Boilerplate Disclaimer: The various characters from the Kim Possible series are owned by Disney. Any and all registered trade names property of their respective owners. Cheap shots at celebrities constitute fair usage. OCs are my own. The Griswold neighbors were mentioned in Middleton vs. Possible, Again. Catlyn is Tim Possible's daughter. NoDrogs created Kasy and Sheki, I changed their origin.
Thanks to LJ58, Jimmy1201 (no one has sketched Smaug, so he's mostly in my head), shthar (he started small but is now over eight feet long - although much of that is tail), A Markov, List of Romantics, Invader Johnny, Dr. Rex Greylin, Neihaera, noncynic, and Sonicthehedgewolf for reviews, and laranzu for a list of typos.
To Seek Revenge May Lead to Hell, But Everyone Does It and Seldom as Well
The Possibles' neighbor, Maxene Griswold, and another owner of a previous cat/snack for Smaug were the first witnesses on the stand the next day. Under Byron Judge's careful coaching Mrs. Griswold delivered an unsettling description of watching her beloved pet being devoured.
Shego began her cross examination with an apology, "Mrs. Griswold, I truly am sorry about your cat. I—"
"Well you should be!" the neighbor snapped. "And the way you have every child in Middleton playing in your yard!" She looked to the judge for sympathy. "Honestly, they ruin my flowers. All kinds of balls – footballs, croquet balls, baseballs, Frisbees. I don't eat children, why did that thing have to eat my Logan?"
Shego coughed slightly to catch Mrs. Griswold's attention, "I appreciate the fact you don't eat children. And I also apologize for the damage they do to your flowers. Can we have the older children mow your lawn in partial—"
"You think I'd trust them with a lawnmower? What they do to my flowers?"
"How about raking leaves in—"
"Objection," counselor Judge protested. "Defense attorney is trying to bribe a witness."
"Sustained. Ms. O'Ceallaigh, please be a neighbor on your own time. This is the court's time."
"Sorry, your honor." Shego turned back to the witness. "There were two things I wanted the jury to hear clearly from you. I admit Smaug ate your Logan. But you said that children are often playing in the Possible yard?"
"Of course they are. You know that." She looked at the jury, "I'll bet there are a dozen children there most days after school – playing games and running around. And the noise!"
"Have you seen Smaug out in the yard when children are playing?"
"Does that seem dangerous to you?"
"I don't understand the question."
"The plaintiff has charged Smaug is a dangerous creature. When you see Smaug out in the yard with children do you think to yourself, 'That looks dangerous'?"
The neighbor shrugged. "I never really thought about it. He was small when we moved in, I… I guess the fact he just kept growing… I think if I saw him for the first time, as big as he is now, I would be very worried for the children."
"But having seen him grow up, from a pup—"
"But pup doesn't have to mean—"
"Sustained. Please reword your question."
"Having seen Smaug grow up, gradually, you've not been worried about him playing with the children?"
"Thank you. My second question is, has Smaug himself ever come into your yard?"
Mrs. Griswold thought for a minute, "I really can't be certain… He might have when we first moved in and he was smaller."
"Has he been in your yard since the fence went up?"
"Not that I know of."
"So when Logan died—"
"Died? Say killed and eaten."
"When Smaug killed your Logan and ate him, where did this happen? Did it occur in your yard?"
"You know very well where it happened. It happened by that herb garden behind your house."
"I know where it happened. I just wanted the jury to be clear that Logan was in the Possible backyard when he was killed. Smaug didn't go hunting for Logan in your yard."
"Unlike those children," Maxene snapped.
Byron Judge hoped that after the testimony of two additional 'assassinations,' as he called them, by Smaug he could follow up with circumstantial innuendo, but Shego had figured out his strategy from his witness list and came prepared. On the third question to the witness, "Objection," Shego called. "Is there a shred of evidence to link the disappearance of Mr. Truman's cat with Smaug?"
"Your honor," opposing counsel argued, "we have a established a pattern of Smaug killing Middleton's cats with the three the defendant must admit to. There are certain to have been more."
"Patterns? You want patterns?" Shego asked, waving a manila folder in the air. "Classified ads from papers from New York to Los Angeles, from Minneapolis to New Orleans – all of them reporting missing cats. Some of these are from papers fifty years ago. If there is any pattern with cats it's owners letting them roam free and cats disappearing – unless Mr. Judge wishes to argue that any cat that has disappeared in the United States for the last century met his end at the teeth of Smaug." (At least Shego hoped the intern had done the research he was supposed to and she wasn't waving a file filled with baseball box scores in the air.)
The judge addressed plaintiff's counsel, "Is there any evidence to link the disappearance of Mr. Truman's cat to Smaug?"
"I think the fact Smaug has been shown to have killed three—"
"Evidence, counselor. As defense has stated, cats have a proven tendency to wander. Can you link this cat to Smaug?"
"Objection sustained. Counselor, do you have any more questions for this witness – other than perhaps providing a heart-rending account of losing a beloved pet – which is what you are trying to do to the Possible children? While Mr. Truman may deserve sympathy for his loss I am quite certain defense will object and point out that it is entirely irrelevant to the present case, and I will sustain that objection as well. Now, anymore questions for the witness?"
"Damn hometown judge," plaintiff's counsel muttered softly.
"I don't believe I heard you," Judge Carnahan stated.
"I said no more questions, your honor."
"Ms. O'Ceallaigh, have you any questions for the witness?"
"While I offer sympathy to Mr. Truman for his loss it has nothing to do with this case. No questions, your honor."
"Very well. Mr. Truman, you are dismissed. Counselor Judge, do you wish to call your next witness?"
"Under the circumstances… No, your honor."
"And the next witness?"
"No, your honor."
Ragsdale v. Possible recessed at noon. Shego returned to her law office to work on other projects. Byron Judge met with the pro-cat lobby to rethink strategy. Judge Carnahan went fishing in the afternoon.
Even though nothing happened at the courthouse that afternoon Smaug did himself no favors by discovering that a door had not been latched properly and ambling out into the yard. There were only a few curious optimists on the sidewalk, most had accepted that Smaug would not be putting in an appearance, but the few there were equipped to take a video record of the sighting. Smaug spent most of the afternoon sunning on the roof of the front porch. The crowd grew in size to watch him sleep, but the damage was caused by the video of him reaching the porch roof.
"Who left the kitchen door unlocked!" Shego demanded when she confronted her daughters that evening.
"Not me," Jane insisted.
"We go out the front door," Sheki reminded her.
"Well someone went out the kitchen door today," Shego retorted hotly. "Did any of you check the weather after breakfast or anything?"
"No." "Nope." "Not me."
"That door didn't open itself."
"You and mom are the two who usually use that door," Kasy argued.
Shego opened her mouth to argue, and shut it. Kasy was right. But 'usually use it' didn't mean they were the only ones to use it. She felt confident she had not left the door unlocked. She was equally confident Kim would claim she hadn't left it unlocked – neither one of them was very good at admitting even the possibility she might have made a mistake.
A jubilant Byron Judge had a projector and screen in place when Shego arrived in court the next day. As soon as the session began the plaintiff's counsel addressed the judge, "Your honor, I have important new evidence-"
"Objection," Shego protested. "Whatever this is wasn't on the list of items given to the defense at discovery."
"This is new, your honor, it only appeared on the web yesterday – but it is relevant to the case."
"From the web?" Shego scoffed. "You want to introduce some nonsense from the web into a court of law?"
"I can bring in the witnesses who saw it," her opponent countered. "Are you really going to argue this is faked?"
"Counselor," the judge addressed Shego, "may I infer from your silence that you both know what the plaintiff plans to show – and also know he can furnish witnesses to the accuracy of the video?"
"I don't know for certain what he's about to show. It could be a Porky Pig cartoon."
"Then please hold your objection until you hear the pig stutter. Objection overruled."
"The defense has argued," Byron Judge told the jury, "that the fence around the Possible home and the signs warning of a poisonous dog resolve the family of all liability in keeping this dangerous cr—"
"Possibly dangerous creature in Middleton. This video, shot yesterday, raises questions about the worth of the fence as a safety precaution." He turned on the video and waited a couple seconds until the point where... "As this video clearly shows, Smaug is capable to flying and-"
"Objection," Shego protested. "That does not clearly show Smaug can fly."
"Then how is he getting on the porch roof?" Byron Judge demanded
"It's kind of leaping and scrambling."
"Leaping and scrambling?"
"Then why are his wings flapping?"
The video continued to play on as Byron Judge rolled his eyes in practiced disbelief, "Dr. Threde classified Smaug as a bird. I-"
"Objection. Dr. Threde offered his opinion, which he insisted was very preliminary, only under duress."
"He testified that Smaug's skeletal structure was bird-like, both in pelvic formation and light bones."
"That doesn't mean he can fly."
"This video certainly suggests that he can."
Judge Carnahan sighed, "Do we need another weekend of Dr. Threde and associates examining Smaug to determine if he can fly?"
"Fine, he can fly," Shego snapped. "But he doesn't fly very well and he doesn't leave the yard."
"But he could," Byron Judge argued.
"How tall is the fence around the Possible home?"
"Seven and a half feet."
"What is the height of that porch roof?"
"I don't know exactly."
"It appears to me to be a good fifteen feet off the ground." He pointed back at the video, which now had Smaug stretched out and dozing in the afternoon sun.
"Maybe," Shego conceded grudgingly. "But I still say he was scrambling those last few feet to get up there."
"Even if he was, he obviously could clear the fence if he wanted."
"Well, he doesn't want to!"
"He could, and that is obviously a dangerous animal," Judge argued, pointing dramatically to screen. His timing could not have been worse. On the video, just as he pointed towards it, a small flock of birds, probably sparrows, landed on the porch roof. Some landed on the roof itself. Some landed on Smaug. The big fellow simply ignored them as some of the birds hopped around on top of him.
"Obviously a highly dangerous animal to all living creatures," Shego retorted in a sarcastic tone.
"Probably not hungry, had his belly full of cat."
"Sustained. Jury will disregard Mr. Judge's last comment."
The jury had hopes that Smaug might be called to the witness stand in his own defense, but Shego feared the chance he might bite someone – or leave a steaming dragon pie on the courtroom floor. She chose not to call the DA when she drew up her list of character references for Smaug. He had said he would serve as a witness and was too honest to break his word, but Shego knew there was an election coming and didn't want to give the cat people any reason to vote against Steve. Jane and Catlyn were especially adorable in the role created by Kasy and Sheki years earlier – looking teary-eyed and telling the court how much they loved Smaug.
In his closing arguments Byron Judge emphasized the fact Smaug was a proven cat-killer before moving on to sympathy-evoking tales of beloved pets and what their loss meant to their owner. From there he moved to a vivid scenario of Smaug flying over the fence and terrorizing Middleton – eating dogs and children, breathing fire from the skies—
"Objection, Smaug does not breathe fire."
Counselor Judge continued with Smaug poisoning the municipal reservoir and knocking over buses with his tail—
"Objection. Plaintiff's counsel seems to have confused Smaug with Godzilla."
"Overruled. It is his right to be overly dramatic during closing arguments – as long as he doesn't add fire-breathing again. Your turn will come in a minute Ms O'Ceallaigh."
"Smaug eats cats," Shego admitted as she began her closing arguments. There was no way to ignore that unpleasant, but proven fact, so it was best to concede the point quickly and move on. "There are really two issues here. The first is the emotional investment in a pet and the trauma of losing that part of your family when you lose your pet. The second is the charge that Smaug represents a danger to the people of Middleton."
"The defense will agree with Mr. Judge on the first point – that it hurts to lose a beloved pet. The Possible family regrets Smaug's unfortunate habit of—"
"Objection, eating cats is more than an unfortunate habit."
"Overruled. You were allowed to be overly dramatic in your summation, counselor. You will allow opposing counsel to be euphemistic in hers."
"The Possibles regret that Smaug finds cats tasty. But Smaug is as much a beloved pet as the cats he has eaten. Whatever action the plaintiff wants to make Middleton safe for wandering cats will deprive the Possible daughters and their friends of a beloved pet. Whether Smaug is killed, or put in a zoo, or sent off to a research lab he will not be allowed to play with the children he loves. I agree with counselor Judge, it is a difficult thing to lose a pet – but I draw a vastly different conclusion from that fact and ask you to find in favor of Smaug."
"On the second point, it is alleged that Smaug is potentially dangerous. Potentially dangerous... There are potential dangers everywhere, it is impossible to protect from every potential danger. We can't even protect from every proven danger. People with peanut allergies die every year, but we don't outlaw peanut butter. Twenty-seven deaths from auto accidents in the Middleton area last year. We don't outlaw automobiles. Nineteen murders, twelve of which involved guns – but guns are not outlawed. Four of them involved the killing of a spouse. We don't outlaw marriage. Dr. Threde said humans are the most dangerous creatures on the planet. Look at a person sitting near you in court today. He or she might pack a car full of explosives and blow up city hall. He or she might have purchased a room full of guns and go on a shooting spree that will leave the neighbors saying, 'Such a quiet man. I can't believe he did that.' Smaug hasn't harmed any person. Small children play with him, and a neighbor who has no love for Smaug admits that fact has never really worried her. Smaug could, in theory, fly over the fence and terrorize someone. If you met him unexpectedly on the street he might seem frightening. There are some big ugly people who walk the streets of Middleton today and can be plenty frightening if you meet them on a dark street. We don't lock people up for being big and ugly."
"If you say Smaug should be removed from the Possible children because he might cause a problem will you stand aside as they take away your automobiles? Guns? Cast iron skillets? Baseball bats? Scissors? Peanut butter? Chain saws? Where does the madness end? Out-of-date milk has hurt more people than Smaug. I have refrained from saying a word against the late Mr. Muffy Mittens as opposing counsel has labeled Smaug a danger to the community on a level which could end civilization as we know it. I have not spoken a word against the cat in question because I do believe that Mrs. Ragsdale was hurt by his death – as surely as I believe the Possible children will mourn if you find their pet a menace to society. But what do we really know about the late Mr. Muffy Mittens – if that was his real name? I didn't know the cat myself. I can't give an opinion on whether he was a good cat or bad. I'm sure Mrs. Ragsdale loved him, and he may have been worthy of her affection. But the preliminary study of Smaug suggests that on the afternoon of Mr. Muffy Mittens' death he was on the prowl for something small and helpless to kill. He crept into the Possible yard, murder on his—"
"Overruled. I gave you your moment of high drama, please allow Ms. O'Ceallaigh the same chance for courtroom theater."
"The murder of some small, helpless prey filled the mind of Mr. Muffy Mittens as he crept through the grass – licking his lips in anticipation of the kill. But instead of finding something easy to slaughter he found Smaug and suffered the same fate he had planned for another living creature. Owners of cats may excuse their pets' behavior by saying, 'it is their nature.' But if it is their nature, and therefore pardonable, isn't Smaug to be equally excused for his taste for cat flesh?"
"Every year or two you read of someone climbing into a zoo cage to hug a grizzly bear or pet a tiger. We don't blame the animal for what it does. If you excuse cats for eating birds and rabbits you should be equally forgiving for a creature that finds cats tasty."
Judge Carnahan charged the jury to weigh the facts they had been presented and try to set aside personal feelings and judge the merits of the evidence in the case. The jurors filed from the courtroom to begin their deliberations. Late in the afternoon they reported to the bailiff that they had reached consensus, but the judge decided it was too late in the day to call everyone back to the courthouse.
"Well?" Kim demanded that night during dinner.
"In the bag," Shego assured her.
To spectators in the courtroom the next morning it appeared obvious that Shego had more confidence than Byron Judge. He seemed irritated and ill-at-ease as everyone was asked to stand as Judge Carnahan entered and court was called into session.
Their demeanors changed dramatically as the foreman began to report the findings of the jury. "Mrs. Ragsdale did love her cat. We don't really know how you put a price tag on that, but for compensatory damages we recommend a million dollars. In-"
"What?" Shego almost screamed.
"Ms. O'Ceallaigh, you will sit down and let the jury finish its findings."
The intern tugged on the back of Shego's jacket and Byron Judge beamed broadly as Shego sat down with a scowl.
"In regard to punitive damages… We couldn't find any good reason to call Smaug a threat and assign any. On the counter suit, that this was pretty much a frivolous suit… Yeah. We agreed. We think the Ragsdale side should pay the Possibles a million dollars for putting them through this—"
"That's absurd," counselor Judge bellowed. "If we get compensatory damages you can't give—"
"Sit down, Mr. Judge," judge Carnahan told him. "As I told Ms. O'Ceallaigh you need to let the jury finish its conclusions. And I will remind you that you were the one who insisted on a jury, please do not doubt their wisdom now."
"Now, about compensatory damages for the Possibles," the foreman of the jury continued, "since they had to fight a lawsuit... We didn't really know if this was legal. Can we recommend that the Ragsdale side pay the Possible legal bills - as long as Mrs. Ragsdale doesn't have to pay a penny out of her own pocket? I mean, it seems like other people were putting her up to it and she did lose her cat and everything. So... Anyway, that's what we thought."
Judge Carnahan wasn't sure if he should laugh or cry, "I don't think I've ever heard such a recommendation before from a jury. It sounds absolutely fair, moderately impractical, and quite possibly outside the bounds of the law. I will have to study some precedents before I can fix the penalties, but I will work as closely as I can within your recommendations. I thank you for your time and the effort you put into your decision."
"I will appeal this," Byron Judge threatened at the end of the trial - knowing that he wouldn't.
"So Smaug is safe?" Kim asked that evening.
"Apparently – at least as long he's only a potential danger and doesn't get it into his head to start breathing fire or something."
"Yea Smaug," Jane squealed, and hugged the startled dragon around the neck. In his surprise he opened his mouth and green beans fell out.
"All right," Kim demanded, "who is not eating her green beans?"
"Mine are still on my plate," Sheki pointed out.
"I haven't had them yet," Jane argued.
Kim looked over, the green beans were gone from the plates of both Shego and Kasy.
"I gave him some green beans while I was helping make dinner," Kasy insisted. "Right, Eemah?"
"Absolutely," Shego agreed. As soon as Kim looked away the green woman whispered, "Fast thinking."
"Thanks," Kasy whispered in reply.
On a trip to the courthouse the following week Shego found judge Carnahan in his chambers. "Got the final paperwork done on Ragsdale vs Possible?" she asked cheerily.
He scowled at her and pointed to a folder on his desk. "I had to borrow two extra law clerks to try and find a precedent of any kind. Why don't you just call it even and let it go?"
"The jury said they were supposed to pay our legal fees."
"Did a penny of that come out of your pocket?"
"That's not the point."
"Well if it is compensatory damages that is supposed to be the point."
She smiled, "Well, I'll just depend on your legal wisdom to get that straightened out. I actually had another question."
"Does Middleton require licenses for pet birds?"
"Counselor, I know where you're going. And if you ask for reimbursement for years of buying dog licenses you are going to be hit with the biggest contempt of court ruling in the history of the free world. The damn thing is a bird dog until it starts breathing fire."