Tag Archives: Cross examination

Chocolate: A Comic Courtroom Play (Scene 6)

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John (13) in the chair of a federal judge, District of Utah.

This comic play takes place in the context of an incident of domestic violence.  Make no mistake, there is nothing funny about domestic violence.  I have been involved in domestic violence prosecution for over 20 years.  I have trained prosecutors and victim advocates on a local, state, and national level.  I take domestic violence very seriously.  In Scene 6, it’s time for the defendant to take the stand.  Remember that this play is the story of a real trial, with a twist of ridiculous.  But I always remember the suffering of real people working to survive violent relationships.  With that said, I hope you enjoy this scene of Chocolate.

CHOCOLATE: A COMIC PLAY IN ONE ACT
by Roger Evans Baker

The Characters:
• The Honorable Marsha P. Stone, Judge of the 13th District Court
• Mr. John Butcher, Prosecuting Attorney
• Mr. Gil Sullivan, Defense Attorney
• Victor S. Bull, the Defendant
• Ashton “Flapper” Cuff, Court Bailiff
• Officer Harold Ketchum, Police Officer
• Vickie Hicks, Bull’s 17-year-old niece
• Judd “Snoops” Lawson, Bull’s duplex neighbor
• Ernest “Tubby” Brown, Bull’s drinking buddy
• Winowna Darling Bull, Bull’s 76-year-old mother

JUDGE STONE. (astonished at Mr. Butcher’s outburst; inclined to sustain the objections, but intensely curious about Tubby’s testimony) Well, Mr. Sullivan, you have to admit, the testimony does seem to push the relevancy envelope a bit, wouldn’t you say?

MR. SULLIVAN. (conceding with a shrug of his shoulders) Very well, Mayam. No further questions for my friend, Tubby, here. The next witness is Mr. Bull, himself. (pause) Mr. Bull, how long have you been married?

MR. BULL. Fifteen happy years, Mr. Sullivan, sir.

MR. SULLIVAN. “Sir” will do nicely, thank you. And do you love your wife, Mr. Bull?

MR. BULL. (with a confident, broad smile) Oh yes, sir, with all of my big heart.

MR. SULLIVAN. Could you ever even consider pointing a gun at your wife?

MR. BULL. (feigning shock) Never, sir.

MR. SULLIVAN. Then can you tell us, why did you have a gun when you were arguing with your wife on the fateful night of July 7th.

MR. BULL. Of course, sir. You see, it happened like this. When we got home from the Dead Donkey, I was mad because of this chocolate licking thing because she thought it was funny and I didn’t because she’s been unfaithful before so I thought she was unfaithful now because of the chocolate licking thing because she thought it was funny and I didn’t.

MR. BUTCHER. (whining) Your Honor, I really must object most strenuously to the repeated mention of the lewd chocolate incident.

JUDGE STONE. (annoyed) Zip it, Butcher. I want to hear the rest of the story. Go on, Buller, er, Bull, Mr. Bull.

MR. BULL. Sure, thing, Mayam Judge. (animated) So we started to argue. Then she called me a “horse’s ass.” Me. She called me an “ass” when she was going to have chocolate poured all over her, and who k-n-o-w-s what else, maybe colored sprinkles, or a cherry in her bellybutton. (Mr. Butcher is writhing in his effort to restrain a string of frantic objections. Judge Stone suppresses a laugh.) At that very moment I decided I was leaving this place–outa’ here–hasta lego. So I grabbed my gun from the closet so my wife wouldn’t come after me with it. She was still screaming at me when I turned around to leave–that’s why the Butcher here thinks I was pointing it at her. And then the gun went off by accident. I almost shot my own nose off. Geez, would that have been embarrassing. So I left the house, thinking I’d sleep on the deck. I was so mad that when I went to step up to the deck I kicked it instead, hit my head on the railing post—man, did that hurt!—and fell to the ground dazed. Geez, how embarrassing! When I came to my senses and noticed that I was on the ground, I said to myself, I said, I think I’ll just crawl under this deck right here and rest in peace for a while. Next thing I know the police is dragging me out, throwing me against the house, calling me a “wuss” for shooting at my wife, blinding me with their flashlights, and playing tug of war with my arms as they hauled me off to their car. That’s it.

MR. SULLIVAN. (smug) Thank you, Mr. Bull. The witness is yours, Butcher.

MR. BUTCHER. (subdued, but astonished at the defendant’s story) You’ve got to be kidding me, Mr. Bull.

MR. SULLIVAN. (mocking) Is that a question, Butcher, or are you just philosophizing about the lack of merits of your frivolous case?

MR. BUTCHER. (unphased and incredulous) Mr. Bull, are you telling this Court that when you decided to leave all you could think of to take was a loaded gun?

MR. BULL. (confidently) Yes, sir.

MR. BUTCHER. And are you telling this Court that when you decided to leave the only place you could think of to stay was on the deck?

MR. BULL. Yes, sir.

MR. BUTCHER. And you really expect this Court to believe that you tripped on the step, knocking yourself to the ground, and then decided that underneath the deck would be a good place to take a nap?

MR. BULL. (trying with limited successes to maintain composure) Yes, sir, I do, because it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

MR. BUTCHER. (with contempt) No further questions of this . . . witness.

JUDGE STONE. (impatient) Mr. Sullivan, are you going to prolong this protracted proceeding with another witness, or can we finish.

MR. SULLIVAN. Just one more witness, Mayam, an important one. And she won’t take long.

JUDGE STONE. Very well, you may proceed.

[Only two more scenes to go.  Come back soon.]

Chocolate: A Comic Courtroom Play (Scene 3)

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Hyrum (13) in front of the doors of the Utah Supreme Court.

CHOCOLATE: A COMIC PLAY IN ONE ACT (Scene 3)
by Roger Evans Baker

Snoops, the main character of these scene, is quite a made up character.  But having an uncontrollable witness is quite a routine occurrence at trial.

The Characters:
• The Honorable Marsha P. Stone, Judge of the 13th District Court
• Mr. John Butcher, Prosecuting Attorney
• Mr. Gil Sullivan, Defense Attorney
• Victor S. Bull, the Defendant
• Ashton “Flapper” Cuff, Court Bailiff
• Officer Harold Ketchum, Police Officer
• Vickie Hicks, Bull’s 17-year-old niece
• Judd “Snoops” Lawson, Bull’s duplex neighbor
• Ernest “Tubby” Brown, Bull’s drinking buddy
• Winowna Darling Bull, Bull’s 76-year-old mother

MR. BUTCHER. State calls Mr. Judd Lawson. (pause while Mr. Lawson takes the witness stand) Mr. Lawson, are you next-door neighbors with the defendant and his wife?

MR. LAWSON. (happy to be of assistance) Yes, I live right next door. In fact, we share a duplex. They live on one side and I live on the other. Kinda’ like two homes in one, you know, with a dividing wall running right down in the middle. Not much of a wall, though–I can hear everything: water pipes vibrating, stereo blasting, laughing, shouting, and all sorts of carrying on. It’s hard to be a good neighbor, sometimes. But you know, I try. I try real hard. And I think I am a good neighbor, darn it. Like when their cat had kittens on my back porch. I took ‘em right over and gave ‘em to the neighbors, in a box. It’s their own fault, you know, for not getting the cat fixed in time. We gotta keep the cat population down, you know. It’s all in the fixin’, you know. And then there was the time when their dog pooped on my lawn and made a burn spot in the grass. I didn’t even complain, although I had rights to. People should keep their dogs–

MR. BUTCHER. Thank you, very much, Mr. Lawson. Would you tell us, briefly, what you observed on the night of July 7th?

MR. LAWSON. (cheerful) Certainly. I heard a gun shot next door and a bunch of female screaming and ran to the window and saw a man run down the front porch and then around the side of the house where I lost sight of him. I thought of following after him to see what was going on. (smiling, aside to the Judge) My friends don’t call me “Snoops” for nothing, you know. (back to Mr. Butcher) But with the gun shot, and all, I decided maybe I’d stay put. People is getting shot all the time by getting mixed up in trouble, you know, and I didn’t want to get mixed up in no trouble. No, sir. Trouble free, that’s me.

MR. BUTCHER. (in dismay) Thank you, Mr. Lawson. No further questions.

MR. SULLIVAN. (eagerly, licking his lips) Now, Mr. Lawson, or, should I call you Snoops? Which do you prefer, sir?

SNOOPS. Snoops is fine; or Judd. I’ve been called just about everything, you know. Like when my granddaddy called me Bud, and it stuck for years, until my high school sweetheart, God rest her soul, called me Snicker, and it stuck, until my drinking buddies called me Snoops, because I just kinda’ like knowing what’s going on, and it stuck for good, you know. But I don’t cater to “Mr. Lawson”; makes me feel like a lawyer or something. Don’t quite feel right.

MR. SULLIVAN. Well, then, Mr. Snoops. Could you tell who ran out the door?

SNOOPS. Snoops is fine. Just Snoops. No Mr. needed. Not exactly but I knew it was a man. You know, kinda’ tall, short hair, denim jacket, cowboy boots.

MR. SULLIVAN. (affecting astonishment) Surely you are not saying, Mr. Snoops, that a lady can’t be tall?

SNOOPS. No, sir, I aint.

MR. SULLIVAN. Well, then, are you saying that a lady can’t have short hair?

SNOOPS. No, sir, I aint at all. Short hair looks right nice on some ladies, though I like long, flowing hair, myself, of the blonde variety.

MR. SULLIVAN. Maybe you’re sayin’ that ladies don’t wear cowboy boots or denim jackets?

SNOOPS. (oblivious to Mr. Sullivan’s tactics) No, sir.

MR. SULLIVAN. The fact is, Mr. Snoops, you couldn’t really tell if it was a man or a woman, could you? For all you know it could have been a tall, short-haired, denim-wearin’, boot sportin’ lady, couldn’t it? You don’t really know what you saw, do you?

SNOOPS. (suddenly confounded) Well, all I know is that I saw a man or a woman run around to the back of the house. And I don’t know no more.

MR. SULLIVAN. (gloating) He’s all yours, Butcher.

MR. BUTCHER. (fed up with his insulting opponent) I really must protest, Your Honor. My name is not Butcher, it’s Mr. Butcher. It is truly bad form for Mr. Sullivan to keep referring to me as Butcher. It’s not civil. This is, after all, a civil proceeding, like Your Honor said, and he’s supposed to be civil.

MR. SULLIVAN. (sarcastically) Last time I checked, Butcher, this was a criminal proceeding, not a civil one, so I don’t have to be civil, do I?

JUDGE STONE. (angrily) Mr. Sullivan, whatever kind of proceeding this is, this is still my court, and I’ll ask you to be more civil for the remainder of this criminal proceeding. (aside to Butcher) Try not to be so touchy, Butcher! (resuming, impatiently) Anyone else, Mr. Butcher?

MR. BUTCHER. (with great expectations for triumph) Just one, Your Honor. The best for last.

[Come back soon for Scene 4.]