Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I were a patient lawyer, I’d make this closing argument into a long-winded speech about the inadequacies of our criminal-justice system, the failings of our nation’s social-support networks, and the tragedy of mistaken identity. But I am not a patient lawyer. I can freely admit that. I’ve had enough of this trial, and I can see by your weary eyes that you’re tired, too. You’ve spent the last few months sitting here in this crowded courtroom, hearing day after day of testimony and sifting through endless boxes of evidence. By now, you’re probably as sick of hearing me talk as I am of talking, so I won’t bore you by blathering on about the criminal-justice system, social-support networks, and mistaken identity. I’m sure that neither of us has the patience.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I were a brilliant lawyer, I’d deliver an eloquent, deftly delivered speech right now to convince you that my client is innocent. I’d quote renowned poets, cite legal precedents, spout Latin phrases, and, in the end, ask you to consider whether it’s my client on trial here or, in fact, humanity itself. But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am not a brilliant lawyer. I can freely admit that. Hell, for most of this trial, I’ve been sitting here doing Sudoku puzzles, and I haven’t solved a damn one. Also, for the longest time, I thought “ipso facto” was a city in Michigan.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I were an emotionally stable lawyer, this is where I’d recite a litany of reasons why my client couldn’t possibly have committed the crimes for which he stands accused, calmly appealing to your logic, your common sense, and your compassion as I sowed the seeds of doubt that would eventually lead to my client’s complete exoneration. As some of you may have guessed by the way I wept uncontrollably through the jury-selection process, however, these last few months have been a difficult time for me. Ever since my wife, Barbara, ran off to Albuquerque with her tennis instructor, I’ve suffered from bouts of depression, anxiety attacks, and fits of rage. Now that I’m seeing a therapist, I recognize that I am not an emotionally stable lawyer. I can freely admit that. I also recognize that shrieking, “Why, Barbara? Oh, God, why?” throughout my opening statement might have been somewhat off-putting, especially to those of you named Barbara. In retrospect, it also may not have been the strongest defense strategy.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I were a sober lawyer, I’d take this time to repudiate the prosecution’s arguments by finding flaws in their logic and showing that each of their witnesses has a strong self-interest to incriminate my client. Also, I’d be wearing pants. But the water pitcher on the table in front of me is full of vodka, I’ve been on a two-month bender, and, apparently, I keep mistaking the witness box for a restroom. No, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am definitely not a sober lawyer. I can freely admit that. It is, after all, the first step. By the way, let me apologize to Mrs. Pelkins, once again, for the unfortunate incident during her cross-examination. I blame bad chorizo.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I were a sane lawyer, I might have called my client by his real name instead of repeatedly referring to him as “Mama Ape Breath.” Also, I might not have licked every piece of evidence or responded to each of the prosecution’s objections with a motion to make soup hats. Furthermore, I might not have called a donkey to the witness stand and then, using only armpit noises, performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado in its entirety. But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am not a sane lawyer. I can freely admit that. When your cat talks like Herbert Hoover, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.
So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in conclusion, let me just say that although I am not a patient, brilliant, emotionally stable, sober, or sane lawyer, even I can see that my client, Mama Ape Breath, is not guilty. I hope, by God, that you can see it, too.
Now who’s up for making soup hats?