“Mr. Coyotelaw, could you please not use the word ‘cock.’ ‘Chicken’ or ‘rooster’ will suffice.” Judge Petty was not a Happy Camper. We were at a sidebar.
Cockfighting is legal in my state. My client is charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon for attacking another cockfighter with a fighting cock. We are claiming self-defense.
“Your Honor, my client is a simple man.” That went without saying. You never see bankers or real estate developers engaged in cockfighting.
“The term he uses for his fighting rooster is ‘cock.’ If we try to censor his speech, his testimony will come across as unnatural. The jury may have a bad impression of his demeanor on the stand and it may affect their view of his credibility. In a self-defense case with no witnesses, credibility is critical.”
Judge Petty glared at me. His face was red and beads of sweat were breaking out across his brow. He was infuriated that this was going to trial, especially after learning that Prosecutor Bitchy had offered a deferred sentence with no jail time. The judge had tried to strong-arm us into accepting the plea, even after the jury was selected and opening statements delivered. I advised my client not to accept the offer. I felt we would win on self-defense.
Judge Petty hated to make any legal rulings in trial. He was deathly afraid of being overturned on appeal. I decided to up the stakes.
“My client would have an excellent appellate issue if the trial court prohibits him from presenting his legal defense in his own words.”
You could almost see the steam rising from his bald head.
“Very well then, use that term if you must.” Judge Petty hated giving in to me. “But I will warn Defense Counsel not to make a mockery of these proceedings!”
Mockery? Judge, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I returned to the podium to resume direct examination of my client.
“Mr. Schultz, we were at the point where your cock had lost.”
“Yes, he was a good fighter, he had a big heart, he was just no match.” His voice choked and his eyes teared.
“And what was your arrangement with Mr. Escobedo?” The prosecution was alleging that Victor Escobedo was the victim in this case. He lost an eye.
“We weren’t fighting for money. We had agreed to give up a cock if we lost.”
An embarrassed giggle from one of the jurors. Excellent. I had to bring out the humor in this situation to counteract the graphic and maudlin testimony about Mr. Escobedo’s injury. The eye-patch was a nice touch, Prosecutor Bitchy.
“Was there a problem?”
My client, Clyde, straightened up. “You bet there was. He went right over to the pens and grabbed my best cock.”
“What made that particular cock your best?”
“That was my prize cock. That cock was bigger and meaner than the rest. Everybody knows you don’t take a man's prize cock.”
“What did you do?”
“I said ‘Victor, you know damned good and well you can’t have that cock.’”
More titters from the jury.
“What happened next?”
“He wouldn’t turn my cock loose. I demanded that he put the cock down and get another.”
“What did he do?”
“He was yelling at me saying he could have any cock he wanted.”
“What did you do?”
“I wrestled my cock out of his hands.” Giggles from the jury box.
“He picked up his own cock out of the ring and came at me.”
“Were you afraid?”
“Why is that?”
“Well he was charging me with that big cock stretched out. Anybody would have been afraid.”
“Did his cock have spurs?”
“Yes it did, sharp ones,” Clyde said.
“Could he have hurt you with the cock?”
“Oh yeah. His cock was fresh from the fight. It still had the taste of blood.”
“So what did you do?”
“Well I still had my cock in my hands,” Clyde began.
“Let me stop you right there. Whose cock was bigger?” Muffled laughter now. I didn’t dare look towards the bench.
Clyde considered. “Well my cock was bigger, of course.” Of course. “But like I said, his cock was all riled up.”
“Well, I was able to dodge his cock at the last minute, and then by instinct I just jammed my cock up into his face. I didn’t really mean to hurt Victor, but the next thing I know he was screaming that my cock had scratched his eye.”
My client paused. “Everything was a mess. Victor had a lot of blood. We both dropped our cocks in the excitement. Our cocks were fighting while I’m holding a rag up against his eye. His cock got the better of mine of course. His cock had spurs and mine didn’t.”
“Mr. Schultz, were you intentionally trying to hurt Mr. Escobedo with your cock?”
“No sir, I was just defending myself. I would never use my cock as a weapon.”
Loud bursts of laughter came from the jury room during deliberation. Eventually the jury came in and rendered a not guilty verdict.
On the way out to my car, Clyde and Victor called over to me. They were drinking Grape Pucker schnapps over by Clyde’s ‘77 Chevy truck. They offered the bottle to me and I took a swig.
“We’re going out to my place for a fight, Mr. Coyotelaw. Want to come watch?”
“No thank you, boys. You all be careful. Those things can put an eye out.”
I started up my truck. I wondered if Gerry Spence ever had to argue self-defense for use of a cock.
I’m guessing no.
But I wouldn't bet my prize cock against it.