For a brief moment, he felt like a rookie trial lawyer, then regained his composure, picked up his pen, and wrote down rebuttal annotations which he would use in his opening statement. Clay planned to use a somewhat ancient, unchallenged law of criminal procedure in the courts of Georgia. This would be Clay's first legal punch at Judge Alexander, and he wondered if this wise, but corrupt, jurist would be aware of the arcane case rendered by the Supreme Court of Georgia over 80 years ago. The case was never cited thereafter in Georgia jurisprudence, but it had never been overruled by any court in modern times. This, the case had the "full force and effect" of law in the courtrooms of Georgia. With his first trap set for the judge, Clay was still pondering the wisdom of his unorthodox decision concerning the timing of his opening statement to the jury. He realized he needed to refocus his mind on John Paul, as his opponent stepped up to the jury rail, gripping the rail with both of his large hands.
Slowly, his face melted into a frowning mask as he bowed in a gentlemanly manner backing away from the jury box while raising his hands outward in front of his massive chest. Clay had to admit it — John Paul was a powerful adversary in the courtroom. Clay realized he was listening to John Paul rather than representing his client! John Paul had an aura of complete control of the room; he was dangerously captivating.
"Young man, you may now make your opening statement," the judge said to Clay while looking down at a tablet and writing.
Standing, Clay responded, "Judge Alexander, I waive the opening statement and reserve the defendant's right to make an opening statement when I present the defense on behalf of my client, Mr. Robert Lee Jest."
Clay knew he was ratcheting up the pressure, but it was time to regain the momentum with this procedural move on the chessboard of a jury trial. Judge Alexander's head of white flowing hair snapped upward, completely startled.
"What did you say, young man?" he demanded.
"I said, 'I waive my opening statement and I reserve my right to make an opening statement when I presene the defense on behalf of my client, Mr. Robert Lee Jest.' "
"What right? What right? Boy, are you trifling with this court? I will not tolerate it, by God! Do you hear me, boy?" he demanded from the bench.
Clay steadied himself as he gained more confidence in his tactical decision. Now, he had to close the trap he had set.