Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Lonesome Death of Jessica Lall

"But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears."

- Bob Dylan, 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll'
Reading the posts about Ram Jethmalani's defense strategy in the Jessica Lall murder trial that are sprouting all over the blogosphere (see here, here and here), I can't help being reminded of 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll', Dylan's timeless song about how power and wealth can help you get away with murder. Literally.

The point that Dylan makes there is that the real outrage is not when the rich try to buy their way out of their crimes, but when they succeed. That Jethmalani is choosing to defend his client with a combination of irrelevant character assassination [1] and outright fiction [2] may be somewhat distasteful, but it's hardly surprising. Short of making the argument that his client is an evil son of a bitch whom hanging would be to good for, it's hard to see what other defense he could make. The real outrage will be if he succeeds. Let's hope that that doesn't happen.

Meanwhile, speaking of lowlifes, it seems a familiar menace is rearing its pony-tailed head. Deepak Shenoy over at the Unknown Indian blogs about attempts to turn the IIPM wikipedia into yet another litany of half-truths and lies, and asks for help in keeping the orcs at bay. Go read (link via Mohit).


[1] So if someone refuses to have sex with me I get to shoot them in the head? Because they challenged my (ha! ha!) 'manhood' ? Really? Wow! Does this apply to men as well, or is only heterosexual sex covered?

[2] Methinks Jethmalani has been watching too many re-runs of JFK. This second shooter theory seems to come straight out of Dallas.


Vi said...

Can't believe people are defending him...

Falstaff said...

Why not? Sure it's slimy and despicable, but Jethmalani is a lawyer - that's practically his job description. It is not his responsibility to be 'decent' or 'nice', it is his responsibility to do everything in his power (within the law) to further his client's interest, and if defaming the victim helps his client, then he would be remiss not to try it. Obviously an argument like this shouldn't help his client, but it's not Jethmalani's place to make that decision, it's the court that should (and hopefully will) throw that argument out on its ear. You could criticise Jethmalani by saying that he's making an ineffective argument, but in order to do that, you need to propose an alternate defense strategy and explain why it would be more effective.

Anonymous said...

Vir Sanghvi had an interesting Op-Ed article on this today.,001302160000.htm

Just Mohit said...

I think it's interesting that you should talk about Jethmalani's twisted attempts to malign Jessica, with the Pony-Tailed One's attempts at improving his image through surreptitious means! Both are perverse attempts at whitewashing lies & repeating them so that people begin believing them!

Kronoskraor said...

"The real outrage will be if he succeeds. Let's hope that that doesn't happen."
It'll happen. All that manu sharma's counsel has to do is create a slice of a shadow of a doubt.Jethmalani,irrespective of his courtroom antics(mebe because of them,though i doubt it) will get him out. I hope n wish n pray that it doesn't happen,but it'll happen.

Falstaff said...

Szerelem: Interesting. Thanks for the link. One certainly wonders why, from a personal standpoint, Jethmalani took this case. Though from where I stand, voting people who defend criminals, however slimily, to power is still a step-up from voting actual criminals to power.

JM: True. Which was actually the train of thought I followed. Except that Jethmalani is doing it to serve his client's best interest - something he's ethically required to do - as opposed to Ponytail who's just doing it to make money for himself.

kronoskraor: True. My point though is that knowing that it could work is the real reason we're all upset - and we're unfairly making Jethmalani the scapegoat here. If it does work, it'll be a terrible travesty, but it'll be a travesty I will blame on the judges in the case, not on Jethmalani. The fact that it could work is only more reason for him to try it.

Anonymous said...


Please give me your view/opinion/comments.

Do you feel that Jessica Lall’s case is going to fall victim to the wits of a lawyer’s arguments? Please give me your opinion: (yes/no) by clicking on the link below.

Yes – if you think the case is emerging to be a battle of wits and confrontational skills of a lawyer.
No - if you think the defense lawyer is doing his job judiciously in order to arrive at the truth of the case.

While many of us were looking at Jessica Lall’s case setting a new trend and faith in the judicial system; the recent arguments made by Mr.Jethmalani have narrowed the hope. What the future holds for this case, time would tell – will it be lost to maneuver and manipulation once again or eventually result in providing justice!!!

Mehak Malhotra