Hey you! I hope you're still here and reading my story.
I need to apologise, as this chapter is like 4 weeks later than I initially planned. I fell in love, with my upcoming Jasper/Britwardstory. And then the Fandom for Ovarian Cancer fiction needed to be written. But it's all just excuses...
Though, here it is! It's done!
Thank you, the amazing Harrytwifan! If you haven't yet, go to http:/wordsmithawards (dot) blogspot (dot) co (dot) uk/p/voting (dot) html and make sure she wins 'Best Beta'!
KGQ, babe, I don't know what I'd do without ya!
Disclaimer: So S. Meyer's Twilight was for anyone old enough to read, this isn't! Under 18? Go play somewhere else!
"Mr Cullen, you need to get me out of this!" Margaret Laney said. "This whole insanity thing, that doesn't set me free. I don't need to spend my life in some mental institution."I sighed deeply. We had been through this over and over. "Mrs Laney, there is no way I can get you acquitted. We're not going to do this again. Opening statements are tomorrow and if you want me to get you the best possible outcome to this trial, you need to stop summoning me," I replied.
The woman was pissed off, sitting in her chair, shooting daggers at me with her eyes. I wished she would fire me already and find some other schmuck to listen to her constant strain of bickering and whining. This whole case didn't sit well with me. I wasn't really worried about my safety yet, but getting death threats because I hadn't been able to get her out on bail just wasn't what I imagined when I took on her case.
What did they think? She had endless supplies of contacts that could get her out of the country within seconds. To say she was a flight risk was putting it mildly. I was sure that her family tried to buy off the Judge on her trial hearing, but it hadn't worked. There was no way; no way in hell the state of California was going to let her out of their sight.
There was also no way she would get off. Jesus, this woman really was insane if she thought I could buy her a one way trip to freedom. The only way that would happen, was if the evidence vault caught fire, all the witnesses died, and Riley Biers ended up face down in the ocean. And that, I wasn't going to tell the woman out loud. She might actually find a way to make it happen.
But for someone as crazy as she clearly was, she was one calculated, cold-hearted bitch. Even the insanity plea was a long shot.
I didn't even accept her case in the first place, when a shady looking guy came to my office and dumped a suitcase filled with money on my desk. I never planned to stick my hands into this mess. I liked challenges, I really did. But this wasn't a challenge, this was disaster management.
The trouble was, the Petrinov family put the heat on some of the other partners and here I was. The only way I could get out of this trial was if she fired me. Unfortunately, that was not very likely.
"Mr Cullen, I hope I don't need to explain to you why it's very important for you to do everything you can and then some?" she spat, looking like she could jump up at any moment and strangle me.
"Oh, I would love for you to tell me exactly what the consequences of your conviction would be, Mrs Laney," I retorted. Nothing short of a threat out of the woman's mouth would convince the other partners to drop her case. If only she could make it this easy.
"I think we could come up with something creative," she replied with a smirk on her face. The bitch knew exactly how far she could go.
Without looking back at her, I pressed the buzzer and left the room as the guards let me out. I hoped to God this trial would be over soon. I had already spent enough time with this psychopath during the preliminary, the arraignments, pre-trail conference, and jury selection leading up to the trial. I was done and it hadn't even really started yet.
I made my way uptown to have lunch with Jasper. He would be second chair on this and was even more reluctant than I was. I made it to the restaurant about 15 minutes late and barked my name at the host. The poor guy was a bit shocked at my tone and expression, but I was in too foul a mood to keep up appearances. He would just have to deal.
"Yes, Mr. Whitlock is already waiting for you. Follow me," he politely said, while he turned and lead me to the table.
Jasper looked at me with a concerned stare. "You're awfully grim," he said and picked up his menu. I picked up mine and let my eyes go over the list of appetizing dishes. "Anything in particular happen?" he questioned, and peeked over the cream colored paper.
"The bitch summoned me," I answered. "Again!"
I decided to go for a risotto with cèpe and Parmesan. Placing the menu back on the table, I took a sip of water. Thank God, the bitch hadn't ruined my appetite.
"Carl, you shouldn't talk about her like that," Jasper said, letting his scrutinizing gaze go over the entire restaurant.
"Why the hell not?" I asked. Seriously, I knew that we should treat our clients with respect and I always did, but this was no regular situation.
"We received another letter in the mail this morning," he whispered. "They are following us, Carl. It said that if we conspire with the leading detective on the arrest again, there will be repercussions."
"You've got to be fucking kidding me!" I yelled, turning heads all around the restaurant. "You mean to say they followed us to Eclipse Saturday?"
"Yeah, saw us socializing with Emmett. Also, they had an extra little message for you. Suggesting that Laney would be out on bail right now if you didn't spend so much time getting your dick sucked by pretty young guys," Jasper said. "There was something that could be interpreted as a warning, that the next guy you take home might take care of the source of your distraction."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" I asked, now thoroughly pissed off.
"I think they meant removing your junk," Jasper replied dryly, looking back at his menu again.
I slightly cringed in my seat. I hadn't taken the threats very serious, to be honest, but threatening my dick? I shuddered. That was just wrong.
A waitress came up to our table and asked us if we were ready to order. I glanced at the closed menu and ordered my lunch. I didn't even notice what Jasper ordered, my mind still occupied with anger.
"Fucking hell, Jasper. I'm so sick of these idiots. I'm not a fucking miracle worker. The bitch did it, there's not a single question about it. She even screamed at the arresting officers that she was glad she killed him," I said softly. Fuck, now I was even whispering. Since when did I care about stupid fuckers that were intent on fucking up my life?
"Are you ready for tomorrow?" he asked, and I nodded. I had the opening statements worked out. I even made a few variable drafts to respond to anything Biers could say. I just had to make sure that I got the man off his game. It was the only chance I had to win this case. If I could shake him like I always did, this crazy insanity plea might even stand a chance.
I winked at Biers as I passed his table on my way to the jury box. Yes, he made a very good opening statement, but not good enough. He had charm, I would give him that, but he didn't have my charm. And taking another glance at the jury, I pulled up the corner of my mouth in a tiny smile. They don't stand a chance.
I leaned against the bar of the jury box and looked each and every one of the 12 nervous people in the eye. I could already see some of the women and one man shift in their seats.
"Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Carlisle Cullen. I stand here before you today, representing Mrs. Margaret Laney," I started in a calm and soft tone. It had the intended effect, because several members of the jury leaned slightly forward in order to better hear what I had to say.
"I cannot even hope to think that you are able to grasp the kind of life she had growing up, because I have trouble with it myself. But let me try and explain," I went on, once again making eye contact with all of them. I let a severe expression of sorrow wash over my face and sighed slightly.
"Margaret was raised by her father, Mika Petrinov, who runs a violent crime syndicate in Russia. Murder, torture and rape are only a few things she witnessed as a young girl. This man taught her the difference between right and wrong; trust me, he did," I stated, pausing a second to let confusion run through their minds. Biers had told them in his opening statement that I would argue a lack of moral compass. Just slightly shifting that assumption made him look less credible.
"Only what we see as right, or wrong for that matter, is very different from what Margaret was taught. To her, vengeance and repercussion are right." I threw the bitch a sympathetic look and turned it towards the jury. God, my audience was stupid! Three of the women were already copying my faked sympathy in their eyes as they glanced upon my client.
"Forgiveness and leniency are wrong, they make you weak, they get you killed," I continued. I made sure my voice darkened and deepened as I said it. Nine pairs of eyes widened - more than I anticipated - and I smiled internally.
Now came the tricky part. I had to talk about the crime she committed in a way that would not turn them against my client. I couldn't tune down the severity or the heinousness of the murder, because Biers would have a field day. No, I had to make sure they knew the situation for what it was, but were still willing to understand the pain the bitch had been in.
"The prosecution has shown you the crime scene photographs and I would ask you to look at them again," I said, placing the pictures back on the holders they had been on roughly 10 minutes ago. "Now see them through a young girl's eyes. A girl that saw her own father commit acts just like these. Imagine what it must be like to think this is normal," I commanded. I let the disbelief run through my voice. Even though the pictures clearly showed how crazy and sadistic the bitch was, I had 12 people in front of me, staring at them with compassion in their eyes. I could even see a tear fall down one cheek and I knew I just worked a miracle.
I chanced a peek at Riley Biers, who was looking at me with contempt, shaking his head. I knew what was going through his mind at this exact moment, because I agreed with him. This was wrong, wrong on so many levels. Before I could stop myself, I closed my eyes and gave him the tiniest nod I could muster. Telling him; 'Yes, I know. Right now, I disgust even myself.'
I was almost finished, almost done making this jury feel for the murderous psychopath that they should all hate. I turned back to them and watched them look at the photographs for a second longer. "Would you want your daughters to see this?" I asked, shaking my head. "No, you wouldn't. We've all seen what can happen to children who are confronted with violence and hatred. It's not a secret that parents all over the world fight game developers who display these types of scenes in their video games. But this is not a game. This," I said, while pointing at the bloody scene on display, "is real."
Slumping my shoulders and emitting yet another defeated sigh, I lowered my eyes. "This has cost a man his life. Margaret killed her husband, yes, she did. There's no point in arguing that the man deserved it, because no one," I said and paused. "No one deserves this." I closed my eyes, both to fake sadness and to pray to God. Bitch, please keep your fucking mouth shut!
"Her father ruined her sense of right and wrong, distorted her way of thinking. Margaret came to the United States in the hope that she could run from her father. But she could not run from what was hardwired into her system. Mr. Laney scorned her, cheating on her in her own house, under her very nose. And she could not forgive, she could not be lenient. She did the one thing taught to her by her father that she thought she could do. She killed him, making an example of him, showing the world she wasn't weak," I concluded, noticing the 12 people in the jury box were slightly nodding their heads. I took a few steps towards my table before turning back one more time.
"A frightened young girl, showing the world she wasn't weak."
As I sat down, I watched Riley Biers from the corner of my eye. He was still staring at me, confusion on his face. At least it wasn't contempt anymore, which pleased me for some weird reason. Why would I care what the man thought of me? I didn't even know why I nodded at him earlier. It was stupid! I gave him a weakness to work with. I let him know that I wasn't fully behind my client. Why had I wanted him to know that my opening statement didn't sit well with me?
"That was awesome, Carl," Jasper whispered in my ear, pulling me from my musings. "I don't know how you do it. You had them eating out of your hand!"
I turned to my friend and threw him an unconvincing smile. I didn't know what the hell was going on with me. I never had trouble defending the scum of the earth. This was my game, my playing field. I loved it, I was good at it. But then, why was this case so hard? What made me reluctant to manipulate this jury? Was it the fact that I never wanted to take this case in the first place? Or was I finally growing a conscience?
Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think! I'm not going to make any promises for the next chapter, other then 'I'll post it ASAP!' For now, I love you people!