DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2001 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.
COURT MARTIAL: POINTS OF LEGALITY
Stardate: 2948.1 First Officer Spock recording.
We are once again in orbit around Starbase 11. The ship was severely damaged during an ion storm and we also sustained the loss of an officer, Lt. Commander Finney. Following our mission to New Paris Colony and dropping off Commissioner Ferris and the drugs needed there, we returned to resume our study of the Murasaki Quasar.
The area of the quasar proved to be even more turbulent than we suspected. We spent one hundred and twenty days in scientific studies, with all departments and shifts fully involved in retrieving as much data as possible. The pace was continual and grueling. The stress was especially telling on Astrophysics and Records, with those two departments vying to keep up with each other. Finney, our Records Officer, frequently worked double shifts to assure that all went smoothly there. I could see the strain beginning to build in him.
Still, it was unexpected that he should be manning the ion pod during this final storm. He had insisted that he take duty shifts in order to spell his people a bit as the amount of work overwhelmed them all. It was sheer coincidence that his name had come to the top of the duty roster as we hit the leading edge of this storm.
It was a bad one, with turbulence and gravity vectors that threatened to tear the Enterprise apart. The trailing ion pod had the unfortunate tendency of attracting plasma discharges, which radiated up through the hull shields, burning them out, and thus Captain Kirk kept close attention on the readings from the pod. We were already on yellow alert, but when levels reached a critical point, he was forced to sound red alert and to jettison the ion pod. He warned Commander Finney several times to get out and return to the ship, but at last the Captain had no choice. A particularly fierce plasma burst threatened to short out every circuit on board and the Captain was forced to cut loose his long time friend in order to save the ship.
There was no hope of retrieving him. The plasma storm peaked at that point and it was all we could do to get the ship into clear space. Later, when the storm had died away, we returned and instigated a Class One search, but there was no sign of the ion pod or Commander Finney. Dr. McCoy had no choice but to declare him legally dead, lost in the line of duty.
* * *
We are finally done with the ensuing events. Captain Kirk's court martial was extremely trying, if I may use a pun, for the entire crew, myself included. I knew that the Captain was incapable of the crimes with which he was charged, but I could not prove it until he himself gave me the clue I needed to track down the discrepancies in the computer logs. Then discovering that Finney himself was not only still alive but had changed those records out of revenge shocked everyone on board.
The trial disturbed me greatly. There was much more going on there than simply determining Captain Kirk's guilt or innocence. Commodore Stone's hostility was evident throughout, as if this were a personal battle between himself and the Captain. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it was just that he was so determined that there be no scandal where Starfleet was concerned. But the Captain, of course, was just as determined that he was innocent and was forcing this showdown. However, the trial board seemed content to sit back and allow Stone to run the show, even allowing what seemed to me to be the flimsiest of interrogation by the prosecuting attorney and then the theatrics of Kirk's attorney, Samuel Cogley.
I grew to dislike the JAG prosecutor, Areel Shaw, immensely. It seems quite an odd thing to say, I know, since it was our strongest wish to show the Captain had done no wrong, but this woman seems to have incompetently handled the trial. It is extremely difficult to put into words here, but she did not seem to be doing her best in this case. Was that simply because, despite her protestations to the contrary, she truly did not wish to see the Captain's career ruined? Did Stone himself allow her weak performance because he too, beneath the surface, wished to show Kirk innocent? I do not know. There were human emotions at work here that I am ill-equipped to understand. Despite the number of years I have lived among them, Humans remain an enigmatic species to me. Their actions are often profoundly illogical, as this entire episode shows most clearly.
Still, Shaw's attitude did not seem professional in my eyes. This was manifestly demonstrated by her actions on the bridge this afternoon. She had come to say goodbye to the Captain and he had her come up to the bridge. While she was there, I studiously ignored the fact that Kirk seemed still somewhat besotted by the woman and then went so far as to kiss her in the presence of the command crew. Highly inappropriate behavior, in my opinion. But he is the captain and may do as he pleases to a certain extent.
As he came to sit back into the command chair, clutching the book she had given him as a gift from his attorney, Cogley, I remained stiff and with my eyes on the viewscreen. On the other side of the command chair, Dr. McCoy stood in a similar position.
Kirk sat, sighed happily and remarked, "She's a very good lawyer," as if to convince the two of us.
"Obviously," I replied noncommitally.
"Indeed she is," McCoy seconded.
There was another uncomfortable moment of silence then the doctor said, "Well, back to work." He turned to leave the bridge and, at the last second, I followed him.
"A moment, Doctor. I am on my way to the labs myself."
As we rode down to deck eight in the turbolift, he looked at me speculatively. "Okay, Spock, out with it. What's got you so worried?"
I cocked an eyebrow at him. "I am not worried, Dr. McCoy. However, I am somewhat troubled by this court-martial. Does it not disturb you that Ms. Shaw is a former lover of the Captain's?"
"Not particularly," he answered. "I've run into one or two of my old flames from time to time. Hell, I even ran into my ex-wife once. Didn't bother me in the least."
The turbolift stopped and we stepped out into the corridor, continuing on our way to the bio labs. "But your ex-wife was not prosecuting you in a court of law," I pointed out.
McCoy laughed. "Not that time anyway, but she's sure had me in court a time or two! Why? Don't you think Shaw did a proper job in this case? I mean, she lost so what are you upset about?"
"Doctor, do you not see the conflict of interest here?" I persevered. "Nothing about this trial was proper." I stopped walking and turned to face him. "First, Shaw should have disqualified herself on the grounds that she and the Captain had a prior sexual relationship. Second, she should not have revealed the prosecution strategy to the defendant. Third, she herself chose the defense counsel for the Captain. Fourth, Commodore Stone should not have been a member of the trial board. He should have removed himself as prejudiced against the Captain's case. Yet he elected himself to serve as President of the Court. All highly irregular and improper actions."
McCoy crossed his arms and looked stubborn. "Well, well, Spock. I didn't know you'd obtained a law degree to go with all your other sterling assets!"
"I am merely pointing out--"
"So what would you do now, Spock? Go down to the JAG office and demand a retrial? The charges were dropped, for God's sake! To use a legal term, it's a moot point! The Captain was cleared! Leave well enough alone!"
He turned and continued toward the labs. I caught up with him in a couple of strides. "But now Shaw and Cogley are again involved -- this time in Finney's trial. I do not believe that Samuel T. Cogley is a sufficiently reputable attorney to undertake this case nor Areel Shaw to prosecute it."
"So, go file a complaint with the JA," McCoy said, his irritability returning. He whirled and jabbed a finger into my chest, causing me to skid to a halt. "Let me tell you something, Spock. Sometimes the sleaziest, most disreputable lawyers have gotten their clients cleared of the most heinous charges, and sometimes the best, most highly respected attorneys haven't been able to do a thing about it. Vice versa, sometimes just the opposite has happened and the obviously guilty went to prison for their crimes. But if it was a fair trial and the letter of the law was followed, no matter how illogical that law might appear to those not in the legal field, then the verdict stood and went into case law for future reference. That's just how it works.
"And the fact of the matter is that Ben Finney agreed to Sam Cogley as his counsel. He could have chosen another lawyer or asked for a court-appointed one. He didn't. He was satisfied with Sam and that's the end of it. Anyway, it's none of your damned business who his lawyer is, Spock. If you're going to talk about legalities, then consider this. You and I are both material witnesses and will be called to testify at Finney's trial. If you want a proper trial, then stay as neutral as possible and simply tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the witness stand."
His attitude offended me and I pulled myself up a bit. "Doctor, I am a Vulcan. It is our nature to tell the truth whether we are under oath or not."
"Hmm..." was all he answered. "Seriously, Spock. You want my advice? Leave it alone. If Areel Shaw acted improperly, you can damn well bet that the Judge Advocate's office will let her know about it. If you really want to contest it, then first I'd suggest you do go get that law degree. God, there's a frightening thought!" he said almost to himself, then returned his attention to me. "In the meantime, I have another piece of advice for you. Enjoy your time while we're here at Starbase 11. We won't be going anywhere until the ship's ready and until Finney's trial is over, so take advantage of the shore leave facilities."
"I do not take shore leave, Doctor," I sniffed. "You know that."
"Maybe you should," he commented, a calculating expression in his cool blue eyes. "I think I'll have Christine and Uhura take you in hand and make you see the sights."
"I have better things to do than 'see the sights', Doctor," I replied icily. "I would suggest that you do as well."
He shrugged. "Granted. But I may just issue a medical order for you in any case. As a matter of fact, speaking of medical, I just thought of something that I know will get you off this ship and down on base!" He paused at the door to Lab 28 and turned to face me. "Did you know that Chris Pike is here?"
That caught me by surprise. I had not seen my former commander for over three years. "Indeed? I know of his injuries, but I thought he had been transferred to Fleet Hospital back on Earth."
McCoy shook his head. "No, he's at the new rehab center here. It's state of the art and they're working with cases like his. I remember seeing it in a report from the Surgeon General's Office a while back. We're got time to spare, Spock. Go see him. I know Chris will enjoy seeing you again and it will do you good, too."
"Indeed. Yes, I will do that," I replied and could not resist one parting shot at him. "Thank you, Doctor. In the meantime, I shall devote some time to studying Federation and Starfleet laws. Perhaps I can find a way to remove you from practice and make the galaxy a safer place for all concerned."
I walked away before he could reply. I had law books to read.