The night before Christmas (criminal version)

By Rich Krisciunas
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the court
Not a lawyer was stirring,
As I held down the fort.

As a city attorney
All my cases I’d won
But I couldn’t go home
Til my work was all done.

Over twenty five files
Still lay on my lap,
As I leaned back wearily,
For a short winter’s nap.

As I sat dreaming,
Asleep all alone,
My slumber soon ended
By the ring of my phone.

“The judge needs a prosecutor
In court right away,
The trial starts in five minutes
So don’t you delay.”

Now it’s been several years
Since I last tried a case.
The clock was a runnin’,
There was no time to waste.

I’m an experienced professor
So I knew what to do
I got on my cell phone
And called people I knew

I called all my students
I called all of my friends
I called all my neighbors
And that’s where it ends

No one was home and,
To court, I must go.
‘Twas the night before Christmas
But, I couldn’t say, “No.”

So I ran down the stairs
To find the court and my judge.
I’d get an adjournment
For some reasons I’d fudge.

I entered the courtroom
But I wasn’t scared.
It wouldn’t be the first time
I’d be unprepared.

When all of a sudden,
The judge called the case
“Are the People ready?”
Blood rushed to my face.

Before I could answer
A voice boomed out loudly,
“We want a dismissal”
The voice shouted proudly.

It was the public defender,
Who stood by my side
“My client is innocent,
His rights were denied.”

And that’s when I saw him,
Dressed in white and red,
A frazzled white beard and
Red cap on his head.

I’d seen him before,
And it made me pause.
For the defendant on trial
Looked like old Santa Claus.

The judge said, “The reason
We’re here this occasion
Is because the prosecutor
Has charged home invasion.”

“He was caught in a chimney
About two blocks from here.”
“Alibi, he’s insane! ”
The defender screamed in my ear.

“Duress, merely present.
The identification is poor.
This case should be kicked
Of that much I’m sure!”

The judge interrupted,
“Counselor, let’s get this straight.
I’ve no time for games,
It’s getting real late.”

“Let’s skip the formalities
Cuz I’m in a hurry,
Give your opening statements.
We won’t need no jury.”

A trial?  I wasn’t as ready
As I’d like to be.
I’m a law school professor,
“Can’t we take a plea?”

But, I stood for my opening
And must proudly admit,
I delivered it marvelously,
With candor and wit.

I called all of my witnesses.
After they testified,
The defense cross-examined
And claimed, “They all lied.”

When I rested my case
The defender was quick.
His man took the stand,
And claimed he was St. Nick.

“I was just doing my job,”
He denied any wrongdoing.
“The detective didn’t investigate.
He was just misconstruing.”

“I was delivering presents
Not invading a home.”
He said with a wink, as he
Brushed his beard with a comb.

When t’was my turn to rise,
The judge gave me a look.
“I have just a few questions
To pose to this crook.”

“So is it Santa? St. Nicholas?
Father Christmas? St. Nick?
Kris Kringle? Mr.Claus?”
“Sir, please take your pick.”

“You’ve  too many aliases!
Your credibility’s shot!
You were caught with the goods
In a bag, were you not?

“When the officers saw you
You were alone in the house,
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse,

“But you didn’t have permission,
You didn’t get in with a key.
Your manner of admission
Was down the chimney!”

As my cross exam continued
I poked holes in his story.
“You ate cookies from the plate
And didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry.’

“Now Prancer and Dancer
Are not here today.
You’ve got no other witnesses
To corroborate what you say.”

I cleverly caught him
In so many lies,
I badgered him smartly
About his disguise.

When my questions concluded
His eyes grew so large.
Without blinking, the judge
Said, “He’s guilty as charged.”

I returned to my office
And collected my files
Having just participated
In the greatest of trials.

Then I rose from my chair
And turned off the light.
Soon it would be Christmas.
Time to call it a night.

As I walked to my car,
Through the sleet and the snow,
I glanced up at the courthouse
And heard “Ho Ho, Ho, Ho!”

There on the roof,
To my surprise and dismay,
Were eight tiny reindeer
And a little red sleigh,

With the man I convicted,
The defendant, St. Nick.
A big bag in his arms
And a tiny brown stick.

He elfishly smiled and
Gave a wave with his hand
And soon elevated
With his small reindeer band.

As he rose to the sky
He made this salutation,
“You got me this time,
But I got probation.”

Happy holidays!


Rich Krisciunas is the director of externships at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.


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