Baltar on Trial: Some Thoughts

The time has come to put Gaius Baltar – the “Judas” of the Galactica universe – on trial. Here are a few reflections:

1. As is the case with most crime drama, the lawyer side of my personality is having trouble suspending disbelief. Adama as one of the tribunal?! Out of the question. He is simply too much involved, personally and politically, with Baltar’s situation to make a fair jurist. He should be recused.

2. And while we’re on the subject: Lee as an assistant defender? With no law license? And knowing what Baltar has done? And with his father of all people on the tribunal? It would never, ever happen in an American courtroom – even a military courtroom.

3. Nevertheless… here is a tantalizing possibility: Baltar skates, based on Lee’s defense and a deciding vote that is cast by Adama (perhaps, all of the other four members vote to convict, but Adama refuses). The fleet then goes into rebellion as a result of what wrongly appears to be a conspiracy between father and son to spare Baltar’s life.

4. Equally tantalizing: a part of the fleet, sypathetic for Baltar, is outraged when he is convicted, alleging that Lee, in conspiracy with Adama, sabotaged the entire defense.

5. Does Caprica Six get to testify? If Cylons aren’t human, as the colonists claim, how can her testimony have any weight in a courtroom? You can’t put a machine under oath.

6. Law-nerdly note: actually, with a sponsoring witness, you CAN use a machine as an exhibit, and a jury can rely on things that it can learn from the machine. If I were a lawyer, and I couldn’t use her as a witness, I would offer her as an exhibit with a human scientist as a sponsoring witness.

7. Is it my imagination, or is Baltar looking more and more like a haggard, trial-weary Saddam Hussein, resigned to the gallows?

8. One thing is for sure: Baltar will live. If he’s convicted, you can count on him being “rescued” (by Cylons or by a colonial/rebel faction).

9. Even more intriguing: what if he is acquitted? What then? Will Adama and Roslynn just turn him loose in the fleet as a free man? Very unlikely. And what an interesting dilemma!

10. I’m also not sure on what he is being tried for: is it signing off on the order to kill certain colonists on New Caprica?… or giving away the colonial defense codes to the Cylons before the attack on the colonies? Or both? (Probably, this is because I’ve missed a few key bits of dialog).

11. I can’t help but feel for Baltar. I think this is part of the power of the show. He is very much like all of the other characters: flawed and confused. The only difference between his very serious, carnal sin and the sins of the remaining characters are its cataclysmic consequences. I find myself, in spite of all that Baltar has done, hoping for his ultimate redemption.

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