With her heavy class load, work on getting the house remodeled, and adjusting to life with Kim, Shego did not meet with her lawyer for several weeks. Kim reminded her of the need to stay on top of the case by ambushing the pale woman with a copy of her Global Justice report.
Several days after Kim's surprise Shego took the Global Justice report to the office of Adam Zinski. “This is good,” he told her. “It gives me some idea what you'll be charged with. The DA's office wants to arraign you next month.”
“Exactly what is that?”
“That's when they'll file the formal charges against you. I can't begin work in detail until we know which crimes they'll charge you with.” He handed her a number of papers from the GJ report, “I don't need these. These are the crimes that deal with other countries. Did you say you might be able to deal with some of the smaller charges?”
“That was what someone told me.”
“Well, try. If you can pay the fines or do anything to clear some of those up it will look good to the jury. There is no way you can walk out a free woman, they've got too much on you. We may be able to minimize the punishment, but you'll really have to look repentant.”
Almost a month later, to the day, Shego was back at the courthouse. She sat on a hard wooden bench with her lawyer outside Judge Armstrong's courtroom.
“This is going to be one of the longest arraignments I've heard. There are going to be a lot of charges. All you have to do today is plead 'not guilty.'”
“You can make a jury think I'm not guilty?”
“There's no jury today. That's the trial, which will be later. And I don't think you can convince any jury in the world you aren't guilty. This is just the list of charges and the defendant generally pleads not guilty. Then we start to plea bargain.”
“How does that work?”
“Trials can be long and expensive. And no one knows what a jury may do. We'll see that the State can prove some of the charges fairly easily against you. We plead guilty to those -- I can explain why later. There will be other charges it would be more difficult for the State to prove. Maybe a jury would convict, maybe they wouldn't. Neither side really knows what a jury might do. Just a couple people can sway a lot of others to convict or to acquit so a plea bargain is better all around. You agree to plead guilty to some charges, the state agrees to drop the others.”
“Couldn't I just fight them all?”
“You could, but you're going to lose some, and you make the jury feel like you're being a pain in the butt. What we're going to offer is a guilty plea for the non-violent crimes in return for the violent crimes being dropped.
“About a third of non-violent felons in the U.S. don't spend time in prison, they receive probation. That's the best you can hope for. People convicted of violent felonies usually receive prison time. Most of the crimes you are going to be charged with are felony burglaries. There are a few robberies and assaults on the list. You won't plead guilty to those. If the State accepts guilty pleas on the burglaries in return for dropping the robberies you may get a relatively short sentence, perhaps probation. If the State thinks it can prove robbery or assault, however, they won't be interested in cutting the deal.”
“Probation is the best I can do?”
“It's the best I think you can hope for. A case can be dismissed on technical grounds, but that isn't going to happen for you. You can be judged incompetent to stand trial, like your friend Drakken -- but I don't think that's an option. You could be given a suspended sentence, if you keep your nose clean for three years you're in the clear, but that probably won't happen either with a list of crimes this long. We may ask for a suspended sentence in order for the jury to see probation as a stiffer penalty.”
“How do we know what kind of a case the State has?”
“Well, you'll hear what the DA claims he can prove this morning. Disclosure laws require them to give me a copy of what they plan to produce as evidence. We'll look that over in the next couple weeks and decide what you need to plead guilty on and what we can fight. Today all you need is, 'Not guilty, Your Honor.'”
“I think I can manage that.”
Shego's arraignment was the fourth item on Judge Armstrong's docket for the morning. The first three hearings were finished in under an hour and then Shego and Adam moved to the front of the courtroom.
“Mr. Crandall,” Alice addressed the prosecutor, “is the state ready to present its list of charges against the woman known as Shego?”
The prosecutor stood, “We are, Your Honor.” She nodded to him and he began a list of crimes that took longer to read than two of the three earlier hearings. Adam took minimal notes; transcripts would be available if desired.
When the prosecutor finished the list of charges Alice turned to the defense, “Mr. Zinski, how does your client plead?”
He poked Shego gently in the ribs and gestured to her to stand up. “Not guilty, Your Honor,” the pale woman said.
“Got that” Judge Armstrong asked her clerk.
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Great. Any more business with this hearing, or can I move on to my next case?” she asked the two lawyers.
“Yes, Mr. Crandall?”
“The State requests that bail be revoked for the defendant.”
“On what grounds?”
“Her history demonstrates she is a proven flight risk. Now that she has been formally arraigned she should remain in custody until the trial.”
“Motion denied. She has done nothing to suggest anything but a willingness to face the charges against her.”
“Then can the amount of bail be--”
“Yes, Mr. Crandall?”
“The State respectfully requests that you recuse yourself from this case.”
“The basis for this request?”
“You were the judge who granted bail, the defendant has been seen in consultation with you, and your firm has been employed for the defense--”
“Do you really think that would sway my decisions?”
“I am suggesting it creates an image that raises questions.”
“Ah yes, Caesar's wife. Very well, Mr. Crandall. Following arraignment I will remove myself from judging this case. I trust the State will permit me to finish the arraignment hearing?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
Alice took Shego and Adam Zinski to a bar across the street from the Court House after the arraignment.
“What's going to happen now,” Shego asked nervously. “I was counting on you being the judge.”
“Don't worry about that. All you should want is a fair judge. If they don't assign the case to Hewlitt -- and I can make certain they don't -- any of the other judges in the system will observe the law properly.”
“You'll be fine,” her counselor also assured her.
“Adam,” Alice requested, “I'd like for you to drop this case.”
“What?” the two others asked together.
“I'm a little put out with Mr. Crandall and his boss for doubting my fairness. Perhaps they are right, but they should have spoken to me privately first instead of making the request at the arraignment hearing. I haven't worked a case from the other side of the bench in over a year. I'd like to handle this one if you don't mind.”
“Uh, Your Alice,” Shego began nervously, “if you haven't defended anyone in a year, would… I mean, I don't doubt--”
Adam interrupted her, “Don't worry about it Shego, I learned everything I know from Alice, and doubt I have half of her knowledge. You'll get the best defense possible.”
“Suck up,” Alice grinned at him, “you're really bucking for a senior partnership, aren't you?”
“Absolutely, Your Honor.”
After Shego left Alice turned to the junior partner, “Was he right, Adam? Did I need to recuse myself? Give me the truth.”
“Probably, Alice. But I think you'd have realized it yourself and done the right thing.”
She laughed, “Well, if you have to tell your boss the truth it's always nice to take out a little of the sting with a lie.”