Human Justice: Short story

Next!” the judge shouted, while the guards carried the defendant away by the arms. The next defendant had to wait for some minutes to sit on his chair because some guards were mopping the blood spots left by his predecessor. They hadn’t had time to change the water in the bucket, because the previous trial had lasted only the time it took the prosecution to whip the defendant till he confessed his crime. This particular defendant was acquainted with the trial mechanism so he confessed immediately, but this didn’t prevent the prosecutor from whipping him till he drew some blood. Constitutionally, the whipping could continue till the defendant had bled a quarter of blood, but some smart ass defendants confessed when they just saw the whip, so as to avoid the whipping. Many prosecutors felt slighted by this lack of court decorum and they demanded the permission to exert their Constitutional right. The phrase: “I demand my quarter, your Honor” had become customary, and it was rare the case when the judge denied the procedure, as it would be an affront to the prosecutor. Typically the whipping stopped once some blood had soaked the garments, but sometimes the prosecutor was so carried away that the judge needed to exclaim: “Your quarter has already been granted” so as to stop the whipping. However, most of the defendants behaved decorously and they pleaded innocent till they were drenched in their own blood. They tended to fall unconscious several times before the procedure was over, and they were awakened by slaps on their faces or by ammonia in their nostrils. Many times it took several sessions for the defendants to plead guilty, due to the obduracy and impenitence inherent to the criminal mind.

The case in question was a clear example of this lack of contrition. The defendant waiting to sit on his chair had recused the procedure five times already and he’d been dismissed from court after bleeding a quarter, without any verdict. Most courts had implemented a system of stun belts in this kind of situations, although it hadn’t been institutionalized yet. Finally the guards finished mopping and the accused was seated. His hands were manacled, as customary, but on his waist, over his shirt, a stun belt could be seen. The judge glanced at the defendant and sighed in discontentment.

It seems that wickedness is ingrained in you, Mister Johnson,” he said. “People who refuse to abide by the law are a scourge to our society. You’ve been accused of soliciting sex from a minor and you’ve recused this court five times already. What do you have to say this time, Mister Johnson? How do you plead?”

I refuse to plead anything,” the defendant said “until my Constitutional rights are respected. You have tortured me and given me no means of defense whatsoever. I recuse your whole court and my defense attorney, who seems to be blind to these infringements of human rights.”

What’s your opinion, Madam Smith?” the judge addressed the attorney.

It’s my opinion,” she answered, “that the defendant is behaving disrespectfully to this court and he represents a great threat to the judiciary system and the stability of society.”

Thank you, Madam Smith. So do you agree with the stunning procedure?” the judge said.

Yes, your Honor. It’s fair and necessary,” she answered.

Hit him,” he exclaimed, and the baillif holding the switch pressed the button which sent fifty thousand volts of electricity through the defendant’s body for eight seconds. It was procedural to apply the electrical discharge immediately after the accused had pleaded innocent, but in front of this act of contempt towards the court, the judge had decided to order a preliminary discharge. After the man on the floor had writhed and frothed for two minutes, the guards lifted him up and dropped him on his chair. He couldn’t maintain an erect position, but this wasn’t considered contemptuous by the court, so the judge proceeded to say: “Now, Mister Johnson, I hope this trial won’t reflect too much on our electric bills. I ask you, as a man addressing a fellow man, to consider carefully your answer and to allow this court to rule, thus exerting its privilege and responsibility. I appeal to your humanity now, how do you plead, Mister Johnson?”

The man’s mouth was open, but no words came out of it. It was typical, under the circumstances, so the judge waited patiently for the defendant’s answer. After twenty seconds of heavy breathing, the defendant finally said: “I recuse you and your court, and I demand my Constitutional rights are respected.”

The judge flared in indignation this time. “Your Constitutional rights, Mister Johnson, are being upheld by this court. You have the right to trial and to accept your guiltiness. Unfortunately, these rights were meant for reasonable people, not for animals like you! Hit him again,” he shouted at the baillif.

The same dose of Constitutional procedure ran through the man’s body, contracting and convulsing every nerve and muscle, compromising the heart and burning neurons and synapses. After the two minutes customary period, the defendant was prostrated on his chair again and the judge, unwilling to waste more time, asked the baillif to give some water to the defendant. Everyone knew what this meant, but it was customary not to acknowledge the certain results of this action. A glass of water was a sign of pity from the judge, and it was conceded to defendants when they were too distraught by the court procedure. It was a sign of the humanity of court law and the fact that the judge never forgot that he was ruling over human beings. This time the accused refused to drink or even open his mouth, so the glass of water was poured on his head.

How do you plead, Mister Johnson?” The judge uttered, indifferently this time, his eyes laid on a remote point beyond the courtroom, as if staring directly at the face of justice.

Go to hell, you and the society who spawned you!” the man exclaimed, and no one will know if he had anything else to say because at the shout of “Hit him!” a fatal discharge accomplished human justice.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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