The Case for the Defense

by Graham Greene

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What is the defense counsel's argument against Mr. Adams's conviction in "The Case for the Defense"?

Quick answer:

The defense counsel's argument against Mr. Adams's conviction in "The Case for the Defense" is that the star prosecution witness cannot be sure that she saw Mr. Adams, as opposed to his identical twin brother, in the immediate aftermath of the crime.

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It seems to everyone observing the trial that the defendant, Mr. Adams, is pretty much a dead cert to be convicted. The prosecution has a star witness in Mrs. Salmon, who saw the defendant in the aftermath of the brutal murder dropping a hammer into some laurel bushes by the front gate. Before he moved away, the alleged killer looked up at Mrs. Salmon, giving her a good look at his face.

All in all, it's not looking good for Mr. Adams. As the narrator tells us, the murderer has all but been found with the body. The way things are going it's a virtual certainty that he'll be convicted and hanged.

Fortunately for the defendant, however, his attorney has a gigantic rabbit up his sleeve. It turns out that Mr. Adams has a twin brother, an identical twin no less. The defense counsel brings Mr. Adams's brother into court and asks Mrs. Salmon if she can still swear that it was the defendant, and not his twin brother, whom she saw that night dropping a hammer into some bushes.

Not surprisingly, Mrs. Salmon is unable to do so. And with the credibility of the prosecution's star witness now fatally undermined, the case against Mr. Adams collapses, and he is acquitted.

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