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Theodore boone kid lawye.., p.15
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       Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, p.15

         Part #1 of Theodore Boone series by John Grisham  
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  “He’s in my office, Henry,” Mrs. Boone said. “He’s now represented by the Boone law firm.”

  “Does that include Theo?” Judge Gantry asked, and everyone thought it was somewhat funny.

  “You have to assure us, Henry, that he will not be arrested or prosecuted for anything,” Mr. Boone said.

  “You have my word,” Judge Gantry said.

  Bobby Escobar sat across the table from the judge. To his left was Julio, his cousin and interpreter, and to his right was his aunt Carola. It was a family affair with Hector and Rita back in Mrs. Boone’s office watching television.

  Theo began his direct examination with the same aerial photo of the sixth fairway, Creek Course. With the red laser light, he and Bobby pinpointed the exact spot where he’d been eating his lunch. Theo changed photos, asked his questions carefully, and gave Julio plenty of time to translate. The story unfolded perfectly.

  Woods, Marcella, and Ike sat back and watched with enormous pride, but all three were ready to catch any mistake.

  Once the facts were established and Bobby had established himself as a reliable witness, Judge Gantry said, “Now, let’s talk about identification.”

  Since Bobby had never met Pete Duffy, he could not say that he was the man who entered the house. He did say that the man was wearing a black sweater, tan slacks, and a maroon golf cap, the same outfit Pete Duffy was wearing at the time of the murder. Theo flashed up a series of photos of Pete Duffy, all taken from the newspaper. To each, Bobby could only say that the man in the photo definitely resembled the man he’d seen. Theo pressed another key and ran three quick videos he’d strung together, all showing Pete Duffy either walking into the courthouse or walking out. Again, Bobby said he was almost certain that was the man.

  Then, the clincher. The prosecution had placed into evidence twenty-two photographs of the crime scene, the house, and the neighborhood. One of the photos, State’s Exhibit No. 15, had been taken from a position somewhere near the edge of the fairway. It showed the rear of the Duffy home, its patio, windows, rear door, and off to the far right there were two uniformed policeman standing next to a golf cart. Sitting in the golf cart was Pete Duffy, who appeared dazed and distraught. The photo had apparently been taken just minutes after he raced home from the Clubhouse Grill.

  Theo had obtained the photograph by “visiting” the site maintained by the court reporting service. If Judge Gantry asked how he got it, Theo was prepared to say, “Well, Judge, it’s been produced in open court and admitted into evidence. Not really a secret, is it?”

  But Judge Gantry said nothing. He’d seen the photo a hundred times and was unmoved by it. Bobby, though, had never seen it, and he immediately began speaking rapidly to Julio.

  “That’s him,” Julio said, actually pointing. “The man in the cart. That’s him.”

  “Let the record show, Your Honor, that the witness has just identified the defendant, Mr. Peter Duffy.”

  “Got it, Theo,” Gantry said.

  Chapter 22

  The spectators gathered Monday morning for the final drama. The jurors arrived with solemn faces, determined to finish the job. The lawyers wore their finest suits and appeared fresh and eager to get their verdict. The defendant himself looked rested, confident. The clerks and bailiffs hustled about with their usual early morning energy. But when they grew still, at ten minutes after 9:00 a.m., the courtroom seemed to inhale and wait. Everyone stood when Judge Gantry entered, his black robe flowing behind. He said, “Please be seated,” and did not smile. He was not happy. He seemed very tired.

  He looked around the courtroom, nodded at his court reporter, acknowledged his jury, noticed the crowd and in particular looked at the third row, right side. There was Theo Boone, wedged between his father and his uncle, absent from school, at least for the moment. Judge Gantry looked at Theo and their eyes locked. Then he leaned down a few inches closer to the microphone. He cleared his throat and began to deliver the words no one expected.

  “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. At this point in the trial of Mr. Peter Duffy, we are scheduled to hear the closing arguments from the lawyers. However, this will not happen. For reasons that I will not explain at this moment, I am declaring a mistrial.”

  There were gasps, jolts, shocked expressions from all corners of the courtroom. Theo was watching Pete Duffy, whose jaw dropped to his chest as he turned to Clifford Nance. The lawyers on both sides appeared to have been hit between the eyes, all staggering as they tried to understand what they had just heard. On the front row, directly behind the defense table, Omar Cheepe turned and looked straight at Theo, two rows back. He didn’t stare, didn’t look particularly menacing, but his timing said it all—“You did this. I know it. And I’m not finished.”

  The jurors were not sure what would happen next, so Judge Gantry explained it to them. He turned, looked at them, and said, “Members of the jury, a mistrial means that the trial is over. The charges against Mr. Peter Duffy are dismissed, but only for the moment. The charges will be filed again, and there will be another trial in the very near future, but with a different jury. In any criminal trial, the judge has the absolute discretion to declare a mistrial when he or she believes that something has happened that might adversely affect the final verdict. Such is the case now. I thank you for your service. You are important to our judicial system. You are now excused.”

  The jurors were thoroughly bewildered, but some were beginning to understand that their civic duty was over. A bailiff herded them through a side door. As they shuffled out, Theo watched and admired Judge Gantry. At that moment, he, Theo, decided that he wanted to be a great judge, just like his hero up there on the bench. A judge who knew the law inside and out and believed in fairness, but, more importantly, a judge who could make the tough decision.

  “Told you so,” Ike whispered. Ike had been convinced that a mistrial would be declared, but then so had the rest of the Boone law firm.

  The jurors left but no one else moved. They were stunned and wanted more information. At the same time, Jack Hogan and Clifford Nance rose slowly and looked at Judge Gantry. Before either could speak, he said, “Gentlemen, I will not explain my actions at this time. Tomorrow, at ten a.m., we will meet in my office and I will state my reasons. I want the charges refiled as soon as possible. I will schedule the retrial for the third week in June. The defendant will remain free on bond with the same restrictions. Court is adjourned.” He slapped his gavel on the bench, stood, and then vanished.

  With the judge and jury gone, there wasn’t much left to do. The crowd slowly climbed to its feet and headed for the door.

  “Get to school,” Mr. Boone said sternly to Theo.

  Outside the courthouse, Theo unchained his bike. “You stopping by this afternoon?” Ike asked.

  “Sure,” Theo said. “It’s Monday.”

  “We need to debrief. It’s been a long week.”

  “Sure has.”

  Not far away, at the front entrance, there was noise and the rush of people trying to get out of the courthouse. Pete Duffy, surrounded by his lawyers and others, hustled away with a couple of reporters yelling questions at him. The questions were not answered. Omar Cheepe brought up the rear, and actually shoved one of the reporters. He was about to take off with his client when he noticed Theo, straddling his bike, watching the drama with Ike. Cheepe froze, and for a split second seemed undecided about what to do. Should he hurry and protect Mr. Duffy, or should he walk over to Theo and utter a vile threat or two?

  Theo and Cheepe stared at each other, fifty feet apart, then Cheepe turned and scampered away. Ike seemed not to notice this exchange.

  Theo hurried away, too. He headed for school, and once the courthouse was far behind him, he began to relax. He found it difficult to believe that it was Monday. So much had happened in the past seven days. The biggest trial in the town’s history had come and gone, yet it wasn’t over. Thanks to Theo, a bad verdict had been avoided. Justice had been preserved, at least for the time being. He would take a break from his duties, but before long he would be meeting secretly with Bobby Escobar and Julio. No doubt about it. Theo would be in charge of coaching Bobby, preparing him for the three hours he would spend on the witness stand come June.

  And now Omar the Creep was complicating things. How much did he and his client and Clifford Nance really know? Questions, questions. Theo was puzzled, but he was already excited.

  Then he thought of April. Tomorrow, Tuesday, the judge would issue a ruling that would require her to live with one parent or the other. Her presence would not be required in court, but she was a wreck anyway. Theo needed to spend some time with her. He decided that they would sneak away at lunch and talk about things.

  And he thought about Woody, whose brother was in jail and likely to stay there.

  He parked his bike at the flagpole and walked into the school halfway through first period. He had a written excuse from his mother, and as he handed it over to Miss Gloria in the front office he noticed that she wasn’t smiling. She always smiled.

  “Have a seat, Theo,” she said, nodding to a wooden chair beside her desk.

  But why? Theo wondered. It’s just a simple matter of being tardy.

  “How was the funeral?” she asked, still unsmiling.

  A pause, as Theo tried to understand. “I’m sorry.”

  “The funeral last Friday, the one your uncle came here . . .”

  “Oh, that funeral. It was great. A real blast.”

  She looked around nervously, then tapped her lips with an index finger. Please talk softly, she was saying. There were open office doors nearby.

  “Theo,” she almost whispered. “My brother was stopped last night for driving under the influence. They took him to jail.” She rolled her eyes around to make sure they were alone.

  “I’m sorry,” Theo said. He knew where this was going.

  “He’s not a drunk. He’s a grown man with a wife and kids and a good job. He’s never been in trouble and we just don’t know what to do.”

  “What was his BAC?”

  “What?”

  “His blood alcohol content.”

  “Oh, that. Does point zero nine sound right?”

  “Yes. The limit is point zero eight, so he’s in trouble. First offense?”

  “Why heavens yes, Theo. He’s not a drunk. He barely had two glasses of wine.”

  Two drinks. Always two drinks. Regardless of how drunk or how sloppy or how belligerent, they’ve never had more than two drinks.

  “The policeman said he could get ten days in jail,” she went on. “This is so embarrassing.”

  “Which cop?” Theo asked.

  “How am I supposed to know that?”

  “Some of the cops like to scare people. Your brother will not get ten days. He’ll pay a fine of six hundred dollars, lose his license for six months, go to driving school, and a year from now his record can be expunged. Did he spend the entire night in jail?”

  “Yes. I can’t imagine . . .”

  “Then there’s no more jail time. Write down this name.” She was already holding a pen. “Taylor Baskin,” Theo said. “He’s the lawyer who handles all the drunks . . .”

  “He’s not a drunk!” she said, a bit too loud. Both looked around to see if anyone was listening. No one.

  “Sorry. Taylor Baskin is the drunk driving lawyer. Your brother needs to call him.”

  Miss Gloria was scribbling away.

  “I need to get to class,” Theo said.

  “Thank you, Theo. Please don’t tell anyone.”

  “No problem. Can I go now?”

  “Oh, yes, please. And thanks, Theo.”

  He scampered out of the office, leaving behind another satisfied client.

 
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Comments 1

Sanda-Maria Copotoiu
Sanda-Maria Copotoiu 5 August 2018 21:26
0
Another hero, an emerging lawyer with investigator qualities makes the day of a very palatable novel. Since a preadolescent, his bright future mandates us to look forward to the next issues. The tale does not need atrocious murders to be attractive since the charm lies in the characters pictured leaving you with a sense of safety. A book to be read under any circumstances.
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