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X-treme Wrestling Federation » Warfare Boards » Warfare RP Board
Trial of the Century: Opening Statement
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Dionysus Offline
Active in XWF

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Some of everyone

(cheered; very rarely plays dirty but isn't lame either; many likable qualities)

02-23-2024, 11:43 PM

[Image: Trial-Banner.png]

God this courtroom was stuffy.

The weather may have been warmer than normal, but they sure decided to give the gas bill its due justice.

...So to speak.

I might have expected a larger courtroom, but this one was fairly simple; a judge's bench at the front, two tables for the prosecution and defense, a railing separating the court floor from the gallery, and two columns of five rows of chairs, about eight chairs wide. There was also a row of benches at the very back of the courtroom. To the right of the prosecution's table was the jury stand. As we were being brought in, I noticed that the gallery was relatively small; only a handful of chairs were filled, and the jury stand was empty. Gary had informed me that the judge had not yet determined that a jury would be necessary. The gameplan was set; get through this as quickly as possible, and no one else gets dragged in.

I sat next to Charles on the far end of the defense table, with Gary taking the first seat near the middle. Van Dusen and Scapelli were also sitting there, conferring with each other quietly. The three of us watched in horror as Scapelli started gingerly rubbing the neck cast he was now apparently wearing. "The hell is this all about?" I asked incredulously.

"Just a tactic," Gary replied. "Since assault is also on the table as a charge, they're trying to garner sympathy."

"But there's no jury."

"There are reporters, however," Charles whispered. "Odds are he is playing up his alleged injuries to the press."

"Wouldn't that...I dunno, taint the jury pool or something?" I followed up. I hesitated with the question, since it only seemed like something you'd only see on TV.

Charles stared blankly at me. "...I hadn't thought of that." Nice to hear my team not making considerations for my case.

Before we could continue the conversation, the bailiff stepped into the court room. "District Court Case Number B6-C2980: South Shore Construction vs Berget Vineyards. Honorable Judge Skovald presiding. All rise."

We stood accordingly. Judge Skovald was an older judge, around even when I was a child. I remember my mother talking about him once, though I couldn't tell you the details. He was nearing retirement age and while he had a stern, angry appearance, he was also understanding and knew the letter of the law. "You may be seated," he announced, as we took our seats. He shuffled some papers in front of him. "Defense, I understand that you are filing a motion to dismiss proceedings in favor of a settlement agreement. Was a settlement reached?"

"Afraid not, Your Honor," Gary stated. He gestured over to Van Dusen. "The prosecution was insistent on refusing any and all settlements until a trial was had-"

"Your Honor," Van Dusen interrupted, pointing to his client's cast. "As you can plainly see, my client was severely injured as part of this whole fiasco."

"Well, this fiasco was going to be settled-"

"But," Van Dusen interrupted, "without any kind of consideration for Scapelli's medical condition! Your callous settlement removed the human factor, as usual."

"Now hold on a-"

"ORDER!" Judge Skovald bellowed, banging his gavel. He looked over at Van Dusen. "Prosecution, while I can see your client is, in fact, in a cast, I have yet to receive any medical records to assert your claim."

"Apologies, Your Honor," Van Dusen replied sullenly. "The documentation was sent to my offices only a few hours ago. I have copies to provide to the court now, however."

"Convenient," I muttered under my breath.

Van Dusen shot me a dirty look while one of the courtroom pages provided the evidence. That was enough prompt for the Judge to say, "Mister Berget, do you have something you wish to say?"

"Well since you ask-"

"Your Honor," Gary interjected before I said a word. "Under my advisement, I have instructed my client to not speak unless providing testimony."

"Then the defendant would do well to keep his mouth shut," Skovald replied. Then he smiled, saying "I know your line of work, but this really isn't the place to get snarky."

"Yes, Your Honor," I acknowledged. I turned to look at the prosecution, feeling Scapelli's stare.

"Regardless of the circumstances," Van Dusen continued, "We cannot agree to a settlement unless there is a condition that my client's medical bills are paid in full as part of the agreement."

"On what grounds?" Gary countered.

"On the grounds that my client was assaulted by yours, of course," Van Dusen replied, a shit-eating grin on his face.

The Judge, however, did not seem amused. "You do understand," he pointed out, "that the defendant has yet to be convicted of any such crime."

"Which is why we are pushing for a jury trial on grounds of Assault and Breach of Contract."

"Your Honor," Gary began to say "A trial of such a nature would be a waste of court resources-"

"And yet," Judge Skovald said, "Assault is a serious enough charge that we should take into account. Would you disagree?"

"Certainly not, but at the very least, a jury would be inefficient. By the time the selection process were to begin, reports from these proceedings would likely come to light, and as such would influence any jury pool that would be called." Gary was methodical in his approach. "As much as the prosecution would love to put the court of public opinion over my client's head, it also affects his client's public image. We are interested in settling this matter without any grandstanding from anyone, let alone the prosecution."

"A-a-a jury would not be tainted the way the defense is claiming!" Van Dusen argued weakly. He then looked down, dejected by his own response.

Judge Skovald shook his head, sighing loudly. "Mister Van Dusen, you will need to do better than that. I'm inclined to agree with the defense on this one here. A jury will not be needed to determine liability or grounds for assault." He looked to both Gary and Van Dusen. "However, the prosecution's right to hold settlement discussion until this matter is resolved still holds merit. Therefore, the motion to dismiss has been denied. We will proceed with a judgment trial to determine settlement, contingent on charges for assault to include additional language. Are the prosecution and defense ready?"

"Yes, Your Honor," Both men replied.

"Very well."

And so began the fight to clear my name.

"Your Honor," Van Dusen began, "This entire affair begins with the defendant arriving at my client's offices after a horrible incident occurred. What could have been resolved with a phone call or an email, he decided to take on in-person. My client has his own investments to look out for; he too is a victim in this incident. And yet, the defendant knowingly threatened my client before grabbing him around the neck and slamming his body across the office. Now, we have submitted security footage that shows the moments leading up to the incident." He gestured to the bailiff, who rolled a TV over on a cart to play the security footage inside the office. While no audio was being played, they showed me walking into Scapelli's office, our heated conversation, and then the feed cutting to another moment in time, where Scapelli was laying against the wall rubbing his collarbone. "Clear, definitive evidence that my client's injuries were the result of that conversation. If that is not assault then I do not know what is." Van Dusen nodded to Judge Skovald before taking a seat.

Gary stood up, clearing his throat. "Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the court, my client," he paused, gesturing to me, "is a man of particular business morals. He is set in his ways on how to handle the workings of his business. And when there were gaps in the contract that had not been properly filled, my client ensured that his side would be taken care of. A contract is binding between both parties involved. But this issue does not stem from a contract, but rather a request to cover payment on the materials that were lost, and the cost of new materials. For an incident that we still asset was not my client's doing. So given his particular style of management, he gave the prosecution the courtesy of a personal visit. It could have been a productive discussion on what happens next, but instead it led to a breach of trust. Despite the prosecution's posturing," he continued, giving a knowing look to Van Dusen and Scapelli, "we still assert that my client is not responsible for Mister Scapelli's injuries. Though we do wish him a speedy recovery, we simply are not adding a clause to cover medical expenses for an injury of unknown origin. "

"Very well, are any witnesses of yours ready?" The Judge asked.

"Your Honor, as he has a first-hand account of the experience, my client, Furio Scapelli, wishes to take the stand," Van Dusen replied, gesturing to a now standing Scapelli. He was led to the witness stand by the bailiff and was quickly sworn in. After confirming the usual information - name, occupation, relation to the case, all of that - Van Dusen asked "Could you explain your movements on the day of the incident?"

Scapelli swallowed, then began, "Well, I got into the office around...just a little after nine AM. I usually alternate between working in-office and going to client sites for inspections."

"And when did the defendant arrive?"

"I believe it was after two PM."

"Which is what is shown on your security footage here, correct?"

"Yes, that's correct."

"How would you describe the defendant at that time?"

"Objection," Gary said, standing up. "Calls to speculation; the witness would not be aware of his mental or emotional state at the time."

The Judge paused, then nodded. "Sustained."

"I will rephrase," Van Dusen continued. "What was the topic of conversation?"

"He had come in to inform me that the materials were damaged or destroyed. He then accused me of the whole affair and would not pay a dime for the work we already put in, against our contractual agreement. Then he-" Scapelli paused, scanning the gallery before staring me down. "Then he grabbed me by the neck, swung me around toward the door, and slammed my body, headfirst, into the frame." He winced, grabbing at the cast. "I was too stunned to stop him and too hurt to care. While I was checking myself out, he had left."

"And the footage that was shown is accurate to the best of your memory?"

"That is correct."

Van Dusen nodded, looking at the judge. "No further questions." He returned to his seat.

"Mister Scapelli," Gary started as he stood, "is there, by chance, a gap in your memory about the day of the incident?"

"Not one bit," Scapelli replied, "I remember it exactly."

"I see," Gary continued. "Lets talk about this security camera for a moment. Is there a reason why this was installed?"

"Objection," Van Dusen was quick to proclaim. "Relevance?"

"It relates to the evidence at hand, Your Honor."

"Overruled," Skovald lazily replied. "The witness will answer the question."

"Well," Scapelli said, annoyed, "in my line of business, sometimes it helps to have conversations recorded. Even though Minnesota is a one-party state when it comes to recording consent, I still let all my clients know that our meetings are being filmed."

"And that camera," Gary continued, "is it new? Old? What kind of camera is it?"

"Dunno," Scapelli replied with a shrug. "I didn't install the thing."

"So you are unaware of the condition of the camera."

"Like I said, I-"

"Please answer the question," Gary quickly interrupted. "Are you aware of the condition of the camera, yes or no?"

"Objection, Your Honor; Asked and Answered!" Van Dusen chimed in.

"The question is in relation to the condition of the camera, not whether or not he installed it."

The Judge pondered, then said, "Overruled."

"Just to repeat the question, at the time of the incident, you were not aware of the condition of the camera. Yes or no?"


"Very well; I would like to draw your attention to the cut in the film." Gary rewound the tape to a few seconds prior to the footage cut happening. "As you can see, there is a heated argument between you and my client. Then the cut happens, and two minutes later, per the timestamp, there you are on the floor. Is that what happened?"

"No, but-"

"So can you explain why the crucial moment is missing from the footage?!" Gary accused.

Judge Skovald furrowed his eyebrows. "Mister Van Dusen, could you explain the cut made in the video?"

"Yes, Your Honor. You see..."

I tuned out as they debated over the camera footage with the obvious cut. I'll give Scapelli's lawyer credit; he at least knew how to make a hack job look halfway decent. Maybe I should ask Theo to hire him on as a jobber or something.

I looked back into the gallery and observed. There were three writers frantically jotting down notes while holding up recording devices. There were two elderly couples that were sitting in, presumably just to see what was going on. And yet, there was this rumbling chorus of voices underneath all of that. I started seeing lightly shaded silhouettes fill the remaining seats. There were only blank stares looking back to me. I blinked, and as I did so, the courtroom gallery felt longer, as more rows of faceless people stared me down. I could feel a pressure in my ears.

It was whatever presence had been haunting me all this time.

...No, stop this, I thought to myself. Just unclench your jaw. I felt the pressure leave my head.

Now breathe...

I took in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. As I exhaled quietly, the courtroom returned to normal. The pressure was gone.

And this trial was far from over...

Eighty three days as Xtreme Champion.

I had not anticipated that the reign would have ended in such a way, but alas, that is how it went. Pariah was the better man that night. But eighty three days of constantly looking over my shoulder wondering when the next pinfall was coming and where it would come from has given me a remarkable sense of awareness. So the loss stings, but I still benefited from the reign.

And it was still an important reign in and of itself. Because while I did lose the title, the level of competition was once again elevated. Every challenger stepped up their game in an effort to take me out, time and time again. That is what the new era of XWF is now.

An era where the most important part of the story is in that ring. Knowing what is most important to you in that moment is what makes you great now.

And as The Catalyst, I made this new philosophy come to pass.

It has even veterans like Barney Green once again stepping up to the plate to try their hand at glory once more.

...Or at the very least, trying to make the record books without their previous work being lost to history.

Now I'm fully aware that you would have loved this to be for the Xtreme title, Barney. And if I were still holding it that would be the case. But as it is, you will simply have to settle on proving to the roster why you shouldn't be counted out of March Madness.

After all, it was little over a year ago where you and I first squared off for the same tournament. Only we were both participants then, and if I recall, the stakes were essentially this: I was looking to make a good first impression. You were looking to win the whole damn thing.

You referred to me as a speedbump. It ended up totaling your momentum.

You never backed down. Never surrendered. But in the end, you still fell.

And it must have been a wake up call for you as well, considering after that bout you fell off the radar. So now you have had a year to prepare yourself for our inevitable rematch. Just to see where you still stack up. Only this time there are no stakes on either side. Just the two of us throwing haymakers and seeing who stands at the end.

Its the kind of fight I know you want. Its the kind of fight that I'm willing to give.

But much as you have grown over the year, so have I.

It really isn't that big of a secret. After all, I was in the thick of it for the better part of a year. Walking out of twenty twenty-three with three reigns under my cap and a shiny plaque for Newcomer of the Year will give you all the confidence in the world. That is one of the distinct differences between you and I, Barney. It was said best when this award was presented; some people go years without carrying a belt. I squashed that notion inside of one year.

Meanwhile, that title history, at least as it stands, has your name missing. No sign of The Daddy of Violence. Well, aside from one previous Anarchy title that has since been retired. It really starts to paint the picture. That is the legacy that you leave behind. Sure, in the end the reigns and days are just the statistics that make up who won what when. But it also shows something very important to the rest of the world.

Your actions are based on the end result, not the fight that comes before it.

Yes, you're considered a hardcore legend here.

Yes, you will likely never retire and fight until you can't anymore.

But if all you are looking at is the goal line, you are going to miss everyone else also chasing you.

Consider this a lesson from somebody who has had considerably fewer years than you in this business. I understand you want greatness. No one goes into this business otherwise. So go for it. Shit or get off the pot.

But if you ARE going to go for it, know that you will also be crossing my path.

I do not consider you a speed bump, Barney. I consider you as someone with the potential for greatness who has yet to realize it. This era is about bringing out the spirit of competition, to not only make ourselves better, but to make each other better. To elevate this business from where it was to where it can be.

After all, when we compete at our best, the fans win.

So you want to go the distance once again in March Madness?

Prove it.

And if you think beating me is going to prove to me, and everyone else, that you're going to pull this off...

...Then think again.

[Image: Many-Faces.png]
1x XWF Xtreme Champion (November 2023)
2x XWF Television Champion (May/August 2023)
2x RP of the Month (March/October 2023)
2023 Rookie of the Year
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