Shego looked over the list of her character witnesses for the fiftieth time that day. She wondered what she had done in her life to earn such recommendations. It still bothered her, however, that Betty Director had refused to testify.
“Why not?” the pale woman demanded when they had spoken on the phone three weeks earlier.
“Two reasons, Shego. First, you need someone who is convinced you are sincere. I'm not. I hope you are, but I also think this could be some elaborate scam you're running on us and I'm too suspicious to make a good witness. Second, I know damn well you don't care a thing about Global Justice. You weren't here to help us last spring. You were here to help Drakken. If he hadn't been in trouble you wouldn't have lifted a finger.”
Shego acknowledged the truth of the second charge. She was disappointed that Betty could still be suspicious of her desire to straighten out her life, but knew she had told too many lies to earn anyone's trust easily. At least Betty had sent out a memo asking if anyone who had been in Global Justice headquarters that day wanted to testify on Shego's behalf. Two agents who felt Shego had helped save lives had volunteered to testify, and Will Du had volunteered to speak as someone who saw her on a regular basis.
Shego's rabbi had been willing to testify, but Alice had decided against it, she seemed like a woman who could potentially rub a jury the wrong way. Alice toyed briefly with asking one of Kim's parents to speak on Shego's behalf, but abandoned the idea because it would remind the jurors of the news stories they had seen over the years about fights between Kim and Shego.
Drakken had wanted to testify, but Alice had politely pointed out that it was not in Shego's best interests for him to be there even as a spectator. The defense counselor had also warned Kim and Ron to stay away. “I promised the prosecutor I wouldn't put you on the stands. If they jury even sees you in the courtroom they are going to remember your fights. You could hurt Shego's chances by being there.” The suggestion to stay away was particularly hard on Kim, but she reluctantly agreed.
Alice went with Shego's heroic past for the opening salvo to win the jury's sympathy. Shego smiled at the large blue and black figure in the jury box. He was dumber than a box of hammers and had always tried to run her life according to his own ideas of truth, justice and the American way, but she had always known she could count on him.
Hego stayed on the stand for a long time as Alice prompted him to tell story after story of Team Go's battles. He was not terribly good at telling the stories, but that only enhanced the sincerity of the account. At the end of his testimony he presented petitions from the Governor, an ex-Governor, the mayor of Chicago, and the Fraternal Order of Police in the city asking for clemency in the case based on all Shego had done for Team Go.
Steve kept the cross-examination short and to the point. He asked if Hego knew the activities his sister had been involved in after leaving Team Go. Hego reluctantly admitted that he had.
“And tell me,” Steve asked, “what do you think should be done with evil doers?”
“I think they should be punished.”
“No further questions, Your Honor.”
Alice had thought hard about where she should place her next witness; it was always good to go out with a tearjerker. But she finally decided to put the woman second to underline Shego's earlier life. The mother described how Shego had gone into a burning building to save her baby. The girl, now about nine, was in the courtroom and waved to the jury. The prosecutor had no questions and the mother stopped at the defense table to hug Shego on the way out. Alice hoped that testimony brought at least four votes against prison.
Three of Shego's professors, and a few other people she knew from the University testified briefly about how hard she worked in class. Mustapha Kemal, as her faculty advisor, made a better impression with a longer presentation of the pale woman's desire to attend graduate school and live an honest life.
Steve basically gave the academics a pass on cross-examination. He'd mention their testimony in his closing arguments.
“Do you wish to call any further witnesses today?” the judge asked defense counsel.
“No, Your Honor.”
“Then court is adjourned until tomorrow.”
The Global Justice agents started Wednesday morning. They made a nice segue between the heroic past and the testimonies Alice had lined up in the afternoon.
Will Du opened with an overview of the attack on Global Justice, and Shego's role in combating the plot. His precise manner and analytical style of presentation made him an excellent witness. The fact he continued to observe Shego's actions also gave him credibility. Unfortunately Mr. Du had the emotional appeal of congealed gravy. If there were one or two jurors who could be swayed by intellectual arguments Alice knew she had them with Agent Du's testimony, she simply hoped the others could stay awake for the later witnesses.
The second agent had worked with Shego in connecting the phase disruptors to the power packs, and spoke about how she worked despite her obvious ill health.
The third agent had been inside the building and talked about the lives that had been saved.
The court recessed for lunch after the testimony from the Global Justice agents. Spectators were not allowed back into the courtroom following lunch because of closed testimony.
“The State has verified the identity of the following two witnesses,” the judge explained to the jury. “However, for security reasons you will not be allowed to see them. They will be screened off from you while they testify. Both witnesses are under oath during their testimony.”
“Thank you for coming in today,” Alice thanked the first witness. “You work for one of the security services of Canada, is that correct?”
“A year and a half ago my client was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Canada, yet she was released only a few months later. Could you please say a little about that to the jury.”
“We found her a cooperative and model prisoner. She asked if there was any service she could perform for our government in exchange for a reduced sentence. She helped a branch of our government in a project and was released.”
“Did you yourself work with her?”
“Yes, I did.”
“And your opinion of my client?”
“Opinionated and headstrong.”
There was laughter from the jury box. Alice smiled, and continued, “But your government does not consider her a threat.”
“No, or she would not have been released.”
“If the need arose, would your government consider--”
“Objection,” Steve interjected, “counsel is asking for speculation.”
“If the need arose, would you recommend your government consider employing my client's services?”
“Yes, I would.”
On cross-examination Steve went for the obvious goal, to plant a seed of doubt in the jury's mind. “I assume you can not tell us what Shego did to earn the gratitude of your nation.”
“No, I am not at liberty to divulge that. It is a matter of Canadian security.”
“So, we really have no way of knowing if her actions were in the best interest of our nation's security?”
Alice stood up, “Objection, Your Honor.”
Steve repeated the question.
“No, you can't know. But I will point out that the U.S. and Canada--”
“Thank you for your answer, which was 'No' we can't know if her actions were in the best interest in the United States.”
“Do you wish to redirect?” the judge asked Alice.
“Could you please finish the comment you were about to make to the prosecutor?”
“Certainly. I was reminding him that we are long and historic allies and share many common interests in terms of national security.”
“Thank you for your time and testimony,” Alice said. “No further questions of this witness,” she told the judge.
Some jurors may not have believed that the next witness represented a Mexican security service. The Colonel's accent had been surgically removed during his four years in Princeton and his English was better than the majority of the people in the courtroom. He expressed shock on learning that his dear friend was considered a wanted criminal in the United States. He had known her for years and counted her among his closest acquaintances. Shego put her head down and clenched her teeth. She feared he was laying it on so thick no one would believe him. The Colonel closed his testimony as a character reference with a hope Shego would remain free and able to continue to work for his nation.
Steve's cross took the same form as it had for Joe; emphasizing that Shego's actual work was unknown to the jury. It had been for foreign governments and there was no way for to know if it was actually in the best interests of the United States.
The screens to protect the witness's identity were taken down after the intelligence officer from Mexico left the stand.
The ambassadors to Qatar and Bahrain expressed a hope that this woman who had done jobs for their governments would remain free. After the testimony of the Mexican and Canadian security men the jury accepted that the ambassadors would not be able to divulge details of Shego's actual activities. Which was just as well. The US State Department would not have been happy with the activities that had earned her the testimony. The ambassadors themselves did not know why they had been told to fly to Middleton and testify in the trial. And 'earn' might not reflect the motivation which brought the two ambassadors to her trial; 'blackmail' might have been more accurate. The Emirs of the two nations wanted the work Shego had done for them to remain secret and the pale woman had threatened to reveal her activities if their ambassadors did not speak in her defense.
The defense's last witness for the day was a tall man whose burn scars made him too easy to recognize for him to ever serve again as a field agent. Still, he had shown a talent for administration and planned to remain on his job in a Unites States intelligence service.
“Mr. Donner, you are in a position to know of work my client has done for the United States government?”
“Can you tell us how many times she has been employed by the United States government?”
“No, I'm afraid I can't.”
“Is that you don't know, or you aren't allowed to say?”
“Well, maybe you should just consider it a little of both.”
His answer brought some laughter from the jury box.
“Was the government was aware that my client was a wanted woman,” Alice asked.
“We were. There are some pragmatists in the intelligence services. And some individuals believed that for the sake of national security it is better to hire someone who can bring you what you need than moralize and remain ignorant.”
“So the government did not consider Shego a threat to national security?”
“No, or she would not have been hired.”
“Would the government like for Shego to stay out of prison so that--”
“Would you like for Shego to stay out of prison, for the sake of National Security?”
“I'd like that very much, Ma'am,” David responded, looking directly at the jurors.”
“You believe she can help her country?”
“Thank you very much,” Alice said to the witness. “No further questions, Your Honor.”
“Thank you, Your Honor.
“Mr. Donner,” Steve addressed the tall man, “do you think it is right for the United States government to be hiring criminals?”
“I think protecting national security is important.”
“That doesn't answer the question.”
“I have my priorities, you have yours.”
“And you'd be willing to hire the Devil to protect national security?”
“Hell yes, especially if he's got any solid intelligence on North Korea.” David smiled as the jury chuckled.
“So there is no crime so sordid you would draw the line?”
“Not if it saves American lives.”
“So, you'd be willing to hire Osama bin--”
“Objection, Counsel is drawing comparisons between my client and a mass murderer. She is not charged with any crimes of violence.”
“Sustained. Mr. Crandall, please keep your questioning relevant to the case and not philosophical issues of national security.”
There was a pause as the prosecutor consulted a piece of paper that had been on the desk.
“Mr. Donner, how did you get those scars on your head?”
David Donner looked slightly confused, “I, uh, don't--”
“Objection, Your Honor,” Alice spoke up. “This line of questioning is irrelevant to any of the crimes with which my client is charged.”
“Your Honor,” Steve Crandall addressed the bench. “This woman has already confessed to a long list of crimes. We believe there are even more crimes she is guilty of, and we are continuing our investigation. I believe that--”
“Objection sustained,” the judge ruled. “You are on some sort of a fishing expedition. You can only bring in evidence relevant to the crimes under consideration
“May I request a brief recess? I was just given some information during the luncheon recess and have not had time to check its accuracy, but it is important and could shape the direction of the trial.”
Judge Forrest weighed the request for a moment, “There will be a fifteen minute recess. I would like to see both counsels in my chambers immediately.”
The judge raised her question as soon as the door closed behind them, “Okay, Steve, What's going on?”
“I went into my office on lunch break. I had an email from someone in DC. I'd asked if he knew anything about David Donner. Supposedly Mr. Donner got those burns in a fight with Shego, right here in Middleton. There seem to be several versions of the story or rumor floating around, but that's what they all agree on.” He turned to Alice, “You're going to have real trouble painting her as an asset to national security if she is attacking Federal agents.”
“Damn it, Steve, there was no discovery on this,” Alice complained
“I would have told you in better time than you told me who was representing Shego. Look I only got this information an hour or two ago.”
“The problem is that you're risking a mistrial, you know that, don't you,” the Judge asked seriously.
“I know that could happen. I'm willing to risk it -- I want to see justice done in this case.”
“Justice, hell,” Alice snorted, “you just… DAMN! He's perfectly willing to get a mistrial, Leafy. The State files again and he's got an assault charge.” She turned back to Steve, “We won't plead guilty to all those burglaries if you bring an assault charge.” “God, I hope we don't have to call Kim.”
“I don't expect you to. Remember, I said if anything else came up I didn't feel bound by the plea bargain.” He turned back to the judge, “Leah, the defense is building its plea for probation heavily on these character references. This cuts to the heart of the defense. If Shego isn't the asset to the nation that is being claimed the jury needs to know that.”
Judge Forest thought for a minute, “Sorry, Alice, but he's right. Steve, I don't like courtroom surprises -- it smacks of cheap theatrics. I'm going to believe you only got the information. If I find out you're lying you're in contempt for violating discovery.”
“I'm telling you the truth, Leah.”
“You'd better be. And I want you to be careful with how you move on your questioning. You're dangerously close to forcing me to call a mistrial. I would prefer that neither of you force me to do that. Understood?”
They both nodded their heads.
“Did you lie to me,” Alice hissed as she resumed her seat by Shego.
“Uh, yes,” Shego admitted nervously.
“Damn it, Shego! You have to tell your lawyer the truth. I could have prepared some sort of plan if something came up. I don't know--” Her question, and any answer Shego might have given her were cut short as the judge returned to the bench.
David resumed the stand.
“Please remember you are still under oath, Mr. Donner,” Steve resumed. “And I'm terribly sorry about the earlier confusion. I heard an interesting story that I believed was relevant to this case. If you don't mind, could you tell the jury how you got those burn scars?”
“I'd really rather not.”
“You are under oath, Mr. Donner.”
“Well, I met this woman at a bar, and I was trying to impress her with this cigarette lighter trick--”
“You are under oath, Mr. Donner!” Steve snarled, his voice raised in obvious anger.
“Check out the hospital report. I don't know what you heard, but you can look up the record.”
“Thank you for your testimony,” Steve spat. “No further questions.” He wasn't sure where to direct his rage.