Authors: Alan M. Dershowitz
Charlie was even more frightened now. “You don’t know what it feels like to be crazy. When I stop taking the medicine, I’m
really out of control. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just want to die. I don’t want to feel like that.”
“It must be terrible,” Abe agreed. “Sadly, we’ve got no choice. You’ve got to stop taking the pills if you want to stay alive.”
Charlie looked at Abe tearfully. “I think I understand. If I don’t want
to kill me,” he said, pointing to the guard who was standing outside, “then I have to want to kill
Charlie understood. So did Abe and Justin—to the extent anyone could understand this theater of the absurd. It was a bizarre
twist in the macabre dance of death row justice.
Soon enough the interview was over. Before the guards took Charlie away, he gave Abe a thumbs-up sign. “You’re my man. Do
right by me, Mr. Ringel.”
“I’ll try, Charlie. I sure to God will try,” Abe said as he looked back at the man he had just condemned to a potentially
Back in the parking lot of the prison, Abe retrieved his portable cellular phone and called the office.
“Am I glad you called, Abe,” Gayle said, her voice crackling through the static. “Rendi is desperate to reach you
you see Joe.”
“Where is she?” Abe asked. Rendi, in addition to being Abe’s on-again-off-again lover, was also a top-notch investigator who
was working with them on the Campbell case.
“She’s waiting for you in front of Campbell’s apartment building. Figured she couldn’t miss you that way.”
“What does she have?”
“She doesn’t want me to talk about it on the cellular phone.”
“I thought we bought one of those secure ones—the kind that scramble.”
“We did. But still…”
“I don’t know. She’ll explain.”
“What’s up?” Justin asked as Abe pocketed his Motorola flip-top.
“We’re meeting Rendi in New York City.”
Justin could barely squelch a groan. “She couldn’t tell you what it was over the phone?” He hated when Abe included Rendi—a
nonlawyer—in their legal strategy, believing that it reflected Abe’s lack of faith in him. However, that wasn’t true in this
instance. Abe knew that his always hyper investigator had a feel for the hot buttons in any case. Whatever made her rush to
New York was guaranteed to be important. Rendi didn’t usually overreact.
“You know how I feel about Rendi’s instincts, Justin. We’ve been over this before.”
Justin closed his car window and sighed. “I know, I know, she’s an intuitive genius.”
“It’s true. Look, I don’t use her for legal maneuvers. That’s what I count on you for. But when it comes to understanding
people, Rendi is the best. The fact is Rendi can walk into a roomful of partying strangers and in seconds figure out who’s
having an affair with whom, who hates whom, who’s sucking up to whom, and who’s stabbing whom in the back. That’s intuition.
You can’t learn that in law school.”
“Listen, Abe, if we need mental CAT scans, I suggest we call Mass. General.”
Abe pinched Justin’s cheek playfully. “Come on, boychick, smile. We’ve got the hottest case in the country right now, and
we can’t lose it. So what have we got to worry about?”
“She just gets to me—”
“That’s Rendi’s stock in trade. That’s what we hire her for.”
Rendi was waiting for them, her jeans and pullover blending perfectly with the merchandise showcased in the window of the
Gap store that occupied the ground floor of Campbell’s apartment building. As Abe looked at Rendi from inside the car, he
reflected on the woman who had come to mean so much to all of his different lives.
He had first met Rendi ten years ago, and at the time he wouldn’t have been able to guess if she were twenty-eight or forty.
Dark-skinned, with a European face, she was a strange and mysterious woman of indeterminate ethnicity, culture, and age. “I
have no native language,” she was fond of saying, “because I have no home.” In fact, he knew Rendi spoke eleven languages,
each with a slight accent. It wasn’t until much later that Abe would discover she had been born in Algeria, moved to Israel
as a child, worked for the Mossad, where she’d acquired her skills as an investigator, and was closer to thirty-five than
For all his fascination, however, their relationship was a troubled one. Though Hannah had been dead for nine years, Abe still
felt a strong sense of guilt about his wife’s death. He and Rendi had engaged in a one-night foray a week or so before Hannah
had been killed in the crash. It had tortured Abe, who frequently indulged in the self-lacerating belief that Hannah might
have been distracted by her suspicions when she’d driven the car into the tree. The indiscretion had made both Abe and Rendi
feel so terrible that it had been several years before they could begin to explore their own feelings for each other. Even
now their relationship was rocky, and Abe had not yet been able to commit himself to her.
“Abe, look, a spot. Grab it.”
The reality of parking in Manhattan brought Abe back to the present as he backed the rental car into the metered space between
two trucks right in front of Campbell’s building on Broadway between Eighty-sixth and Eighty-seventh Streets.
“Let’s walk down to Zabar’s and grab a bagel,” Abe suggested, grabbing Rendi’s arm.
“Forget eating, Abe, you don’t have time.”
It was so like Rendi to rush headlong into a conversation that Abe had to suppress his smile. Every part of her lovely frame
was infused with nervous energy. In fact, it was impossible to relax around her. And the last thing Rendi ever wanted anyone
to do around her was relax.
Naturally Justin had to react. “What’s the matter, Rendi, the Campbell case isn’t making us crazy enough for you?”
Rendi ignored Justin and motioned the two men around the corner to Eighty-seventh Street.
“This won’t take long. I did not want to do this over the telephone. And I thought if you were going to see Campbell, you
might want to give him a sense of how urgent this matter is. So I brought you the original instead of faxing you a copy.”
She opened her attaché case and pulled out a piece of paper that Abe recognized as a printout of the police report.
“Listen to this. When I got this it read just like your basic report: ‘The complaining witness acknowledges that she initially
consented to perpetrator’s advances, including cunnilingus, blah, blah.’ Now listen: ‘Perpetrator then’—here’s the part that
got me—‘made reference to a sexual harassment complaint she had filed against a former boss, which involved oral sex.’ Then
the report goes on, ‘Witness insisted that perp stop and leave. Perp ignored her expressed lack of consent and proceeded to
“Here’s another little goody: ‘Small microabrasion on vagina consistent with forced intercourse according to examining Dr.
“Yeah, but that could be related to a few things,” Justin commented.
“Something’s not right here. You guys told me that Campbell had seemed surprised to learn about Jennifer Dowling’s sexual
harassment complaint when you told him after the game. Now it looks like he knew about it earlier.”
“There could be a few explanations,” Abe said. “My clients frequently hold information back for a while until they trust me.
It’s been my experience that criminal defendants—even innocent ones—often lie about details of the case that may be embarrassing
to them or that they believe may hurt their defense. Then when they see the hard evidence, they begin to get with the program.”
“Still, how would he know about it?” Justin asked. “Did she tell him?”
“And if she did tell him, why didn’t he tell us? And why did he cover up that he knew about it since that fact would help
him?” Rendi handed the report to Abe as she spoke.
“Maybe she’s not telling the truth,” Abe said.
“Abe, take the stars out of your eyes, at least for a minute,” Rendi cautioned. “Something’s not right. I have a funny feeling
about this report.”
“Funny feelings don’t usually make a good underpinning for a defense—or a prosecution.” Abe heard how caustic he sounded,
but he couldn’t help it. Rendi was always good at popping holes in his balloons—too good. “Listen, I really appreciate your
dashing down here like this. As usual, you’re right on the spot. Now, if we’re going to make that meeting before Campbell
leaves for Cleveland, Justin and I have to go. Where’s your car?”
“In a lot. You are paying my expenses.”
“I’ll walk you. Justin, wait for me here.”
They walked in step together, though Abe had to push it to keep up with Rendi’s brisk pace. Rendi seemed to grow slimmer and
taller as Abe thickened a bit around the middle. It was her discipline about working out, he was sure. “Listen, you know I’m
not going to let this slide, Rendi. I just don’t want to be confrontational. Campbell is a good client for us.”
They walked in silence. Rendi did not try to force the Campbell issue. She was quiet, which was unusual for her. In fact,
she seemed distracted. “What’s on your mind?” Abe asked.
“Nothing, really. You know… the Campbell case.”
nothing on your mind, Rendi. Now tell me the real reason you drove this report from Cambridge to New York.”
“I wanted to show it to you in person—and, I missed you.”
Abe was surprised. This was unlike Rendi, whom he considered to be without a vulnerable bone or soft streak in her limber
body. Rendi was all muscle and heat and courage.
“I haven’t seen you since you took on the Campbell case,” she went on.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s been two days.”
“Two days can be a long time or a short time, depending.”
“You sound like Haskel.”
“I consider that a great compliment.”
“It is.” He ruffled her hair. “I’ll see you tonight.”
When Abe returned to Justin, the younger man did not hide his annoyance at having been abandoned on the streets of New York.
Abe tried to mollify him: placing an arm around his shoulder, he asked Justin’s advice as to how to confront Campbell with
the apparent inconsistency. “I don’t want Campbell to think we’re calling him a liar. This is one client we don’t want to
lose. I’ve got to get him to trust us with the truth. An innocent defendant can really get hung out to dry if he starts prevaricating.”
“For a start, don’t use the word
with Joe. He strikes me as the kind of guy who would prefer to be called a liar than a prevaricator.”
“Well, I don’t think he’s either. He’s probably just scared.”
Joe greeted them at the door of his spacious penthouse apartment, which—to Abe’s surprise—was full of books, magazines, fine
lithographs on the wall, and classical CDs. Joe led them through the living room to a den that was dominated by a large computer,
with a laser printer, a modem/fax, and all sorts of programs and instruction books. It looked like the apartment of a young
assistant professor in Cambridge.
Campbell saw Abe’s look as he took in the room. “Surprised?” he asked, smiling. “Did you expect to see girlie pictures and
Abe was visibly embarrassed. “Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see an intellectual’s pad. You’re a more complex man than
“You can’t tell a man by his books and art, although I do read a lot, and I love to do research on my computer. You can find
out anything, you know,” Joe said, handing Abe a printout of about forty law cases. “This is your won-and-lost record over
the last ten years. Pretty impressive, especially if you discount the past few months.”
“It’s getting harder to win these days,” Abe said, then added casually, “Joe… before I forget, I’d like you to take a look
at this.” He handed Campbell the entire police report, so as not to alert him to his specific concern.
Joe read the report carefully, making some notes as he read. When he finished he said calmly: “There are some falsehoods in
this report, though a good deal of it appears to be accurate. I guess that rape is in the eye of the beholder. I didn’t force
myself on her, that’s clear to me. She did consent to cunnilingus. In fact, she invited it. I didn’t force her to do anything
against her will.”
Abe waited for Joe to mention the earlier harassment complaint. When he didn’t, he put the question directly. “What about
the harassment complaint? You didn’t indicate last night that you knew about it.”
“I did know about it, I just didn’t use it in the way the report says I did. She told me about her previous problems with
men, and I tried to be sympathetic. That’s when she got a little weird, but she never said no. To the contrary, she seemed
to want to get it over with, like I did. If that’s rape, then I’ve raped and been raped by several women over the years.”
“No, that’s not rape—at least not according to the law. My daughter’s feminism group may have a different idea, but legally
that’s just mutually lousy sex, which I bet you now wish you hadn’t gone through with.”
“You’re darn right. I can get all the lousy sex I want, every night of the week. Why would I endanger my freedom—my entire
career—to get more of something I have unlimited amounts of?”
“Not a very good defense, Joe,” Abe said, smiling. “Most of my guilty clients risk the things they have limited quantities
of—namely, their freedom and reputation—to get a little bit more of what they have unlimited amounts of, generally money.”
He was thinking of the dozens of wealthy clients he had represented who had risked, and sometimes experienced, imprisonment
for a couple of extra bucks. As Emma had put it when she’d heard about one rich client’s indictment: “Why did she have to
cheat people? Did she need yet another Porsche?” Somehow, Abe mused, people with everything seemed to have a psychological
compulsion for even more. It was a bizarre reality.
“To tell you the truth,” Joe continued, “I went through with it as much for her as for me. She took some emotional risks,
being as forward as she was. She actually propositioned me, though I would surely have asked her if she hadn’t. And she had
been through some tough times with that previous business. If I had said no, I really would have hurt her. Or at least that’s
what I thought at the time.”