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Reasonable Man

by J.W. Kurilec

 

Silence echoed off the vaulted ceiling as Chief Justice Douglas Howard entered the court. In lock step he was followed by the two Associate Justices that along with himself composed the highest court of this new land. Taking his seat the Chief Justice took one last look around the overcrowded hall. They were all here, media, politician, ordinary Joe, all looking to him to answer the question that was shaking the nation to its core.

In his wildest dreams he never thought he would be here, never wanted to be here.

His gaze worked its way around to the defendant's table. Sitting there stately in his blue pinstripes, hair neatly parted on the left, and without the slightest trace of sweat on his brow, was The President.

Nine years of civil war had gutted the hopes of this once proud land. Built over the centuries by its vast technology, it now lay in total ruin from that very same blessing and curse. Then Robert Clarke came forward as if sent from heaven itself. With mesmerizing oratory, a keen intellect and an unsurpassed talent for negotiating, he and he alone brought the warring factions together and forged a peace.

Reconstruction was difficult. With the previously warring factions still weary of each other and a pressing need to keep the country's restoration from derailing, it was decided to vest the nation's power in the one man who they all trusted, the one who was its savior.

As President, Robert Clarke tried to quickly move the country forward. His first hurdle was to bring law back to this now lawless land. Clarke would do away with the vast corrupt system of codified regulations that had governed before the war and in its place he put forth the 'Reasonable Man' theory of law. The accountability or liability of a man based solely against the actions of the 'Reasonable Man'.

As is the case when ideals are put into practical use problems arise. Ambiguities arose as to what the actions of a 'Reasonable Man' would be. In an effort to narrow the definition the newly formed legislature decided to define the 'Reasonable Man'. They would define him in flesh and blood by adopting the country's savior as their model. An action most popular with the electorate, but one that Robert Clarke had argued against most vigorously. It was his first and as far as anyone could tell his only political defeat.

The court proceedings were straight forward. The defense seemed simple enough, if the defendant was the model of the 'Reasonable Man', then whatever he did or would do would be legal, would hence, be the actions of the 'Reasonable Man'. That was the letter of the law. President Clarke's cadre of attorneys did not discount the advantage of having a living god as a client either.

The prosecution though did not see it quite that cut and dry. The young prosecutor's attack was both colorful and idealistic, an ironic twist, for just days ago it was the defendant who was his ideal. Nevertheless he pressed his case forcefully. "If this defendant's crime were to go unpunished it might resolve the immediate problem this country faces. But in the long term and perhaps the not so long term it stands to wipe out the moral base on which our new country must be built. The 'Reasonable Man' system is sound, the fact that the defendant is the model for this, is not. The defendant himself has vigorously argued on the need to have a broader interpretation. The fact that we're here once again proves that he was right."

The Chief Justice looked at his two colleagues, then after a long soulful gaze into the gallery, looked down to their ruling. "Faced with the unforeseen we must react. How we react defines us, how we act today will define us as a people. Our country has struggled and out of the ashes of war we have rebuilt, overcome. This we owe to President Clarke and while his motives were good, I sincerely do not believe there was any malice in his actions, they were wrong. The facts may well support the defendant's need for the deception he perpetrated to bring us out of war, but I must deal in today. All that I know is our President, the man in whom we have placed our complete faith, is not what he seems, not what he represents himself as. It is with a heavy heart that the court finds him guilty of deceit and orders as is prescribed in the constitution his immediate removal from the high office of President."

The court room erupted in a furry of sound. Some applauded the ruling, others objected, but they all worried, worried what would become of their country, what would become of their lives. No one was exempt from this worry, no one but Robert Clarke; he sat emotionless, he understood their worries but could not share in their fears, he could not experience that awful pit in the stomach feeling. Robert Clarke was many things, a diplomat, a hero, a president, but most of all he was an android.*

 

Story copyright © 1999 by J.W. Kurilec <jwkurilec@bigfoot.com>

Artwork "The Prezdent" copyright © 1999 by Romeo Esparrago<public@romedome.com>

 

 

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