The case Catherine didn't want (episode 8)
This new episode of Catherine Reynolds, after an 18 months hiatus, was partially written a year ago and tells the story of a case that Catherine really didn't want to take: defending a man accused of rape.
Letters : 61733 Words : 11229
At first, I didn't see what I could do to help him. In my mind, an assistant was simply the pretty girl who got sliced up in half or who gave the magician his tools.
This was hardly stimulating for me, so I improvised and eventually, I discovered that the special way I was able to move a jury during a trial also worked with an audience.
Eric let me perform more and more verbal parts during his shows until on stage, his words were limited to a few comments to complement my speeches.
Eric also discovered new ways to perform mentalism. He would be blindfolded, and I would guide him using the inflections in my voice. For example, when I had to tell him which card a guest was holding, I would say "Jane has picked a card". If I placed the accent of the phrase on the name, the card was a hearth. If I placed it on the "has", the card is a diamond. Etc.
When our contract at the restaurant was up for renewal, the manager offered us 2 additional months, and 2 Saturday during the contract. Our rate was also increased.
After all, now that both of us were thinking about tricks almost full time, the magic show changed almost every night, with new material tested daily. This allowed for repeat customers to enjoy every night.
Sadly, this also forced us to purchase a lot of new tricks from our now primary source of income. Eric's inventory grew every week, but our financial reserves were now tied in our magical growth, instead of in our retirement planning.
But we had some high revenues corporate gigs, and were in the process of preparing a ticket show in which we rent a stage and try to sell as many tickets as possible. It's very risky, but if we pull it off, it would provide a very nice profit.
I still handled some cases, mostly small time criminals, but I knew that every year or so, I have at least one big case which could turn around our financial status.
Our magical enterprise was bringing as much revenues as a big case, and in many cases a lot more, but for now, also had a lot of expenses while the catalogue of tricks was still being built.
One frustrating Monday morning during which we were trying to make a new trick imagined by Eric which involved the two of us performing a sleight of hand simultaneously, I received a call from "Roberts, King, Dylan and Associates" asking me if I could meet them in an hour at their office for an important case.
R.K.D. is the biggest law firm in the area, with experts on all law sectors, including some of the toughest defence lawyers. They also handle the biggest cases, with a network of expert witnesses to rely on.
As it went with the territory, they were also the most expensive law firm in the area, but some of their biggest achievements occurred outside of the court room. Their business development division invests in local companies offering legal help in exchange for a participation in the business profit. Since R.K.D. is privately owned by it's partners, no one is sure how many revenues come that way, but the size and extravagance of their newest corporate office couldn't have come simply from their regular clients.
I had interned at R.K.D. a few years ago and didn't like the corporate structure. In order to became even just an associate partner, you needed to work over 100 hours per week for years to impress the other partners. The problem wasn't that they were difficult, it's that most lawyers wanted to be a partner with them in particular.
I am guessing that when the current partners were still just employees, the law firm was still of respectable size and as such, lawyers who wanted to be partners only had to work a little more than the others to be noticed. Nowadays, even interns had to start climbing the corporate ladder in the hope of one day, being secured in a partner's position.
Seeing that, I decided I would concentrate on my clients, not on my promotions so working solo was my favoured solution.
I put my most professional outfit and promptly arrived at their office. I had never come inside, but I had seen the large fountain inside the lobby which could only inspire respect from visitors.
The front desk announced me and I was asked to go to the top floor to find the main conference room. I was given a visitor card with my picture already on it, which was a little creepy, I must admit. At first, I thought it was a picture from when I was an intern, but I realized that it had my new hair style.
It was clear something important was happening, so I hurried. I noticed that I was not escorted, like big law firms usually visited by other lawyers do. Either they trusted me or were understaffed. Ok, with a place like this, they trusted me. The corridors were filled by employees, some of which I recognized from their old office.
In the main conference room, I noticed that over a dozen person were already seated, roughly half were woman, including Donna King, one of the founding partners. Ken Roberts and Richard Dylan were also present, making this meeting even more intriguing.
I recognized Peter Green, one of their top defence lawyer and head of the criminal defence department. We had spoken a few times in the court house, and he had actually assisted to my closing statements during Cindy Strafford's trial [Read "The case of the stolen jewel"].
He is the one who pointed to the empty seat at the end of the table, and once I sat, he is the one who started talking.
A young lady who couldn't be older than 21 arrived in the room, holding a stack of paper. No one but me paid any attention to her.
Peter opened the discussion.
"Mrs Reynolds, Roberts, King, Dylan and Associates remembers you from your internship a few years ago and likes the way you have handled your career since you left our employment. We would like to offer you a position in our company in light of a new case we have just be assigned to. Before we continue the discussion, we have a few contracts for you to sign, for your and our protection. ".
The lady with paper gave me a standard non-disclosure agreement, which I read and signed. It stipulated that everything discussed today was strictly confidential and could only be release if I signed an employment form.
The second agreement was a retainer form, which basically explained that I was on retainer for all of the cases discussed today or in the future and that as such, I was bound by the client-lawyer relationship with the firm, which for example, prevented me from contacting and billing the client directly.
The third agreement was a form explaining that R.K.D. discussion was not a promise of a job or of any benefits other than from the current contract.
All of the forms were pre-signed by the R.K.D. directors. Once all of the paperwork was behind us, Peter Green slid me a series of documents and started explaining their problem.
"Jake Douglas was arrested this week-end for killing a police officer with a concealed hand-gun. The police officer was shot after coming out of his car to apprehend Mr Douglas after a 14 minutes car chase that ended on the highway after Mr Douglas lost control of his car and got it immobilized.
Jake Douglas is the son of Charles Douglas, the CEO of Douglas business development, one of the biggest corporate investment firms in the tri-state area. The company is also one of our biggest clients.
After a long consideration, because of the high amount of evidence pointing to Mr Douglas' culpability and the risk of the death penalty, we decided the only way to possibly avoid the death penalty was to plead self-defence and hope the jury will be hesitant enough to either found him not guilty, or reduce the sentence to a prison term.
We have also decided that we would like you, Mrs Reynolds, to perform the counter-interrogation of the prosecutor witnesses and some of our own witnesses, as well as the closing statement."
I was completely shocked and surprised by their announcement.
"Me ? Why me ?"
"We believe there is simply no lawyer anywhere else in the area who better understands how to move a jury. We believe this is the only reason Cindy Strafford was acquitted. As a matter of fact, we think that in order to ensure Kyle Richard's innocence [Read the case of the Armed Robbery], we would have gone a completely different route. When you decided not to present a defence to establish his personality and give his version of the facts, we considered it was a major mistake. But your closing statement swayed the jury and your had your client acquitted."
"Have you followed me at all my trials ?"
This time, Richard Dylan took the stand. "Yes, as an intern, you were one of our most promising recruits, and instead of trying to make partner, you left on your own. We wondered why. We felt we had failed you."
"I didn't like the corporate culture, the way lawyers had to constantly fight each other to become a partner. As for Mr Richard's case, the District Attorney made a lot of mistakes in his closing statement. It really helped me win."
Richard Dylan continued,
"Perhaps, but these are mistakes we would have also made. You have a unique talent and we would like you in our team."
"I understand. I am possibly interested Mr Douglas' case. But I am not sure I want to work for your firm. I kind of like my current arrangement in which I only take a few cases per year and certainly don't want to fight to become a partner with all of the other lawyers".
"I don't think you understand what we mean. We do not want to hire you. We want you as a junior partner right away. You would decide which cases you want, even cases outside of our normal client pool. A certain percentage of your external revenues will go toward the company, but you would control your hours and be on your route toward a full partnership with revenue sharing options from the company.
We will supply you with an office, and Nathalie here, pointing to one of the ladies seated at the table, will be your secretary and legal assistant. You will be able to come in your office anytime you want, and work from your home office anytime you want. Susan here, pointing to the lady seated next to Nathalie, will be your home secretary. She will be available to help you handle your cases while you are away from the office, and will act as courier between your house and the office.
She will be your own employee and report only to you. Anything that happens in your house will remain confidential. Also, once this case will be over, you would potentially be the primary choice for any closing statements for any of our criminal cases."
The woman with the papers gave me a check for 20,000$.
"This is your initial deposit for the Douglas's case. We estimate the trial will last 5 weeks. We will pay you 200$ per hour, 8 hours per day, so this check only covers the first half of the trial."
I was given another check for 15,000$.
"Upon becoming a junior partner, employees usually receive a bonus tied to their last performances. We decided to provide you with an estimate of what you would have received had you worked for us."
I was completely stunned from all of this. Only a few days ago, we were wondering how to make our life work financially, and now this.
Mr Dylan completed his presentation.
"We will leave you with Mr Green and your two new assistants to finish the details. But let me finish by expressing our hope you will agree to partner with us which is why we have proposed such an interesting offer."
Everyone left except for Peter Green, Nathalie and Susan. Mr Green explained that he would be my supervisor and asked if I had any questions.
I explained I didn't really need a secretary for my home office, but Peter Green insisted. Susan explained that she wanted the experience, and didn't have any problems working from my house. That she would make herself small and unobtrusive.
Every time I listed a problem with the arrangement, they had an already thought of solution.
I eventually blurted out that I was nudist and that I was living in a naturist center.
Susan just replied : "I know. That's why they picked me. I don't mind working nude. My parents were very liberal and we frequently visited nude beaches when I was growing up.".
"You guys really want to work with me and really thought about everything."
Peter Green insisted. "We think you are the best".
"Can I think this over ? "
"Of course, but don't forget the non-disclosure agreement about the case, and of course, don't deposit the checks until you are ready to say yes."
Nathalie showed me to my future office, should I accept the position. It was a corner office on the fourth floor. Her own office was completely closed in front of mine, instead of simply being a cubicle in front of a closed office.
In my own office, there was a second desk for Susan to join me, when I would be working from the office. I was explained that I would not be bothered when I decided to work in house, and that clothing was optional within my office if I didn't get any visits from other employees.
The firm really wanted me to join with them. I asked Nathalie and Susan how it felt to work with them, and they both told me that partners love the job. They can control their hours, their case load and their priorities. Anything they don't take is sent to lawyers who want to eventually become a partner.
As for the legal assistants like them, the pay grade is much higher than with other firms in order to keep employee loyalty.
Susan explained that as soon as I gave the green light, she would be available to come to my house. I returned home dizzy from all of the attention.
As soon as Eric saw me with what he described as "The weight of the world on my shoulders", he understood something was weird. When he saw my smile, he knew it was all good news.
Eric and I spent the afternoon thinking it over. With his magic career lifting up and my potential work with R.K.D., we would definitely wouldn't lack money. But would we have time left ?
Peter Green had insisted I could pick my workload. Of course, if I took less work, Susan and Nathalie would be temporarily re-assigned between my cases, but otherwise, all I needed to do is bill at least 80,000$ per year to keep my position. At 200$ per hour, this meant only 400 hours per year or around 10 weeks.
Eric and I realized that our house which seemed too big for my usage and just appropriate for our common usage was now too small.
We spoke with the center owners, and they agreed to rent us the adjoining lot to build an extension to the house. For those who don't understand, I own the house where I live, but the land on which it is built still belongs to the naturist center, in the same way that the Langley family rents the lot on which they place their RV during the summer. Eric and I don't pay a lot for rent, since we pay it year long, and I negotiated a good price for the adjoining lot. Our backyard would double in size, possibly allowing us to install a spa at a later time.
We would build on the next lot an annexe with 3 rooms : two offices, one for Eric and one for me, and a bigger room to host Susan, a conference table and the legal book and files. There would also be a second bathroom, which was really starting to be a priority.
That way, the office would be distinct from our house, giving us a little privacy when Susan would be working, and it would give us a lot more space to move around when she wasn't.
We got a few bids from local contractors and the lowest cost we got was for 42,000$.
Eric and I spent the night debating the issue, and came to the conclusion that the new job and the extension were worth it. It would leave more space for Eric's magic tricks which for the moment occupied about half of my office space.
Plus, just the first contract would provide enough revenues to fully pay for the renovations.
I reviewed the partnership papers, and everything indicated me that unlike my internship, this arrangement would leave me the total flexibility to organize my career in any way I saw fit.
After confirming with the restaurant which for the moment provided the bulk of Eric's revenues that they would still honour the contract even if I was too busy to help him, I called R.K.D. and left a voicemail to Mr. Green's office explaining I accepted the offer.
The very next morning, instead of getting a call back, Susan arrived at my house while Eric and I were drinking a cup of coffee on the front yard balcony.
She didn't give any comments on our nudity but instead presented herself to Eric, and started hauling boxes of document to our living room from her car. Eric offered to help her, but she insisted it was her own job.
Once all of the boxes were unloaded, she asked me if I wanted to start working on the Douglas case right away or if I wanted to wait until we were closer to the trial. When I explained I loved getting into the subject early in order to stay a step ahead of the police.
Susan agreed with my idea and made Eric sign a non-disclosure form on all of the R.K.D. contracts, allowing us to talk even if he was within earshot. The contract already had his named filled in and was pre-signed. These guys really did their homework.
"Do you need me today ? I would like to get to know how you work as soon as possible, but I do realize this is all coming quickly. If you prefer, I could come back another day and let you read, or I can stay so we get to know each other. I could fetch you the various documents when you need them, and explain some of the policies of R.K.D."
"I am sure I can find you useful Susan, and I would too like to get to know you better. If we are to work in tandem on cases, we need to find the right chemistry as soon as possible. Can you find me the arrest report first ? I will go read it in my office. There is another chair, so come join me once you have it, and we'll get started right away."
"Thank you Mrs Reynolds."
"Thank you Catherine"
I went in our second bedroom which currently served as a lawyer/magician office. I freed the desk for today's work and moved Eric's chair next to mine for Susan to sit.
I was about finished when Susan brought the police report on the case. She had removed her clothes in the mean time and was now as nude as I was. I decided not to say anything and instead just placed a towel on Eric's chair.
Susan and I reviewed a good portion of the documents. It was the first time I really worked with an assistant, and it was very refreshing. Every time I needed to find a document for further review, Susan had already prepared it.
When Peter Green had quoted 40 hours per work on the Douglas case, I then thought he was under evaluating it. So far, for every hour spent in the court house, I had to spend a good two to three hours preparing or reviewing. With Susan's help, I would shave maybe half of that preparation time, perhaps more.
She is hard working and relatively silent. We did have a few personal conversations in the morning, but most of them amounted to little.
It's only at lunch time that naturism was actually approached as a subject. Eric and I ate some fish sticks while Susan ate a sandwich from her lunch bag.
While eating, Eric broke the subject by asking Susan how she got into naturism. She explained her parents frequented nude beaches and brought her until she left home, around 17, for college.
She only thought about it when Monday morning, Peter Green explained to the legal assistants that a promotion was available, but that it might involve working from a naturist center.
"We were explained that volunteers who were comfortable with the idea would be favoured. I was then only working as a research assistant, meaning I spent my days looking for precedents with little face time with lawyers, reducing my chances for a promotion.
Given that I went on a few nude beaches during my teens, I thought I would check to see the conditions. When I leaned that you were the lawyer in question, I was interested. First of all, I am not sure I would agreed to work with an old grandfather, I would have felt too weird, but at the same time, I had heard about you from a few of my colleagues."
"You did ?"
"Well, most of the interns apply for a position inside the company, but you instead decided to go on your own. Some of the interns you had worked with were convinced you would fail, but instead, you had a few high profile cases in the last few years. That attracted their curiosity. When Peter Green started to visit your trials to hear your closing statements, a lot of them became jealous. They had worked for years like slaves to get a promotion, but still couldn't see a court room, remaining stuck in testimony preparations and legal study."
"You still have your Intern of the month plaque in the office."
"I do ? Wow, I didn't think they kept all of them"
"They don't. They just keep those that show promise. Once they make partner, they move the plaques to the intern dining room"
"Yours is the newest in place."
We spoke a little about the firm, a little about naturism, a little about magic. After we ate, Susan and I took a walk in the forest, leaving my man behind to clean the table.
Susan admitted she was a little apprehensive at first about undressing in a business environment , but had found my nudity just as natural as when she visited nude beaches years ago.
After the walk, we completed the review of the material for the Douglas case and she got a little taste of how I prepared my closing statements.
She was notably surprised to find that unlike lawyers she had worked with, my closing statement was the centerpiece of my cases. I used the evidence and testimonies to support my future monologue, and not the other way around.
Around 3h30, we had finished the whole review, so Susan asked me what to do. I suggested the only thing left for the day was to go take a swim in the heated pool.
Once inside the comfortable water, she commented that usually, at 3h30, she was in a rush to complete the latest requests before leaving and not relaxing in a pool.
"You know Susan, when we finish early, there is no need to tell Mr Green about it. You can instead stay and relax in the sun, either work on your tan or on your stress level."
We both laughed, but eventually, she had to get back home, leaving me to finish the evening with Eric, who had a new magic trick to show me.
It would certainly prove to be an interesting work environment !
I was about to forget, but I managed to catch the contractor for the expansion just before he left his office for the day. Because it was slow season, they assured me that the 4 weeks construction project could start in two days, provided I gave him my deposit the next day when he would bring the plans for approval.
Eric and I celebrated my new job at the restaurant where we usually perform three nights a week, stopping at the bank to deposit the whooping 35,000$ advance pay and bonus checks I had received.
When Susan came to our house the next morning, she was already undressed when she rang the doorbell, having left her clothes in her car.
We worked together on an approach to plead self-defence for Mr. Douglas. It wasn't easy. All attempts of pleading self-defence against a police officer had resulted in a guilty verdict for first degree murder. Susan and I both felt it was pointless to attempt it, but those were our orders.
Eric made a great chicken casserole for diner and managed to convince Susan to eat it instead of her plain sandwich.
Lunch was pleasant, but we were interrupted by the contractor who came in to have Eric and I approve the plans. Susan decided to go take a walk in the woods to let us concentrate on the meeting.
Once the contractor left, Susan came back and apologized for leaving so abruptly. She explained that she wasn't comfortable to be naked when around clothed men due to bad experiences on nude beaches.
She told us that unlike naturist centers, nude beaches are public and as such, often attract voyeurs who come to the beach to check nude woman. A teenager like she was attracted a lot of their unwanted attention, causing her to feel anxious even today when naked around a textile man.
I reaffirmed that she was welcomed to wear clothes in my house anytime she wanted, especially during the construction of the new wing for the house.
Around 3h00, we finished a rough outline of the preparation time in front of us. On the plus side for me, it would, if Peter Green accepted it, generate immediately more billable hours helping me pay for the construction of the house expansion.
Susan and I agreed to meet him the next morning in the R.K.D. building. Once she set the appointment, we took a walk and went swimming a little. During the walk, I presented her to not only to some of the permanent residents, but also explained where the regular summer or week-end resident stayed.
She left in a happy mood after refusing Eric's invitation for supper. She explained that eating dinner was one thing, since she stayed after it to work, but supper was encroaching on our private life.
We both reassured her we were fine with it, but she told us that until she works in her new office and spends her day outside of our private house, she wouldn't want to become officially friends for fear of confusion between being my assistant and being my friend.
Even thought the day had been a lot more productive than in the past, when I worked alone, the additional burden meant that Eric and I had to work extra hours during the evening and parts of the night to make sure we would be ready for the Wednesday evening show.
Eric agreed to lower my workload, especially since I would have my first staff meeting on the same day, but we still ended up going to bed on Wednesday, having practiced past midnight.
The next morning, I went to gather the material for the meeting only to discover that Susan had already taken care of it.
I arrived at the office a little past 8h30, and went straight to my own office, where Nathalie was typing a report in the computer. After a brief meaningless exchange of chit chat, I admitted to her that I wasn't sure how she could help me, since I would rarely come in the office.
"Don't worry about me Mrs Reynolds. Susan will do the liaison between the two of us, and when I am available, Mr Green sends me other tasks."
I thanked her and found Susan in my office, wearing nicely tailored clothes. She welcomed me and gave me updates on her findings.
"When did you have time to do that ?"
"This morning. I was here at 7h00 in the morning. I didn't tell you before, but before I stop at your house, I come here every morning to pick up a few documents and type in reports. Once the expansion is done, I will be able to work full time from it, but in the mean time, I don't want to clutter your house with boxes and boxes of documents."
"Well, you did offer that I dress back up at your house, but truth be told, I kind of enjoy working naked. It's a change of mood. It's more intimate."
"Yes, I guess so."
After a few seconds of silence, she invited me to review her notes for the meeting, which I must admit, were really well organized.
We grabbed a cup of coffee on the way to the criminal defence conference room, which was much smaller than the main conference room, but just as well organized.
Peter Green joined us a few minutes later, and started the meeting by asking us how it went at my house.
We both explained that we had a good chemistry and quickly adjusted to working together. I told him about the work being done to increase the size of my house so that it would have a real office. Naturism wasn't mentioned in the conversation.
Mr Green asked me how much the renovations cost, and upon hearing the number, promptly left the room.
Susan and I were confused, and I even asked her if I somehow insulted him.
He came back with a check for 42,000$. I told him he didn't need to do that, but he insisted.
"We are not really paying for the renovation. This is an advance on your future full partner bonus. If you do make it as a partner, we will simply subtract 42,000$ from the bonus you would normally receive."
"And if I don't make it as a partner ?"
"Don't speak nonsense. We're not investing that amount of money on you to put you in the freezer. So, any thoughts on the trial ? "
I went over our ideas with the help of Susan's notes. Mr Green really loved our ideas, and congratulated me on them.
I insisted that Susan helped with them, but he simply added : "Reynolds, Susan is your assistant. Even if she does all the work, you get the credit, and then you give her the credit she deserves. If you continue giving me credit for her, I'll need cancel that check and pay her to renovate her house"
Susan simply mentioned, barely audibly that she still rented an apartment. Mr Green clearly heard her so he replied, laughing : "If I make you partner instead, I'll give you her house..", pointing to me.
He left without more ado, and an hour later, Susan and I were back at my house to elaborate on our plan.
Construction had already started, so we both remain clothed. Susan because of her past experience, and me out of respect for her.
Around 4, after the workers had left, Eric reminded me we had an engagement to prepare for, so I told Susan she could go home for the night, asking her not to come before 9 the next morning, to leave me time to sleep a little.
To my surprise, instead of driving off, she left her clothes in her car and went swimming naked in the pool. I guess the girl really liked naturism after all, provided she didn't see clothed men.
I barely had time to change into my evening dress. When Eric and I left the house for the restaurant, Susan's car was still parked next to ours.
The restaurant show was a hit, like usual. We made a little less tips than on some other nights, but the crowd was also lighter, but not less enthusiastic.
When we came back, past eleven, Susan was gone, but there was no indication of when she actually left.
Eric and I were awoken by the doorbell, at 9h10. Susan apologized and was unsure if she needed to ring. She was already naked, and I noticed that her hair and her towel were wet.
She admitted she came in early despite my request and spent about an hour in the lake to relax before work.
The workers came back while we were working on the case, but since Eric handled it himself, neither of us dressed back up.
Susan had brought food, a grated tomato macaroni, insisting that once in a while, she feed us instead of always the other way around.
The workers were gone for the lunch break, so the three of us ate outside on the patio table without being bothered.
The next two weeks continued pretty much in the same way, interrupted only by some meetings at the headquarters.
Sadly, on a Tuesday, the workers made way too much noise for us to concentrate, so we had to move to my office, to the surprise of Nathalie. Susan and I started the work fully clothed, but in the afternoon, we spent roughly 15 minutes nude only to realize that the environment was a little too weird. We kept being afraid the door would open on us, despite the fact that no one knew we were here except for Nathalie.
We spend the rest of the week in the office, much to Eric's grief. Not once did we tempt fate by undressing.
Ironically, on the next Monday, when we were finally back to working nude at my house, we had almost finished our initial work, so at 10h, we were back in the office to present our final report to Mr Green who really loved the work accomplished so far and was thoroughly impressed.
Susan was temporarily assigned to another lawyer due to the fact I didn't have another pending case, and while the sudden temporarily unemployment came for me at a surprise, I couldn't complain that the last few weeks, I already billed more hours than any other case before, not counting the bonus and the renovation advance.
I spent the afternoon alone with Eric, but we visited the Langley family after supper to update them on our life and catch up with them.
There had been no repercussions at school due to the incident at the beginning of the year and slowly, Lily's hair had started to grow back.
Kyle was in the last year of elementary school and was buried in work to prepare for junior high. I always found odd that only the first and the last year of elementary school really had a lot of work. The first because of children had to learn to read and write, and the last because in addition to learning that year's program, you also had to review the whole curriculum.
Eric had brought material to perform a new trick with Lily's card from last summer. It was rather impressive.
He took her 2 of diamond on a pack of card, and managed to transform it into a 3 of diamond with a red hearth drawn on it. He then transformed the 3 of diamond into a 3 of hearts, with a red diamond drawn. Finally, he transformed the 3 of hearts into a Queen of Heart with the word "Lily", written on it. He promptly gave it to Lily as a souvenir, and thanked her for her attention.
He received a big hug from both Lily and her mother. Kyle, who watched the trick with attention, was taught a second trick, in which the magician shows about 15 cards, all identical except for one clearly different.
He then explains to the spectator that he wants to force the spectator to select the card which is different from the others, but that he wants the spectator to resist him and pick one like every other.
Kyle picked one of the identical cards, and Eric placed it on top of the first card, squaring the pack of card.
Once he confirmed with Kyle this was indeed the card, he showed him that the card he picked was the only card in the pack with a blue back, and not a red back.
Everyone was amazed, and Eric whispered to Kyle that the trick was to select a face card and place a little section of double-back scotch tape on the first card on top, which it also the blue card.
When the selected card is placed on top of the first one, to confirm the selection, you simply need to press the center to firmly stick the selected card to the blue card. By then, the trick is done. Just don't hand-out the 2 cards to the spectator and spend as little as possible showing them, or they will see you are actually showing 2 cards, not one.
As we were leaving, we invited the family to come to the restaurant to see our show, and they agreed to come on the next Friday.
The rest of the week came as a relief. Eric and I were alone in the house, watching over the final details of the renovation such a furniture orders, and just plain relaxing together.
I did get a few phone calls from Nathalie, who wanted to confirm a few things about the case that Susan was unsure of, but they were usually brief and short. She notably confirmed a few of my appointments with future expert witnesses on the case, but most of them were months away, with the nearest in about 2 weeks.
On Friday, the workers were installing the door to the expansion from our living room. The new section was not fully completed, but it was now possible to reach it from inside the house.
That evening, the magic show was one of the best in the last few weeks, thanks to the fact I had been able to practice for it during almost the entire week, with two previous well prepared shows on the preceding nights. Of course, having my best friend and her family with her did improve my motivation.
The entire Langley family loved the show, and Sandra congratulated me on my acts and presentations. They had previously only seen Eric, so it was nice to feel supported by such close friends.
By the time Susan and I went to meet my first expert witness at his office, the renovations were completed, and the desks and computer equipment were installed. Near the end of the project, R.K.D. had hired a firm to install VOIP phones at Susan's desk and at my own desk, to enable us to use the internal phone system from our offices. They also installed computers directly connected to the office.
After the meeting, Susan came back to my house and was impressed by the new offices. She had only seen it under construction and had never gone inside it, but now, she loved the new settings.
Instead of feeling like she was invading our space, she could see clearly a physical and psychological separation between the office and the house.
She admitted it felt a little weird to undress once more after more than 3 weeks of being clothed full time, but still told me she had longed for it.
We studied at the conference table the expert witness testimonies, and after lunch, went swimming in the pool.
We had a small conference call with Peter Green later that day who offered to lend one of the company vans for the moving of the rest of the material.
Eric, Susan and I went to the office to pick up the bookcases and various law books, but once on location, Mr Green explained that we couldn't move it ourselves. Instead, he dispatched two couriers who did all of the work while Eric and Mr Green got acquainted.
I felt a little jealous that Eric got the permission to call him Peter and that they exchanged jokes together. "Peter" even asked Eric how he managed to control himself with two beautiful naked woman, and my man jokingly just replied to watch out, he was actually engaged to one of them.
Susan later explained to me that the rumour in the company is that Peter was a very nice intern, but that when he became head of criminal defence, everyone of his friends still interns tried to have him return favours. He thus needed to pull rank and became a lot more serious, much to his sadness. Eric, unlike us, didn't work for him, so he could relax with him.
The two couriers installed at our house the bookcases and the books on the walls of Susan's office which also doubled as a conference room.
Both guys were really slower to place things back then it took to fill the truck. Eric is the one that understood first that they were probably sad that Susan and I still wore clothes and were probably stalling to get a chance to see us naked.
We decided not to encourage their voyeurism and instead went on a conference call with Peter Green. I had questions on how we were supposed to organize our time.
Basically, before the expansion was completed, it was clear that the arrangement was temporary. Now that Susan had an actual working office, it would make more sense to assign her full time here in order to avoid her splitting her time, but I didn't think I would provide her with enough work for that purpose.
Mr Green was in agreement with us, but didn't have a solution either. Between my cases, they couldn't afford to pay an intern to basically do nothing, and aside from when she was working for me, she needed to be physically in the office.
I knew that Susan preferred working with me rather than staying almost alone in a research library every day fetching articles for unseen lawyers, but I guess my only choice was to handle more cases, which would take a little time before R.K.D. trusted me enough to do so.
Susan and I parted again after a single day of company, to only see each other a few times in the following weeks, usually when there was a new expert witness testimony preparation.
I did have to work with her almost 3 days in a row on the preparation of the closing statement for another case, which was refreshing, but otherwise, the new office felt empty.
In the end, Eric called back the contractors, and we installed French doors between our personal offices, so that when we are working from our respective desks, we can simply open them and see each other.
On the plus side, Eric and I connected a lot. It felt like every week, we grew closer to each other. It really appeared that we both adapted to her new lifestyle, him as a full time naturist and me as a magician's assistant.
Sadly, the Douglas trial approached quickly, and about three week before it started, Susan came back to her desk to help me prepare for the testimonies, even if most of the days, we both each worked from our own office. In fact, she worked a lot more hours than I did and I often felt guilty leaving her alone to slave away on charts and guides while I swam in the pool or in the lake. She joined me every time the day was done, but it really seemed like each day, she finished later than the previous one.
I officially invited her to come stay with us anytime she wanted, showing her our old office converted into a guest bedroom. At first she refused, but on a Wednesday night, she came to see our show at the restaurant and ended up sleeping in the guest bedroom to be ready for the next morning.
The trial itself was heavily mediatised. There were 4 lawyers at the defence box, including Peter Green and I. I did most of the counter-interrogation, but from time to time, one of the additional 2 lawyers would do so on unexpected answers.
Susan was in the room behind me at all times, and during every recess and pause, briefed me on the plan in addition to given me and the other lawyers clear outlines prepared in the weeks before the trial. In a way, she was running the show.
She came to the center in the first week-end of the trial, renting a cabin for her stay even if she ended up spending most of the time with us. We had a lot of fun and I discovered she was a much better badminton player then Eric and I, even when we were playing double against her.
The trial was really tiring. I had to take the restaurant gig off for a full week because I was unable to perform my acts as well as I should and I felt like I was hurting the tips.
The manager was worried about me and I learned that he was anxiously watching the news about the trial, hoping to see me in action. I explained that cameras were not allowed in the court room, but it didn't seem to deter him from trying.
The last week was coming to a close. I would have to offer my closing statement during a full 6 or 7 hour session.
Some of my trials didn't even last at long !
Susan spent the night before the closing statement at my house to make sure I was ready.
I won't give you the exact words for the statement and instead, I'll give you the cliff notes.
My statement reviewed the defence expert witnesses testimony and tried to explain why we had them give the number of casualties from police officers, the regulations allowing a police officer to draw and to fire his weapon, the percentage of the arrest during which at least one police officer drew a gun, the percentage during which at least one projectile was fired, The number of times a police officer was actually discipline or accused for using his weapon, etc...
During the trial, all of these numbers had been thrown at the jury without a surrounding context. My closing statement was the glue that bonded all of these facts together.
What it really came to is : We believe, from what the media teaches us, that the local police has a gun complex and a god complex in which the police officers were perceived by the population as trigger-happy.
We believe, from what the media teaches us, that police officers are disillusioned from the court system which throws criminals back in the streets on technicalities.
We believe, once again from the media, that the only way for police officers to make sure a criminal is removed from the system, is to kill him at the moment where the treat level is at the highest, right before the arrest, which automatically lifts any sanctions from the police officer.
I highlighted that had the police officer fired first and had our client been shot to death, there would have been no trial, since our client had a gun. The police officer might even had received a medal of valour for shooting a suspect in self-defence.
Yet, the situation was now exactly reversed and our client risked the death penalty. However, in both cases, the shot would have been fired for exactly the same reason: to save the life of the person holding the gun.
I asked the jury to ask themselves:
"If confronted by an out of breath aggressive police officer pointing a gun at you, are you absolutely sure that your natural self-preservation instinct would not prevail ? Are you sure that after hearing about all of the police shootings, you would not act first and try to save your life ?
Would you not try to take cover to hide yourself behind your car to try and get in a safe position before surrendering ? And if you weren't fast enough and you saw the police officer about to kill you, wouldn't you try to save your life by shooting bullets in the air to cover your escape ?"
I stressed the fact that our client had been unlucky and hit the police officer in the face, that he was convinced he would hit him in the bulletproof vest only immobilizing him. I reminded them of the testimony of one of our expert witnesses which spoke of the effectiveness of the vests and about the slim chances of a police officer being killed in a fire exchange.
The oddest thing about my statement, is that aside from a small 15 minutes pause for lunch and restroom breaks, I had the attention of the entire jury on me during an entire 6 hours and a half.
I gave handouts as proofs, but the jury only spent a few seconds on them and instead, focused on my interpretation of the documents.
I knew that R.K.D. had inspired the mind of the ordinary people which perhaps could explain their eagerness to listen to me. Peter Green later told me that it is possible we had stunned them in the previous week with a ton of unrelated numbers and that for the first time, they made sense.
In a way, that was my plan from the beginning, but I was happy to see that my new boss could see it too.
In the last few minutes of my statement, I finished with a moving emotional testimony trying to appeal to their human side and reminding them that the criminal past of our client was rather small, but that it was no reason to judge him on it. This was a matter of life and death. That our client acted only to save his life, and that today, ironically, he once again had to fight to save it.
Fortunately, the District Attorney could only start his statement on the next day, so I came home early, with Susan, where we relaxed in the pool for a few hours before I left with Eric for the restaurant.
At first, I thought I wouldn't be able to perform, but I was in fact on fire. The trial, from my point of view, was over. If the client was found guilty, we would need to handle sentencing, but for now, there was a break.
The next morning, Susan came to my house to pick me up with all of the newspapers from town. I was on the front cover of most of them, with journalists explaining they were moved by my speech. Several of them questioned the morality of defending a cop-killer this way, but none questioned my abilities.
At the court house, Peter Green congratulated me again, and we listened to a 4 hour closing statement from the District Attorney. Peter objected to one of the remarks, but otherwise, the statement was pretty much what we anticipated.
The DA spent a full hour explaining why we needed not to give criminals the right to plead self-defence, but I had previously explained that self-defence from the police can be the only line between democracy and tyranny, so I felt we did enough. The non-verbal language of the jury indicated that at least several members sided with our version of the fact on that precise point.
The jury withdrew a little after 3pm, with the judge giving over 2 hours of instructions, and listing the 5 possible verdicts, insisting on the two extremes : guilty of first degree murder, as mandated for the shooting of a police officer, and not guilty, if they felt that it was self-defence.
He also explained the 3 other possible verdicts, insisting that they were NOT a compromise to be reached if they were divided, and that instead, they needed a conviction just as strong at the other two options.
He weighted the 5 options compared to each other, and once done, left the jury to itself.
It was a rainy Thursday afternoon, and within minutes, the jury came back with the news that they were divided on the first round. They demanded a series of transcripts and the judge re-convened them for the next day, at 3h30, for an update.
The defence team decided to go out to relax, so Susan proposed we all go to the restaurant where Eric and I would do a show that night. I tried to stop her when she proposed it, but Peter Green insisted.
I stopped at the house to change into an evening gown and update Eric. He congratulated me on the job well done and offered to let me relax with my colleagues and let him handle the show by himself.
We spent most of the conversations on the trial and wine flowed between the 3 other lawyers and Susan, but I decided to keep the drinks to the minimum, since I also had to perform on stage.
I ended up bringing Susan to our guest bedroom due to her slight abuse of wine, and she feel asleep in her work clothes on top of the sheets the moment she laid down on the bed.
The next morning, she had a huge headache, but since Peter had generously given us time off until noon, she relaxed with us in the naturist center pool.
I went with her to pick up her car at the restaurant, and followed her to her small apartment where she changed into fresh clothes.
We were in the court house at 2, where the rest of the team was still eating lunch, clearly freshly awaken from the previous night.
Around 3h15, we went in the court room, where were soon learned that the jury had failed to reach a unanimous decision, but confirmed they had not yet lost hope of reaching one, simply needing more time to discuss their options.
The judge gave them the week-end to think it over, and asked everyone to be back Monday morning.
Eric and I pretty much phased out for the whole week-end, interrupted only by a visit from Susan on Sunday afternoon to relax in the pool.
Monday morning, the news fell. The jury decided unanimously to acquit Mr. Douglas, believing he acted in self-defence when he fired at the police officer.
While a lot of people in the court room booed the decision, our defence team was really happy at the verdict, and Mr Douglas and his parents thanked us for our efforts. Mrs Douglas thanked me personally, convinced that my closing statement was the deciding moment in the trial. Peter Green emphasized that it was all my work and that the firm was really proud to have hired me.
Later that day, the senior partners of R.K.D. welcomed us in the main conference room to thank us for a job well done. A cocktail was served, and a little later in the afternoon, Peter Green gave me a check for the balance of the hours for the trial, along with a 5,000$ bonus. I was told that Susan also got a small bonus, but mostly, thanks to her work, she was now permanently a legal assistant and not just when working with me.
This meant for her a pay raise, but also better work conditions and more chances for being noticed for further promotions.
Peter Green left Susan and me with a pile of files. He indicated these were all of the criminal cases that R.K.D. would be pleading in the future. He asked Susan and I to review the files over the rest of the week and decide which ones we would plead.
We went home and spend the rest of the afternoon reading the case summaries at the conference table. Eric joined us at some point, asking us how we would schedule the time and giving us his non-professional opinion.
Susan drew a crude calendar on a series of pieces of paper she stapled together, and we prepared a timeline of the cases we liked, finding time between moments passed in court for reasonable preparations times.
To our surprise, we discovered that Susan and I could work full time for R.K.D. for a period of roughly 18 months, with only a few weeks of actual vacation or unplanned time.
But the most surprising fact was that in those 18 months, R.K.D. would end up paying upwards of half a million dollars : at 200$ per hour, 35 hours per week.
I called Peter Green to ensure I wasn't counting wrong, and he indicated I was indeed making a serious mistake in my calculations, since I wasn't counting on the fact that within the next 12 months, I would become a full partner and thus, have my rate re-evaluated in addition to participating to the profit sharing.
Eric and I almost fainted. Only a few months ago, I was barely finding work, and now, if I took all of the cases, I would make more money than I ever thought possible.
Susan was also happy to hear that thanks to my caseload, it meant she wouldn't have to work with other lawyers. Not only did working with a single lawyer meant getting used to her work habit and thus being more productive, but she admitted she liked working in the nude and relaxing in the pool after a long day of work and sometimes, during our lunch break.
I didn't know yet if I would take all of the cases, but I managed to get Susan permanently reassigned to my office so that when I didn't have an actual client to bill, she wouldn't have to go work for another attorney. I justified it by explaining that I would use the time between cases to work on my general strategies and perform legal research for which Susan's help was essential.
Sadly, while I gained a legal partner, this most likely mean that Eric would have lost his magical assistant.
To compensate, I decided to celebrate by purchasing the spa Eric and I had thought about when we initially ordered the annexe. To open it, we invited Susan and the Langley family to come join us for a nice barbecue in which Sandra and Susan, my two best friends of the moment got to bond a little.
I guess this was marking a new beginning !