A while back I served on a Baltimore City murder jury. Every day during breaks and after that day’s session, I wrote down everything I remembered. ‘Mosaic Law’ grew out of those notes.
1. Witnesses for the Prosecution
We was watchin’ TV, me and Weezy, Shantal and Sam. Big Eddy he be poundin’ on the door. Sam get the door, Weezy get the gun. Weezy follow Eddy out, shoutin’ up and down the street. Sam he stay back.
I be sittin’ on the curb when I see the guns. There was shots, first two, then more, more than four,
less than twelve.
Found two casings from a 25mm semiautomatic.
Weezy shoot twice in the air,
Matched the casings by their rifling marks to the weapon owned by the defendant.
Then Sam pull his gun, they both shoot at Eddy. Weezy shoot first in the air; I didn’ see them shoot at Eddy.
Recovered one slug from the body, a 38.
I said that ‘cause police said I had to help or they lock me up for aiding and abetting the murder of Big Eddy.
Weezy and Sam came back in the house, got their keys, and drove away. They drove away in Weezy’s car, it yellow or gold I don’t know what kind.
Lifted two prints from a yellow Dodge Dart registered to the defendant. Neither print yielded a positive match.
Weezy he shoot in the air. I told Eddy we should leave. Eddy pull away. He say Weezy ‘fraid to shoot him, he say he’d shoot Weezy if he had a gun. Sam say he tired of bein’ badmouthed. Sam pull his gun, big and black, just like Sam, then he shoot Weezy too. He left that gun on the dining room table, Shantal hid it in the heating vent.
Gun, I don’ know ’bout no guns. I don’t like ’em. I got two babies upstairs.
Confiscated sawed‑off shotgun from ironing board.
Can’ be paying attention t’other people’s problems. Well, maybe I heard somethin,’ but I was upstairs puttin’ my babies to bed. I guess I seen ’em ‘round the neighborhood, but I can’t say I know where they live. Well he did stay at my house sometimes, but he didn’ live there.
I didn’t lie to no grand jury when I didn’t tell them about the drugs.
Detected morphine, cocaine, quinine, heroin.
Determined the bullet not the drugs killed him.
I just didn’t say; they didn’t ask, I didn’t tell. The man’s dead, isn’t that enough? I just didn’t want to embarrass him any more.
2. Jury Room #1: Corned Beef Sandwiches
I know from the first bite: I take that first bite and it give me hiccups, I know it good; I take that first bite and no hiccups—no good.
3. Advice from the Bench
Ask the question properly.
Don’t ask what if anything was unusual ask if he saw people standing outside. Good now ask if he recognized any of those people. Good now ask if he knows the names of those people he recognized. Good now ask him to tell you their names.
Listen to me: You can’t give him the names; they have to come from him!
Now ask if those people are in the courtroom. Good now ask him to point them out.
He said they’re sitting at that table, counselor. For all you know he means the defense attorneys. You know better than that.
Counsel, approach the bench. Now.
Don’t you ever raise your voice to me.
I said sit down and be quiet before you get even closer to the contempt citation I’m about to give you.
Don’t push it, counselor; you know the rules. She’s already said that, just get on with it.
4. Jury Room #2: Roads Be Slick Tonight
Had that car 17 year; backseat look like the day I bought her new. I don’t like people ridin’ in the back seat ‘cept when I have to. Grandkids ride back there sometimes when I have to ride folk to church. I only been in that back seat two three times myself to ride I mean, not back there cleaning it out. One time I was drivin’ to New York after work; I’d been out partying, boozing it up some. Got to Exit 8 and couldn’t drive no more. Pulled off, climbed in the back seat and slept. That was the first time I ever rode in that back seat. Rest of the time I put one person up front with me and tell the rest of ’em they can find their own damn way, ‘specially when I’m just out cruising.’ Don’t like nobody ridin’ behind me.
5. Cross Examination
When did you say you saw this? And when did you say you called the police? And what was that date, the sixth or the seventh? They say the seventh, you say the sixth. Who are we to believe, Ms. Connor, you who confessed you were high on crack or police, trained detectives with clear-headed vision and no axe to grind? Do you know the expression “no axe to grind?” Do you know where it came from? They say that your brother had in his system metabolized heroin. What is “metabolized?” If you don’t know that, then how can you say you were close to your brother
the night he was shot? It was late, you say. What day was it late, the sixth or the seventh when you say you saw your brother get shot? Where were you standing, exactly, I mean. If you saw your brother fall, then were you looking at the guns? Based on what you said before, are you sure they had the guns? Did you see the guns up close? Do you know who fired which gun? Can you tell me which gun fired that single bullet that killed your brother? Can you tell me under oath, ma’am, were they standing on the grass or were they standing on the pavement? Can you tell me under oath, ma’am, that the bullet came from them? Is it possible, Ms. Connor, that your brother
died of drugs and not from being shot at all? Are you expert in forensic pathological medicine?
Can you read and can you write? Were you really out that night? Would ballistics experts say—do you know what ballistics means?—that you were then and are still now a hopped‑up cannon on the loose, pointing at who’s in your path, hoping maybe they killed your brother without knowing anything that happened on that night? There is nothing else, your honor, that this witness can provide us.
6. Jury Room #3: Stayin’ Out of the Joint
It’s that noise does it. That heavy ka‑chank when they close that door behind you.
Went to visit my cousin once; they wanted to search some of my clothes. They closed that door, I broke out in a cold sweat. I said I don’t need to see him that bad, and I hollered for them right then to open that door, and I was outta that place before the door finished closing.
7. Closing Argument
Two men stand before you wrapped in the mantle of innocence.
And until that cloth lies in tatters on the ground, they remain innocent.
You heard those words at the start of this trial from my learned colleagues on the defense.
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the jury, you’ve heard the testimony, you’ve heard the evidence, and you see that mantle of innocence lying in tatters.
They sit there now wrapped in the cloak of guilt, stained blood red by the murder of an innocent man.
8. Jury Room #4: Deliberations
They so guilty
even Ray Charles see it.