I have heard a lot of arguments since 2000. I have heard a lot of “stuff” about what works and what does not.
This Thursday and Friday, I heard the real deal.
I will be the first to admit that my ego is bigger than anyone’s. Yes, it is. But I was humbled to see Gerry, the Lion of the Courtroom, roar.
I had already made a deal with myself that I would not take notes, that I would just experience the opening, closing and rebuttal, and that I would read the transcript later.
I share this experience out of sheer pride because our Gerry Spence is the best I have ever or will ever expect to see: From the beginning of the closing argument, where he introduced his pride of lions standing, attacking the lies of the city Council Bluffs, to the introduction of the love of his life, Imaging. From paying his respect to His Honor and His Staff, while ignoring the defense, to painting the defense as Goebbels and ministers of propaganda. Gerry commanded, “If you tell a lie nine times, they will believe it is true. From asking Terry whether he was proud to be punished with solitary confinement for standing up for his innocence and refusing to ever close the cell door on himself, to telling them Terry had instructed him to, “Trust the jury.”
These were just some of his many planned and inspired strokes of genius. I saw Gerry stand in the middle of the courtroom and ROAR, even when he did not need to, for justice, for freedom.
The rebuttal was epic – a thirty-minute crescendo that culminated with the exact words carved above the Judge’s seat: Justitia Obnibus. Justice for All. As he educated the jury about the word games the defense was playing, his indignation at being called a “liar” reached apocalyptic range.
To further illustrate his points, he told the jury a story about a group of men who gathered having no knowledge of what their long deliberations, arguments and reasoning with each other would mean in the future. These men, whose names were unknown on their previous continent, were Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, men who were unaware of the impact they would have on the free world as they stood for freedom against the tyranny of England. He then reflected on whether we, in Iowa, would understand the impact this case would have on the free world by deciding the case based on freedom and justice, while holding those who trample on these principles accountable to we, the people.
While sitting on a chair in front of the jury, he finished with a final story, a story of a young man planning to squeeze two birds to death, who was then told by an old man that the birds were in his hands. Then, as only Gerry could do, he transformed the idea of these birds as he turned to the jury and said, Justice is in your hands.
He did not elaborate, he did not express gratitude, as he had already done so. He stood up, walked toward Terry and sat down.
He had spoken.
I am a Dreamer, a Utopian. I dont know what the jury will do, but I can say for certain that when the Lion in Winter roars, he roars for our freedom, and that is good enough for me.
– Alejandro Blanco (’00)