In 1986, a man cried out in pain, and the world was introduced to an unsolvable mystery unlike anything ever seen before.

Twenty-two years ago, in a courtroom drama unparalleled to this day, a man in a vertically-striped suit sat in the witness stand and tried to explain to the nosy prosecutor how his life had been destroyed by passion-gone-wrong.  Although the witness tried to keep his cool under the baleful gaze of the judge and voyeuristic curiosity of the jurors, he eventually broke down under questioning and started darting around the courtroom yelling at the judge (emulating a gun with his fingers as an implied threat) and sliding back and forth in front of the jury box.  Later, as the transcripts were studied to find out just what went wrong, it was discovered that the witness had acted out under repeat pressure from the prosecutor to answer one simple question.

“Who is Johnny?”

The prosecutor, however, was playing her own game that day, one that still puzzles law historians.  According to one witness, an Ally S., the prosecutor asked about Johnny’s identity and then tried to look the other way.  “But,” added Ally S., “her eyes gave her away.”

The witness, El D., was enraged by this behavior and yelled out, “My heart’s in overdrive, and it’s great to be alive!”

Stunned silence.  What did he mean, the jury wondered.  The jury foreman, a Steve G., recalled his attempt to be emphatic.  “I tried to understand because I’m people, too.  And playing games is part of human nature.”

But the prosecutor was having no part of it; she continued to question El D. by repeating over and over again, “Who’s Johnny?”

“It was horrible,” said Steve G.  “Each time she brought up the question, she tried to look the other way, still pretending.  Is that any way for an official of the court to act?

Apparently, El D.’s frail body couldn’t withstand the mental pressure, and he started flailing wildly about the courtroom, shouting out that he was in pain. After the prosecutor asked about Johnny for the fourteenth time, El D. gasped aloud, “There she goes and knows I’m dying when she says ‘Who is-who-who is-Who’s Johnny?'”  It was obvious he was in medical danger, evidenced by his sudden issues with stuttering.

In a peculiar moment one could only assume was strategy,  the prosecutor inserted a videotape into a VCR and started watching television, completely ignoring the witness.

“I was astounded,” Ally S. remembered.  “I know this girl was only teasing.”

Sadly, a fire started near the judge’s desk and in the ensuing confusion, the witness snuck out of the courtroom, never to be seen again.  Twenty-two years later, no one knows just who Johnny is.  But thanks to a recently discovered canister of film, we can now take a peek at the events of that obscure day in legal history.  Special thanks go to the History Channel for allowing us to show this clip:

Posted Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 2:24 pm
Filed Under Category: Life
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