While the prosecutor knew his case had been seriously crippled by the closing testimony he presented the case for prison as best he could.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will be weighing your recommendation for sentencing a woman who has confessed to a long list of crimes in this state. She has confessed to crimes in other locations as well, although you will not consider that fact in your deliberations.”
“You're pushing it,” Alice thought. “Reminding them of other crimes to put the idea in their head, even though you know it is not relevant to this trial.”
“The defense has painted a picture of her life, dwelling on the fact she was a hero once upon a time. But you should not let her past influence your recommendation. She turned her back on her family and the law and lived as a criminal. That sad fact is what you need to keep in mind. She was not tried for once being a hero; she is in court today for the crimes she admits to having committed.
“The defense argues she does well in school. And while I congratulate her on the accomplishment it doesn't remove any of the crimes she admits she committed. She wants to go to grad school and get a job. I applaud the light going on for her in her life. But it does not remove the crimes she has committed and they remain the sole issue on which your decision will ultimately rest.
“She has performed services for foreign governments. You were asked to accept that this work was in the best interest of the United States, which might be true. But you do not know it was true. Even if she has done nothing to harm our nation's security by her actions does service on behalf of a foreign government make Shego any less guilty of crimes committed in this country and in this state?”
Even as he attacked her client Alice smiled faintly as she listened. She hoped the DA realized what he had in his office, then kicked herself for the question. The DA would only have put his best man on the case. He had to know Steve was good.
The prosecutor did not go as far into national security issues as he could have. He didn't want to confuse the jurors or lead them away from the central point. “Yes, she may have been hired by agencies of the government to do jobs at some point in her life. But that is not why she sits in court today, an admitted felon. The government didn't hire her because she was a nice person. They hired her because she was a criminal, and that is what has brought her here today. Did she act out of the love for her country, or to get a paycheck from an agency which would hire the devil if he could tell them what they needed to know? That is what you need to take into the jury room with you. Her crimes are the only things you should remember as you deliberate. Her crimes, and the words of her own brother -- a man who has dedicated his life to helping others, 'evil doers should be punished.' Because of the number and seriousness of her crimes the state requests you recommend a sentence of not less than fifty years in prison.”
“Yes, Your Honor?”
“Would Defense like to make its closing arguments now, or should we recess for lunch and you can speak after lunch?”
Alice looked at the clock; there was plenty of time for what she needed to say, “Your Honor, I am willing to cut my remarks short so that the jury may be able to begin deliberations after a luncheon recess and perhaps even finish by this evening.” She could see several jurors smile at the prospect of jury duty being finished earlier than they had expected.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the prosecutor and I agree on the basic facts of the case. We know my client has committed crimes, and committed large crimes. She has confessed to them. You are not being called on to determine guilt or innocence, that has been decided. You are being called on to decide something that requires even greater wisdom than guilt or innocence. You are being asked to determine what the appropriate response is to my client's crimes. While the prosecutor and I agree on the facts of the case we disagree on what should be done to best serve the people of the state.
“Is my client's former life as a hero irrelevant to your consideration? The prosecutor says it is. I say you must decide that for yourselves. As Mr. Crandall remarked, she is not here because she was a hero, she is here because of the crimes she committed. But if you believe it speaks to the question of her underlying character you may consider it in your deliberations.”
Alice did not want risk polarizing the jury by painting the issues in black and white, which would probably work against Shego. It was better to say that reasonable people could disagree on how to interpret the facts. And by agreeing with the Prosecutor as much as she could she presented the image of being the more reasonable person.
“Americans are deeply divided over issues of what is appropriate and how far the government should be willing to go to apprehend terrorists. We can ask how far the government should be allowed to go in infringing on personal freedoms. Those are real issues and need to be discussed openly. But you do not need to resolve the problem in your deliberations today. But I do not think it is irrelevant to your considerations. Her skills have been used, and could be used again by the US government.
“Are her efforts to change her life, to get an education and a job irrelevant? I don't think so. We often forget that the purpose of the penal system was not to punish, it was to rehabilitate and turn someone guilty of crimes into an upright citizen. Rather obviously that seems to have failed. But in my client you have a person who has managed to do for herself what the system fails to do for so many others. She wants to change and be an honest citizen. That should be on your minds constantly in your deliberations.”
Alice spoke at length on Shego's trips to deal with charges against her in other countries.
“The prosecution would like for you to punish my client. If my client were a threat to society that might be appropriate. It costs about thirty thousand dollars a year to house a healthy inmate in a regular prison. The prosecution would like to spend more than a million dollars of your tax money to house Shego for the duration of her prison sentence. If she were a threat to society it would be a small price. If she were unrepentant it would be a reasonable price. But if the state knows she is not a normal prisoner, that regular prisons have been ineffectual in holding her. The state also knows that it would take more than ten million dollars to construct and maintain a facility to hold my client. If the state considered her a threat they would ask for that amount to be spent, but they haven't. The only conclusion I can draw is that the state itself recognizes my client's sincerity. They do not consider her a threat to society. But instead of allowing her a job and the chance to become a taxpaying member of society they would prefer she sit in a prison cell as a warning to anyone else who wants to turn his or her life around.
“For what my client has done, and may still do for her country, along with her demonstrated desire to repent of her crimes and lead an honest life I would like the jury to recommend a suspended sentence for my client.”
Alice regarded the financial approach as a weak argument. But she knew there were usually a couple people on any given jury who could be swayed by such an argument.
After Alice finished her arguments the judge called an hour recess for lunch. As the jury left the box Alice spoke briefly to Shego, “The judge will give them directions after lunch about their deliberations. You need to be here for that.”
“How long will the jury take?”
“There is no way to know. I had one jury come in twenty minutes after they left. The longest deliberation I've ever seen was eight days.
After the final instructions to the jury Shego went home to pace nervously. The court would alert her if the jury reached a verdict and she had half an hour to get to the courthouse and hear the decision. Wade had programmed a phone to call everyone on a list with a text message that the jury was done. While Kim had been told to stay away from the trial nothing could stop her from being there to hear the jury's recommendation.
Three and a half hours after the jurors had left the courtroom Shego received the call that they had reached a conclusion and were ready to bring in a sentencing recommendation.
Before the jury came in Alice went over to the prosecutor's table to chat with Steve for a minute.
“You getting any flak in the office over me putting your boss on the stand?”
“I'm not sure,” Steve admitted. “I haven't been in the office much today and haven't even seen him since this morning. I hope he's just been too busy to talk.”
“Well, if he is a great enough ass to fire you, come on in to Armstrong, Bennett, and Dashwood. I'll give you a job.”
“Thanks for the offer, Alice,” he laughed. “But I'm hoping to stay right where I am. I would like one favor, though.”
He reached into a jacket pocket and pulled out two twenties, “Do I really have to wear that stupid lapel pin if I become a voluntary member of your group? I need to keep track of you people.”
“You wear it until you attend a picnic so people know you're a member. Why do you need to join? There are three Legals in the DAs office already.”
“I know, but I want my own newsletter. And I like the perks.”
“Good to have you with us. Do you want the newsletter sent to your office or home?”
“I'd prefer the office.”
“Have you told your wife she'll be sleeping with a Voluntary Lesbian?”
“You people are nuts.”
“We're nuts, Steve. You're now part of the Old Dykes Network.”
“You seem awfully chummy with the enemy,” Shego complained when Alice returned to the defense table.
“He's not your enemy, you need to remember that. He's a man doing his job. And he does it very well. If you become a lawyer you could end up working with him, or against him. But it's not personal. Things work better if we're on decent terms with opposing counsels--”
Anything else Alice meant to say was cut off as the bailiff and Judge Forest entered the courtroom, followed a few minutes later by the jury.
The foreman stood at the judge's request. “Has the jury decided on a recommendation?” Judge Forest asked.
“We have, Your Honor.”
“And the jury's recommendation?”
“Well, we weren't really sure about some of the fine points of sentencing. Four of us wanted a suspended sentence. Two felt pretty strongly for prison. But we decided to recommend she be put on probation for as long as the law allows. One of the prison sentence people only agreed to go with probation if I told you we had one request that you put her on probation until hell freezes over.”
Steve slammed his briefcase shut with a little more violence than necessary. He gave Alice a brief nod and mouthed, “Congratulations,” but his expression showed there was no sincerity in the word.
There were a number of sounds around the courtroom; several of joy and one or two which were probably of disgust. “Order in the court,” the bailiff reminded the spectators.
Judge Forest addressed the jury, “Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your time and attention. You are dismissed from your duty.” She turned to the others in the court. “The state allows me some leeway in accepting, or rejecting the sentencing recommendations of the jury. I hoped I would be able to follow the recommendations closely. I must point out, however, that probation until hell freezes over exceeds sentencing guidelines.” She looked at Shego, “The jury was lenient with you. You are guilty of crimes against the state, but they clearly believe you want to change your life. You will remain on probation for the next one hundred and twenty months. Any violations of your probation will result in your immediate incarceration. In addition you will perform one thousand hours of community service during your period of probation.”
There was a moment of silence in the courtroom as the judge finished speaking, then it erupted in chaos. Alice had just an instant to pat Shego's hand and murmur, “Congratulations,” before a huge man dressed in blue and black vaulted the railing that separated spectators from participants in the trial and swept his sister up in his arms.
“You owe me one,” he whispered in her ear.
“We're even, remember I saved you from Hellpike.”
“Sorry, I don't remember you being there, just Kim and Ron.”
She struggled to get her arms free, but he kept her arms pinned at her sides in his embrace. “Shego's on probation! Shego's on probation!” he chanted in her ear. “Want to come back home and be a hero?”
The bailiff allowed the well-wishers to spend several minutes congratulating Shego, then broke up the gathering. “You will all need to move to the lobby. Shego, you need to speak to the judge about the terms of your probation before you can leave the building.”
“We'll wait for you in the lobby,” someone called to the pale woman.
Shego smiled back, then moved to the bench.
As Shego went to speak to the judge, Steve Crandall moved to the defense table. “Sorry about the display of temper, Alice. The son-of-a-bitch lied.”
“I'd have been mad too. But you don't know that he was lying. Maybe the cigarette lighter is the real story and he started the other just to sound tough.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“No, I think the son-of-a-bitch lied to you.”
“You're not bad Alice. Sorry about being rude when I asked you to recuse yourself.”
“No problem, you were right. I think you're in front of my bench in three weeks with the Hoffington case, aren't you? Why haven't I seen any pretrial on that?”
“He's looking at a life sentence if convicted, he has to fight it. At least that bastard won't be getting out anytime soon.”
Shego now stood in front of the judge's bench, “Your Honor?”
“Yes. A couple fast points. You are now a convicted felon. You've lost your right to vote among other things. Alice can explain what that means to you in greater detail.” Also, recognize we only dealt with the criminal aspect of the charges against you. Having pled guilty to the burglaries there is a chance the companies you stole from may file for damages in civil court. She handed Shego a card, “This is for the office that handles public service time. Take it seriously, it you haven't started making good on it in six months I will hold that as a violation of your probation. Assigning your case to a probation officer was difficult. Given the nature of your crimes, and the nature of your defense I didn't feel any of the state officers were appropriate for the task. The DA's office agreed with my suggestion about what to do if the jury went for probation. The bailiff will take you to chambers to meet your probation officer. Take it seriously, Shego. A lot of people put their reputations on the line for you. You are a convicted felon now and probation is not a joke. You are facing a lengthy prison sentence if you violate it. Is that clear?”
Shego nodded her head, still too dazed at being free to do anything but smile to the judge.
The judge beckoned to the bailiff, who came over. “Take her back to my chambers. She needs to meet her probation officer.”
Shego was smiling so hard her cheek muscles were cramping. Nothing was going to go wrong today. She just had to suck up to some stranger with a promise of being good -- a promise she really intended to keep -- and drop out of her old life. She was not prepared for the face that greeted her when the bailiff opened the door into the judge's chambers.