[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] “Ms. Lieberman,” Paul Smith began his cross-examination with a friendly tone and the hint of a smile directed at the constable, “I must congratulate you on the professionalism you displayed during your presentation yesterday and today. It is clear from your presentation that you are a very thorough, meticulous investigator and I have no doubt you’ll go far in your chosen line of work with that kind of work ethic.”
Rosie’s mother beamed with pride, but her daughter wasn’t so thrilled to be addressed thusly in a courtroom. Where the hell was this lawyer going like that?
“Uh,” she stammered, “thank you.” She briefly toyed with the idea of asking him if she’d missed something or was there no question in what he’d said, but thought it wiser not to display any sign of impatience or, worse, a smarty-pants attitude. Juries didn’t like smarty pants. So she waited.
“It is your opinion, I take it, that the evidence you presented here shows that the business hired by my client was performing services that were illegal or possibly even criminal in nature, yes?”
Or possibly criminal. A nice touch, that. Introduces a wee bit of room for potential doubt in the minds of the jurors, without seeming to.
“It is more than just my opinion. Committing suicide is not against the law, as such, but encouraging someone to commit suicide or providing the means of suicide or otherwise helping someone commit suicide is illegal in this country. So is murder. It’s in the Criminal Code.”
“Yes, we’ll get to that.” She was showing signs of impatience and that was exactly what he wanted. Nobody likes an impatient, snippy cop. “But it is your opinion that your investigation shows my client hired the services of a firm that was in the business of providing services that, while acceptable to many Canadians, remain, for the time being, slightly on the wrong side of the law.”
Calm down, Rosie, calm down.
“Yes, that is my opinion. My investigation shows your client hired Abdul Bédard-Lellouche to help him kill his parents.”
“The same Abdul Bédard-Lellouche who was found dead in his jail cell this morning.”
“The very same.”
“The very same Abdul Bédard-Lellouche whose business partner, Jean Simoneau, was also found dead in his cell a few days ago?”
“Terrible tragedy, that.”
“We don’t know that yet.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said, we don’t know that. We don’t know what killed them. Well, we know Jean Simoneau was found hanging, but we know very little about the circumstances in which this morning’s body was found. It may be a tragedy, or it may be something else.”
Paul Smith did the thing with the glasses again, very much enjoying how what had almost come out of Lieberman’s mouth was “this morning’s stiff” instead of “this morning’s body”. He took his time to let people assimilate what the cop had said and the way in which she’d said it. He looked at each juror, one at a time, as he resumed talking. “I see. But I was mostly thinking about you, and how difficult your job would be without those two crucial witnesses.”
Rosie stiffened. “I don’t see why.”
Ah, an opening.
“You don’t seem to like my client very much.”
“Is there something about him that particularly bothers you? I mean, he’s different than most people you’re probably used to socializing with. He’s more of a bohemian. An artist.”
“Objection!” The crown prosecutor bellowed. “What does that have to do with anything?”
The judge considered it for a few seconds. “Overruled, but don’t get too cute on us counselor.”
Paul Smith bowed very slightly from the waist. “I wouldn’t dare, Your Honour.”
“Please answer the question, Ms. Lieberman,” Judge Michaud said, visibly unimpressed.
“I neither like nor dislike your client, Mr. Smith,” she said. “I simply do my job, which is to catch people who are doing something illegal and have them prosecuted. I am always very careful never to let personal feelings interfere with my job.”
“Oh, so you do have personal feelings for my client?”
There was laughter throughout the courtroom.
“No! I mean, certainly not like that!” She was blushing juuuust a little bit… “What I mean to say is that I had no particular feelings for or against your client but that even if I did have any I would always be very careful not to let them interfere with my job.”
“I see. I guess that clears it up,” he looked at the jury like a guy who knew he’d just been fed a giant spoonful of bullshit.
“Are you religious, Ms. Lieberman?”
Rosie risked a quick glance at her mother, as if to say she was sorry. “I am not particularly religious if by that you mean ‘do I take my religion with me everywhere I go’. I was raised in the Jewish tradition, with parents who were both upright and very moral people, and I still observe the high Jewish holidays, but for instance I do not keep kosher. I guess you could ask my colleagues whether I preach at them often or not really. I’m fairly sure they’d say I don’t talk about religion.”
“But you believe in God, yes?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Do you think your belief in a God gives you an especially keen sense of justice that pushes you to prosecute criminals especially harshly?”
“Sustained. Please keep to the topic at hand, counselor.”
“Yes, Your Honour. Let me ask this differently. Ms. Lieberman, the subject of your investigation were people who specialized in assisted suicide. As you know suicide is a topic on which various people have different opinions, with the majority of religious people being against it. I guess I’m trying to allow the jury to find out whether your investigation was motivated by religious feelings against suicide or not.”
The crown prosecutor was halfway up but Rosie shot him a reassuring look. She could handle that no problem.
“I see where you’re going, and I don’t mind answering you. I believe in God and my personal opinion on suicide, while not very relevant to my investigation, is that it is a personal tragedy. I am saddened by the number of suicides in our society, Mr. Smith, because I like to think there should always be a little bit of hope in the human heart. But my investigation was not into suicides, Mr. Smith, it was into assisted suicides and some cases of pure euthanasia – where the person who died did not express any desire to end their life but rather had that life taken away from them without warning. I realize there is a lot of debate in our society and in our courts of law about the desirability of decriminalizing assisted suicide in some cases, but at the moment both assisted suicide and euthanasia are clearly against the law and my job is to uphold the law as it is, not as I wish it were.” Rosie had another quick look at her mom, who was doing a poor job of hiding the fact that she’d been crying. “Does that answer your question, Mr. Smith?”
“Indeed it does, Ms. Lieberman. Thank you for your candour and your honesty, which I’m sure the jury will appreciate.”
He took a few steps away from the jury box and back towards his desk, mostly avoiding his client, who was looking at him like he’d just sliced a baby in two.
“What the hell was this all about?” he whispered and glowered at the same time.
Paul Smith smiled, then got close to his client so he could whisper. “My job is to get you acquitted. I do this by introducing a doubt in the mind of the jury. It doesn’t matter what part they doubt, so I try everything. What if they start to suspect the cop had a personal vendetta against you?”