Legal Troubles

Home Brooklyn Life Legal Troubles

By Jack Mirkinson

Judge Neil Firetog, a man who does not suffer fools gladly, was presiding over a homicide case one Thursday morning at the Kings County Criminal Court on Jay Street when the prosecutor in the case, Mr. Hale, revealed that the defense attorney, Mr. Ward, had committed a rather large lawyerly error. One of his witnesses had apparently said she had sent a fax to the 77th Precinct, located in Crown Heights—something that ran counter to Ward’s statement that he, in fact, had sent the fax. Firetog let him know that it is not good when an attorney directly contradicts his witnesses.

Ward, clad in a blue blazer and baggy pants that floated down past his shoes, stammered and stumbled a bit before finding his voice. Given the accusation, he said, he felt he had no choice but to take the stand and testify in his own defense.

Firetog was dismissive of this. “The fact is that your affirmation runs contrary to the testimony,” he said. “I am very much troubled.” The witness, he pointed out, had not even been able to tell the court where the 77th Precinct was even located. Why was she saying she had sent a fax there? Ward was at a loss for words. All he could do was ask to take the stand and uphold his honor.

Firetog said that, had Ward had been appointed by the court, he would have dumped him from the case. But the defendant—a young man in an off-white suit with square shoulders—had chosen the man.

“Your client wants you!” Firetog said incredulously. It turned out that criminal law was not Ward’s strong suit.

“How many homicides have you tried?” Firetog asked him.

“First one,” he replied.

The judge then summoned the two attorneys to the bench. They attempted to speak softly, but he was under no such compunctions. The result was flashes of noise from the front of the courtroom, followed by low murmurs.

“How would she tell me that?” Murmur. “How do I know?” Murmur. “How can I trust you?” Murmur.

While they were talking, the rest of the courtroom relaxed. A family of Orthodox Jews had come into the courtroom, as had a teenage girl who knew the defendant. He turned around and winked at her, and she giggled and smiled back before leaving the room as quickly as she had entered it.

The court staff sat around chatting about the food they were going to eat later in the day. One woman, middle aged with curly graying hair, mentioned that the court had two birthdays coming up. “There are sandwiches coming and we have cake!” she said enthusiastically.

Meanwhile, more rumbling could be heard from the bench. “You weren’t there!” Murmur. “We’re waiting.” Murmur.

Finally, the judge ended the huddle and addressed the defendant, a Mr. Robinson.

“You and your attorney need to limit your exposure,” he told him. He advised Ward to get someone more well-versed in homicide cases to assist him. Ward stood, looking down at his shoes and sighing. After Robinson had been re-shackled and a new court date set, Firetog dismissed everyone and they filed out, replaced by a new case featuring a repeat sex offender. Hale could be seen comforting Ward as they departed the courtroom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.