Krakauer reiterates how invasive rape trial can be for the victims of rape. Washburn, for example, has a video of the inside of her genitalia shown to Johnson’s jury, a group of twelve strangers. As a nurse, Claire Francoeur’s job is not to review medical literature sent to her by defense attorneys. Her job at First Step is to document evidence of sexual assault and provide patient support. Krakauer illustrates, through Paoli’s cross-examination, defense lawyers do not limit their badgering to a rapist’s accuser. A defense lawyer might attack and smear any witness so long as he thinks that doing so might be beneficial for his client. Krakauer presents this as an unfortunate and outdated convention of U.S. trial court. In Chapter 25, Paoli puts on a colorful performance. He wants to prove that his belief in his client’s innocence is so strong it can lead him to the brink of physical confrontation with lawyers from the opposing team. What Krakauer shows is that Paoli’s strong belief is a performance, and his performance is one of his most effective tools for convincing a jury of his client’s innocence.
When David Paoli cross-examines Detective Brueckner, he uses the same personal attacks he has previously used against Washburn and Nurse Francoeur. Paoli’s arguments during this part of the trial are sexist. He creates a fictional world for the jury in which Washburn, Francoeur, and Brueckner are jealous women who band together to take down the star University of Montana quarterback. Women, Paoli’s arguments imply, are incapable of working together without developing inappropriate and unprofessional friendships. Detective Brueckner’s biased friendship with the victim, according to Paoli arguement, prevented her from doing everything in her power to find evidence proving his client’s innocence. Paoli knows that the presumption of innocence only applies in the courtroom. His motion to dismiss the case and his suggestions to Brueckner about the new police protocol are part of an effort to trick the jury. Paoli wants jury members to believe that law enforcement, like criminal courts, must presume the innocence of suspects. This is patently false. If law enforcement assumed that all suspect were innocent, they would never gather the evidence necessary to prove a suspect’s guilt. But in U.S. criminal courts, Paoli’s deceitful tactics are permitted.
Chapter 26 shows Krakauer’s commitment to recreating Johnson’s criminal trial as accurately as possible. By faithfully reproducing elements that diminish the drama of his narrative, like the interruption in Johnson’s testimony, Krakauer creates a documentary impression of the events that took place. The real-life scenario in which Washburn and Johnson’s supporters alike wondered how the jury would decide Johnson’s case has its own inherent suspense. Jordan Johnson’s description of what he terms consensual intercourse with Cecilia Washburn contradicts Washburn’s testimony and the message she sent, moments after her encounter with Johnson, which stated that she felt she might have been raped. It also contradicts Washburn’s anxiety and distress after the event, as reported by Green, and the physical evidence of trauma documented by Nurse Francoeur. Prosecutor Adam Duerk emphasizes these contradictions between Johnson’s testimony and the previously recounted evidence. Johnson is unable to account for the discrepancies or explain what is, in his version of events, Washburn’s erratic behavior. The way Johnson answers Duerk’s questions about consent shows Johnson in a positive light before the jury. Marty Johnson’s candid and emotional testimony on behalf of his son has a similar effect.