“Please state your name and occupation for the court,” the Honorable Judge, Rafael Ortiz said.
She nervously cleared her throat. “Rose North, Doctor of Anthropology at Southern New Mexico University.”
Judge Ortiz was not a large man, shorter than many women were, still he commanded his District Court with a sharp mind and a quick gavel. “Thank you doctor. I trust you understand the purpose of these proceeding?”
Rose looked at the courtroom full of reporters and fanatics, turned to the judge and said, “To save Alara from a life of misery.”
Boos and cheers arose from the spectators. Cameras flashed. TV lights flooded the room as reporters gave their interpretation of events.
“Very dramatic Dr. North, but unhelpful,” Judge Ortiz said. The cacophony of sounds and lights repeated. The judge quieted the crowd with an angry bang of his gavel. “I warned you! Marshals, clear the court room of spectators and press.”
Rose watched the marshals do their job, minutes later two tables of attorneys remained. She took a sip of water just as the judge stared at her.
“I’m sorry Your Honor. I didn’t mean to cause a commotion, I answered from my heart.”
Judge Ortiz smiled at her. “Actually, your response was perfect. I needed an excuse to clear the room. The circus was too distracting. I’ve heard experts try to define what makes human beings unique for weeks. It’s a morass of conflicting concepts. Humans use tools, but so do chimps, otters and birds. Humans have emotions, they’re sentient, but elephants, dogs and dolphins show emotions. Humans leave artifacts, as do prairie dogs and woodpeckers. Humans have language, similar to ants and bees. What is your take?”
“I’ve lived with Alara since I found her three years ago. The university claims she’s an animal and their property because I found her on a sponsored expedition. I disagree, I found her because I reacted to an accident, which was beyond the scope of my employment. If I’d saved a human child they wouldn’t claim ownership.”
“But, you didn’t save a human being. The question is what did you save?” Judge Ortiz said.
Rose paused, ran her fingers through her hair, and sighed before saying, “We define human beings as members of the species homo sapiens, creatures with a large brain to body ratio, characterized by language and tool use. I saved a being, admittedly not human. But, she has a larger brain mass ratio than humans, learned English in six months and arrived in an interstellar spacecraft. This is a being, not human, but a being nonetheless. If you have doubts talk to her.”
“Good idea doctor, you’re excused, but I want you to remain in the room. Marshal Dunwoody, please bring our guest to the witness box.”
Dunwoody wasn’t happy dealing with the creature, but did his job. The creature’s head sat below the witness box rail. Realizing the judge wouldn’t approve he took three law books from the defense table to provide a booster seat and looked to the judge.
“Thank you Marshal. Alara, do you understand why we are here?”
“Can you explain it to me?”
“Yes I can. I’m here to determine earth’s future.”