CHAPTER 59: MICHAEL vs PSYCHOLOGY...AND THE RECUSING OFFER
ALLEGHANY COURTHOUSE - MONDAY MORNING
Somehow I don’t know how the fuck but this is a mental deficiency hearing!
“All rise for Judge Carruthers!”
“The jury has been sworn in and there have been no objections from either…”
“Excuse me your honour but I do object to certain members of the jury.” Novotny interrupts me.
“First, well done on the unprompted your honour but where is your lawyer?” Judge Carruthers asks.
“She is on her way, your honour.”
“I see. Well since she’s seen the jurors and has not found them objectionable, I don’t see how you can.”
“I didn’t know she’s seen them or I would’ve…”
“I am so sorry your honour my previous hearing overran! I was in with Judge Milner.”
He nods in understanding as do the others. Sometimes Milner can be quick but others not so much and because he’s been here the longest he tends to get power hungry.
“Your client, Ms Josh has a problem with the jury.”
She looks across at him in confusion. “Please may we have a few minutes your honour?”
“A few and by that, I mean about three.”
BELINDA JOSH, MICHAEL’S COURT APPOINTED ATTORNEY
I put my papers down and inwardly sigh. I’m new to Pittsburgh and keen to show willingly. But already I have had a migraine carrying over from the meetings I have had with him. He seems hellbent on having his own way which is trying to go for the psychological/emotionally distraught route. I’ve told him they will counter but he’s the client and wants to go this way.
“What’s the problem with the jury?” I whisper.
“Half the people there Brian’s most likely slept with and the whole of Liberty Avenue is against me.” He sighs, mournfully.
“Which is why seven of the jurors are women.” I point out.
“Actual women?” He asks, looking closely at them. “This is Liberty Avenue after all and there are…”
“Counsel.” Judge Carruthers prompts.
“We are happy to proceed with the jury as selected your honour. Apologies for the confusion.”
“Apology accepted. Now…”
“Shush!” I hiss. “Not you, your honour. I was talking to…”
“Ms Josh and other counsel to my chambers. Court is in recess for 15 minutes.” The Judge orders.
“All rise!” Malcolm intones.
JUDGE CARRUTHERS’ CHAMBERS
“Ms Josh, I understand that you are new to Pittsburgh and that you’ve not met the prosecution.”
“Yes your honour.”
“Well allow me to introduce myself and them. I’m Martin Avery Carruthers and from left to right; Ephraim Williams and Charles Phelps-Brown from Chase Donaldson and Draper and Meriam Maatje, who is actually a judge but got special dispensation to prosecute this case.”
They exchange polite smiles and handshakes.
“The reason for this meeting is twofold. One as I said was to do introductions and the second is to take the unusual step of understanding if you want the option of recusing yourself.”
She gapes at me. “Why would I do that? Everyone has the right to a defence.”
“Ms Josh, please do not feel the need to impress me. I have had the pleasure of dealing with him. I am merely saying if you feel you can’t, then we would understand.”
She looks uncertainly around and Meriam smiles at her in reassurance. “I dealt with him in my court and completely lost it. Just a heads up... he will keep going until he gets what he feels he’s due.”
She grimaces in understanding and rubs her temple. “Thank you.”
“Right, let us proceed then.” I smile at them. “I think it will certainly be an interesting day.”
“All rise for Judge Carruthers!”
The fool has been sitting there looking like a woebegone whipped puppy. I notice that he is in a suit now, albeit an ill-fitting one.
“Your honour, this first day of the trial will concentrate on the psychological evaluation of Michael Charles Novotny.”
The look on the newbie counsel’s face makes me want to give her a hug as he looks briefly smug before adopting the look again.
“Defence will proceed.”
I take a breath and stand. “Thank you, your honour. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client Michael Charles Novotny is an emotionally and psychologically damaged man. While he doesn’t deny what he did, his childhood and subsequently traumatising adulthood will explain why he did it.”
I was expecting an objection and was surprised when there wasn’t one.
“My client on realising that his affection was not being returned was going to attempt to return the items but the arrival of a new family friend made this difficult due to…”
“Counsel? This family friend, are they present?” Judge Carruthers interrupts.
“Mr Novotny, please stand and point out and name the person to whom I’m referring.”
He does so with tears in his eyes and points at a woman and with a trembling voice. “Her. She’s Zaden Stark.”
Judge Carruthers nods and motions that he sit. “Will you be calling her as a witness?”
“Yes your honour.” I reply and he nods. “To continue, due to the background of Zaden Stark, Mr Novotny’s anxiety levels spiked to such a degree that he was too afraid to continue his attempt to return the properties that he had appropriated and therefore they remained where they were, much to his deep regret.”
Still no objection.
“I call Michael Charles Novotny to the stand.” I turn and nod at him and inwardly cringe as he shuffles- yes shuffles- slumped shouldered and like he is wearing too small shoes to the stand.
After he’s sworn in, he looks at the jury. “Mr Novotny, can you tell the court about your childhood.”
He clears his throat and swallows hard. “It was a hard one. My mother didn’t love me as much as she said she did. She preferred Brian, my best friend to me. He could do no wrong.”
“Was there any physical abuse from your mother?”
“Only the occasional head slap, nothing else. But she continued to shower more love on Brian than she did on me.”
“Tell me about that.”
“Well Brian comes from an abusive home and when he was beaten up he would come to our house to escape and mom would clean him up and stuff.”
“I see. And how was your friendship with Brian?”
“Our friendship, to my mind and heart, is still that of best friends. Yes, he’s mad at me right now but I wasn’t in my right mind when I did the things I did. I just wanted to be close to him; to get him to love me. Some could say that I was obsessed at the time.” He takes a deep breath. “I tried to call a psychologist I know but he never came back to me.”
Seriously, object already!
“Witness to remain.” Charles replies. “Who was the psychologist that you called?”
“Dr Alex Winter, but as I said he…”
“Thank you. Witness may stand down. Right to recall.”
He shuffles to the chair and then looks across to their side and frowns. Whatever reaction he was expecting, he clearly didn’t get it.
“We call to the stand Dr Jermaine Stewart.”
I can actually feel his head whip up in surprise. Dr Stewart is sworn in and he settles down.
“Dr Stewart, please can you tell the court your medical speciality?” I ask.
“I’m a psychiatrist.” He replies.
“And you were asked to evaluate Michael Charles Novotny, correct?”
“Who requested your services?” I try to keep the smirk off my face.
“Edwin Birch, his court appointed attorney, and your colleague Ephraim Williams. It is standard practice.”
“And in your opinion, is there anything medically wrong with the defendant?”
“No, as I said to Mr Birch at the time and in my written report. The defendant doesn’t present any characteristics of someone who is psychologically or emotionally damaged and…”
“Excuse me. I don’t have a copy of that report.” Belinda interrupts.
“It was given to the defendant during the attorney meetings while he was incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Facility along with the recorded copy of their interview and Dr Stewart’s evaluation. If you don’t have it, I’m sure the judge will allow it to be played now.”
“I will allow it.” Judge Carruthers replies as it is obvious he’s not given it to her.
The disc is played and I am pleased that the family have already seen it. Novotny keeps peeking over to see their reactions. Whilst the family remains impressively impassive, the rest of Liberty Avenue do not; even Malcolm is glaring at him.
“Silence in court!” Judge Carruthers orders.
Belinda is just staring between him and the screen in horror.
“Counsel wishes to counter?” Judge Carruthers asks.
She just shakes her head.
“Witness can stand down.” I head back to the table, feeling sorry for her but it had to be done. I pick up another piece of paper, noting who in the witness list is next up. “Your honour, we seek to prove that together with Dr Stewart’s statement and the testimony of our next witness, that the actions of Michael Charles Novotny were nothing other than jealousy and mendacity. I draw the court’s attention to the court recording of the 6 January, exhibit 1A then we will call our second witness.”
He’s still sitting there looking smug. I regard the judge with an impassive face even though my insides are jumping up and down with glee and anticipation.
“May we proceed with the recording your honour?” I ask.
Judge Carruthers nods and the recording is played to the jury and when it is finished the look on Belinda’s face is priceless.
“I call to the stand Dr Alex Winter.”
Not so fucking smug now, are you?!
“Dr Winter. Have you known the defendant long?”
“Yes, for many years.”
“Have you ever been contacted by him for any psychological assistance?”
“Strange. Dr Winter, you watched the first evaluation correct?”
“And in your medical opinion, do you concur with Dr Stewart?”
“Absolutely. Although, I will add a caveat to that.”
Okay show time.
“I do agree with the defendant that he is obsessed but not who he is obsessed with.”
“And who would that be?”
“He’s obsessed with Justin Taylor.” He replies and the courtroom buzzes.
“Silence!” Judge Carruthers bangs his gavel. I must admit that if I was one of the spectators, i would probably be murmuring in confusion too. But I have to ask...
“How have your reached that particular conclusion?”
“As I said, I’ve known the defendant for many years. Everyone within the community in which we reside knows how he feels about Brian but it was never reciprocated in the way he wanted. Yes, Brian would give him kisses and tell him that he loved him but he never meant it in the way Mr Novotny clearly longed for. Never.”
“Objection. Hearsay!” Belinda requests.
“Your honour, let me explain.” Dr Winter interjects. “Mr Taylor-Kinney had quite the salacious reputation on Liberty Avenue including a no repeats policy. He lived his life unapologetically but more important is that he lives it honestly. His self-imposed one-night stand rule changed the night he met the man now known as Justin Taylor-Kinney, his husband. With Brian and Justin Taylor-Kinney, the attraction was immediate and all-consuming. As a result, Brian broke each one of his edicts for Justin while the defendant tried to do everything in his power to oust him from Brian’s life.”
“Thank you Dr Winter. Overruled.” Judge Carruthers says before looking to me to begin my questioning again.
“While Brian was breaking his rules for Justin, what was the defendant doing?” I ask Alex, who seems even more knowledgeable about this situation than we all originally thought. So far his testimony is truly engaging and eye-opening.
“How do you mean?”
“Was the defendant single or sexually active in any way?”
“Objection relevance!” Belinda requests again.
“The defendant claims to be obsessed. His behaviour whilst the object of his obsession was with another man is a matter of importance.”
“He was in a relationship.” Alex answers.
“Is it normal for an obsessed person to have another relationship?”
“No. If he was as fixated as he claims, he wouldn’t have been in one, let alone have any solid relationships of any kind left. The kind of fixation he’s referencing is all-encompassing and hardly leaves room for the patient to focus on anything else, including themselves. But as I’ve said it wasn’t Brian he was angry with. And yes, it is definitely anger, not obsession.”
“Yes, which brings us back to you suggesting that Justin Taylor-Kinney is the real reason we are here today as opposed to Brian Taylor-Kinney, whom the defendant states he was obsessed with. I understand that when Justin was bashed at his prom and the defendant ran to Brian’s side to comfort him, is that correct?”
“But then moved to Portland to leave Brian to deal with the fallout, correct?”
“Not the actions of an obsessed man?”
“Yes and no.” He replies.
“Care to elaborate?”
“Michael expected Brian to go back to his normal behaviour and for a time after the incident he did. It was Brian’s way of coping with the trauma. But in the defendant’s mind, there would be no Justin in the picture for him to worry about. So when the defendant’s relationship ended and he moved back to Pittsburgh, as far as he was concerned everything was back to the way it was. What he called the Brian and Mikey Show was back on. Some of us folks knew better but said nothing.”
“Knew better about what?”
“Brian going to see Justin every night in the hospital…”
The gasp came from him. Good!
“Lots of people knew but respected Brian’s need for privacy and made a conscious decision not to say anything.”
“So how did Brian and Justin reconnect?”
Alex smiles at the memory. “Justin came to Woody’s to find Brian, in spite of the fact that he was prone to getting upset when it came to crowds. The defendant did rescue him from people surrounding him in Woody’s. But then Brian took him home and they’ve been together off and on ever since. He even sought my counsel to help Justin with his memory loss.”
“What?!” Novotny yells, outraged at Alex’s revelation.
“Silence!” The judge bangs his gavel, glaring at Michael who was the only voice to be heard in an otherwise silent courtroom. Even Judge Carruthers was riveted by the testimony of Dr Winter.
Alex dropped his head to hide his smile briefly before continuing. “Like I said, the defendant is angry. He’s angry that Justin without lifting a finger managed to do in one evening what he couldn’t do since the age of 14.”
“And that would be?”
“Make Brian Kinney fall in love with him. And Brian loved Justin the moment he saw him, although he wouldn’t admit that at the time.” He chuckles for a minute. “He was fiercely protective of his reputation but now he doesn’t care who knows he loves Justin. He’s very proud of that fact.”
“Thank you Dr Winter. Your witness.”
Again Belinda shakes her head. I don’t blame her for being a bit shell-shocked. Alex’s testimony was extremely powerful and well-informed. How could anyone with a brain refute it? But then we are dealing with the desperate dumbass so it’s possible that when he comes out of his own hurt feelings regarding Brian’s visits, I expect Belinda will have hell to pay. I certainly don’t envy her having to endure that high-pitch whine sure to come.
“I call back to the stand Dr Jermaine Stewart.” He sits down. “Having heard the testimony of Dr Winter, have you changed your opinion on the defendant?”
“Yes I have.” He replies and clears his throat as the court grumbles. “I concur with Dr Winter, the defendant is angry that Justin Taylor-Kinney has gotten what defendant in some way considered his and so he has punished Mr Taylor-Kinney for it... both of the Taylor-Kinneys really... by doing the things he did to remove Justin from the life of Brian Kinney.”
“No further questions. Your witness.”
Belinda shakes her head.
“Having heard the evidence, it is my opinion that Michael Charles Novotny is neither psychologically, emotionally nor mentally deficient to warrant a plea of Not Guilty due to Insanity defence. Therefore, the defendant will face the full penalty for each of the charges. Let the record reflect that the grounds for diminished responsibilities are never to be considered a possibility in all cases going forward.”
I look across at Belinda and feel so sorry for her.
“Ms Josh. Will you and the defendant please stand.”
He looks confused and pissed off.
“In the cases of the State vs Michael Novotny, how does the defendant plead?”
“Not guilty on the grounds of…”
“Mr Novotny! You repeating something it doesn’t make it true. You enter a plea of guilty or not guilty without embellishment and then it’s back to your nice cosy cell or guilty or not guilty with embellishment and downstairs overnight. Pick one?”
He pauses and then smirks. “Not guilty. Oh sorry... Your honour. And I no longer wish to have the services of this person. I want another lawyer.”
Okay, this delaying bullshit stops now!
“No Mr Novotny, you cannot have another lawyer. We will go back to the original plan of you representing yourself but with the caveat, upon her acceptance, that Ms Josh is your secondary attorney? Agreed?”
There’s a scandalised gasp from the court.
“Ms Josh, do you wish to be recused?” I ask her.
“Why would she need to be rescued? She’s not the one faced with going to jail. Your honour!”
No way are you going to bitch me into a delay. Throw everything you’ve got at me. I have 30 years in the legal system and over 20 years living in Hell’s Kitchen. You sir, are merely a snack!
“Ms Josh?” I repeat.
“No your honour, I do not. I will act as his cross examining attorney when it comes to himself.”
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are now dismissed.” I turn to them and watch them file out once the court is clear of all bar the defendant, counsel and victims. I lean back in my chair. “We will reconvene tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock prompt. The first charge to be heard will be medical insurance fraud. Be prepared people.”
“All rise!” Malcolm orders.
Once the fucker is gone, I turn to Ms Josh but she’s already striding out of court followed by their lawyers.
I stroll to their table and sit on the edge of the desk with my back to the stand. “I’m looking forward to this. I pity the person that comes up against me; I’ve been studying.”
“You might as well drop this shit now because I fully intend to drag each and every one of you up there and rip you to pieces. I will ruin you!” I snarl.
“Excuse me sir?” A voice behind me asks.
I turn and find myself looking at Milton, or whatever his name is, the bailiff. “What do you want?” I sneer. “What’s going on?” I demand as he and the guard who bought me up approach.
“Michael Charles Novotny, you are under arrest on the charge of witness intimidation…”
“Witness intimidation? What are you talking about?” I yell.
“This courtroom has 24 hour surveillance, both voice and video. Clearly you didn’t study hard enough.”
“You can’t arrest me!” I shout at him. “You’re just a bailiff.”
“Again, study harder! In order to become a court appointed bailiff you need to be a government official and that includes being a police officer. You got six months for resisting arrest in New York, how much do you think you’re going to get here?” He turns to the guard.
“Take this man down to bookings. I’ll get the witness statements and drop them off.”
After he’s led out, I turn to them. “Do you want to press charges?”
“Yes. Absolutely fucking yes!” Brian Taylor Kinney growls.