Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 13 The Price of Arrogance
Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here in my Diaries or at my blog (http://masonbennu.wordpress.com/) I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.
The Price of Arrogance
Several years later, I was trying another big case with hot media attention and fear no longer played a role in my professional or personal life. I loved being in trial and it seemed like I always was in trial. I was very good, so good that I had not lost a trial in five years, and I loved the adrenaline rush from the high-wire act so much that I did not know what to do with myself when I was not in trial.
I had developed an addiction, but did not yet know it.
I was trying a triple-homicide case. My client, whom I shall call Steve, was accused of invading a home with another person, whom I shall call Robert, and shooting to death a man, his girlfriend, and their 11-year-old son. Robert was represented by the great Anthony Savage, but not even he was able to pull off an acquittal. The jury convicted Robert of three counts of aggravated premeditated murder and the judge sentenced him to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The jury convicted Robert based on the testimony of three snitches who testified that they accompanied Robert and Steve to the residence and waited in the car acting as lookouts while Robert and Steve went inside. They said Robert and Steve believed that the victim was a drug dealer and a pimp and they wanted to steal his drugs and money and teach him a lesson. They denied participating in or overhearing any discussions about killing anyone and they said Steve left town right after the homicides.
Police arrested Steve in Arizona just before Robert’s trial was scheduled to begin and the prosecutor decided to proceed with Robert’s trial due to speedy trial considerations rather than wait for Steve’s extradition from Arizona. After the jury convicted Robert, not even the biggest longshot Louie at Hialeah would have placed a fin on the possibility of Steve’s acquittal, but to me, it was the supreme challenge of my career and I was determined to make the most of it. Defeat was not an option.
I attacked the heart of the prosecution’s case; I put on an alibi defense claiming Steve was already in Arizona when the murders occurred and I accused the three snitches of committing the murders and making up the story about Robert and Steve’s participation.
After my opening statement, the prosecutor and the media sneered at my defense. Even Steve, whom I believed to be innocent, thought we did not have a chance, given the extensive negative publicity generated by Robert’s trial.
Nevertheless, after I finished carving up the last of the three snitches with an extremely confrontational cross-examination that produced a quavering voice and tears of rage, I could literally feel the wheel turning.
After the prosecution rested, the judge looked at me and said, “Is the defense ready to proceed?”
I stood and said, “Yes, Your Honor.”
“Who you gonna call?”
“Ghostbusters,” I answered without thinking.
He just stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and I just stared back at him with an equally blank stare.
Suddenly, Juror Number 6, a clinical psychologist who would eventually be selected foreperson of the jury, snorted out loud, pitched forward in her chair, and began laughing hysterically.
The jury deliberated seven days and on Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm it delivered its verdict:
Not Guilty, Not Guilty, Not Guilty.
As I walked out of the King County Courthouse floating on air. I was strutting down the sidewalk on James Street holding my head high thinking I was the greatest trial lawyer who ever lived, when all of a sudden I found myself lying on my back staring at the sky unable to breathe or move.
How can this be? I wondered.
A man with a badge wearing a blue uniform was bending over peering at me and grinning. “Counselor,” he said as he reached down, grabbed my belt, and pulled me up enabling my lungs to reinflate, “you need to take it easy on the parking meters. They’re city property, you know.”
Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.
Namaste: If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.
Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.