The Shakespeare docket: Breyer hears argument on tips, trysts, and defamation


District judges James Boasberg and Amy Berman Jackson and Justice Stephen Breyer. (Kevin Allen through Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Presiding over the Corte Suprema di Cassazione on Monday night time, Justice Stephen Breyer took the bench for his final case as a sixteenth century choose earlier than his deliberate retirement this summer season. The spring mock trial on the Shakespeare Theatre Company, “A Hero Defamed? Much Ado About Margaret,” introduced earlier than his court docket a problem between maid and mistress.

The plaintiff, Hero, was the governor’s daughter on a seaside metropolis in Sicily, and she was engaged to marry the younger soldier Claudio. After uncovering a plot to interrupt up her marriage ceremony, Hero sued Don John and his alleged coconspirators, Borachio and Hero’s personal former attendant, Margaret, for defamation. Hero alleged that Margaret aided and abetted Don John’s defamation by agreeing to pose as Hero — in her marriage ceremony costume — with one other man. The tryst tricked Claudio into considering his fiancé was untrue, inflicting Hero misery. Margaret insisted on her innocence and her steadfast loyalty as Hero’s lady-in-waiting. But a decrease court docket held her liable. Margaret appealed to Italy’s highest court docket.

Man with arms raised at podium

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arguing for Margaret. (Kevin Allen through The Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Though she was up towards the governor’s daughter, Margaret managed to swing some high-profile illustration. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff took her case, professional bono, he stated, as a result of she was a girl unheard by justice. “I stand behind women — and Margaret, I have her back, too!” he instructed the room. Emhoff’s argument was easy: His consumer, extensively often known as “Good Margaret,” was a reputable, working-class lady who merely acquired utilized in a deceitful man’s scheme. “She was just an unwitting pawn of the real villain, Don Jr. — I mean, Don John,” he stated.

Further, Emhoff argued, his consumer’s loyalty was so nice and her obvious unhappiness at Hero’s misfortune so honest that she clearly had nothing to realize and every part to lose from her mistress’s downfall. Holding up a replica of Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation of the play, Emhoff instructed the court docket to not belief a “bad ’90s movie” over the true textual content. (Branagh’s deceptive rendition, in keeping with the temporary, “shows Margaret in flagrante delicto with Borachio”). Breyer was confused, saying the one ’90s film he cared about was Clueless. But Emhoff pulled focus again to the decrease court docket ruling, and drew cheers from the viewers, saying, “We know clear error when we see it. Like a decision by a senator not to vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. We know clear error!”

Woman at podium

Debra Katz arguing for Hero. (Kevin Allen through Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Debra Katz, recognized for her work representing office whistleblowers and victims of sexual harassment, argued for Hero. Katz didn’t spare her colleague on the opposite aspect any punches. “This is a process that would make Project Veritas proud,” Katz stated. “Take the least credible person in the room and take their word for it.” Katz famous in her temporary that, although she is thought for siding with mistreated employees, there is no such thing as a proof that Hero ever mistreated Margaret. She argued that Margaret was not moved by any loyalty to her mistress, however as an alternative was jealous. Worse, Margaret had violated the girl-code.

Out of a want to avenge her low fortune in life, Katz claimed, Margaret conspired with two untrustworthy males towards the harmless Hero. Margaret’s loyalty to Hero, her “trusted confidant,” ought to have prompted her to instantly reject Borachio’s merciless proposal and report him to the authorities. Instead, she was overcome by her private class frustrations, her want to please a person, or the prospect to realize a minimize of his prize ducats. The info are clear, Katz claimed, “Margaret betrayed her mistress, and broke the girl-code, to the benefit of two men.”

Joining Breyer on the bench had been 4 different members of the U.S. federal judiciary, all sitting by designation within the Italian court docket: appellate choose Patricia Millett and district judges Amy Berman Jackson, James Boasberg, and Patricia Giles. After breaking to deliberate, the panel returned with a largely unanimous resolution. “Not completely!” Breyer laughed. “But pretty much.” With the justice’s attribute twist of pragmatism, the court docket discovered a 3rd celebration within the case, Hero’s cousin Beatrice, to be the true sufferer. Margaret was at fault, they dominated, however Hero would cut up the awarded ducats with Beatrice. The damages, Breyer defined, had been for an clever lady’s lifetime of placing up with silly males.  

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