The woman seemed agitated. Her gaze centered on Criminal Lawyer Jason Doe and in the next second, she turned her face slowly away from him.
The courtroom remained quiet and feeling of uneasiness filled the room.
“I’m going to ask you a question,” the lawyer said, a grin on his face, “Mrs. April Dolley, did that man, and you can look at him, did he rape you?”
The woman followed the lawyer’s instructions and removing her glasses, replaced them, and squeezed her face in an agitated sense of concern and replied, “Yes,” she said, and mopped her face with her handkerchief.
“You told the Court that the person who attacked you on the night of your birthday was about five feet seven?”
“But the man who you have accused, the man whom I told you to look carefully a while ago is about five feet two.
“Does that mean that you are mistaken in your identification?”
“No, I am not.”
“Two persons cannot have two different heights at the same time and therefore you apparently have replaced an innocent man as the real culprit?”
“You also testified that the accused weighed about 200 pounds and in reality, the man who is accused weighs about 150lbs and this suggests another flaw in your testimony, Mrs. Dolley?”
Prosecutor Willie Job said, “Your Honor the trauma of being a rape victim is a humiliating experience for any woman and therefore Counsel must understand the woman’s testimony.”
Counselor Doe gave the prosecutor’s comment some thoughts before he said, “It does not suggest that any man must be accused of the crime, does it?”
“The victim is suffering from a blurred vision as far as the event of January 8, 2014, is concerned,” the prosecutor said.
Turning to the judge, Jason Doe said, “Having admitted that the victim is suffering from a blurred vision, does it not follow that the defendant may be innocent and he is being tried for a heinous crime he never committed?”
The prosecutor was about to respond when Judge Theresa Kollie said, “Gentlemen, while this case deals with a woman’s honor, the Court finds it interesting however that the prosecutor would admit a deficiency on the part of the victim.
“The question that deserves to be examined with all urgency is whether the victim’s blurred vision, admitted by counsel, is a result of the experience on January 8, when she organized a party with her friends.”
The prosecutor said, “Thank you, Your Honor, it seems likely that such a deficiency was something she was born with.”
“But,” the judge went on, “if that is the case, this must be backed by evidence from a professional and I should not think that the DA rushed a case for pretrial without much preparation.”
“That’s not the case, Your Honor.”
“This is a serious case and our laws are determined to stamp out such attempts on women, it makes a whole of sense for the DA’s office to ensure that an accused enjoys all the right of innocence till the resolution of the case,” the judge explained at length.
The echo of uncertainty whipped in the courtroom and the judge allowed some seconds to pass before she continued.
“Admitting that the Court’s opinion concerning the lack of preparation in the case was wrong, the Court will go ahead with the pretrial and entertain the defense to continue with the cross-examination.
“The Court,” she said, “will over-rule the prosecution’s objection to the victim’s past,” and turned to Counselor Doe, said, “you may continue with your cross-examination.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” the prosecutor said and remained in his seat. The blow as a result of the judge’s reaction was felt in the courtroom.
The witness, who stood surprised at the exchanges, stared moodily at the ceiling and began to play with her fingers.
Jason Doe walked towards the defense table and deliberately examined some papers in an attempt to buy some time.
Perhaps he was enjoying the negative effects of the shadow-boxing between the judge and the prosecutor, and Jason Doe not being the type to celebrate in the agony of another, allowed a couple of seconds to pass to give the witness a chance to recollect herself.
Though Jason Doe regretted the woman’s experience he was very much interested in the culprit to face prosecution.
He was, however, convinced that his client, Robert Solo, was innocent till he was proven guilty. No matter the situation on hand, Jason Doe would not suffer any victim to suffer any injustice and at the same would also not allow the innocent to suffer injustice as well.
Now turning around swiftly he took wide steps to the witness on the stand and met the pleading eyes of a woman, a mother who had been a victim of one man’s callousness.
“Mrs. April Dolley,” he said, “how long have you been using glasses?”
“Since I was five years of age.”
“And you are thirty-five years?”
“How well do you see without your glasses?”
“Let me be honest with you, sometimes I can see well but other times I can’t see.”
“How well do you see objects closer to you?”
“Besides certain colors, I can see closer objects including people as well as the colors of clothes.”
“Besides ‘certain colors,’ what does that expression mean, Mrs. Dolley?”
“It means I can see with the glasses on as much as I can see without them.”
The lawyer considered her response and said: “According to Doctor James Boley, an oncologist, his report about you indicates that you have problems distinguishing one color from another?”
“Objected to as improper cross-examination,” the prosecutor said.
The judge said from her bench, “Overruled and the Court will be interested to hear her answer.”
“To the extent that I can see the colors so close to me.”
“You don’t assume the doctor will be incorrect in his professional analysis of your case, did you?”
“No,” she responded, her eyes downcast, “but sometimes a professional report can be faulty because I know I am talking to you and I can see every bit of the color of your clothes.”
“When you were at age 18, you mistakenly accused a young man, whose shirt’s color was white, as red for abusing you, though the case was thrown out of court, due to wrong identification?”
Prosecutor Willie Job was on his feet.
“Oh, Your Honor, is this line of questioning necessary? What happened to her in the past should have no bearing on what this man did to her.”
Judge Theresa Kollie looked at the prosecutor, with a grin.
“The prosecutor should be aware that rape in Liberia is a serious crime and an accused is not bailable. The Court is interested in this issue and will allow the defense to continue his line of questioning.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” the prosecutor said, “I just did not want her background of many years ago to use in this case prominently.”
Jason Doe smiled and walking towards the witness said, “You will not object to any demonstration to measure how well you are able to identify colors, will you?”
“Objected to as improper cross-examination, not proper foundation laid,” the prosecutor shouted.
“Overruled,” the judge responded swiftly.
With a frown, Jason Doe kept his eyes locked with the witness, and said, “I want an experiment to give you the best chance to demonstrate how well you are able to see objects.”
The prosecutor wanted to announce another objection but when he met the eyes of the judge, he held his peace.
Jason Doe, feet planted apart, shrugged his shoulders and made a signal to his private secretary Janet Lovebird, who strolled to the lawyer and handed him several blouses in various colors and sizes.
Lifting a red blouse with a black collar, Counselor Doe said, “I want the witness to tell the Court the color of this blouse, first without your glasses.”
The witness gave a mild laughter. She adjusted her glasses on her face and her eyes brightened up and straining as she grabbed the red blouse from the lawyer.
Several seconds had gone by as the witness kept turning the dress and gazing at it. The lawyer moved in to rescue the situation when he said, “Mrs. April, what is the color of the dress in your hands?”
The courtroom was silent as all attention was directed at the witness.
“This is not a difficult color to identify,” she said with a smile.
“What color is it?” the lawyer pressed on.
“This is a white dress,” as spectators gasped in utter surprise.
Jason Doe said, “Are you sure the color of the dress that you are holding is white?”
“Yes,” the witness said. “I hope you are rather not blind more than me.”
Judge Kollie leaned forward on her desk and said, “My young woman, did you just say the color of the dress you are holding in your hand is white?”
“Yes,” she responded, “I just told the lawyer, Your Honor, and you can see that this dress,” she raised it up further to make sure that the judge followed her direction, “this dress’s color is white.”
Prosecutor Job’s face changed suddenly, and he lifted his two hands to grab his head, in disbelief. It was like a dream to the packed audience.
Jason Doe saw the opening in the confusion and said, “Mrs. Dolley, you described the man who attacked you on January 8, 2014, as ‘a man who had on a white cap. Do you still stand by the testimony that this defendant had on a white cap with the color like the one in your hand?”
“Yes,” she said.
Jason Doe smiled, and directing his attention to the prosecutor, said, “Is it not a fact that when the defendant was arrested, police investigators seized several items, including a black cap, not red which she testified to and was accepted as Exhibit A.” It was realized that the witness deficiency made her identify all colors as red.
The prosecutor, with difficulty, said, “The record indicates that it was a white cap.”
“Therefore,” Jason Doe continued, “it is clear that the victim has a deficiency that intrudes in her ability to make distinct identification of even colors of people.”
Nodding her approval, Judge Kollie said, “It goes without saying that the witness miss-identified her attacker as it is evident in her identification of the color of this dress in her hands.
“The Court finds this case interesting and therefore stipulates a vigorous search for the criminal and meanwhile orders the defendant released from further detention.”