Witness Stand (4) The Accused

“B-but I’m…”

Her firm grip on her sword conveyed her earnesty. Her righteousness. But that voice wouldn’t reach anyone. It merely echoed through the halls in vain.

“I… I only saved the world. I only did a good thing…”

“Yes, I’ve had enough of your pretentiousness.”

Prosecutor Schaefer painstakingly raised her palm, cutting off Claudia’s address.

“To summarize, you’re a murder who admits to killing someone, right? And instead of repenting that killing them was a terrible thing, you try to appear self-important by saying you did a good deed; an idiot with no hopes of salvation. It sends shivers down my spine when I see people like you forcing their self-centric delusions on their surroundings, playing self-righteous ally of justice. In the end, the justice you speak of it just a delusion without any particular basis, isn’t it?”

“T-that’s wrong. Wtong! Wrong wrong wrong… my father wasn’t mistaken!”

Perhaps that was the biggest voice she had given thus far. After Claudia raised a shout like a scream, she covered her face with both hands, and collapsed at the knees.

… Was she… crying?

She was covering her face, so I couldn’t tell. But I’m sure she was.

As she fell into a seat on the floor, her shoulders were shaking. And she muttered a small, “Why won’t anybody understand?”

“M’lud,” the prosecution was harsh to the end. “It doesn’t look like any further trial is necessary. The defendant acknowledges her crime. Now let’s move on to her sentence.”

“H-hold it!!”

What is this woman saying all of a sudden? If I didn’t shout out my objection, we were almost going to get a guilty.

“The trial is still underway.”
“Hah? What part of it? Just now, we got a confession from the defendant of her own discretion.”

“T-that’s the same thing as the journal from before, isn’t it!?”
“It’s completely different.”

The prosecution began to speak. “The journal was something the defendant wrote while held in custody. You lawyers always object when these sorts of confessions come out. That this confession isn’t valid evidence. You guys really say some rude things. Making it sound as if we used unlawful means to obtain it or something. Give me a break. But even so, we’ve no means to prove the willingness behind the confessions that come up in police investigations, so we’re aaaaalways forced to bite the bullet for it. But this time is different.”

Tsk tsk tsk, she clicked her tongue, and pointed at the defendant.

“When did I ever threaten her? Did I force that confession out of her? Did I even ask any leading questions to get her to confess? Yeeeeeaaaaah… I didn’t.”
“T-that’s…”

Of course she didn’t do something like that.

“The prosecution side hasn’t done a sinnnngggle thing. That defendant over there just went off on her own saying I did it, it’s not my fault, the demon lord is bad, or so she just confessed, right? This confession has ample validity as evidence.”

“B-but the contradiction in the security cameras has yet to be clarified.”
“Oh, that? Probably a memory lapse after all. I mean from what I can see, this little girl isn’t brave enough to call a hero.”

“… Shut it!”

I found myself slamming the table.

“A girl in her teens, her first ever trial, what’s more, a murder litigation. There’s no way she could offer proper argument. Don’t act smart because you’re dealing with an amateur. If there’s something you want to say, than say it directly to the defense!”

“Then that’s just what I’ll do.”

My eyes locked with Prosecutor Schaefer’s. Her glare was sharp. I felt I would lose the mental battle the moment I took my eyes off of her.

“Defense, prosecution, silence in the court. Even so, hmm. Surely the defendant’s previous statement could be accepted as a confession. But the defense’s claims hold some weight as well. If the defendant’s testimony is true, then why did such a mismatch come about?

Hearing the judge’s words, it occurred to me.

Maybe I couldn’t make a complete turnabout to innocent, but I could delay the verdict.

Honestly, I didn’t know if Claudia had really killed someone, whether she didn’t. Whether she was a good person, or a bad one.

The troublesome part of criminal cases for the defense. When we wanted to trust the client, there were times we could not.

When it’s because of these things that I aimed to be a civil lawyer…

… Where did I go wrong?

Being betrayed by a person you trusted is extremely painful. It wounds your heart so deeply you’ll want to quit the profession.

But as long as you’re just working for the money, the wounds you get are shallow.

Even if you’re betrayed, you do it for the money, so you can make an excuse to yourself.

This time, let’s go with that. As long as I don’t know whether the defendant is a human fit for sin and punishment, putting determining her evil or virtue on hold…

Let’s stretch out this trial for some pocket money.

“M’lud. The defense questions the prosecution’s manner of gathering evidence.”

Prosecutor Schaefer’s expression that had been leisurely to that point suddenly stiffened.

As expected, she couldn’t ignore that one. With a snap, a blue vein popped up on her forehead.

“What are you trying to say?”

A cool voice to freeze me over, I felt a sense of achievement as if I was finally closing in on Cate’s true intentions.

I knew. While she used overbearing methods to get her verdict, she was bearer of a nature that would always play fair.

Precisely because she valued the rules, she imposed exceedingly harsh rules on herself as well.

Crueler on herself than she was to others, she would never do anything illegal, for starters. She would occasionally twist things selfishly, but you could always draw a straight line from somewhere.

So I don’t think in the slightest that she had dyed her hands with anything illegal. I don’t, but…

… You did a good job dragging me through hell, wench.

“The defendant is the bearer of an exceedingly honest heart. Enough that one would think evidence to be unnecessary. Yet regardless of that, there is an inconsistency in the security camera footage. Could it be that footage was edited by the police to their convenience?”

… This is a splendid illegal inquiry. Please accompany me to the end of it, Ms. Prosecutor.

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