Front Office Fiction: The Seattle Road Trip

Joe Robbins

"Order in the court!" She rapped her gavel twice as the bailiffs led a prisoner away. "Call the next case," Shirley "Hang 'em High" Caldwell said to the courtroom assistant off to her right.

The harried assistant fumbled through the stack of files in front of her. "The State of Washington vs. Derinda Platt and Kevin Demoff." She turned to the judge, "We'll be joining this case with a counter complaint by Ms. Platt." When the judge nodded, she called out, "The State of Washington vs Kenneth Arthur, and a Mr. Field Gulls?" She re-read the last name, then shrugged.

The District Attorney - Evan Stills - looked down at hit case list, "Your Honor, I didn't approve the joining of these two cases?"

The judge glanced over her reading glasses, "It seems appropriate from what I''ve read here... Both parties were arrested for destroying a downtown bar and claim they weren't responsible..." She made a motion with her hand for the D.A. to sit down. Shirley watched as the defendants were led in. The attorneys for their clients announced themselves.

"Anne Bremner representing Ms. Platt and Mr. Demoff," The stylish and famous attorney slid into a chair at the defendant's table next to Derinda and Kevin. Murmurs began to spread around the room. One of the leading trial attorneys in the country making an appearance had to be why the District Attorney was here, and not one of his subordinates.

"Hi Evan," she smiled at the D.A, who only nodded back at her. Anne leaned in to talk to her clients as Kenneth Arthur was led to the second defense table that had been slid into place to her right.

"Danny Kelly representing Mr. Arthur and, er, uh... Mr. Field Gulls," he said as he tried to scoot sideways in back of Anne and her clients to his table. He smiled at the judge over the mass of papers he clutched to his chest. After he sat down, he opened his arms so the papers could splash onto the desk top. Some flew off the edge, and bailiffs grumbled as they gathered them up. One bailiff glanced at the papers he'd picked up, and raised an eyebrow as he looked at Danny. The papers had NFL stats and betting lines scribbled on them. Danny snatched the papers out of his hand, then addressed the judge. "Your Honor, I'd move for an immediate dismal of all charges against my client based on his diminished capacity, as cited in..." He frantically sorted through the messy mass of papers in front of him, "... in the M'Naghten Rules, the Durham Rules, the American Legal Institutes definition, the Code of Hammurabi, and the SBNation by-laws..." His face was bright red as he finished, then hurriedly added, "Oh, and we'll be going with the Twinkies Defense... My client eats like 200 Twinkies a day, and washes them down with Red Bull, so there could be a a caffeine defense too... "

Judge Caldwell looked at Danny, her jaw dropped expression causing the courtroom audience to laugh. She came out of her stupor, and began banging her gavel, " Sit down Mr. Kelly... Out of curiosity, are you a licensed attorney here in the state of Washington?"

Danny rose from his seat, "Well, no your Honor. I'm a blogger for the Seattle Seahawks..." He smiled, and looked back at the courtroom crowd as he nodded his head.

Kenneth nodded, stood, and placed a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Yup, and he stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night!" He smiled at the judge, who glared back at him.

"Mr. Arthur, sit down... You realize your attorney is stating to the court you're nuts? I'd have the right to remand you to a hospital for the criminally insane. You understand that, right?"

He looked at Danny, who stuck his lower lip out as he nodded, then winked at his client. Kenneth mechanically began to nod too, then stopped and shook his head. He looked at the judge, "Do they have cable TV?"

"I'm sure they do, but they don't have Twinkies, or Red Bull."

"You said they had Twinkies," he lunged at Danny. Bailiffs - standing behind the possible nut job - separated the two easily.

The judge looked up at the ceiling, then down at Danny and his client. "Your motion to dismiss is denied." She closed her eyes, then glanced at the other defendants, one of whom she'd read about recently. "Ms. Bremner, I'm guessing you have a unique motion to offer the court as well?"

Anne smiled, "I do your Honor, but can I ask for a 10 minute recess to consult with my clients based on the possibility a crazed man was allowed to attack my clients?"

The judge looked at Kenneth, who nodded as he stood, then pointed at his crotch to show he needed a visit to the men's room. "Fine, We'll take a 10 minute break. But I want to see the attorneys and their clients in my chambers when we return." She slammed her gavel down and left the raised dais.

Sitting behind her desk, she re-read the arresting officers reports, as well as witness statements. She knew that one of the defendants was high profile: Kevin Demoff, the CEO for the St. Louis Rams. He was the reason one of the most expensive attorneys in the country was in her courtroom today. A simple mutual-battery case on the surface, with a bit of property damage, was way too low profile to draw Anne Bremner's attention. When the attorneys and clients arrived, she told them all to remain silent. "I'm going to make a few observations, then we'll return to the courtroom. First, since Mr. Kelly isn't a lawyer of any kind, I'm going to suggest to Mr. Arthur he retain professional council before continuing..." Kenneth shook his head at the suggestion. "Alright, then I want it on the record Mr. Arthur refused council, but I'll allow Mr. Kelly to continue to represent him, as long as he adheres to the legal codes of conduct and procedures of the State of Washington." She waved for Danny to remain silent, who looked like he was about to object. Second, this isn't a pre-trial. We're going to sort all this out today. Next, so my courtroom doesn't turn into a circus, I'd like to hear what bizarre motion you're about to make?" She leaned back in her chair, and waved to Anne that she had the floor.

Anne glanced at her clients, then the photos around the room. Some were of the judge with celebrities and politicians. But the three on her huge desk were the ones that caught her eye. "Your honor," she reached into her pocket, and slid out a photo. Handing it to the judge, she said, "We'll be going with the "Horse Defense".

The judge looked down at the photo, then up at Anne. "You're kidding!"

Anne smiled as she shook her head. "Nope, and I'm confident you'll see the merits of our case."

The group left her office. When the door closed, she glanced again at the photo, then the pictures arrayed around her desk. She smiled, then muttered, "Oh, for the love of..." Donning her judge's robe, she headed back to the courtroom.

"All rise," The bailiff said, and  the crowd rose to their feet as Judge Caldwell took her seat behind the raised bench.

"OK, before this circus begins, I'm going to ask council-s to stipulate to the actual events, not the reasons for them occurring." She knew this would limit the witnesses called. Anne and Danny nodded, but the D.A. looked shocked.

"Your Honor, the court needs to hear the heinous nature of the events, the damage caused, and the threats to the public at large such actions represent to..."

"Your objection is noted and denied." She looked at the D.A., "If I were you, I'd rest your case and allow the defense to proceed." His slumping shoulders and head nod showed he's go along with whatever the judge had in mind. "Ms. Bremner, call your first witness."

Anne rose, "defense calls Derinda Platt to the stand." The audible groan from Kevin Demoff - who'd simply went along with Derinda for an interview with Field Gulls writer Kenneth Arthur the night before - made the courtroom audience chuckle. A couple of raps of the judge's gavel silenced them.

The tall, lithe blonde woman took the stand, and was sworn in. Anne asked the judge if she could approach her client, and received a nod. "Ms. Platt, please run through the cause of the events of last night for the court."

Derinda opened the small locket she wore around her neck, then showed it to the judge. Shirley's eyebrows went up.

"I object!" Danny had jumped up from his chair.

Shirley rolled her eyes, "What are you objecting too?"

Danny looked confused. He bent down and whispered something to Kenneth, who shrugged and said something in a low voice. "I object to the objection-able nature of object interjection!" Danny smiled, and Kenneth gave him a nod and wink.

"Over ruled! Continue, Ms. Platt."

"Well," Derinda glanced at Kevin, who had his faced covered by both his hands, "it all started when the defendant and I were talking about the coming Rams - Seahawks game this Sunday..."

"I object!" Danny shouted as he jumped to his feet. "Ms. Platt is implying the Seahawks are second to the Rams, which violates... er, uh... post season NFL law, and could cause the very fabric of Seattle's faaaaavorite team to have self-esteem issues before the game Sunday. Furthermore..." He held a finger in the air in his best imitation of Daniel Webster, but the judge silenced him with a glare.

"That'll be enough, Mr. Kelly." She looked back at Derinda.

She stuck her tongue out at Danny, then smiled at the judge. "He's a mouthy little thing, isn't he?" Before the judge could say anything, she launched into her story of the events in the bar. "As I was sayin', me and that nutty blogger over there were having a nice discussion about the coming RAMS" - she accentuated the name - "and Seattle game. He wasn't drinkin' all that much... Not as much as Kevin anyway..." She gave her boss a pinkie wave, along with a smile. The flash from a camera went off from the back of the courtroom, and bailiffs chased the photographer out of the room. A TV crew came in, and began shooting as Derinda continued.

"So as Kevin had shots with Kenneth, I was tellin' the story of how young the Rams are, and the subject somehow swerved off into horses?" She showed the judge her locket again. "Well, it seems 'ol Kenny there wanted to talk about football more than... I think he hates all horses, which is SICK!" She glared at Kenneth, who shook his head.

He jump up, "That's a lie! I ride on merry-go-round horses all the time, and..." A bailiff shoved him back into his chair.

Shirley looked at Kenneth, who kept ducking under the table every few minutes. "Bailiff, take whatever Mr. Arthur is eating away from him. Two bailiffs began to wrestle away the bag Kenneth had hidden beneath the table. The bag tore, and Twinkies flew up in the air.

"You see, your Honor! My client is so sick with Twinkie lust, he can't stop eating them." Danny waved at the TV camera.

"One more Twinkie Mr. Arthur, and I'll have you gagged and find you in contempt!" She watched as Kenneth considered the threat, then nodded. The D.A. had his head on the plaintiff's table, shaking it from side to side.

Derinda slapped a hand on the witness box railing, "...and it ain't goin' to be me gagging you... You pants-less horse hater you! Anyway, he began making disparaging remarks when I opened my wallet to pay for the drinks. Plus, during the whole interview, he wasn't wearing pants! He said it helped him think better, which I guess could be true?" She thought about it for a second, then produced a copy of the picture Anne had shown the judge earlier. "He said my best friend in the whole damn word was fat! So I slugged him; as is allowed in that Constitutional thingy, and the Bill of Arms..." She smiled at the judge, who was so impressed with her historical knowledge that her jaw was dropped in awe.

"You see! She admits striking the first blow, in obvious challenge to my client's rights to freedom of speech. Not unlike a terrorist act designed to suborn the American way of life! Violence perpetrated on my client because of his lack of pants, and  some fat, old horse!"

The courtroom went silent, except for a long moan by Kevin Demoff. "Oh my God! No, no, no... Why did you have to say..."

Derinda looked at the judge, who nodded. In a flash, she jumped over the railing, and leaped at Danny. "Fat? Old? TERRORIST! I'm goin' to kick your ass!"

The courtroom erupted into chaos, as people tried to flee. When order was restored, the courtroom was empty of all spectators except for the TV crew. The judge called Kenneth to the stand, who walked up to the witness chair.

"Mr. Arthur? Where are your pants?" The judge reached for a bottle of Tylenol.

"What?" He held his hands out, palms up, and confused expression on his face. Danny reached under the table, grabbed Kenneth's pants and ran up to his client; imploring him to put them back on.

"Alright! Alright! I've heard and SEEN enough." The judge said as she pounded her gavel repeated. "I want the attorneys for all parties in my chambers, NOW!" When Kenneth and Derinda rose to follow, she screamed, "Not you two! Bailiffs, shoot them if they try to follow!"

****

The game was about to begin between the Rams and Seahawks. In the owner's box of Seattle owner Paul Allen, Derinda Platt and Kenneth Arthur leaned back in their plush seats, sharing a huge bowl of popcorn. Sitting on either side of them were two of Seattle's finest; police officers who'd won a hastily thrown together lottery at their station at the request of Judge Shirley Caldwell.

"Great seats!" Kenneth said.

"Yup! This is the only way to watch a game. I told you I'd take care of it, but you doubted me..." She smiled

"You planned the whole thing?" Kenneth shook his head as he recalled the conversation he'd had with a Rams writer who lived in New Mexico.

" Well, it went mostly the way I planned. But you can't have everything, now can you?" She smiled a devious smile...

***

The judge had made a deal with the attorneys after returning to her chambers. Anne had turned one of the photos on the Judge's desk toward the D.A and Danny, and both men groaned. They were pictures of a young Shirley Caldwell, with... horses. In each one, she was hugging the huge beasts. Next, their attention was directed by Anne to a plaque on the wall. It stated Shirley Caldwell had been named Horse Woman of the Year... Seeing Anne nod, they knew the judge couldn't just let all the defendants walk away Scot-free. So they came up with a deal the judge could live with...

Several miles away, Kevin Demoff looked up at the steel caged television set. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, he sat on a bench, squeezed between two rather large inmates. The camera at the game panned across the suite level at the stadium, and froze on one with two people - a man and a blonde woman - waving. Kevin leaned forward, his eyes bugging out as his mouth dropped open. He stood up, pointed at the TV and said, "I hate you!", then began to laugh...

***

If anyone would like to see the small mountain of Front Office Fiction I've written for Turf Show Times over the last few years, GO HERE!

Here's to a great game today!

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