CHAPTER 58: TRIAL TIME…AND SOMETIMES IT'S GOOD TO TALK
ALLEGHANY COURTHOUSE – 6 JANUARY – EARLY AFTERNOON
Well they haven’t been doing their jobs as they’ve not asked about the psych evaluation. I can’t wait to point that out to the Judge. I was transferred here the night before and I almost sneered when I saw Officer No-Name and that guard who said I bribed him.
Start of flashback
“You’re back!” Officer No-Name crows. “We’ve got a nice cell for you. In fact, you might remember it. It's the one you committed your last crime in.”
“That was entrapment.” I snap smugly.
“No it wasn’t.” He laughs. “He advised you what you needed to do. At no point did he say if you give me this, I will do that. Although he’s slightly insulted!”
“What’s his name?”
“No idea.” I scowl. “But I think Lying Bastard suits him perfectly.”
“It’s Brandon. Brandon Green. He and Kinney go way back apparently.”
“Brandon!” I gasped as the cell door clanged shut.
End of flashback
“Novotny! This way.” A guard announces and then looks me up and down and shakes his head. “Do you have a suit?” He asks.
“Word to the wise, wear it next time.”
“I’m not comfortable in suits.” I reply tersely.
“Heard of the phrase first impressions last?” I nod. “Well this Judge takes that literally.”
“Well I don’t have access to my suit right now.” I snipe.
“Then get your attorney or a family member to get it for you.”
“I don’t have access to those either.” I growl.
“Life just seems to be sucking for you.” He holds the door open and I walk in.
I come to a surprised halt when I see how packed the court is. Seems that all of Liberty Avenue is in here. I look to their side and there’s three rows of empty seats. I frown and look to the guard but he just shrugs and tells me to sit down.
As I sit down, there’s muttering and angry looks directed at me. Well their views will change when they hear what I have to say. They’ll see where the fault lies.
MEETING ROOM 6
“Right. We’ve got word that he’s in and the room is packed. When we go in remember I need Brian, Justin, Ben, Steve, Hunter, Matt and Debs in the front row. Everyone else sit with partners as discussed. Don’t look at him; keep your eyes on the judge or each other.” I look round and see the determination on their faces. “Okay let’s go.”
I had heard that Liberty Avenue was coming to support them but even I’m surprised by how packed it is. He turns to look at us and gives us his patented, according to Debs, wounded puppy look but we just keep heading to our seats.
I watch the door open and in comes the bailiff. He’s reading the docket and then comes to a halt before looking incredulously at us.
“Y’all are fucking with me!” I gasp. “Your honour what are…you know what, I don’t want to know. I’m just glad this is on my watch!”
I clear my throat and watch as Meriam catches her colleagues up and they start to smile.
“All rise for Judge Carruthers!” I order and the Judge comes in. He starts at the amount of people and looks at me. I just shake my head and he sits down.
“Be seated.” I order. “Your honour, this is the trial of the State vs Michael Charles Novotny. Do you wish to be reminded of the charges your honour?”
“No thank you. Let’s proceed.”
I look across at the attorneys for the prosecution and then across at Novotny.
“Mr Novotny, where’s your attorney?”
“I’m representing myself.”
“You’re representing yourself what?”
“In this unfair trial.” He says slowly…
Oh you’re going to be like that!
“The last time I saw you, you had an attorney. What happened to him?”
“I fired him.”
“Okay let’s stop this right now. Mr Novotny, do you have any legal background? I mean have you attended court before?”
“Yes I have attended court before.”
“I mean as an attorney not the defendant?” I glare at the snickering from Malcolm, who almost looks sorry.
“No but I know how it works.”
“Clearly not all of it. You have spoken to me five times and not used those two words yet and I’m a stickler for court etiquette. So…”
“Say the words or we will stay here until you do. Bear this in mind when I say we, I mean you and me. The rest of the court will be cleared and you will stand there until you treat this court with the respect it is due. So the words...”
I lean back as he continues to stare blankly at me. “Here’s an incentive, the last qualified attorney who forgot his manners stayed standing in front of me for 2 hours. I got a lot of admin done in that time. I didn’t hold that against him and his client at all.”
After a few minutes, it finally dawns on him. “Your honour?”
“There you go. Now can you explain why you fired your lawyer?”
“Because he wasn’t doing his job your honour.”
“To get me out of jail your honour.”
“And how did you deciding to do this yourself work out for you in Pennsylvania Correctional Facility’s solitary confinement wing?”
“Well that was entrapment your honour. A former trick of my best friend tricked me into…”
Meriam is up like a shot. “Object…”
“Mr Novotny, where is your secondary lawyer? You can’t question yourself.”
“I don’t have one, your honour. I can’t afford one.”
“A court appointed one will be provided for you. They're free, and don’t fire him or I will have you charged with contempt.” I look at him and wait for him to acknowledge what I said. “Did you understand me?”
“Yes your honour. In that case, can I have my first lawyer back? His name was Berk, I mean Birch.”
“No he has a conflict, by the end of the day someone – who loses at rock-paper-scissors no doubt – will be your attorney. Now, I understand another charge has been added to your sheet.”
“Pardon your honour. I didn’t know about…”
“He was presented with the paperwork at the last attorney meeting your honour. It’s Exhibit F6.” Meriam tells me.
“And you didn’t read this?” I huff as he shakes his head. “You are being charged with the burglary of the property of Brian Kinney, but that case is not being dealt with today, your lawyer will handle that. Now go back to the table, so that I can make my decision on the four cases that are being dealt with today.”
He remains where he is. “Mr Novotny?”
“I had asked for another psych evaluation but the guy I asked didn’t come back to me so can we postpone this…”
“And you didn’t chase him up?”
“I was in prison your honour.”
“Ah I see. So the first time you contacted him, you escaped solitary confinement called the guy and then broke back in and nobody noticed?”
Charles looks down, smirking.
“Postponement request dismissed. Now take your seat.”
He stomps back to his seat and goes through the motions of checking his papers.
“Right, the following charges will be heard without a jury. Copyright fraud, deception, bribery and resisting arrest…”
“Your honour…” Ephraim stands up.
“Counsel, these can be determined now. The others are more serious and need a jury. We don’t need any more delays.”
“Yes your honour.”
The look of smugness on Novotny’s face is galling and the looks of disappointment on the other side make me sigh.
“In the case of the State vs Michael Charles Novotny, I, Judge Martin Avery Carruthers, find the defendant guilty of all charges and the sentences are as follows to run consecutively. Copyright fraud you will serve 3 years. Deception you will serve 3 years. Attempted bribery of a government official you will serve 2 years and resisting arrest you will serve 6 months. Please stand.”
There is a stunned silence.
“Damn!” Malcolm whispers.
“Wait! Your honour! You’re sending me to prison for them?!” He shouts.
“Of course I am. Where did you expect me to send you?” I retort.
“But what about my evidence?!” He looks like he’s going to either puke, cry or faint… or maybe all three.
“You had time to submit it…”
“Your honour! I could hardly send myself!” He wails.
“Send your...okay explain that?”
“I’m my evidence, your honour…”
“Oh hell no…”. Malcolm gasps and the court erupts into chuckles.
“I will have quiet!” I demand. “And that sentence right there is why you need an attorney.”
“Fucker.” He snaps, glaring at me and the guard starts to approach but I wave him back.
I lean forward in my chair and steeple my fingers. “You have thirty seconds to dig yourself out of that hole… someone start their watch and let him know how long he has before I show him how I treat people who call me a fucker in my court.”
“Fifteen seconds.” Malcolm announces.
“Apologise you asshole!” A redheaded woman yells. She has tears in her eyes.
“Stop the clock! Thank you madam. Due to court etiquette, I couldn’t say it like that. Restart Malcolm.”
“Sorry your honour.” He mumbles.
“Mr Novotny, you yelled fucker at great volume but can’t say sorry with the same gusto?” I see him struggle not to roll his eyes. “However, since I have other things to do I shall grudgingly accept that you said it, even though you don’t mean it.”
I look through my papers again. “Now as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, these sentences will run consecutively after the rest of your charges have gone through due process. In the meantime, you are to be returned to Pittsburgh Correctional Facility until next week when the jury trials begin.”
“Court is dismissed. We reconvene next Monday!”
“Guard, please remove Mr Novotny to the cells for onward transportation.”
Holy fuck! It is not often that you see Cutthroat like this but that man was beyond foolish.
As he’s led out, he looks back one time and mouths something before turning away. Once he’s gone nobody says a word.
“I’ll leave you be. It’s a lot to take in right now. See you next week.”
“Thanks Malcolm.” Meriam says and I quietly close the door behind me.
“People of Liberty Avenue, on behalf of the family, please can you clear the court?” Everyone files out quietly and I turn to Zee. “What did he say?”
“I’ll appeal; wait for me.” She replies, shuddering. “What the fuck?”
“Still trying the psychological route, I guess. Well we’re prepared for this. Let’s hope he and his lawyer are.” I reply, then clear my throat.
“What I suggest is this, do not celebrate but take on board what has happened and digest it. And don’t be alone with your own thoughts. It’s a shock that it’s happened the way it has. None of us were expecting that.”
Zee and Zeus exchange looks. “Treehouse?” He asks. She nods and they file out quietly.
When the last of them are gone, we all just stare at each other.
“Lived up to his name, didn’t he?” Charles is still stunned.
“Yeah. Well let’s go prepare for next week. I pity the sap who gets to babysit him.” Ephie grins. “And I know this is not the correct response but I think a Beam when we get back is called for.”
“Definitely. That’s definitely the right response!” Charles declares.
PRISON VAN TO PITTSBURGH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Eight and a half fucking years! Are you kidding me?! There is no way I’m serving that! I shall get whatever lawyer they decide to stick me with to appeal it. Just no fucking way!
As I wait for the other prisoners to be brought out with their guards, Officer No-Name comes out and shakes his head at me.
“Wow! Just wow Novotny.” He snickers and then my day gets even better when Berk comes over.
“Mr Novotny. Good afternoon... well not for you obviously. Word has got around extremely quickly.” He smirks at Officer No-Name. “And I understand that you requested my services again...shame I have another conflict”
“Excuse me Mr...?” Officer No-Name asks.
“Birch, Edwin Birch.” Officer No-Name smiles at him. “Sorry but we need to get going. Nice to meet you.”
“And you too. Well Novotny, enjoy your journey.” Then he smirks. “And if you’re most unlucky, you might run into me in the next few weeks. Judge Carruthers and I are of the same mindset when it comes to all things about etiquette.”
As he heads away, I stop him. “Aren’t you being impolite?” I snark and he frowns. “You didn’t ask his name.” I jerk my head at Officer No-Name.
“Novotny, this is not a social gathering. Sit down and shut up!” Another officer shouts and the door is slammed shut.
Fuck! There is a conspiracy to stop me finding out his name!
TREEHOUSE - EARLY EVENING
Most of the family have been asleep; nobody said a word on the way home. I’ve ordered from Station after I heard nothing but good about it and none of us want to cook. Alice, George, Tom and Zeon have gone to get it.
“Hey.” Carl comes in and plops on the sofa.
“Time for the stupidest question ever? Is she coming to terms with it?” I ask, quietly.
“I think in her heart of hearts she knew this would happen but for it to actually happen… It’s knocked her.” He sighs heavily. “She was still his mom though. Saved him from extra jail time.”
“Carl where are you?” Debs calls out.
“Okay, am bringing in booze. Lots of booze!”
We snicker and go to help her. Then amazingly one by one, people start to come down.
“We heard booze!” Justin quips.
“And here comes the food.” Debs comments as they come back.
“Okay let’s go eat, drink and maybe talk?” Carl suggests.
Twenty minutes later, with full bellies - of both food and drink - we lapse into silence again.
“So you want me to talk you through what happened legally or…”
“Not really.” Brian replies. “But can he appeal?”
“Yes he can but Carruthers is one for fine detail. He will have put it in the submission of the order why he’s done what he’s done. So the only way the schmuck can get it overturned is with the Supreme Court and they won’t hear that.”
“Eight and a half years though.” Emmy Lou breathes. “Is that time normal?”
“For a first time offence? No but with all the evidence, the pure spite of it all, and, in the case of the bribery rank stupidity, the harsh sentence was warranted. But mostly it must have been his lack of remorse that weighed the most. His mean streak was on full display, even during the ruling. There was no way it could be overlooked.”
We sit in silence for a while then suddenly Blake bursts out laughing.
“I’m my evidence!” He’s got Michael’s whine nailed down. “And then Malcolm’s response!”
“Which one?” Justin giggles. “The ‘y’all are fucking with me’ or the ‘oh hell no’?” He snuggles deeper into Brian’s embrace and they exchange a sweet kiss.
“I feel so sorry for whoever gets to babysit him. I think that game of rock-paper-scissors will be best of a million and one!” I snort.
KYRAN’S RESIDENCE - LATE EVENING
Kyran is trying to gauge my reaction to him starting a work conversation. He’s looking at me carefully as I hate bringing work home. I decide to help him out.
“Remember just before your dad got sick and I came home in such a foul mood? You kept asking me what was wrong so I made that rule...”
He nods quietly and pours us a glass of wine each.
“Well he was the reason. He is so full of hatred for one guy and that’s matched by the love for the other guy that he won’t see what he’s doing as wrong even though he knows it is.”
“Hates Justin but loves Brian.”
I gape at him. “How did…?”
“Michael Novotny is the guy that dissed Matt the first time he met him. And then there’s his sister-in-delusion Lindsay Peterson. Now she’s a piece of work. A WASP with an over inflated sense of entitlement. Even her parents have…” He trails off. “You okay? What’s so funny?”
It takes a few good minutes for me to calm down. “I wasn’t kidding about him seeing me again next week but how do you know about Lindsay?”
“Guess who was on my wing and shares a cell with Martha?” He smirks.
“Oh fuck me! This is going to be epic!” I laugh before kissing him soundly and taking him to bed.