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Peter Sharp Legal Mystery Number12
A Peter Sharp Legal Mystery
By Gene Grossman
From Magic Lamp Press Venice, California
Magic Lamp Press ™
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported ‘unsold and destroyed’ to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Peter Sharp Legal Mystery #12
All rights reserved © MMVIII Gene Grossman
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, by photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher, Magic Lamp Press. For written permission, contact: Magic Lamp, Box 9547, Marina del Rey, CA 90295.
Peter Sharp Legal Mystery Series http://www.petersharpbooks.com
Peter Sharp Legal Mystery Series www.LegalMystery.com
Single Jeopardy By Reason of Sanity A Class Action Conspiracy of Innocence …Until Proven Innocent The Common Law The Magician’s Legacy The Reluctant Jurist The Final Case An Element of Peril A Good Alibi Legally Dead How to Rob a Bank
FOREWORD If this is the first Peter Sharp Legal Mystery that you’re reading, it might help you to have a little background information about the main characters involved in all of the books. Attorney Peter Sharp’s wife decided to ‘downsize’ their household, so she threw him out of their home. This parting of the ways may partly have been due to a conflict in their respective philosophies about legal representation: Peter is a private practitioner who specializes in taking cases defending the poor, unfortunate people ‘wrongfully’ accused of crimes that are being prosecuted by his wife Myra, the dogooder District Attorney. Peter ultimately wound up living on a dilapidated old boat in Marina del Rey, and when his former classmate/employer Melvin Braunstein died in a plane crash, Peter inherited a failing law practice, an office manager (Melvin’s twelve-year old step-daughter Suzi, a Chinese computer genius) and her huge St. Bernard. In accordance with Melvin’s wishes, the court appointed Peter as Suzi’s legal guardian, and through a series of misfortunes that miraculously worked out, he winds up living with the kid and her dog on a big, beautiful 50-foot Grand Banks
trawler-yacht from which they operate their unique law firm and entertain a constant stream of colorful visiting characters that include cops and robbers. Peter’s close friend and client is Stuart Schwartzman, the most entrepreneurial person in town, who starts up a new business as often as some people change their bed sheets. Jack Bibberman is a private investigator who saved Peter’s rear end a while ago, by truthfully testifying in a State Bar hearing that endangered Peter’s license to practice law. Victor Herrera is a ‘diener,’ which is the old European term to describe a person who works with dead bodies in a morgue. After working for the county as a forensic pathologist and doing autopsies, Victor went into business for himself, starting a firm called (800)AUTOPSY – which is also his telephone number. Along with some other former forensic experts on his staff, Victor’s company does private autopsies (mostly for wrongful death insurance cases) and also performs a commercial CSI service that has provided Suzi with assistance that helped solve quite a few of Peter’s cases.
Laverne is an alcoholic floozy who Peter spends an occasional evening with. She lives on a small houseboat docked a few slips down from Peter and Suzi’s boat. When Peter isn’t swilling Patrón margaritas at one of the marina’s local watering holes, he’s usually involved in some losing legal case that little Suzi will inevitably solve, leaving Peter with the impression that he’s as good as he thinks he is. Along the way in each legal adventure, Peter usually winds up butting heads with his ex-wife, who Suzi adores and is constantly scheming to get back into the Sharp household. Now that you have the cast of characters, please read on and enjoy yourself. All twelve of the Peter Sharp Legal Mysteries are summarized at the end of this book and also fully detailed on the webpage www.LegalMystery.com where they are also available in either print form or as eBooks. Magic Lamp Press - Venice, California
ocal news sucks. I hate the way they always make it look like a crime report, with the worst things that people do to each other always being the lead stories. Strangely enough though, today they finally opened with an item that didn’t depress me. It was about a killer who killed another killer... and got caught in the act. The news producers realize that nothing’s as boring as a talking head in a studio, so they always try to include some stock footage or place their reporter outside of an empty building where something in the story took place. They also like to do interviews of anyone who they feel can add some irrelevant information to the story, like neighbors of a serial killer who are shocked to learn about their living in such close proximity to the lunatic, but thought that he was always a ‘nice, quiet person, who always kept to himself.’
Today’s news about the killer gives the reporter a chance to pose on the steps of the downtown Criminal Courts Building, and whenever there’s a news camera crew there, my ex-wife Myra, the District Attorney usually makes sure to appear on the scene just in time to be interviewed... and today is no different. This popular event brings her two biggest fans out of the foreward stateroom to watch the big screen in our boat’s main salon. The dog barks hello as Myra is introduced while Suzi sits on the floor watching. Myra is in her usual good public form as she saves the reporter any inconvenience caused by actually being required to ask questions. Myra likes to maintain control of any relationship she’s in, even if it’s only a brief one with a reporter. Her statement is a brief one: “Earlier today, or office filed charges against John ‘the bat’ Zellini, for one count of violating section 187 of the California Penal Code... murder in the first degree. “The defendant was not aware of the fact that at the time of the crime, his victim was under surveillance by a special police unit in our organized crime task force, and the entire event was captured on videotape.”
The reporters start shouting out questions to Myra. She pretends to listen to a few of them and then continues, feeling confident that whatever she says will surely answer any questions they might have – even if they’re not smart enough to ask them. “In answer to your questions, the victim was a reputed member of a criminal organization that was trying to establish itself locally in the garbage collection business. We have information that leads us to believe that there seems to have been a ‘turf’ war starting up, concerning certain apartment-building areas of the city that require commercial trash vehicles to empty their dumpsters daily. “These garbage disposal contracts are quite profitable, and it appears that less-than legitimate groups fight over them like the crack dealers fight over which street corner to deal from. “Another issue to be considered is if this was a murder-for-hire and if so, would we be seeking the death penalty for the special circumstances involved in a crime of this nature. We are still investigating that aspect of the incident and the punishment sought will depend a great deal on whether or not we get any cooperation from the defendant. 11
“He has been taken to a special location for his own protection, and will be brought to court for arraignment next week. At that time, we will make a further statement to update you.” That being said, the interview ends, the reporter wraps up her piece with the courthouse appearing in the background, and the dynamic duo exits my salon – and I’ve learned that Myra actually put into place that special top-secret police unit she always told me they should have. The way she used to talk about it, the unit would keep their eye on the most suspicious criminals in the jurisdiction – the ones with extensive criminal records who could be depended upon to continue their criminal enterprises. Myra has combined her crime-fighting instincts with her business skills, because by using utilizing the RICO laws that apply only to those Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations, her department is allowed to legally seize assets of criminals that were purchased with funds illegally gained... and I believe that in most cases the seizing departments are permitted to keep a large percentage of the take, to be used in furtherance of fighting crime. I’m sure any matter that can be a RICO case takes a 12
high priority in her office, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why her special surveillance unit was concentrating on this particular victim. Now that I’ve seen what will probably be the only non-depressing local news item of this year, I switch the channel over to cable, where I can alternately surf between Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. In our neighborhood both of those satellite shows are on during the same time period from five to six PM. They’ve been having a bitter feud for the past few years that has been giving them both quite a bit of coverage, especially in the blogosphere, and I have a hunch that they cooked it up between them as a publicity stunt. The cable shows don’t mention our local murder, but I’m sure that the killer-killskiller angle is too good a ‘hook’ for the networks to ignore, so it’ll surely to pop up here and there on the small screen and the internet. Suzi’s mother used to be the manager at a Szechwan restaurant around the corner on Washington Boulevard, and four of their busboy/waiters have formed a crew that takes on varnishing and other minor maintenance jobs for the boat owners in 13
our marina. They’ve acquired the nickname of the ‘Asian Boys,’ and because their leader appears to be none other than my office-manager/boatmate Suzi, the boys will be bringing a gourmet dinner to the boat this evening, where the dynamic duo and I will be joined by my friend and client Stuart Schwartzman, plus whatever other guests Suzi has invited tonight for our usual seven PM seating. Our anchorage rents out some small houseboats for liveaboards, and one of them is on our dock. It’s occupied by an approximately 40-ish redheaded female who I have had an opportunity to know, in a biblical sense. I have no idea what she does for a living, but a husky man picks her up every morning and brings her home every evening. I guess it’s just some guy at work she car-pools with, but I never really cared enough to inquire about it. Tonight’s dinner will be an anniversary of our buying this 50-foot trawler yacht we operate on, so Suzi’s invited some extra guests to dinner. Laverne will be here, as will Victor, Jack B., and Stuart. Myra was invited too, but she declined, due to an excessive caseload she’s burdened with due to some recent spate of bad guys getting arrested for various crimes.
When Suzi learned that Myra wouldn’t be coming she allowed me to invite Laverne. Suzi doesn’t want the two of them around me at the same time because she’s still working on her master plan to get me back together with Myra, so that she can have a complete set of parents. Now that Laverne will be coming, Suzi has instructed the Asian Boys to stop at the liquor store to pick up a box of Laverne’s favorite wine. Stuart usually arrives a little early so that he can tell me about whatever new business venture he’s involved in this week. He’s gotta be the most entrepreneurial guy I’ve ever met. But to my surprise, he hasn’t started anything new this month, instead, he’s brought a friend of his along for dinner – Maury, a gentleman who Stuart introduced me to several years ago. Maury was a professional musician for many years and accepted an invitation to join the symphony orchestra in Bogotá, Colombia. He’s now back in our country making his annual visit to friends and family, so Suzi asked Stuart to bring him along for dinner this evening. In between courses, Maury tells us some interesting stories about life in Colombia, 15
and how the drug traffic affects his community. From what he explains, the drug kingpins are revered in the community. Notwithstanding the fact that they wouldn’t hesitate one second to have you killed if you interfered in any way with their business, they are very generous, contributing to local charities and being involved as supporters of the arts, which includes the symphony orchestra Maury performs with. When Maury flies between Colombia and California he changes planes in Florida and manages to pick up some Cuban cigars. Suzi doesn’t allow smoking in the boat, which is okay, because I’m not a smoker – but once in a while I like to enjoy a good Cuban cigar on the aft deck, and tonight is the perfect opportunity for that, so the three of us guys make our way out to the chaise lounges waiting for us, where we’ll be spending the next hour puffing away and watching the summer sun set over the Pacific Ocean. After a few of Maury’s interesting tidbits, Stuart tells us about an idea he’s been tinkering with for the past few years that now might be a distinct possibility. Unlike his other numerous enterprises, this one will be devoted to raising significant amounts of money for various charities. It 16
involves the use of a recently-closed restaurant to host dinners where large round tables will be used to seat one major celebrity guest plus eleven wealthy donors who are willing to pay twenty-five-hundreddollars per seat to have dinner with the celeb. As Stuart continues with his business idea, I see that the kid is in the main salon watching some news show on our big flat plasma screen. The thing that really catches my eye is an interview being conducted, because once again my ex-wife District Attorney Myra Scot Sharp is being interviewed. We put our Havanas down and go inside to see what else Myra has to say this evening. This additional appearance was brought about by the naming of an attorney to represent the killer that Myra talked about in her earlier interview. By the time we all get into place by the television screen, Myra’s part of the interview is over, but we hear the reporter summing up her interview: “As the District Attorney has just stated, the defendant John Zellini, now formally charged with first-degree murder, has requested that the court replace his public defender with a respected member of the local criminal defense bar, a private attorney.
“The District Attorney voiced no objection to this request, and the court has agreed to the defendant’s wishes. The reason that we’ve made this interruption of your normal evening programming is because that private criminal defense attorney’s office has been notified and has agreed to the court appointment, and it happens to be none other than District Attorney Myra Scot Sharp’s former husband – attorney Peter Sharp!”
The kid knows that my favorite type of client is the kind that my ex-wife is trying to railroad into prison to make her track record look better for the next election. We don’t need no stinkin’ email around here – we use ‘dogmail. I look around the boat and see that the kid has already beat a hasty retreat to her foreward stateroom. Less than five minutes later the duo is standing in front of me. This calls for an immediate meeting. and off he goes to the foreward stateroom to deliver my message. I don’t have to say a word. The top cabinet of our galley has a box of the dog’s favorite biscuits and the sound of that box’s rattling usually gets his attention.’ I slip a note under his collar. so I shake the box and he comes loping out to where I’m standing. but I usually try to T . so I employ the proper protocol on this boat to get her attention. put a biscuit within striking distance of his mouth.2 hey did it to me again.
She also knows that once a defendant has freely confessed to a crime and entered into a plea agreement with the prosecution. in fact your local bar tabs for the Patrón margaritas you seem to be addicted to are not doing our balance sheet any good. “First of all Peter. As usual.avoid representing people who are so obviously guilty that court appearances become a mere formality on the way to sentencing. The scornful look on my face as I stare her down is all the indication she needs that I’m not a happy counselor at this moment. I got them to agree to a 21 .. other than try to argue for a better sentence – and any decent lawyer can do that for this guy. there’s really nothing for a defense attorney to do. as office manager of this firm. “When Myra called to let me know that the defendant requested your services. I told her to have the court clerk call our office. I couldn’t help but notice that you haven’t done one thing to help our bottom line in the past month.. and due to the brief amount of time you will be needed there. she has her whole story all prepared and beats me to the punch with an impeccable opening argument.
“Your client will be expecting to see you tomorrow morning at ten. They’ll be bringing him to Myra’s office for the meeting. stopping only briefly to toss out one of her closing lines. and cover our food costs for the month. I’m the only family she’s got. the kid makes her about face and starts the foreward march. That will give us an opportunity to work out a good sentencing recommendation with her. The meeting is now over. and being her court-appointed legal guardian. You’ll be getting two-hundred an hour. I obviously don’t get a vote.higher hourly rate with a nice minimum guarantee. “That three thousand will help to pay your bar tabs. but somehow she seems to keep it together. even if the case pleads out before that time. I don’t know how she survived mentally. so I thought it would be in the best interest of this office to accept the court’s appointment.” That’s it.” This poor kid lost her mother in a fatal car accident and then her father died in a plane crash. And. Myra has agreed to have dinner with us several times until the case in concluded. with a bottom line of at least fifteen hours. pay our slip fee. 22 . because as soon as the combination opening and closing argument ends.
I haven’t the slightest idea of how to start the engine of this boat. we’re sitting with at least six figures in our firm’s money market account and the interest alone can easily cover my bar tabs. Unfortunately it’s an effort in futility. so I’ll just go along with the program for another couple of years until her scholarships kick in and she’s off the boat and off to whichever Ivy League college that allows dogs. This whole thing about me taking the criminal case has nothing to do with our budget. and about the only thing I can do on a computer is work the program that lets me send and 23 . What this farce of a case is really about is getting me closer to Myra so the kid can try more schemes to regenerate some spark between us. because after the last couple of cases we wrapped up. but I can understand how desperate she must feel. I also know that the kid’s master plan is to get me back together with my exwife so there’ll be a complete family to raise her – and two lawyers for her to hire when she becomes the youngest person in history to graduate from Harvard Law School. I’ve never been very good with tools or machines.She adores Myra. and I know that feeling is mutual.
and inquired as to what type of electronics my company handles. Towards that end. I have no idea how to work any type of electronics. From time to time I encounter a nice female that interests me.receive email. I seem to remember some newspaper article about there being a shortage of the latest version Microsoft’s Xbox Premium Console. even though I can’t balance a checkbook. I get a kick out of that for two reasons: first. but I have been contacted by a purportedly large Nigerian corporation that wants to buy some of my electronics. the SEC logo lets me fantasize that I have some knowledge of the stock market. and second. using a cover name: the Sharp Electronics Company. so that’s the item I tell them my company is handling. I established my own private email account at Hotmail. Their first message to me mentioned that they distribute to electronics stores all over Asia.com. 24 . I haven’t been getting much action in the female-email department lately. and I’d like to be able to communicate freely without having Suzi the snoop know every word that’s being said.
From what I’ve read in some online ‘fraudalert’ notices. so that means it isn’t. on the small single-item 25 . Whatever I’d want to charge would be okay with them. This is too good to be true. I respond that because of the demand. They immediately agreed. to make some profit on the deal. The devil is in the details as to how they promise to make payment. Nigeria. It’s a pretty well known fact that Nigeria’s largest export is fraud. no negotiations. The one that happened to reach me was for the purchase of merchandise. with larger orders to follow.This interests them very much. No objections. I would have to pay retail to get ten of them. the real tip-off to the fact that these buyers might not be on the up-and-up is their inquiring about whether or not I could ship the merchandise to them in Lagos. Other than the fact that there was no negotiation and the purchasers seemed to not care what my merchandise costs. For some strange reason I have a suspicion that this is a fraudulent purchase attempt. no nothing. and would then have to charge an additional ten percent. They send out millions of spam emails a day for a large variety of phony deals. so they ask for a quote on ten of the Xboxes as an initial order.
I am to deposit the check to my account.S. If they send me one of those. ship the merchandise. Sounds good to me.O. because they are afraid their competitors in the U. give them the information. On large purchases. customer send me their official company check for seven thousand dollars. which include a forged money order. Our deal is a little over five thousand. or some other method meant to trick you into shipping them your merchandise.purchases. and let them track it down. they will probably offer a stolen credit card number. Box and assure them that I will follow their explicit instructions to not tell anyone about our deal. I tell them to have the check sent to my P. and send them my money order for the excessive payment amount. one of which owes them seven thousand dollars. they will offer to pay by one of several other methods.S. I inform them that we will only accept payment by American Express Money Order. To shake them up a little. it’s very simple to call Amex. 26 . This time it’s a little different. overpayment allegedly from another customer. They tell me that they sell quite a bit to large customers in the United States. so here’s the deal: they will have their U.
---------Myra’s office is on one of the top floors of the New Criminal Courts Building. I’m calling her office to let her in on my new business venture and how it will wind up benefiting her.probably around the same time I was being built. to warm up our relationship a little.will steal me away as a good new source of electronics. I still get some respect around here because her entire staff knows I was instrumental in getting her elected to this job. No sense depositing a check I know is not good: all it will do is incur a bank charge for depositing an NSF check. The District Attorney’s office has the resources to track down the American coconspirators. so they don’t try their badge-heavy intimidation tactics on me because my having survived several years living with their boss gives me the type of credibility that John McCain deserves for serving those years in an enemy prison camp. I’ll give it to Myra as a gift. after ‘convincing’ her opponent to drop out of the race. If and when a check comes in. having been built more than forty years ago . In fact. so I’ll let her get some free headlines. which is not so new. They also know I’m the boss’ ex-husband. 27 .
. I heard her saying things like that. you’re in for a surprise my friend. That wasn’t what I was thinking at all.” “Yeah. I know she doesn’t like you. she’d rather see me in that jumpsuit than you.. no counselor.” 28 .” “Oh yeah? How’s that?” “Simple. so if that’s what you’ve been thinking. “My name is Peter Sharp.” “Well. There’s no love lost between the two of us as far as she’s concerned. and I understand you requested to have me to represent you. you’ve made a big mistake. I know who you are. because if you think she’s going to go easy on you because of me.When my client is brought into the client conference room I ask for a moment alone with him: they leave us with only one guard standing outside the door.” “Which broad are you referring to? “You know which broad – it’s the one who’s prosecuting me. pal.” “No. You’re the one who was married to that broad. you’re sadly mistaken.
This guy’s a killer. I signal through the window that our private conference is over and Myra brings her staff back into the conference room. we have agreed to take the death penalty off of the table and allow him to spend the rest of his life in jail. sounding very formal.. your client has agreed to cooperate with us by naming the person who hired him to murder the victim. In return for his testimony. I hear that she’s a fair person.“Well then why did you ask to have me appointed to represent you?” “To take the heat off of me. “Mister Sharp. Of course that begs the question about the mental acuity of a person who accepts a contract to defend someone who murders for hire. I take that back..” 29 . As hard-hearted as she sounds. me” Not bad. but he’s not stupid. She lays out the plea bargain for me. Anyone who accepts a contract to murder for hire is stupid. maybe she’ll feel it’s not fair to take it out on the poor defendant. so with you around to absorb the heat she generates.
would you consider allowing him to try for parole in ten years?” By the daggers coming my way from her right now. After Myra and her gang leave he lets me in a little further on what must be a plan he’s thought out completely. When the meeting is over he asks for another moment alone with me. I can tell that my client was right.. what if there is some other useful information he could give you.“Hmmm. That sounds really nice Miss District Attorney. but if that’s the deal my client wants.. if it was me.. now I’d like you to stall a little more before the arraignment. but trying not to let it affect her treatment of my client. who am I to complain? By the way..” I look over towards my client and he gives me a slight acknowledgment that he thinks we seem to be going in the right direction. I’d rather get the needle then spend the rest of my life in jail.. maybe we can 30 . Let’s say that I have information on some other murders she’ll be able to clear up with information I’ve got. She’s not liking me very much at this moment. “Good work counselor. Personally. “Let’s say he might get a chance at parole in twenty-five years..
or even worse. Who said crime doesn’t pay? I tell Myra that we would like a little more time before arraignment.get that twenty-five years down to a nickel. Myra has no objection to the delay. I don’t know if the information he’s alluding to is true or not. standing on my head. I should be able to do five years in the joint. but all you can hear is the police surveillance team talking in the background – no sound from the victim’s loft across the street. The sound is on. if it’s about murders that he committed. What’s even worse is that I’m involved in trying to get him less punishment for more crimes. so the bottom of the screen shows the date with the minutes and seconds while the tape runs. It’s got time-code burned in.. 31 . Myra hands me a copy of the videotape they used to convince him to make a plea.. Before I leave her office.” Wow! This guy gives me the creeps. especially when I lead her to believe that we may be able to get a lot more helpful information out of him. and because the in-custody defendant will waive his right to a speedy trial. The police surveillance team set up a camera in an apartment across the street from the victim’s loft.
because there’s a food-warming device on his desk with a small flame burning under the tray. It looks like the victim was having some dinner. After a few minutes of conversation. the defendant pulls a small caliber revolver out from under his coat and points it at the victim. obviously having been buzzed in. It starts out with the voices of two cops talking about the fact that their surveillance object “looks like he’s getting a visitor. The victim must have recognized his voice. where we see the defendant getting to the top of the staircase and walking into the large semi-commercial area that the victim lives and runs his operations. In their haste to 32 . Our thoughts are echoed in the voices of the two cops. There’s a silencer screwed onto the barrel. because a few seconds later we see the defendant pulling open the door. As soon as the gun appears we hear several expletives as the cops rush out of the apartment and try to get across the street in time to stop a gunfight. whatever they may be. who then tilt the camera back up to the second floor level.” The camera pans down to the street level and we see the defendant ringing the security buzzer downstairs and identifying himself on the speaker.When I get back to the boat. Suzi and I sit down and watch the video together.
igniting the remaining papers on his desk. One of the cops is on his cell phone. They must have shouted some instructions at him. The cops have no choice but to get out of the building with their arrestee. which keeps running. the victim’s desk is in flames and the loft is filling up with smoke. he pulls some papers off of his desk and causes the food warming tray to tip over. and we see the victim stand up to apparently argue against what seems to be inevitable. probably calling for the fire department. and they opted to save themselves and the defendant and not endanger their 33 . they forget about the camera. While this is all happening. It looks like the cops had to make a quick decision. There is no sound of the gun firing. The two cops are seen rushing in behind the defendant just as the fire starts. but we see that the defendant fires two shots at the victim. who looks like he’s been hit in the chest by both shots and is thrown backwards by the force of the bullets. As he falls backwards. because he drops his gun and raises his hand up in the air to allow one of the cops to put the handcuffs on him while the other picks up the gun and looks towards where the victim was standing – an area now engulfed in flames.leave.
because with the combination of his own confession. but we can’t see any further action on the street because the camera is still running. there’s not much to be said in the way of defense. 168 people died as a result of that crime. It’s a good thing that I’m not going to be forced to defend this guy in a trial. This guy’s a cold-blooded killer – but he’s my client. locked in place. and Jones had to do his best to represent the bomber. only aimed at the second floor of the loft. plus the reality-show footage of him committing the crime. I don’t blame them. and I certainly don’t approve of that type of 34 . where all the action took place. and now I know how that lawyer Stephen Jones must have felt when he was appointed to represent Timothy McVeigh in the infamous trial in which his client was charged with bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma City back in 1995.lives trying to rescue the dead body of the victim. A few minutes later the fire department and backup police cars arrive. It’s not easy to put your emotions on hold to protect the rights of a bad guy. It’s the ultimate test of our judicial system and has nothing to do with the personal beliefs of the lawyer. I’ve represented people charged with murder. He’s not the only lawyer who’s been appointed to handle vicious criminals.
and they’re usually not the good guys. 35 .. But that’s the nature of our legal profession..behavior. They treat the patients wheeled into their emergency rooms on gurneys without knowing if they’re working on the good guys or the bad guys most of the time. or any other type of criminal activity with which a client of mine might be charged. because we get to talk to our clients. It’s a little harder for the criminal lawyers. We don’t have the luxury that doctors enjoy.
this one is the first model they made available to the non-military market. With his Doggles on and ears flopping in the wind like a World War I air ace. Suzi’s dog Bernie loves to ride in my Hummer. so once I slip the ‘Doggles’ over that huge Saint Bernard head of his. We’ll be having our usual humongous burritos over at Mi Ranchito today. so it’s almost a full eight feet wide and usually frightens other cars out of its way as we drive down the street. Suzi bought him a special pair of goggles to wear to protect his eyes from road debris. The reason that Bernie likes it so much is that he gets to sit next to me with his head sticking up out of the sunroof. he prepares for his airy ride down the street. Unlike the newer versions of my vehicle. so I’ve invited him to join me today. It’s been several months since he’s started a new business so he wants to buy me lunch and tell me about his latest venture. so I’m now on my way over there to meet him. he quickly picked up .3 S tuart’s phone call pulls me out of my funky mood.
Bernie also likes the leftover beef burritos there as much as I like the new ones. Fortunately. who I’m sure is a vermin control professional. and see that Stuart is already here. Bernie has a friend at Mi Ranchito – the owner’s cat Smoky. and it looks like he’s got a topless Patrón margarita waiting for me. I don’t think I would be ordering any chicken dish in that place for quite a while. because I like my margaritas blended. It’s good thing that Mi Ranchito isn’t a snooty restaurant. and some of the high class watering holes in the marina have refused to prepare a Patrón margarita for me that way: they say that it’s ‘not dignified’ to use that method with that brand of tequila. They also know me well enough there to realize that if I have more than two drinks that they must follow Suzi’s strict orders to refuse releasing my car to me and to load me into a taxicab 37 . anything goes. I also enjoy having Bernie accompany me to the place.the nickname of the Brown Baron. at Mi Ranchito. because if the occasion were to ever arise where Bernie couldn’t find his friend Smoky. While walking to the restaurant’s front door I pass by the window booth that we usually sit at. and has his picture taken by just about every camera-toting tourist we pass by.
obviously realizing that when I threaten to walk away from a fresh Patrón margarita without taking even one sip. and I’d rather not hear him confess his plan to me until after the indictment. so this one drink will be my limit. I’m going to behave myself this afternoon.with instructions to deliver me to where our boat is docked so that I can follow Bernie to my stateroom.” At this point I’m ready to get up and leave. I must really be serious. Stuart starts in. 38 . As soon as I sit down and we’ve exchanged handshakes. The only reason that Stuart is buying lunch is because he probably wants some legal advice about his new business. “Peter. this new venture of mine will take in up to a quarter of a million dollars an evening. because no matter how smart and entrepreneurial Stuart may be. I don’t believe he can come up with an idea to bring in that kind of money so fast without breaking the law. He senses my discomfort and grabs my arm to stop me from leaving.
and I won’t be getting the money. Honestly.” Okay. It was never too difficult to determine exactly how much money was required. a new organ or piano.. we would go inside and speak to the priest or pastor to inquire what the funds were needed for. Quite often we learned that the carwash was to raise a couple of hundred dollars for a roof repair. now he’s got me. This isn’t the type of wholesale charitable contributions made by large philanthropic organizations to huge charities that have fund-raising companies on their payroll: 39 . and to whom it would be paid – and we would use this information that afternoon by driving over to the business that would be providing the church with its services. this is perfectly legal. what it was to be for. and then paying the required amount and anonymously mailing a paid-in-full receipt to the church. please.. While the car was being cleaned up.“No Peter. It’ll all be going to charity. A couple of decades when I first started practicing law. or to buy a wheelchair or some other item to help a disabled member of the congregation. Stuart and I would cruise around the San Fernando Valley once a month looking for a group of young people having a car wash to raise money for their church.
you know that large restaurant over on Centinela. 40 . Almost every time. I’ve made a deal with Theo Nicholas. the priest or pastor would look at us with a knowing glance. Sometimes we would go back and visit the church a month or so later to inquire if they met their needs and got the benefits they were expecting. but they respected our desire to remain in the shadows. the one with the big fenced-in parking lot? Well. and profusely thank us for our taking interest in their needs. along with the big parking lot for the production vans makes it ideal for movie shoots. We felt that they always knew we had quite a bit to do with their success. but because it’s so uniquely decorated inside it has become a popular location spot for film locations. “Peter. Seeing that he succeeded in getting me back to my seat – and my margarita. and the results are instant. He doesn’t operate it full time as a restaurant anymore. he continues.this is the street level retail giving where one-hundred percent of the donation is targeted directly to where it’s needed. let us know that their prayers were answered. The décor. the owner.
That will bring in over twenty-seven grand for each table. and with ten tables. drinks and other costs for the 41 . What do you think?” That sounds really good Stu.“Here’s the idea I put together: because of Theo’s connections with celebrities and the motion picture industry. The celebrity will eat for free. joined by eleven other people. we’re going to have ten large circular tables set up in his dining room. They’ll all be eating dinner together. but the other eleven people will each pay twenty-five hundred bucks for the privilege. of the twenty-seven grand that the table brings in. that’ll be more than a quarter of a million dollars. ten will be given to the celebrity’s favorite charity and the remaining fifteen or so will go into the big pot to make up a total donation of over a hundred and fifty grand for the charity of the evening. Who pays for the food and drinks?” “Good question Peter. He’s then going to contact the agents and publicists and have an A-list celebrity at each table. Remember me saying that there would be eleven people joining each celebrity? Well that eleventh tab of twenty-five hundred dollars will pay for all the food. “As an incentive for the celebrities.
We’ve set up a special area around the outside of the central tables. Each celebrity requires a limo for the evening.whole table. so the charity doesn’t have to come up with any money to put on the event. and there are always a group of agents. I only have one more question for him. Not only has he done a great job over the past few years in making himself a wealthy businessman. business managers. and now he’s figured out a way to give some back. you disappoint me. and the dinners and drinks for twelve people will come to a little over fifteen hundred.” 42 . Theo is working on a flatrate deal. Are you sure you’re not dipping into the overage a little?” “Peter. but he hasn’t forgotten where we both came from. publicists and bodyguards that must be fed. I would never do a thing like that. The rest of the money is for the extra bells and whistles and for the care and feeding of the hangers-on. where each celeb’s ‘posse’ can sit in a nearby booth to keep an eye on their valuable property.” I have to hand it to him. “Over two thousand dollars is a lot for a dozen dinners Stuart.
The big corporations don’t even think twice about entertaining their clients with lavish dinner events that can cost the same amount. 43 . Motion pictures are the glamour industry of the world. and if you don’t live here in Los Angeles. the higher the circulation is for movie fan magazines and other publications that cover celebrities. Consider this: the farther away you get from Southern California. “People from all over come to the boating anchorages at Marina del Rey or Long Beach to see the Dade County Police squad cars being trucked in for filming scenes of CSI Miami. But we’re not concentrating on the private citizens. the mere chance of even seeing a celebrity in person is a tremendous deal. “The West Wing had a whole sound stage down the road in Manhattan Beach. where on any given day you can see some production company shooting something.“Do you think there are that many people in this town who want to spend more than two grand just to have dinner with some movie star?” “Sure. Even CSI NY and the CSI show about the Las Vegas Police are shot here in Southern California. and ten years of Seinfeld was shot right here in town at the CBS studios on Fairfax Avenue.
We’ll have no problem getting customers.across the street from the Farmers’ Market. expensive Gran Burdeos for each table.P. and arranged for the Patrón Company to donate a bottle of their new. and when the customers see that the celebrities enjoy that five-hundred-bucks-a-bottle stuff.” 44 . that guy you used as a witness recently who runs the Patrón private railroad car. the company figures it will translate into many sales for every bottle donated. “Suzi also helped me out with this plan. She got in touch with Chris Shaffer. That’ll be enough for some margaritas. and then the word of mouth will take it even further from there. He spoke to his boss J. DiJoria. People all over the country are gaga about celebrities and the showbiz industry. and the publicists will make sure that their celebrity clients participate and get plenty of coverage when the checks are presented to their favorite charities.
Just as Stuart is finishing up and our dinner is about done. we’re interrupted by my cell phone. I don’t know what’s going on with him. And Peter.. 45 . The reason I’m calling is because I just heard from Suzi. please don’t come into court smelling like Mi Ranchito.” That’s as far as I get before she cuts me off. He’s. I’ve arranged to have him brought into court this afternoon.” Fortunately. so knowing that you’re probably half in the tank with margaritas now. Your murdering client called to say that he doesn’t want to waive time. I was so interested in Stuart’s presentation that I didn’t even finish half of my margarita. I’ve arranged to have his plea heard after three this afternoon. Peter. but if he’s in that much of a hurry to plead guilty. It’s Myra calling. and he wants his arraignment as soon as possible. far be it from me to stand in his way. and you gotta hear what he’s planning now. “Hey kid. what’s up? I’m sitting here with Stuart.. I’ll see you there. “Later. I’m ready for my appearance. so after a quick ride back to the boat to get into my goin’-to-court clothes.
I see a man sitting at the plaintiff’s table wearing one of those chiropractor’s special whiplash supports around his neck. so I try to get his attention by explaining to him about the allocution. Myra arranged to squeeze my client’s arraignment into one of the courts’ afternoon sessions during one of the trials’ jury breaks. I’ll have to explain to him what that means..Using her influence.there exists an adequate factual basis to support the charge and the plea’ and that the guilty plea was 46 . Myra meets me in the hallway and lets me know that when my client makes his guilty plea. Myra got us into court alright. the judge will expect him to make a full allocution. The bailiffs are escorting the jury to their conference room and asking the civil trial parties to remove themselves to the emptying jury box so that we can occupy both counsel tables for our arraignment. The judge must find that ‘.. But that’s okay with me because the sooner the arraignment is over the sooner I can put in my time sheet and get off of this crummy case. I tell him that a judge can’t just take his word for it that he committed the crime. My client doesn’t even look at me when he’s brought in. but not exactly in the criminal division.
’ I want him to know that towards that end. He looks down at the file. “Counselor.. he’s got the matter covered. the judge will ask him to allocute. We both stand and state our names and respective representation for the record.‘knowingly. and intelligently made.. He looks down at me. calls the case and waits for us to respond. please enter your plea in this matter 47 . The judge takes the bench with no announcement or formality because the court is already in session. so if you are ready. the court wants to make sure that the defendant is willingly accepting responsibility. voluntarily.. and then the judge takes over. nodding an indication to her that the client has received the allocution explanation.. My clerk tells me that you explained the allocution procedure to him. the defendant in this case. the court understands that your client. to explain the events so that the court knows that the elements of the crime were completed. Also. desires to make a plea this afternoon. My client finally looks up at me and tells me not to worry. I glance over at Myra.
I do not wish to waive any time in this case. and want to plead NOT GUILTY!” 48 . He clears his throat and looks up at the judge. I glance at him and motion that it’s now his turn to address the court.and allow the defendant to address the court for his allocution. “Your Honor. at this time I wish to notify the court that I am in custody.” The client is now standing up next to me.
but this defendant probably just came about as close to doing it as anyone else has. Both lawyers for the trial going back into session come up to their respective counsel tables and remind me and a stunned Myra that it’s now their turn to use the courtroom. so I want both counsel to meet with my clerk to pick a mutually agreeable date for his preliminary hearing. She knows that I had nothing to do with my client’s turnaround because she’s T .4 here isn’t much you can say to an experienced judge that will surprise him. Myra and I both walk to clerk’s counter in a daze. another two come and whisk my client back to the holding cells. The judge recovers quickly. please bring the jury back in so we can get the present trial going again.” While one bailiff goes to fetch the jury. blinks once or twice and then bangs his gavel down. “The defendant’s plea of not guilty is duly entered. Bailiff. he must be brought to trial within the statutorily specified days. Because he has refused to waive time.
so now you’ve got a wonderfully losing case to try.” Using the Suzi ‘exit routine. helped save my career by providing testimony against 51 . Once out in the hall.pretty good at recognizing that blank look on my face. she starts in. it’s a fine mess you’ve gotten us into this time. We check our respective calendars and agree on a ‘prelim’ date next week. And as much as I’m disappointed by his refusal to plead guilty and cooperate with us by providing some information. A couple of years ago Jack B. leaving me standing there in the hallway still in a mild state of shock. “Well.” She replies by telling me that Jack Bibberman is waiting for me on the boat. the opportunity I’ll get to beat you into the ground at trial may make up for that disappointment. “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt this time. By the time I get back to the boat Suzi probably already knows about what happened in court. You probably didn’t know what was going to happen any more than I did.’ Myra does an about-face and marches away towards the elevators. and as I bump into her on the dock. I can only quote a famous movie star named Oliver Hardy by saying to her.
No assignment. so she had him come to the boat for an assignment. He called you to demand an early arraignment. “That’s right. and it would have been very easy for him to have told you his intentions. And there’s no excuse for that. kid. I look directly at her to explain. That way. “Jack. but I have no assignment to give you. Now I’m stuck with an uncooperative client who just stabbed me in the back by changing his plea without so much as giving me a heads-up in advance. and for the first time. and to help him negotiate a fair sentence. I could have at least avoided looking like a fool when he sprung that on us.some creep who was trying to get me disbarred. I thought I saw a slight bit of surprise on her usually inscrutable face. It even made a fool out of Myra and startled the judge – 52 . Since then he has become an invaluable asset to our law firm as an investigator and Suzi must have know we’d be needing him on this case. I’m happy to see you and appreciate you clearing your calendar to help us out on this case.” Suzi returned to the boat just in time to hear me tell this to Jack. You got me into this case for the express purpose of standing next to a guy when he makes his guilty plea.
And now he wants to change his plea to not guilty and wants me to try this case? No way.” I look down at her. “You gotta problem with that?” “I don’t know Peter. José. even though the court would probably be reimbursing us for them. and to wrap up the whole event. No more.. I’ll do my best for him in court. Whenever she says something like that it usually means that something ‘doesn’t compute’ in that steel-trap brain of hers.” Oh-oh.and that’s not a smart thing to do if you intend to interact with our criminal justice system. he confessed. two cops were watching him as he did it. Sorry. a freely given righteous confession. I’ll stay on the case. but I’m not gonna jump through any hoops for this professional killer. That’s it. Not only did he do it. Jack. and no assignments for Jack. “You saw the video. no less. If she can 53 . The guy did it. I’ll have to watch that video a little more. That doesn’t sound good.. but that will only amount to seeing to it that his conviction is fair and square and that any evidence presented against him is within the rules of admissibility.
and I’m not too happy about making it possible for this guy to go back out into society to kill again. it’s helpful to have a good ‘ear. I watched that video too. I also have to remind myself that to the best of anyone’s knowledge.come up with some defense for my client it means that I’ll be doing everything in my power to get a professional killer acquitted. If it’s basketball. A skilled professional in any field should have some special attribute. as did Myra’s entire staff. From what Myra’s people have learned. Wait a minute. it’s nice to not have a criminal record. but no matter how hard I try. my client has been a ‘person of interest’ in several states over the past few years. this is my client’s first arrest. The farther they are under the radar. I’m still a human being. Not being in the system is an asset for guys like Zellini. the better. it would help a lot if you were seven feet tall. If there’s anything there 54 . they couldn’t find any record of him. I know that his past behavior shouldn’t have anything to do with the facts of this case. There’s nothing to worry about here. In professional contract murder. because no matter how hard Myra and her gang checked. always in connection to a murder.’ and be able to carry a tune. In music.
I’ve already got that DVD right here. As he completes his exit from the boat he pats his inside jacket pocket. the one that purports to show my client committing the crime he’s charged with. I stop Jack as he’s about to leave the boat. but you should spend at least a couple of hours going over every important frame and bill it to our office. I know it’s not a very big assignment. I’d appreciate it very much if you would have Suzi burn you a DVD of it so that you can watch it a few times to see if there’s anything worth looking into. Because if you haven’t..” Jack responds with a slight smile. “Thanks Mister Sharp.. I can’t believe that one of us adults wouldn’t have spotted it. I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to see that video the police made.” 55 .that would give any indication of a possible defense or flaw in the prosecution’s case. I think that’s the least we can do to show our appreciation for your coming down here on this wild goose chase. “Jack.
. this is the judicial system. but this isn’t the criminal business you might be used to. I thought you had an agreement with the D. I know that when you first agreed to it there was no record going and no court reporter. and we like to keep our promises to each other. I’d really appreciate your letting me in on exactly what I .: you were going to plead guilty and I was going to try and get your sentence shaved down so that you could be out on parole sometime this century. so I’m on the way to County Jail to have a nice little meeting with my devious client.A. you caught the prosecution off guard with your refusal to waive time. “So. When the guards bring him into the attorney-client interview room he doesn’t say a word to me: he just sits down and waits for my opening monologue. “On top of blind-siding me. “That was a pretty nice stunt you pulled on me in court yesterday.5 don’t like being surprised and doublecrossed. if you don’t mind..
Section 859b of the Penal Code requires that it be held within ten days of your arrest. They have a tough time keeping you in custody unless they’ve got a really good reason for the continuance. do you have some more surprises in store for us. or when you prevented a prosecution witness to be available.possessed you to change your plea and not waive time?” “My prelim is next week?” “Yes. or when it’s a murder charge and there’s a lot of evidence against you.” “What if they can’t prove that I committed any crime?” “That’s a matter for the trial court to decide. I suppose they can. Why. or if one of the lawyers is sick.” 57 . or a previous commitment. but then they’d have to release you on bail unless they can show that you waived time. to make a speech at City Hall?” “Are you sure they have to have my prelim in that ten-day period? Is there any way they can get around it?” “Yes. your preliminary hearing will be next week.
. There are several steps that must be followed in any criminal case and the prosecution always has to show the trier of fact that a crime was committed. But my client is correct. before you get that far. I’m charged with murder. no. ask that ex-wife of yours to come up with an autopsy report. You can do that. just that there is enough evidence to make it look like he probably committed the acts he’s charged with.“No.. I mean at the prelim. but this time I may make an exception. If I get this guy’s drift. Just do me one favor. At a prelim there’s no need to show that the defendant is absolutely guilty. I think you should at least make ‘em prove that I killed someone. they should definitely show that a crime was committed 58 . “Hey listen. he has something else in mind. So what if they can’t show that there’s a victim?” Something’s going on here that I don’t know about. I’ve heard of witnesses disappearing before. When we get to that prelim. but that’s because they’re alive and willing to testify. you’re my lawyer. can’t you?” I usually don’t let my criminal clients order me around as to how their defenses will be conducted.
I realize that he has some legal questions to ask because there’s a margarita waiting for me on the table. At least three times during the almost two-hour evening. This gives everyone there a chance to be closer to the celeb for personal conversation and photo ops. There’s no need to tell Myra about my client’s request. he’s arranged to have a cameraman assigned to each table. ---------Stuart called. As I pass by the restaurant’s tables set outside facing the parked boats. To make the customers happy.– and that it’s the one my client is charged with. Just after we return from the salad bar he starts with his legal question. 59 . because I’m sure she knows how to put on a case. shooting the eleven people sitting there with each celebrity. so I’m walking over to the Charthouse to meet him for lunch. She’ll surely have the coroner there with evidence of the victim’s death. His group has already put on their first charity celebrity dinner and he can’t wait to tell me about it. they have the celebrity’s seat moved so that he or she is sitting between other people at the table.
and also because of the background noise from other tables. like the wellknown private investigator Anthony Pellicano. The concern revolves around the A-list celebrities and Stuart doesn’t want to get into any ‘tapping’ problems and wind up in jail. or how far away he gets for wide shots. I advise him that as long as the people at the table are all informed about the fact that a microphone will be picking up everything they say. so that no matter how much he moves around the table. the conversation at the table is being broadcasted to his camera and will appear on the finished DVDs that are burned and made available for the customers at each table. not only telling them about the 60 . who worked for several major movie stars and was arrested for tapping phones. among other things.Because of the distance away from the table while shooting. What Stuart wants to inquire about is whether or not it’s legal to record the conversations at the table. He decides that a written notice will be given to each customer when they enter the restaurant. each cameraman places a medium-range omnidirectional wireless microphone in the center of the table. he should be okay.
and the other three celebrities who weren’t necessary stuck around for the evening anyway. mingled around from table to table posing for pictures. Once again he takes my advice and figures out a way to make more money. had dinner. they still managed to get seven of the ten tables filled. but also giving them the good news that after dinner a DVD of their participation with the celebrity will be available for purchase. that’s not much. While walking back to the boat I can’t help but think how brilliant Stuart is for coming up with that celebrity charity dinner scheme. Although the first one last night didn’t have a full house. For someone who makes millions of dollars a year on a movie. a free gourmet dinner and a take-home prize of a five hundred dollar bottle of Patrón Burdeos. 61 . Nice. and went home with the unused bottle of Patrón Burdeos that was placed on their assigned table. That’s why I never feel guilty about billing him an hour for my time and also accepting a free lunch and margarita. but I wish I was famous enough to be invited as a celebrity lawyer – and got stuck with an empty table.microphone.
Children of the . I think she’s looking forward to seeing me lose in person.6 T he preliminary hearing is this afternoon. she’s made arrangements to drop the dog off in the courthouse at the Marshall’s office and they’ve agreed to dog-sit while we’re upstairs in the courtroom. and after much persuasion I finally gave in and agreed to let the kid come to court with me. Suzi has managed to find a way around the dog attendance problem. With all of her police friends who treat her as a mascot when she visits them at the nearby Szechwan restaurant once a month during their staff meetings. The toughest part about bringing her to court is the fact that she absolutely refuses to go anywhere without that huge beast of hers. I have yet to find a court that will allow a Saint Bernard to sit in the courtroom’s spectator seats. and for some strange reason.
“Did you get the autopsy report?” I tell him to sit down and relax because the Myra’s assistant will surely be handing us a copy of it when she offers it into evidence and calls the coroner to the stand. I still am never free from her influence. The judge enters the courtroom and we do the usual ‘all rise’ routine. so the dog serves a purpose to make that area kidfriendly. so she has decided to distance herself from me and will be in the back row of the room. In some past cases we’ve arranged to have Suzi sit next to me at the counsel table. 63 .prosecution’s witnesses also wait there while their parents are testifying. The bailiffs bring my client in and he can’t wait to ask me something. She has one of those new amazingly thin and light Apple Air laptops that has become like a part of her body. but this time she knows it’s a losing case. so she can send me a message if a brilliant idea pops into her mind. The case is called. then one of the bailiffs leads everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. because her notebook computer is networked to mine via a wireless connection. But no matter how far away she sits.
and both prosecution and defense counsel state our names and respective representations for the record. testifying to the same things. with the same types of witnesses being called in the same order. and while trying to give everyone a fair hearing.’ Because the parties involved in this particular case are alleged to be connected to organized crime. It’s almost like a hearing on autopilot. She probably wants everyone to think that it’s because of the importance of the case. Instead of calling the coroner to testify. If you’ve seen one prelim you’ve seen them all. Myra is handling the prosecution herself instead of assigning it to a calendar deputy. Surprisingly. but I have a suspicion that her main reason is to get a chance at beating me in court and bragging about it in the press conference that always happens to take place whenever she tries a case. He was a close friend of the guy who Myra beat out to become District Attorney. Myra starts out with the two cops who were on surveillance the night of the 64 . things are a little different this time. he still forces her prosecutors to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t. The only thing different this time is the judge.
so I’ve been sitting here making sure that everything that came in was done properly. Up to this point I haven’t asked any questions. what they saw. I don’t want to see my client bound over for trial without me saying anything at all in his defense. She even has some firemen come in to testify to the fact that the crime scene was burned to the ground as a result of the fire that started when the victim was shot and killed by my client. but when Myra tells the court that she ‘rests her case’ and sits down. There was no need to try and impeach the credibility of any of her witnesses. all of the prosecution’s testimony seemed to make sense. and how they videotaped the crime. the prosecution should have some responsibility to at least prove that the 65 . “Your Honor.murder. she has them testify as to where they were. but somehow I feel that in a charge of capital murder. and the video was informative. I have a feeling that something is missing. why they were there. Next. so I stand up and address the court. Step by step. and I certainly had no particular defense in mind. she has them authenticate the video and wheels in a large flat-screen plasma set to show the video to the judge.
“How about that Miss Prosecutor. “Your Honor.” The judge is a sharp cookie and doesn’t intend to let Myra get away with mere testimony and no hard evidence. but would the court feel it too much of an imposition for the defense to be provided with an autopsy report?” I look over to the prosecution table and notice that Myra is not looking at me. do you have an autopsy report to offer into evidence?” Myra stands up and makes a statement that’s one for the books. and also to corroborate the finding of the victim’s human remains. “I don’t want to sound picky. The judge looks down at her. because of some videotape. 66 .victim was dead – other than to let us imagine that he might be. with the court’s permission we would like to call two Los Angeles Fire Department inspectors back to the witness stand to testify to the fact that the building the crime took place in was burned to the ground.
. Your Honor. along with the Uniform Absence Act.. which both state that a presumption of death may be made in less than the usual period of years. we will.’ “Alright.. will you be able to present this court with any DNA or other tangible evidence that the remains your firemen witnesses recovered did actually belong to the victim?” “Not exactly. as this court is in session. if it can be shown that at the time of the victim’s disappearance. Your Honor. then in that case. so that any positive answers wouldn’t be available during the statutory time before the defendant must be brought to trial.“Miss Prosecutor. making application to the Probate 67 . if the court will allow us a continuance beyond the statutory time limit. DNA test results can take several weeks to be processed. we would like the court to take judicial notice of the Specific Peril Doctrine.” The judge isn’t buying her lame attempt and cuts her off mid-sentence with a denial of her hint at any continuance. “We are right now. However. Myra obviously has a Plan ‘B. a copy of which is being given to your bailiff. there was a condition of peril. As you probably know.
He doesn’t appreciate the District Attorney giving him a homework assignment. the prosecution must not only establish that the victim is dead. we appreciate the fact that the Probate Court can issue a Death Certificate.” The judge doesn’t look too happy with this argument. 68 . This procedure should be completed well before the trial starts and we will present that documentation to this court at that time. He looks down at me and obviously wants me to do his heavy lifting.Department of the Superior Court to obtain a determination that the victim is in fact dead. but according to our reading of Section 194 of the California Penal Code. “How about it Mister Sharp? Do you have anything to say about the prosecution’s argument?” I’ve been thinking about it while Myra was talking. “Your Honor. and I may have a slim chance to poke some holes in her pitch. and to have a Death Certificate issued. and as a direct result of the act of the defendant. especially with the fact that he’s been handed a lot of paperwork to read. but that the death be timely.
and there is a message waiting there fore me from her: “I got nothing..” During the few seconds of silence after my desperate argument.” How’s that for backup? She’s decided to leave me hanging in the wind. or if the victim died as a result of the fire. it’s probably best to end my misery as soon as possible. I stand up again. there is no way to determine whether or not any other person was on the premises who could have committed the crime. and not from being shot. we would strongly urge the court to find that there has neither been a sufficient showing that the victim is dead or that if he is dead or that there is probable cause to believe that his death was the direct cause of the defendant’s acts.. I glance down at my laptop to see what words of wisdom the kid may have sent me to save this mess of a prelim. other than a videotape that purports to show the victim being shot. I know what you’re going to say.“In this case. Oh well. “Don’t bother Mister Sharp. but the judge cuts me off. This 69 . and one that we strongly object to. the prosecution may only be getting half way there – if her continuance is granted. “Therefore. and I agree with it. because even if she is able to show that the victim is dead.
so I am dismissing the charges and the defendant is free to go.court finds that at this point in time the prosecution has not sufficiently established a prima facie case or that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crime with which he is charged. 70 .
With that statement. the defendant got word that the prosecution was having trouble with the remains so Suzi probably suggested he request that ask about the autopsy report. but from what I’ve just seen. I must have heard the judge correctly. the jail grapevine must have been working overtime. he was wearing some street clothes that a friend of his brought to the holding area for him to change into. She must really be mad because as she passes by Suzi. Somehow. I didn’t think my argument would do any good. My client was not in the orange jail jumpsuit.7 don’t believe what I just heard. Instead. I . but because my client is making a bee-line for the courtroom’s back exit door and the bailiffs aren’t shooting at him. I look over towards the prosecution table and feel some daggers flying at me as Myra heads for the door. as was Suzi. they don’t even look at each other. he bangs his gavel down to let Myra know that she shouldn’t waste her time standing up to argue.
maybe it does. so I’m meeting him over at the Cheesecake Factory. Come to think of it. so I’ve got his customary iced tea waiting for him when he arrives. That’s probably because he thinks all the credit belongs to him. and now 73 . and can’t wait to tell me the new developments at his dinner events. I feel that I owe Stuart a lunch. it sounds like representatives of the celebrities are very sensitive about their clients mingling with ‘regular’ people not involved in the entertainment business. One of their concerns is about lawsuits if any woman dinner participant is missing something from her purse. The one thing that didn’t surprise me was the fact that my client didn’t even thank me as he made his exit from the courtroom. but this time I may actually believe what I was trying to get the court to believe. along with Suzi’s suggestion. so maybe I’ll get some celebrity gossip.The thing that really bothers me is that now I don’t even know if the alleged victim is dead. Well. From what he says. I’ve heard the phrase ‘target defendant’ before. He’s his usual jolly self when he sits down. Stuart doesn’t drink. He’s had time to do another charity dinner or two by now. I’m used to making good arguments. at least this case is over. And good riddance.
and so were their agents.realize how situations. publicists and hangers-on. but if any dinner patron even thought that something was missing. managers. and the publicists would be willing to pay to have the story go away. creating a permanent record of who did what at each table. in the rare event that something went missing or any inappropriate ‘touching. The celebrities were happy to hear about the extra ‘secret’ cameras. There would be no sound recording. so no privacy issues come into play. the mere fact that a major celebrity was also sitting at the same table would be fodder for the tabloids.’ either real or imagined is alleged. The only other new development was that each of the 74 . Stuart and Theo were forced to hurriedly purchase ten compact consumer camcorders and have them installed so that each one of the ten banquet tables was under constant supervision. and a two-hour cassette in each camera should be enough to last for the entire dinner period. lawyers. it can apply in real-life Nobody believes that a celebrity would stoop so low as to lift someone’s personal property out of a purse left on the table. In an effort to protect themselves and the celebrities.
They just can’t seem to understand that a child can be intelligent enough to see through the inane questions 75 . because the kid received perfect scores on her previous exams. and the school board can’t figure out how she does it. but since I never really know what she’s up to. From what I’ve been told. Stuart called Chris Shaffer at Patrón. they be given a full bottle of Patrón Burdeos to take home as a souvenir – sort of a ‘gift bag’ these spoiled brats are used to getting wherever they go. so I’m hoping Myra has had a chance to cool down a bit and will spend tomorrow morning with us. that doesn’t surprise me.celebrities requested that after the dinner. and arrangements were made to meet the celebrity extortion demands. so in their infinite ignorance they now demand that they watch while she takes the tests. the school board thought she must be cheating. I’ve never seen a teacher around here. Suzi is home schooled. ---------My disastrous prelim victory was over a week ago. She still gets perfect scores. Last year we received a notice that she would be required to go downtown to the school board’s head offices to take her quarterly progress tests in a proctored setting.
that a group of dull-normal adults have created. There’s always some talk about requiring that home-schooled kids have their tutors certified. but because Suzi already is required to take her tests downtown in proctored settings and gets perfect scores. She’s still a little disappointed at the results of our prelim. for lunch. there always seems to be a place set aside for us to eat at while Bernie spends some time outside at a nearby newsstand enjoying a bowl of the Pantry’s famous coleslaw. a classic old restaurant on Ninth and Figueroa. so after we finish our scenic ride on Venice Boulevard all that way to downtown. but has gotten over it enough to at 76 . Suzi made the arrangements to meet Myra. I think we’re probably immune from that political firestorm. The downside to the testing requirements is that we have to go downtown: the upside is that Myra usually joins us and after the test we go to the Pantry. It’s usually packed there but when the District Attorney’s office calls ahead to let them know that their chief executive will be there at noon. we pick up Myra in front of the Criminal Courts Building and the climate in my Hummer gets a little bit chillier.
and if we can establish that the remains were those of the victim. I wish we had the funding to do our own lab workups. He could’ve saved himself a year in jail and a couple of million defense dollars if he would have just waived time.least be cordial with Suzi. Too bad it’s too late for O.” “Listen Peter. If you want to drag that hitman into court again you’ll have to get another patsy to act as his lawyer. My court-appointed duties ended when the judge banged his gavel down to shut you up.” “Thanks for the tip. because your lab 77 . “Peter.s in Virginia and Florida. It was the stupid labs we send our stuff out to for DNA analysis.” “That’s fine with me. kid. Miss Prosecutor. because he’s not my client anymore. I’ve been talking to a couple of D. You’re not that good of a lawyer. I know the dismissal wasn’t your fault. Simpson. where they’ve set up their own labs and cut the analysis time down to a day or two for rush jobs.J.A. The only thing she says to me is. we’re going to re-file the case and send some uniforms to pick up your client. we’ll be getting those DNA results back today. For the life of me. I can’t understand why it takes two weeks to get the results back.
78 . Suzi and beast are in the foreward stateroom and I am planning my strategy to ask out a court reporter named Carolyn that I met at the courthouse. Suzi aced her tests. and we are now back at the boat. because he’s already proven his lack of reliability when it comes to keeping his end of an agreement. so before he was able to get out the back door of that courtroom my guys were on his tail. but now it’s time to get to the next step: dinner.” Notwithstanding the relationship between prosecutor and defense attorney being a little more strained than usual. waiting for trial. and all the delay did is give him an extra week or so of freedom. We knew your guy was guilty. he’ll be right back where he started – in a cell. And I won’t be so receptive to making a deal with him the next time around. When we re-file the case and pick him up.” “It’s not that easy Peter. We’ve had lunch before. We know exactly where he is. the dog ate his coleslaw and was photographed doing his Brown Baron routine by at least two hundred onlookers. the day went quite well. and he’d of had to win on something other than the incompetency of your office and the judge.wouldn’t have been able to get their DNA results in time for his trial.
You’re back in jail. I’ll do whatever I can for you. Got it?” More silence. and we stare at each other. let’s get something straight. I’m not going to say anything this time. This is going to be a short interview.8 t didn’t work. so I’m now sitting in the County Jail waiting for my client to be brought in. he requested my representation. “Okay Zellini. sits down. but don’t expect either side to rely on any promises you make or believe whatever you say. He comes in. I . Zellini was picked up again. the prosecutor has her DNA results and the Probate Court’s death certificate. and we’re going back in for another arraignment. It’s his turn to talk. Almost a long minute goes by and it looks like he’s not going to say anything. because in our minds your credibility is zero. I’ll have to blink this time. the District Attorney agreed that I would be the best choice to represent him and convinced the judge to re-appoint me.
If I could get Myra and the kid to work with me like Peterson meshed with bass and guitar played by Ray Brown and Herb Ellis.“I’ll take that as a yes. By the time I get back to the boat Zellini’s already called to tell Suzi that he wants us to continue his arraignment for two days so that we can have our own autopsy done on the victim’s remains. in his 1958 concert appearance at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver. and then back again.” Zellini didn’t say a word to me. we would be as unstoppable a trio as Oscar’s was. We’ve arranged to have the arraignment tomorrow afternoon. Suzi called Myra. so nothing you say in court will surprise me. The song they’re playing is Tenderly. Canada. It’s all arranged. I’m not even thinking about the case. so whatever you want to offer up as a plea is fine with me. 81 . I don’t even want to know what you’ll be pleading. I’m now on my way back to the boat and for the first time after a jailhouse interview. and Myra called the court. hard-driving swing. The only thing on my mind now is the CD I’m listening to and Oscar Peterson’s segue from ballad to soft. I am not happy with this.
and he’s making arrangements to pick up the remains.” All right. First of all. “I’ve also called Victor. This is probably another trick he’s picked up from some jailhouse lawyer. and all I have to do is provide them with my private bank information so that they can start the wire transfer of my winnings. There’s no preparation necessary on Zellini’s case. let her have some fun. we all got blindsided. We can’t trust him to waive time. should he have a change of heart. If the kid wants to spend our billable time and the court’s money on this wild goosechase. so I might as well check my private inbox to see what new wonderful items are waiting for me. I did play it for Myra. How can you possibly believe what he says. I got his permission to record our conversation and allow it to be played to the prosecution and the judge. Violá! I’ve won the lottery! A message has come in that I have won a half-million dollars in the Swedish Lottery. I’ve got better things to do. 82 .” “Relax Peter. and she went along with the arraignment delay.“Are you nuts? The last time we depended on this guy.
But who am I to question the wisdom of foreign governments when it comes to finances? The interesting thing about this award notification is that is guarantees that I will not be asked for any fees at all for the processing of my winnings: all they want is my bank info. but it wasn’t last night. Anyone who gives out their private bank information to collect winnings on a lottery they never purchased a ticket for and never even heard of probably deserves whatever happens to their bank account. I’m almost tempted to visit our bank. ---------The criminal trial calendar must really be jammed up because once again we’re having Zellini’s arraignment in a courtroom 83 . I may have been born at night.I’ve heard of an Irish Lottery. and it’s worth it for me to lose five bucks to cost them fifty. It will cost them about fifty dollars in bank charges to arrange for the wire transfer when they try to clean out my bank account. and then provide that account information to the alleged lottery people. but never a Swedish one. open up a new account and then draw everything out of it but five dollars.
“Counselor.where a civil trial is being conducted. From the tail end of the arguments I’ve heard. but in the divorce settlement. And as for the manner you’re accustomed to. I find out that my hunch was right. Her lawyer is telling the judge that the husband in this case is a multi-millionaire who can easily afford that amount. When she makes her ruling. high-maintenance wife of two years. she’s asking for twenty grand a month in alimony. This looks like the tail end of a divorce matter between a very rich businessman and his young. and this will keep his client living “in the manner she has been accustomed to. I’m a Superior Court judge. She looks down at the divorcee and gives her ruling. I live very nicely and don’t even make half of what you’re asking for. she was a waitress who got lucky and married into money. When waiting on tables she earned about three thousand a month. I’m arrived a little early so it will be a good chance to sit in the spectator seats and watch some other guys battle it out in front of the judge.” The judge looks like a no-nonsense female. and I have a hunch she’s not buying the big alimony argument. it looks to 84 .
85 .. You should be able to get along quite nicely on three thousand a month in alimony. That was the amount you reported as total monthly income when you were working.. I think it would be nice for your ex-husband to give you a little going-away gift of the new Mercedes you were driving during the marriage.. plus keeping up your car insurance and health insurance on his company policies until you get married again. before moving out to become a waitress and share an apartment with two other women. “Look at it this way: your cup was about ten percent full before you got married. a lifestyle that you were never accustomed to during the thirty plus years you lived in a modest apartment with your parents.me like you struck gold when marrying this man and were lucky enough to have been drawn into a nice lifestyle for almost two years.. to about fifteen percent full. and after the brief marriage I will be lowering the level back a bit. which will give you twice the amount you were receiving each month before you were married. so now you can go back to work and make the same amount. “And as for the fact that you are giving up a very nice lifestyle. it overflowed while you were married.
“Finally. and now that the main event is over. The judge leaves the bench for a short recess. Myra and her assistant are at their counsel table and Zellini is being led in by two guards. The wife’s lawyer also knows it’s a fair ruling. and continues.” The husband and his lawyer sit down and shut up. the spectator seats empty. but his client looks steamed up. to help you get started with a new apartment you will receive what I like to call a severance payment of twenty-five thousand dollars. confirms the fact that he waives time. Too bad. Fifteen minutes later the room is all set for the second act of the morning. They know a good deal when it comes their way. because getting off the hook for that quarter of a million dollars a year she was going for is a pretty good deal for you. I wouldn’t object to this ruling if I were you gentlemen. He has nothing to say to me and I’m not looking forward to 86 . Zellini’s arraignment goes much smoother than it did the last time.” The judge looks down at the husband and his attorney. He enters a plea of not guilty and when asked.
and wants me to take a look at the back door of his building. Getting closer. Stuart is outside in the parking lot waiting for me. I seem to remember Stuart complaining about some break-ins at his San Fernando Valley office/warehouse complex over the past few months. I see what looks like a freshly painted sign posted on the door. I’ll buy stock in his corporation. As we near the rear exit. We exchange nods as he is taken away and I meet Myra’s assistant at the clerk’s counter to set a date for his prelim next week. that’s in both English and Spanish. I read the wording: DANGER: THE INSIDE OF THIS BUILDING IS PATROLLED BY SILENT GUARD SNAKES. because it’ll be like inventing a new mousetrap and the sales should be great. If he can figure out a way to stop burglaries. ---------Stuart called earlier today. 87 . so I’m now leaving the courthouse parking garage and heading for Van Nuys. so I’ll bet that he’s come up with some new type of alarm that scares the bad guys away. wanting me to stop by his warehouse to see his latest invention.any conversation with him.
Are you kidding? You’ve got snakes crawling around in there at night? What do they do if they catch a burglar. he thinks too much. What the heck is a silent guard snake? Snakes don’t talk. “The average low-life trying to get in here is probably not educated and is lucky if he 88 . Am I supposed to believe that you’ve got these snakes trained to protect your property?” “Alas. and this is another one of them. “I don’t know what to say. hoping to break in and grab something you can sell to buy some drugs.I look over toward Stuart and he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat. can they dial 911? And what do you do with them in the daytime? Have you hired a snake wrangler? “Wait a minute. Peter. Questions that took some thinking to come up with – and you’re not some stupid burglar standing here in the dark with a flashlight in his hands. what do you think?” There have been very few times in my life when I was caught without something to say. Stu. And that’s the point. “Well. poor Peter. You’ve raised a lot of good questions.
. “There aren’t any snakes inside my building. but it works. informing people that all snakes have been properly trained and attended to by the OGSA. which stands for Official Guard Snake Association. there will be an official-looking logo at the bottom of each one. He’s not going to ask himself the questions that you raised. 89 . providers of guard snakes to industry nationwide. The sign’s a bluff. On the sign that I’m having printed up for distribution. Nobody can turn lemons into lemonade like Stuart can.. I’ll break in somewhere else. In the last couple of weeks it been up on the door I haven’t had one burglary attempt.’ And that’s the purpose of the sign.can read this sign at all. he’s only smart enough to have one thought: ‘the hell with this place.” He did it again. This sign is doing such a good job that I’ve formed a phony group to back up the phony sign: the OGSA.
My client’s hopes are unjustifiably high today because he’s not wearing his orange jail jumpsuit and instead has on some T . The courtroom is populated with the same lawyers. and I’m looking forward to getting together with her again today. same defendant. which once again is linked to my assistant sitting in the back row of the spectator seats. Another familiar face is Carolyn. and the same reporters.9 his case is a lot like starting to watch an old movie and then half way through remembering that you’ve already seen it. the court reporter. unless a last minute message comes in to my computer. One thing different for this repeat performance prelim is that there are some extra news crews out in the hallway. just in case some miracle happens and I win again – which is extremely unlikely. We had a brief conversation and went to lunch the last couple of times I was in this courtroom. same judge and court personnel.
which 91 . so there are no surprises today. We stand up. They probably went upstairs to have lunch in her office. After we both stand up and announce our representations. Myra and Suzi disappear through the door that leads to a private hallway behind the courtrooms that is reserved for judges.street clothes that one of his friends must have brought to the lockup for him to change into. and bigshots like Myra. and the case is called. The last time he dressed like this for court he walked out a free man. the judge comes in. court personnel. Myra starts all over again. but Myra is obviously taking no chances this time around. and some paperwork from the Probate Court declaring the victim legally dead. That seems a little like overkill once the DNA evidence is in. we do the pledge of allegiance. with only two additional items of evidence on the prosecution’s side: the DNA report on the victim’s remains. I’m afraid that this time he’s going to have to change back into the orange outfit in a little while. This is almost an identical rerun of the last prelim. Her string of witnesses is also the same. When lunchtime comes around.
and I don’t have to be pressing the buttons on some mystical little machine that makes a record of everything being said. how to rebut it. By touching one or more keys. including numerals. A skilled shorthand reporter can handle sustained speech at the rate of four words per second. and that’s a lot faster than most people speak. which means 240 words per minute.. And I mean everything. so we decide to go upstairs to the cafeteria for a quick bite. but it has only 22 keys. but when she explained that this new model automatically translates her 92 . because it gives me a chance to talk to the court reporter.. It’s tough enough for me to follow what a person is saying in court while at the same time trying to figure out how it impacts on my case and if so. The last time we had a chance to take a coffee break she explained her machine to me.doesn’t bother me at all. Lucky for me she doesn’t have any plans for lunch today. the reporter captures the sounds of words in a phonetic code with each line of characters representing one sound. At first I thought it was a little strange that she keeps bringing her stenotype machine to lunch. It’s known as a stenotype machine and looks a little like a small typewriter.
When we went out of the courthouse for lunch the first time. I don’t care if she’s white. because there’s always a catch – and this time it’s her: she’s a vegetarian. and costs almost five-thousand dollars. No problem. It takes a lot to make me draw the line that I don’t like to see someone cross. or any of the other shades that people come in. but vegetarianism is about as close to standing on that line as it gets. but nothing this good can ever happen for me. we seem to have a little chemistry together. keeps a paper record.keystrokes into plain English. and she’s got a nice personality. The kicker was when I suggested we go to my favorite steakhouse for dinner and she 93 . she seemed quite normal to me. yellow. brown. a lot of people like to avoid foods that contain cholesterol. she had a nice Cobb salad. Another time. Up to that point. or anything else that makes her happy. Jew. black. I now understand why she hangs onto it. We’re both interested in the law. I’m not a prejudice person. displays the words on a small screen. we ate at a Mexican place and she ordered a rice and beans burrito. Mormon. She can be a Catholic. Protestant. but asked them to hold the bacon.
We skip the pledge of allegiance and announcing of representation for the afternoon session and Myra picks up where she left off. and most of them don’t even speak English. onion rings. and she doesn’t eat red meat. I learn that she also doesn’t eat fried food. refried beans. And to make matters worse. ---------Lunch is over and it’s time to get back to business. which includes French fries. but this romance is just not meant to be. a good candidate to be my next ex-wife. She saved the videotape for last. Everyone is back in their places.” It was like getting stabbed right in the heart. Here she was. Sorry. probably to have it as the last thing in the judge’s mind before he binds my client over for trial in the Superior Court.uttered the type of phrase that made the cattle industry sue Oprah Winfrey several years back: “I don’t eat red meat. I’m more compatible with Myra and Laverne. 94 . and all the other staples I crave that make up my normal food groups. I get along better with the staff at the Happy Ending Massage Parlor. after a little more cross-examination.
Once the People rests its case. so I start out with one the firemen who removed the victim’s remains. My main interest is about how much flesh remained on the victim. Looking back down at my screen I read the new message and make note of the questions she suggests that I ask some of Myra’s witnesses. The judge reminds each one that he’s still under oath.” This answer didn’t phase most of us at all. His answer was quite graphic. he was a crispy critter. and I only have one question for him: “did you find any bullets or fragments in the victim’s remains?” 95 . “Not very much at all. I turn around and look towards the back of the room where she’s sitting and see that Victor has just come in and is handing her some paperwork. By the time we got to him. I tell the judge that we would like to call a few of the prosecution witnesses back to the stand. because we’ve heard it many times when burn victims have been described in court.Just before the video ends I see that the kid is sending me a message. My next witness is the medical examiner.
It’s no problem establishing him as an expert witness because the court is quite familiar with him.His answer was “no. he distinctly remembers the victim clutching at his chest. I ask him the same question I asked the previous witnesses about flesh on the remains. after X-Raying the remains. for both defense teams and the prosecutor’s office. My next witness is Victor. He repeats his previous testimony and at my prompting. This agrees with the videotape that Myra played. and his answer is the same as theirs. showing the victim doing exactly what this policeman says he did. His answer comes as a complete surprise to everyone in the courtroom – including me: “Yes. He’s testified many times in this building. we discovered that there were two bullets 96 . The main difference between Victor’s testimony and that of the medical examiner and fireman is when I ask him if he found any bullet fragments in the remains.” and he explains that there wasn’t enough flesh remaining to hold any bullet fragments. accentuates the fact that when being shot. Next to the stand is one of the policemen who ran into the victim’s loft and saw the defendant fire two shots.
” There’s an uproar in the courtroom. 97 . and that they were most certainly the cause of death. and if she didn’t do that she’s out of luck. and the uproar that had almost died down picks up again. Myra dashes out of the private courtroom exit. Myra is shouting that her office didn’t get a chance to look at the autopsy results. demanding that the case be dismissed because the prosecution could not show that the victim died as a result of the chest wounds. but was killed by two shots to the head. the judge is inclined to agree with me.lodged in the victim’s skull. Amazingly. and he tosses the case. most probably after he survived the first two chest wound and tried to escape the fire. Everyone is in shock. in a successful attempt to evade the reporters. as the defendant once again makes his usual beeline out the back door of the courtroom. I’m also on my feet. Once she’s gone the courtroom empties as the reporters rush out to the news vans to file their reports in time to be edited and shown on the early evening news shows. but the judge is denying her objection and telling her that she had ample opportunity to send one of her own people to observe the procedure.
even the national new programs have picked up on today’s events with their stories about a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who won his case in court.After a few minutes.” 98 . the only one left other than court personnel is the kid. defending a man charged in the “Crispy Critter Caper. That evening. so she and I exchange confused glances and make our way out of the room and down to the Marshall’s office. to pick up the dog and head back to the boat.
who understandably doesn’t want to celebrate our getting Zellini off again. If my client didn’t kill the crispy critter. I guess the judge was justified in tossing the case. but without Myra being able to explain them away. I have no doubt that Victor is correct about the bullets in the skull. Suzi is throwing us a dinner party this evening and all of our regular guests will be joining us with the exception of Myra. I not happy to know there’s a murderer out there walking free. Maybe it was my client and maybe it was someone else. Just because he’s supposed to be a professional contract killer doesn’t mean he should automatically be considered guilty. Suzi is pleased because the fifteen-hour minimum she extracted applied to both time I represented Zellini. then who did? Somewhere out there is a person who got away with murder. but as far as I’m concerned this case is officially over. so our firm billed the county for six grand. To celebrate our victory and justice’s loss.10 M aybe he was innocent after all. .
The dinner went quite well. I knew that sooner later all the guys there would be wanting to spend some time meeting privately with Suzi. and we we’re now walking down the dock to her houseboat to relax. hanging fringed Tiffany lamps and beaded divider to the aft stateroom where the bed is. bid everyone there a good evening. I see that she brought what was left of her box of wine. The only thing keeping you grounded in this century here is the large ornate oak 101 . complete with red flocked wallpaper. It never ceases to amaze me how Laverne managed to fit a nineteenth-century brothel into a thirty-five-foot houseboat. The usual topics were covered. so I grab Laverne. With the two large circular portholes on the sides. it looks like a floating pleasure palace. but somehow she did it. I like thriftiness in a female. so when Stuart was asked to tell everyone about his charity events I thought it would be a good time for an escape. and it’s nice to be around a group of people who can have an intelligent discussion of those subjects without shouting or arguing. with everyone present all being acquainted with the other guests for some time now. including politics and religion. There were no strangers.
She immediately returned and flipped back to the reality show. That. because as gaudy as the décor here is. and her videotape library of reality shows. The first time I was on her houseboat there was another reality show playing.. it must pay nicely. along with her unique talent for interior design. I still don’t know what she does for a living.. but we seem to get along fine during my visits here once or twice a month. her fondness for box wine. and Laverne’s a lot more geographically desirable – and less expensive. you can tell that it’s created from top-quality materials. because it’s either Laverne. but whatever it is. admonishing me to please not change the channel again because she’s videotaping the show. paints a rather strange and hollow picture.television console with a reality show playing on it. There are only three things I know about Laverne: her sexual appetite. 102 . or the Happy Ending Massage Parlor across Washington Boulevard. When she left the room for a minute I changed the channel. in Venice. I really shouldn’t complain.
the California voters passed Proposition 69. To my amazement.” “Really? Laverne. “Oh.Until the wine kicks in. formerly alive client. she had an opinion on that. And not only an opinion. This evening we started talking about my recent. I guess it’s just my fascination with anything that has that particular number in its title. we usually have a nice conversation. How did you happen to know about that law? I’d heard about it. “You know.” She blushes and turns a little redder than the wine has already made her. you constantly surprise me. which provided for the collection and database of DNA samples from all felons and certain other arrestees charged with specific crimes. but you certainly sound conversant with it. and I commented that it would be nice if we had a good databank of DNA samples.” 103 . She’s not as dumb as she appears. but some facts to back it up. I think it was 2004. and actually surprises me once in a while with some blurb of wisdom. back a few years. Peter.
The rest of the evening is relaxing. and I find the usual dish of French toast out on the table waiting for me. and at one point I seem to remember us retiring to the aft stateroom. I notice the dog standing in front of me with a dogmail in his collar. has also refused to eat a piece of it. It’s a message to return Myra’s telephone call. whatever that might be. “Hello Peter. After my ritual half-hour of grooming and returning to full consciousness. so I dial her private number. because not only am I not able to get a piece of it all the way down my throat. Being properly trained to follow instructions. have you finished showering Laverne off of you?” “Jealousy doesn’t become you Myra. I don’t know if it’s a reward for the night before or a punishment. but the Saint Bernard who is now stepping on the houseboat to fetch me. Laverne has already left for work. I toss on another article of clothing or two and follow the beast back to our own boat. What can I do for you today?” 104 . It’s now morning.
“You know. I have no dog in this fight.“It’s gift time again. so our pick-up team went out to get him and they should be getting back here pretty soon. I’ve been re-thinking the case and believe there’s a better way to proceed with it. I’ve got a whole new game plan.” “And who would I be having the pleasure of representing today. Myra. One way or another I’ll spend my time in the courtroom and we’ll bill a couple of grand. or for your office.” “Thanks for the unsolicited advice Petey. but you’re not going to look too good if I win again. and that’s not a good image for you personally and politically. but we’re not going after him for murder this time. You have another client. “I agree that the guy is a dirt-bag that probably belongs behind bars. but once in a while you have to bite the bullet and let go of a case. 105 . pray tell?” “It’s the same one you had the last two times. it’s going to look like a personal vendetta on your part. when the public and the court sees that you’re trying a third time with the same charges and the same defendant.
I’m going to put you on hold for a sec. but not to a safe house. When our guys got to Zellini’s place they took him into custody. No need for you to make any plans to spend the money you’d be getting for defending Mister Zellini again. I’m back.” What other possible game plan could she be planning on this time? The only other thing I can think of is an attempted murder charge. I give up.Wait a minute our guys are coming in now. or the county jail. Sorry to keep you waiting Peter.” 106 . Where did they take my client this time?” “The morgue. for no fee at all?” “Not exactly.” “Okay. Miss Prosecutor? Will I be asked to do this case pro bono. “Okay. our offices.” “And why would that be.
My name is Collins. and the inquiries must be starting to come in now. because I believe everyone will die someday. This one reads: As you read this. because their favorite murder saying is “two in the head makes sure they’re dead.11 M ark up a loss for me and a victory for justice. Word must have spread throughout the world as to what a wonderful person I am. but his being that way will probably wind up saving quite a few lives in the future. E. I’m sorry to hear that Zellini is dead.” At least I’d like to think it was a mob hit. I don't want you to feel sorry for me. ala Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies. Paul. that might mean that there’s another Paul Kersey loose out there. I check my private email account and see that a dying man needs my help and is willing to pay for it. With a little time to spare now. From what Myra tells me he was found with two small caliber bullet wounds in his skull. This sure smells like a mob hit. I am a British Citizen and also an oil merchant that . because if it wasn’t.
We still have that program in Suzi’s crime-fighting computer. It’s either an incoming dogmail or I’m going to be blessed with a visit by the kid. I hear the pitter patter of paws. and it looks like she’s coming into our salon to make a report. It’s the kid. win in court. When hearing about these new customers 109 . I wonder why his email account is located in Japan? Could this possibly be another fraud attempt? I’ll refer him to the electronics dealer in Nigeria: he sounds like a really nice guy who would be glad to help another fraud spammer out. How nice. I need your help and will pay you 20% for the work. hoping to catch someone on the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list. and collect a big reward. A British citizen living in London needs my help. From what she says. It has to do with a facial recognition software program that we used a couple of cases ago to help us nail some bad guys. come back for more details.is living presently in London. and to pass the time between cases she’s apparently been using it to scan the video footage from Stuart’s dinner parties. Stuart must have told her about the unsavory characters that occasionally occupy one of the unused celebrity tables – the one near the kitchen – and Suzi’s been scanning their faces in.
she’s getting ready to notify the authorities in Nevada so that they can send a fugitive team to pick the guy up. They’ll be charitable if it buys them some respect or gives them a chance to hobnob with people classier than they are. Suzi failed to snare any ‘Mister Big’ with her facial recognitions software. Naturally. it might be for an unpaid parking ticket that the guy forgot about. First of all. for failure to make a court appearance. I can’t help but think back to the story that Stuart’s friend Maury told us about the drug kingpins in Colombia. Unfortunately. It seems that mob guys are the same all over the world.at the restaurant. and how charitable they are. If you call in the cops. being the little fink that she is. you have no idea what that the underlying charge is on that outstanding warrant. I have to say something about this terrible idea. but did happen to discover that one of the people at the table one evening has an outstanding warrant in Nevada. the first thing they’ll do is subpoena Stuart’s records to find out the name of every person who reserved a table in the restaurant for the past couple of months. “No way. 110 . For all we know.
and I’d hate to see you shut that all down just for some guy who may have forgotten to pay a parking ticket. But if it’s a serious felony. I’m going to talk to Myra about doing something as discretely as possible to find that person and bring him to justice. so first I’ll use my law enforcement contacts to find out what the underlying charge is. they’ll want to start interview Stuart’s customers to try and find out who knows that guy they’re looking for. “Okay.“Next. If it’s not a felony. “I understand that they’re regularly raising hundreds of thousands of dollars that are going to charity. I can almost hear the gears whirring in her head. hopefully without damaging Stuart’s enterprise. The crisis has been temporarily averted. Now I can get back to something really important – my 111 .” She thinks about it for a minute. I’m going to do Stuart a favor and not even mention to him how close he just came to being shoved off a cliff. I don’t want to stop the charity or hurt Stuart. then maybe we’ll just let it slide.” Good. and that type of publicity and inconvenience will completely shut down Stuart’s entire charity event business. your point is well taken.
. you’ve brought my client back to life?” “Not exactly Petey. not your client’s fingerprints. The fingerprints we found belong to the other victim. It’s his house..” “No. fresh fingerprints. We’ve gone over the apartment where your client was killed and lifted some interesting. He lives there.” “Don’t tell me. Before I can finish pressing her number on my speed-dial. “You must be psychic. the guy your client was charged with killing. It’s Myra calling.” “Wow.. you idiot.” “Myra. the victim’s.” 112 .other career as an international supplier of electronics equipment. I was just dialing your number to tell you about a gift I’m going to give you. but close.. what a coincidence. my cell phone rings. I’m calling to give you a gift.. of course the victim’s fingerprints are there..
“Peter. who spoke to the judge. The mere fact that this guy is still alive means that your former client is completely absolved of murdering him. but because of our overflow of live criminals. I still love to see a little egg on it once in a while. and now she’s brought him back from the grave. I call her again and she recognizes my number on her caller ID. filing charges posthumously against the dead ones drops down on our priority list. There’s no way I can see clear to represent a guy who another client was accused of killing. the matter is closed. so that he would be dead enough to support a murder charge during two preliminary hearings that she ultimately lost.12 s pretty as Myra’s face is. First she identifies my client’s remains with DNA evidence and then gets the probate court to declare him legally dead and issue a death certificate. There’s no sense trying to weasel out of this. Life is good. I’ve already talked to our conflicts advisor. A . If he was still alive there might still be an Attempted Murder charge waiting in the wings.
“And as for how he happened to request you as a lawyer.” An email just came in from Suzi. because if you would have been given more time and gotten your stuff together. She checked out the warrant info in Nevada and found out that the underlying crime was passing a bad check for less than ninety dollars. I think the judge did you a favor by throwing it out when he did.” “I disagree Myra. I’m glad she came to that conclusion. He doesn’t realize that his real hero is that incompetent judge who threw our case out at both of the prelims. but if what I’ve heard about some fed-looking types writing down license plates in Stuart’s 114 . Per our discussion. You know in your heart that any other judge with a brain would have given us a little time to get our paperwork together. maybe he reads the papers and saw what a great job you did for the guy who tried to kill him. well. she’s not going to do anything that would embarrass or inconvenience Stuart in his charity business. how do you think you’d look at the trial when my investigator would waltz the live victim into the courthouse? That’s a press conference I’d really like to see you give.
the better I feel. As much as I hate to see anyone upset his applecart.restaurant parking lot. He looks at me a little confused. I’m now entering the visiting area to see my new client. “The reason I don’t want you to say anything is because if I’m going to properly defend you. his end might be in sight soon anyway. I hold my finger up to my lips. indicating to him that I don’t want him to say a word. but follows my instruction and sits down quietly. When he’s brought into the attorney interview. I’ve never talked to a dead person before. so this is a first for me. I’d feel a lot better knowing that I didn’t have anything to do with it. They must have been having some meetings about that bad check passer. and he usually winds up in conference in the Suzi enclave at one time or another during his visit. because Stuart’s been invited as part of our little dinner group several times over the past couple of weeks. Having officially picked up my appointment from the judge’s clerk. I may want to put you on the 115 . They also exchange small packages whenever he’s here. but the less I know about what’s going on with her devious plans.
. which means that there are certain things I don’t want you to tell me. anywhere in the country?” He nods no. I didn’t give ‘em my name. and if I do. they didn’t stick me with no needles. They didn’t get nuthin outa me. That’s why I shut you up when you came in here.” 116 .... “Good.” “Have you ever been arrested for a felony before. the first thing I want to hear from you is exactly what you’ve said to the authorities since the minute you were arrested. I been around a long time. I don’t want to suborn perjury. I gave ‘em yours. Did you give them your name or anything else?” “Nah. I told ‘em I wasn’t sayin’ nuthin without that lawyer. your identity. I know they fingerprinted you during the booking process. “For instance. making all the fingerprint and DNA evidence useless in identification efforts. Did they get a DNA sample?” “Nah. I know the drill. That’s what I wanted to hear. Now.witness stand at trial. The best hitmen are guys who aren’t in the system. because I don’t want to hear the answers from you. That sounds reasonable.
By touching one or more keys. And I mean everything. including numerals. It’s known as a stenotype machine and looks a little like a small typewriter. but it has only 22 keys.“They don’t use needles for a DNA sample. and if they put him in a cell with anyone else he shouldn’t tell anyone his real name and should instead say that people call him Lazarus. The last time we had a chance to take a coffee break she explained her machine to me. It’s almost lunch time now. and I don’t have to be pressing the buttons on some mystical little machine that makes a record of everything being said. It’s tough enough for me to follow what a person is saying in court while at the same time trying to figure out how it impacts on my case and if so. how to rebut it. Did they ask you to open your mouth so that they could use a cotton swab stick inside your cheek?” Good. They didn’t get a DNA sample. I reminded him not to talk to anyone about his case.. the reporter captures the sounds of words in a phonetic 117 . so maybe I can connect with my favorite court reporter today. but I’ll consider it a lucky break. The interview went well.. I don’t know why they didn’t.
and she’s got a nice personality. Protestant. I’m not a prejudice person. which means 240 words per minute. I now understand why she hangs onto it. She can be a Catholic. Jew. At first I thought it was a little strange that she left her purse in the courtroom. displays the words on a small screen. or any of the other shades that people come in. we seem to have a little chemistry together. and that’s a lot faster than most people speak. but because nothing this good can ever happens for me. or anything else that makes her happy. A skilled shorthand reporter can handle sustained speech at the rate of four words per second. yellow. and cost almost five-thousand dollars.code with each line of characters representing one sound. black. Mormon. keeps a paper record. but brought her stenotype machine with to the cafeteria. brown. there’s always a catch: she’s a vegetarian. I don’t care if she’s white. It takes a lot to make me draw the line that I don’t like to see someone cross. We’re both interested in the law. When she explained that this new model she has automatically translates her keystrokes into plain English. but vegetarianism is about as close to standing on that line as it gets. 118 .
a lot of people like to avoid foods that contain cholesterol. The kicker was when I suggested we go to my favorite steakhouse for dinner and she uttered the type of phrase that made the cattle industry sue Oprah Winfrey several years back: “I don’t eat red meat. she seemed quite normal to me. but this romance is just not meant to be. Sorry. Another time. I get along better with the staff at the Happy Ending Massage Parlor. she had a nice Cobb salad. onion rings. which includes French fries. but asked them to hold the bacon. we ate at a Mexican place and she ordered a rice and beans burrito. I’m more compatible with Myra and Laverne. after a little more cross-examination. And to make matters worse.When we went out of the courthouse for lunch one time. Here she was. No problem. Up to that point. and all the other staples I crave.” It was like getting stabbed right in the heart. a good candidate to be the next ex Mrs. and most of them don’t even speak English. and she doesn’t eat red meat. 119 . Sharp. refried beans. I learned that she also doesn’t eat fried food.
but if Pasquino isn’t in the system. deduct a twenty percent processing fee.13 S trangely enough. but it’ll sure make the record books. I seem to feel a defense strategy coming on for our Mister Lazarus. If they have no way to match his DNA or fingerprints with anyone in the system. who is identified as Gino Pasquino on the complaint that Myra’s office filed. Hmmm. deposit their funds. I see that I’ve got a new message on my private email account: it’s a job offer. if she somehow manages to link Pasquino as being the guy was shot on the video. I can drive her crazy with the defense that her indictment is fatally flawed on its face because it accuses a man legally dead with committing murder. customers. then how did Myra find him? His fingerprints were lifted from the crime scene where my previous client was killed. how did they know who he was or where to pick him up? In the alternative. and remit the balance to my client in the . All I have to do is receive and process payments from U.S. It may not work.
This sounds like a sweet deal. they probably work on the ‘million monkeys’ principle that says: if you put a million monkeys on computer keyboards. which neighbors Nigeria and is about sixty miles west of Lagos.. They say that their account receivable payments average around eight thousand. they’ll just figure I found out the check was a bouncer and they’ll go on to the next sucker.country of Benin. I’m just one of their monkeys. and to send them a cashier’s check for the balance as soon as I deposit the incoming funds. the Gettysburg Address is their receipt of 121 .S. one of them might come up with the Gettysburg Address. so I won’t even waste my time depositing it. If they don’t get funds from me within a day or so of my receiving the phony check. Of course they want me to keep this arrangement confidential. so I immediately agree to do it. and of course I agree to that also. so I can look forward to making at least fifteen hundred on each payment I process. and to them. I know in my heart that if and when a check ever comes in that it will be either phony or forged. If they send out millions of offers like this to people all over the U.
it appears that Pasquino’s prints were in the system because back in the 90’s he applied to the insurance commissioner’s office for a bail bondsman’s license. At least now I know how Myra found him. I expected to see a packed courtroom for the prelim. so his preliminary hearing is this morning and the press has already been buzzing about the Crispy Critter being brought back to life. and the bailiffs spent most of yesterday afternoon verifying press credentials and passing out admission slip to today’s hearing. He’s in custody and refused to waive time. I’ve had a brief conversation or two with Myra instead of formal discovery motions. and I’m not disappointed.’ ---------Pasquino’s arraignment last week went smoothly. because he doesn’t have any prior arrest record. and from what she told me. They’re even seated in the non-used jury box. They were also able to match his prints with those on the silverware at his residence that was picked up by the catering company who delivered those 122 .my cashier’s check for eighty percent of a check that is a guaranteed ‘bouncer.
We were provided with copies of the surveillance videotapes covering the full four days prior to Zellini’s entrance and Suzi immediately began to categorize every person that appeared on the tapes. The only information I could get out of Myra was that they received an anonymous tip about some criminal activity taking place at Pasquino’s address. and how he got out of the building. The other question that I can’t get an answer to is how Pasquino survived the shots fired into his chest. so his credibility seemed good enough to warrant the surveillance team’s setting up in a vacant office across the street. but that it doesn’t make any difference if he was the guy in the building or not: he’s the guy they are prosecuting for the murder of Zellini. The informant mentioned some information that had not been released to the public. while it was under surveillance. 123 . and the mysterious informant said that activity was linked to some past unsolved crimes.heated dinners to his loft. The one thing that doesn’t seem to compute is why he was under surveillance to begin with. and whether or not he was shot recently is irrelevant to her case. Myra claims that she doesn’t have those answers either.
This time Myra won’t be having any difficulty establishing that a crime has been committed. 124 . she’s actually got a dead to work with now. because unlike the other times. I can’t remember seeing anyone with this much hair on his head: from far away it looks like he’s wearing a helmet. making it difficult to see his entire face. The judge calls the case and both prosecution and defense counsel do our routine standing and announcing our respective representations for the record. I hear the buzzer signal on the clerk’s desk. you can see his full head of long black hair and his goatee. who then starts the ritual of telling people to rise. telling her that the judge is about to come out and take the bench. announcing the name of the entering judge. leading the pledge of allegiance.In the videotape. Her first witnesses are the coroner and then the two-man team of cops she sent out to arrest the victim. the victim was wearing what looked like a panama hat. making him quite a distinctive looking guy. and then telling us to be seated. In person and without a hat. and found him dead. She motions to the head bailiff.
and there were only two sets: the victim’s and my client’s. because they show the prints as a fourteen-point match.Her CSI testifies next as to the fingerprints found at the scene of the crime. it is claimed that the defendant is legally dead. “At this time we would ask the court to dismiss the present case on the grounds that the prosecution is attempting to use alternative pleading. so I can save some time by asking him to take judicial notice of the same documents that Myra had introduced into evidence during those Zellini prelims. I can think of only one way to go. When Myra rests her case. on the two dates specified in our affidavit just handed to your bailiff and to the prosecution. they have drawn up a 125 . we are asking the court to recognize the fact that this defendant has been declared dead by this jurisdiction’s Probate Court. but at the same time. This is the same judge that heard the Zellini prelims and threw them both out. Said paperwork was used by the prosecution in this very courtroom in a previous case. and a death warrant was issued. “Your Honor. which pretty close to being as positive as you can get. I don’t even waste my time cross examining the lab tech. On the one hand.
stammering. but the judge shuts her up. ready to tear into my argument with a passion I never knew she had.formal complaint charging the dead person with committing a capital crime.” Myra stands up. “Miss District Attorney. because I do not intend to continue this case and keep this defendant in custody while you correct your paperwork. you should have finished straightening out your mess before you made an arrest.” 126 . we ask the court to dismiss this case. Mr. You’ve had the last week to do that. If the prosecution wishes to go back to the Probate Court and have this defendant brought back to life. The defendant is hereby freed from custody. But in the meantime. we contend that they can’t have it both ways. Pasquino can’t be dead and alive at the same time. I really don’t care what you say at this point. I feel I have no other choice but to accept Mister Sharp’s argument and dismiss this case. “Therefore. they can re-file their case and we’ll take it from there. and if you thought it would have taken longer. “Because of this alternative pleading.
but the free publicity is priceless. 127 . and with these guys. Myra disappeared out the judge’s exit door about as fast as Pasquino got out of the courtroom. We might only bill a thousand or two for this case. and the case is over. leaving me as the last person available for the reporters. who were all furiously tapping on their laptops and phoning in their stories. I should have known something like this would happen. I’m being guided from reporter to reporter. spending a few minutes doing an oncamera interview with each. because he was wearing street clothes when he was brought in earlier. I should know by now that it’s a sign that they intend to be walking out free men. with a reporter in each corner of the room being interviewed on camera with everything being beamed outside to the news vans equipped with satellite transmission dishes. I was looking over to Myra and didn’t even notice that my client made a hasty exit out the back door of the courtroom. and the entire courtroom is now like a studio soundstage.The gavel banged down. Camera crews out in the hallway rushed in as soon as the judge left the bench.
I don’t know if she’ll go for it. because a table like that would ordinarily cost over twenty-five thousand dollars. who was instrumental in getting his boss J. and all of our food is on the house. he won’t have to donate a bottle of Burdeos for the table – Stuart will buy one.. because I wouldn’t trust those guys to get an order placed correctly at any place other than one where chopsticks was the main method of shoveling food into your mouth. Stuart is one of our regular dinner crowd and tonight he extends a gracious invitation to us.I don’t get back to the boat until after six.. and she had the Asian boys bring us a gourmet meal that they picked up a Jerry’s Deli.P. where he will have a special ten-person table reserved for us. That’s a nice invite. 128 . and if Mister Dijoria and his wife Eloise will join us for dinner. He’s very appreciative of the fact that I introduced him to Chris Shaffer. but I’m calling Myra to ask her to join us. I’m sure that Suzi did the ordering. She recognizes my number. but the kid was watching everything on television. Dijoria to donate those very expensive bottles of Patrón Burdeos for the celebrity dinners. He wants to have us all join him next Wednesday evening for dinner.
How do you know that the dinner you’re accepting isn’t at the club in Maui this weekend?” “Because.” “I know who it is.“I accept. I’ll see you there at eight next Wednesday.. right after she invited Stuart to your boat for dinner this evening. please dress nicely. They’ll be sitting on the sidelines with the agents and bodyguards. that won’t be necessary. you moron. You caught me by surprise..” 129 . I accept your dinner invitation.. and Peter. because it’s been so long since you’ve said yes to me for anything. Should I make arrangements to swing by your place on the way?” “No. What should I wear? Is it formal?” “You’ll have to take that up with Suzi and Stuart. Suzi told me about the invite about two hours ago.” “Well excuuuse me. I’ve already made arrangements to have my press secretary and some others to also be in attendance.” “This is Peter. I don’t want to be embarrassed by you.
Chris Shaffer called the boat to let us know that he and his girlfriend will be joining us. I don’t care. with his wife Eloise. the ghoul. All of our friends will be there at the table with us and I’ll finally get a chance to meet the mysterious billionaire J. will also be there. the food will be free. Well. and that his boss J. and we’ll be surrounded by cops and robbers. but to each his own. DiJoria that I’ve heard so much about. It will be interesting to see how Myra and Victor interact during dinner because she keeps referring to him as a grave-robber.P.P. that’ll make up a full ten people. joining us. and celebrities. I’ll have to make sure that they’re seated next to each other.’ I agree that doing choosing autopsies for a career might be a little out of the mainstream mindset. This is an 130 . With Stuart sitting at our table and Jack B. The only thing I can think of that might be going on is some devious plan that the kid has dreamed up to get some chemistry going again between the District Attorney and the defense lawyer who keeps beating her in court. or ‘your friend.This is too easy. It’s going to be a fun evening. the food will be good. I must be missing something. whatever the reason is.
evening I’m looking forward to. she’ll be refiling the case against him and I’ve been given the heads-up to expect a telephone call to represent him again. at which time she’ll be bringing the formerly dead Gino Pasquino back to life. Once that’s done. 131 . Myra just called. there will be absolutely nothing discussed that even remotely resembles a legal case. and if I have anything to say about it. She arranged to have an emergency session with the presiding judge of the Superior Court’s Probate Department.
Once inside the restaurant the dog is ushered to Theo’s private office. because they’d have to say whose Hummer was entering the exclusive restaurant for dinner. complete with Doggles.. but we decided to use my big yellow Hummer instead.. I have a feeling that it’s the kid and the dog they were paying most of their attention to. but they stayed focused on us walking into the restaurant. as long as the law firm gets mentioned. And we were right. Not only did every camera focus on the Hummer as we very slowly pulled through the parking lot’s gates. we thought that the sight of Bernie. doing his Brown Baron act through my sunroof along. where he . with my personalized PTR SHRP license plate would make for a perfect camera subject and break the boring video of tinted-window limos. but that’s okay with me. When we heard that the press would be out in force that evening shooting video of all the incoming guests’ limos.The Dinner S tuart generously offered to provide us with limousine service to the dinner. It would also be great publicity for our law firm.
The rest of the dinner guests are usually seated by seven. with a thick velvet rope separating the two 133 . but he told us that he wanted us there at half past seven. The ten round charity dinner tables are all in the center of the place. I now see what Stuart was talking about when he described the layout of the place. That probably explains why there were so many camera crews in the parking lot. but I sure enjoy all the special attention. Stuart told us that a lot of preparation was being done for tonight’s dinner.will spend the next few hours relaxing on a big soft couch while munching on some meaty bones. That would give everyone else a chance to get seated and allow us to make our grand entrance. I don’t know what all the fuss is about our coming to dinner is. on the large dancing floor. He didn’t elaborate. because some extra special guests would be at one of the tables. This is the second time I’ve been inside this restaurant: the first time was several years ago for some judge’s retirement dinner. but I would guess it’s probably some politicians. All around the center portion of the big room is a one-step elevated ring of tables set up for parties of two or four people.
Another surprise is the exchange between Suzi and J. Seated at our table in the celebrity chair is Chris Shaffer’s boss. At the small tables nearest the kitchen. An attractive short-haired blonde woman is sitting and chatting with some men in the ‘cheap seats’ and seeing us coming in. J. some men look vaguely familiar.” This is starting to look like what might turn out to be an interesting evening.” What’s that all about? Did I miss something? Do they actually know each other? The only thing I can imagine is that 134 . wearing a blonde wig and sunglasses. she’s now walking over to our big table. DiJoria and his wife Eloise. it’s quite possible that I’ll see some people I recognize. Seated at the tables are the agents and other hangers-on who depend on the celebrities for their income. As she gets closer I’m amazed to see that it’s Myra.. but taking into consideration the fact that the place is probably full of lawyers and judges. She walks over to me and whispers in my ear. “Hello John Paul. He looks down at her and says “Hello Suzi. I’ll explain later. along with Chris Shaffer and his date.sections..P. “don’t say anything.” She looks up at him and says.P.
our table is completely filled up now. so the celebrity is seated with a woman on each side of him 135 .P. and J. I’d say it was an apt description. walking over from the bar to join us.they must have met at the Szechwan restaurant near the boat one afternoon. They’re all impeccably dressed and with the exception of one bald guy that looks like Telly Savalas. This must be what Stuart referred to as the ‘mob’ table. on their way to the salad-mixing station next to each table. Here come Victor and Jack B. Suzi usually hangs out there during the lunch hour when all the local cops come in. It looks like a Sopranos reunion at the Bada Bing Club. and from the looks of those guys. must have been a customer one day. Along with Stuart. the rest of them are probably carrying a combined weight of about twenty pounds of concealed weapons and two pounds of hair pomade. I stand up to greet them and happen to glance towards the kitchen as the doors fly open and a group of waiters come out. While looking in that direction I can’t help but notice the end table with all men seated there. I also see that Stuart and his partner Theo have done an interesting job of arranging the seating at the other tables. Almost all of the guests are couples.
with Myra at my side. so it wasn’t.P. and don’t worry about Suzi. The same arrangement has been done at our table. Trust me on this one. A plain invitation for a nice dinner was too good to be true. no guilty people to discover. and no opportunity for her to take over a courtroom and get 136 . She must have felt deprived with our recent cases. Up to now she’s enjoyed becoming a celebrity by staging grand finales to many of our cases that usually end up in riotous courtroom scenes where she reveals the guilty people so that Myra and her gang can make arrests. I’m seated next to Suzi.” I knew it. in the celebrity seat: his wife Eloise is on side of him and Suzi on the other side. with J.and successive seats alternate between male and female guests. because all she’s had a chance to participate in are some court appointed arraignments and preliminary hearings that I’ve won on legal technicalities. I want you to keep you mouth shut and stay in your seat. While the waiters are mixing the Caesars Salads. “whatever happens here tonight. Something big has been planned and Suzi’s probably behind it all. There have been no mysteries for her to solve. Myra pulls me over closer and whispers in my ear.
During this glance I see her nodding at Suzi and see the kid nodding back at her. and keep looking at her every time I think she won’t notice it. stands next to J. and whispers something in his ear. along with a Patrón Burdeos margarita. I hope that whatever happens here tonight doesn’t take place until I’ve had a chance to dig into the prime rib they’re serving. 137 . where they move the star from one part of the table to another after each course. After she leaves that table and heads for the next table. the celebrity at the table she just left is calling all the people at his table to lean forward so that he can tell them something. This gives each of the patrons a chance to be close to their table’s celebrity for photo ops. The only motion I’ve noticed up to now other than waiters running around is the musical chair arrangements at the celebrity tables.interviewed by the press. because we’ve already finished our soup and salad courses and are now halfway through the main course. like a secret he’d like to impart. Now Suzi gets up. and it’s still quiet and uneventful. So far it looks like I’ve been unjustifiably anxious. He nods in acknowledgment and Suzi then goes to the next table and nods something into that celebrity’s ear. I can’t seem to take my eyes off of Myra.P.
Once the mob guys have all been led outside.. time to stand up for a minute. She speaks a little louder to them.. all the men seated at the mob table stand up. closely followed by another group of men sitting in the nearby cheap seats who are extremely husky and don’t appear to have any necks. when we sit down again and the dessert cart is brought out. everyone at all the other tables also stands up and Myra makes an announcement at our table. At the same time. and I see a half dozen LAPD bomb squad guys dressed in their big bulky safety uniforms run into the kitchen. After about a minute of conversation.Suzi goes from table to table. with their bulky equipment removed. doing the same at each table. but I can’t hear her from here. another half-dozen uniformed cops lead all the mob guys out of the restaurant. and at the same time. I’ll explain everything to you in just a minute. the bomb squad guys. Suzi runs back to our table. from celebrity to celebrity. When the mob guys stand up.” Now everyone in the restaurant is standing. “Okay everyone. all 138 . as she works her way to the last table near the kitchen – the mob table.
and everyone is eating their selected dessert as if nothing has happened. along with a continuous series of flashbulbs going off. with the more than one hundred people in the restaurant all in on it. All the action now seems to be going on outside the restaurant and I can see through the small tinted windows that there are flashing emergency lights on. I can’t remember the last time I was so confused and at a loss for words. while using her other hand to exchange a high-five with Suzi. Suzi and J.come casually walking out of the kitchen with smiles on their faces and carrying plates of food. The sit down at the now empty mob table and start to eat. Myra pulls off her blonde wig and sunglasses and then digs into her dessert. I’d think that this whole thing was a surprise party thrown for me. We’re now seated again.P. The rest of the people in the restaurant also sit down and start to make their selections from the pastry carts that were wheeled out of the kitchen immediately behind the exiting bomb squad crew. If I didn’t know better. are having a heated discussion about hair care products. but it may have also been when I 139 . I can also hear sirens as the flashing light bars on the vehicles pull off into the distance.
it was at our wedding. remember. Oh yeah. but what does it have to do with not clueing me in on the plan?” 140 . “First of all Peter.” “Fine. What really was going on was a mass arrest of a bunch of mob guys and their henchmen. When she comes back to our table she asks me to join her at the bar for a moment.was next to Myra. I can understand that. regardless of your seeing the bomb squad guys coming into the restaurant. there was never any bomb threat and Suzi was not in any danger being close to the kitchen. now I Now that the bedlam has died down and everyone is through with their dessert.. When we get to the bar Myra apologizes for not including me in all the plans and starts to explain what went on and why I wasn’t told about it in advance. There’s no need to excuse ourselves because the rest of the people at our table are standing around talking to people from the other tables about the evening’s events. Myra and Suzi are over in another area of the restaurant being interviewed by all the local news stations that showed up in the parking lot..
” “What are you talking about? I saw who was sitting at that table.” “Very funny. you would probably have wanted to make an offer to surrender him to us in open court. But what did Suzi have to do with the whole thing?” 141 . If you would have known we were going to arrest him. He stands out like a sore thumb.” “I know he does. I wore the wig and glasses and he changed too. He had his head waxed. and my client was nowhere near that table or with the no-neck thugs nearby in the cheap seats.” “Oh yeah? How did he change?” “Did you see the guys sitting at that table? Did you remember the chrome-dome that looked like Yul Brynner? Well that was your client. That’s why we both changed our appearances.. and that would throw off our plans to get all of his associates this evening. and so do I.“Because your client Pasquino was one of the people arrested. Gino Pasquino. If he was there I would have spotted him a mile away. with that full head of long black hair and goatee. and we didn’t want to create a conflict between your duty to him and our plans..
“Everything. along with the facial recognition software on her computer. She was using the footage from Stuart’s security camera that was trained on that particular table. The only way she would give us the information we needed was if we allowed her to have a starring role. we made arrangements to move the celebrity leeches away from that part of the restaurant and filled all the cheap seats near the mob table with our guys. That. When we decided to let her take center stage. She’s the one who discovered that Pasquino was joining the guys at that table once a week for dinner.” 142 . You know what a precocious little brat your step-daughter is. many of whom have outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions for everything from passing bad checks in Nevada to serious felonies in New Jersey. They had their eye on her. and she gave us all the information we needed to set up this whole bust. but what idiot approved any plan that allowed a twelve year old kid to go to that table and speak to those criminals?” “We had no choice.” “I know she can be a great help to law enforcement with her computer skills. discovered your client’s new appearance and identified everyone else at the table. and were no farther than ten or fifteen feet away at all times.
a bomb squad crew would be running into the restaurant. She provided you with helpful information and did her usual routine of playing the lead in the finale. and they were instructed to all stand up when the bomb squad entered the restaurant. In it. the restaurant was being completely evacuated because of a bomb threat. but what did she say to everyone that got them to play along like they did?” “There were two sets of dialogue: one for the celebrity tables and one for the mob table. They were told that when the people at the table to be evacuated stood up. that they were all to stand up also.“Fine. where they 143 . “The dialogue for the mob table was that in another minute or so. At each celebrity table she explained that in a few minutes there would be a hidden camera crew filming a scene for a major motion picture. and one of the other tables would be evacuated for safety. and then follow the uniformed police out of the restaurant and into a bomb-proof security van. to give the actors a feeling that the scene was real. The celebrities and agents were all assured that no footage would be shot of anyone at their table – only the table that was involved in the production would be on camera.
the van was driven downtown so that they could all be booked. Why arrest everyone at the table? Did she have information about the others at the table too?” “You bet. The only reason Suzi whispered into J. Actually it was a prisoner van that was painted with bomb squad lettering. why didn’t you just go and arrest him? There was no need to allow yourselves to be blackmailed into letting her run this whole show. all the other tables followed their cue. Once all the mobsters were in it. “When the bomb squad came running into the place and went into the kitchen.’s ear was because she wanted it to look like she was giving the same instruction to people at every table.P. At that time. and they stood up too. If all that Suzi gave you was information that my client changed his appearance and was having dinner her. the mob guys all stood up. so there was no explanation necessary.would all be driven past the press and out of harm’s way. Remember those extra security cameras that Stuart had installed at the request of the celebrities’ representatives? 144 . Everyone at our table was aware of the plan. “Any more questions?” “Yeah.
I get it. which didn’t require a warrant because it wasn’t done by the authorities and was a surprise benefit and unintended consequence. It also is giving us some leads into phony medical clinics that are abusing medical. by the way. I’m going to be up half the night processing paperwork for the major bust this evening. That dialogue being recorded.How about the centerpiece omni-directional microphones that the videographers placed on each of the tables? Well. And oh. it so happens that each of those extra security cameras had a wireless pick-up in it that operated on the same frequency as the microphones. but I really must be going. Your apology for not keeping me in the loop is accepted.” 145 . Why don’t we stay here at the bar for a little while now and celebrate your victory with a couple of margaritas?” “I’d love to Petey. massage parlors and nail salons. what happened tonight was nothing compared to another surprise I’ve got for you. and it also picked up the conversation at the mob table. will be admissible in court and give us the evidence we needed to bust the racketeer-influenced criminal organization that is getting its foothold in several southern California businesses like garbage removal.” “All right.
“Suzi. because it’s the official page for this person’s fund-raising efforts for an upcoming election.” 146 . I saw the video that the cops shot when I was at Myra’s for lunch on the weekend before the court appointed you and had a hunch that the victim would still be alive after the shooting. so I might as well try to get some more questions answered. Suzi was in her glory and hobnobbed with all the celebrities in attendance. some of which had heard of my exploits. She still appears to be in a good mood during our ride back to the boat. I got to meet a lot of interesting people there. because we’ve got plenty in our account these days. Not only did I get a free. All in all. she turns it over to show me a name written on the back of it: Maxine Patricia Laviarnet. delicious meal. expensive.” “You’re right Peter.As Myra hands me one of her business cards. why did you get me involved in those first two Zellini cases? I don’t think it was for the money. this was a great evening. She suggests that the next time I’m on the computer I should go to the website address written under the name.
” “That was good detective work kiddo. “There were no positive results of their search. so we sent copies of the DVD out to several body armor manufacturers.” 147 .“How could you possibly think that?” “When Victor watched the copy I made. looking for injuries from bullets or burns on any male that was treated. who was injured when the bullets hit his vest. along with info on the type of gun and ammunition that was used in the shooting. but I did find one man fitting the victim’s description that was treated for two broken ribs. and I concluded that it was the defendant. and they all confirmed our suspicions. fitting the victim’s description. he thought it was possible that the victim might have been wearing some body armor. “Myra’s office had sent a request out to all the surrounding hospital emergency rooms to provide her office with copies of their admission records for the evening of the shooting. but why did he happen to be sitting there having dinner and wearing body armor?” “Simple: he’s the one who ordered the hit on himself...
Why pay good money to have yourself killed if you don’t intend to really die?” “First of all Peter. “By tipping off the cops to lure then into a surveillance situation.“Whoa. you should know that he was also the one who phoned in the tip to Myra’s office that led to them putting the surveillance team in place. then luring Zellini into a trap while thinking he’s performing a paid hit. and Pasquino could be declared dead to the civilized world 148 . wait a minute. they could kill two birds with one stone: Zellini would probably be killed while shooting it out with the cops. “That information. and the victim had possibly been recognized while performing a recent contract. but they both had problems: Zellini wanted to retire from the business – which the mob absolutely didn’t want him to do. along with some of the conversation we picked up from the table at Stuart’s restaurant gave us a clue as to what was really going on. Incoming calls like that are all recorded and Victor’s voice recognition software compared it to the recording of his voice I made when he called our office one day so speak to you. “Pasquino and Zellini were both hit men.
The reason Myra got a DNA match with a hairbrush upstairs was because the victim was lured into being a house guest of Pasquino’s before the killing.” “Are you telling me that the mob planned the entire thing – the phony hit. all of it?” “Yes Peter. so they had to kill him later. But I’ll bet you that the bullets in that basement corpse’s skull match up with the gun that Pasquino was probably carrying when they arrested him at the restaurant. How do you know that the body they found in Pasquino’s basement was his last hit?” “I don’t – at least not yet. The only thing they forgot about was the real victim from Gino’s last contract killing.” “I see only one flaw in your reasoning. you’re finally getting it.and then be able to continue his work for the mob as a ghost.” 149 . the set-up. which was buried in the basement – with two bullets in the head. The only thing that went against their plans was that Zellini didn’t get killed shooting it out with the cops. “The fire was all a ruse to avoid them looking for his remains.
P. A picture appears on the screen that looks vaguely familiar. The internet page is not much different from others that I’ve seen: it appears to be the political fund-raising page for Judge Maxine Patricia Laviarnet. especially one that’s designed to raise funds or gather support for one election or another. etc. ---------Back at the boat I unwind a little from the evening’s events and then sit down in front of my computer. after checking my incoming email I go to the website written on Myra’s card. I have absolutely zero interest in anyone’s website. etc. including education. experience. It isn’t until I get to the link that offers a photo of the judge that I discover my surprise. I was happy to meet Chris’ boss J. We were probably deep in thought about the evening’s events.The rest of the way home I was as quiet as the dog.. but being a curious person. It’s a 150 . DiJoria. The background information is all there. The dog was happy to meet those prime rib bones. interests. who true to what Chris told me about him seems like a down-to-earth nice guy. currently acting as Presiding Judge of the Superior Court’s Probate Department.
Something about that face rings a bell. attractive. and then it hits me: Judge Maxine Patricia Laviarnet is non other than Laverne! 151 . but I can’t place it.slender. middle-age woman in her judicial robe...
I still can’t get over finding out that my boozy houseboat buddy is really a Superior Court judge.EPILOGUE W ith all that’s been going on during the past couple of weeks I really needed this vacation in Maui. Stuart’s Burglary Prevention Signs are selling quite well. and my bar tab at the LaHaina Yacht Club. From the advertising I see in some magazines and the bits of news I pick up from Suzi. I talked Suzi into keeping my court appointment fees separate from the firm’s money. but I can’t help but look at her in a different light now. and the seven thousand we got from the County easily paid for my first class round trip airfare to Maui. I haven’t let he know that I’m aware of her job. where they’re pouring my margaritas with Patrón Burdeos Tequila. but there’s now a two-month waiting list to get an expensive seat at one of his dinner tables. my room at the Pioneer Inn. Another victory. so our relationship is still intact. . Not only is he raising a ton of money for charity. and hi celebrity dinners have taken off like wildfire.
and thanks to the RICO statutes. Like all the other customers. 153 . but for some strange reason they usually make sure that there is no centerpiece on the table. but Suzi decided to stay out of the limelight this time. Stuart makes sure that only that one table by the kitchen is reserved for underworld customers. the seat remains empty at the table. so that if the customer doesn’t show up. I guess she’d rather let Myra make a target of herself. But she was right about Pasquino: the bullets found in that skull matched up with the gun he had on him when arrested at the restaurant. so she got a lot of great press coverage after the mob bust.Some mob guys still come there for dinner quite frequently. Myra gives good interview. Stuart operates a pay or play system: reservations are made and paid for in advance. his seat is still paid for and if he doesn’t send someone in his place. and insist that a big potted palm is placed between them and the security camera closest to their table. and they deem it a badge of honor to be able to get a reservation. his loft on the west side of town now belongs to Myra’s department and I hear from our boat’s grapevine that it’s being instrumental in several sting operations.
Suzi knew about the gang arrest that was going to take place at Stuart’s restaurant. I deposited it to our account.” From what Stuart tells me. also permission to be in the parking lot and videotape the police and FBI escorting almost a dozen mob bosses into a waiting van that was marked “Explosive Security. Suzi got a hundred grand for that exclusive. I was feeling good about the extra money until an email from Suzi came in: “Peter: a check for seven thousand dollars came in from some electronics company. wondering where his X-Boxes are. and when it cleared. Stuart and Jack B. I used those funds to pay for your vacation. and split the money between our office.” 154 .Jack B. sent me a thank-you note that was a pleasant surprise to receive. so she tipped off a tabloid magazine and sold them the exclusive photo rights and with Stuart’s help. And there is some man with a strange accent calling from Nigeria.
the author Chris Shaffer .Eloise & J.P DeJoria.
and a groundbreaking case of Negligent Nymphomania. double jeopardy. an adorable. and who framed him with the State Bar . that is in danger of burning up at any time. he discovers the secrets behind two murders. as the result of trying to help someone fill out some claim forms. 40-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser he’s restoring. To make matters worse. quiet (at least to Peter) ten-yearold Chinese girl and her huge Saint Bernard.The Peter Sharp Legal Mystery Series #1: Single Jeopardy Attorney Peter Sharp has been wrongfully suspended from the practice of law and thrown out of the house by his soon-to-be ex-wife. he gets arrested for conspiracy to defraud an insurance company. His alleged co-conspirator. poorly wired. a fatal plane crash. . As Peter fights to get his law license reinstated.all with the help of his legal ward Suzi. As a result of the eviction. he’s forced to live in their back yard on an old. a man charged with murdering his own wife to be with a beautiful flight attendant. Peter also gets involved in matters concerning sexual harassment. vexatious litigation. is about to discover that Peter is also sleeping with her while the man is out of town. a newly hired deputy district attorney.
While he’s preparing for trial on the murder case. but as usual.#2: …By Reason of Sanity In this second Adventure. Attorney Peter Sharp gets retained to defend a man accused of capital murder. . he confessed to the police. he’s wrong.all with the help of his legal ward. peeing pornographer. while Peter is involved representing Vinnie. the prolific. Peter is also hired to represent an insurance company. and makes the acquaintance of a new friend who runs a private autopsy business . To make matters even worse. In this adventure. the adorable twelve-year-old Suzi and her huge Saint Bernard. he also helps solve several bank robberies by leading the FBI to catch the entire gang. and he wants to plead guilty. The only things making this case a little harder to defend than most others are that the client’s acts were captured on videotape. to defend it against a man who slipped and fell while inside a bank that was coincidentally robbed later that same day. Peter thinks the case would have died when the claimant was murdered. the District Attorney’s office has brought in a special prosecutor for the trial: Peter’s ex-wife Myra.
Suzi miraculously manages to get ‘Bernie. her huge Saint Bernard.#3: A Class Action In this third Adventure of the series. who he has helped get elected to the office of District Attorney. Attorney Peter Sharp is retained to represent a man accused of murder. where she makes her first official court appearance. into a courtroom.000 miles away. and at the same time solves the mystery of a dead body found in his friend Stuart's automobile trunk. Peter cracks the case. and becomes a local television hero. all while falling for a lesbian lawyer. The client is also suspected of being part of a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States during an upcoming Fourth of July parade. With the assistance of his legal ward Suzi. breaking up a stolen car ring 4. and battling with his ex-wife. winning a Will contest. holds her first press conference.. In the adventure’s finale. identifies the real murderer. . by the planting of bombs in vehicles..
He soon learns whether she’s ‘Miss Right. one of which Peter gets arrested for. As he has done so many times in the past. a local police chief. .#4: “Conspiracy of Innocence” Suzi once again saves Peter’s case by finding the connection between two crimes that take place in different parts of the State.’ or ‘Miss Wrong.’ Peter’s ex-wife Myra must make the decision as to whether or not she should resign from prosecution of a case in which she may have a conflict of interest – Peter’s murder charge. revengeful drug dealers. Peter falls for a woman who he thinks could really ‘be the one’ this time. Everyone including Peter is sitting on the edge of their chairs as this double murder mystery comes to a shocking conclusion that involves a mafia hit man. and the ever-popular FBI.
District Attorney Myra makes a mistake when she subpoenas little Suzi to come and testify as a prosecution witness against the defendant. everyone knows that the District Attorney’s office will never subpoena Suzi again. he is a suspended police officer with a known dislike for people who are the color of his alleged victim. Tony has taught her how to help him re-load his target practice ammunition. Unfortunately. and also stumbles onto a group of people who are pirating DVD copies of recently released major motion pictures. He’s also the subject of many citizen complaints for using excessive force in the minority community. also giving the little girl a basic course in ballistics. Suzi’s friend Tony. uncovers a white supremist militant organization.’ represents a 500-pound phone-sex operator who is being discriminated against by her landlord. At Suzi’s request. Along the way. When a local black movie producer who Tony was working for gets killed. A dock neighbor of Peter’s. Peter once again gets involved with who he thinks might be ‘Miss Right. Peter’s ex-wife. is charged with murder.#5: …Until Proven Innocent Tony Edwards. Suzi talks Peter into handling Tony’s defense… which doesn’t look too good because he was arrested at the scene of the murder with his gun still smoking. After what Suzi does to solve the mystery and destroy Myra’s case in court. .
He also may be more closely involved with FBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Snell than before. and Stuart’s employees Vinnie and Olive – who are having some disagreement as to whether or not they’re legally married . One way or another each of Peter’s cases winds up being a conflict with his ex-wife Myra. Peter’s obtains video surveillance footage that establishes his client’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In lieu of his memory. and her big Saint Bernard.and last but not least. all involved continue to visit the local haunts. as they share a dangerous high-speed situation on a winding road.#6: The Common Law Peter Sharp encounters a client with amnesia. but who also has absolutely no recollection of the crime he is charged with committing. California… the vessel that Peter still doesn’t know how to drive. As in past adventures. who not only can’t tell Peter what his own name is. who is the county’s chief prosecutor. Jack Bibberman the investigator. including Peter’s close friend Stuart. . The usual crew also gets involved. The law firm is still operating from their 50foot Grand Banks trawler yacht in Marina del Rey. Suzi’s new friend Lotus and her mother also play an interesting part in this adventure as Peter finds that he is fighting a ring of credit-card fraud experts. Laverne the ‘amorous houseboat lady’. little Suzi B.
she must convince Peter to handle the case.#7: The Magician’s Legacy Little Suzi has decided that she wants to study magic in this eighth legal adventure she participates in. Her task is made difficult because all events took place in a secure ‘panic room. her teacher is the main suspect in what appears to be an ‘impossible’ crime… the shooting of a man in his completely locked ‘safe room.’ In order for Suzi to clear her magic teacher of liability for this crime. Unfortunately. and no windows. which he does under one condition: Suzi must help him by solving the mystery of this locked-room murder. Somehow. the alleged murderer is believed to have committed the crime and successfully escaped from a room that could only later be opened by a crew using blowtorches.’ with steel doors in place. . Suzi is especially motivated to solve this enigma when she learns that an attorney who she dislikes may be involved.
This is the second adventure that Peter and Suzi B. who all seem to have been infected at the same conference they attended. and every local state and Federal peace officer in California wants to locate her. but winds up getting stuck hearing a big criminal trial involving a devious attorney as the defendant… the same attorney Peter crossed swords with in a previous situation. Suspense enters the picture when Peter’s legal ward Suzi fails to appear as guest of honor at her own birthday party. .#8: The Reluctant Jurist There’s a mini flu epidemic going around in Los Angeles and it has especially taken its toll among Superior Court Judges in Santa Monica. have been involved where Suzi’s Saint Bernard may be partly responsible for a successful conclusion. Peter Sharp has been ‘drafted’ to fill in as a temporary judge for some civil matters.
Suzi won’t let go of this one. When Peter’s new romantic interest invites him to a cocktail party. Other guests at the party include the chief of police. and against everyone’s advice. who all unanimously conclude that the dead body they discover is the result of a suicide. . coming from their host’s study.#9: The Final Case Suzi dislikes a certain devious attorney who Peter keeps coming up against. and district attorney. Suzi and the other guests are shocked by a loud noise down the hall. Even Suzi is inclined to go along with their conclusion… until she learns that the devious attorney she dislikes may be involved in handling some legal matters for the deceased. mayor. she keeps working to prove her suspicions about that devious attorney and his connections to what Suzi believes must have been murder.
Suzi has failed to come up with any workable solution that can save Peter from certain defeat and humiliation in court. while Peter’s client’s trial nears. . attorney Peter Sharp and his legal ward Suzi must find where the truth lies. and also trying to locate the missing victim. a missing currency trader and a disappearing corpse. a battling married couple. Somewhere behind the tangled mess of a downward-spiraling celebrity starlet. Peter faces a double task: defending a person who is charged with murder.#10: an Element of Peril In this tenth Peter Sharp Legal Mystery. As in the past. who was allegedly killed in a completely locked room. You’ll be sitting on the edge of your chair as you see the courtroom drama that takes place during the last few minutes of the trial.
the word “alibi” literally means “somewhere else. it is an extremely valuable asset to have because it can mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction. However. because any good prosecutor knows that breaking an alibi and proving it was fraudulently concocted can lead a sure-thing conviction.#11: a Good Alibi In Latin. Peter is drawn into a role he never thought he’d be playing – that of a prosecutor.” and to any person charged with a crime. being brought in as for the singular purpose of trying to break a defendant’s apparently ‘airtight’ alibi. just having an alibi isn’t enough: it has to stand up to scrutiny. In this eleventh adventure of the Peter Sharp Legal Mysteries. .
#12: Legally Dead Nobody likes a killer. and don’t stop until the unexpected end of this twelfth of the Legal Mystery series. A plea bargain the defendant agreed to is already in place. . because any occasion to work with her is always a pleasure for him. but sometimes you have to put your personal feelings on hold when you’re a trained professional called upon to do a job. Peter agrees to the contemplated one-hour of work as a court-appointed defense attorney and makes the court appearance. But when the case is called. he finds it difficult to refuse her. The favor that District Attorney Myra asks is for Peter to represent a client in court who wants to plead guilty to a crime. When attorney Peter Sharp’s former wife Myra calls to ask a favor. the surprises start. during which time Peter gets his first opportunity to defend a dead person charged with murder.
com.com for details 168 .LegalMystery.All thirteen of the Peter Sharp Legal Mysteries are now available and can easily be ordered online from Amazon. The Series is also now available in eBook form. See http://www.
and Learning Sign Language. college. during which time he served as Dean of a small local law school. process server. where he also taught several classes. tire changer. He then spent 20 years as a trial lawyer.PeterSharpBooks. They are all fully described at www.About the Author Gene Grossman worked his way through high school. Gene writes aboard his yacht in Marina del Rey. saloon piano player and ‘extra. Buying Foreclosures. and law school as a shoe salesman. spot welder. Boating.’ appearing in seven motion pictures. yellow Hummer. and Laverne’s houseboat at www.com Now retired from the practice of law. The education company he started produced over fifty special interest DVD titles on numerous subjects like Bankruptcy. Suzi’s e-cart.magiclampdvds. bail bondsman. Real Estate Appraisal.com 169 . You can see pictures of Peter Sharp’s boats.
ME E TINGW M N O E A C o m pre h e n s iv e G u ide to A p pro a c h in g a n d B e c o m in g A c q u a in te d w ith N e w F e m a le s How to get into the PORNO Industry Dr. SINCLAIR. during. NICK SHOVEEN.D. Jr.D. Ph.Other books from WWW.MagicLampPress.com By EDWIN H. Ph. PUBLISH & PERISH the RELUCTANT JURIST the MAGICIAN’s LEGACY Before. and after the auction $ SECRETS TO PERSONAL SUCCESS PUBLISH & PERISH BUYING FORECLOSED PROPERTIES By Dr. Nick Shoveen. The FEMALE-to-ENGLISH DICTIONARY A GUIDE to MEETING WOMEN HOW TO BE A PORNO PRODUCER 170 .
magiclampdigital.By BARRY NEAL Get Started & Manage Your Comedy Career CRIME Its Cause and Treatment Magic Lamp Press also offers several classic books that are now available for your pleasure.com 171 . as well as the entire 10-book set of Peter Sharp Legal Mysteries are at: www. by Clarence Darrow the MAGICIAN’s LEGACY May Edginton Full details for all of these books.
and in Avalon. on Catalina Island.Pictures of the author working– in his Marina del Rey dinghy. 172 .
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