Today I’ve spent five hours (five!) watching videotaped statements given by Client’s Codefendent in our murder case. Codefendent didn’t know he was being videotaped (side note: does someone with more legal knowledge than me want to explain how this is okay?), but he was, and there are five long hours of footage of him in a room, maybe nine by ten, sitting in a cheap plastic chair at a cheap pastic table alternately being questioned by Interviewer and being left alone in the room to think about what got him here in the first place. There are long stretches where he is sitting in the interview room with his Guardian and they’re talking, the way you’d talk with your mom at the dining room table after she picked you up from a party where kids got caught drinking, a mix of scolding and soothing and fatigue, and things are said, incriminating things, and the kid still doesn’t know he’s on videotape and Guardian seems to believe that if he just gets it out of his system and tells the truth he’ll be going home tonight except that he’s been incarcerated since this statement was taken, which is now eight months and counting.

After about four hours in the freezing interview room, where Codefendent and Guardian are sitting bundled in yellow plastic blankets that Interviewer gave them that look like something you’d use on a mountainside during a medical emergency, Codefendent dozes off because he’s been sitting there for four hours and it’s been eight hours since he ate anything or used the bathroom and it’s two in the morning, and at this point Interviewer comes in and asks Guardian if she’d prefer to sit in the hall where it is warmer, and so she does. 10 minutes later Codefendent wakes up and Guardian is gone and he’s alone in the room and it’s freezing and they’ve taken his shoelaces and his belt and his sweatshirt and he’s sitting there in his undershirt and it’s two in the morning and all of a sudden it’s too much for him and he starts to cry, quietly at first and then huge, racking sobs, anguished sobs, and he cries for fifteen minutes still not knowing he’s on videotape, until he starts to quiet down again and then at that moment Interviewer, who’s been watching the whole time, who purposely invited Guardian into the hallway when Codefendent was asleep, walks in and asks:

“So, you finally ready to stop lying and tell me the truth?”

Advertisements