Read a fool for a client epub format

Authors: David Kessler

a fool for a client

Advertising Download Read Online

 

A Fool for a Client

 

 

David Kessler

 

Copyright ©
199
7 by David Kessler

 

The right of David Kessler to be identified as the Author of this Work have been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

 

First published in
Great Britain
in 1997
by Hodder and
Stoughton

 

First published in paperbac
k in 1997 by Hodder and
Stoughton

A division of Hodder Headline PLC

 

This eBook edition published by House of Solomon

 

All rights
reserved
.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the pri
or permission of the publisher.

All characters in
this publication are fictitious
and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.

 

ISBN
978
1
904037
330

House of Solomon

 

This book is dedicated to my late mother who encouraged my intellectual curiosity and creativity since my earliest childhood and to my father who was my pillar of cloud by day and my pillar of fire by night.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

The author wishes to express his gratitude to Bob Burka and Dan Segal, both of whom welcomed me into their homes as a guest when I was just starting out as a writer and patiently answered my sometimes naive questions about American law.
I would also like to thank Martin Adelman who read an earlier draft of the manuscript and gave me detailed advice on
New York
criminal law and practice as well as supplying me with a copy of his excellent monograph on the law pertaining to
pro se
defence.

 

I must stress that although these people gave me excellent and detailed advice, I decided to take literary licence on a number of points and that accordingly any remaining errors or inaccuracies are the responsibility of the author alone.

“If you

re planning to dig a grave, dig two.”

 

Ancient Chinese Proverb

 

 

 

 

“Anyone who conducts his own defen
c
e has a fool for a client.”

 

Legal aphorism

 

Contents

 

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

 

 

 

Chapter 1

“Your Honour,” Justine Levy

s voice rang out confidently, “this isn

t any sort of legal grey area.
Under the sixth amendment I have the right to conduct my own defence.”

There wasn

t a vacant seat in the courtroom, neither for spectators nor journalists.
Only the jury box remained empty.
From his vantage point on the bench, the judge surveyed the swaying heads and shoulders that blended in with each other like a stormy sea in tumultuous motion.
Crowds like this were unusual for what was nothing more than a pre-trial motions hearing.
But the charge was murder, and the case had captured the attention of the mass media, and thus the public.
Fact had become blended with speculation in an endless stream of reportage that had been splashed across the pages of the press from coast to coast.
The judge knew that a lot of people were going to try to use this case for publicity.
He hoped that he would be able to prevent the proceedings from degenerating into a circus.

“The right to proceed
pro se
was affirmed by the State Supreme Court in the McIntyre decision and upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court in Faretta Versus California.”

Justine was addressing the judge, the Hono
u
rable Justice Harold Wise.
She was speaking in a forceful but not impassioned tone that would have held him spellbound had he not consciously told himself:
she

s just another defendant
.
As Justine presented her brief argument, Justice Wise, a quietly dignified man in his mid-fifties, sat there in patient silence.
He was a patrician figure with an upright posture and proud bearing.
His hair, still full and thick, had lost every trace of the light brown that it had possessed in his youth, and was now a solid dark grey, almost like a storm cloud.
But its shade made him look all the more distinguished.
He wore his robes with an air of confidence, as if they had been tailored to fit his body, and he looked at people with eyes that were firmly focussed but not intimidating.

He noticed that unlike inexperienced
lawyers
, many of whom tend to play to the jury even when there is no jury present, this girl, amateur though she was, did not gesticulate or raise her voice.
She stood still, her arms at her sides, almost like a soldier standing to attention, giving free reign to a voice that rang out with an echoing timbre.
But the most striking feature was that she stood before him alone with no lawyer at her side and no papers or notes before her.

“I must disagree with the defendant” the prosecutor said in a voice which the judge noted was uncharacteristically timid.

At the prosecution table stood Daniel Abrams, a man in his mid-forties whose neat dark hair, well-cut suit and commanding height couldn

t quite distract the judge

s attention from the beads of perspiration that stood out on his forehead.
Throughout Justine

s short speech, Abrams had remained on the edge of his chair, poised to rise.
Now, standing in the centre spotlight, he looked as if he was suffering from stage
fright.
This seemed strange to the judge.
Abrams was an experienced lawyer and should have long since been rendered immune to this kind of nervousness by practice and maturity.

Flanked by a female aide in her early thirties to his right and a young man in his twenties to his left, he looked like a leading actor on opening night, afraid of forgetting his lines.

“The Court may rule that the defendant is not mentally competent to conduct her own defence,” Abrams continued.

“Not without declaring me unfit to stand trial,” Justine retorted.
If I

m sane enough to stand trial, I

m sane enough to conduct my own defence.”

“Your source for that?” the judge inquired.
His tone was mildly pedagogic, as if he were testing her.

“People versus
Davis
,
New York
, 1979.”

The judge knew that any partisan display would be professionally improper.
But he couldn

t resist the urge to smile approvingly at Justine

s intellect and the thoroughness of her preparation.

“I see you

ve done your homework Miss Levy.”

The Assistant District Attorney surreptitiously loosened his necktie.
The judge knew what was on his mind.
The job of Deputy District Attorney was coming up for grabs and Abrams had to come over before the public as man of fighting spirit in order to stay in the running.
It was widely known in legal circles that Abrams was in line for the number two slot, but the DA wouldn

t like it if Abrams conceded even a
mildly
significant point without offering at least a token show of resistance.
The judge, who was no stranger to the political shenanigans of the legal profession, could guess that this whole charade was part of Abrams

strategy for pushing his name to the top of the DA

s short-list.

But the Judge sensed that Abrams had a more personal motive.
If Justine Levy won on this point then in a sense she would “win” with the public regardless of the verdict.
Conducting her own defence was bound to create sympathy for her, and the outcome of
court cases often hinges more on the sympathies or anger of the jury than on the raw facts of the evidence.
The news media were already playing
up the Murphy extradition case, although it was by no means certain that the two cases were connected.
The last thing any politically ambitious prosecutor would want was for a young, pretty female defendant to come over as a crusading heroine fighting off the powerful machinery of a monstrous and unjust legal system.

With a lawyer in her corner, it might be possible to secure a plea-bargain, thereby saving the state the expense of a trial and obtaining from the girl a public admission that she had done wrong and was not the courageous crusader that she was being portrayed as.
On the other hand, the judge knew that the case was a potential feather in the DA

s cap for his
own
political ambitions as well as those of his
protégé
, and they were probably as loath to accept a plea-bargain as to drop the case altogether.

“It

s times like this,” said the judge wearily, “that make me yearn for the good old days before the Gideon decision.”

It was the Supreme Court

s ruling in
Gideon versus Wainwright
which held that in even mildly serious cases, the right to a lawyer, at least at the trial phase of the proceedings, was a claim-right and not just a liberty: that is, a right that the subject could demand be fulfilled at the taxpayer

s expense.

“All right,” the judge continued.
“Let

s not have any more of this bickering in open court.
I

ll see you both in my chambers.
The Court stands in recess for twenty minutes.”

It was unusual for the judge to hold an in camera meeting with the defendant, for fear of accusations of cooking up a deal that denied the defendant

s right to a fair trial, plea-bargains always being unofficial.
But in this case he had no choice.
He wanted to resolve the matter quietly, and take the sensationalism out of the case.
From the point of view of the law, the decision was very simple.
But the attention of the press had turned a simple legal problem into a complex political one.
And he didn

t want the trial to carry on with this kind of showmanship and playing-to-the-crowds.
He just wanted it to proceed smoothly.

Two minutes later Justine Levy and Daniel Abrams were shuffling awkwardly into the judge

s large, blue-carpeted chambers.
An uneasy quiet settled over the room as they took their seats at ninety degrees to one another, facing the judge across a polished rosewood desk.
But the electric tension that had hung in the air since they started their trek down the labyrinth of corridors steadily intensified with each passing second.
Justine looked around at the lustrous leather panelling and the massive leather-bound volumes that surrounded her.
Black shadows danced across the law books as birds fluttered back and forth before the window.

Ignoring the eyes of the judge and the
ADA
, Justine turned to look out through the window on the fourth side of the room.
It offered a panoramic view of the city. She swallowed a lump in her throat, as a fleeting memory came and went.

Half a minute ticked by while the judge stared at Justine.
Her height was only a few inches above average, but he could see immediately the enormous power pent up within her.
Most women would have regarded her as plump, but to men she was a Grecian goddess, cast from the same mould as the classic statues.
Even from afar one could see the straight, broad back of a rock climber, the powerful shoulders of a swimmer and the long, well-toned but not muscular legs of a runner.
But her image could never have been preserved in marble or bronze.
For Justine Levy had the quality of something firm yet constantly in motion.
Only kinetic sculpture could have captured her essence.
She was a robot with a face of ivory and a body of tempered steel.

Apart from her smooth complexion, her eyes were nature

s major concession to her femininity.
They were wide, inset deeply in large orbits, looking out at the world like the trusting, curious eyes of a child, until a change of mood made them narrow down into feline slits that neither sought nor offered comfort.

But the feature that stood out most was her hair.
It was neither ginger nor gold, but rather a true deep red.

Red like wine or red like the sunset?
Justice Wise wondered.

He remembered his college days, when he still had the youthful tenacity that he now saw in Justine.
He had majored in philosophy and he had always been impressed by the symbolism of Nietzsche

s metaphysics.

Apollo versus Dionysus.

He somehow sensed, by Justine

s posture and steady gaze, that she was very much an Apollonian in character, rational and sober.

Perhaps that

s what this was what the case is really about.

Then he remembered that the colour red also symbolized blood.
But he dismissed the thought from his mind.
He realized in that instant, that he didn

t
want
Justine to be guilty.
He wondered if any male juror could look at her and see the case any more objectively.

But that was the system.
He had seen rapists walk because prosecutors couldn

t prove lack of consent, or because the victim faltered or wavered in the wrong place under cross-examination.
He had looked on helplessly while overworked ADAs allowed muggers to plea-bargain a knifepoint robbery down to petty larceny.
He remembered letting expediency run its course as armed robbers were allowed to swallow the gun.
At times he had been reduced to standing on the sidelines as harried prosecutors allowed seedy little tenth-rate shysters to bully them into watering down near-fatal stabbings into simple assault, using the ultimate threat: to go to trial and force the understaffed DA

s office to spend time and money proving to a jury what both sides knew to be the truth.

Who am I to start complaining now?

He looked away from Justine

s face to the file that rested before him.
Twenty three years old, it said.
Old enough to vote, he thought.
Old enough to drink... almost old enough to become a congresswoman...Old enough to be married and with a couple of kids.
At twenty eight, his own daughter had three.
But this girl

this woman

who sat before him seemed older in some ways, as if she had seen things from which a woman of any age should be protected. Or perhaps I

m just being old-fashioned.

“All right Dan, now that we

re out of the public eye perhaps you

ll tell me why you

re so dead set against her conducting her own defence?”

“Cards on the table?”

“Like the
Cincinnati
kid.”

“Quite frankly I don

t think it

s going to make a shit bit of difference one way or the other.
I

ve got a solid case and I

m going for murder all the way.
But when it

s all over I don

t want some smart-ass reporter re-opening the case on a crusading ego-trip and making it look like she was railroaded to jail without a fair trial.”

He was cut down by the
sceptical
look on the judge

s face.

“So it

s just your reputation you

re worried about.”

“Not
my
reputation Hal.
The reputation of the DA

s office.”

“Good answer!” replied the judge slapping the desk with mock enthusiasm.
“You missed your vocation Dan.
You should have been a politician.”

“No I mean it!
If people stop respecting the law enforcement authorities


“Can it Dan!
Save the speeches for the jury.”

Justice Wise turned to Justine who was now looking at him with newfound respect.

“And what about you young lady?
Do you really think you

re competent to conduct you

re own defence?”

“I do Your Honour,” she answered calmly.

“I suppose you

ve seen a few episodes of L.A. Law and some Perry
 
Mason reruns and you think you know it all.
An objection here and there, a calm opening statement and an impassioned, fiery speech at the end.”

There wasn

t a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
It was more as if he was trying to sound chummy, as if he was reluctantly trying to convince an old friend to abandon a futile course of action.

“No Your Honour.
I

m a little more sophisticated than that.
Although I think you

re doing Perry Mason an injustice.”

The judge rested his elbows on the desk and interlocked his fingers.
He noticed that she never wavered in her politeness even though the element of defiance intruded into her words as well as her tone.

“Well let

s see then.
Do you know about peremptory challenges, motions for change of venue owing to pre-trial publicity, the exclusionary rule and Miranda rights?”

He looked at her smugly as if to say: “you

re out of your depth.”

“Anyone who watches TV knows about the Miranda rule.
It

s so well-known its practically obsolete.
But all this is irrelevant.”

A coughing fit broke in Abrams

throat, punctuating Justine

s reply like a string of exclamation marks drawn violently at the end of an unexpected sentence.
The judge looked at Justine with an expressionless, stony stare while he waited for Abrams to bring the thunderous outburst under control.
For a few seconds after the crimson-faced
ADA
had stifled his agony, there was a stunned silence as Justine

s words sunk in all round.

“Why is it irrelevant Miss Levy?” asked the judge slowly.

“Because I don

t intend to argue over technicalities.”

She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the desk.
It was an innocent, subconscious gesture, but it drew back the sleeves of her white silk blouse, offering a tantalizing glimpse of her ivory forearms.
There was no doubt in the judge

s mind that she was completely self-assured.
But from where, he wondered,
did her self-confidence come?
From the moral rectitude of innocence?
Or from a misplaced faith in the capacity of a beautiful woman to manipulate the men around her?

“You see Your Honour,” her voice rolled on with relentless smoothness, “I
know
that I can quibble over whether chain of custody over physical evidence was broken, or whether an exhibit not explicitly named in the search warrant can be introduced, but I

m damned if I will.
The last thing I want is to give the jury the impression that I

ve got no case and no answer to the charges and that my only hope of saving my skin is to gag the prosecution.”

“Let

s not exaggerate Miss Levy,” said the
ADA
sharply, almost spitting out his righteous indignation.
“It

s only your freedom that

s at stake, not your life.
Unlike your victim.”

“There

s no call for that Dan,” the judge chided.

Justine half-turned and leaned back, meeting Abrams eyes briefly.

“Oh it

s all right Your Honour.
If he thinks it, he

s got the right to say it.
I just hope that when he

s through presenting his case, he

ll close his mouth and open his ears.”
Then, looking Abrams straight in the eyes with that uncompromising, piercing stare, she added quietly: “I see you have a strong sense of justice.
I like that.
I have a strong sense of justice too.”

It was just a few simple words, spoken in a calm and measured tone.
But to the others in the room it rang out with all the rage and thunder of a threat.
The judge wondered if Sean Murphy had heard that threat before, or perhaps
failed
to hear it.

“Miss Levy,” the judge

s voice came out of the drawn-out silence, “when you say that you

re not going to quibble over technicalities, does that mean you

re going to argue your case in terms of the
facts
?”

Justine smiled and nodded.

“That

s right,
Your Honour...
all
the facts.”

The tone of her reply was almost sprightly, and the judge heard a touch of juvenile defiance about it.

So the woman is playing the girl with me.

“All right, I

ve heard enough,” he said as he rose.
“Let

s go back inside.”

Abrams leapt to his feet.
Justine leaned forward and rose from her chair.
As she did so, the judge looked at her expectantly, as if anticipating an inquiry.
But it was Abrams whose impatience got the better of him.

“What have you decided?”

The judge raised a hand, pointing to the door.

“Wait and see,” he said, taking a sadistic pleasure in the prosecutor

s discomfort.

Whatever the judge

s misgivings about the case, Justine Levy had stirred something within him, something that he couldn

t define.
He had long ago become blasé about his job, and he wouldn

t have believed that a defendant could move him in the way that Justine had.
He had seen sympathetic defendants who had pulled on his heartstrings before, like the mothers and lovers who were guilty of the “crime” of euthanasia.
But they were still just routine cases, and with plea-bargaining and a certain amount of judicial discretion he had been able to handle them as humanely as the system allowed.
But Justine

s case was different.
He didn

t know the truth or the reasons for anything that might have happened, he just knew that he was glad to have met her and sorry for her, even though there was nothing in her manner that cried out for sympathy.

Be careful
he told himself.
Don

t get involved
.
But he knew that there was no way a judge could avoid getting involved.
The danger was Justine.
She was not a cry
-
baby, nor a gum-chewing slut, nor an aggressive old hen.
She wasn

t any sort of stereotype... she wasn

t anyone or anything that he recognized.
But he knew that if he had to choose the company of another person now, whether for a few hours or for the rest of his life, he would have chosen Justine.
It was a dangerous feeling, and he didn

t feel any safer for recognizing it.

*     *

Tension still hung in the air when they returned to the courtroom.

In the press benches, the artists were busily at work, most of them sketching Justine.
Although the judge

s decision was to be a watershed, it was Justine who was the centre of attention.
It was Justine whose vigorous oratory had stood out and whose quiet defiance had marked her out and set her apart from those other rare cases of attractive women accused of murder.
She was no demure defendant.
She was the red-headed spitfire who knew not the meaning of the word fear and didn

t trouble to hide the fact.

So the press artists drew Justine in what was to become a classic pose and her symbol throughout this trial: standing proudly, almost like a warrior on a voyage of conquest, or a business tycoon who had just taken over a rival corporation.
T
he image conveyed a sense or arrogance.
Since she had first been arrested, arrogance had seemed to be her hallmark.

The door behind the bench opened to admit Justine and Abrams, sending a murmur of anticipation through the court as they took up their places.
The courtroom was no longer as full as it had been when they left it.
But it soon filled out as the reporters returned from the pay phones and the spectators with weak bladders heard the word that wafted through the building to the effect that the hearing was about to resume.
All eyes were on Justine, except those of the press artists which periodically darted back to their sketches to get the details right.

After about half a minute, the door opened again and the bailiff intoned his admonition to all those present to stand.
When the judge took his place and everyone was seated he held the attention of every man and woman in the courtroom.
He coughed to clear his throat, and peered around reprimandingly to quell the murmuring that still lingered after his entrance.
The murmuring was stifled within seconds and replaced by a silence that seemed to warn of an impending storm.

“The law on this subject is very clear,” he said slowly.
“In the case of People versus McIntyre it was ruled by the New York Court of Appeals that the option to proceed
pro se
could be invoked as a matter of right as long as three criteria were met.
The first was that the exercise of the right be unequivocal and timely.
The second was that the defendant make a knowing and informed waiver of the right to counsel.
And the third was that the defendant has not engaged in,
and continues for the duration of the trial to refrain from engaging in, conduct which disrupts the proceedings.

“Regarding the first requirement, it was ruled in McIntyre itself that the request is timely if it is made before the jury has been
empanelled
.
Moreover I think that not even the prosecutor would deny that the defendant

s efforts to invoke the right have been unequivocal.”

A smattering of nervous laughter trickled down from the spectators.

“Putting the second requirement aside for the moment and moving on to the third, it cannot be said that the defendant has done anything to obstruct or impede the proceedings.
Nor can it be said that she has engaged in disruptive or obstreperous conduct.
She has certainly been forceful and vigorous in her assertion of her right to proceed
pro se
.
But her arguments have at all times been couched in polite terms and she has shown unwavering respect for the dignity of the court.
Therefore she has passed this test of the right to conduct her own defence.”

Abrams slumped back in his seat, defeated.
The merest flicker of a smile appeared momentarily on Justine

s face.
But it vanished as quickly as it appeared, leaving not a single tell-tale sign for anyone in the courtroom to notice.

“This only leaves the requirement of a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to legal counsel.
State law mandates that when a defendant insists on conducting his own defence, the trial court should conduct a

searching inquiry

on record to insure that the waiver of the right to counsel is made voluntarily and with eyes open.
Accordingly, Miss Levy, I am going to ask you a few questions which you must answer for the record either yes or no or in your own words if you feel that clarification is needed.

“First of all are you aware of the fact that by not being represented by a lawyer you are giving up a valuable source of information and knowledge as to matters of law, possible defences, rules of evidence and procedure that may be invoked at your discretion and rights that are only advantageous if invoked in particular ways, such as the right to challenge jurors?”

“Yes Your Honour,” replied Justine calmly.

“Are you aware that as a lay person conducting your own defence there is always a danger that you might make a statement or ask a question or perform an action or omission damaging to yourself or to your case, and that a qualified lawyer would be less likely to make such errors and if he did make such an error would provide you with grounds to appeal because of counsel

s professional incompetence.”

“Yes Your Honour.”

Again the voice was calm and the tone respectful.
There was not a hint of off-handedness or impatience in her reply.

“Are you also aware of the seriousness of the charges and that you stand in jeopardy of a long sentence if convicted?”

“I am Your Honour.”

“And are you further aware that you are bound by the same rules of procedure as any qualified legal counsel and the same rules of evidence?”

“Yes Your Honour.”

“Do you understand Miss Levy that in the event that should you find yourself difficulty of any kind, the Court is under no obligation to render assistance to you, save by upholding the rules of evidence and procedure, nor can it take over defence chores for you or advise you on when to invoke specific rights.”

“I understand Your Honour.”

“Is your motive for wanting to conduct your own defence due to financial limitations Miss Levy?
Is it that you desire an attorney but cannot afford one?
Are you aware of the fact that if this is the problem then a lawyer can be appointed by the Court at no expense to yourself?”

“There is no financial impediment to my hiring a lawyer, Your Honour.
I have ample financial resources to pay for a lawyer and I am aware of my sixth amendment right to legal counsel, but I do not want one.”

“Finally, having said all that Miss Levy, I can only advise you in the strongest possible terms that it is in your best interests to employ the services of qualified legal counsel and I urge you to reconsider your decision to conduct your own defence in the light of all that I have said.
Will you reconsider, Miss Levy?”

“No Your Honour.”

“In that case I must rule that the defendant

s waiver of the right to legal counsel has been made intelligently and voluntarily and that accordingly the last of the three requirements for appearing
in proprio persona
has been satisfied.
However, because of the complexity of the case, the severity of the charge and the possibility, however remote, of the defendant wishing to change her mind, I

m going to appoint a qualified lawyer to act as stand-by counsel.”

Justine was on her feet, staring at the judge with open indignance, while Abrams turned away smirking.

“Your Honour I object!
My defence is to be based on
fact
, not legal technicalities.
A court-appointed standby, or any lawyer for that matter, would only distract the jury from the essence of my defence and give the jury the wrong idea of my position.”

“But he would only be on standby, Miss Levy. He wouldn

t even be allowed to open his mouth without your permission.”

“But his mere presence might give the impression that he

s defending me.”

“The Court notes, and over-rules, the defendant

s objection.
Although the Court is not
required
to appoint stand-by counsel, it has the right to do so even over the objections of the defendant.
In a complex and serious case such as this, bearing in mind the danger of having to declare a mistrial in the event of the defendant changing her mind or forfeiting the right to continue
pro se
, I believe it to be a desirable precaution which need not in any way step on the defendant

s toes.
At any rate, the federal Supreme Court has ruled that the trial court may ignore counsel

s objections in the matter of appointing stand
-
by counsel, in Faretta versus
California
, a case already cited by the defendant herself.

Justine sat down, the seething anger showing on her face.

The judge looked around the courtroom.

“Is there anyone here from the legal aid office?”

“I am Your Honour,” a nervous voice pierced the pregnant silence as a young African-American in a well-cut dark blue suit rose from an uncomfortable wooden seat.

“Your name?”

“Rick

I mean Richard Parker”.

The judge had taken on a serious tone, as if he was subconsciously trying to intimidate the young man.
This lawyer, with his adolescent good looks and below average height looked like a high school student who was too young to be there.

“Do you have any heavy commitments that might impair your ability to give this case the attention that a murder charge deserves?”

“No Your Honour.”

Justine was looking around frantically at this nervous looking kid whom the judge was about to appoint to be on stand-by to represent her.

“The Court appoints Richard Parker to act as stand-by counsel for the defence of Justine Levy in the case of the People of the State of
New York
versus Justine Levy.”

Again Justine leapt to her feet, facing the judge with a brimming anger that overflowed as she spoke.

“Your Honour this is just too ridiculous for words. He looks like he

s fresh out of law school!”

“May it please The Court Your Honour, I
am
practically fresh out of law school.”

It took no more than a second for the words to register all round and when they did the courtroom rocked with laughter.
Even the normally sedate Daniel Abrams was forced to smile.
Only the stoic judge and the granite-fac
ed Justine remained impassive. L
ike two pillars supporting an otherwise fragile structure during an earthquake.
When the laughter subsided, Parker continued calmly.

“I graduated first in my class at Harvard, and I served as clerk to the Chief justice of the
United States
for a year.”

He seems to be rubbing it in, thought the judge.
But why, he wondered, is he working as a two-bit hustler in the legal aid office where all they do is plea-bargain for the scum when he could be working for 75K in a private practice?

But it would have been unprofessional and inap
p
ropriate to verbalize these thoughts.
In any case, by this stage he was watching Justine, wondering how she was going to handle the embarrassing situation that she had got herself into.

“Your Honour, without prejudice to my objection to a court-appointed lawyer, I apologize to Mr. Parker for any aspersions I may have inadvertently cast on his professional abilities.”

Justine Levy

s voice was silky smooth as she adroitly carried out the impromptu salvage operation.

As Justine took her seat once again, Parker complemented the performance with a brief gracious acceptance speech.
Then the judge spoke again.

“In order to give standby counsel for the defence a chance to study the case and confer with the defendant, I will grant a thirty day continuance on my own motion and set the date of a further pre-trial motions hearing at the eleventh of next month.
I will set the trial at that time when I see how crowded my docket is.
Are there any motions on bail?”

“Yes Your Honour,” said Justine quietly.
“I move that I be released on my own recognizance.
It is a matter of public record that my impending arrest was known long before it occurred.
In that time I made no attempt to evade arrest or conceal my whereabouts.
I made it clear in all my pre-arrest that I welcome the opportunity to have my day in court.
For these reasons I move for a release on recognizance.

“Mr Abrams?” the judge beckoned, inviting the prosecutor

s predictable response.

“Your Honour, the People oppose both bail and R-o-R.
The accused has been indicted by a Grand
Jury for the most serious offenc
e in the
New York
penal code and the arraignment judge decided at that time that there were sound reasons to hold the accused in custody. I see no reason to regard those circumstances as having changed.
There is a danger that as long as she is at liberty she will be in a position to use the press to generate publicity favourable to her case.”

“That may be, Mr Abrams,” said the judge.
“But that can hardly be grounds for denying bail or R-o-R.
The only purpose of both bail and remand is to ensure that the accused shows up for trial.
As far as media publicity is concerned, that can be handled by a joint gagging order imposed equally on both parties.
But such an order cannot be linked in any way to bail or R-o-R.”

The judge tightened his facial muscles to resist the urge to smile at the discomfort and frustration on the
ADA

s face.

“In that case, Your Honour,” said Abrams, “I ask that bail be set at an appropriately high level, taking into consideration the defendant

s large inherited real-estate assets.”

“I see no need for that,” the judge responded.
“I am impressed by the accused

s arguments and have no doubt that she will show up for trial.
Accordingly, the accused is released on her own recognizance.”

The stampede for the exits began.
Several bailiffs held back the press and spectators from one of the exits, clearing a path for Justine and Parker.
As they left the room, Parker sidled up to Justine and started walking beside her.

“You know they say that anyone who tries to conduct his own defence has a fool for a client?”

“In my case they

ve doubled the handicap by sticking me with a fool for a lawyer.”

Ignoring Parker and brushing aside the more tenacious of the media people who had slipped under the arms of the bailiffs, Justine marched out of the courtroom.
Parker stood there gaping for a second, until a reluctant smile cut across his face.

Chapter 2

A wedge of sunlight cut through the layers of afternoon cloud and struck the mirrored facade of the shopping centre.
Sean Murphy watched it with growing fascination as he crossed the footbridge towards it.
A moment earlier the sky had been overcast with grey ruffled folds.
But almost in time with his approach, the clouds had parted like a theatre curtain opening on the first act of a classic tragedy.
And now the shopping centre stood there illuminated by the single ray of sunlight, as if held in the warning beacon of a spotlight.
It almost seemed as if someone up there knew that the place was being singled out for special treatment.

If there is anyone up there, thought Murphy, bitterly, he probably does know that it

s been singled out.

There was nothing unusual in his blue denim jeans an
d matching jacket.
But his
friends back in
Derry
would have found it hard to recognize him today.
At the very least they would have been su
rprised at his change of appeara
nce.
For today he sported a beard, and his normally red hair was now almost black.
Sean Murphy knew better than to take chances.
These shopping
mall
s almost invariably have security cameras, he knew.
The investigators of the anti-terrorist squad of Scotland Yard, or the shadowy men of the Security Service would sit for hours sifting through the pictures after the incident, and a man with a shoulder bag entering half an hour before and leaving a few minutes later was sure to attract attention.
He couldn

t stay for longer because that would merely increase the danger of identification.