Tagged: The Trial of the Flash

The Law Is A Ass #429: If At Flash You Don’t Succeed, Try, Trial Again

Where do I begin? Oh, right, I began two columns ago, because this is column three in my series discussing the “The Trial of The Flash” episode from the The Flash TV show. (And there’s a sentence that’ll drive proofreaders crazy.)

Okay, I’ll actually begin with a SPOILER WARNING. If you’re not caught up on The Flash, I’m about to reveal a couple of episodes worth of endings. Now, with the warning out of the way, like a college professor dressing for his twenty-fifth graduation ceremony, I have to recap.

Barry (The Flash) Allen was on trial for murdering Clifford DeVoe. In reality, DeVoe, a super genius whose hyper brain was literally sapping the vitality from his own body, transferred his consciousness into the body of another man. Then he put his lifeless body in Barry Allen’s apartment and framed Barry Allen for murder.

The trial followed the Constitutional principle of a speedy trial, it barely took up half of the forty-two minutes a one-hour TV episode lasts when you use your DVR to skip the commercials. My writing about the trial has taken a bit longer. Okay, more like a terabit longer. But take heart, the trial’s reached the closing arguments and instructions to the jury stage.

Which I’m not going to write about.

Not because closing arguments and jury instructions are boring – although they are – but because the episode didn’t actually show either to us. About three sentences into defense counsel Cecille Horton‘s one-law-degree-short-of-being-ept closing argument, Barry received a Troubalert that the villain du semaine was wreaking havoc in Central City. Barry told the judge there was an emergency and he was needed. Cecille added that nothing required the defendant to be present during closing arguments and the judge let Barry leave the trial. You might wonder whether the defendant can actually leave a trial while it’s still going on. The answer is yes.

Defendants don’t normally leave their trials, because that tends to make juries think the defendants don’t care about the trial, so why should the juries care about the defendant? But they can leave while trials are going on. And case law says that if a defendant voluntarily absents him or herself from the trial, it can proceed without the defendant.

So Barry left the trial to help Team Flash. Not to mention helping us. As I said earlier, we didn’t have to watch the trial’s boring parts.

It took Flash less than one act to defeat the baddie. It took the same amount of time for the lawyers to finish closing arguments, the judge to deliver the jury instructions, and the jury to reach its verdict. Right before the act break, the jury found Barry guilty.

Some people have complained about the verdict coming in that fast. But it happens. It’s what we call in the legal game a flash verdict— no pun intended, that’s really what they’re called. When juries retire to the deliberating room usually the first thing they do is elect a foreperson. Then lots of juries will take a vote on the verdict just to see where they all stand. If that initial vote comes back with a unanimous guilty verdict, the jury deliberations could be over as quickly as the episode indicated. So I have no problem with how fast the verdict came in. I do have a problem with the jury instructions, however. Those things are never fast.

After the verdict, the prosecutor delivered a speech that he hoped Barry would receive a life sentence given the brutal nature of the crime. Which was grandstanding on his part. Barry had been convicted of murder in the first degree. In Missouri, the mandatory sentence for murder in the first degree is life without the possibility of parole.

Before the judge delivered Barry’s sentence, he delivered a speech about how in all his years on the bench he had never seen a defendant who was more unmoved or had such a lack of regard for human life. You know, the usual shtick.

Also grandstanding, but I can forgive the judge his grandstanding. Judges lay it on thick at sentencing, so they can show the voters they’re tough on crime. It tends to get them reelected. When prosecutors lay it on thick and show that they don’t even know what their state’s mandatory sentence laws are, they tend not to be reelected.

Which brings us to the end of “The Trial of The Flash,” but not our column. See while Barry was serving his sentence in Iron Heights Prison, Warden Wolfe discovered that Barry was The Flash. So three episodes later, in “True Colors,” Warden Wolfe made a deal to sell Barry and some of the other super villains in Iron Heights to Amunet Black, a super villain who trafficked in the super-powered people black market. When Barry and the other super villains learned about Wolfe’s plan, they attempted an escape during the course of which all the super villains and Warden Wolfe died. Team Flash told Barry that he should finish the escape plan so that he could be free and help Team Flash defeat Clifford DeVoe. Barry refused.

He was willing to help the others escape to keep Wolfe from selling them on the black market, but that was no longer a possibility. Barry was going to stay in prison until Team Flash could find a way to get him out of prison legally. That would be the only way he could ever feel truly free.

And later that episode, Team Flash did figure out a way to get Barry out of prison. The Elongated Man used his stretching powers to make himself look like Clifford DeVoe and appeared in court. “DeVoe” told the judge that he hadn’t died, he had been in some weird state of unconsciousness. The judge didn’t think to ask any questions such as how DeVoe survived the autopsy which would certainly have been required on his body before Barry could ever have been brought to trial, and ordered Barry released.

So that was Team Flash’s plan to get Barry out prison legally? Committing a fraud upon the court? If that’s the kind of “legal” method they were willing to use, why didn’t they just bribe the jury during Barry’s trial? It would have saved them a lot of time and us a lot of grief.

The Law Is A Ass #428: Trial And Era With The Flash

It’s just like riding a bike. Once you’ve done it, doing it again is easy.

And what we’ve done, and are doing again, is “The Trial of The Flash.” Sorry, that should be the trial of Barry Allen as it wasn’t The Flash who was on trial for murder in the January 16th episode of The Flash, it was his secret identity Barry Allen. I’d think the old habits formed in columns of another era were dying hard but even the TV show called this episode “The Trial of The Flash.”

Anyway, The Flash – err, Barry Allen – was on trial for killing Reverse-Flash – I mean Clifford DeVoe; damn that muscle memory. Barry didn’t kill DeVoe. DeVoe, the super genius dubbed The Thinker, had transferred his mind into the body of a man named Dominic Lanse, because DeVoe’s own body was paralyzed and atrophying. DeVoe took his lifeless shell of a former body to Barry Allen’s apartment, stabbed it with one of Barry’s knives, and arranged for the police to find Barry standing over the body. Presto, Barry was framed better than Dogs Playing Poker.

Barry’s defense attorney Cecille Horton decided that the best way to beat the murder rap was to reveal to the world that Barry was The Flash…

Damn it! You’d think that after thirty years my fingers wouldn’t automatically write about the events of that old “The Trial of The Flash.”

Oh wait. Cecille wanted to do that in the current “The Trial of The Flash,” too. She decided the only way for Barry to beat the case would be for him to testify, which would require revealing his secret identity. No logical arguments such as, Barry is an expert forensic scientist for the police, so would he plan a crime so clumsy that all the evidence pointed to him. Or, if Barry had actually knifed DeVoe to death, why wasn’t there any blood on him when the police found him? Nope, nothing like that could be tried. Or tried. Only revealing Barry’s secret identity so he could testify could save him.

Problem was, Barry didn’t want to reveal his secret identity. He said if his Rogue’s Gallery learned his secret identity then all his family and friends would be in danger of reprisal from said Rogues.

Uh, Barry, you and your father-in-law, Joe West, are police officers who have openly worked with Team Flash in the past. I think you and Joe are already targets. Cecille, who’s engaged to Joe, used to be a prosecutor. So we can kind of reprise the reprisal for her. And your wife, Iris West-Allen, is a crime reporter who probably already has an enemies list as formidable as Richard Nixon’s. As for your other friends – the super heroes Vibe, Killer Frost, and Elongated Man, the Rogues already hate them, too. But they can kind of take care of themselves.

The point I’m making is that your family and friends already have targets on them. So not revealing your secret identity isn’t really protecting them all that much.

Moreover, at this point who in Central City doesn’t know the Flash’s secret identity? He and his team routinely use their street names while in costume. Their attitude toward preserving Flash’s identity is about as cavalier as a Cleveland sporting goods store in January. And even if there are some members of the general public who don’t know Flash’s identity; which of his Rogue’s Gallery doesn’t know it? Girder knows it. Pied Piper knows it. As does Plastique, Captain Cold, Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Weather Wizard, Savitar, Heat Wave, Abra Kadabra, Clifford DeVoe, and Gorilla Grodd. Did I leave any out? Probably.

So, again, Barry not revealing his secret identity? Not so helpful in the whole protecting-your-family-and-friends department.

The prosecution called Marlize DeVoe, the “widow” of Clifford DeVoe, as a witness. When Cecille cross-examined her, she used some photos that Joe Allen and Ralph (The Elongated Man) Dibny took of her in lip lock with Dominic Lanse. (Remember, her husband’s mind was in Dominic’s body, so she was actually kissing her husband.) Cecille suggested that maybe she and her husband weren’t so much in love and she and her new lover were tired of waiting for her husband to die so killed him.

Which is one of the worst ways to introduce that evidence. Why? Because it gave Marlize an immediate chance to explain the pictures. She said her husband was dying of ALS and she met Dominic, whose father died of the same disease, in an ALS support group. Her husband could see their mutual attraction so he encouraged Marlize to go to Dominic for the things he could no longer give her. It won the jury back to Marlize’s side.

The better way to introduce the evidence is spring it in the defense case-in-chief. Sure Marlize could try to explain it away. But she wouldn’t be able to do that until the state’s rebuttal case which would be hours – or days – later. Any bad feelings the jury might have gotten from the picture would sit in them for those hours — or days – and take root. So maybe, the jury wouldn’t buy into Marlize’s explanation quite so easily. That way, the closing argument of “We only have her word that she had her husband’s blessing. Maybe she and Dominic were tired of waiting for Clifford DeVoe to die and decided to do something about it,” would have had more effect.

And, for that matter, did anyone think to check out Marlize’s story? Did Dominic’s father really die of ALS? We know they didn’t meet in a support group, so why not check into his father’s death. If Dominic’s father did die of ALS – and what are the odds of that? – nothing’s changed. But if he didn’t, then Marlize committed perjury and the jury would have discounted most everything she said. To answer my own question, no one bothered to check Marlize’s story. So there’s some good criminal defense work.


Yes, “and.” It’s happened again. I’ve run out of column before running out of material. Only this time it isn’t muscle memory causing me to re-type something I wrote back in 1983. This time it’s happening now. Seems that no matter what century I’m in, I’m fated to write endlessly about “The Trial of The Flash.”