Friday, April 18, 2008

Duck Billed Defense, Day Two

Hans ReiserYesterday was Day Two of the Duck Billed Defense of Hans Reiser, the platypus-ian computer programmer who is on trial for the death of his (yet-to-be-found) wife, Nina. If you were unaware that a human being could be compared to a platypus (let alone be compared to a platypus as a defense to murder charges), well, you wouldn't be alone. Then again, there have been a lot of things in this trial that I was unaware of. (That techno-geek S&M crowd of Silicon Valley, for one.)

When we last left the really, really f-ing weird closing arguments being given by the defense, William DuBois was clinging to a stuffed platypus and likening the egg-laying mammal (one of only 5 mammals that lay eggs) to his client, Hans Reiser. I suppose the analogy was supposed to be something like, "This is a weird duck. He is a weird duck. Weird ducks are innocent." It didn't really come across like that. It kind of came across as an old attorney holding a stuffed animal in court whilst making berating comments about his client in his unique and strategic attempt to show the innocence of his client.

duck billed platypusWhen the defense's closing arguments continued on Thursday, the platypus theme was still present, although the stuffed animal had been replaced by an image of a platypus projected onto a screen in the courtroom. That followed with Mr. DuBois reminding the jury that "the platypus is Hans." (Not words I would want to hear my attorney say in my defense at my murder trial. But that's just me.) He said, "This is what they actually look like, but you get the idea." Um, actually, no I don't. This guy is that duck thing again why?

Then Mr. DuBois reminded the jury of why Hans was a platypus. (That seems like the most logical thing to start with, if you're asking me. Because if he doesn't explain it, there will be questions. ) DuBois smiled at the jury and said, "Did you know that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs? I was trying to think recently how a platypus could even evolve. It must have been a genetic mistake. That's why it reminded me of..." That's when Mr. DuBois's voice sort of trailed off and he glanced over at Hans. Ah, yes, the old "my client is a genetic mistake" angle. Then things start to get a little weird.

DuBois continued to explain to the jury why his client, the innocent, pseudo-egg laying mammal, would not have killed his wife with his children in the house. He explained that the children could have witnesses such a killing by being present, and if someone did not want to get caught, they wouldn't kill their spousal platypus with their platypi offspring (I swear, more than one platypus = platypi.) in the home. Or den. Or whatever they live in. He said, "Even for a platypus, that one's hard to believe." (I'd have to imagine that all platypi are, at this very moment, finding all of this "hard to believe". Either that or they have absolutely no clue whatsoever that there is a murder trial going on. One of the two.)

This was the basic line of reasoning that Mr. DuBois continued with platypusthroughout his closing arguments (which, by the way, he did not finish. Day Three of "The Platypus Is Innocent" will continue on Monday. They're taking Friday off. Shocker.) He explained repeatedly why "a platypus" acts the way it does. He was also a bit dismayed that twice during his arguments, the image of the platypus disappeared from the monitor for no apparent reason. Both times caused him to ask, "What happened to Hans?" Yes, he has started calling the platypus 'Hans'. I guess that's to continually remind the jury of his freakishly weird defense theme of 'egg laying, fur bearing mammals indigenous to Australia." (Yeah. It'd be hard to remember that all the time. Thanks for the refreshers there, Bill.)

And I'm not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV and I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but there was a point when I'd have to say that Mr. DuBois got a little carried away with his platypus analogies. He got carried away to the point where he clearly didn't realize how wrong what he said must have sounded (and that's just to those in the court who knew what in the hell he was talking about. If you had just poked your head in the courtroom 30 seconds before this part, you'd have been really confused and probably horrified.).

It was when DuBois was stating that he thought that Hans was getting a raw deal by being charged with his missing wife's murder in the first place. That's when he said, "I just know this is one of the great screw-jobs of what happened to Hans Reiser. It's easy to screw a platypus." Yes, of course it platypus-ian platypusis. Wait. What? (Did he just say it was "easy to screw a platypus?" WTF?!)

Even after THAT, he kept talking and he said, "I don't know how they stay away from predators. They must taste terrible." Now, maybe he didn't know he was speaking out loud and that other people could actually hear him. I don't know how else to explain THAT. It's the closing arguments in a murder trial and the defense attorney just told the jury that it's easy to screw a platypus and that they must taste terrible. Aside from not seeing the hidden legal precedence in those statements, they're just wrong on so, so many levels that I can't even go there. And I'd appreciate it if, in the future, if you didn't go there either, Mr. DuBois.

The prosecution will get to speak to the jury after the defense finishes it's platypus-ian closing statements. That should be interesting. Web-footed mammalian rebuttals. Stay tuned, won't ye?

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NĂ­dia said...
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Anonymous said...

The Long-beaked Echidna also is a mammal that put eggs, so the platypus isn't the only mammal which can put eggs.

Mare said...

Technically, there are three egg laying mammals, also known as monotremes. The platypus, the long beaked echnida and the short beaked echnida. The echnida is also known as the spiny anteater. Regardless as to how many egg laying mammals there are, that statement was in quotes, being as how it was said by the attorney being quoted and not by myself. Perhaps you could let him know, instead of me, that his closing statement had erroneously erased the echnida from the argument.