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Gag Order – Installment 10 – Open and Shut Case
‘Your Honor,’ said Krasten, ‘we seek the court’s indulgence and request a gag order to protect the identity of the accused.’
Sakaris jumped up and interrupted. ‘Your Honor, the public has the right to know.’
‘Your Honor,’ said Krasten, speaking over the DPP, ‘we’ve had a case, State versus Wong M L, where a female teacher who had sex with a minor—her student—was granted full anonymity even after she was found guilty.’
‘Your Honor,’ said Sakaris, ‘that was to protect the identity of the victim—a minor.’
‘And yet, Your Honor, we’ve had male teachers routinely named and shamed for alleged sexual offences against their female students. Is the DPP suggesting that our girls do not need the same level of protection as our boys? State versus Wong M L had set a precedent and we seek consistency.’
‘Your Honor, in the case of State versus Wong M L, there were mitigating factors.’
Both lawyers remained standing and the judge looked from one to another, as if he was watching a tennis match.
‘Perhaps in the case of State versus Wong M L, the DPP would like to reveal the identity of the boy’s parents and what influence they wielded,’ said Krasten.
‘Careful Mr Bronn,’ said Judge Gurshan. ‘I know you’re one of those foreign talents come here to teach us ignorant locals a thing or ten, but your very ignorance is a mitigating factor and I will let you off this time.’ The judge wagged a finger at Krasten. ‘But you’re sailing too close to scandalizing the judiciary.’
‘My apologies, Your Honor, I withdraw that last statement,’ said Krasten.
The judge nodded towards the stenographer and said, ‘Delete counsel’s last statement from the records.’
‘Thank you, Your Honor,’ said Krasten. Then, in a more subdued voice, he continued, ‘The gag order is for the sake of his two children.’
‘Your Honor,’ said Sakaris, not letting up in the tone and urgency of his voice, ‘the State objects as every accused would put his children in front and plead for their sake. We’ll set precedent.’
‘A long overdue precedent, Your Honor,’ said Krasten.
‘Before we know it, Your Honor, we’ll have gag order requests because of family reputations, a distraught wife, aged sickly grandparents, the pining pet dog—’
‘Pining pet dog, you say,’ said Judge Gurshan, bringing the exchange to an end. ‘That’s a new one, Mr. Boey, even for you.’ He sighed audibly and added, ‘Looks like you lot are intent that an aged sickly grandparent, which I am, should work for a living.’
Judge Gurshan’s eyes landed on Wilona’s opened shirt. He smiled, making her want to hide under the table.
‘What do you say, Ms. Cheah?’ asked the judge.
Taken off guard, Wilona stood up and stammered, ‘Well, Your Honor, as the case proceeds we’ll prove this is a lover’s tiff which spiraled into—’
‘Is this true Mr. Boey,’ the judge shot the question at the DPP, ‘is there any spiraling going on here?’
‘Your Honor, we’ve enough evidence to make this an open and shut case,’ replied Sakaris, apparently taken unawares too.
‘Open and shut you say,’ said Judge Gurshan. ‘Do you plan on taking away my lollipop, Mr. Boey?’
‘No, Your Honor, not in my wildest dreams.’
‘Wildest dreams? You want me in your dreams, Mr Boey? Now you’ve got me worried.’
Wilona moved to sit but the judge turned on her and said, ‘Keep standing, Ms. Cheah!’ The judge considered Bastien Tee, and the lawyers, one-by-one. ‘Motion for gag order denied.’ Then, looking at Wilona, he added, ‘And Ms. Cheah, please, try not to worsen my high blood pressure. Button up your shirt!’
Wilona flushed and Sakaris smirked.
‘Did I say something funny, Mr. Boey?’ asked Judge Gurshan, sharply turning on the DPP.
‘No, Your Honor.’
‘Well, here’s something to give you a laugh or ten. Since this is an open and shut case,’ said the judge softly as he consulted his papers. Looking up, he said,
‘Your request to remand the accused for two more weeks? Request denied! I’ll set bail today. Counsels see me in chambers. Court adjourned till 10.00 AM tomorrow morning.’
Judge Gurshan brought his gavel down hard.
*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***
*** Story continues on Saturday 15 July ***