Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bear Case Files: The Man Who Flung Poo

You'd be surprised...
Still buried in final edit of Judging Angels. Chapter 42/49! Hit a rough patch, but nothing the Bear can't handle. The Bear likes it! You will, too, he promises. In the meantime, enjoy an edifying tale from the files of the Bear's storied legal career. Not all of his cases were glamorous...


"This was the glamorous defense practice in which your humble correspondent found himself: defending poo-flingers in a socks-optional courtroom."




HISTORIC CAIRO, ILLINOIS

Cairo was considered for our nation's capitol. At the tip of Illinois; at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio; a rail center; and where north and south; east and west meet. Why, all you had to do was look at a map to see its bright future. Charles Dickens invested in it. It was Grant's HQ for a time during the civil war. But somewhere along the way, it became a decaying mockery of grand dreams. Dickens lost a fortune.

However, it is remembered by the Bear as the site of  the funniest moments in trials. It had more than its share. Regular floods by the ancient rivers left a Flannery O'Connor miasma that hangs low behind the levies to this day.

THE WORST PRISON IN THE COUNTRY

Tamms prison was in the same county as Cairo. The Department of Corrections looked at the map, too, but now, Cairo was as far away from network affiliates as you could get. So that's where they built Tamms. Illinois' last execution took place there in 1999. Ripper Crew member Andrew Kokoraleis. No doubt, a bad guy, but worse in the Crew were spared. The warden told the Bear all about it, but another time, perhaps.

If you were bad, you went to prison. If you were bad enough in prison, you went to Tamms. You spent 23/7 in a tiny concrete box, with a narrow concrete bed, all alone. It was a national disgrace. It was also the source of many cases for the Bear, as part-time Alexander County PD. Need he add that defendants from the prisons' prison were often difficult?

YOU CAN TAKE EVERYTHING, BUT YOU CAN'T TAKE MY POO

However, about the only way prisoners in such a totally controlled environment could get into trouble was to fling poo at guards. This is a popular diversion for all prisoners. Especially those with hot plates, but no one at Tamms had those. (One day the Bear will tell you about the Great Escape case, though.)


LAWYER WITHOUT SOCKS AND JOLLY RANCHERS

The judge hated poo-flinging cases. He hated Tamms. For once, the defense counsel was justice's favorite son. But it had its limits.

They brought the Bear's latest poo-flinger in for trial, dressed in a white shirt and black pants, so he would not be stigmatized by an orange jumpsuit. But he was unshaven and looked awful. When the Bear complained. the judge recalled a lawyer who was often in his courtroom, who looked far worse, and did not wear socks, besides.

This was the glamorous defense practice in which your humble correspondent found himself: defending poo-flingers in a socks-optional courtroom.

The next legal question was whether the Bear could give Jolly Ranchers to his client. It was a little trick he had, and more important than it sounds when managing poo-flingers. (File that away; you never know.)  DOC was horrified because... well, just because. The Bear won that great legal issue.

STANDBY COUNSEL: THE CURSE OF THE POTTED PLANT

The Bear's client wanted to represent himself, which was his right. But the Bear was relegated to standby counsel. This is a nightmarish demimonde where you're never quite sure if you're the lawyer or a potted plant.

And so it came to pass that the poo-flinger addressed the jury in opening statement.

THE HORSE THAT BROKE ALL FOUR LEGS OUT OF THE CHUTE

Most  people think closing is the most important part of trial, but for a good defense lawyer, it's opening. The jury is going to doze through the rest of the trial, waking up only to pay attention to the most damning evidence. Opening is the one time you have their attention, and can tell a plausible story before everything gets ruined.

More cases are decided during opening than closing. Jurors have already made up their minds by closing. You're just giving your jurors (if you have any) arguments to use in the only one that counts: the one in the jury room.

Your Bear's poo-flinger delivered his opening. He rambled, and eventually admitted to every last element of the charge of Flinging Poo in the 1st Degree. Finally, he returned to counsel table shaking his head.

He leaned toward the Bear and said, in these exact words: "Man I [messed] that up. I don't want to represent myself anymore. Take over Bear. You gotta save me."

"A rum bit of luck, that iceberg. Take command, Bear."

"Sorry, but I wasn't trained to land the Hindenberg when it's on fire, so you take over Bear."

Needless to say, he was convicted of this heinous offense, although when you're already in Tamms, there's really nothing they can do to you except tack a on few more years to a sentence already so long it doesn't matter. The judge recognized the futility, and figured getting poo flung at you was an occupational hazard for corrections officers and zoo-keepers at primate houses everywhere.


ANTIDOTE TO PRIDE.

Whenever the Bear is tempted to feel proud of his sexy career as ace murder defense counsel, he always remembers his historic number of cases defending men accused of throwing their own feces at other men, in a court where just showing up wearing socks, and not wearing what you had for lunch, was already a win.

4 comments:

  1. It really does suck to be standby counsel. Eleven years into my career I had to do it for the first time: my client fired me the morning of trial, but the court made me stick around as potted plant. All that trial prep, and being loaded for bear, for nothing. I had the world's juiciest, lying-est complaining witness, and my carefully prepared, death-by-a-thousand-cuts cross was out the window. I had to sit through the whole trial, cringing through the guy's screw-ups, making notes so I could be prepared to move for a mistrial in case the court tried to bring me back in to land the burning zeppelin.

    And the guy won.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the worst thing I ever heard.

      Delete
  2. O'Henry-esque Bear! After 'Fallen Angels' I would suggest a tome of short stories. You are good.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Mike. I'm glad I'm apparently immortal, because I have so many projects in mind after Judging Angels, including a sequel. But next is A Bear's Lent, largely written. I defended the worst of the worst - murderers, not poo-flingers, but I have never worked harder at anything than this novel. Every time I think it's finished, I hate it. Now... I think I've got a winner. I haven't written a novel. I've written 20 novels. I'm going to keep the ephemeris open, but really can't follow the Church beat until JA is submitted. Hopefully a matter of days. So, I'll probably just do some funny lawyer stories or something until then.

    ReplyDelete

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