Gi Dong-yeong’s face remained etched with disbelief, his countenance a tapestry of torment. The mere sight of him tugged at Yi-soo’s chest, an almost suffocating wave of empathy washing over her.
What was at stake? Money? The ownership of the café building?
Her temples pulsed with an insistent ache. The presiding judge briskly resumed the trial proceedings, the case itself not being intricately labyrinthine to begin with.
“Defense attorney, present your closing argument.”
With a discreet clearance of his throat, Hyun-seong rose from his seat. Jae-young wore a smirk, his gaze fixed on his own defense attorney, evidently intrigued by the imminent turn of events.
For defense attorney Yoon Hyun-seong, this trial wasn’t a mere game. Even in the face of the unforeseen twists, he was compelled to unravel the intricate knot. Casting a glance toward the judge, he addressed the court with a voice that was both measured and resolute.
“The defendant, Seo Jae-young, undoubtedly engaged in an altercation with the victim, Gi Dong-yeong. However, I beseech this court to take into account that the assault was limited to a single blow to the victim’s face, not extending to the widespread bodily harm as asserted by the prosecution. In light of the strained relationship between the victim and the defendant, there’s the possibility that emotions colored the victim’s account of the event. I urge this court to recognize that the defendant’s actions were borne out of a transient surge of emotion, without premeditation, and that he acknowledges his wrongdoing and is prepared to offer an adequate restitution for the facial injury.”
Pausing momentarily, he collected his thoughts before pressing on.
“Given these considerations, I implore the court to consider a merciful sentencing. Thank you.”
Hyun-seong resumed his seat in quietude. Yi-soo’s gaze clung to him, her irises alight with an agitated tremor. While initially seeking a two-year imprisonment for Jae-young, a haunting intuition told her that the judge’s receptivity wouldn’t align with that. The scales had irrevocably tilted, favoring one side.
A profound pang of disillusionment welled up inside her. And as the judge prepared to deliver the verdict, Yi-soo’s heart plunged into a shade of blue.
“Yes. In the case numbered 20223229, concerning the defendant Seo Jae-young, I shall now pronounce the judgment. The defendant, Seo Jae-young, who ordinarily…”
The entire courtroom seemed suspended in breathless anticipation, all eyes fixed on the judge’s lips. His voice resonated with authority as he read the verdict, each word weighted with the gravitas of impending finality. While the contents were standard, devoid of any ostensible peculiarity, Yi-soo could discern the trajectory leading to the verdict’s conclusion.
“…accordingly, a fine of two million won is imposed on the defendant, Seo Jae-young.”
Though the sentence falls short of the prosecution’s plea, it’s a far cry from a suspended prison term, merely culminating in a fine. Still, the crux of the matter remains: there’s an absence of concrete evidence to substantiate Gi Dong-yeong’s assault with a golf club.
Despite the weight of circumstantial evidence, the bedrock of legal principle necessitates a ruling of assault rather than aggravated assault. Yoon & Kang, and Seo Jae-young, can lay claim to an unblemished victory.
It’s as though her mouth has been parched by successive cups of black coffee. Unconsciously, Yi-soo shifts her gaze to the spectator section. Dong-yeong, his countenance one of stupefaction, rises promptly from his seat and leans on his crutches upon hearing the judge’s final decree.
And then, he exits the courtroom in silence. Observing his retreating figure, an overwhelming sense of vexation washes over her.
Would an appeal alter the outcome?
Naturally, she’s not inclined to let Jae-young off the hook so easily. An appeal will be filed, of course, but beyond that, she’s caught in a quagmire of uncertainty. Procuring further evidence is bound to prove an even more formidable task henceforth.
It’s akin to playing soccer without a goalpost. Were it senior prosecutors in her shoes, they’d likely advise against squandering time on trivial pursuits, steering her focus towards other cases. From a logical standpoint, that would be the prudent course of action.
Yet human decisions aren’t always guided by rationality alone.
“With this, the trial concludes,” the presiding judge’s voice echoed through the courtroom. The ambiance buzzed with conversation as Yi-soo gathered her records, encasing them in a cloth.
She deliberately averted her gaze from Hyun-seong across the room. While he had executed his role as the defense attorney as expected, a subtle undercurrent of betrayal gnawed at her. It was an inevitable sentiment.
Had only Dong-yeong and Jae-young reached a settlement, even if it had been a substantial one, the situation wouldn’t be as bleak. The memory of Dong-yeong’s receding figure, the last sight she caught, refused to leave her thoughts.
In the defendant’s seat, Jae-young’s lips curled into a smirk, unaffected by the murmurs rippling through the crowd. Eventually, he began to chuckle—a chilling sound in the midst of the courtroom’s commotion.
Seeing this display, Hyun-seong’s expression grew icy as he rose from his seat. A criminal trial doesn’t necessarily involve clear victories or losses. The objective is to mitigate the defendant’s sentence. Alongside this, an implicit sense of triumph or defeat subtly permeates the proceedings. In this context, Hyun-seong had secured a win in this trial as well. Yet, he couldn’t relish it wholeheartedly.
Straightening his tie with a resolute motion, he muttered in a voice as frigid and pointed as the winter breeze, “Mr. Seo Jae-young, we need to have a little chat.”