“Not guilty… you say?”
Prosecutor Schaefer shot back as if she’d heard some joke in terrible taste. “Are you sane?”
“Didn’t you see the camera footage? You weren’t so bored that you fell asleep, were you?”
“No need to worry, if it’s that data from before, I’ve perfectly stored it in my head.”
“Oh my, oh my. In that case, it only worries me more. If it’s to your liking, I’ll introduce you a wonderful psychiatrist next time. Just what basis do you have to think the defendant is not guilty?”
Kuh, this woman. She says whatever she wants. The judge could’ve stepped in to stop it, but he was pretending he never heard it.
Taking my eyes from the judge, I noticed that Claudia was looking at me.
She had heard my voice to that point, so I’m sure she knew who I was, and what standing I had, but for some reason or another, her eyes were wide open.
… What’s with that expression? Why are you the surprised one?
Taking a single document off the table, I explained.
“There is basis for her innocence. I cannot think the accused, Claudia Rheinland has the capacity to bear legal responsibility. With unsound mind as the basis, the defense pleads not guilty.”
… Ah, I really said it.
The moment the words exited my mouth, I heard a clambering sound different from the rabble up to now. It was completely despising, a noise astir with malice.
I tried my best not to see it, but Claudia’s expression underwent such a large change, that it entered my vision whether I liked it or now.
Her surprise had vanished, and she was now glaring at me in hatred.
I know. I was more than well aware of what response I’d get if I said such a thing. But…
… Easy, lady. For whose sake do you think I’m going out of my way to take up the villain’s mantle for? Over here, in order to get you not guilty, I’m asserting that the defendant’s messed up in the head, thus innocent. How do you think that makes me feel?
“Hmm, I see. So that’s how you’ll play it.”
Prosecutor Schaefer spoke with feigned intrigue. But right now, I didn’t have the leisure to pay mind to it.
“It’s clear the defendant doesn’t have the capacity for responsibility. The fact that she wouldn’t be properly standing in this courtroom if the prosecution didn’t ignore her human rights to bind her is proof enough.”
“I see, I see. Indeed. But was there really any helping it?”
Prosecutor Schaefer gave her rebuttal in a joking manner.
“Let me give a brief explanation of the accused’s upbringing. The accused is eighteen. To get to her age, she lived her life under a certain special environment.”
“Special, environment, is it, Prosecutor Schaefer?”
On the judge’s interjection, the prosecution spoke.
“Exactly, m’lud. From the moment of her birth, the defendant has lived without interaction from any human being besides her parents.”
“W-what are you talking about? Something like that isn’t possible.”
“Exactly, Mr. Lawyer. It would be impossible for a normal human. But the defendant here is a human without a nationality. Normally, it’s something some public office will deliver the moment a person is born into the world. But the accused was born into an environment where that wasn’t possible.”
What that supposed to be. That place… no I can’t say it doesn’t exist. But that place is…
“She’s from no-man’s land?”
“Exactly. There are 34 stateless regions in the world at present. Within one of them, the Dark Forest, she received her life, and grew to where she is now.”
A stir through the courtroom.
The Dark Forest. It was a sort of quarantined space. That forest where brutal, fiendish monsters made a home was notorious as one of the most dangerous regions in the world. For starters, it wasn’t a place any normal person would be able to live, and because of its sheer danger, all countries had drawn back their borders, making it a no-man’s land.
I looked at the accused again… you did good, surviving to this day.
“How she lived her life in the Dark Forest? That is irrelevant to the problem at hand. There is but one important point; raised in an environment crowded with monsters, it’s the most natural of things for her temperament to be wild, is it not? Let alone the fact she was suddenly made stand in a courtroom with so many people around her. For a muscle-bound fool who did nothing but fight in her life, perhaps the court is a little too heavy a load. It isn’t unreasonable for her to feel stressed or panicked.”
“Prosecutor Schaefer, you’ve said too much.”
On the judge’s rebuke, the Prosecutor offered an elegant yet short, “My apologies.”
“So do you have any further objections, Mr. Lawyer?”
“I understand well that the accused’s upbringing was exceedingly special. However, that fails to prove anything. And there is a fact that proves the defendant is of unsound mind.”
“Oh really? That’s the first I’m hearing of it.
… This shameless woman.
“I won’t let you say you don’t know. By the police’s report, there was a passage of how, during the defendant’s examination, she grew exceedingly violent under certain conditions.”
“Certain conditions? And what would they be? I’d like to hear it in detail, Mr. Lawyer.”
The document I got from the boss were the police’s to begin with. There’s no way this woman on the police side wouldn’t know about it. So this was… blatant provocation.
I don’t know what her intentions were, but so be it. I’ll take it up.
“At first, the defendant was extremely cooperative when it came to investigations. But only when the sword in her possession was taken from her, did she grow panicked, and lash out in violence. Exactly the state we see her in now.”
“Oh. Is that true?”
The judge showed some interest. Maybe this was my chance.
I opened my mouth, and the moment my voice was about to come out, Prosecutor Schaefer’s voice cut in.
“It is true, m’lud. For some reason, the defendant was level-headed only when she held the sword, and showed symptoms of lashing out only when the sword was forcefully taken away.”
“Hmm, that means… what would that mean?”
I tried to answer the judge’s question, but that was also interrupted.
“The defense is likely trying to say the defendant is under the effect of some magic, or perhaps a curse. Meaning, he wishes to claim she may have been in a brainwashed state.”
… W-what’s with her.
I had a really bad premonition.
… Why did she go out of her way to say it herself? If she said such a thing, won’t it prove the the defendant didn’t have the capacity for responsibility at the time of the crime?
Of course, that was an exceedingly convenient development for me. If I could use unsound mind to prove the accused didn’t have the capacity, that would give me the advantage in this trial. Regardless of whether there be evidence that she was the murderer, I could win a not guilty.
… Of course, there was no guarantee that outcome would be to this young girl’s benefit.
“First of all, in regards to the possibility of magic, there’s none.”
The prosecutor denied it so easily.
“I know you aren’t that familiar with criminal cases, so there may be a lot you don’t know, but if you use magic, it will leave a trace. If someone cast a magic that controls others, then it certainly would be possible for the defendant to have been forced into committing the crime. However…”
Her mouth was curved into a smile. But her eyes were cold.
“If they did such a thing, it would be found out at once with magic parsing. By the results of magic theory lab’s investigations, there have found absolutely no traces of magic being used on the defendant’s mind.”
“T-then what about a curse?
“There’s only a handful of people capable of casting curses left in the world. When she lived so long in a pace separate from human habitation, it would be difficult for anyone to cast a curse on her. Ah, while I’m at it, the science side of the crime lab denied the possibility of brainwashing through chemicals. She never even used drugs. No one could have controlled her with magic, and using herbs to put her under mind control was impossible.”
“T-then an unknown…”
“Mr. Lawyer, you don’t mean to say a form of magic yet unknown to man was controlling her, or something as absurd as that, right?”
Urgh, yes I was.
Prosecutor Schaefer let out a sigh.
“How exceedingly foolish. It’s lamentable. Let me call it a habit of evil. It’s true in the past, various natural phenomena of this world were explained away by magic. When lightning fell, that was because of magic. Lighting a fire was because of magic. That we humans are alive was because of magic. Magic. Magic. Magic. Truly, magic sure is a convenient word. If there’s something you don’t get, you just have to blame it all on magic, after all.”
Prosecutor Schaefer made an extreme face of belittlement.
“I’m not joking here. Just what century do you think we’re living in? And this is the home of law. The space for all truths to come to light. It’s true, in the case the defendant was brainwashed through magic or curse, she likely wouldn’t have the obligation to take responsibility. But too bad. The defendant is normal by all means, and has the capacity to think over things logically.”
“Y-you’re saying you can prove it?
I thought I had objected with all my might, but Prosecutor Schaefer easily shot down my bluff with the most leisurely of smiles.
“Of course I can. Just who do you think I am?”
I finally noticed. Perhaps I had taken her provocations too well, and followed straight into her trap…