“Government Counsel shall go first.”
“Thank you, your Honor.” The lemur turned to the jury. “Ladies and gentlefurs, there is only one decision you can come to. The accused is guilty as charged. He confessed his guilt previously in a plea bargain. One only does so if one believes they are guilty and believe they’re getting a better deal by not going to trial. During his time in the Circle, he confessed that he had pled guilty. There is no question of his guilt, which I’m sure you will agree to after deliberation.” She pointed to Aldin. “The victim is a kind soul and has requested leniency. You can grant leniency by reducing the sentence, but don’t let the accused get away with attempted murder.” She sat down.
The ferret immediately got up and paced in front of the jury, all the while making eye contact with every member. “My client should never have been accused of attempted murder. Even the ‘victim’ has told you he is innocent of that charge and if it were possible to extradite the accused to the victim’s home world, he’s push to have the charges dropped against my client. Parliament charged him with fighting, nothing more. As you have listened to the testimony of my client, the ‘victim,’ and others, it is clear that my client is the actual victim here and not the perpetrator. He was baited into a fight by the ‘victim’ who intentionally broke the laws of Parliament and hospitalized my client in the process.” He pointed at Aldin. “The ‘victim’ admitted as such immediately after the fight and again here in testimony! If you find my client guilty, you are only adding to the injustices Mr. Enhray has endured.” The ferret sat down.
Judge Perraul turned to the jury and gave them final instructions. They exited the courtroom.
The news otter stared into a camera drone. “This is Jerrico, WNN, once again reporting to you live from outside the Alisferil Region Court House in Forestdale, where we are now on day three of the jury’s deliberations in the trial of former Alisferil Representative Enhray, accused of attempted murder of Al-den Bush-E-tail, Terran Embassahder of the Nah-mah-cant-ah Free Squirrels…” he trailed off as he listened to something in his earpiece. “It appears the jury has made a decision. We take you now inside the court room.”
“All rise!” All did so as Judge Perraul entered and sat. Everyone else then sat.
“The jury may enter.” The jury did so and took their seats. Judge Perraul turned to the chosen spokesperson for the jury who remained standing. “Enhray, the accused, is charged with attempted murder of Embassahder Al-den Bush-E-tail. Have you have come to a unanimous decision?
“Yes, your honor. On the charge of attempted murder,” he paused,” we find Mr. Ehnray is guilty as charged.” The visitors’ gallery was filled with gasps of disbelief as security guards stepped forward to restrain Ehnray. “And.”
Judge Perraul looked at the spokesperson. “And?”
“While most present know our justice system, the victim, may not. So I will explain and then move forward with the ‘and’. While the jury is responsible for determining the guilt or innocence of a perpetrator on the charges presented to them, they may also determine other charges the perpetrator is guilty of based on the testimony presented in the case. As stated previously, Mr. Enhray has been found guilty of attempted murder. After long deliberations, we had no choice in that as he had already plead guilty to the charge previously. Even though it was allowed to be withdrawn, we could not ignore that. Per our laws a guilty plea cannot be withdrawn by the perpetrator.
“As for the ‘And’, though wild cousin squirrel is legal to hunt here in Alisferil Region, it is not legal to hunt it in the Capital District where the fight took place as the Capital District is a designated preserve zone. As part of his testimony, Mr. Ehnray has admitted to attempting to hunt the Embassahder whom he deemed a wild cousin at the time. So, in addition to attempted murder, we find him guilty of attempted poaching. The jury recommends a sentence on the lesser charge of three months prison time.”
Judge Perraul nodded. “And on the attempted murder charge?”
“Due to the status of the victim, Mr. Ehnray should get ten years.” He paused as Enhray’s wife started to weep. Enhray glared over at Aldin as the security guards held him in place.
“However, due to the request for leniency by the victim, we recommend the minimum sentence allowed, two years.”
“The jury has found that the perpetrator is guilty of two charges. The sentences shall be concurrent. The perpetrator shall serve two years in prison minus time already served,” Judge Perraul hammered his gavel once and then looked directly at Aldin. “Is the victim satisfied with the sentence?”
(chatterspit) “No, I am not satisfied, your Honor,” Aldin replied as his tail lashed out back and forth in agitation. “I am deeply disappointed. The humans of my world have a similar inefficient and sometimes unjust joo-dish-al system. I had hoped for a better outcome here.”
“Mr. Ehnray’s sentence has been reduced. However, if you are not satisfied, you may request a retrial as is your right.”
“No, your Honor. Based on what the jury’s speaker stated, I believe that would be a waste of everyone’s time at this point.”
The guards struggled in restraining Enhray. “We had a deal, tree rat!”
“Yes, Enhray, we did and that deal still stands. Please be patient. You’ll go home shortly. I promise,” Aldin replied as he pulled his personal flat panel off his back and started tapping.
“Embassahder, you don’t seem to understand,” Judge Perraul said. “The perpetrator will be escorted back to prison immediately as he’s been found guilty.”
“I understand, your Honor. However, he will not be returning to prison. I do not know if you have ever played games of chance involving,” he paused a moment and switched to English for the next word, “cards. I am not even sure if you have ‘cards’ here as I have not yet seen anything like it here. So, I do not know if the phrase I am about to utter will make any sense. I promised Enhray I have ‘an ace up my sleeve’ should things go wrong at trial. I just need a moment, please.”
Aldin finished tapping a code on his flat panel. Against a wall near the judge a purple light came on one of the wall panels. Aldin went to it and held his paw where it could be scanned. Text appeared on screen requesting an eye scan. After the scan, Aldin blinked a few times from the bright light as the light on the panel turned green.
“Paw and retina prints confirmed,” uttered a female computer voice. “Please state the verbal password for voice print confirmation.”
Aldin uttered in English, “Found guilty, proceed.” He then switched to chitterspeak, “chitterchatterchitchit.”
“Voice print matches. Password accepted.”
A middle age vixen appeared on screen.
“You probably know who I am, but to make this official, I will identify myself. This is citizen Mara of the Northeastern Hills Region, a research chemist. I served as Chancellor of the 805th Session of the United Earth Parliament that ended just over 2 months ago.
“Embassahder Aldin Bush-E-tail has informed me that former Representative Ehnray was sent to prison not for the two months he should have served for fighting on the floor of Parliament but for five years for attempted murder.”
“Parliament has its own sets of rules and laws that govern it outside of normal law. Those laws are in place to protect those who serve. For example, an employer cannot fire a citizen chosen to serve while they are away serving in Parliament.” Her eyes narrowed as she glared at the camera. “I am not pleased that someone overrode the recommendations of Parliament and I have filed a complaint with my current Representative. I promise you, this will be investigated as it is an attempt to undermine the powers granted to Parliament.”
“Though once again a private citizen, as I have served as Chancellor there is one power I retain for life. I can grant clemency to a perpetrator for crimes committed during the time period I served as Chancellor. The Embassaher has requested I use this power in this instance. I take that power seriously. As I informed the Embassahder. I have decided that I would only use it IF former Representative Ehnray went through a jury trial and was still found guilty. Sadly, if you are watching this pre-recorded message than that has occurred.
“By the power invested in me, I, Mara, Chancellor of the 805th Session of the United Earth Parliament do hereby grant Ehnray the Pine Marten of Alisferil Region clemency for any and all crimes he has been found guilty of that occurred during the period of time I served as Chancellor. As this strikes all criminal charges from his record he is to immediately be set free.
“I need a minimum of three members of that Parliament to agree in order to make this grant of clemency official. It turns out I am not the only one to find this interference in matters of Parliament troubling. Following this message you will find twenty members concur with granting clemency to Mr. Ehnray. If I had had more time, I suspect I would have had more willing to concur.”
Mara’s image faded from the screen to be replaced by recorded messages from twenty members of Parliament, which appeared one after the other, all stating their name, what region they had represented during the 805th session, and that they concurred with the grant of clemency. The court room was silent as all watched. When the screen finally went blank, Judge Perraul stared at the blank screen and then looked down at Aldin.
“I have never heard of a Chancellor using that power before.”
“It was last used about seventy years ago to allow a dying perpetrator to die at home among their family. You may research it if you wish, your Honor, to make sure it is legal. You’ll find it in…”
“No need. I saw the steps you had to go through to initiate playback of the secure message. It is extremely rare to require more than two forms of verification.” Judge Perraul looked up and around the chamber. “As the charges in question occurred on the floor of the 805th Parliament and the Chancellor of that session of Parliament has granted clemency, let any records of the charges and punishment for Mr. Ehnray be struck from the records. He is free to go.” The bear hammered his gavel and the courtroom erupted in cheers from all except government counsel. She simply glared across the room at the small squirrel.
Phyllis and Enhray’s three children rushed down to the floor and enveloped Enhray in a group hug. When they broke up Aldin cautiously approached Enhray and offered a paw in handshake. Enhray refused the paw. Instead, he scooped the small squirrel up in a hug. Cameras flashed. “Thank you,” he whispered. “But please don’t ever come near me again, Embassahder. You smell too tasty. I don’t want to be tempted like that again.”