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.
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A lot of people think that defence attorneys are tricksters paid ig bucks to keep criminals away from jail. In reality, while a few are, our real job is to simply ensure our clients will get a fair trial. We are the guarantee that the police and the district attorneys will play by the rules.
Let me tell you a story of one of my clients who did commit a crime, was accused of that crime, but who truly believed she should still be acquitted from said crime. Well, you might have heard of it, it's the case that every newspaper and morning show talked about last year.
It all started on a Saturday night. That when it usually occurs. The most exiting cases I get all begin on Saturdays.
My clients commit crimes all days of the week, but those committed on a Wednesday or even on a Sunday are usually boring and simple.
I do get from time to time an interesting case on Friday evenings, but to be honest, I usually then get the call after midnight, making it officially a Saturday.
One of my regular clients, a high price call-girl, was arrested for the theft of a high price necklace from a client who hired her for the evening.
The detective on the case was my old pal Lieutenant Packard. You might remember him when he was still a sergeant. I can tell you that he was not happy to see me at first.
"So, miss Reynolds. What did I do wrong this time ? Don't tell me the necklace fell by itself in the bag of your client and that she didn't push it."
I guess he was still sore from the time I convinced the judge to drop the aggravated assault and the attempted murder charges from my client, Marc Finley who had robbed an old lady [Please read "The case of the falling lady for more information"].
"I don't know yet, I haven't spoken to my client. I am hoping she didn't talk to you either ? Silent as a bird, like that Finley guy. You really train your clients well Lady."
I ignored the comments, and met with Cindy Strafford, also known as Cassiopeia.
I had worked 3 times before that with Cindy. All of the times, she was accused of soliciting sexual favours for remuneration from an undercover police officer. The first two times, she got a ticket, but when she got community service the last time, she decided to work only on a reference basis.
I wondered what changed her mind this time.
"Hello Catherine. Happy to see ya. Listen, do you want my versions of the fact or the truth ?"
"Both, in that order."
"The John hired me for an evening on the town and a night of passion. Fancy dress, big restaurant, a little dancing, finishing the night at this place. We agreed, 600$ for the whole thing. He gave me a necklace to wear around my neck for the evening, and at the end of the evening, when we came home, he took it back and placed it in it's case. We go in his bed, guy can't get it up, and yells at me to go away. I tell him : "Sorry pal, we agreed on 600$. If you want me to help you get it up, I can get a blue pill, but otherwise, it's not my fault.", he refused to pay up, so I ran away, yelling he'd hear from my pimp. Later that night, the police shows up, arrests me for stealing the stupid necklace. Apparently, it's worth more than 5000$ dollars. I ain't got nothing to do with it. He put is in the case, I left running away humiliated. That's my version, and I'm sticking to it."
"So, you did not take the necklace ?"
"Hell ya, I did. And don't worry, I didn't touch anything. I used my scarf to snitch it, they ain't got no prints of mine. Hey, don't look at me like that, I knew it was worth serious money and the asshole didn't pay me up. I Gave it to Robby, my chauffeur to hide it. They'll never find it, and I don't plan on selling it. But hey, that's between you and me. Robby didn't even see it, I just told him to hide the dress, and it was in the same bag."
"Cindy. You know that's wrong. You should have left it there."
"Hey, you're not my mom. A girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do. Will you or will you not help me ?"
"I will if you have the money, you know that. Now, from your version of the facts, I am guessing you want to plead not guilty ?"
"If they find the necklace before the trial, it's going to be a completely different matter. Do not talk to anyone. Remember your version of the facts, but please, don't put me in a weird place."
"Don't worry, I know what to do girl. We'll get them."
I left her to the care of police officers and met with Lieutenant Packard. I asked him if he had any proofs that she had stolen the necklace at all ?
"I have the girl on the location the last time the necklace was seen. Nobody else came in before the police"
"Couldn't it be that the necklace was hidden by the owner to claim the insurance ?"
"We thought about that. We searched his place for proofs, no sign of the necklace. We have what we think are her prints on the door handle, and we have his prints on the necklace box partially wiped, as if gloves or a towel was used to open it in order to steal the necklace."
"You got an arrest warrant on that ? Who's the judge who signed on such circumstantial evidence ?"
"The plaintiff has an external security camera system. We saw her come in with the necklace. She is the only one who got out before the police arrived. The necklace wasn't on the property when we searched the place. Therefore, she took it"
"Oh come on. That's still entirely circumstantial. Did you search the basement ? Did you search the attic ? Maybe he just hid it very well. Did you open every single book in his bookcases ? Maybe it's hidden between the covers of a hollowed book. There's millions of places to hide a necklace. Heck, I once found one I lost stuck between my mattress and my headboard. It held by the pressure of the mattress alone and only discovered it when I changed the sheets the next few days."
"The plaintiff put the necklace in it's case. He refused to pay the prostitute, and she storms off. He decided to put the necklace case in his safe, and finds it missing. That's what happened. And yes, we searched the safe. Believe it or not, the police knows how to perform a search. She took it, and hid it somewhere during her drive home."
"When is the arraignment ?"
"Tomorrow at 14h."
"See you there."
I drove back home and went back to sleep.
I hated the way some police officers jumped to conclusion. Ok, this time, he was right. But it was entirely possible that the plaintiff did hide the jewel in his own house for the insurance. Hiring a prostitute to take the fall would surely distract the attention of the insurance investigators.
After all, what reputation does an unpaid prostitute has ? Maybe he would have hired her specifically for her to take the fall.
I knew better, but he didn't, and he didn't have any proofs pointing in my client's direction.
Fortunately, the next afternoon, at the arraignment, the judge was a lot more sceptical of the proof and allowed my client bail for only 1000$ and a promise not to contact or approach the plaintiff.
I rushed back home for the pot luck Sunday afternoon party which I had been looking forward to since the Langley's came back, the week before, to the naturist center.
Lily had been sick almost all week, feeling week and tired, and I really hoped she would be well enough to come to the supper.
Sadly, no one from her family showed up. I was worried enough that I stopped at their RV as soon as I finished eating.
Lily was already in bed and Kyle was playing with his Nintendo DS with headphones on. Stephen and Sandra asked me to join them outside to talk.
"She has been more and more tired and weak in the last few weeks of the school year. We saw a doctor two weeks ago, and he said it might only be small virus and to consult again after two weeks. We have an appointment for tomorrow, but we are wondering what is happening."
"I hope she feels better soon", was the only thing we were able to say.
They soon returned to her care, and I returned home alone, lost in my thoughts.
At least, she would see another doctor the next day. Hopefully, he or she would have a better idea of what is going on.
The next morning, when Sandra left the center with her kids, I prayed for Lily to be ok. I tried to condition myself that it was just a small virus.
Sadly, when they did come back, they didn't know better. I waited for them near the gate, reading a book, and when they parked their car, I offered to carry Lily back to her RV, an offer I soon regretted. In the last two years, she grew a lot and became a lot heavier.
Still, she managed to make it in one piece and went back to bed without even undressing. I tucked her in while her mom and her brother removed their clothes.
Shortly after Sandra made a phone call to Stephen at his office, she joined me around their fireplace and gave me an update.
"It seems to be viral, but her system seems very tired in fighting it. They took a blood sample to know more, and will call us later today with preliminary results."
"Your family has my thoughts in mind. Don't be afraid to ask for anything. I'm there for you."
I spent the afternoon with Sandra. Lily woke up a few times to go to the bathroom or ask for something to eat or drink, but otherwise, she stayed in bed even if she eventually decided to grab a book to pass the time.
In the mid-afternoon, the doctor called to ask Sandra and Lily to come for the results. Stephen couldn't free himself for work, so I offered to go to the appointment with them for moral support.
To my surprise, Sandra thanked me and accepted.
I went back home to put some clothes on and grab my keys. I offered to drive them in my car to help Sandra with the stress. The drive was rather quiet, with Kyle playing on his Nintendo DS and Lily half asleep on the back seat. Even Sandra seemed in shock.
The doctor saw us immediately. At first, he didn't want me to come in his office, but Sandra insisted I was there, that I was practically family. Once inside his office, we noticed there was a second doctor behind the desk.
"Mrs Langley, I will be direct. You daughter suffers from an infection caused by leukemia. Your daughter has cancer."
Sandra began crying, and I think Kyle was also in shock. Lily didn't seem to react.
"In a way, we were very lucky. The blood tests show us that her leukemia is at the first stages. The infection is the primary causes of her symptoms, but it is occurring because her system is weakened by the cancer. This is Doctor Sawyer. He is an oncologist and will deal with your daughter from now on. I am really sorry for her, but we are both hopeful everything will be all right really quickly. I will leave you in doctor Sawyer very capable hands, but before I go, here is an anti-biotic prescription for the infection. Once again, good luck."
I took the prescription, since Sandra was too much in shock to take it. Doctor Sawyer left his seat and sat down on the desk, in front of Lily.
"Lily, my name is Frank. You can call me Frankie, Doctor, or even Bob. I don't mind how you call me. I will work with you and you parents to make you stronger. Got it ?"
"Lily, do you know what blood is ?"
"Your blood is sick. It has a disease called Leukemia. It's the cancer of blood. Do you know what that is ?"
"I know what cancer is. My grandma died of cancer"
He turned to Sandra.
"We will need more tests, but like I told her, her type of leukemia is very treatable at her stage of the disease. We caught it very early. I recommend we admit her tomorrow morning at the hospital for further tests, and to start interferon therapy tomorrow afternoon. This will teach her body to fight the cancer. We will also start chemotherapy in about a week, to actually kill the cancer as soon as possible. We just need to find the appropriate treatment for her condition. It won't be easy, but she will get better. Take the night with your family. Tomorrow, we start the fight to cure your daughter."
Sandra asked a few questions, and the doctor answered patiently each of them. Yes she would lose her hair, not, it should not cause permanent problems.
We left the hospital and the drive home was even more silent, except for a few sobs from the silent crying of Sandra.
We stopped at the pharmacy to pick up Lily antibiotics, and promptly returned home.
I tucked Lily in her bed after giving her the first pill from her prescription while Sandra was outside on the phone with Stephen. I could her hear cry from the inside of the RV.
When Sandra came back, I took Kyle home with me, and I proposed that he and I cooked supper for their family, to ease the workload from her parents while they talk about his sister.
For the first time ever, Kyle and I spoke a lot. He was clearly afraid to lose his sister and was really glad I was there today. He told me he never knew why I hang around with them, but that today, he was happy I did.
We started preparing spaghetti when we saw Stephan arrive. Kyle told me it was one of Lily's favourite dishes. He helped a little with the preparation, but I think he was mostly lost in his thoughts.
Once everything was ready, I brought the spaghetti to the Langley's RV while Kyle brought the sauce. I put four plates at the table, but Kyle placed a fifth one for me. I told him I wanted to leave them alone as a family, but his parents insisted I joined them since they often felt I was a close to Lily as they were.
The little girl did weight in strongly in my heart, as if she was my own daughter, but I was glad to see her parents also accepted me.
We hate support almost in silence, and Lily went to bed shortly afterwards. Kyle, his parents and I sat around a fire a good portion of the evening, without saying a word.
In movies, they show people giving each other support in such cases and warm encouragement. In reality, life is longer than a few minutes on screen. After a few warm words are exchanged, what is there to say ?
Perhaps in other families, it bring a happy recollection of the best memories spent with the child. Perhaps in other places, it brings the family to laugh in the face of adversity.
But right here, right now, 3 adults and a tween sat silently, naked, around a fire, carefully avoiding eye contact with the other participants to avoid to show the truth. They each and every one of us was completely scared and felt entirely powerless. We each loved Lily in our own way, as a friend, as a daughter, as sister, but not of us right now knew what to say.
Stephan added a few logs to the fire at a regular pace. Around 9 pm, Kyle went to bed. Around 10 pm, Stephan, who theoretically had to work the next day, or at least, call early for a day off, called it a night.
About thirty minutes later, his wife joined him, leaving me alone in front of a dying fire. I added one log to revive it shortly after she left, but afterwards, I let it go, as if at the same time, I was letting my fear go.
I stayed in darkness in front of the cooling ashes for at least two more hours. I guess I wanted to make sure that by the time I was home, a new day would have started.
Unfortunately, I feel asleep by the fire, naked on the grass, so that by the time I realized I still wasn't in bed, the sun was rising.
I walked slowly toward the pool. Next to it, there is a shower head to rinse off before a swim. I quickly washed myself and jumped in the pool, swimming from one side to another until my stomach reminded me to eat breakfast.
That morning, Stephan did take a day off, and the four of them went to the hospital. They did not specifically invite me to come, and frankly, I didn't want to impose too much on them.
Instead, I let them to their privacy while I reviewed the details of Cindy's case. They still didn't have a clue on the location of the necklace, which bode well for our case.
I hated when I had to defend a definitely guilty customer who was literally playing with the law, but at the same time, had my theory of self-theft for insurance fraud purposes, the facts of the case would have been identical, and as such, I would have been entirely justified to defend her.
Defence attorneys are always walking a fine moral line. Are you keeping criminals out of jail, or simply making sure that the police and the district attorney do their jobs as thoroughly as they should ? In the case of Jim, my client acquitted of complicity of armed robbery, the police and the DA didn't do their job at all, sending an innocent young man in front of a jury [See the case of the armed robbery].
But today, the police did catch the right culprit, but based on assumptions. What did I do to defend the population from crime ? Which service am I rendering to society ?
Our teachers tell us that the only way a court can be fair, is if everyone is entitled to a good defence, both the guilty and the wrongly accused. But I knew this was false. Not everyone is entitles to a good defence, only those able to pay for one.
This is the primary reason I chose to remain alone instead of joining a law firm. I do not get the bigger prestigious cases, but I do get clients, like Jim or like Marc Finley, who are accused of something they didn't do but cannot afford the biggest firms.
With my freelance work, I can focus less on my hourly rate and more on the well being of my client.
But am I serving Cindy's best interests by preventing her from facing her conscience ? Then again, her client stole her services and will never get punished for that, does it square it away ?
I didn't think so. Taking matters in your own hands wasn't right, you cannot bring justice yourself. But what can a prostitute do when she isn't paid ? That's why they need pimps, for their protection.
In a way, it made me sick that prostitution was illegal, but at the same time, I made a decent amount of money defending prostitutes doing their job.
I guess I was finding all of this unfair because in way, it was unfair for Lily to be sick. She was only seven years old, she didn't deserve to get cancer, just as it has been unfair for Billy to die that day, leaving me alone.
Perhaps I was afraid that for the first time since Billy's death, I had opened my heart a little to express almost motherly love toward a young girl, and now, she was fighting one of the worst sicknesses ever.
Lily stayed the night at the hospital with her mother, but Stephan took me to see her after supper. She was already feeling much better from her infection now that she had 24 hours of antibiotics in her system.
She read me a story, and we played with some of her dolls. Sandra told me they were very positive about her chances. She would not need a bone marrow transplant nor any other extreme procedures. The chemotherapy and the interferon should be enough. It would make her really sick, but in a few months, it would only be a bad memory.
The infection most likely saved her life since it enabled them to catch the cancer before it grew too much.
Stephen brought me home with Kyle and asked if I could watch him for the night so they could spend the night at the hospital.
At first, Kyle was uneasy around me. Aside from the cooking the previous day it was the first time we really had to spend time alone together.
I didn't know if it was Kyle's pre-teen hormones being uneasy around a nude adult women, or if it was his sister's condition, but we barely bonded.
He did go outside with me to eat marshmallows grilled on a fire, but even then, we didn't exchange a lot of words. I tried to get him to open up, but he mostly just nodded to some of my questions, not always coherently.
He didn't want to sleep in their RV, so I pulled out my hide a bed sofa and let him sleep in the living room while I slept in my bed.
I woke up early the next morning and went outside to watch the sun rising over the horizon, careful not to wake him up.
Around 9 am, he joined me on the bench on my front porch, sitting on the other half of my towel.
"I hope she's okay.", he simply said, looking away in the distance.
I agreed with him, and after another fifteen minutes of silence, proposed we eat breakfast. I didn't have the cereals he liked, so we went to his RV with my toasts and instead ate there.
Eventually, Stephen came home with somewhat good news. Lily's infection was completely gone, and she reacted well to her first interferon treatments. They also calculated her chemo treatments and would start them later today.
Stephen told me that Lily wanted me to be there when they would let her select her wig for her to wear when her hair would fall out.
I put some clothes on at my house and the three of us left for the hospital. Lily was really happy to see both me and her brother, saying she missed both of us terribly.
Lily was very proud to explain her sickness and the treatment she would be getting. For her, it was just a challenge, like learning to read. She was able to stay positive despite the adversity.
"The only thing I don't like here, is that they don't let me sleep naked. I have to wear a pyjama. I kept telling them I am a nudist and I never slept with clothes on, but they still insisted. I can't wait to be back home to sleep better".
Me, it's the lights, the constant moving of people in the corridor, or the fact that there was an another kid in the room that would keep me awake, but for Lily, it's as if her entire world while she was sleeping didn't exceed the limits of her small hospital bed.
Shortly after, we went to the wig shop, one floor down. Lily was once again herself, full of energy. At first glance, she seemed better than she was a week ago, but a week ago, we only suspected an infection, not that she would be fighting Leukemia.
We were able to find a wig that was almost her own hair color, pale blond like her mother, but a lot longer than her current hair.
He paraded with it. The longest hair brand descended down to her hips, compared to currently to the middle of her back.
Her mother found it too long, but after pleading from Lily, she accepted. They adjusted the wig to fit better, and told us that they would re-adjust it when her own hair would be gone.
I think all of three of the adults with Lily had their stomach turned, but she was personally happy with the choice.
Over the next few days, her chemotherapy treatments began without her being released from the hospital.
She vomited a lot and her skin partially changed color, but otherwise, her moral stayed high.
I had a few cases to attend to, but I spend most of the rest of my time with her and her mom while she was still in the hospital.
Slowly, Lily's health grew worse as the poison pumped into her veins attacked both her cancer and the rest of her body. She lost a little hair, but most still held firm. The doctor told us it can take a few treatments until the loses most of it.
After a full week in the hospital, she was released. She was asked to be careful in the sun. Some researches seem to indicate that sun bathing can be beneficial for cancer patients. Apparently, the increased vitamin D production helps fight the cancer. However, for some chemotherapy recipients, sun exposure can hurt the skin because it is potentially weaker because of the treatment.
Lily was very happy to return to the RV at the center, and spent a lot of time just floating in the pool. She said that the water movement eased her, as if she was still in the womb, I guess.
She had a few weeks of pause to relax and recuperate until she came back in for more chemotherapy. Thanks to her high tolerance the first time, they increased the strength the second time around to improve her chances.
Sadly, this meant more hair loss, more side-effects, less strength left in her tiny body and a longer reaction time.
To help recuperate, I decided to e-mail the magician she had liked so much before all of this started. I didn't remember his name, but I remembered his e-mail address. I explained who I was and reminded him about Lily, to whom he had promised to let her do the magic marker experiment, explaining that she was fighting leukemia.
The very next day, Eric Jones himself arrived at the center for a private performance for Lily and her family of a few of his magic tricks in my back yard.
We saw a few new tricks. He even taught one to Kyle in which Eric picked up 3 pennies from a bowl, one after the other, and without looking at them, was able to read the date out loud. Eric whispered to him the solution in his ear, so he's the only one who heard it, but you should have seen the look on his face afterward.
Eric warned him not to do it more than once to a person, and to never, ever explain it.
He of course ended with the Magic Marker trick.
He asked Lily to point a card, any card, in a deck of cards, and showed it to her, and to us what the card was, but without looking at it. It was a 2 of Diamonds.
He showed her 4 magic markers, which were magic because they are invisible. He let her pick one, she picked the red one.
He asked her to draw a shape in the air. She drew a heart.
He picked up the small envelop he had placed on the table, and let the single card contained on it drop on the pack of cards he was holding. When he flipped the card over, it was the 2 of Diamonds, with a red hearth drawn in the center.
"Lily", he said. "Normally, I keep the card. But just for you, and only this time. I will let you keep it until you are cured. When you are, ask your mom to call me, and I will do another magic trick with that card to celebrate your victory. Is that a deal ?"
They shook their hands, and while he was putting his things in his briefcase a little away from Lily's family, I approached him.
"Thank you very much. It was very generous of you to do that."
"You were not forced to come. You could have ignored my e-mail."
"From a lady that beautiful and nice ?"
"I was talking about the girl, but hey, the hat fits on you too", he then kissed my hand.
I could see that his manhood was no longer quite as flaccid as it was a few minutes ago. He blushed a little, and apologized.
I decided to invite him for supper at my house, just the two of us. He was welcome to dress back up if he so desired.
He accepted my invitation and remained nude while we ate my chicken volcano. He helped prepare the vegetables, but I noticed he visibly tried not to make eye contact with me until there was a counter or another obstacle to my vision.
The supper went really well, and we discovered we had a lot of passions in common. For the first time since Billy's death, I was enjoying myself on what you could definitely call a date.
Over the next few weeks, Eric and I shared a few more dates, most of which occurred outside of naturist areas. Our relationship grew slowly stronger, but Eric understood my willingness to take it slow due to the death of my husband.
Lily's third treatment was in the first week of August, when the felt she was ready for an even stronger dose. By the third week of August, she no longer had any hair left on her body.
While at the naturist center, she proudly wore her hairless head as a trophy to her survival. The sun never affected her negatively so she kept taking walks with me, notably in the woods behind the center.
Her resolve seemed stronger and stronger, but, nonetheless, when school was about to resume and she was preparing to leave the naturist center to return home, she admitted to me in secret that she was glad to have the wig. She told me that while adults were understanding, most of the kids were mean.
Cindy's trial was scheduled for the end of the October. In mid-September, I received a call from her : the police found the necklace. Robby was arrested for beating up the customer of another call-girl who had refused to pay, and the police arrived in the mean time. They found some drugs in his car, so they got a warrant and found in his bank security box the necklace and the dress I had worn on the night she had stolen the jewel.
I drove to Cindy's house, where we spent hours trying to find a way to get her free. Robby was willing to testify he hid the dress at Cindy's request without knowing the necklace was is it, so we couldn't really blame him. Plus, he had never entered the house nor seen the necklace.
I returned home without a clear answer. It's only a week later, while Eric was practicing a magic trick in my living room that I suddenly got flash. I kissed him, ran toward my car, back to my room to get dressed, and finally dropped at Cindy's apartment with my plan.
Not only was it completely original, but it could possibly help other prostitutes defend their causes. It was very risky and could very well land Cindy in jail, but she was willing to take the chance. I clearly explained to her that it was a long shot and that they were no guarantees, but she was willing to go forward anyway.
We would twist the law, and her testimony would change her motivations, but not that much so it wouldn't be a complete lie.
Poor Eric, when I came back home, he was completely confused on why I ran away that fast, but quickly understood once I explained everything to him.
The trial began without much excitement. Robby testified that it was Cindy who asked him to put the dress in his safety box without opening the bag. I asked him if she Cindy told him why. He replied :
"She told me the john didn't pay her up. I asked her if she wanted me to go collect, and she told me that it was already taken care of, but that I needed to hide the bag, in the case police came looking for it. She suggested I did not take a look inside".
The district attorney tried to paint this badly, but he had no idea where we were headed.
The john in question, called Peter Koufalis, was the last witness. He confirmed the fact when it was his time to answer the district attorney's questions. There was nothing surprising. He explained every moment of the date at length, and the disappearance of the necklace.
When it was finally finished, I began my counter-interrogation.
"Mr Koufalis, let me get a few things clearer. When the defendant arrived at your house that night, did you reiterate your plans for the night ?"
"Yes, she asked me to"
"Did she remind you to the price of her services for the night once you were finished ?"
"Yes, she told me it was 600$, with me paying for the food at the restaurant at least 2 glasses of wine for her during the meal"
"Between the moment she told you her price and the moment you gave her the necklace, did either of you say anything ?"
"I think I said something like, here, you will wear this during the date"
"What was her reply ?"
"Thank you, it's beautiful"
"Did she ask you for payment for her services ?"
"No, it was the beginning of the evening"
"Do you frequently call escorts Mr Koufalis ?"
"No, it was my first time"
"Then why do you think the defendant did not ask for her fee in advance ?"
"I don't know, I assumed it was the way it worked."
"If you were a call girl, when would you prefer to be paid, before the night starts, so that you can leave if the client doesn't have the money or at the end, when the client already had the services ?"
"Well, at the restaurant, you pay after the meal"
I walked toward the Jury. I usually try to be looking at them when I am making a point.
"Yes, but if you end up not paying for your meal, the restaurant can call the police. When a john hires a prostitute, if he ends up not paying for the services rendered, who can she call to enforce the contract ?"
"I don't know"
"Don't you think, Mr Koufalis, that the only reason Mrs Strafford did not ask you to pay upfront the 600$, is because you put around her neck a security deposit ensuring your payment ?"
"What ? That's ridiculous. I would never give her the necklace, it belonged to my wife"
"I understand that. I didn't say you intended to use it as a security deposit. What I am asking you is, do you think it is possible that since you gave her the necklace immediately after she stated her price, she considered it as a security deposit against your payment ?"
"No, come on, it worth ten times the money she asked for."
"Exactly. When you want to go see if one of your friends is in a bar without waiting in line or paying the cover charge, you leave the keys to your car or your drivers licence to the doorman. What happens if you spend the night anyway ? Do you think he will thank you and return silently your keys ?"
"I guess it's possible."
"Then, is it possible that the only reason she didn't insist to get paid at the beginning of the evening, is because you placed the necklace around her neck, which she saw as a security deposit ?"
"I guess it's possible. I didn't see it that way. "
"No more questions at this time your Honour".
The District Attorney looked at me hard and intensely, and looked at this notes in silence. After a few moments of silence, the judge called him up, reminding him it was now his witness. The DA finally declined to counter-interrogate the witness, finishing his case.
Our first witness was Robby. We voluntarily decided to call him back during our depositions, to sway the jury our way.
I basically asked a lot of questions to Robby on how often he had to enforce a payment, how it worked, why he thought john didn't pay up.
The district attorney objected a few times that it wasn't relevant to the case, but every time, I explained to the judge that it was indeed relevant. That the normal business model of call-girls was central to our case. The judge overruled the objections every single time, and eventually, asked the DA to let me finish.
I completed my interrogation with two questions more specific to Cindy. Cindy had supplied me with the exact words to use.
"Then, how often did you have to enforce a payment for Cindy in the year preceding the night with Mr Koufalis and since then."
"Never ? Not once a john decided not to pay Cindy ? I find that hard to believe. Could it be that she always asked to be paid in advance ?"
"I don't know. I never asked her. "
"No more questions your honour"
The District Attorney was visibly annoyed by my questioning and let it go, therefore preventing him from asking further questions to Robby.
My second and last witness was Cindy. I asked her a lot of questions on how she operated, about her life in general, and johns in particular. I wanted to show her as intelligent and full of business sense. I ever gave her coaching lessons to let her speak better during her testimony.
She explained she always either asked for the money up front or a deposit to ensure payment. I asked her what a deposit could possibly be.
"Well, this guy wanted to have sex while high on coke, and his girlfriend didn't want to. He left me his gun in case of problems, just to be sure he didn't shout me while high. I decided the gun was worth enough, so I only asked him the money at the end of the night."
"Did he pay you ?"
"Yes, he did."
"When did you give him his gun ?"
"Well, I undressed before I had sex with him, so I left it on the floor, with my clothes. When I got paid, I left it there."
"And with Mr Koufalis ?"
"Well, the necklace was so beautiful ! When he put it around my neck, I knew it was worth a lot more than 600$. I figured the guy was going to pay me so not to lose the necklace."
"To you, it was clear it was a deposit ?"
"Yeah, and I thought it was clear for him too. When he took it off, he only placed it in it's box, not in his safe. I wasn't about to have sex with the necklace still around my neck, so I figured he was just being a gentlemen, just making sure the necklace was safe while we did it."
"So, when he refused to pay you, what did you think ?"
"I wasn't that mad. I just picked up my deposit and left."
"So, you admit stealing the necklace ?"
"No, I didn't steal it. It was mine. It was a deposit on the verbal contract we had, and he failed to pay. As such, I got to keep it. It's that simple."
"Why didn't you tell the police ?"
"Listen lady, I don't talk to the police. They hate prostitutes. "
"No more questions for now your honour"
The District Attorney was smiling. The defendant just admitted the crime. He figured he would have an easy job in front of him.
After a short recess, it was my opening statements.
"Members of the jury. When you go to the garage to have your car repaired, if you refused to pay the invoice presented to you, the mechanic can either refuse to give you back your car, or sue you for non payment. When you go to the tailor to have a pair of pants repaired, if you refuse to pay, they either refuse to give you back your pants or call the police. If you go to the jeweller to have a ring resized, if you do not pay the resizing, they will refuse to give you back your ring, or call the police or a lawyer. In all of these examples, the professional you have hired performed the service before you paid them. In all of these examples, you give something to the professional which is worth many times the cost of the service. If you refuse to pay the service, the professional will either keep your property until paid or sell it to recuperate their loses. They also have the chance to sue you for cost of the services, or in some cases, call the police for theft of services.
If prostitution was legal, when Mr Koufalis refused to pay for the services rendered, Cindy could have called the police for theft of services. It's Mr. Koufalis who would have been the defendant. But prostitution isn't legal. She cannot call a lawyer to collect her money. She cannot call the police to enforce her rights.
A verbal contract was signed between Mr Koufalis and Mrs Strafford that night. It was clear in the mind of Mrs Stafford that the necklace was a deposit for the cost of the services. Even Mr Koufalis himself admitted he placed it around her neck immediately after she stated her price.
When you go to a restaurant and order food, there is an implicit verbal contract signed between your waiter and you which stipulates that until you have paid for your food, you cannot leave the premises. If you break the contract, the restaurant will call the police.
That night, Mrs Strafford went in the private home of a perfect stranger, risking her safety for merely 600$. When she was about to ask for her money, the client put a high priced necklace around her neck. In her mind, Mr Koufalis and her were still negotiating the terms of the verbal contract. Mr Koufalis didn't see it that way which it why he called the police, but he also admitted it was the first time he called a call-girl.
This entire trial is simply a misunderstanding, and contrary to what the district attorney is about to say, not a plain and simple robbery. Despite all of his pleading, despite all of the instructions left by the judge, if you feel in your mind that Mrs Strafford really believed that she signed a verbal contract with Mr Koufalis in which the necklace was a security deposit toward payment of the 600$, you have duty to find my client not guilty. Such a contract cannot be enforced in courts because prostitution is illegal, but when Mr Koufalis still decided to hire Mrs Strafford, they both decided to ignore that fact. Please remember that this trial isn't about prostitution. It's about the necklace.
In event she is found not guilty, my client will agree to return the necklace to Mr Koufalis, either in exchange for the 600$, or a promise to give that amount to a charity of his choice.
But please, don't forget. If in your heart, you believe that a verbal contract was signed in which the necklace was a security deposit, you need to find Mrs Strafford not guilty of robbery."
The district attorney of course attacked our version of the fact. He insisted that since prostitution is illegal, the contract has no value, and that even if it did, Mr Koufalis never agreed that the necklace was a deposit. He placed it around her neck because he wanted her to feel good.
As for his lack of payment, this had nothing to do with the case. She stole the necklace. She admitted it in court. She is guilty. It's that simple.
The instructions of the Judge were rather basic and the jury withdrew for a few minutes.
They returned promptly to ask to listen to the interrogation of both Mr Koufalis and Mrs Strafford again. A tape was sent to them to listen, and seeing that the jury was visibly unable to render a verdict quickly, the judge dismissed the audience.
Outside of the court room, I was literally attacked by the press. I re-explained the facts of the case and answered a lot of questions regarding my closing statements, refusing to speculate on the verdict.
Later that afternoon, the jury returned to the judge, explaining they were unable so far to render a verdict yet and needed more time. This was a great news. It meant that some of the jurors wanted to acquit my client.
The judge dismissed the jury for the night and given the high interest of the press, sequestrated them in hotal rooms to isolate them from the world. I returned home only to find a ton of interview requests waiting for me.
That night, a lot of local news covered the event, and the next morning, the newspapers all mentioned the facts of the case, one of which with me on the cover pager.
Eric was really proud of me, and wished he could have been in the courthouse with me.
The next morning, the jury announced they had reached a unanimous verdict after listening to the interviews once more. They announced that they found the defendant not guilty.
With a lot of relief, Cindy Strafford and I left the court house, and spend the next few days in the media circus, celebrating our victory.
Cindy managed to sign a few exclusive deals from which I she paid me a nice bonus for the work I performed for her.
The last I heard from her, she was start acting courses to use her new notoriety to break into show business.
Back home, a few weeks later, test results indicated that Lily was in remission. All signs of her cancer had vanished to everyone's relief. She would still need annual check-ups, but the worse was behind her, and slowly, her hair was growing back.