As Ahsoka Tano sat in her cell, awaiting trial by military tribunal, she felt lower than she ever had in her life. She had been falsely accused of murder, domestic terrorism, and many other crimes that could very well get her executed. Worst of all, the Jedi Order had expelled her, leaving the padawan completely alone in the face of these charges. Well, not entirely alone. Ahsoka still had some friends in high places, and one of them had taken pains to help clear her name. The young woman was shaken from her stupor by the sound of a cell door opening. In stepped Ahsoka's master, Anakin Skywalker, and his "just a close friend" Padme Amidala.
"I came as soon as Ani, *cough* Anakin told me what had happened. I had thought to represent your case. . . but then I remembered that I am not a certified lawyer. I spent the years I would have used for law school being queen of an entire planet, which makes me as qualified an attorney as Jar Jar is a representative. So I pulled some strings and got you a real defense lawyer," explained Padme.
Ahsoka breathed a sigh of relief. "As long as this lawyer has your confidence, I accept. When do I get to meet this person?"
On que, a yellow-skinned Hutt in a blue suit, red and white striped tie, and a badly combed hair piece slithered into the cell. "Lionel the Hutt, attorney at law. Pleasure to meet you," Lionel said, shaking Ahsoka's hand.
Ahsoka looked at Lionel with suspicion. After all, her past experiences with Hutts were far from positive. "Can you really prove my innocence?"
"For the credits Senator Amidala has put down, I'll not only prove your innocence, I'll make the prosecution forget why they ever thought they had a case to begin with."
Ahsoka sighed, "Forgive me if I'm not optimistic. I told the Jedi Order the truth, and all of them except Anakin abandoned me."
Lionel let out a hearty laugh. "Well there's your problem. You told the Jedi the tRuTh, instead of the truth. For example, what did you say happened when you talked to the Council?"
"I told them that Ventress had to be behind this. She attacked me at the warehouse. I'd know her red lightsabers anywhere."
"Hmm. . . recognizable weapons, anything else?"
"Well, the attacker was wearing her mask as well. Who else could it be?"
Lionel raised an eyebrow. "So the assailant's face was concealed. Was there anything unique to Ventress that this character possessed? Did they speak in Ventress's voice? Did you get accurate measurements during your fight?"
Anakin stepped up to the Hutt lawyer. "Now hold on a minute. Are you saying that Ahsoka did not tell the Council the truth?"
Lionel was undeterred by Anakin's aggressive tone. "Of course not. I am sure that Ahsoka told the tRuTh in the sense that she was sincere in her testimony. However, this is unlikely to be the objective truth given the lack of details pinning Ventress to the accusation. Ahsoka does not know who is really responsible for these crimes, and without that knowledge, any case theory we present against the prosecution's will be weak."
There was a brief pause as everyone absorbed what Lionel had explained. The silence was broken by Padme saying, "Well at least he knows what he's talking about." Anakin turned around and walked out of the cell
"Wait, where are you going? You can't leave now!" said Padme.
"Yes I can. You heard the lawyer. Ahsoka needs more proof, and the only lead we have is Ventress. I'm going to find her and get to the bottom of this."
Once Anakin had left, Lionel and Padme sat on either side of Ahsoka. "If we are to make a case theory, we need to have a clear and convincing narrative," explained Lionel, "Let's start at the beginning. How did this all begin?"
The trial was held in a building unlike any courtroom Lionel had ever seen. Ahsoka was led by two Coruscant Guards to the hovering platform which was to serve as a witness stand. Lionel (supported by Padme) and the prosecution entered from opposite sides of the court. Lionel took notice that the prosecutor was none other than Admiral Tarkin, as this was a military tribunal instead of a civilian court. They don't even have a real lawyer. We got this in the bag, thought Lionel. Presiding over the military court was Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Palpatine may not have been an officer, but as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, he technically did qualify.
"Ahsoka Tano, you have been charged with sedition, domestic terrorism, three counts of battering a corrections officer, three counts of second-degree murder of a corrections officer, one count of first-degree murder of Letta Turmond, escaping a corrections facility, resisting arrest, and eighteen total counts of battery against the six police officers and twelve clone troopers sent to capture you. How do you plead?" asked Palpatine.
"Not guilty to the charges of sedition, terrorism, murder, and battery of corrections officers. Guilty to the charges of escaping, resisting arrest, and battery of the clones and police in the lower levels," Ahsoka replied. Earlier, she had balked when Lionel said she should confess to some of the charges, but given that they were definitely true, denying them could only hurt her. The padawan mentally kicked herself for fleeing custody in the first place.
"Former Padawan Tano, I shall prove that you were the mastermind behind the attack on the Jedi Temple, and that once your accomplices carried out your orders, you eliminated them one by one. When you are found guilty, I ask the court that the full extent of the law be brought down upon you, including penalty of death."
"Wow, that opening was trash, watch this," whispered Lionel to Padme as the former began his statement.
"Your Honor, members of the jury, opposing counsel, may it please the court. A comedy of errors. That's what this whole investigation has been from beginning to end. In their quest to paint a seventeen-year-old girl as a criminal mastermind, the state has made several mistakes that defy common sense. First the corrections facility fails to maintain the audio when recoding Ahsoka's interaction with Turmond, meaning we have no idea of the nature of their interaction. That didn't stop Commander Fox from arresting Ahsoka anyway. Later, the prison's cameras were conveniently down when staff members were assaulted and killed. This didn't stop the prosecution from blaming Ahsoka of these crimes as well. Most absurdly, the state alleges that Ahsoka was behind the bombing of her own home based on nothing but the fact that she was arrested next to a crate of munitions. In all three cases, there was no witness present at the scene of the alleged crime, no recording free of tampering, no evidence directly tying Ahsoka to the accusation. The number of errors present in the state's case would be comedic, if the life of a teenage girl wasn't on the line.
The burden of proof in today's case is beyond a reasonable doubt, and it lies with the prosecution. That means that by the end of the trial, if you have even a sliver of uncertainty regarding Ahsoka's guilt, then you must find the defendant not guilty.
The prosecution's case relies entirely on circumstantial evidence and baseless assumptions. The defense's case on the other hand, is supported by the testimony of multiple witnesses. The first is Ahsoka Tano herself, who will provide something opposing counsel cannot: a complete timeline of events. Then you will hear from clone Captain Rex, a soldier who has served the Republic alongside the defendant since the beginning, and can attest to her character.
Members of the jury, the prosecution's investigation has been a comedy of errors from beginning to end. At the end of today's case, I will ask you to find the only fair and just verdict. Find Ahsoka Tano not guilty. Thank you."
Prosecution's Case in Chief
Lionel the Hutt slithered back to the defense table, flashing a smug grin that communicated his confidence. Now it was Tarkin's move. As the prosecutor, Tarkin got to call his witnesses first for direct examination. The prosecution made the obvious choice to call Commander Fox of the Coruscant Guard to the stand. The red clone trooper took his place and was sworn in. Fitting with his personality, Fox gave a dry recounting of how Letta Turmond requested Ahsoka visit her while in custody. How the recording device in the cell suffered a mysterious audio failure when Ahsoka talked to and appeared to strangle Turmond. For extra effect, Tarkin submitted the security recording as evidence to be played in court. The jury gasped as they watched Ahsoka stretch out her arms as Letta choked to death. Even Lionel lost his composure as he struggled to think of a way to deflect this. Then Fox talked about the escape, how three troopers Ahsoka had passed were left with blunt force injuries to their heads that had resulted in concussions, and three more were found killed by lightsaber wounds, and Ahsoka was standing over the bodies and holding her lightsaber when Fox found her. All of this was delivered with Fox's typical deadpanned voice, which was modulated by his helmet.
When Tarkin sat down, pleased with how the escape only made Ahsoka look guilty, it was Lionel's turn to cross examine Fox. The first thing Lionel did was ask the judge to instruct the witness to show his face.
"Why?" asked the Supreme Chancellor.
"It's standard procedure so we know that the witness is who he says he is."
"As opposed to the countless identical clone faces that could be underneath that helmet?"
"Ah. . . I withdraw my request."
"Good. Now please begin your cross examination."
Lionel adjusted his striped tie and turned towards Fox. "Commander, I want to take it from the top. Ahsoka only visited Letta Turmond after the latter had requested the Jedi's presence, correct?"
"Correct," said Fox without missing a beat.
"So you believe that Letta would ask the person who was allegedly threatening her life for a visit?"
"Uh. . ." stuttered Fox, who clearly wasn't used to thinking things through. "I can't speak to what Letta knew about Ahsoka's plans to kill her, only what I saw."
"You can only speak to what you saw, because you couldn't actually hear what was said in that cell?"
"Now I'd like to talk about the death of Letta Turmond. You didn't actually see Ahsoka touch the woman, did you?"
"Sir, I saw Commander Tano Force choke Ms. Turmond with my own eyes. I saw Commander Tano stretch out her arms, and I saw Ms. Turmond lifted off the ground as she gasped for breath. As far as I know, only the Force can do that."
"Commander, you cannot see the Force, can you?"
"I'm not a Miraluka, so no," replied Fox, eliciting some chuckles from the jury.
"So it is entirely possible that another Force user could have strangled Turmond off camera?"
"Like who? No other Force user was present."
"Just answer the question. Is it possible for another Force user to kill Turmond off camera?"
"I suppose it's possible, although I cannot image who."
"Now I would like to talk about the injured and killed members of your staff. There is no security footage of Ahsoka attacking your men, is there?"
This time, Fox did not answer right away. When the clone finally did speak, it was in a low growl. "No. Our security cameras went down during that period."
"And the injured men did not see who attacked them, right?"
"Right, the injuries were to the back of the head, and the concussions resulted in memory loss of the attack."
"Also, you did not see Ahsoka kill those three soldiers, did you?"
Fox's calm demeanor broke as he responded with a raised voice. "Hold up, I saw the commander standing over their bodies, lightsaber in hand! That's all I need!"
"But no one actually saw Ahsoka strike down any troopers, correct?"
There was a long pause, long enough for Lionel to wonder if the helmet was on too tight. The Hutt thought it best to repeat the question.
"Commander, yes or no, no one saw. . ." but Lionel would not get to finish his question.
Fox shot up. "I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE IT, DAMMIT! Those men were murdered by a lightsaber, it's as clear as the cauterized wounds on their bodies! Listen here, you slimy piece of worm-ridden filth, I don't know what they're paying you, but I won't stand for this! I served with those men for years, and I won't let you help their killer escape justice!"
All eyes were on Fox as he finished his outburst. Unlike everyone else, Lionel was unaffected by Fox's rare display of emotion. Instead, the Hutt simply turned to Palpatine and requested that he instruct the clone to answer the question with a yes or no. Palpatine looked down at the man he trusted to guard him every day. "My friend, I know this must be hard on you, but for the sake of the court, please answer the lawyer's question."
"Yes, your excellency," said Fox.
Lionel cleared his throat. "Commander, did anyone see Ahsoka kill the troopers?"
"No. No one saw Ahsoka kill my men," replied Fox, again in a low growl.
"Thank you. Your Honor, I have no further questions for this witness."
Tarkin did not bother with a redirect, instead asking Fox to step down. Fox returned to the prosecution bench and quietly asked, "Did I win?" to Tarkin. Tarkin could only reply with a facepalm. When Palpatine asked if Tarkin to call his next witness, Commander Wolffe took the stand. His direct examination was just as dull and characterless as Fox's, but it was mercifully shorter. Wolffe briefly described his pursuit of Ahsoka throughout the city, including the fight with known Separatist war criminal Ventress, and culminating in the arrest at the warehouse. Tarkin took pains to emphasis that Ahsoka was arrested by a crate of nano-droids, the same kind used in the bombing of the Jedi Temple. Lionel was more eager to cross this witness than Fox.
"Commander, I'd like to talk about your first confrontation with Padawan Tano. All of your men survived the fight, yes?"
"That's correct. No one had anything worse than a concussion."
"And they survived despite both Tano and Ventress possessing lethal weapons?"
"Correct, they only incapacitated us with their hands. Shows the worth of this armor, I guess."
"You do not know the nature of the relationship between Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress, do you?"
"No sir, only that the two fought together to resist arrest."
"Now I'd like to move to your warehouse raid. You said you arrested Tano near some nano-droids?"
"Yes, the same kind used during the attack on the Temple."
"But you do not know if the droids used at the Temple came from that warehouse specifically, right?"
"I guess not, but that type of hardware is not easy to come by."
"And you do not know who placed those nano-droids in the warehouse?"
"I do not."
"Or who owns those droids?"
"Furthermore, you do not know if Ahsoka had ever been to this warehouse before, correct?"
"In conclusion, Commander, there is no evidence that Ahsoka was the one who possessed those droids, is there?"
"Of course there was. She was standing a meter in front of them."
Lionel paused for a moment. Hutts as a species are not known for being physically expressive, due to their lack of facial muscles compared to humanoids. But on that day, Lionel made a face that even a blind man could interpret as a mixture of frustration and bewilderment. Taking a deep breath, Lionel went to the counsel table and picked up his briefcase.
"Your honor, may I approach the witness stand?" asked Lionel.
"You may," replied Palpatine.
Lionel then crawled within one meter of Commander Wolffe and placed his briefcase down in front of the clone.
"Now Commander, help me visualize something, you are about as far away from my briefcase as Ahsoka was from the droids, yes?"
"Would you consider yourself in possession of my briefcase right now?"
"I would not."
Lionel knew he had made this point, but he was so annoyed with the prosecution's whole case that he could not help but ask, "And yet you thought this was enough to draw a connection between a teenager and domestic terrorism?"
"Don't take that tone with me, I only did my job. I arrested a fugitive and gave my comments. The only reason I'm testifying instead of being with the troops is because I was ordered to. I simply saw a connection and made note of it in my report, as is my duty."
Lionel calmed himself as he remembered that Wolffe meant well, he just didn't see how his words fit in to the big picture. "Thank you, Commander. I have no further questions."
With prosecution's case finished, Palpatine allowed a short break for everyone to collect themselves.
"You were great up there," praised Ahsoka Tano, "the court will have to find me innocent after that!"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," chided Lionel, "we only have your testimony and character evidence from Captain Rex. That might not be enough against that security camera footage. Visual evidence tends to stick with juries better than words, and that recording looked pretty bad for you."
"That's crazy, Force chokes don't even look like that!"
Lionel narrowed his eyes at Ahsoka's declaration. "What do you mean? What exactly does a Force choke look like?"
"Well, I've seen dark side users do it, and they stretch their arm out. I was waving my arms in a panic, and frantic movements don't help you use the Force. Our connection to the Force is strongest when we concentrate," Ahsoka explained.
Lionel pondered this for a moment. He knew nothing of the Force, but he assumed using it took technique like any other skill. If there was a right way and a wrong way to channel the Force when attacking someone. . .
"Ahsoka, is there any other Jedi who can confirm how a Force choke works?" Lionel asked.
"I would assume any master at the Temple could tell you."
"Then that's where I'm going, before recess ends."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Hutt, but I cannot just let anyone barge in to see the masters. They are preoccupied with the war effort," explained Jocasta Nu.
"Look, this is a matter of life and death. I don't have time to schedule an appointment."
"The Jedi Council does not do appointments either."
"No appointments? What kind of secretary are you?"
"Secretary? I beg your pardon, but I am Chief Librarian of the Jedi Order. I do not fetch Jedi Masters any random person that shows up demanding an audience. I am afraid I must ask you to leave."
Before Lionel could react, a deep voice asked, "Is something wrong, Jocasta?"
Lionel turned and saw Mace Windu and Plo Koon approaching. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, Lionel slithered past the librarian to greet the Jedi.
"Excuse me, Master Jedi! Lionel the Hutt, attorney at law, here's my card. The card can also turn into a sponge when you put it in water!"
"I was just showing the Hutt out," said Jocasta.
"That will not be necessary. As we are already here, we may as well here our guest out," replied Plo Koon.
"Thank you, Master Jedi. Now I wanted to ask you how one performs a Force choke."
". . . On second thought, I'll take this one out myself," growled Windu.
"No wait! I am Ahsoka's defense attorney, and I need an expert witness to clarify if Ahsoka's behavior is consistent with a Force choke. You'd just have to explain the technique to the court, and maybe demonstrate on a willing test subject."
Windu and Koon exchanged glances for a moment, before Koon looked at Lionel and said, "You must understand, using the force to asphyxiate a living being is considered an act of excessive cruelty. Our order does not permit this kind of attack under any circumstance."
"Not even to save an innocent person?" Lionel asked.
After a moment's pause, Windu spoke. "I know the technique, so I'll do it. But only because doing so may assist in the search for the truth." Windu then pointed at Lionel. "I know what you lawyers are willing to do to win, and I believe that the case against Padawan Tano is a strong one. So understand this: I will not lie for you."
"Well I'd hope not. Perjury would make me look bad," replied the Hutt dismissively, unaware of Windu's venomous tone.
Defense's Case in Chief
Lionel and Windu arrived back at the court just in time. Lionel made sure to give Padme every relevant detail regarding Windu's testimony, asking her to give this information to the prosecution to avoid violating rules against surprise witnesses. As Windu took a seat next to Rex, Lionel began his case by calling Ahsoka to the stand. For her part, the padawan gave an honest and clear account of her story. She began with being recalled from the front lines, to her capture of the bomber, the mysterious death of said bomber, her escape, and recapture. As Ahsoka unraveled her side of what happened, Lionel emphasized Ahsoka's alibi during the bombing and the fact that it made no sense for Ahsoka to capture her supposed accomplice. Confident that the jury understood their explanation, Lionel sat down for Tarkin to begin cross examination.
"If you are innocent, then why were you seen conspiring with known Separatist terrorist, Asajj Ventress?" asked Tarkin, getting right to the point.
"I asked her to escort me around Coruscant. That's not conspiracy." Lionel smiled at Ahsoka's answer. She understood that deflecting Tarkin's accusations would be more useful than trying to blame everything on Ventress. It also helped that Tarkin had a fondness for needlessly open-ended questions.
"And why would you, a Jedi, require company from an enemy of the state?"
"The lower levels are dangerous for a lone teenage girl, and I wanted help from someone who knew their away around." Several Senators in the jury nodded sympathetically, knowing that they would never travel there without a bodyguard themselves.
"If you really are so vulnerable, how did you manage to defeat the clones sent to arrest you?"
"After one of the men put his hands on me, I started hitting and kicking. I didn't kill any of them, I was just trying to get away from them."
Tarkin sneered, angry at both Ahsoka's answers and the Senate completely buying them. The jury were very sympathetic to her innocent girl routine, despite the fact that she could strangle people with her mind. It was time to remind the Senators what Ahsoka was being charged with. "Miss Tano, how do you explain away being apprehended with the same nano-droids used to bomb the Temple?"
"I heard that Letta Turmond, the one who bombed the Temple, had visited the warehouse. I thought I could find a clue there."
"And how could you have known where Turmond acquired the munitions, unless you were her accomplice?"
Ahsoka paused for a moment, before answering. "It was just a rumor."
Tarkin's expression turned to a smirk. "You heard from a rumor, about a key fact in this case, that the official investigations didn't know?"
Ahsoka cringed, knowing she had slipped up. "Yes," she said unconvincingly. She knew she could have mentioned that Barriss Offee told her, but she didn't want to drag her best friend into this mess. What kind of Jedi would throw her friend under the speeder to help herself? So much to Lionel's disapproval, Ahsoka didn't elaborate further.
Feeling satisfied, Tarkin ended the cross examination.
Lionel knew that Ahsoka's character was being called into question, and he would need someone who could attest to her record as a loyal war hero who values life. To that end, Lionel called Captain Rex as his second witness. Given Rex's extensive service record, there was no shortage of examples where Rex witnessed Ahsoka's loyal service to the Republic. Lionel chose to enter the official records of the Skirmish aboard TB-73. Early in Ahsoka's military history, a ship she was guarding was attacked by Geonosian larvae, which took over the minds of the clone soldiers to hijack the ship. After having Rex read the official report, Lionel made sure to emphasize a few key details.
"Captain Rex, how many Republic casualties were there?"
"Three: two pilots, and a trooper named Trap."
"Did Ahsoka kill any of those three?"
"No, Sir. The pilots were killed by the mind-controlled clones, and Trap was killed by Padawan Offee in self-defense."
"So how did Ahsoka restrain the controlled soldiers?"
"After learning of the bugs' weakness to cold, Ahsoka ruptured the coolant systems. This froze the ship, killing the worms and allowing reinforcements to board."
"Would it be correct in saying that Ahsoka Tano limited herself to non-lethal means in a situation where lethal force would be justified under self-defense?"
"Yes, Sir. Commander Tano has always valued the lives of her comrades, and never killed unless absolutely necessary."
Having made his point about Ahsoka's character, Lionel thanked Rex and ended the direct examination. This allowed Tarkin to begin his cross.
"Captain Rex, you are close to Ahsoka Tano, correct?"
"Yes, Sir. But I would never let personal feelings affect my testimony," replied Rex, who had been warned that Tarkin would use his bias to discredit him.
"So your relationship with Ahsoka is only a friendship?" asked Tarkin with a skeptical tone.
"Then how do you explain. . . these!" Tarkin said, before dramatically throwing down various pictures.
Rex picked up the photos and looked them over. "Ahsoka blocking General Grievous from attacking me. . . me catching Ahsoka when she passed out from disease. . . are all of these just pictures of myself and Ahsoka interacting in the field?"
"Yes, Captain. You and Ahsoka share several deep glances throughout these images, don't you?
"I suppose so."
"And you two have saved each other on multiple occasions?"
"But Captain Rex, wouldn't that make you. . . lovers!"
"N-no! We are just close comrades. Plus, she's still a teenager and I resemble a man in his mid-twenties!"
"In my book, experience outages everything," Tarkin quipped. "I think the jury can see for themselves the obvious sexual tension between yourself and Padawan Tano, and by extension your inability to give an unbiased account of her character. Chancellor, I have no further questions."
As Tarkin took his seat, he wore a smug expression. Rex's face had turned a shade of crimson, and Ahsoka buried her face in her palms.
"What just happened?" Padme asked Lionel.
"Tarkin overreached," the Hutt replied, before calling Mace Windu as his last witness.
After asking a few basic questions that established Windu as an "expert witness" in the field of "the Force," Lionel showed Windu footage of Ahsoka and Letta Turmond. After watching Ahsoka's erratic arm waves and Letta's asphyxiation, Lionel asked Windu a question.
"Master, does this look like a typical Force choke?"
"No," replied the Jedi. "Ahsoka's movements are not typical of the technique."
"Would you be willing to demonstrate a proper Force choke on a willing person?"
"As long as it was voluntary, yes."
At this, Captain Rex stepped forward. Mace Windu outstretched his right hand. The Senate/jury gasped as Rex was lifted off the ground, and the clone began clutching his windpipe.
"Let the record reflect that Windu is only extending one arm, compared to Ahsoka's two. Furthermore, Widu's arm is still, while Ahsoka's hands were waving."
"The record will take note," Palpatine said.
Windu released Rex, who went back to his bench gasping for breath. After Rex was seated. Lionel asked Windu, "Is there any reason why your arm was still?"
"Any further movement would be unnecessary, even distracting. Jedi are trained to connect with the Force through tranquility. Acting frantic would make any technique more challenging."
"Thank you, Master. No further questions."
As Lionel slithered back to the defense desk, Tarkin took his place.
"General Windu, you believe that Padawan Tano is guilty, do you not?"
"That is correct, Admiral Tarkin. I voted to expel her from the order so this trial could take place."
"And testifying for the defense does not mean you doubt your decision?"
"No. Even if Ahsoka was completely innocent, I would still say I made the right choice. Even in the off chance that the padawan didn't commit these crimes, the Force would be testing her, so I cannot do wrong in this case," Windu replied without shame.
"I. . . see," replied Tarkin, with even the prosecution taken aback by the Jedi's complete unwillingness to take responsibility for his choices. Having gotten on record that one of the defense's witnesses believed in Ahsoka's guilt, Tarkin ended the cross examination. With all witnesses finished giving testimony, both sides rested their cases.
Rather than give a tradition closing, Tarkin showed the jury pictures of two women.
"Members of the jury, who do you find more attractive: Bo-Katan or Duchess Satine?
Palpatine turned to Tarkin and asked, "What is the meaning of this?"
"Chancellor, I am so confident of Ahsoka's guilt, that I can waste the court's time comparing the Kryze sisters."
Following the jury's decision (it was a tie), Palpatine addressed the court.
"I'm sure many of you look at this former Jedi and think, 'surely, she cannot be this murderer or saboteur that they speak of.' And yet, think of all the times we have been fooled by the Separatists and how they have infiltrated the Republic, and ask yourself, 'is this yet another Separatist scheme? Another way to rip the Jedi, and subsequently all of us, apart.'"
Lionel could not believe what he was hearing. Not only had the Separatists never been mentioned by either side during the trial (as they were uninvolved with the bombing), but Palpatine was abusing his position as judge to tell the jury how to think before the verdict. This was the most blatant violation of courtroom rules he had ever seen in his entire career.
"I move for a bad court thingy," stuttered Lionel, who was in so much shock he temporarily forgot the right word.
"You mean mistrial?" asked Palpatine.
"Yes! The judge is supposed to be neutral! You can't tell the jury how to decide on a case, that is the lawyer's job! As an authority figure, you unduly prejudice the jury! I move for a mistrial!"
"Ok, Mr. Hutt, I'll just take your motion to the highest authority over the courts. . . oh wait, that would be me! And I deny your motion for a mistrial! So get on with your closing statements, or remain silent," said Palpatine.
Lionel deflated a little, but remained determined to win this trial for Ahsoka. He would just have to make a speech more convincing than Palpatine's authority.
"Your Honor, members of the jury, opposing counsel, may it please the court. At the beginning of this trial, I described the state's case against Ahsoka as a comedy of errors, and the testimony you have heard today only reinforces that fact. You heard from Ahsoka how she was on the front lines in the days leading up to the bombing, giving her no time to coordinate with Letta Turmond without it being noticed on official communication channels. You know that Ahsoka was the one who arrested Turmond for the bombing of Ahsoka's home, creating the question of why the supposed mastermind would bring her accomplice in for questioning. Turmond even asked for Ahsoka's presence at the jail. If Turmond was scared of Ahsoka silencing her, why would she want Ahsoka near her? The prosecution expects you to leave all these facts, as well as your common sense, at the door just because Ahsoka was seen standing next to a box of munitions. There is no reason to believe that Ahsoka was involved with the Temple bombings, except in arresting the perpetrator.
You heard of Ahsoka's service record from Captain Rex. Even when faced with clones who were trying to kill her, Ahsoka still used non-lethal means of protecting herself. She limited herself to non-lethal means again when fleeing from Commander Wolffe. She could have killed her pursuers, but didn't. The prosecution expects you to believe that Ahsoka would act differently and kill three soldiers during her escape from jail, based on nothing except the testimony of one man who never even saw Ahsoka attack anyone.
Finally, we have insight into the death of Letta Turmond thanks to Master Windu. Windu demonstrating that the recording of Ahsoka in the cell is inconsistent with the technique used to Force choke someone. Windu's hand was still, Ahsoka's was waving. Ahsoka's form was not only incorrect, but would have made choking Turmond much harder to do. Whose word does the prosecution want you to take over a Jedi Master? Commander Fox, a man who doesn't know anything about how the Force works, and who was unable to recover the audio from the cell.
Members of the jury, the bar for today's case is beyond a reasonable doubt. That means if you have any belief that another explanation is possible, you must find Ahsoka not guilty. And what has the prosecution brought to dispel that doubt? One clone who saw nothing, and heard nothing. And another clone, who made an assumption because he found Ahsoka standing a few meters away from a box. The state's case raises questions over when Ahsoka supposedly planned the bombing, why the bomber wanted the person threatening to silence her nearby, why the prison audio and video were mysteriously unavailable whenever Ahsoka was being accused of something, why she only used lethal force sometimes, and if the munitions Ahsoka was found next to were even the exact ones used during the bombing. With all these unanswered questions, how can anyone be free of doubt?
Members of the jury, the accusations against Ahsoka are a comedy, the fact that we are even considering them here in court even more so. What isn't funny, is that a teenage girl is facing the death penalty over purely circumstantial evidence and baseless assumptions. For this reason, you must find the only fair and just verdict: find Ahsoka Tano not guilty. Thank you."
"Ahsoka Tano, on the charges of sedition, domestic terrorism, three counts of battering a corrections officer, three counts of second-degree murder of a corrections officer, one count of first-degree murder of Letta Turmond, the court unanimously finds you. . . not guilty. On the charges of escaping a corrections facility, resisting arrest, and eighteen total counts of battery against the six police officers and twelve clone troopers, the court unanimously finds you guilty. You are sentenced to six months of community service. The court is adjourned," said Palpatine.
Ahsoka turned to Lionel, "Six months of community service? But I only escaped because I was framed! I thought that being found innocent would mean no punishment! What kind of lawyer are you?"
Lionel smiled, "You were looking at a firing squad, and I got you down to under a year of cleaning litter. I'm the best lawyer ever."
The Jedi opened her mouth, but found she couldn't argue. "You're right, I'm sorry. It's just hard to accept that I'm both not guilty and being punished. I appreciate everything you've done for me."
"Hey, I don't have to stop here. How would you feel about a wrongful termination suit against the Jedi Council?"
Before Ahsoka could answer, Anakin Skywalker burst into the courtroom. He was flanked by Jedi Temple Guards, and Barriss Offee was escorted in handcuffs.
"I'm here with evidence and a confession from the person responsible for all the crimes Ahsoka has been accused of!" declared Anakin.
"Master Skywalker, you're too late. We've already found Ahsoka not guilty for the bombing and murders," said Palpatine.
"Oh. Well, I was going to have Barriss Offee confess to everything, but if we're done here. . ."
Lionel turned to Padme. "Just so we're clear, you're still paying me."
Ahsoka stood outside the Temple that had been her home ever since she was a child. What had once been an undisputed part of her life now felt alien to her. Ahsoka expected apologies for being so quickly tossed aside, but instead she received nonsense and excuses about how this personal betrayal was "the will of the Force." If the Council would not trust her, she would not trust them. As she left the Temple for the last time, her master, her brother, Anakin, was the only one to chase after her.
"I understand more than you realize, I understand wanting to walk away from the Order," said Anakin.
"I know. But I need to be somewhere where I can do some real good. A calling free from hypocrisy and betrayal. And I know where that place is."
Lionel was preparing his paperwork when he received a call from his secretary.
"Someone is here to see you. Says she's a former client."
"Send her in."
Lionel looked up at the sound of the doors opening. He was surprised to see Ahsoka Tano take a seat at his desk. Maybe she was still interested in that wrongful termination suit after all.
"Mr. Lionel, teach me how to be an attorney. I want to learn the ways of the law, and help people like you."
Lionel smiled. "Glad to hear it, and I just so happen to have room for an assistant. If there's one thing the Republic needs, it's more lawyers. Can you imagine a galaxy without lawyers?"
The Hutt shuttered at the thought.
As Barriss Offee sat in her cell, she felt lower than she ever had in her life. Where did she go wrong? Was it when she thought bombing the Temple would convince the Jedi that violence is bad? Or was it when she kept incriminating evidence in her room for Anakin to find? Barriss couldn't understand how her flawless strategy to protest the Jedi's policy regarding the war had failed so badly. Her wallowing was interrupted by the sound of opening doors and a guard's voice.
"You have a visitor."
Barriss looked up and saw a yellow-skinned Hutt with a red and white striped tie, blue suit jacket, and the worst hair piece she had ever seen.
"Good afternoon, Miss Offee. I understand that you are in need of a defense lawyer."
In the lower levels of Coruscant, there lived two sisters that had lost everything. Long ago, an out-of-control ship was set to crash into a crowded landing platform. Fortunately, a Jedi diverted the ship away. Unfortunately, the ship was diverted right into an apartment complex, killing a mother and father, but sparing the two daughters. The two girls never forgot that day, nor what the Jedi said to them afterwards.
"I had to make a choice, but not to worry, the Force will be with you." It was hardly an appropriate apology for tearing a family apart.
Years later, the two sisters scraped by doing odd jobs, dreaming of the day they could become real merchants and leave the underbelly of Coruscant behind. One day, the sisters' routine was interrupted by the arrival of a yellow Hutt and his Togruta assistant. The sisters prepared to tell them that they weren't interested in whatever they were selling, but the Hutt cut them off.
"Hello, Miss Martez. My name is Lionel the Hutt. Here's my card. It turns into a sponge when you put it in water! I am here because you may be entitled to compensation, compensation that could get you both off-world. What do you know about wrongful death lawsuits?"