authority goes, you needn't stop with lawyers and judges, you could quite say the same about elected representatives to the government - "

"Oh, absolutely," said Bigelow, with a small smile, I think he knew I was saying nothing remarkable or challenging, "the same process exactly - you convince the people that they need a representative sort of government rather than being involved in the decision making process directly, and to accept the process whereby those representatives are selected - and voila, if you are the wizard behind the curtain, you don't need a huge police force and restrictive laws to batter the citizens into submission one by one, you just need to corrupt a few highly corruptible people, and they will pass the laws the elite wish them to pass, and the media of the uber-lords masquerading also as a 'popular' media will say look look, they are legally selected representatives so you can't say anything about it hoho! - and for those few who do dare to protest through the channels available, the courts tell them to go away everything is fine, and again the media trumpets the wonderful legality of it all - and then for the very few who still dare to protest, the police of the uber-lords are still available - and the media again to reassure the rest of the people that it's only a few discontents or communists or terrorists who don't like what is happening (if they tell them anything at all in these days of secret trials), all of the normal people should go back to their jobs and their televisions at night to find out what they are supposed to be thinking. And then - "

- but just then a lovely young lass came along with three large steaming red lobsters on big white plates and a big basket of delicious hot bread rolls and various salads and chowders and a chilled bottle of white wine, and the conversation ended, aside from various "MMHmm!!"s, or "Delicious!" or "Another glass of this excellent wine, More?" and so on, and the day ended most pleasantly, and no words of disharmony were allowed with the meal.

And following the dinner, nobody seemed to feel like talking much, as we walked down the street with sated bellies to catch the final Charlottetown Express of the day and enjoy the sunset over the hills of King's Country. Shortly thereafter Bigelow helped us change trains and then we said our goodbyes for the day as More and I disembarked at Athenia, and Bigelow carried on home to the farm called Greenways, where, if all goes well, we will visit shortly.

=============================



Return to About Green Island
Return to On Green Island