Your Honor, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, thank you for your time and patience during this very lengthy trial. This has been a serious week. I am confident that the the overwhelming bulk of the evidence indicates a simple conclusion: my client, the Cat, is not guilty of trespassing.
Pursuant to section 602.5 of the penal code, trespassing is defined as “entering or remaining within a dwelling, domicile, or other residence without the expressed consent of the owner (or her agent).”
Yet, after a week’s testimony, the prosecution has been unable to provide any evidence that my client entered the residence in question.
In short, the prosecution cannot prove that the Cat entered the house without invitation—or, for that matter, that the Cat entered the house at all. To support their claims, they offered testimony from Sally, her brother, and the family’s pet fish. Let’s consider these in turn.
While Sally claimed that the Cat entered the residence that night, recall that her testimony varied from her sworn affidavit—which was given without her mother present. Recall that she admitted the inconsistency under cross-examination.
Finally, recall that—even were we to grant that her improbably, inconsistent story were true (up to this point)—in that story, she and her brother gave the so-called “intruder” their express permission to enter the residence. She also explained that the supposed “trespasser” left the residence as soon as the children made the request. Recall that this is the prosecution’s star witness! And her account of the night in question does not meet the law’s definition of trespassing. It sounds more like a simple playdate.
To be clear: we, the defense, maintain that her account of events on the night in question is too muddled and untrustworthy to take seriously. But even taken at face value, it undermines the prosecution’s case. Trespassing requires entry without permission to enter and/or remain.
Meanwhile, her brother’s story remained consistent—despite aggressive prosecution questioning. Please remember that his speculative answer to the DA’s question “Shouldn’t you tell us about it? That’s what you should do! What would you do if your mother asked you?” was summarily ruled as inadmissible by judge Le-Sieg. You cannot, you must not, consider his confused response in your deliberations. The judge’s ruling—and thus the rules of this court—do not permit it. This boy is in no position to speculate, nor should the DA have asked him to do so. Aside from that desperate, confused moment, the brother maintained that no one entered the house that day—that he and Sally spent the entire time watching the rain out the windows on the cold, cold wet day.
Given the unsteady, undermined nature of Sally’s testimony and the inconvenient nature of her brother’s account, the prosecution was forced to grasp at further straws. As you recall, they called the family’s pet fish.
That’s right. They called an animal famous for its short, unreliable memory. An animal who weighs approximately 1.5 grams—1/800th the weight of the human brain. Is this any sort of foundation for a serious consideration of property rights? Is this any sort of evidence upon which to ground a legal case? Of course not. This is a puerile attempt to play upon old piscine/feline rivalries and confuse you, the jury.
No surprise, then, that the fish’s testimony cannot be relied upon. You heard the fish claim that my client tossed him in the air, dropped him in a teapot, and otherwise abused him on the day in question. Recall, again, that the prosecution was unable to produce a single shred of evidence of damage to the residence. This despite repeated grandiose claims that my client engaged in various highly-dangerous “games” and “tricks” in the house.
Further, you heard expert testimony calling into question core elements of the fish’s story. Not only are goldfish incapable of surviving the events this fish alleges occurred on the day in question, they are also largely immobile out of water. How did the goldfish move about the house and see everything he claimed to have witnessed?
What’s more—and most devastating of all—you heard the same experts testify that goldfish have no vocal chords. They are incapable of speech. The fish claimed to have warned my client from trespassing. It claimed to have warned Sally and the boy of the risks of allowing an intruder entry into the residence.
HOW DID THE FISH DO SO WITHOUT THE ABILITY TO SPEAK?
How, for that matter, did the fish testify in this court in the first place? A worrisome question for which I have no answer. As regards my client, however, the only answer is to disregard his testimony entirely.
Before I leave the prosecution’s strangely addled case entirely, please allow me to make a brief comment on the mother’s behavior during this case. As you were not sequestered for this case, I am quite sure that some of you have seen her interview in a prominent national newspaper concerning the events on the night in question. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is a transparent attempt to influence your decision in this case by introducing speculation and self-interested arguments that would never have been permitted in a court of law. I will say nothing more of her conduct, as this is not her trial. She has gotten an outsized amount of attention without my help.
So: it’s clear that the prosecution’s case is riddled with unexplained inconsistencies. In their haste to target my client, they strayed far from the facts and—inadvertently—more than established reasonable doubt that my client trespassed in that residence on that day. Indeed, you’d be forgiven if you thought that they had intended to prove that my client’s innocence.
And while we on the defense welcomed their assistance, we were not about to let the prosecution do our jobs alone. So we put our shoulders to the plow and set to aid them in their efforts to clear our client’s name. As such, you heard defense testimony conclusively demonstrating the Cat’s innocence.
The prosecution maintained that a chapeau-covered intruder entered the residence that night. They argued that our client was the feline in question. But we called witness after witness to establish that the Cat has never owned—let alone worn—a hat. During your deliberations, please review Exhibits A, B, and C. These, you will recall, are photos taken of the Cat just days before and after the night in question—and in none of them is he wearing a hat. Indeed, you heard from Patrolman McGann that his team searched my client’s own residence and found no hat! You heard multiple witnesses confirm that my client does not, in fact, own a hat!
This is simple, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: if the intruder wore a hat, then it wasn’t our Cat.
What’s more, you also heard Mr. and Mrs. Thing testify that the Cat was miles from the residence that night—in Brooklyn, at the Red Box Café. Furthermore, the defense corroborated their claims with photos (Exhibits D and E) of the cafe’s famous Green Eggs and Ham—which were posted to the Cat’s Instagram account that very night. The evidence is clear: not only was the Cat not in the residence that night…he was not in Fort Lee! He wasn’t even in New Jersey!
Ladies and gentlemen, trespassing is a serious crime. All of us want—and deserve—to feel safe in our homes. As a society, we have a vested interest in maintaining vigilance against intruders. Serious crimes come with serious penalties. This is as it should be.
But the gravity of such charges means that they require an additional level of legal caution. If we are to impose these very serious penalties, we must make quite sure that we have established—beyond a reasonable doubt—the guilt of the accused.
In this particular case, the prosecution has fallen far short of this standard. We have provided considerable evidence proving that the Cat could not have trespassed that evening. He was not in the town. He was not in the state. He does not own a hat. He did not open the gate.
Given this overwhelming evidence, it is more than reasonable to doubt that my client trespassed that night. Indeed, I am confident that, after your deliberations, you will conclude that there is no substantial evidence putting my client in the residence that night—and vote to acquit the Cat of all charges.
(Image used under Creative Commons license. Originally posted to Flickr by user Todd Ehlers.)