The Case of The Viking, The Post-Op Transsexual, and The Chinese McDonald’s
“May I remind you, Mr. Fallon, that your client is entitled to a speedy trial.”
-Judge Susan M. Eagan
“A ‘speedy trial’ means he was supposed to be entitled to a trial soon after being falsely accused! It doesn’t mean we should rush through this thing like it’s a goddamn Chinese McDonald’s!”
-Attorney Paul Fallon
Susan Eagan is a political appointee who breezed into incumbency. She knows who she works for. And she doesn’t know much else. She’s the former president of a Christian homeschooling association, for example. Before the jury comes out, she brings the lawyers back to her chambers to scold Fallon for rolling his eyes at her. That was his highly disciplined response to being told not to question witnesses so thoroughly.
The above quotes aren’t “perbatim,” as Reverend Gillison would say, but that’s the gist of what Fallon whispered to me when they were done — while sliding me a grape-flavored treat that he’d swiped from Eagan’s desk.
“What a miscarriage of justice,” I thought. And, “CANDY!”
For me, Judge Susan M. Eagan is not a good judge. For the City of Buffalo, however, she’s a committed public servant. Very committed. Overly committed. Egregiously committed. I’ll soon get into the Viking and the post-op transsexual (that’s what he said), but first I need to expand on Judge Susan M. Eagan’s awfulness.
As mentioned, there are some important things that Eagan won’t let us tell the jury. They have no idea that the charges they’ve seen, dated October 6, are drastically different than what I was originally charged with on July 24. When I left the lovely Erie County Holding Center on the morning of July 25, I’d supposedly committed “harassment,” for “following officers around with a camera.”
About the time I was being arraigned, my friend and renowned atheist & skeptic Rebecca Watson took to the internet to declare, “Free Ian Murphy!” Thanks a lot, Watson! She also posted the picture of me posing with the dildo-phone, with credit to Ed Beck. He works at the Center For Inquiry (CFI), a transnational nonprofit dedicated to promoting science, reason, and secular values. He’s also been known to wear Viking hats to NOM rallies.
A day or two later, I published my own account of my unlawful arrest. As the dildo was already out of the bag (“Dildo Baggins”), I wrote about the one dildo-phone interview Bunting and I had conducted at the rally. By the time October 6 rolls around, the harassment charge is gone, and replaced with another count of “disorderly conduct,” which is described as obscenity related to a sex toy. Thanks a lot, Watson!
I kid. I don’t blame her, of course. And as much as I’m mad at Josh Bunting, for giving the worst possible testimony about the dildo-phone interview, all the blame falls squarely on officer Donna Donovan and Judge Eagan. What? Did you think I was going to accept responsibility? Ha. The second I do something I illegal or wrong, dear reader, you’ll be the first to know.
I once stole a woman’s purse. I was about 22. I was at some club. I hated it. I hated the people. She left it unattended. I grabbed it and walked out. I pocketed the some $20 in cash she had and tossed it. Even though I was poor as fuck, it was more about the thrill. And I immediately felt like a shit. I still feel like a shit about that. It was wrong. I did it. And I feel bad about it.
On July 24, 2011, I didn’t do anything I feel bad about.
Another thing Eagan won’t let us tell the jury: “anything that happened after the arrest.” Ironic, considering the October 6 charges, but it’s not relevant, she says. So Donovan and her pig friend implying that they might smash my head against a brick wall, for being an “atheist” and a “fag,” doesn’t speak to her character, natch.
We also can’t talk about the cops erasing my video camera. We can’t say we only recovered some of the footage. We can’t say quite a few of the clips are truncated. This becomes even more anger-inducing when ADA Swanson asks the jury during his closing, “Where’s the rest of the footage?”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
That Judge Eagan even let this get to trial is astounding. And now that it’s underway, her performance has been truly amazing. A few times, so far, Fallon has repeated a bit of a witness’ testimony to hammer down the details. He’d say, “OK, so first you did X, then you went Y, and then Z happened?”
“Objection!” invariably whined Swanson. “Leading the witness.”
“But I was just repeating exactly what – ”
“I said ‘sustained,’ Mr. Fallon!” He was pretty cheesed because she’s supposed to give him a chance to explain himself before she rules. But she rarely did.
Conversely, Swanson asked witnesses a couple times, “OK, so first you did X, then you went Y, and then Z happened?”
“Objection,” Fallon howled. “Leading the witness.”
“But I did that and – ”
“I said, ‘overruled,’ Mr. Fallon!”
So that’s how awful Judge Susan M. Eagan’s been. She’s playing the part of hometown ref. It’s bullshit.
This is the danger of our legal system – one of them. Another being the absolute idiocy of one’s peers. They’re clearly not paying very close attention to this whole thing. But the dictatorial judge is extra troubling. The law actually breaks down in a courtroom. There is no law beyond what the judge demands. But I digress.
Our first witness of the day is one of the counter-protesters. He’s credible. He didn’t see me do anything wrong. And he saw Donovan arrest me for filming her. It was quick and true. Swanson had nothing.
Our second witness was another counter-protester — a smart-ass post-op transsexual called Kelli. She’s nice. And sexy — in a way. But during her whole testimony, I’m just thinking about what it’d be like to have your penis sliced in half and shoved up inside of you. It might be fun to try to be a lady — for a week. You gotta respect the level of commitment there. Anyway, when witnesses first get on the stand it’s story time, and her story is that she was once a hyper-religious homophobe. It makes so much sense.
Sexuality’s a broad spectrum — if you’re lucky, semicolon parenthesis. Very few of us are exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. I’m not. You’re probably not either. You might be functionally straight or gay, but your browser history suggests otherwise. The point is, as we’ve witnessed again and again in American politics, the biggest homophobes are typically self-hating closet cases. I’m looking at you, National Organization for Marriage.
Kelli’s testimony was quick and to the point. “When you were on the steps of City Hall, was Mr. Murphy there?” asked Fallon.
Swanson objects on grounds of relevance. The coppers say I was on the steps of City Hall “inciting” the other counter-protesters. Seems pretty fucking relevant to me. “Sustained,” rules the awful Judge Eagan. It’s not been what you’d call a “fair trial.”
Fallon plays the video interview I did with Kelli immediately after she and the other counter-demonstrators were removed from the steps of City Hall. “What happened over there?” I asked, which shows I wasn’t there.
During cross examination, ADA Patrick Swanson, who deserves to shit broken glass for his sophistry, made a fuss over the video because Kelli wanted to know who I was with before she did the interview. “So you didn’t want to be mocked?”
“No,” she says.
Swanson should be careful about the legal precedent he’s trying to set. If mocking people becomes illegal, I can only imagine what will happen to an ADA who makes a mockery of justice for a living. Stone him!
Next to the stand is Kelli’s husband. His penis is intact. He was another counter-protester that day. He’s credible. He didn’t see me do anything wrong. And he saw Donovan arrest me for filming her. Our witnesses are flying. Things go so much faster when the cross-examining attorney doesn’t have dozens of lies to work with. The best Swanson could do was to imply that because they knew about my work at The BEAST, they would lie for me — just like the time they covered for Alex Trebek when he murdered his mustache. Who wouldn’t lie for a total stranger if you’ve heard of that person? And it was in the form of a question.
Our penultimate witness is Ed Beck, professional rationalist, and amateur Viking. He’s credible. He didn’t see me do anything wrong. Etc. And straight to the cross examination. Remember how human shit-sack Roland Cercone committed perjury? The lawyer, and deacon at Mount Olive Baptist, claims to have witnessed me shaking the dildo at people’s heads, for the amusement of Ed Beck. Swanson is trying to create a closeness between Beck & I that just doesn’t exist. I mean, I know the guy, and he cool, but we’ve known each other for about two years and all of our conversations added together is probably about an hour long. But that’s Swanson’s line of questioning.
Now it’s Murphy’s story time. Went to Hamburg High School, then Pratt Institute in NYC, dropped out of the University at Buffalo. Blue collar bum turned journalistic weirdo and editor of The BEAST. Also done work for The Progressive and Free Inquiry magazines, the websites Alternet, Crooks & Liars, and The Daily Beast. Now, the work I did for The Daily Beast was singing a “Welcome Back Kotter” parody called “Welcome Back Palin,” but still. It paid. They also pitched me a “How our first black president will be different” kind of article. “Like, he’ll be good at basketball — but not that!” they said. They ended up paying Sinbad to write the piece. It wasn’t funny.
I go over the events of that day with Fallon and we’re done. The cross examination I would describe as “kicking Assistant District Attorney Patrick Swanson’s little bitch ass all over the courtroom.” Generally. He’s a former defense attorney out of Memphis, who’s turned to the dark side. The pay is better. You should see Double-Dawg’s shoes, for example. They’re pauperific! Anyway, the jury might like Swanson, if they enjoy being shamelessly lied to. “Hey, y’all!” he addressed the potential jurors during the selection process. Swanson “apologized” for pretending to dip into a folksy twang. It’s not good enough that it’s me versus the state and the Jesus, he had to throw that Good Ol’ Boy bullshit in there. He laughed and asked the jury pool to excuse him if his “accent” peeks through during voir dire — that’s Frenchy talk for interviewing a bunch of people at once. Most of our English legal terms come from French because the Normans & French conquered England a while back and took over the governing apparatus and legal system. He never said “y’all” again during the whole trial. Guillotine is also a French word.
My testimony was a bit of a blur. I was amped. And I couldn’t take notes, so the following exchanges may not be “perbatim.” You can order court transcripts at about $2 per twelve-point-font, double-spaced page, but that’s too rich for my blood. I should have asked whether they’d have taken blood. Damn. I disappoint myself. Really, I feel like — even though I kicked Swanson’s bitch ass — I failed.
I don’t know why, but I treated the court with respect. I wanted to stand up, righteously scream and wail, “The cops erased the camera!” I wanted to plead directly to the jury, or the judge, “They originally charged me with filming the police!” I’m ashamed that I didn’t. Couldn’t. I don’t know what would have happened if I did. Maybe nothing. Maybe another night in the clink. But I regret it. It was like running for Congress all over again. I wanted to go wild, break the rules. The Green Party people wanted me to quietly behave. I deferred. I told myself I’d never do that again. I’d never silence myself in the face of expectations. But I did it again. So much shame.
Eschewing my regret, however, my cross examination was cathartic. Catching Swanson in his bullshit was fun. He says, “…so you and the other protesters –”
And cut him off with, “Not other protesters. The protesters. I was there covering the event as a journalist.” Nice.
I called the dildo-phone a “comedy prop.” He asks whether I’d ever used it before. “Um, not in…public,” I jest. He brings up Bunting’s poor description of our one dildo-phone interview. “I wouldn’t call it disgusted,” I try for damage control. “First, the guy laughed, and then he got embarrassed.” For what it’s worth (in blood), “embarrassed” is more accurate than “disgusted.” Then again, these things are subjective, and I’m almost positive that Bunting’s a virgin. His prudishness is shocking at times.
Swanson wanted to discuss our interview technique that day, so I let him have it. “We also had another comedy prop with us: the bible. These NOM people use an ancient text, which explicitly calls for homosexuals to be stoned to death in Leviticus, to justify their hatred and oppression of their fellow citizens, so we wanted to point out their hypocrisy.”
“Did you tell a man he was going to hell?” Cuz that’s a crime.
“Yes. He said he was working on the Sabbath. That’s not allowed.”
“Did you tell anyone else they were going to hell?”
“Yes. Some guy who was wearing a poly-cotton blend. That’s not allowed in the bible.”
“Did you ask a woman if she was menstruating?”
“Yes, because if she was and she was in public, the bible says that she’s unclean and should be killed.”
“Did you tell her she was going to hell?”
“No, because she wasn’t menstruating in public. She gets to go to heaven,” I say, smiling.
As I said, it was a cathartic blur. I don’t remember if I brought up the sin of shellfish or not. Swanson’s other bitch-ass line of questions were softballs: I was trying to “bother” Officer Donovan with my camera — that she hilariously thought might have been a gun. Or that I didn’t tell Donovan I was press. “Does it matter?!” went my outbursts.
I prefer incognito journalism — as incognito as you can get while carrying a video camera. People watch themselves around journalists. They’re not honest. They usually won’t arrest you for no reason. Usually.
Closing arguments tomorrow.