Disclaimer: The Lyon's Den characters belong to their creators. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made. Some of the dialogue that appears in this story is not my own, but belongs to Judith McCreary who wrote the script for "Hubris".
Author: Tracy Diane Miller
Grant's Opening Statement- DC v. Browning Munitions
A light rain trickled from the heavens. The heavens seemed uncertain, as the sun confident and secure in the early morning hours, now appeared to hibernate behind dark skies. An unmistakable shade of gray had welcomed the rain. Tiny pellets descended upon the ground, a fitting testimonial to his somber mood.
His eyes locked on the etchings carved into the simple marble tombstone: Reggie Proctor, 1987-2003. When the young soul was laid to rest a week earlier, there had been few mourners. He had come to the cemetery that day, too. But he stood quietly in the shadows, watching. Just watching. He said nothing to the mourners. He had no memories of Reggie to share. Yet, their lives had been briefly connected by surprising similarities in their past, the law, and a thread of time. While neither of them had admitted it, they had bonded on some level. He had spent his entire life pushing people away, a survival method he learned as a boy to protect himself from being hurt. He didn't like needing people. He didn't like people needing him.
He had returned to the cemetery because there were words that he needed to say to the young man whose life had so tragically ended.
But no words would come.
Mud green eyes gazed at the tombstone. Grant Rashton said nothing. A few moments later, he walked away towards his car. Yet, an unspoken promise hovered in the air, captured within the reverent silence.
The time for words would come in a court of law. His silent promise to Reggie would be fulfilled then. Reggie Proctor wouldn't have died in vain.
Grant hadn't felt this way since the first day he argued a case before a jury many years ago- nervous and uncertain. He silently chastised himself. Those were the emotions reserved for unseasoned rookies not for a partner in a prestigious law firm who has seen more than his share of multi-million dollar settlements and jury verdicts.
Carl Greene, the attorney for Browning Munitions and his golfing comrade had offered a settlement in this case- four million dollars the first year and six million the year after that. Greene called the offer "more than generous". Grant rejected the generosity.
"We want additional safety designs, restricted marketing and restricted gun show sales." He had told Carl.
Greene called it "legislation through litigation". Maybe it was. But for Grant, it was also part of his promise that, dead or not, Reggie would have his day in court. Reggie would have a voice.
The jury was now seated. His Honor emerged from chambers a moment later. The bailiff called the court to order. The judge pounded his gavel only once before speaking.
"Mr. Rashton, are you ready to proceed with your opening statement?"
Grant arose from his seat. "I am, your Honor."
"Then please proceed."
Grant approached the jury box. Instead of beginning with the usual pleasantries to the jury, a greeting and thanking them for dispensing their civic duty, he assumed another tactic: "An explosion of heavy gun fire. Blood. Bodies. It is a war and it's not being fought in some foreign desert. It's being fought right here, every day, and in the streets of big cities all across this country. The dead isn't troops who will be honored for their bravery and for their personal sacrifice. They aren't soldiers. Most will die and will quickly be forgotten. But they have given their lives for a war that has no heroes, only victims.
Reggie Proctor was one of those victims. He died as a result of the damage caused by a bullet lodged in his brain, a bullet that came from a Standard Browning Munitions nine mill with a ten round clip.
Why should you care? Mr. Greene will tell you that Reggie Proctor was a drug dealer's lookout that he was caught in the middle of two drug dealers' altercation and was shot as a result. And you're probably thinking why should I care? Why should I care about some criminal helping drug dealers who died? I obey the laws. I pay my taxes. I work hard so that I can send my kids to nice schools, raise them with the value of right and wrong so that they'll grow up to become responsible law-abiding citizens. Those who don't follow the rules, those who look for the shortcuts, those who live a life of crime, deserve what they get. It doesn't affect me.
Why should I care?
You should care because it could be your child, your sister, your mother, your wife, who could become the next victim of senseless gunfire because he or she, a law-abiding citizen, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You should care because it could be someone that you love whom a bullet from a gun manufactured by Browning Munitions kills. You should care because these guns won't just show up in the inner city. Bullets don't discriminate between socio-economic classes. Death doesn't discriminate.
The thing is, before Reggie Proctor was shot, he was one of those law-abiding citizens. You'll hear testimony from his teachers that he was an honor student, a young man who showed a lot of academic promise. You'll hear how he possessed a particular fascination and talent for science. Reggie understood things like when light moves away from you, it shifts to the red spectrum and towards you, it shifts to the blue. Doesn't make much sense, does it? But it made sense to Reggie, at least it did before he was shot by a gun manufactured by Browning Munitions and a bullet was left to prowl around his brain. And before that bullet robbed Reggie of his life, it robbed him of his dignity, of his incentive. Yes, Reggie left school. He began associating with criminals. But who knows what his life would have been like had he not become a victim that fateful day? Who knows where his fascination with science might have led him? Perhaps he would have achieved some incredible life-saving discovery. We'll never know because Browning Manufacturers was more concerned with the profit it could make from its gun show sales than with safety designs. We'll never know because a young life was taken in a war on the streets of this city.
Nothing can bring Reggie back. But only you can prevent other potential victims like Reggie from being maimed, paralyzed, or worst.
Why should you care? You can sit back and do nothing. Or, you can play a part in stopping this war. Because maybe the next victim isn't the stranger that you'll never meet, never know. Maybe the next gun shot victim is someone that you love."