He is Reasonable Doubt


Light blue jeans, greasy blonde hair to his shoulders, hands that know manual work. This is him, taking the stand now, as I sit beside my counselling client who no longer can talk, can barely breath.


If it wasn’t here, before this Judge who looks like we are all a bad smell, in this courtroom in Victoria, I would suggest it was high school, a drama class, a bad play. But it is none of these things, it is the Queen’s Bench of Canada and my client, raped in her own bed, watches as a man looks the Judge in the eye and says, “My friend didn’t touch her.” He is Reasonable Doubt.


I know differently. For months, I have heard her describe that night – meeting friends downtown, coming home with an old buddy and his friend, falling asleep, waking up to rape. All in the bed inherited from her Grandmother.


It is in this moment that I know that Trauma and The Law are enemies. They are sired from different worlds, contradictory mental models, contrasting beliefs cradled in the arms of chaos. For where the law is rational, the experiences of trauma open one to the world of the irrational – blurred, bizarre, bleeding. The law unfolds in the mind, in an a-personal landscape where order is honoured, objectivity is given reign and all is quantitative, measured, tracked. But trauma lives in a different universe, a worm hole away.


Trauma shatters objectively and order, it spins one into a murky world of intense subjectivity, overwhelming disorder and intense personal unearthing, where nothing will ever make sense again and disorder is the only constant.


But still, the actions of pain are measured, counted, analyzed – do they make sense? Why did she do that? What did she do in the past? Why didn’t she tell? Why didn’t she scream? Why did she wear that dress? Why did she invite them home?


No, they will never make sense. Trauma and pain cannot ever come under the scrutiny of the same ruler, for in trauma, plastic bends, wood dissolves, old pain paints its shadows in the corners of the Spirit, erasing the lines, where nothing will ever be private again.


Trauma and The Law. They share only one thing: Power as Weapon. In that, they agree. The power of the court, the power of the rapist, the power of power.


He is Reasonable Doubt – for his rapist buddy, for a court seized with the notion that victims must behave with clarity in the midst of a perfect storm. He is Reasonable Doubt – a knife in the hope-blood of the client. He is Reasonable Doubt – so easy to lie, so easy to attain.


So easy to dismiss the messy renderings of She who will go home tonight, now doubly violated, and lie in her Grandmothers bed understanding that a fissure has opened in the solar system, and she has been forever sucked inside.

But the law is satisfied. He is Reasonable Doubt.