Ben Matlock loved hot dogs, this was no secret. But at the moment he was making himself a salad for lunch. He was doing this for the same reason most men would do anything, for a woman. Ben planned to propose to Julie March during this lunch, and hoped this would prove how much he cared for her. He wanted them to live for a long time as a married couple. Ben had the ring all picked out, specifically his daughters Leanne and Charlene helped him pick this ring out. They had better taste in jewelry and they knew that their mother would want him to be happy. But, as was often the case, Ben's law practice got in the way. It was during the lunch, before he proposed, that their was a knock on his door. A young woman, Marissa, was standing outside. Marissa looked familiar to Ben and Julie, but neither could quite place her.
Marissa: I'm sorry to just barge in like this mr Matlock, but I have a friend who desperately needs your legal help. And I don't wish to seem rude ms March, but as your an assistant District Attorney, I think I should talk to mr Matlock in private.
Julie: You look familiar.
Marissa: About three years ago you were both guest lecturers at Harvard Law School.
Ben: Yeah, that must be it.
Julie: Perhaps I should leave then.
Ben: Wait a minute, I haven't said I'll take her case.
Julie: It's okay, we can talk later.
Julie left and Marissa began talking to Ben.
Marissa: I'm sorry to have spoiled your date.
Ben: You said you were at Harvard Law School?
Marissa: Actually I graduated from a community college.
Ben: But you are a lawyer?
Ben: Why can't you help your friend?
Marissa: I mostly do business law. I haven't done criminal law in years, I've never even handled a murder case before. My friend needs someone who knows criminal law much better than me.
Ben: Okay, tell me about your friend's case.
Marissa: We met five years ago in a support group for parents who've lost children.
Ben: I'm sorry for your loss, and your friend's.
Marissa: Thank you. Anyway her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Three days ago this drunk driver was released from prison. The prosecutor alledges that my friend murdered this drunk driver the first night he got out.
Ben: Well the prosecutor won't have to work hard to show motive. Are there even any other suspects?
Marissa: Her husband, the child's father. But he was away on a business trip to Los Angelas when the murder took place. I don't know if he made any enemies in prison.
Ben: Have the police found the murder weapon?
Marissa: Yes, in her house, but that could have been stolen first.
Ben: Stolen? Not planted?
Marissa: It was my gun. A few weeks ago, I had a bad night. When you lose a child, you have moments where you contemplate suicide. I called her, and she talked me down. She took the gun so that I wouldn't be tempted, it's not a stretch to say she saved my life.
Ben: Any witnesses?
Marissa: A bartender. He saw the driver talking to a redheaded woman shortly before he was shot. But he couldn't identify my friend in a line-up.
Ben: Even so, it sounds like the prosecution has motive, the only other viable suspect has an alibi, the murder weapon was found in her house, and a witness who might be mistaken, but when you put that with everything else, you see what I'm saying.
Marissa; I know, which is why my friend needs the best defense lawyer in the world.
Ben: I appreciate the flattery, but no one has a batting average of 1000%.
Marissa: There's something else that perhaps I should have mentioned.
Ben: I'm not sure how you can tell me anything worse.
Marissa: My friend, is Amanda Barnes. Do you remember her?
Ben: She threatened to kill me in open court, threatened the doctor who tried to save her daughter's life. To answer your question, yes, I remember her.
Marissa: Please, she and I have a bond, having both lost our children, she saved my life.
Ben: I'm a father, if she killed the drunk driver who killed her daughter, I'm not sure I can blame her. But frankly I feel safer with her in prison. Amanda deserves a lawyer who she can trust, and one who doesn't feel like their own life is in danger if she gets out. That's not me.
Marissa: Please, just meet with her once.
Ben: I'll talk it over with my associates, they deserve to know what they're getting into first.
Marissa: Thank you.
Ben: I'm going to regret this, but what the hell? I'm old, I've had a good life.