At first, many years ago, I didn’t really want to work for the Firm. I was young and my practice was rather new and I was still very idealistic. I was going to defend the innocent and save the world and that certainly didn’t include defending members of a syndicate.
But then I looked at my bank account. I did all right, but lots of other attorneys made more than me – some lots more – and one of the reasons you become a lawyer is to earn a very good living and I was only earning a good living, mainly because I tended to defend clients who were broke. The Firm, who had more money than some countries, had a client that needed representation and the gentleman, who turned out to be Mauricio, came by the office to see if I’d be interested in representing their guy. He said I had a good reputation as a hard worker who sometimes got acquittals when it seemed there wasn’t one to be had. He was right, of course, but I told Mauricio I had also earned a conviction or two and he smiled and nodded and he said he understood when I told him I made no guarantees except that their guy would get a fair trial. I could ensure that. I was a good defense attorney but I wasn’t a miracle worker. And, also and besides, you really never knew what a jury was going to do. They’ve left me and others scratching our heads multiple times, even when I won.
As it was, I earned an acquittal that first trial for them, mainly because the evidence wasn’t there to support a conviction. The prosecutors knew that, but they went to trial anyway, probably counting on a law and order jury. I billed the Firm at my special soak-the-rich rate, plus non-padded, itemized expenses, and they paid promptly and in full and what vendor doesn’t like that? I’ve been representing them regularly now for years. Some people ask me how I can look myself in the mirror every morning but it’s easy because everybody is entitled to a fair shake at the bar. Besides, I’ve had clients convicted, too. It happens. Nobody bats a thousand in the courtroom.
And I did well pouncing on unprepared prosecutors because lawyering is no different than anything else us humans do: some are better than others and I am better than most. We all passed the bar exam, but some are willing to work harder than others and some care more than others and, of course, some are smarter than others even amongst lawyers who, as a rule, are pretty smart. So even when a client might have been guilty sometimes I was able to earn an acquittal. At first I didn’t like that, but you know what? The prosecutor should have done their job better because a conviction was there for the taking. Their arms weren’t long enough to reach for it, though. Mine were.
I thought we had a good case. It’s easier getting convictions in this country than it is getting acquittals, but I felt we had a shot. As I told him, actual guilt or innocence generally has little to do with going free or going to prison in this country. As he would say, we’d have a go at it and see what it got us.
The States is a tough place to be innocent in. Official innocence till proven guilty blather to the contrary, everyone thinks you’re guilty because if you were innocent why would have our intrepid men in blue arrested you in the first place?
He said he didn’t do it and I believed him. You never knew for sure – he was the only one who did, of course – but if I had to bet my money on it and not merely his life, I’d say he was innocent. I’d say that based on the evidence, too. Besides, a murderer wouldn’t have cared for his cat like he did. Good God, he asked about Constable constantly so I gave him regular updates on and he ate them up. I said it might be possible to get Constable to live with him here. He looked at me. I tilted my head and told him this wasn’t a typical jail and that the guards appreciated the fact you were quiet and respectful and didn’t cause problems. You were the only prisoner and I’d known the lieutenant in charge here for years, intimately for a while many years ago, and we remained on good terms. He told me it would be really tough if he had to say goodbye again but he chewed on my argument that that was a problem for another day and ultimately decided it was OK with him if it was OK with Constable.
Constable and I had become friends because I was spending a lot of time at his apartment. One, it was paid for for a long time and, two, it was more convenient to the courthouse than where I lived north of the city. I could never be bothered to marry or reproduce, so I only had to worry about myself and I spent several nights a week at his apartment. Constable was good company. She was no longer hissing at me and I probably wasn’t too far away from the day when she would let me pet her.
His neighbors came up and asked after him. I told them the truth, that he had been arrested and I was his attorney and I came by to keep an eye on the place and to take care of Constable. Invariably they said he seemed nice but tended to keep to himself.
After discovery, it was apparent the government hardly had Case of the Year, but prison graveyards are filled with the bodies of men who went to their deaths on less evidence. My job was to ensure there wasn’t one more. I had my work cut out for me, but that was hardly an uncharted waterway. It helped that I liked him. He was respectful and pleasant and, of course, his accent made everything he said sound like a Francis Bacon quote. He was easy to work hard for.
Chapter 13: A Visitor From The Past
Chapter 15: The Trial