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April 20, 2014

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OTHER VOICES:

Charges for a water gun? Ridiculous

News item: A 19-year-old Port St. Lucie, Fla., woman was arrested after she squirted her boyfriend with a water pistol while he was playing an Xbox video game quietly in his bedroom.

Three witnesses told police that Giovanna Borge was angry last month when she squirted her boyfriend, who retaliated by pouring water over her and hitting her with a pillow.

Borge was charged with misdemeanor battery for being the “primary aggressor” with the water pistol.

•••

Dear ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for taking time from your busy lives to serve as prospective jurors for this gun-crime trial. I will be prosecuting this case for the state of Florida.

As part of my duties, I will be asking you some questions to determine whether you would be a suitable juror for this matter.

As you know, our jury system relies on having an impartial jury of peers in criminal trials.

The defendant is Giovanna Borge, that young woman sitting over there. She is charged with initiating an attack on her boyfriend with a gun.

As you will hear during the trial, about 70 percent of the murders in Florida are committed by people with guns.

And while the gun in this case fires water, instead of bullets, it doesn’t change the fact that this serious gateway crime ... Oh, I see a hand. Prospective Juror No. 15, do you have a question? ... Why, yes. I’m talking about a water pistol ... Yes, just water.

Do you think that’s funny? ... You do?

How many other people in the jury pool find it funny that we’re here to consider a gun crime with a water pistol that resulted in no injuries?

OK, everybody. Put your hands down.

Your honor, I would ask you to please instruct the prospective jurors not to laugh. Your honor, I would ask you please not to laugh, as well.

Let’s try this from another angle. How many of you in the jury pool have ever fired a water pistol at another person?

OK. Please put your hands down.

I see that you, Prospective Juror No. 9, didn’t have your hand up.

So you have never fired a water pistol at another person. Is that because you realize the potential harm in using these kind of weapons, which could cause great bodily harm if their liquid munitions are deployed in such a way as to ... Oh, you preferred Super Soakers ... Yes, that definitely counts.

And Prospective Juror No. 8, I’m not sure what a Bonzai Dragon Drencher is, but I’m going to put that down.

Yes, Prospective Juror No. 3, I see your hand up. What’s your question? ...

You are correct. Your experience of dropping water balloons on friends from second-story windows is certainly relevant. Thanks for your honesty.

Are there any others who have things in their pasts that they think might exclude them from standing judgment against a teenager using a water pistol to squirt another person?

Yes, Prospective Juror No. 5. ... OK, I will put you down for mooning pedestrians from the passenger-side window of a moving vehicle.

Any other mooners? One, two, three ...

How about rubber-band shooters? ... Hmm, let’s make this easier. Who hasn’t been a rubber-band shooter?

Let me guess, Prospective Juror No. 14. You never shot rubber-bands at another person because you had a big-ol’ slingshot? ... Nailed it!

Any other possible disqualifiers? Now’s the time to speak up. Yes, Prospective Juror No. 10, what is it? ... Pie in the face. Thank you.

Anybody else? Nerf cannon. Thank you. Snowballs. Thank you. Electric shock handshake. Thank you. Anybody else?

OK, a backdoor wedgie followed by a knuckled head-noogie. Thanks for your honesty, your honor.

Frank Cerabino writes for the Palm Beach Post.

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