Authors: Edwin Attella
Tags: #crime, #guns, #drugs, #violence, #police, #corruption, #prostitution, #attorney, #fight, #courtroom, #illegal
David glared across the room at the Assistant
District Attorney. ADA's didn't call cases, clerks called cases,
his glare seemed to say. Rick ignored him completely. I knew he was
doing me a favor. He knew I only had the one case left, and that
Baby Bear would let me stew until after the lunch recess. It was a
random act of kindness. Judge Farron just waved an exasperated hand
in the direction of the clerk
"Commonwealth vs. Ethel Footman," David
His Honor took the docket file and looked down
at it. He glanced up as the defendant approached the rail, and then
did a double-take. He glared at her, his one open eye squinting
down to a slit. One look at her and he could tell that something
wasn't right. But he'd also been around long enough to know that
she could be an ax murderer with a nice wardrobe and a sweet face.
He began pawing through the papers, looking for the police
"Your Honor," ADA Wall began, "the
Commonwealth moves to dismiss this ... "
"Shut up for a second, will ya?" Tommy barked.
''Where in Christ's sweet name is the god-damned police report!" He
turned to David. "Clerk Barrack, what kind of operation are you
people running back there? Did you ever think the judge might want
to see the police report in a case? Why isn't it in the
David surely didn't know the answer to that
question, but most of the lawyers sitting in the gallery did. The
police report was hearsay. Except in certain circumstances where
its reliability could be established to an acceptable degree, it
was inadmissible! In a jury waived trial, where it would be up to
the judge to determine guilt or innocence, either side would have a
right to argue whether or not the police report would be admitted
into evidence. But Judge Farron didn't put too much stock in the
rules of evidence or the legal formalities that are at the
foundation of the justice system. In fact he usually ignored them
and made up his own as he needed them. Still, no one in the
courtroom was going to challenge him, especially on a case like
''Perhaps I can be of some assistance to the
Court," I said, stepping forward and offering my copy of the police
''It'd be the first time," he told
"May I approach?" I asked approaching. He
ignored me and snatched the report out of my hand.
I returned to defense counsel table. The judge
moved his face within an inch of the page and began to read. Next
to me a baffled Mrs. Footman trembled in terror before what she
must have believed to be a mad sorcerer. His gleaming head sat
perched above his flowing robes. His hooked nose and pinched face
traced back and forth across the pages as he read. The police
report was approximately a page and a half long. When he was done,
he turned to probation and asked to see the defendant's record.
When he was handed the single sheet of paper that included on it
only the offense charged in this matter he collapsed down onto the
bench again and rolled his head in his hands.
When he finally looked up he scowled across
the courtroom at the prosecutions table. ''Mr. Wall, what in the
name of God are you idiots doing prosecuting this case?"
"Judge, we're not, we're trying to dismiss it,
and if ... "
"But you dragged her back in here today,
Rick shook his head. There was no sense in
arguing with Terrible Tommy when he was tacking with this
"Your Honor,” I said, “ in defense of my
brother, we had a discovery issue ... "
"Shut up," he told me. I did. He thought for a
moment then he asked, "What discovery?"
"A video tape of the incident. Once he viewed
it, ADA Wall immediately told me that he was moving for
"That's a bunch of crap and if you were any
kind of lawyer you'd know it! I don't have to look at the videotape
to know what went on here. Some retired security cowboy with a fake
badge bigger than his brain flexed his muscle with an old lady.
When she told him to stick it in his ear he became indignant and
got her arrested. That some moron like that could enlist the police
as his agents in humiliating this poor woman is a social commentary
that needs nothing further from me. You should be demanding a
straight not guilty in this matter!"
"I am requesting that a not guilty enter,
Judge," I said, "and I'm further asking that the record be expunged
of any trace of this matter."
The judge glared down at Rick. "The
Commonwealth has no objection, your Honor."
He nodded but stared at him a moment longer.
''Mrs. Footman I find that you are not guilty of the charges
against you and I am ordering that the record be expunged," the
judge told her. ''That means that you will have a clean record,
just like you did before this whole thing started." His face was
kindly now as he addressed her. "I want to apologize to you on
behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for all your trouble.
One of the drawbacks to democracy is that it can empower
small-minded, vindictive people. I wish I had that silly man here
today so I could tell him what I thought of him. Unfortunately
there is nothing else for me to do except end this nonsense, clear
your record and send you home. The criminal court offers no further
justice. But the civil courts may be able to give you a measure
more. That shyster standing next to you will gladly sue that man
and his employer on any number of legal theories. If he won't, a
dozen others will. They might even win you a bunch of money. I know
that money can never heal your dignity or dull the pain of the
humiliation you must feel being dragged in here like a common
criminal, but it might stop these people from doing this to someone
else. That District Attorney over there should have thrown this
case and the police officer who filed it out of his office the day
they came in, he should be ashamed of himself for not doing so. But
sometimes they get so busy over in that office that they forget
that it is people like you who pay their salaries. That they are
the people's servants and should act accordingly. I wish I could do
more for you, but I can't, it is not within my power. Whatever you
do, however, I wish you the best."
"Thank you, Sir," Mrs. Footman said in a small
voice full of gratitude, her eyes brimming. It had been a masterful
performance by Terrible Tommy.
"Thank you, your Honor," I said and turned
from the defense table and escorted my client out.
In the stifling hallway Mrs. Footman hugged me
and thanked me massively. I chatted with her briefly and she said
she was going to call me about a will, and told me she was going to
think about what the judge said. I could tell she didn't want
anything further to do with courtrooms and judges and lawyers, and
I had to admit I often felt that way myself. When she left, I went
back into the courtroom and grabbed my briefcase. On my way out I
crouched by the DA's table and whispered my thanks to Rick Wall. He
nodded once then leaned in and said: "Tommy's lost it, he's out of
the bottle, its gonna be a long day."
I laughed softly and slapped him on the back.
"Good luck," I said and headed for
WHEN I LEFT THE COURTHOUSE
I headed straight to the gym. I try to work out
at least four or five times a week. I'd like to say that it is
because I'm devoted to sculpting my body, but the fact is that,
with my life-style, I would be fat and unsightly after one month of
idleness. The weight likes to collect around my neck producing
jowls and/or multiple chins. It also likes to collect around my
middle and can easily get into runaway, producing a championship
caliber beer belly if I'm not careful. So I am. I'm a little bit
over six feet and I weigh about 210 lbs. I could shave another ten,
but what I carry is toned and hard and okay for my
My gym is the Greendale YMCA, which is located
on Shore Drive along Indian Lake. The political correctness police
have not yet forced a name change by the city to Native American
Lake. I pulled my red Jeep into the parking lot and found a spot
halfway down the left-hand row. I went in through the main
entrance, said hello to the girls at the desk and went down the
stairs into the men's locker room. Unfortunately they wouldn't let
me into the women's locker room. What happened to gender equality?
I changed into gym shorts and a Celtics T-shirt, and went out into
the weight room.
I have been a member of the Y for more than 25
years. I fought golden gloves here as a kid. I played basketball
here in the church leagues. I met the judges and lawyers here who
talked me into law school, and then became my mentors when I got
out. It seems I've always come here and it always looked the same
to me. But it had changed of course. When I first joined, it wasn't
even here. When the I-190 highway had been built the old Y was
demolished, and so they built a new one over here on the lake. They
constantly paint walls and move offices around and upgrade
equipment, but it seems the same, it's comfortable.
I stretched out and did 200 stomach crunches,
then I ran two miles on the track that circles the weight room.
There is nothing quite so boring as the herding weight lifters -
which is exactly what you feel like you're doing as you grind
through the 44 laps that make up two miles. When I was finished I
had a good sweat going and I hit the speed bag for ten solid
minutes. I can make it dance, If I do say so myself, and I got it
spinning pretty good. When I was finished I pounded on the heavy
bag for a while, then went through fifteen nautilus stations,
moving rapidly between exercises, not letting the primed muscles
rest, pushing myself to muscular failure on each station. I moved
over to the free weights, and was just loading the bar at the bench
when I heard a voice call me across the room. I turned toward it
and saw Jack Healy pulling on a pair of lifting gloves and coming
across the track toward me from the locker room.
"Action Packed," I called smiling, "Vas
Jack Healy is a big raw-boned Irishman with
jet-black hair, chiseled features and piercing blue eyes that you
can't look away from. His massive frame is lean and taunt from
years of athletic activity. Fifteen years ago he was the top
schoolboy athlete in the state, bringing championships to St.
Anthony's High School in basketball, football and baseball. Ten
years ago he led St. Joseph's, a sixteen seed that barely made it
to the NCAA tournament, into the round of eight where they lost to
a heavily favored Duke team by one point in overtime. Jack scored
34 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and dished off 12 assists. Duke
eventually won the national title. He was the toughest kid I had
ever met, and the kindest.
We shook hands. "Kato, Que pasa, eh?" he said
and gathered me up in those eyes. He smiled at me easily and
slapped me on the shoulder. He is and always has been my best
Jack and I grew up in a Catholic orphanage run
by St John's Parish across from the Church on Temple Street. My
father died of a heart attack digging a hole at a construction site
in Framingham when I was six years old. My kid sister was four. My
mother moved us into the Great Brook Valley projects because it was
the only place she could afford, and she got a job as a secretary
with a cab company in the city. She worked hard and kept a roof
over our heads and she loved us and kept us together until cancer
got her and killed her when I was eleven. Two months after we got
to St John's, Jack showed up. His mother had died giving birth to
him and he had grown up with his father, a mean drunk who blamed
Jack for his mother's death. The old man abused Jack something
awful, and as his drinking got worse the beatings got worse.
Finally, the old man almost killed him with the buckle end of a
belt. When Jack got out of the hospital the state took custody of
him, eventually placing him at St. John's.
The ticket out for both of us had been sports.
I was on that St Anthony's round ball team that won the state
championship with Jack. St Anthony's was a private Catholic school
that the Priest at St. John's got us into because we were good
athletes and St. Tony's didn't have any. I played basketball, and
worked hard for my grades. Jack played everything, was the star on
every team, and got straight A's in school. It all came easy to
him. After high school Jack went to St. Joseph's on a full
scholarship. I got a scholarship of my own to Hofstra. I started at
guard my last year, and did pretty well, but we never got to the
NCAA's and none of the pro scouts ever looked at me
The same could not be said for Jack. He was
drafted by the Pistons in the first round after his senior year at
St. Joe's. He thought about it briefly, and the Pistons romanced
him aggressively. But in the end he said no and went back to
school. His heart was calling him in a different direction. The
girls cried and shook their heads at the one that got away, because
Action Packed Jack Healy went back to school at Sacred Heart
Seminary. Now he's back at St. John's parish as associate pastor.
My friend, my adviser, my confessor, Father Jack.
"You better put some weight on that bar if you
want to get big and strong," he said, strapping his gloves down
onto his wrists.
"Just gettin' warmed up here Jack." I laid
back under the bar, lifted it off cleanly and did ten smooth reps
with a hundred and fifty pounds.