Following her conversation with Hyun-seong, Yi-soo stepped into the courtroom. Despite being a rather unremarkable affair, there was a desire to run through the details one last time before the trial commenced. Just then, a voice called out, “Prosecutor!”
Turning her head toward the source, Yi-soo found herself facing the speaker. “Ah, Mr. Gi Dong-yeong. You’re here.”
“Yes… I hope you’re doing well? I couldn’t sleep last night, anticipating today. And now that I’m here, the anxiety is getting to me. This is my first time in a courtroom…”
“Don’t worry too much. It won’t be a lengthy process. By the way, didn’t your daughter accompany you?” Yi-soo asked.
Dong-yeong, who had been in a wheelchair during their previous encounter, was now utilizing crutches, suggesting a measure of recovery from his fractures. Yet, independent mobility still posed a challenge. His daughter Seo-yeon, who had been present with him last time, was conspicuously absent, prompting questions.
Discerning Yi-soo’s unspoken query, Dong-yeong gestured awkwardly with a faint frown. “Oh, right. Our daughter had work. There’s an important meeting she couldn’t miss. She’s relatively new at her job… and she’s aiming to leave a good impression. I insisted she not accompany me. As you can see, she’s managing just fine on her own.”
Yi-soo offered a subtle smile at Dong-yeong’s explanation, inclining her head slightly. It was heartening to witness his swifter recovery, surpassing the initial prognosis from the doctors, which had suggested a lengthier treatment period.
“Yes, when the trial commences, the judge will summon you… You’ll provide your account of the events once you’re called. I’ll be right over there.”
“Oh, my goodness! Yes, of course. You must be quite busy. I apologize. My heart was restless, and my chest seemed to pound uncontrollably… Thank you, Prosecutor. Thank you.”
Dong-yeong bowed repeatedly, perhaps excessively. Yi-soo reciprocated with a slight nod before taking her place in the prosecutor’s designated area on the left.
She set down the case files she had carried from her desk onto the table, unveiling a stack of documents about 20 centimeters thick as she peeled back the gray cover. While she had perused its contents once before, the recent inundation of consequential cases had left certain portions not thoroughly reviewed.
Just then, through the ajar courtroom door, Hyun-seong and his client, Jae-young, entered.
“Mr. Seo Jae-young, let’s not create needless disruptions,” Hyun-seong warned.
Jae-young frowned. “Oh, come on, seriously… How many times do I need to repeat myself? I’m finally behaving. Can I just have a seat?”
Jae-young gestured to the defendant’s chair with a hint of annoyance. Opting not to respond, Hyun-seong occupied the neighboring lawyer’s spot and positioned his briefcase beside him. In that fleeting moment, Yi-soo’s and Hyun-seong’s eyes met midair, yet neither chose to acknowledge the contact.
The legal world, though interconnected and often familiar, demanded discretion regarding the close relationships between prosecutors and defense attorneys, especially within the confines of a singular case. Consequently, about ten minutes slipped away. The courtroom’s decorum was established with a resolute and professional tone that commanded the attention of those in attendance.
“The judge is taking the bench. Kindly rise, everyone.”
In response, the individuals within the courtroom began to stand, including Yi-soo, who cast a brief glance toward the spectator seats. Thankfully, Su-bin, the pivotal figure in this trial, had arrived punctually.
As the relatively young panel of judges assumed their positions on either side, the chief judge initiated the proceedings with an understated wave of his hand. Hyun-seong and Yi-soo settled into their respective seats, tidying their attire. A sense of apprehension swept over Yi-soo, suggesting that this would be no ordinary trial.
“Very well. Um… case number 20223229. The defendant is Mr. Seo Jae-young. Let us commence.”
Seated at the center, the head judge addressed the assembly with a composed demeanor. The deep creases around his mouth indirectly testified to his years of judicial experience. Donning his rimmed glasses with precision, he attentively reviewed the documents before him.
“Defendant, please step forward. Do you have your identification with you?”
Jae-young, dressed neatly, retrieved his identification card from his wallet. Following the court clerk’s formalities, the presiding judge proceeded with the procedural steps. These encompassed confirming basic personal information and advising on the right to remain silent.
Meanwhile, Yi-soo’s hand glided across the documents on her desk. As a prosecutor within the criminal division, this case didn’t appear to be exceptionally unusual to her. She had handled more serious offenses than aggravated assault. Nevertheless, she couldn’t easily overlook this case. It had captured the attention of higher authorities, and beyond that, the opposing defense attorney was Yoon Hyun-seong.
With the preliminary matters concluded, the presiding judge turned his attention towards Yi-soo. “I’ve verified that. Both sides of the prosecution, please present your statements.”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
Rising to her feet, Yi-soo held the indictment in her right hand. In a controlled yet distinct tone, she began to recite the contents inscribed on the paper. Within the courtroom, only the cadence of Yi-soo’s voice and the clattering of laptop keys echoed.
“…Hence, pursuant to Article 258-2 of the Criminal Code, the defendant Seo Jae-young stands accused of committing aggravated assault against the victim.”
“Yes, Your Honor. For the defense, please state the facts.”
With a gesture from the head judge’s fingertips, the records were passed over, the judge avoiding direct contact with the defense attorney’s seat. Without looking directly at Jae-young, Hyun-seong, positioned beside him, briefly glanced in his direction before rising from his seat to provide a succinct response.