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12

It was early the next morning when Mary returned to the interview room at the Roundhouse to meet with Newlin before his arraignment. She sat opposite him in the grim room, a bulletproof barrier between them. She wore a navy suit with a high-necked blouse to hide the blotches that would undoubtedly bloom like roses in court. That she felt them growing now, merely in Jack's presence, was difficult to explain. To herself. She didn't want to even think about explaining it to her client and was sure it breached several ethical canons, at least two disciplinary rules, and perhaps even a commandment.

Mary cleared her throat. 'I wanted to see you to touch base. I have a strategy for our defense and I need to prepare you for the arraignment hearing.'

'Sure, thanks.' Jack seemed tired, too, in his wrinkled jumpsuit, but his good looks shone through fatigue's veneer. His five o'clock shadow had grown to a rougher stubble, which only emphasized how careless he seemed about his good looks. He raked back his sandy hair with a restless hand. 'First tell me how everything's going.'

'Better than I expected. I'm very encouraged by my research. That's why I'm here.'

'No, I meant generally. The case is all over the news. How's Paige taking all of it?'

'Fine,' Mary said, noting that his first question was about his daughter. She decided to test the water. 'You know, I've been wondering about Paige. Where she was last night, when your wife was killed. Do you know?'

'Home I suppose. What's the difference?' Jack's expression was only mildly curious, and Mary, distracted, couldn't tell if it was an act. She both wanted and didn't want to believe him. She resolved to find uglier clients.

'Paige told me she was supposed to come to dinner with you and your wife, but she canceled. Is that right?'

'Yes, it is.'

'She's telling the truth?'

'Of course she is.' Jack's blue eyes hardened to ice.

'I ask because I thought teenagers made things up at times.'

'Not Paige.'

'I see.' Mary paused. Was he lying? 'You didn't mention that when we met.'

'I didn't think it mattered, and it doesn't.' Jack frowned. 'Who cares who else was supposed to come to dinner the night I murdered my wife?'

'I do, it's my job. I think Paige may have lied to me about something. She told me her boyfriend Trevor wasn't with her last night, and I think he was.'

'What? How do you know that?'

'I saw him leaving her apartment when I went to meet her.' She checked Jack for a reaction, but he managed to look calm, except for that jaw clenching again. 'And you said Paige doesn't lie.'

'She doesn't, except when it comes to Trevor. I don't like him, and Paige knows it. That's probably why she said what she did. She wouldn't want me to know he was over there. Paige edits her conversations, like all of us.' He appraised her. 'You're not a liar, Mary, but I bet you don't tell your father about the men you see, do you?'

Mary squirmed. He was right but she didn't find it persuasive. She considered confronting him about whether he was protecting Paige, but settled for planting a seed of doubt. 'Okay, let's move on. Paige isn't what I came to talk to you about. I've been doing my homework, and the primary evidence against you will be your confession. The videotape.'

They said there would be other evidence, too. Physical evidence. They told me that.'

'I know.' Mary checked her notes. 'But let me make my point. We can argue that you were drunk at the time you confessed.'

'Drunk?'

'Yes. You said you had some Scotch. Two drinks, you weren't sure.' She rummaged in her briefcase, pulled out her notes, and double-checked the law on point. 'You said you weren't used to drinking and that it caused you to throw up. That's legally significant, and throws doubt on the validity of your waiver. The case law is clear that you can't waive your right to counsel when you're drunk.'

'But I wasn't drunk.'

'You could have had three Scotches.'

Two, I think.'

'Isn't it possible you had three? You told me you had a few. A few is three.'

'You want me to say three, is that what this is about?' Jack smiled easily, his teeth straight and even. 'Are you coaching me, counselor?'

'Of course not.' Mary never coached clients, though she had been known to kick them under the table, collar them in the hallway, or tell them to shut up. None of these breached ethical rules, and was, on the contrary, looked upon with favor. 'But if you had two or three drinks, your blood alcohol had to be high. We'll get the tests when they turn them over, but frankly, I plan to argue you were impaired when you confessed.'

'But you saw me. I wasn't drunk.'

'By the time I saw you, maybe you weren't. Besides, I can't tell if someone's drunk in an interview, necessarily.'

This is silly.' Jack leaned forward, and the gravity in his tone telegraphed controlled anger. 'I'm telling you I wasn't drunk when I spoke to the police. They asked me if I was drunk and I told them no. I even signed and initialed the waiver.'

'You're not the judge of whether you're drunk or not.' Mary hadn't expected a fight when she was trying to save the man's life, though maybe she should have. The situation was downright perverse. 'Lots of drunks think they're sober. That's why they get into cars and drive.'

'I know I wasn't drunk.'

'How can you be sure, Jack? Your actions weren't exactly rational. Beginning the confession, then calling for a lawyer. You weren't thinking clearly. You'd had the Scotch, early on.'

'And then I killed my wife. It sobered me up.'

'I don't think that's funny,' Mary said coolly, though his bravado didn't ring true. 'Why are you fighting me on this? This is good news. Without that confession, their case against you is much weaker. I intend to cross the detectives about it at the prelim and file a motion to suppress the confession.'

'Don't do that. I don't think it's viable and it will jeopardize my chances for a guilty plea.'

'No, it won't. The D.A. will expect a motion to suppress on these facts.'

'I don't want to queer the deal.'

There is no deal.' Mary leaned toward the bulletproof glass. 'And don't bet there will be. They have all the cards right now and unless we fight back, they're gonna play them. They're likelier to deal if they think we have a decent defense or will win a suppression motion. They don't want to lose at trial either.'

'I see.' Jack nodded, dismissively. I'll think about it and get back to you.'

'I hand you a winner and you'll think about it?' Mary squeezed her pen, trying to keep her cool. His stubbornness only encouraged her confidence. If she was right about the truth, then she was fighting him for his own life. 'I'm the lawyer. Jack.'

'But I'm the client. I make the decisions in the case. In my own practice, I gave legal advice, and the client made the ultimate decision. Plenty of times I disagreed with my clients, and they with me. I did as they decided.'

This isn't an estates matter, where you assume your client's death. My job is to keep you alive.'

'In any case, the lawyer is only an agent.'

'Not exactly.' Mary had crammed last night, after she'd left her father. 'A criminal case is different from a civil case. As criminal counsel, I have a duty to file the motion to suppress. You don't determine the scope of your right to counsel, even though it's your right. It's grounded in the Constitution. Ever hear of the Sixth Amendment?' He fell silent, and Mary continued the lecture, on a roll. 'If I don't file the motion on these facts, you could have me before an appellate court on a PCRA. That's post conviction relief, for you estates lawyers. I'd be found ineffective per se, which isn't the sort of thing I want on my permanent record card.'

'I didn't want to say this, but I guess I have to. Isn't it possible that you're wrong about this motion to suppress?'

'No. I read the law.'

'But, as you told me directly, you aren't very experienced with murder cases. Have you ever filed a motion to suppress?'

Mary swallowed hard. 'No.'

'So isn't it possible that your judgment is wrong? I'm hearing things from the other inmates, who have more experience than you and me put together. They think you're crazy not to pursue the guilty plea right now.'

She felt like snarling. She didn't need legal advice from felons. She was right about the plea negotiation and the motion. It wasn't a matter of experience. Or was it? She couldn't think of an immediate reply.

'Mary, I know you're working hard on my behalf and I appreciate it. I hadn't thought about such a defense. It seems wrong on the facts. I need to mull it over. Isn't that reasonable?' He exhaled audibly, and Mary nodded, still off-balance. Maybe she shouldn't have taken this case. Maybe she wasn't experienced enough. She was playing with someone's life. Still.

'No. You can think about it until tomorrow morning. Then call me and tell me you agree.'

'I'll call you.' Jack rose, his handcuffs linking his arms against his jumpsuit. 'Please don't file a motion until we talk again.'

'Wait a minute,' Mary said, uncertain as she watched him stand up. 'I wanted to brief you on the arraignment. Let you know what to expect this morning.'

The arraignment is a detail. I don't care if I make bail or not.' Jack walked to the door and called the guard, who came almost immediately and took him away.

It left Mary stumped. She'd never had a client walk out on her, much less one in leg manacles. He had to be protecting his daughter; there was no other explanation. Defending Jack was turning out to be a road strewn with rocks he'd thrown there, and she was becoming the adversary of her own client.

She wanted to win, but feared that if she did, it wouldn't be much of a victory.


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