The second Monday in December dawned cold. Shego was at the courthouse early, talking with Alice before they went into the courtroom. A week earlier Shego had asked Alice how to dress for the trial, “Should I try and look sexy?”
“No,” had been the answer. “Look conservative and professional in your hair and clothing. Young and innocent in your makeup if you can manage it.”
Shego wore a dark skirt with a large green sweater, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Bonnie had spent thirty minutes on Shego's face with a skill which left Shego looking like she was wearing no makeup at all. Before leaving for the courthouse the pale woman looked in the mirror and wondered why she bothered.
Once at the courthouse Alice told her what to expect when they went into the courtroom. “Prosecutors don't like December, people are in a holiday mood and full of forgiveness. Steve did you a favor in not putting this off -- but he wants it over. People do not like to sit on juries in December; they have better things to do. Since there is nothing to try this will go fast. Hopefully we can get a jury picked in a day or two. There will be a couple days of witnesses, mostly character references for you. Since you've already pled guilty he doesn't need to call anyone to testify against you. That's good for you too -- keeps the crimes from being too graphic in anyone's mind.
“The jury just wants this over. Neither Steve nor I can afford to drag this out. Jurors want to be home with their families and will resent either side if we look like we're moving slowly. I'm guessing they will finish this on Friday to have the weekend free.”
“What if they recommend prison?”
“If they do, and the judge accepts the recommendation, you'll have a few weeks before you begin serving time. You'll have Christmas with Kim.”
While Christmas with Kim was a pleasant thought, the thought I could be her last did nothing to remove the feeling of a lump of lead sitting on her stomach.
Once in the courtroom the opposing counsels approached the bench. Alice requested that any prospective jurors who had been the victims of burglary be struck for cause. “Are we going to be able to be able to impanel a jury under those conditions?” Steve asked.
“I don't want victims of burglary taking it out on my client. You know that is a standard cause.”
“Yeah, but we're on different sides and I don't plan to concede anything to you.”
The selection process moved relatively quickly. Steve used two peremptory challenges to remove a pastor and a woman from the jury pool. Alice used one on a middle-aged man with a poorly trimmed beard.
“What's going on?” Shego whispered.
“We can ask for some potential jurors to be dismissed without giving a reason. You'd have to ask Steve why he didn't want those two. I've heard that man rant at city council meetings every time they give the audience an open mike.”
By mid-afternoon a jury had been sworn. The judge gave them a brief lecture on their role in the case. It would not be their place to determine guilt or innocence -- the woman standing trial had already admitted to all the crimes which would be mentioned, the question was one of what sentencing recommendations they would make. “Would the State like to present its opening statement today, or would you rather wait until tomorrow,” the judge inquired.
“I have quite a list of crimes to run through with the jury,” Steve answered. “I'd appreciate it if I could wait for tomorrow so I don't have to feel rushed.”
“Court will be adjourned until tomorrow morning,” Judge Forest announced to those in the room.
As the two counsels gathered their briefs Alice turned to the prosecutor's table, “Has the State reconsidered prison time?”
“No, that's what we're looking for.”
“I'm sorry Steve. You're a good lawyer, but I need to make someone in your office look bad. Your office screwed up this case.”
Steve worried about her words. Alice Armstrong did not have a reputation for making idle threats.
Shego and Alice found an angry lawyer at the prosecutor's table when they arrived the next morning.
“How could you subpoena my boss for the defense?” he hissed.
“That's my job,” she grinned back. “I do whatever I can for my client. Any chance you'll drop the prison recommendation?”
“I plan to call him last. Tomorrow afternoon or maybe Thursday he goes on the stand if you don't change your mind.”
Wondering what Alice had planned for his boss threw Steve's rhythm off, but only slightly. He gave her credit for another attempt to undermine him psychologically and wondered if he could find some way to return the favor.
Since Shego had already pled guilty he did not need to review the crimes she had been charged with and admitted to. That could work in the pale woman's favor if the jury wasn't given a good sense of what she had done. So Steve made certain they had a good idea of those crimes she had admitted doing. He spoke at almost dangerous length; some jurors would probably resent how long he addressed them. But the prosecutor spoke so well that only a single juror managed to nod off in the hour and a half.
Alice kept her opening remarks to under five minutes. She was counting on a battery of character references to make her case. The guilty plea meant the state didn't need to call witnesses.
“Does the defense wish to begin its presentation?” the judge asked.
“I would like to begin my witnesses after lunch, if that is okay, Your Honor.”
“Does the state have a problem with that request Mr. Crandall?”
“It's fine with me, Your Honor.”
“Court will be in recess until one,” Judge Forest announced, tapping her gavel.
Author's Note: Events at this chapter take place after Thanksgiving at the Big Table. And events associated with the story A Simple Jewish Wedding, which is not written at this point, are already starting to take place.