SPECIFIC INTENT: TWO

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Now comes crunch time: what could either attorney do to 'walk' their clients.
You'll never guess, so; read on . . .

Submitted: March 07, 2016

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Submitted: March 07, 2016

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SPECIFIC INTENT

A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two

 

Davis had watched The Hawk’s expert work in Chandler County jury trials, particularly when they threw in a smug, and hopelessly pedantic D. A, on the other side.

The next jury trial featuring Hawk and the smug D.A., had been billed successively as Hawk vs. Jackson followed by the Roman Numeral II, until number VI had convinced all ten Superior Court Judges, and most of the members of the D. A.’s Office, that a number VII might well result in fisticuffs,  blood; and perhaps the loss of another digit. 

Jack had taken Hawk to lunch several times and eventually the two became close friends at which point Jack just had to tell Hawk to ‘cool it’ in court and walk a lot softer but keep carrying a big—even bigger—stick.

At least, here in Eddie’s and Joe's case, he had done that, but Jack could see that Hawk was frustrated.

Everyone was too polite; the Judge was too accommodating; the Court Reporter was too gorgeous; the Bailiff was too genial; the D. A.s  were too gracious, extremely reasonable and wanting to accommodate the two defense attorneys in every manner within an extremely wide range of ‘reason.’; the Clerk was downright solicitous of Hawks’ marking of items of evidence—particularly what remained of the Johnnie Walker, which, upon close inspection through the mostly opaque glass, seemed to be a little short each day—or was this the third bottle, not the second?

Nevertheless, it was just grinding away at Hawk’s guts.

All this politesse and congeniality was close to making him ‘puke,’ as he put it to Jack the morning of the last day of their unique ‘hearing.’

Nevertheless, he agreed with Jack that the tack to take was that the lads were just overcome with boredom and friskiness and had decided to go on a bender but had no booze.

Both the liquor and the Bars had closed.

Eddie and Joe had remembered the rug store—and with no specific intent to harm either limb or property, they had found their way to the spot of their arrest. The two souses had even asked the arresting officers to join them for a snoot-full before heading off for stir; and a really bad hangover.

There was no real specific intent in any of their behavior to disgrace or disrespect anyone; their actions were repeated every night all over the world—except for the source of the joy juice and the entering of the place to enjoy it.

Judge Sherman, once again, was listening intently to any of the remarks passed about the liquor. The Judge asked his secretary, Brenda Wales, to hit the net and see what a bottle of Blue went for. He was sincerely astonished when he heard her answer.

While Hawk was usually the belligerent sort, Jack Davis was the curser.

Several summers among construction crews, drywall handlers and lumberjacks had supplied him with enough blue language to match the Blue of the intoxicant in question,

However, over the years he had managed—usually—to contain; or restrain himself from just cutting loose in public; or even within earshot of any member of the fairer sex.

Throughout the present case, he had been perfect.

Hawk had complimented him on his restraint.

Davis had then complimented Hawk for resisting his stated compulsion to bang heads and crank up the sarcasm and insults; or force some recesses by the Court until the verbal combatants had ‘ simmered down.’

Eddies’ wife, Rebecca, was to be their last witness.

Her brother, the Priest was the penultimate.

The Blessed Father was a dud.

Jack tried everything to get his holiness to fire up the superlatives, to bless the lads for their otherwise—almost—crime-free lives; how a verdict by the judge and a prison sentence for both—and particularly Joe—would be disastrous for the whole family dynamic.

Nothing.

Limp.

Wet.

Almost invisible and dumb—he might just as well have been, for all the help he gave the case.

Davis was furious.

Hawk didn’t know whether to laugh at their own witness or punch his lights out.

It was Eddie’s wife, Rebecca, (what a fortunate man) who first got Hawk’s mood unstuck from sour, when she approached Jack while the Priest went  for a leak.

She immediately burst out laughing right in Jack’s face.

“You should have heard yourself, Jack; it was priceless:

“ Goddamn it Harris; for Christ’s sake, you’ve got to put some goddamned pep in your goddamned voice.

“Jesus H. Christ, man, you’re dyin’ out there; and our case is too; I mean, Christ, man, these are your goddamned people; your guys; goddamnit, you have to put some real charge into your goddamn sentences

“Now get the hell our there and knock the bejussus out of the D. A’s crap that there was any goddamned intent of any kind; okay? And for Christ’s sake . . .got it? 

Father Benjamin had nodded dumbly, absolutely tuning out everything that Jack was saying except the profanity . . . and he knew that these words meant that he had to fire up his testimony when he returned to the stand or the boys were for it.

Now Rebecca could scarcely see through her tears of laughter as she took in the horrified face of Jack Davis when he realized what he had done.

The recess was short, but Rebecca was still laughing when the Bailiff requested the return of the two attorneys to the courtroom to resume the examination of the Priest.

Jack sat down and Hawk took over.

***

Faces had fallen; the Judge had to shake his head in disbelief; the D. A. was perplexed; the Court Reporter harbored a smile; the spectators were aghast; the defendants struck dumb.

Gerald Howard Hawk had decided that there was only one way to get the guys headed for the exits as free men: he had to make everyone within hearing (and later on appeal, in writing ) believe that the worst person—by far—in the courtroom; in the city, in the county, in the Bay Area; probably in the State of California, was Gerald H. Hawk; not these two harmless, frolicking connoisseurs of fine liquors.

The two merrymakers were merely victims of the gods; men at the mercy of their own weakness; good citizens who could and would pay for the damage and the corkage and return to Modesto, never to set foot in Lapsley—or Sandhurst, again,

It worked.

The Judge was so appalled with Hawk’s conduct that he reported him to the State Bar and urged that his license to practice law be suspended for at least one year, if not longer.

The Court Reporter sold copies of Hawk’s examination of Brother Benjamin to hundreds of willing buyers.

Both attorneys treasured this particular item as yet another strange souvenir of their voyage along the offbeat path of criminal defense law.

Davis said he would make a copies and keep one in the top drawer of his desk and one at home in a drawer of his bedside table.

It would be good for a laugh when the wheels of justice were moving slowly—or not at all. The release of laughter would be a comforting balm.

 It always worked.

The D. A.s were so stunned that they were stuck in a web of indecision for weeks before filing anything. Even then, all they could muster was a benign notice of appeal of the Judge’s decision.

Judge Sherman had acquitted the lads on the basis of a lack of specific intent;a prerequisite for reaching a finding of guilt on the charges alleged in the Criminal Complaint.

The Judge, along with the two DAs, had secretly come to admire the two drunks, if only for their odd display of true joie de vivre.

 

But how could this happen? How could the lads ‘walk’?

Well, in its way, it was the old ‘one-two’; good cop-bad cop’; nice guy; really bad guy.

The Hawk had followed the gentle and totally ineffective examination by Jack Davis, with pleas to Judge Sherman—even demanding—that the Judge consider the Priest a consummate liar and a disgrace to the Brotherhood. 

Hawk declared that Benjamin was a hostile witness and that Hawk had the right under the Evidence Code to tear into the conniving, lying sack of a so-called Brother.

Once Hawk received what he perceived to be a nod of approval from the Judge to treat the Priest as a hostile witness, his tone had risen an octave.

Suddenly his near-fingerless fists were hammering the side of the witness box; his eyes widened like the innumerable dumb horses he had yelled at over the course of his teens.

According to Hawk, it was solely and only the lying cheating devil’s tongue of Benjamin that created the absolutely false impression with the Judge and everyone in the courtroom, by his evasion and holding back of dynamite testimony that would prove the men innocent. (of course there was none)

In all his years; his hundreds of trials throughout the State of California, he had never witnessed such a flagrant display of evasion and cruelty, demonic prevarication; intentional hurtfulness. The so-called “Brother” was a lying Judas; a traitor of the lowest order.

Hawk was personally going to demand that “Unbrotherly” Benjamin be defrocked and hounded from the blessed Church which he had disgraced by failing to be honest, to be kind, to be forgiving, to care a hoot about; to spit in the face of his relatives by blood and his dearest friends.

It was perfectly done.

In his element, hardly describes it.

In a bolt of frenzied compulsion, Hawk knew what he had to do and he did it.

He skewered the poor priest as though he was the lying witness on a murder case; the scum bag D. A. who was withholding evidence favorable to his client; the mealy-mouthed duplicitous judge who decided cases totally based on his attempt to impress a higher court and thereby advance his status in the judging ranks.

All of these disgusting reprobates who Hawk had despised (and with good reason), came together in the body and personality of poor Brother Harris Benjamin.

 

Eddie and Joe, the shell-shocked free men, and a stunned and unfairly chastened priest, were delayed from exhibiting their joy by Hawk’s insistence that he, Hawk, apologize in full and complete detail for every word he had uttered moments before.

I admired Gerry for that.

He knew he was risking at least a suspension, and possibly disbarment, but with what Jack believed to be a small tear in each eye, Hawk begged their forgiveness and recanted again and again every slur and condemnation that he had used.

And again begged the Father’s forgiveness.

Brother Benjamin very solemnly took both Hawk’s hands in his and after dropping one hand to make the sign of the cross first on his own chest and then on the bended brow of Brother Hawk, he embraced Hawk and held him a long time, trying to decide whether he should thank him for his brother-in-laws’ freedom or counsel Hawk for a few moments; and invite him to a mass in Modesto.

He did neither.

He released Hawk as if he would release a warrior; in full knowledge that in some people there lies a rare component of character—or soul—that, at certain moments, crushes all normal fear of risk; a component that is a thousand times stronger than that possessed by almost all other men.

Harris Benjamin, knew--even his religious beliefs and training aside--that  there are occasions when this unstoppable force is released; and while seeming to kill, it serves to save—and to do justice.

 

Hawk and Jack found the closest bar, where they encountered the two opposing D. A.s  and the four bought each other several rounds. However, not one reference or inference was made that could possibly bring up the topic of Hawk’s magic.

In Jack Davis’ mind, he put Hawk right up there with Siegfried and Roy—even Houdini.

 

Eddie and Joe and Rebecca and Sandy, along with Brother Benjamin;  as well as all the other witnesses for the Defense, returned to Modesto with mixed emotions about the practice of law and the dispensing of justice that had unfolded before them over the past two days.

However, Rebecca Claiborne and Sandra Smith soon recognized the incredible risk that Gerald Howard Hawk had taken and inwardly blessed him.

Then Rebecca remembered the look on Jack Davis’ face and she broke the stunned silence in the car with unquenchable peals of joyous laughter.

When she told the others why she was laughing, they all—and especially Brother Benjamin—laughed so hard that all, including the driver Sandra Smith, feared a crash before they could ever stop their laughs of blessed relief.


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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