Today, once again I stood with the sisterhood of survivors on the old city hall steps holding signs in support of sexual assault survivors. Today our survivor in court was Mandi Gray.
This is starting to feel like a second home to me and right now this is where I belong. Flash mobs, rallies, supporting survivors in court, conferences, blogs, bring it on because I will be there.
Today was my second time watching the Mandi Gray trial. I wasn’t able to watch her first day when she was in cross as I too was in cross in another courtroom on the same day. February 1, 2016.
Although we both had sexual assault trials, after observing Mandi’s trial in the gallery I noticed something very different. It was the difference in the way in which the trial was conducted compared to my Henein media circus show. I couldn’t help but wonder what my trial would have been like in this court. It may have had the same outcome but damn I was liking her crown attorney, her judge and the fact that the accused was on the stand. I didn’t see Mandi’s cross examination but the judge and the crown actually seemed to be supporting her. What a concept.
I understand the accused taking the stand is not mandatory and a decision that they make, but it made such a difference. Jian choosing to sit quietly blinking in the corner made my trial much more uneven and unfair.
A couple of weeks ago I watched Mandi Gray’s crown attorney Jennifer Lofft question the accused relentlessly for hours. She never let up. Maybe my crown was just too nice or shy or…… The accused couldn’t keep up with her, saying at one point that he didn’t appreciate her question. His story was twisting and turning and made no sense by the time she had finished with him. We were all silently screaming and cheering inside and all I could think of was I wish she could have crossed Jian for me. Damn Damn Damn
Judge Zuker was very engaged in this conversation. I noticed he moved all the bibles so he could look at the accused. Periodically he would question the accused and ask for further clarification on something he had said. I’ve heard that too much interaction from a judge can be a problem, but I felt Judge Zuker had a good balance between listening and questioning. Everything pointed to the fact that he was at least trying to be fair. Fair was something I was told my stereotyping uninformed Judge was. He was far from it.
Today was for submissions and the accused’s lawyer stood there and cooked up a recipe including misogynistic rape myths, rape culture and topped it off with insinuating that Mandi used rape as a career booster for celebrity status and as part of her feminist agenda against the university. She also accused Mandi of assaulting the accused. Bad Mandi for assaulting a guy then accusing him of rape to further her career. It was so absurd it was actually comical. His lawyer really needs to perfect her presentation. Arguments like that need a Henein flare to pull them off which she clearly lacked. Judge Zuker questioned some of her ideas as not making sense with the story as a whole.
Next up for closing arguments… Jennifer Lofft. She unpacked the story with incredible detail. No stone left unturned. She kept going and Judge Zuker had to take a couple of breaks just to get through. Lofft had so much to say it felt that we could have been there long into the night listening to her arguments and eating popcorn, taking turns with the people standing in the hall because the court was full (too bad the court clerk wouldn’t let us even drink water). The thing is she made sense. Everything made sense.
In the end he may walk. Most do. This sexual assault case was rerouted and tried in domestic violence court not like my case in regular criminal court. What I liked was the idea of what I saw from criminal to domestic violence. I can only imagine what a dedicated sexual assault court would be like. Where there isn’t any rape myth garbage being thrown about because it will be so cliche and not tolerated. Where judges and crowns only deal with sexual assault and where there’s no room for victim blaming and shaming.
A girl can dream….or fight!!!!