“My client claims you invaded his mind and told the police information they weren’t allowed to know. Is this true?” asked the defense lawyer.
“It depends on if it is wrong to reveal information about criminal activities or not.”
“Yes or no,” the lawyer insisted.
“I did read his mind and I’m sure he didn’t want the police to know about the drug sales and deaths attributed to his illegal activities.”
“Your honor, the witness confesses to invasion of privacy. I charge that he must pay restitution to my client and be taken into custody for violating my client’s civil rights and the right to privacy.”
“I object,” said Mr. Amazing’s defense lawyer. “He has the ability to read minds and has the desire to bring criminals to justice.”
“I object to your characterizing my client as a criminal,” said the lawyer who was grilling the superhero. “My client is not on trial here. Yours is,” he accused the superhero’s lawyer.
The judge slammed down his gavel and said, “The only reason why I agreed to hear this case is because even known criminals–yes, he is a criminal because I have had him in my court on several occasions and each time his lawyer has gotten him off or pled down to a lower sentence.”
“Your honor,” the lawyer protested.
The judge pounded his gavel again. “Let’s move on. Ask him another question that might not lead to another objection.”
“I’ll try, your honor.”
The lawyer looked him straight in the eye and asked, “Why did you read his mind? You surely knew it was against the law to invade his privacy.”
“I haven’t been in this dimension for all that long. Where I come from, most people can read minds. We believe in telling the truth at all times. We expect others to always tell the truth no matter what dimension they exist in. If he wasn’t going to tell the police the truth, I felt obliged to tell what he was unwilling to say.”
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The Miranda Act states that a person has the right to remain silent. Are you familiar with it?”
“I’ve heard of it. I know he was thinking about it when I brought him into the precinct after he tried to kill me; something that is impossible.”
“Are you saying you’re like Superman?”
“I’m better than Superman except I don’t have the ability to shoot laser beams out of my eyes. But if I practice enough, someday I’ll be able to concentrate my field into a beam similar to a laser.”
“I believe he has incriminated himself sufficiently. I have no further questions.”
The judge asked the superhero’s lawyer, “Do you have any questions for your client?”
“No your honor.”
The judge looked at the superhero and said, “You may step down.”
His lawyer said, “I call Bob Clay to the stand.”
Bob smirked as he glanced over at Mr. Amazing’s lawyer because he was confident he couldn’t be touched by him legally.
“Mr. Clay. Please come up and be sworn in.”
The man slowly walked up to the stand and was administered the oath before sitting down. His lawyer was already standing in front of the judge. He took a step and asked his client a question.
“Why did you allow your mind to be read in the presence of police officers?”
“I couldn’t help it. He asked me questions that provoked some memories I didn’t want to reveal to the authorities. I should have never been sent to prison since he illegally got a roundabout confession from me without legal counsel which might have prevented my arrest. It was my word against his. That shouldn’t stand up in a court of law. I deserve to be compensated.”
“I agree. I have no further questions.”
“Do you want to question the witness?” the judge asked Mr. Amazing’s lawyer.
“You know I do.”
“Have at it then.”
The lawyer walked up to the dock and asked the witness, “Are you the head of a drug gang in Manhattan and the Bronx?”
“On advice of counsel, I decline to answer the question for fear of self-incrimination.”
“So you’re taking the Fifth.”
“Yeah. I take the Fifth,” he said with a sly grin on his face.
“Your honor, the Fifth Amendment states that a person can not be compelled to testify against themselves without due process of law. Is a trial due process of law?”
“Yes it is,” the judge confirmed. “Where are you going with this line of questioning?”
“Then according to the Fifth Amendment, since this trial is due process of law, I can compel him to testify against himself.”
“I strongly object,” Bob’s lawyer yelled.
“Hey, he brought up the Fifth Amendment. If you want to be grammatically correct when reading the amendment, due process of law, a court trial, is the condition which allows me to ask him any question and expect him to answer me truthfully.”
“I object. My client can’t be forced to testify against himself thanks to the Fifth Amendment protections.”
“Actually, your honor, the Fifth Amendment allows me to question him.”
“Your honor,” Bob’s lawyer screamed.
“We’ll see if it stands up to Constitutional muster. I’ll allow the questioning and expect Mr Clay to answer the questions.”
Bob’s smirk disappeared and panic seized him.
“I’ll ask you again. Are you the leader of a drug gang in Manhattan and the Bronx?”
He looked at his lawyer desperately. But he shook his head in resignation.
“Uh……yes I am. You know I’m going to be dead once I leave the court.”
“I’m not the one who decided to become a criminal. Do you know a Mr. Carlos Santiago, a drug lord who lives in Columbia, South America?”
Bob’s lips began to quiver.
The judge looked down at Bob and said, “Answer the question.”
“Uh….. yes I do.”
“Before you were arrested, did you receive a shipment of cocaine from Mr. Santiago the night before my client stopped you from trying to kill him and a person he was protecting?”
“Yes I did. It was good stuff, I heard. At least my associates that were sent to the prison I was placed in said so. They told me they would be out in a few years because the judge didn’t have enough on them to keep them in longer.”
“What did they do? Did they commit murder which would have put them behind bars for the rest of their lives?”
“Yes. Yes they did. Frank Montgomery killed a couple hookers by strangling them and a cop he ambushed. He left his partner in a coma which he hasn’t recovered from which means he can’t identify Frank as the killer. Ted Standish killed two school teachers that were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Stan Miller kicked an old Chinese woman to death. When I’m sent back to prison he’ll probably want to kick me to death because I ratted on him.”
The judge leaned over to Bob and said, “You will be sent to another prison and the information you give will allow some court to retry the men for the more serious crimes.”
“You aren’t just saying that.”
“I give you my word. I wouldn’t sacrifice you just to get to three murderers.”
“I have more information this court might like to hear. Just ask the right questions.”
For over two centuries, the Fifth Amendment has been considered a way to avoid testifying in a court of law. Could it be the courts have allowed criminals to get away with murder, so to speak? A judge gave me a dirty look when I told him the Fifth Amendment obligates people to testify even if it is against themselves since a court trial is due process of law. It would be like me driving to a gas station and complaining that I can’t drive my car. People would look at me like I was crazy. The condition that allows me to drive my car is for me to put gas in the tank. Due process of law, a court trial, is the condition that allows a lawyer to compel a person to testify against themselves. If a lawyer or judge says I’m wrong because it goes against presidence, I would remind them that lynching was allowed a century ago in the South because it was presidence. I would love to have the meaty middle I wrote put to the test in a real court trial. If my reading of the Fifth Amendment is correct, maybe justice will finally be served.