Day 118: Stare Decisis

Delano Tremaine tired of Cavet’s specious arguments to convince the judge his client, a super-soldier who’d served honorably, should never be free from captivity. The shyster had to be running out of tactics by now. This latest one was his strongest, probably saved for last. Even Cavet’s client, Stephie Grammer, CEO of Argosy Resources Corporation, looked uncomfortable sitting next to him.

Cavet whispered to his red-headed assistant, Angus, who then left the hearing room. Cavet balled his fists in front of him like he always did when he was winding things up. “Your honor, the DNA and nanotech enhancements Zack Porter received gives him the power to withstand a policeman’s bullets and crush his skull with a bare hand. There is no more dangerous creature in the world, and I need not tell you about the psychological instability super-soldiers tend toward. He must be contained for public safety.”

“We’ve heard that argument before,” said Judge Mason. “Mr. Tremaine provided you with those precedents. There’s not a human being alive who can’t become dangerous, and genetic psychological proclivities are not consistent, including among super-soldiers. The data’s clear on that.”

Delano grinned internally. This was just about done. Angus returned carrying a stiff poster with some graphs and an easel.

“Your honor,” said Cavet. “That’s precisely the problem. They’re no longer human beings.”

Gasps came from the spectators. Angus propped the graphs on the easel. There were three grids filled in with dots in several shades of yellow and orange. Angus covered the bottom graphic with a clipboard.

“Explain yourself, counselor.”

“If I can bring your attention to this research,” Cavet pointed to the poster. “Documenting genomes has taught us a lot about both close and distant relatives of human beings. There’s a one percent difference between the chimpanzee and a human being. This top graphic represents a section of the human genome, and you can see it’s all yellow. Below it is the same section of the chimpanzee genome.” He walked up and touched it with his knuckles. “The relative darkness of the orange dots represents relative differences in the DNA.”

Judge Mason interrupted him. “I appreciate the science lesson, counselor, but can you get to the point.”

“Almost there.” He removed the clipboard covering the bottom graph. It was significantly more orange than the chimpanzee’s. “This is what the same section of DNA looks like in Zack Porter.”

“Objection,” said Delano. “Relevance.”

Cavet balled his fists. “Your honor, I’m presenting scientific facts that have direct bearing upon the humanity of all super-soldiers. Understanding it and deciding its relevance is critical to this case and all future ones.”

“Overruled.”

“This is just a graphic,” said Cavet. “The actual data shows that there is almost a two percent difference between the super-soldiers and human beings. They’re less human than chimps.”

The hearing room erupted in a cacophony of voices. “Order,” said Judge Mason. The room quieted.

Delano’s adrenaline pumped as he tore apart Cavet’s argument. He skillfully and convincingly established that the humanity of a person stems from origin and continuity with the race. Then he turned to the genetics.

Delano held his hands toward the chart and painted his face with his severest disgust. “What this two percent genetic deviation tells us is that we can still be fully human even with two percent difference in DNA.”

Judge Mason favored Delano’s arguments and ruled that DNA with under two percent deviation could not be grounds for depriving basic human rights from anyone. He ruled that Zack Porter would be a free man after serving out his contract.

Cavet smiled and patted Angus on the shoulder, then swaggered out gabbing and laughing with Stephie.

“That’s about the most cheerful I’ve ever seen Cavet after a loss.”

“He’s marking this one down as a big win,” said Angus.

“He lost.”

Angus gathered the documentation off the table and organized it into a briefcase. “Not at all. He took Argosy’s case pro bono and he told Stephie Grammer to expect a loss. But he also told her he’d tie you guys up too much to meddle with their contractual status quo. You didn’t reduce their control over these beasts the teensiest bit for the duration of their contracts, so your buddy’s still not going to be free for three more years.”

Angus closed the briefcase and set it upright, resting his hand on it. “Cavet’s paid clients are the Citizens for the Animal Liberation Front. He’s filing a suit tomorrow that will use this ruling as stare decisis for liberating all chimpanzees and bonobos. That’s a win.” He headed out of the hearing room and waved. “Ciao.”

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