I am writing about my federal prosecution trial many years ago. Primarily, I was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. I didn’t conspire with anyone and I didn’t receive any financial benefit from being a fund manager.
The prosecution rested and the defense table breathed a heavy sigh. There was no more wondering who the next witness would be and if there would be some surprise or challenge that we had to quickly wrestle.
I was too naive to know what was about to happen but within no time, my attorney requested a motion to dismiss the case because the prosecution had not proven their case. Of course, that is our argument, but the Judge seemed to lean in and had a few choice words and questions for the prosecutors.
I was on the edge of my seat. This felt surreal. After all this time, the Judge is shaking the prosecutor. The Judge asked when the conspiracy began. Interestingly, I wondered about that too. There was never a time that any of the witnesses suggested that we made an agreement to do something illegal. The prosecutor replied to the Judge with a date that was not within the time frame of the charges. Hmmm. The Judge calls out the prosecutor because it doesn’t align with the dates of the charge. You can’t change the charge. “It’s the charge.”
The prosecutor quickly regained his composure and mentioned other dates within the charge timeframe that he thought may be useful. The Judge didn’t seem impressed. He shook his head and with a few words indicated that could be a problem for the prosecution. The Judge continued to listen to the argument from my attorney that none of the witnesses said that they were a part of a conspiracy with me. The Judge never heard any testimony that I got some financial benefit from being on the Fund committee.
The Judge shook his head again and said in so many words that he would continue to consider the opportunity, but wouldn’t rule on it at that time. I slid back on my seat, the Judge wasn’t ready to dismiss the case, but he certainly got everyone’s attention when he strongly implied that the prosecution had not proven their case.
There was hope.
Real hope. I hardly recognized it.
After all the enormous amount of time and effort I made to prove the truth and more emotion than I can ever describe, I saw a glimpse of a Judge that might have actually believed the truth. It overwhelmed me for a bit. I had been fighting so hard for so long. Now, it might be over or at least there was a suggestion that it could be.
My community felt like the Judge, my attorney, and me. That was my whole world right at that moment. It felt like they had my life in their hands. I would keep telling the truth. My attorney would keep vigorously defending me. The Judge would keep listening to find the truth and reciting the law.
I had such tremendous respect for the Court but I was still learning every day what I didn’t know. I had to trust the system because I had no choice but to do so.
What do you learn about yourself when you are most vulnerable?