Oh Daddy Chronicles: Scales of Justice


Episode I - An Interview With Merrick Garland

(The Chronicler-in-Chief of Oh Daddy Chronicles sits in a conference room on the top floor of the Department of Justice, more than a bit anxious. After only a few minutes' wait, a distinguished-looking gentleman of average height enters the room.)

"I'm so pleased to finally meet you, Chronicler. I'm a real fan of yours."

"That's very kind of you to say, Mr. Attorney General."

"Please, call me Merrick."

"As you wish, sir. Er, I mean Merrick. I'm sure the readers of Oh Daddy Chronicles welcome whatever insights you can provide regarding the legal challenges facing Donald Trump."

"I will do what I can to explain certain legal concepts but, as you know, I cannot comment on active investigations. I hope your readers will understand the complexities of the situation."

"I'm sure they will, sir. Er, Merrick. You know what, if it's all right with you, I'm going to stick to the more formal address."

"Not a problem. There's no law against that.

"Let me start with asking how you feel about the possibility that Donald Trump could be President a second time."

"Well, you know that my position demands complete impartiality. The law is not only color blind, it is also asshole blind. Nevertheless, an important element in our justice system is the concept of avoiding double jeopardy - in Latin, Nemo debet bis vexari. It would be, in my legal opinion, a travesty of justice to subject the American people to such a grotesque imposition of double jeopardy as that which you have hypothesized."

"My understanding is that some of the cases against Donald Trump are civil and some are criminal. Could you explain the difference in the evidentiary threshold between the two?"

"I'd be glad to. In civil cases, the allegations generally need to be established along the lines of 'preponderance of the evidence.' In criminal cases, on the other hand, there is a much higher threshold - 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'"

"So Donald Trump faces a mixed bag concerning the evidentiary standard."

"Actually, no. All of his cases will have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt."

"But why is that, Mr. Attorney General?"

"Ah, this was a brilliant legal stratagem by his attorneys. We didn't see it coming. They successfully argued that there is absolutely nothing about Donald Trump that is remotely civil. We had to concede the point - factus obviosis."

"So in reaching a guilty verdict, exactly what does the prosecution have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt?"

"In general terms, there are two things that need to be proved in any criminal case - actus reus and mens rea. Guilty act and guilty mind. First, it must be shown that the defendant actually committed a criminal act. Second, and this is often the more difficult to prove, it must be shown that the defendant had the intention of wrongdoing. Mens rea is essentially the basis for the notion that those without sufficient mental capability cannot be judged guilty of a crime."

"Uh oh. We're in trouble."

"Not necessarily. The Justice Department has set up a dedicated Task Force to deal with this very issue."

"There are so many people interested in how these cases will turn out. Is there any opportunity for ordinary citizens to have their say?"

"I think, perhaps, you are referring to the concept of amicus curiae, translated as 'friend of the court.' Unfortunately, we felt obligated to suspend that concept for Donald Trump."

"And the reason?"

"Quite simple, actually. Although we have an efficient, hardworking staff here at the Department of Justice, we felt that asking them to process up to 81 million amicus curiae briefs was a bit too much." 

"I've seen Donald Trump on television a lot recently screaming partus sequitur ventrem over and over, claiming it proves his assertions of a rigged election. Should we worry about this legal stratagem?"

(The Attorney General suppresses a chuckle.)

"I've heard him say that, also. Frankly, I don't lose any sleep over it."

"What does it mean?"

"It means 'that which is brought forth follows the belly.' It has to do with the legal status of children of slaves. I guess no one dares to tell him what it actually means. Or perhaps it has something to do with his seeming inability to pass up dessert at a lunch or dinner buffet."

'What about this thing I read called hostis humani generis? Would that come into play here?"

"Ah, a very interesting legal term of art. It originated in Admiralty Law. It means 'enemy of the human race.' But I'm afraid it's outside my jurisdiction. We'll have to leave that one to the International Criminal Court in The Hague."

"You've been very generous with your time, Mr. Attorney General, but I do have one more question."


"How about gelato tuttius fruttius? Will that play a role in these cases?"

"I think not."

"And the reason?"

"It's ice cream."

(With a rather sheepish look on his face, the Chronicler-in-Chief thanks Attorney General Garland for his insights. And now, off we go!)