The Verdict Is...

October 20, 2012
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The Verdict is…

Throughout my life I have found that snow can be quite deceiving. After a time of massive destruction and death, the snow is still fluttering down from the sky. The peaceful snowflakes cover the rubble like a blanket hiding the evidence. Today’s date is January 11th, 1947. Despite the challenge up ahead, the snow is swirling around me. As I anxiously make my way towards The Palace of Justice, I review my speeches and facts. Throughout my career despite my one hundred percent success rate, my nerves act up quite a lot. I find the best way to address these nerves is think about my facts. The reason that I am here in Nuremberg, Germany today is because, as a German defense attorney, I must defend Adrian Kahn. During the Holocaust, he was a guard at Auschwitz and led many innocent men to their death committing many crimes against humanity. These types of crimes include murder, torture, and enslavement. I know everything he has done, and honestly it disgusts me. Secretly, this is one case that I wouldn’t mind losing.

I am a tall man with the traditional German look. Even a man like me gets frightened at the sight of the Palace of Justice. Outside the towering building the flags of the four Ally countries, France, the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, sway. I walk as slowly as possible, wishing for the chance that the trial will be cancelled for some mysterious reason before I get there. I know this trial will be the most challenging one for me to win and, personally, I am glad of that. I have heard the stories of the trials leading up to mine. Of the twenty-two individuals who were called to the original trial, twelve were sentenced to death, three to life imprisonment, and four were sentenced up to three years in prison. That leaves three people who were found not guilty. The chances are slim and Mr. Kahn's fate is clear.

I am a thirty-seven year old man who has lived a full life and takes every challenge ahead of me. I have reached the point where I must accept this obstacle and fulfill my duty. I enter one of the twenty courtrooms in the Palace and prepare myself. Ahead of me are the four stands belonging to the four judges, one from each of the Ally countries. Each of these judges was chosen officially by the London Agreement. This document is what gave each individual called for trial the right to a defense attorney. It acts as an aid to the defendants and a curse to the attorneys, like myself.

The suspense of waiting triggers my nerves and I go back to reviewing my facts. I know that my major defense will be that this charge is for a crimes under adjudication ex post facto. This means that the defendant is being tried for crimes which at the time were not established as crimes. My client was simply told to do this, all of his actions were out of his control. I am sure these judges will eat that up, being such a classic excuse. While reviewing my main defense I noticed the translation system. I have never seen such a system in any of the trials in which I partook. Around the courtroom there are six microphones, one for each judge, the witness stand and the speaker's podium.

Amazed by the intricate system, I ask a nearby man "This translation system is quite fascinating, do you think?"

"Yes, it is very complicated. The whole system was designed and created by the U.S. company IBM. You must wear these headphones here and choose the channel for your native language. In addition I should tell you over there you see that light? Well, when you are speaking the light will flash to signal you. When the light is yellow then you must slow down, and when red you must stop and repeat the last section of your speech" he explains.

"Thank you, Sir." I notice the headphones and the light and make a mental note to speak slowly and not let my nerves get the best of me.

At last it was time for the trial to begin. I can feel the sting of the glares coming from the judges, who at this point were sick of these German men and their identical defenses. Now, I wouldn't say that I am an overly confident man, but I know that I am quite good at what I do. I decide to make their job slightly easier and not use all of my convincing skills. In a way I pity Mr. Kahn. His own attorney isn't even on his side.

The trial continues on like any other and it is finally time for the judges to make their final decisions. On any other occasion, I would be a nervous wreck at this time of the trial. My hands would shake violently and my heart would pound wildly. However at this very moment, my hands are still as a tree on a windless, summer day. My heart is as calm as ever. The judges have decided on the punishment of life imprisonment. The last step is to vote on whether or not this punishment were to be given. Guilty or not guilty was the question at hand and will be decided by this majority vote.

"I vote that this man, Adrian Kahn, is guilty of the crimes against humanity," the judge of France states.

"I disagree, I vote that this man is not guilty," I sense Adrian's hopes rise momentarily.

"I also disagree, I believe this man to be not guilty," I can not believe my ears at this moment.

"I agree that Mr. Kahn is guilty of these charges," this vote causes the even split between the judges.

I know what this means. The London Agreement stated that if the panel of the judges was split evenly down the middle, then Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence of Great Britain would make the final decision, and so he did. On January 5th, 1947 Adrian Kahn was sentenced to life imprisonment for numerous crimes against humanity. The court was adjourned and I walked out of the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany with my first lost case and a smile on my face.





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