opening statements

Hey, I know it’s a Tuesday but I have nothing better to do so I’m just gonna briefly update y’all on this stupid ass trial.

Literally, this whole thing is absolutely fucking ridiculous.

So as I’m sure you all assumed, I know literally nothing about how the legal system works, obviously, but apparently we were supposed to start with a preliminary hearing to convince the guy they randomly selected to be a judge that there’s enough evidence to suggest that Neal’s a murderer.

We skipped it. The judge already knows there’s enough evidence — because this isn’t a real trial, it’s a spoof trial put on by blood thirsty children.

Instead, we’re skipping straight to opening statements.

“I mean this is ridiculous, right?” Cosima said. “We know this is a total sham. Who’s on the jury?”

“They drew straws,” Beverly said.

Cosima took a long slow breath, in through her nose, out through her mouth hahahaha.

“Okay,” she said, apparently resigned to her fate. “Alright. Opening statements. Does actual law matter in this situation? I’m assuming the actual legal system will be entirely irrelevant.”

“That’s a safe bet,” Jasper growled.

Jasper still wants to go full Will Turner, by which I mean put on a fancy hat and save Neal’s ass from the gallows. I appreciate Jasper’s energy.

“What we need is to prove to everyone that this trial serves no one but Billy Ace and his agenda,” Beverly said. “And that if they really want a reformed system, they’re on the wrong path.”

Cosima took a deep breath and seemed to formulate her whole vision right there on the spot.

“Fine,” she said, and she meant it. We loaded into the car and headed for the bar.

I get to go to the trial. At first I thought I’d probably be stuck in the motel room with Julian, who is well and truly trapped here, but then I remembered that they already know I’m here, so what’s the harm.

So we all loaded up and headed out to the bar which is somehow the center of justice in this hilarious little stage play their putting on for themselves.

I wanna really spell out how ridiculous this thing is.

The judge (who HAS A GAVEL, which they must have GONE OUT TO PURCHASE SPECIAL) is set up BEHIND THE BAR. Hahahahahaha like, it goes bar stools, bar, beer taps, little counter, THE JUDGE, wall of liquor bottles.

And like, I will give them credit where credit is due, they DID rearrange the bar furniture so that it somewhat resembles what you might expect from a court room. I got to sit on a bar bench right behind the table where Cosima went to sit down and pull papers out of her briefcase and look all professional in her expensive ass suit.

Don’t forget the taxidermy in there either, okay. Remember that our pretend court situation is being watched by the lifeless glass eyes of creatures from other worlds, and try to take anything that happens in there seriously.

Or at least, that’s what I was thinking until they brought Neal out from the kitchen (lol) to sit down next to Cosima. They’d put him in a jumpsuit and his hair was looking extra messy and my pathetic predictable little heart clenched. And not just because despite the fact that I know him now he’s still the prettiest pretty boy I’ve ever seen. I’ve grown accustomed to missing people this year, but not to missing Hawthornes.

If something goes wrong in this room, no one can hold me responsible for what I do.

The judge was a tall, beefy guy named Doug Gutierrez. He was balding, and wearing denim and flannel, and not even the size of his enormous mustache could hide his smile.

“Welcome,” he said, waving awkwardly at what was, by that point, a fairly crowded room. “It’s uh,” he cleared his throat. “Well, it’s an honor that you guys would trust me with the responsibility of being USHO’s first judge. I’m gonna do my best.”

At the time I was too full of absolute fury to admit this, but now I can grudgingly acknowledge that I understand why they chose this guy. He’s got like… bashful, good-hearted dad energy. When the room all clapped and hollered their approval at his little speech, he was visibly uncomfortable and waved them all off.

He cleared his throat again. “Alright, um.” He adjusted his collar. “How shall we begin?”

Cosima was gonna eat this man alive.

She stood as if this was a real court case.

“I have a few questions for the court,” she said, and the word court was filled with just the right amount of scorn — which I obviously loved, though I will admit, even at that moment I could feel the open hostility emanating off the people in the room who weren’t on Neal’s side. Which was, of course, the vast majority of the people in there.

“My first question is more to do with the nature of this trial, and the degree to which the actual law plays a role.”

“Yeah, we gotta talk about that,” Judge Gutierrez said, and beside Cosima’s crisp, careful eloquence, he sounded warm and comfortable and like familiar in the way that even if it isn’t familiar to you personally, culturally you still can’t help but feel sorta connected to him. Like, I do not have a father, but Judge Gutierrez would have been my imaginary father’s fishing buddy, ya know?

Cosima waited just a beat longer than what was comfortable, before adding, with just a breath of truly delicious condescension, “yes, we do need to talk about that. Because as I’m sure you know the United States Hunters Organization has no legal standing to assemble a police force capable of arresting and trying citizens. Legally, this case must be dismissed.”

She paused to allow her point to be made before going on. “But I recognize that there are extenuating circumstances. For example, the law makes no space for magic. So, if we’re going try this in accordance with the law, I’ll argue that Nathaniel Hawthorne was reacting in self defense in the face of the premeditated murder of his younger brother at the hands of Merl and Rudy Allen.”

There was a rustle of discomfort in the room at that.

“Because Julian Hawthorne’s death was premeditated murder, was it not? If you remove the magic from the case?”

“Well,” Judge Gutierrez began, somewhat bashfully.

“Did Merl and Rudy Allen, with the support and assistance of at least 8 other men, hunt, kidnap and then kill Julian Hawthorne or not?”

The rustle of discomfort raised to a rumble, and Judge Gutierrez said, “Now —” but before he could go on, Ace’s prosecutor, Alvin Heller, said, silkily,

“I don’t believe the judge is on trial, is he?”

And Cosmia answered, without skipping a beat, “Of course not. I’m simply stating that the use of our actual law does not adequately serve our purposes. Correct?”

“It would seem so,” Heller said.

“Good,” Cosima said. “Which means, I’m not actually arguing to prove Neal Hawthorne did anything against the law, am I? As we’re all comfortable with the fact that we are all currently operating outside the law?”

There was a long moment of silence. Judge Gutierrez looked, somewhat desperately at Billy Ace, who was like VISIBLY pissed hahahaha.

Neal twisted just a little in his seat to grin at me and I bared my teeth back.

At that point poor Judge Gutierrez finally got himself together.

“I think you’re correct about that,” he said. “We’re all aware that at this juncture, we’re working to understand what will and will not be acceptable in our new society.”

Cosima nodded, and I could tell by her faint smile that she was getting everything she wanted from this conversation.

“Perfect,” she said. She turned to finally address the room at large.

The jury was seated at the table at the center of the room. There were 10 of them, and they were all dudes.

“Folks, I believe we’re all sensible people,” she said. “Knowing about the existence of monsters and magic… it’s more than any of us signed up for, and we’re all just trying to create a safe, just world. This trial isn’t going to be about finding loopholes or cheating the system. This case is about sensible people, deciding what is right and what is wrong. More specifically, and perhaps more controversially, this case is about whether Neal Hawthornes actions were justified — and I believe they were.”

She paused there to embrace the palpable disagreement from the audience, before adding, “Further, once you hear the testimony of the varied, experienced hunters I mean to introduce you to, I believe you’ll agree with me.”

And she sat down and listen I was fuckin GIDDY. I was GLEEFUL. Cosima Caro is my absolute QUEEN.

Alvin Heller spoke next. To our benefit he was just as well-pressed and expensive looking as Cosima, in his sleek suit and slicked back hair — clearly he was some lingering evidence of Billy Ace’s wealthy past life, before he became the fucking hero of the every-hunter or whatever he’s decided to be.

His speech was very simple.

“Gentlemen, we know why we’re here. This man murdered one of our own, a good hard-working hunter, who’s only priority was to keep the world safe. We have to be allowed to keep the world safe — even if that means making hard calls sometimes. No one said this job was for the delicate.”

Which like… delicate? Really? Neal? K I guess.

The audience liked Prosecutor Heller’s statement a lot better obviously, it meant they were all collectively correct. But as we walked back across the parking lot a few minutes later — they pretty much hustled us out of there the moment statements were made — Cosima assured Beverly that everything was going according to plan.

Neal stuck his tongue out at me while he was being lead back into the back room. He really seems okay.

I need to go to sleep. Trial continues tomorrow — I’ll keep you posted.

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