The Case of the Funeral (episode 7)
Catherine Reynolds talks about the famous Vittorio Bene case which made her famous across the USA after it was covered by CNN.
Letters : 32225 Words : 5983
I never liked shopping for clothes. Ever since I became a naturist, it became even worse, especially since I rarely needed to wear them.
Fortunately for me, I managed to keep my weight in check for the last decade or so meaning I was still able to wear until recently the same things I still had from my previous life as a textile.
But it was now changing. I was very pregnant and my figure was definitely changing. I hadn't gained much weight, but it still needed me to shop for a new set of clothes I might barely wear.
I did ask Peter Green to restrain my hours in court, requiring minimal presence on my part outside of the naturist center. In fact, between the 4nd and the 6th month of pregnancy, I didn't wear a single piece of clothing, with the exception of the one time I took a ultrasound to ensure the baby was in full health.
It wasn't so much voluntarily as because I was almost devoid of energy. My first three months went well, but my second trimester left me tired and exhausted most of the time leaving me going through my day's work like an automata. Susan was rather scared, but everyone was very supportive.
Eric was nice enough to do all of the shopping and Peter removed my requirement to meet the staff in person.
I did have to file reports after reports, but Susan helped me a lot and the lack of court pleadings meant a smoother workload.
When I do plead a case, my analysis time becomes fractured. I might have a big case to study for a full month, but broken in half by a 3 day presence in court.
But with my full time now devoted to reading and commenting on reports from other lawyers, I was able to completely focus on each of them and come up with original strategies on how to fix them faster than normal even if I thought I was slower than usual.
This wasn't lost to Peter who commented that either long term nudity or pregnancy seemed to increase my productivity. A few of the lawyers I prepared briefs for even sent me gifts for my future baby after they managed to turn a desperate case around and win against all odds.
Do you remember I told you I had 4 lawyers assisting me now ? Before the pregnancy, we used to meet on an almost weekly basis at the R.K.D. office but now, most of their faces seemed like distant memories. We still exchanged e-mails and occasional phone calls, but the further apart we were physically, the less important I seemed to be for them.
Well, except for Samantha. Samantha really wanted to be made partner fast. When she was assigned to me, it became clear she was the one taking the most complex cases and working the most number of hours.
When I adjusted my schedule to accommodate my pregnancy, she didn't lay idle like the others, but rather volunteered to replace me temporarily in the office. To act as my ears and eyes into R.K.D.
I was sceptical at first, but it turned out working really well. She even dropped me a few documents by driving straight to my house instead of having me wait for Susan to pick them up or a delivery company to handle it.
Her facial expressions clearly shows she judges Susan and I for being naturists, but I think that in a way, she is delighted it is creating a void she is able to fill to try and impress the other partners.
Sadly for her, Susan and I think it is not working simply because most of her actions are made in private and not even noticed by the upper management. Everybody seems to thinks that the senior partners hold me in such esteem that they follow my every move. In reality however, between my pleadings, I was just one more partner to send cases for studying.
As time went by, I was able to have more and more small talk conversations with Samantha while in my home office so perhaps she would get used to our nudity.
As you know, I always respect the wishes of others and do not impose my lifestyle, but Samantha officially insisted it honoured her to help me out so I decided to just let her help me, even if she was just sucking up to me.
Susan and I weren't alone all the time however. Eric spent most of his days at home, thought he frequently went shopping for more baby supplies. Sadly, the time I really was available, on evenings, he was out with Steven "Magneto" Vaughn doing tricks in various restaurants.
Sure, it wasn't 7 days a week, but because of the pregnancy, I was too tired to follow him even once per week at his shows, leaving me to fall asleep alone in my bed most of the nights.
But that's the life of a magician. One month you sell tickets for your shows and the next one, you are back working bars and restaurants to keep a steady flow of money and new fans.
I do think that Steven wanted to try and make bigger shows and create new illusions but at the same time, he was realizing that Eric wasn't psychologically available.
He did have a shock the first time he visited the center. It wasn't fully voluntary. After a show, Eric forgot his cell phone back stage. Steven ran outside to give it to him, but only saw Eric's car leaving the parking lot.
Knowing I was pregnant and could possibly call him at any time, he just jumped in his car and used the GPS feature in Eric's phone to find our house.
Don't you love those gadgets ? You just start the maps program and you can easily use the favourites menu to find the entry named "Home".
Unfortunately for him, It was late and the gate was closed, but he did get a good idea of what kind of a place Eric and I were living in.
The next day, Steven teased his partner about having our own private "hang out", but otherwise found the news rather amusing.
A few days later, Steven even helped Eric assemble the crib, but both man kept their clothes on for the whole operation. I must admit that I would have preferred to be warned in advance or I would avoided to walk in on both of them when I went to grab a snack in the kitchen while of course, being fully nude.
In all cases, it turned out well and the boys joined Susan and I for lunch. I am not fully sure, but I think that Susan was rather pleasing to Steven's eyes.
I do know both are single, but I couldn't tell if it was just the fact that Susan was nude or if he showed real interest. I know I'll disappoint all of you, but this was the only meeting between the two of them for the entire pregnancy so no, they are not a couple now.
After all, Susan didn't usually follow me at Eric's magic shows and Steven didn't hang out at the naturist center. He did show up a second time a few weeks later during the week-end to pick up some magic supplies from Eric, but he stayed only a few minutes and Eric had put clothes on for the occasion. As for Susan, she was out for the whole week-end seeing some family members.
Around my 6 months of pregnancy, my energy seemed to return. I managed to go see a few of Eric's shows and I went into the R.K.D. office three times. Once for a staff meeting of all of the partners and the other time to sign papers about my pregnancy.
Sadly , Peter Green took all of that as a sign I could plead a case and on my third visit announced me that the senior partners were assigning me one personally and that all I had to do is counter-examine a prosecution witness and handle the closing statement in a few weeks.
When I asked who had prepared the case, Peter fell silent until he murmured in a low voice that I had.
I started reviewing in my mind all of the criminal cases I had recently reviewed which would be tried shortly, wondering which one would require my attention when suddenly, it hit me.
"Not the Barrington case ?"
Peter Green, sadly, confirmed my suspicion.
"You want a pregnant attorney to defend a man accused to raping one of his employees ? Do you want me to list all of the reasons why this is a bad idea ?"
"The senior partners all feel that you are the perfect choice. They even think that your pregnancy can help him win the sympathy of the jury which is composed of 8 woman."
"Two thirds of the jury are woman and you want me to defend him ?"
"It's better than a male attorney. The alleged victim is pleading he took advantage of the fact she was drunk and that she was his employee to abuse her. We want to show the defendant as a gentlemen who trusts woman"
"I know, I wrote the brief"
"Which is also why we think you will be perfect"
Seeing no way around it, I excused myself to return home and study once again the case in details.
Mr Barrington, mayor of North GlenBrook saw one of his employees, Jane, in a singles bar a year ago. He claims that they always had a nice relationship at work, but he had never realized that she was single.
When Mr Barrington approached Jane, she had already consumed several drinks on her own and had decided to stop drinking for the night.
That's when the misunderstanding started. Mr Barrington claims he didn't know she was already drinking when he offered her a drink. Jane thought that it would have been impolite to refuse the drink from her boss and didn't realize he was offering her a drink because he was interested in a relationship.
Things went downhill from there and Jane blacked-out until she sobered up while having sex with her boss in a motel room. She stormed out of the room and called the police.
Mr Barrington confirmed to the police that he did have intercourse with Jane and that he did pay for a few of her drinks and the police interpreted his admission as a confession that he had used alcohol as a way to force her to have undesired sexual relations which, can be seen as a form of rape.
Following the incident, Mr Barrington tried to apologize to Jane at work, which resulted in Jane filing a restraining order which, in the state of Florida, can be issued on a probation manner to any woman who claims to be afraid of a man she had a past relationship with.
This prevented Mr Barrington from reaching his town hall office during Jane's work hours. As a result, the city of West GlenBrook hired an arbiter to resolve the difference in the hope that it would be sufficient ground to remove Mr Barrington from office.
In a weird twist, the arbiter came to the conclusion that the restraining order was obtained under false pretence. He concluded that Jane wasn't eligible for the probation restraining order for the simple reason that she never actually had a part relationship with Mr Barrington.
In the judgement of the arbiter, if the restraining order was obtained under false pretence, Mr Barrington shouldn't be removed from office and as such, Jane should either ask for a full valid restraining order or resign from her post.
When she refused to get another restraining order, the city council, in the absence of Mr Barrington suspended her without pay until the issue would be resolved.
The criminal case thus became even more important to the city, because if found guilty, the major would be removed from office and Jane could return to her duties with all back pay owed to her. But if found not guilty, the city already announced that Jane's suspension would become a dismissal.
I personally hate those cases because even if I manage to acquit my client, Jane will most likely sue for wrongful termination and she might still sue civilly to receive damages for her trouble.
You see, I might win the criminal case by convincing the Jury that there is reasonable doubt that Jane consented to the intercourse, but in a civil case, Jane only needs a preponderance of the proof on her side to win.
In a way, not a victory wasn't enough, but a single error could lead to failure.
Fortunately, we had a lot of witnesses. The barman who served all of Jane's drink was well examined by the police and the report details each of the drinks Jane had both before and after first meeting her boss.
An employee of the motel also witnessed Jane leaving the room and heard both of them having sex a little earlier during the evening. He confirms that it didn't sound like a rape was going on.
And Mr Barrington gave a clear police report in which he detailed almost minute by minute what happened that night, while Jane even to this day, only has a fuzzy memory of events.
I had noted that the best strategy was to find a way to incorporate all our evidence during the prosecution and thus, avoid presenting a defence.
This allows us to speak last during the closing statement, a strategy you should already know I love to use. It is tricky however, because if some of our evidence didn't surface during the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, we would be either need to ignore it or scrap our strategy and let the prosecution have the last word.
But I had an ace up my sleeve. Something which Mr Barrington, the police or even Jane didn't realize. No one would see it coming. It was the ultimate weapon of choice in a lawyers arsenal.
Deploying it would be easy. Would it convince the jury? That's the real question. To help, I would ask for an immediate dismissal upon usage to impress the jury on it's vital importance to the case.
In in reality, it might only anger the 8 women in the jury. It might only hurt the case. But it was a chance I had to take. It was chance only I, a pregnant attorney could take.
And so, that morning, wearing a new custom tailored suit which highlighted my pregnancy instead of hiding it, I stood in front of Jane, cross examining her for the first time.
The primary lawyer, Gabriel Connolly had done a great job already highlighting her black-out and her inability to recall if he consented to the sexual relation or not. He had planted the seed of doubt and as I looked at the facial expression of the jury, I could see that many of them seemed to realize that it was quite possible that in her drunken stupor she consented to the acts.
The law was still on her side: if she was too drunk to give consent, she couldn't be considered has having consented, but only if my client was complicit in making her too drunk. Otherwise, it's her responsibility to remain sober.
But I was about to open the Pandora box.
"Jane, my partner already asked you about the moments you blacked out. The prosecution already asked you about the moment you emerged from your black-out. I do not wish to revisit those horrible traumatic memories. What I want to know, is what happened after that."
"Well, I ran out of the room"
"No, I mean, before you ran out of the room. Let me make this clearer. If I understand properly, you "woke up" from your black-out realizing you were having intercourse. A few seconds later, you realize it is with the defendant. I want to know what you did next. For a few seconds, I presume, you reacted emotionally, within your own body. I want to know what was the first action you took after you realized what was happening."
"I yelled him to stop"
"You yelled him to stop. How many times did you repeat it?"
"I told him two times"
This was a big important point. Mr Barrington claims he only heard it once. Jane claims she asked him twice and the prosecution insisted that even if she had consented to the act during the blackout, the period between the two requests was indeed a rape.
"I guess. It is possible. I had just gotten out of the black out."
"Ok, that's fine Jane. You're doing great. Let's proceed from now with the second request to stop, because as far as we know, that was the first request the defendant could actually respond to. What I want to know now, Jane, is what did the defendant do in the 5 seconds that followed your valid request."
"He stopped. He pulled out and withdrew, allowing me to grab my clothes and run away"
That was not what I wanted to hear at all...
"Wait, hold on Jane, I do not believe that it only took 5 seconds for the two of you to stop your intercourse and for you to leave the room. I am thinking it perhaps took 15 or 20 seconds for you to grab your clothes and run away. Is that likely ?"
"Now, what I want to know, is only about those initial 5 seconds. What did the defendant do in the first five seconds ?"
"He pulled out"
"Perfect. Your honor, can we strike the first answer to the question from the record ?"
"Sure. Member of the jury, please ignore the first answer to the question"
"Now Jane, I have a very important question for you. We all know what YOU did after the defendant pulled out. What I want to know is what the defendant did in that period of time until you left the room."
"He stayed there, on the bed."
"He stayed there. Did he try to touch you or force you to continue in any way?"
"Are you sure?"
"How can you be sure ?"
"He helped me pick up my clothes"
Excellent, both of their story now matched up. This was good, I didn't need to press further on the poor woman. I was in for the kill now.
"The defendant helped you pick you clothes. Perfect. Let me recap the events of the night. Once I am done, simply tell me if my recollection of your evening fits with your memories.
First, you go in a bar alone where you drink 4 drinks. You decide to stop because you feel your judgement is impaired. The defendant joins you and offers you a drink, which you accept, for a reason or another. Eventually, you accept 2 more drinks from him and your memories black-out. Witnesses saw you enter a motel room with him, laughing and looking like you were about to be intimate with him. During your black-out, the defendant starts having intercourse with you. You do not remember if you consented or not to the intercourse, but considering you agreed to go in a motel room with him, I would say a reasonable doubt exists in your mind that perhaps, in drunken stupor, you agreed to intercourse.
When you actually came out of your memory black-out, you asked the defendant to stop and the first time he heard you, he immediately stopped all intimate contacts and even helped you get your clothes. Would that be a good recollection of the evening, yes, or no"
"Thank you Jane. Your honor, based on the newly presented testimony, I move for an immediate dismissal of the case"
Chaos erupted in the courtroom. The prosecution objected. Many of the witnesses to the cases stood up and booed me, which forced the judge to evacuate the room, leaving only the attorneys, jury and the two main participants in the room.
After a long chaotic disruption, he asked me and the prosecution attorney to meet him in his office right away, leaving Gabriel behind.
"Mrs Reynolds, I hate when lawyers resort to tricks to sway the jury. Do you have any reasons as to why I shouldn't put you in contempt right away?"
"Because I am right your Honor. The prosecution never had a case. This trial should have never gone past the grand jury. The defendant followed the plaintiff's suggestions to the letter and the only reason it went so far is because she didn't remember giving consent in the first place. However your honor, if the defendant had decided to rape his employee, do you really think he would have stopped that quickly after being told?"
"And that will be your closing statement, I presume"
"No defense offered. I'll simply plead what I just told you."
The judge turned to the prosecution attorney.
"Do you have anything to say?"
"It is a rape. She couldn't give consent."
"I heard you in your opening statement. I want to know what you have to say right now to the dismissal. Do you have anything to sway my opinion?"
"I think the facts speak for themselves. We know she couldn't consent because of all of the alcohol he gave her, so it is rape."
I added: "She had four drinks on her own and three with him. She drank more than he made her drink"
"Maybe, but he pushed her over her limits"
"But she never complained to asked him to stop. The barman saw her flirt with him"
"She was drunk!"
The judge stopped us from bickering and returned us to the courtroom. He also dismissed Jane from the witness stand and made the defendant rise.
"Mr Barrington, you are accused of rape, which is a grave and serious offense. Your attorney asked me to dismiss the case because your accuser, according to her, clearly accepted your version of the facts which is that you didn't do anything she refused to do. Consent is a really delicate issue. I am personally convinced that at no point in the evening you did anything Jane didn't want you to do. The main point of the accusation therefore, is not that you didn't receive consent, but rather that Jane wasn't able to give consent which is an even more contentious point. At this point in the trial, I believe that there is sufficient reasonable doubt that you are not guilty of the crime you are accused of. Normally, that is not my job to determine, but rather to the jury. However, I am faced with a request to dismiss the case and cannot see how, in front of these new declarations, I can let the trial continue. Case dismissed"
Mr Barrington hugged me and thanked me while Jane stormed out of the room. I reminded Mr Barrington that his problems weren't over and recommended that we meet again with Jane, this time with a mediator present.
He agreed and soon enough, I was back with Gabriel in the R.K.D. office to meet not only with Peter Green, but also with the 3 senior partners.
Gabriel gave a preliminary report and was excused by the senior partners, leaving me to deal with them.
Peter addressed me with his "you've exceeded our expectations again" tone, as was now almost routine.
He not only congratulated me and thanked me for the hard work, convinced I was the only lawyer in the world who could have reached that verdict, but he is convinced that my mediation idea will result in a nice revenue for the firm.
"Catherine, the senior partners have not turned a blind eye to you actions. Being under my responsibility, this has reflected rather well on my own career. As a result, it was decided to promote me, as of next week, to the rank of a senior partner in R.K.D., who will still keep its current name, for simplicity. This means that for the first time since R.K.D. was founded, there will be an even number of senior partners, something they do not wish to retain much longer. As a result, R.K.D. has decided to offer you, once this mediation is over and you will have delivered your baby, a 6 months paid maternity leave during which your only tasks will be to review the R.K.D. charters. 3 months after your return to full time work, you will be made senior partner in the firm with full voting rights in the future of the company. You will not longer need to plead cases or have any minimum of billed hours to get your share of the company profits, provided you still attend to your duties as a senior partner, which will mainly mean boring staff meetings via telephone calls once or twice per month as well as taking under your wing a junior partner from time to time to help them become a full partner.
I won't lie to you, most of your revenues should still come from consultations and pleading, but you'll be able to set pretty much whatever rate you want and have as many lawyers as you want working for you. You'll also have a major voice in the future of the company, so if you want to open a bigger satellite office in your house, you'll be able to. If you want a clothing optional section in the building, you'll be able to. In short, R.K.D. will partially belong to you and as long as your ideas help us make a profit, no one is going to say anything.
In fact, two of the senior partners, Roberts and King are thinking of an early retirement next year, in small parts thanks to your efforts, so in the mid-term, the two of us will control the majority of the company and you already know where I stand."
I was speechless. What do you say about that? The current senior partners all thanked me and I was given a tour of the executive lounge only the three of them had access to, as well as an overview of what my office, on the top floor, would be.
Elizabeth Dylan, the only senior partner who would remain after the switch over, explained that she had no problem with me being nude in the executive lounge, in my office or even in senior partner meetings.
"Honey, as a business lawyer I dealt with such scum and bullshit that a pair of breast won't offend me."
Peter suggested that some of the meetings could be at my house from time to time if I could relax the dress code. It was the second time he proposed it, the first time being at my wedding. I made a mental note to talk to him a little more about what he meant.
Elizabeth joked that for such a wonderful associate, she could at least try undressing, but it made Peter blush a little. Now, I realized that I really needed to talk to him about his feelings on the subject.
I drove home and shared the news to Eric, who was just as ecstatic as I was. We were floating on clouds. Susan eventually came by and hugged both of us to congratulate us on my promotion.
I did explain to Susan that I would have the right to get an executive assistant, a position which pays quite a lot and that she was the only person I had in mind. In short, each time I had a promotion, Susan was also promoted!
The three of us finished our conversation in the spa and I related my impressions about Peter Green. Susan remembered that Gloria, his wife, asked her a lot of questions about naturism. We talked about it, but without more information ended up simply talking about work, magic and babies.
A week later, I was back in the R.K.D. office with Peter, Mr Barrington, Jane, her lawyer and our senior mediator, Jose Morales.
Jose explained that the goal of the meeting was to find a common ground which would avoid all future litigation. He explained that he not an arbiter there to impose his will on others, but rather to find a deal which satisfied all parties.
I had sat down with Mr Barrington as well as people from the city council to make an offer which I thought was more than reasonable for Jane. Mr Barrington felt really bad about the situation and accepted it right away but the city initially refused to move until they realized their case wasn't as black or white as they previously thought of.
It fell on me to explain our proposal.
"Jane, here is the first proposal of the city to try and solve the current issue.
Point 1: You will remain an employee of the city of North GlennBrook with all of your current advantages and your current salary, but, you will be transferred to one of the other offices of your choosing such as the municipal library. You will either continue to do your current job from a remote location or will be able to start a new job, provided there is an opening.
Point 2: You will receive 21% of the salary you should have received from the start of your suspension to the dismissal of the case. This number takes into effect that during your suspension, you had a new job with
Point 3: Any time that you would have needed to deal with Mr Barrington himself in the course of your duties, you will be able to address either the city council or Mr Barrington's assistant.
Point 4: Neither you of Mr Barrington will ever refer to the events of the that night or the following trial in public or to any other employee of the city. You will both remain silent about the events in question.
Point 5: Mr Barrington will not try to establish contact with you personally, unless there is an unavoidable emergency.
Point 6: Upon signature of the agreement, both parties will agree to drop all current and future cases against each other and the city for these events. Mr Barrington will also offer an apology for the events of the night and for not having stopped the city council from suspending you.
What do you think Jane"
"Sure, fine, whatever, you won asshole."
Jose asked me, Peter and Mr Barrington to leave the room so he could talk to Jane and her lawyer in private. In the corridor, Peter congratulated me on the proposal, saying I could also be a good mediator.
Mr Barrington explained that I was ruthless with the city council. He fears they will stab him in the back, but I reminded him it was still better than prison.
We were called back in the office after perhaps half an hour where Jane apologized for her outburst and proposed only one amendment.
"My job is mainly to answer the phone for the citizens of the city who have questions about zoning. My main problem now is that regardless of where I will work, rumours will plague me for years. That's why I wanted a severance package instead. I mean, I have a new job now, it doesn't pay as much and there are no benefits. If I am to return to the city, I want to work from my home. If you get the city to accept that, I'll sign your agreement, but keep your excuses. I don't want to hear them."
Mr Barrington opened his mouth in front of Jane for the first time since the beginning of the trial.
"I think I can convince them, but it will cost money. Are you fine with deducting the costs from the suspension payment? You'll save on income tax from the lump sum and will get to work from your house. We'll need to setup some kind of supervision, but obviously, I'll leave that to someone else to figure it out."
Jane agreed it was reasonable and we soon parted ways, leaving me alone with Peter in his office.
I decided to open the can of worms.
"Peter, twice you've made the comment about coming to my office to work, as if you were ashamed to ask about something. Is there something you want to know ?"
"Well, I must admit that my wife and I were quite curious about your lifestyle. I mean, Gloria mainly at first, but we talked about it several times and often wondered if we shouldn't try it. I mean, we undress from time to time at our house, but being naked with other people is another thing. I am not sure if it's a good idea, but Gloria still talks about your wedding as if it was a revelation in her life"
Just as we had suspected.
Peter was blushing as I was talking but he still thanked me. As I left, he jumped on the phone to, I presume, call his wife.
All in all, for a case I didn't want, it was an overwhelming success: My client was acquitted, Jane kept her job, I will get a major promotion and my boss might try naturism. All while pregnant of 7 months.