Waiting For Justice – short play by Terry Murphy

Written as a piece of street theatre in 2016, this piece takes inspiration from Waiting for Godot to satire the jury selection for the Jobstown Trials.

Background

In 2016 the DPP attempted to exclude everyone with a connection to Tallaght, and anyone who has expressed their opinion on the water charges, either in public media or social media, from the jury.
The defendants, activists and supporters of the Jobstown Not Guilty Campaign argued that this was an attempt to stack the jury against them, as a “connection” to Tallaght, an area with close to the same population as Limerick, would exclude many working class people in Dublin. 
Additionally, the water charges were a class issue, where a mass campaign won the fight against them. While the jury selection did not specify people who had spoken against the water charges, the people most outspoken on the issue were, indeed, those who were against them. 
The Jobstown Trial was seen as an attack on working class people’s right to protest and the support for the defendants was again divided by class lines. The attempt to exclude working class people from the jury was a clear attempt at ensuring a guilty verdict. 
Campaigning put pressure on the request to exclude certain people from the jury to be rejected, and the defendants were eventually found not guilty by a jury of their peers. 

Waiting for Justice

Characters:      Judge

Barrister 1 (Prosecution)

Barrister 2 (Defence)

Juror 1

Juror 2

Juror 3

Juror 4

Juror 5

Juror 6

Vladimir

Estragon

 

Background:   Ten jurors already selected at beginning of scene

 

[Courtroom. ten jurors sit, having already been selected. Something (depending on resources at hand) needs to create the impression that these are right wing/upper class jurors (e.g., three-piece suits, Labour Party/FG t-shirts). Alternatively, cut out masks of well-known right-wingers. The judge sits facing the barristers. Behind the barristers observing the trial are two men dressed in tattered clothes, Vladimir and Estragon]

 

Judge:              Okay, we are here to conclude the jury selection for trial of the State versus the Right to Protest. We have already selected ten of the twelve jurors, [signals to the nine jurors] and need to select the final two under the recently set out guidelines named “Operation Guilty Verdict”. Can we have the first potential juror please? [Juror 1 enters] Council for the prosecution may now treat the juror like a criminal.

 

Barrister 1:      Thank you, Judge. Can you state your name for the record?

 

Juror 1:            Jennifer Kelly.

 

Barrister 1:      Ms. Kelly, do you recall the 22nd of July 2009?

 

Juror 1:            Not particularly, no.

 

Barrister 1:      Well on that date, Ms. Kelly, you were overheard in a branch of the

Spar newsagents chain commenting that two euro fifty for a bottle of Deep River Rock, was, and I quote, “a bit steep”. Now, I must ask the court, given the new rules set out in this trial under Operation Guilty Verdict, can we really allow someone with such radical views on paying for water be a juror in this trial?

 

Juror 1:            Are you serious?

 

Barrister 2:      Begging the courts pardon, but a potential jurors view on the price of a product in a high street shop, is hardly the same as having a radical view on the subject of national water charges.

 

Judge:             I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I have to agree to the prosecution on this. If this person was unwilling to pay two euro fifty for water, it stands to reason that she would object to spending upwards of one hundred and sixty for it. And, as you, it is the position of this court that false imprisonment and being anti-water charges are basically the same thing somehow. The juror is dismissed.

 

[Juror 1 exits]

 

Estragon:         C’mon, let’s get outta here.

 

Vladimir:         We can’t.

 

Estragon:         Why not?

 

Vladimir:         Because we’re waiting for justice.

 

Judge:             Can we have the second potential juror? [Juror 2 enters] The prosecution may now treat the juror with the same disdain as the last.

 

Barrister 1:      Thank you, my learned friend. Could you please state your name for the record?

 

Juror 2:            Susan Flood.

 

Barrister 1:      Ms. Flood, can you tell us, do you hold an account on the social media site Facebook?

 

Juror 2:            I do.

 

Barrister 1:      And can you remember what one of your Facebook friends, one Simon O’Connell, posted on Facebook on 24th April 2015?

 

Juror 2:            Of course I don’t.

 

Barrister 1:      Well let me refresh your memory. He posted, and I quote “Got my poxy water bill today.” Does this sound familiar now, Ms. O’Connell?

 

Juror 2:            Not really, but it sounds like something a lot of people would’ve posted.

 

Barrister 1:      And can I assume then that you conveniently don’t remember how you responded to this post then?

 

Juror 2:            No, I don’t.

 

Barrister 1:      [Getting overly animated and dramatic] You LIKED the post, Ms. Connell! Let me repeat that for the court. She LIKED the post! Now surely, under the rules laid down for jury selection in this judicial stitch up, we cannot allow people to serve who have actively gone around LIKING(!) Facebook posts which carry such malicious anti-water charges messages, like referring to water bills as “poxy”.

 

Barrister 2:      Surely the court isn’t going to dismiss someone for simply liking a comment on Facebook. Anybody who uses Facebook, and indeed, Judge, I have witnessed you taking selfies while on the bench, will know likes are thrown around Facebook like confetti, and do not amount to a formulated opinion.

 

Judge:             I think, again, I’m going to have side with the prosecution. Under the new rules of our kangaroo court, liking a post on Facebook is no different than having written the post yourself, and calling a water bill “poxy” is basically the same as saying that you yourself would like to falsely imprison a Deputy Prime Minister. The juror is dismissed.

 

[Juror 2 exits}

 

Estragon:         That’s enough. I’m tired. Let’s go.

 

Vladimir:         We can’t.

 

Estragon:         Why not?

 

Vladimir:         We’re waiting for justice.

 

Judge:             Can we have the third potential juror please? [Juror 3 enters] The prosecution may now pose questions.

 

Barrister 1:      Can you state your name for the record?

 

Juror 3:            Quentin Taylor-McGuinness

 

Barrister 1:      And what is your occupation?

 

Juror 3:            I am the senior marketing director at Irish Water.

 

Barrister 1:      The prosecution has no issues with this gentleman serving on the jury.

 

Barrister 2:      Just a minute! Surely if people are being dismissed from the jury for having an opinion on water charges, we must, for the sake of consistency, not allow senior executives of the company responsible for water charges serve!

 

Judge:             I would remind the council for defence that this court is not in the business of judging people simply for the occupation they hold. This isn’t the Soviet Union, sir! The juror is accepted and may take his seat. [Juror 3 takes his place beside the other ten jurors] Now, we have only one seat left to fill on the jury, if we could possibly move along quickly as I have a round of golf planed with the Chairman of the Labour Party. Can we have the next potential juror please? [Juror 4 enters] The prosecution may begin his interrogation… I mean, cross examination.

 

Barrister 1:       Can you state your name for the record?

 

Juror 4:            Michelle Murphy.

 

Barrister 1:       I’m sorry, did you say “Murphy”?

 

Juror 4:            I did.

 

Barrister 1:       Well, I’m sorry, but this is pretty open and shut for the court, surely. The most high profile defendant in this case is one Paul Murphy. How can we be certain that this person is not a relative of his?

 

Barrister 2:       I’m sorry, but I must protest! This is ridiculous. At close to 100,000 people, Murphy is by far the most common surname in Ireland.

 

Judge:              Yes, and those 100,000 people must have come from somewhere. Even if this person is his 22nd cousin twice removed, I cannot risk making a mockery of this show trial by allowing family members serve on the jury. The juror is dismissed.

 

[Barrister 2 sits down, exasperated]

 

Estragon:          C’mon. Let’s go.

 

Vladimir:         We can’t.

 

Estragon:         Why not?

 

Vladimir:         Because we’re waiting for justice.

 

Judge:              Can we have the next potential juror please? [Juror 5 enters] Prosecution, do your worst.

 

Barrister 1:       Can you state your name for the record?

 

Juror 5:            Chad Hardwick.

 

Barrister:          I notice you appear to have an American accent. Tell me are you an Irish citizen?

 

Juror 5:            I’m a naturalised citizen, yes.

 

Barrister:          And where did you live before moving to Ireland?

 

Juror 5:            Tallahassee, Florida, USA.

 

Barrister:          Tallahassee? Well, I hate to be finicky about this, but the name Tallahassee, clearly has the word “Tallaght” in it, and this court was very clear that nobody connected with Tallaght could serve on this Jury.

 

[Silence from Barrister 2]

 

Judge:              Any comment from the defence?

 

Barrister 2:       Any point?

 

Judge:              Probably not. The juror is dismissed. Can we have the next potential juror please? [Juror 6 enters] The prosecution may proceed.

 

Barrister 1:       Can you state your name for the record?

 

Juror 6:            Simon Coveney.

 

Barrister 2:       [Irate frustration] Oh, that’s it, I’m off! [Barrister 2 storms out]

 

Vladimir:         What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for justice to come…

 

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