On the May 18th episode we put Severus Snape on trial for the Murder of Albus Dumbledore. Let me start out by saying that in my heart of hearts I do not believe that Snape did anything wrong, which made it very hard to prosecute him, but that was the role that fell to me in this trial. Also if it isn’t apparent by my lack of ability IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer) My appreciation for Snape didn’t really hit the level that it is at now until I had watched the fan made video compiling all of the Snape scenes chronologically, and so that was where I started preparing my defense.
I sat down and thought to myself why do I not believe that Snape should be charged with murder and I wrote what came to mind, his sad story that in the end turned out to be heroic, the fact that it was very possibly a mercy killing, the fact that they were at war with the Death Eaters, and the fact that Dumbledore asked him to do it. One thing that I did not have, and could not find was a good motive for why he would murder Dumbledore who was by all accounts a friend and mentor. So my plan was to not present a motive and hope that the defense didn’t call me out on it. The very first thing that the defense did was ask what the motive was for murder and so out of a hat I pulled the fact that Snape had made the Unbreakable vow to Narcissa Malfoy to help Draco kill Dumbledore, and thus it became a matter of self preservation for Snape to kill Dumbledore. Was it a good motive? Not really, according to some fan interpretations of the flashbacks the vow was made AFTER the but it was a motive. The argument that it was a speculative motive didn’t matter much since motive is always speculative. It is always the prosecution telling a narrative that is at least a little compelling without corroboration from the defendant.
My only chance of getting Snape convicted of murder was to try and divorce his actions from any extenuating circumstances, I needed to get the judge to look at it as not a matter of why he did what he did, but what he did. I made a big deal about Justice being blind, I pointed out that every action has a consequence, and that even when protesting with civil disobedience people were convicted and went to jail.
The next argument that I prepared to tackle were the arguments that it was wartime and that a limited about of losses were acceptable in war. The only way that I could think of doing this was removing the authority that the Order of the Phoenix had to issue wartime orders. The Order of the Phoenix was a secret society formed during the first dark period when Voldemort was terrorizing the Wizarding world and held no authority to issue orders during the time of war because it had no association with the Ministry of Magic. It would have been as if an Ice Cream man gave someone that was speeding a ticket. The speeder was clearly breaking the law but the Ice Cream man had no authority to issue the ticket and was therefore invalid. Dumbledore refused the position of Minister of Magic several times because he knew that the desire for power was his weakness, a fact that he shared with many people in the Order of the Phoenix. Snape was not beholden to Dumbledore to follow orders according to this logic.
Another argument that could have torpedoed my case was the fact that Dumbledore believed it to be the only way to prevent Voldemort from obtaining the power of the Elder Wand which he possessed. This was probably the easiest argument to counter argue by saying that because Dumbledore did not share with Snape that he had the Elder Wand and because Snape did not know of these plans they had no impact on Snape’s decision to kill Albus Dumbledore.
The last point that I had prepared to argue was the fact that Snape assisted in Dumbledore’s suicide. Snape did not have malicious intent but that for whatever reason Dumbledore wanted to die by Snape’s hand, whether it was because he was going to die soon anyway, or to save Malfoy’s soul, or to destroy the power of the Elder Wand, Dumbledore asked Snape to help him die. Since it is illegal in most civilized societies to help someone to die I went on the assumption that it would be in the wizarding world as well, but I know Nate well enough that he wouldn’t let us just assume that it was the law and so I had to figure out a way that would satisfy him. Since JK Rowling has never published a book containing all of the laws in the wizarding world I was not able to find anything related to the Potterverse and so I made a real life analog to the UK which did have a law passed in 1961 making it a murder for someone to assist in suicide.
With this all wrapped up I believed that it was a matter of reminding everyone during my closing statements that we were not here to judge the why, or even the whether it was the right thing to do, we could not look at the intentions because the road to hell is paved in good intentions. I reminded everyone that there are actions to our consequences and that justice had to be served.
In Nate’s ruling he agreed that the 1961 Assisted Suicide law would be applicable, and that the Elder Wand did not have any bearing on Snape’s decision, but he then ruled that because the Ministry of Magic had failed to protect its citizens from Voldemort that those citizens had the right to form a militia based off of his personal feelings, and the civil rights mentioned in the United States Constitution. I should have seen this one coming since he is a National Guardsman and would naturally lean that direction. He ruled that The Order of the Phoenix did have authority to make war time decisions, but when it came down to it he said that Jordan’s last comments about Dumbledore pleading for death is what swayed him, which to me seems to be in direct opposition to the 1961 Assisted Suicide Act. Regardless of the law, Jordan did make a very emotional and powerful case as to why Snape did kill Dumbledore in the end, we heard a sad story, felt sorry for Snape and let him get away with murder.
For Jordan’s take on how the trial went read his thoughts HERE