Excerpt from Chapter 10 – “THE STORY THAT WOULDN’T STAND STILL”

Lawyer Games: After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Dep Kirkland

Excerpt from Chapter 10 – “THE STORY THAT WOULDN’T STAND STILL”:

Williams didn’t only tell several different stories, he also exaggerated elements
of every one of them. The following are segments of Williams’s interview:

  • Williams said that they had attended a movie earlier in the evening at a
    local drive-in theater.
  • Williams said that by the time they returned to his home at 429 Bull
    Street, Hansford had smoked nine marijuana cigarettes and had drunk a
    half-pint of whiskey.
  • “I thought what he had consumed was far better than all the pills he
    used to take. He had come a long way in the two years I had been working
    with him.”

Only nine marijuana cigarettes and a half-pint of whiskey? During one
movie? This was a testament to Williams’s skill as a mentor of troubled youth?

  • The two played a game on a new computer he had recently bought
    Hansford. Then, as he rose to leave the room, Hansford accused him of
    not enjoying the game. “He grabbed me by the throat and said, ‘You’ve
    been ill. Why don’t you just go off someplace and die?’”
  • Hansford then stomped the keyboard of the computer “to death” and
    began breaking furniture in the living room. … Williams found his way
    into a room he used as his office and sat down at his desk.

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – “THE CHATTY SUSPECT”

Lawyer Games: After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Dep Kirkland

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – “THE CHATTY SUSPECT”:

Though a suspect has the “right to remain silent,” as any television viewer
knows, in a self-defense case there is pressure to talk. If you’re innocent,
wouldn’t you act innocent? That’s the reasoning. When a suspect talks, however,
his or her version of events can then be checked against the evidence. Investigators
know what the puzzle should look like and can match the evidence to the
suspect’s story, or prove it doesn’t match. Game over.

Even in this respect the Williams case was unusual. Not only did James
Williams talk, he talked at length. And he didn’t stop. He actually gave an exclusive
interview to the Georgia Gazette laying out his version of events in detail. In
doing so, he provided us with a virtual blueprint against which to set the physical
evidence. He also reduced the ability of his defense to shape the story to better
suit the facts—not that I’m suggesting a defense attorney would ever
consciously change a story to better fit the facts of a case.

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – “ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS, SCIENCE”

Lawyer Games: After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Dep Kirkland

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – “ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS, SCIENCE”:

Contrary to popular myth, circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence.
In fact, circumstantial evidence can be the strongest evidence known to
mankind, while some direct evidence—such as eyewitness testimony—can be so
unreliable as to be worthless.

I could argue that all evidence is circumstantial: Someone claiming they saw
an event involves circumstances that require scrutiny: the claimant’s ability to see
clearly what they claim to have seen, possible motivation to lie about what they
claim to have seen, or whether they were actually present at the time and place.
Even a confession involves a set of circumstances that must be evaluated. The distinction
between “direct” and “circumstantial” evidence causes more trouble than
it’s worth, in my view.

Particularly in self-defense cases, such as in Williams, the suspect is often the
only witness. There is no third party to cry fair or foul. The deceased will never
speak again. Where is reliable direct evidence supposed to come from?

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “THE SELF-DEFENSE GAMBLE”

Lawyer Games: After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Dep Kirkland

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “THE SELF-DEFENSE GAMBLE”:

Criminal cases are like puzzles, with one difference—you almost never
have all the pieces. With an ordinary puzzle, you fit every piece into its
proper spot. Only then can you congratulate yourself as the lighthouse from the
puzzle box stares back at you.

In a criminal case, you don’t need every piece. You need only enough to
solve the puzzle. Among them, you need some special pieces, the elements of the
crime. And the pieces you have must fit “to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt”
(a terrific definition borrowed from the late Vincent Bugliosi), but once it’s clear
that the lighthouse is a lighthouse, you’re good to go, even with some pieces missing.

In a self-defense case—such as Williams—the defendant actually proves the
elements of the crime. For murder, the elements are, generally: (a) that the defendant
did act, (b) with malice aforethought (meaning—to risk a translation—the
defendant intended the act, whether it was to shoot, stab, poison, or push from
a train), (c) so as to cause the death of the victim.