Justyce almost feels like he’s studying for a debate tournament—but this time, a “young (almost) man’s freedom is on the line.” Justyce thanks Attorney Friedman, Doc, Liberty, Jared, and SJ for coming. He lays out the facts: Quan has been incarcerated since September of last year for a crime he didn’t commit. The state is offering to reduce Quan’s charges, but he’d still serve up to 20 years. If Justyce can convince Quan to fire his lawyer and hire Attorney Friedman instead, they can fix this. He opens the floor for others to speak but then hastily introduces Liberty to everyone. Jared looks like he’s in love with her.
Showing readers this meeting allows Stone to illustrate just how invested Quan’s support team is in him. While Tay is notably absent, Justyce has been able to pull together nearly everyone else who cares about Quan and has some degree of power to help him. And choosing to take this on isn’t just an expression of Justyce’s friendship. For all of these people, proving Quan’s innocence is a way to use their privilege for good and help make the world a more equitable place.
Doc and Liberty say that Quan is loyal to a fault. When Attorney Friedman asks them to elaborate, Doc notes that Quan refused the counsel offered by the gang because he didn’t want anything to link back to the gang. Liberty adds that she was part of a gang as a kid, and loyalty becomes a “psychological imperative” when a person finds someone to support them for the first time. Attorney Friedman promises to not make it seem like she’d implicate anyone else.
Doc and Liberty underscore the idea that Quan’s loyalty to Black Jihad isn’t positive. Quan is loyal to the point where he’s hurting himself to protect the gang—though this is unsurprising, given what Liberty says about the psychology of gang loyalty. She encourages empathy for Quan’s misplaced loyalty, rather than scorn or disbelief.
Justyce brings up the fact that Quan’s gun didn’t fire the fatal shots. Jared is confused as to why they arrested Quan without running ballistics first, but Attorney Friedman explains that they probably arrested Quan as soon as they found his prints on the gun. If they ran ballistics, the report is probably buried. Then, Justyce brings up Quan’s desire to plead self-defense. He briefly explains that Officer Castillo pointed his gun at lots of people that night and had no reason to start firing. However, the only witnesses are Quan’s fellow gang members—all young men with criminal records, which won’t be helpful in court.
Even though the objective evidence might be on Quan’s side, the fact remains that widespread implicit bias might hurt him in the courtroom. The comment that Quan’s fellow gang members won’t be helpful witnesses is a nod to the idea that Black people—especially young Black men who are viewed as dangerous—likely won’t seem as trustworthy to a white jury. So even if the evidence ends up helping Quan, Justyce and his friends will still have to figure out how to deal with a biased court system.
Jared asks if they even need more than a witness or two, since the state doesn’t have any witnesses. Officer Tison is dead; he’s the only person who could’ve disputed the testimony. No one else has thought of this. To Justyce, this seems like a done deal—but SJ, Doc, and Attorney Friedman point out that Quan confessed, and his confession is admissible in court. Justyce says it might not be and runs off.
Despite SJ’s derisive attitude toward Jared, Jared proves that he has reason to be here in this passage. He points out what perhaps should’ve been obvious to others when he notes that the state doesn’t have any witnesses.