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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:20

"Yes, sir. Well, sir, I'm afraid I must ask for a continuance. A conflict has developed in my trial calendar for that Wednesday, and I have a pretrial conference in Federal Court in Memphis that the judge has refused to continue. I regret this. I filed a motion this morning asking for a continuance."

Gardner, the plaintiffs attorney, was furious. "Your Honor, that case has been set prime for two months. It was set for trial in February, and Mr. Lotterhouse had a death in his wife's family. It was set for trial last November, and an uncle died. It was set for trial last August, and there was another funeral. I guess we should be thankful that this time no one has died."

There were pockets of light laughter in the courtroom. Lotterhouse blushed.

"Enough is enough, Your Honor," Gardner continued. "Mr. Lotterhouse would prefer to postpone this trial forever. The case is ripe for trial, and my client is entitled to one. We strenuously oppose any motion for a continuance." . Lotterhouse smiled at the judge and removed his glasses. "Your Honor, if I may respond-"

"No, you may not, Mr. Lotterhouse," interrupted Noose. "No more continuances. The case is set for trial next Wednesday. There will be no more delays."

Hallelujah, thought Jake. Noose was generally soft on the Sullivan firm. Jake smiled at Lotterhouse.

Two of Jake's civil cases were continued to the August term. When Noose finished the civil docket, he dismissed the attorneys, and turned his attention to the pool of prospective jurors. He explained the role of the grand jury, its importance and procedure. He distinguished it from the trial juries, equally important but not as time consuming. He began asking questions, dozens of questions, most of them required by law, all dealing with ability to serve as jurors, physical and moral fitness, exemptions, and age. A few were useless, but nonetheless required by some ancient statute. "Are any of you common gamblers or habitual drunkards?"

There were laughs but no volunteers. Those over sixty-five were automatically excused, at their option. Noose granted the usual exemptions for illnesses, emergencies, and hardships, but he excused only a few of the many who requested pardons for economic reasons. It was amusing to watch the jurors stand, one at a time, and meekly explain to the judge how a few days of jury duty would cause irreparable damage to the farm, or the body shop, or the pulpwood cutting. Noose took a hard line and delivered several lectures on civic responsibility to the flimsier excuses.

From the venire of ninety or so prospects, eighteen would be selected for the grand jury, and the rest would remain available for selection as trial jurors. When Noose completed his questioning, the clerk drew eighteen names from a box and laid them on the bench before His Honor, who began calling names. The jurors, one by one, rose and walked slowly toward the front of the courtroom, through the gate in the railing, and into the cushioned, swivel rocking seats in the jury box. There were fourteen such seats, twelve for the jurors and two for the alternates. When the box was rilled, Noose called four more who joined their colleagues in wooden chairs placed in front of the jury box.

"Stand and take the oath," instructed Noose as the clerk stood before them holding and reading from a little black book that contained all the oaths. "Raise your right hands," she directed. "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will faithfully discharge your duties as grand jurors; that you will fairly hear and decide all issues and matters brought before you, so help you God?"

A chorus of assorted "I do's" followed, and the grand jury was seated. Of the five blacks, two were women. Of the thirteen whites, eight were women, and most were rural. Jake recognized seven of the eighteen.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Noose began his usual speech, "you have been selected and duly sworn as grand jurors for Ford County, and you will serve in that capacity until the next grand jury is empaneled in August. I want to stress that your duties will not be time consuming. You will meet every day this week, then several hours each month until September. You have the responsibility of reviewing criminal cases, listening to law enforcement officials and victims, and determining whether or not reasonable grounds exist to believe the accused has committed the crime. If so, you issue an indictment, which is a formal charge placed against the accused. There are eighteen of you, and when at least twelve believe a person should be indicted, the indictment is issued, or returned, as we say. You have considerable power. By law, you can investigate any criminal act, any citizen suspected of wrongdoing, any public official; really anybody or anything that smells bad. You may convene yourself whenever you choose, but normally you meet whenever the district attorney, Mr. Buckley, wants you. You have the power to subpoena witnesses to testify before you, and you may also subpoena their records. Your deliberations are extremely private, with no one being present but yourselves, the D.A. and his staff, and the witnesses. The accused is not allowed to appear before you. You are expressly forbidden to discuss anything that is said or transpires in the grand jury room.

"Mr. Buckley, would you please stand. Thank you. This is Mr. Rufus Buckley, the district attorney. He's from Smith-field, in Polk County. He will sort of act as your supervisor while you deliberate. Thank you, Mr. Buckley. Mr. Mus-grove, will you stand. This is D.R. Musgrove, assistant district attorney, also from Smithfield. He will assist Mr. Buck-ley while you are in session. Thank you, Mr. Musgrove. Now, these gentlemen represent the State of Mississippi, and they will present the cases to the grand jury.

"One final matter: the last grand jury in Ford County was empaneled in February, and the foreman was a white male. Therefore, in keeping with tradition and following the wishes of the Justice Department, I will appoint a black female as foreman of this grand jury. Let's see. Laverne Gos-sett. Where are you, Mrs. Gossett? There you are, good. I believe you are a schoolteacher, correct? Good. I'm sure you'll be able to handle your new duties. Now, it's time for you to get to work. I understand there are over fifty cases waiting on you. I will ask that you follow Mr. Buckley and Mr. Musgrove down the hall to the small courtroom that we use for a grand jury room. Thank you and good luck."

Buckley proudly marched his new grand jury out of the courtroom and down the hall. He waved at reporters and had no comments-for the time being. In the small courtroom they seated themselves around two long, folding tables. A secretary rolled in boxes of files. An ancient half-crippled, half-deaf, long-retired deputy in a faded uniform took his position by the door. The room was secure. Buckley had second thoughts, excused himself, and met with the reporters in the hall. Yes, he said, the Hailey case would be presented that afternoon. In fact, he was calling a press conference for 4:00 P.M. on the front steps of the courthouse, and he would have the indictments at that time.

After lunch, the chief of the Karaway Police Department sat at one end of the long table and shuffled nervously through his files. He avoided looking at the grand jurors, who anxiously awaited their first case.

"State your name!" barked the D.A.

"Chief Nolan Earnhart, Karaway City Police."

"How many cases do you have, Chief?"

"We have five from Karaway."

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"Let's hear the first one."

"Okay, let's see, all right," the chief mumbled and stuttered as he flipped through his paperwork. "Okay, the first case is Fedison Bulow, male black, age twenty-five, got caught red-handed in the rear of Griffin's Feed Store in Karaway at two o'clock in the mornin', April 12. Silent alarm went off and we caught him in the store. Cash register had been broken into, and some fertilizer was gone. We found the cash and the goods in a car registered in his name parked behind the store. He gave a three-page confession at the jail, and I've got copies here."

Buckley walked casually around the room smiling at everyone. "And you want this grand jury to indict Fedison Bulow on one count of breaking and entering a commercial building, and one count of grand larceny?" Buckley asked helpfully.

"Yes, sir, that's right."

"Now, members of the grand jury, you have the right to ask any questions. This is your hearing. Any questions?"

"Yes, does he have a record?" asked Mack Loyd Crow-ell, an unemployed truck driver.

"No," replied the chief. "This is his first offense."

"Good question, always ask that question because if they have prior records we may need to indict them as habitual criminals," lectured Buckley. "Any more questions? None? Good. Now at this point, someone needs to make a motion that the grand jury return a true bill of indictment against Fedison Bulow."

Silence. The eighteen stared at the table and waited for someone else to make a motion. Buckley waited. Silence. This is great, he thought. A soft grand jury. A bunch of timid souls afraid to speak. Liberals. Why couldn't he have a bloodthirsty grand jury eager to make motions to indict everybody for everything?

"Mrs. Gossett, would you like to make the first motion, since you're the foreman?"

"I so move," she said.

"Thank you," said Buckley. "Now let's vote. How many vote to indict Fedison Bulow on one count of breaking and entering a commercial building and one count of grand larceny? Raise your hands."

Eighteen hands went up, and Buckley was relieved.

The chief presented the other four cases from Karaway. Each involved defendants equally guilty as Bulow, and each received unanimous true bills. Buckley slowly taught the grand jury how to operate itself. He made them feel important, powerful, and laden with the heavy burden of justice. They became inquisitive:

"Does he have a record?"

"How much time does that carry?"

"When will he get out?"

"How many counts can we give him?"

"When will he be tried?"

"Is he out of jail now?"

With five indictments out of the way, with five true bills and no dissension, with the grand jury eager for the next case, whatever it might be, Buckley decided the mood was ripe. He opened the door and motioned for Ozzie, who was standing in the hall talking quietly with a deputy and watching the reporters.

"Present Hailey first," Buckley whispered as the two met in the door.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Sheriff Walls. I'm sure most of you know him. He has several cases to present. What's first, Sheriff?"

Ozzie scrambled through his files, lost whatever he was looking for, and finally blurted, "Carl Lee Hailey."

The jurors became quiet again. Buckley watched them closely to gauge their reactions. Most of them stared at the table again. No one spoke while Ozzie reviewed the file, then excused himself to get another briefcase. He had not planned to present the Hailey case first.

Buckley prided himself on reading jurors, of watching their faces and knowing precisely their thoughts. He watched the jury constantly during a trial, always predicting to himself what each was thinking. He would cross-examine a witness and never take his eyes off the jury. He would sometimes stand and face the jury box and interrogate a witness and watch the faces react to the answers. After hundreds of trials he was good at reading jurors, and he knew instantly he was in trouble with Hailey. The five blacks grew tense and arrogant as if they welcomed the case and the inevitable argument. The foreman, Mrs. Gossett, looked particularly pious as Ozzie mumbled to himself and flipped papers. Most of the whites looked noncommittal, but Mack Loyd Crowell, a hard-looking middle-aged rural type, appeared as arrogant as the blacks. Crowell pushed back his chair and walked to the window, which looked over the north side of the courtyard. Buckley could not read him precisely, but he knew Crowell was trouble.

"Sheriff, how many witnesses do you have for the Hailey case?" Buckley asked, somewhat nervously.

Ozzie stopped shuffling paper and said, "Well, uh, just me. We can get another if we need one."

"All right, all right," replied Buckley. "Just tell us about the case."

Ozzie reared back, crossed his legs, and said, "Shoot, Rufus, everbody knows about this case. Been on TV for a week."

"Just give us the evidence."

"The evidence. Okay, one week ago today, Carl Lee Hailey, male black, age thirty-seven, shot and killed one Billy Ray Cobb and one Pete Willard, and he shot a peace officer, one DeWayne Looney, who's still in the hospital with his leg cut off. The weapon was an M-16 machine gun, illegal, which we recovered and matched the fingerprints with those of Mr. Hailey. I have an affidavit signed by Deputy Looney, and he states, under oath, that the man who did the shootin' was Carl Lee Hailey. There was an eyewitness, Murphy, the little crippled man that sweeps the courthouse and stutters real bad. I can get him here if you want."

"Any questions?" interrupted Buckley.

The D.A. nervously watched the jurors, who nervously watched the sheriff. Crowell stood with his back to the others, looking through the window.

"Any questions?" Buckley repeated.

"Yeah," answered Crowell as he turned and glared at the D.A., then at Ozzie. "Those two boys he shot, they raped his little girl, didn't they, Sheriff?"

"We're pretty sure they did," answered Ozzie.

"Well, one confessed, didn't he?"

Crowell walked slowly, boldly, arrogantly across the room, and stood at the other end of the tables. He looked down at Ozzie. "You got kids, Sheriff?"

"You got a little girl?"

"Suppose she got raped and you got your hands on the man who did it. What would you do?"

Ozzie paused and looked anxiously at Buckley, whose neck had turned a deep red.

"I don't have to answer that," Ozzie replied.

"Is that so. You came before this grand jury to testify, didn't you? You're a witness, ain't you? Answer the question."

"I don't know what I'd do."

"Come on, Sheriff. Give us a straight answer. Tell the truth. What would you do?"

Ozzie felt embarrassed, confused, and angry at this stranger. He would like to tell the truth, and explain in detail how he would gladly castrate and mutilate and kill any pervert who touched his little girl. But he couldn't. The grand jury might agree and refuse to indict Carl Lee. Not that he wanted him indicted, but he knew the indictment was necessary. He looked sheepishly at Buckley, who was perspiring and seated now.

Crowell zeroed in on the sheriff with the zeal and fervor of a lawyer who had just caught a witness in an obvious lie.

"Come on, Sheriff," he taunted. "We're all listenin'. Tell the truth. What would you do to the rapist? Tell us. Come on."

Buckley was near panic. The biggest case of his wonderful career was about to be lost, not at trial, but in the grand jury room, in the first round, at the hands of an unemployed truck driver. He stood and struggled for words. "The witness does not have to answer."

Crowell turned and shouted at Buckley, "You sit down and shut up! We don't take orders from you. We can indict you if we want to, can't we?"

Buckley sat and looked blankly at Ozzie. Crowell was a ringer. He was too smart to be on a grand jury. Someone must have paid him. He knew too much. Yes, the grand jury could indict anyone.

Crowell retreated and returned to the window. They watched him until it appeared he was finished.

"Are you absolutely sure he done it, Ozzie?" asked Le-moyne Frady, an illegitimate distant cousin to Gwen Hailey.

"Yes, we're sure," Ozzie answered slowly, with both eyes on Crowell. ,

"And you want us to indict him for what?" asked Mr. Frady, the admiration for the sheriff obvious.

"Two counts of capital murder, and one count of assault on a peace officer."

"How much time you talkin' about?" asked Barney Flaggs, another black.

"Capital murder carries the gas chamber. Assault on a deputy carries life with no parole."

"And that's what you want, Ozzie?" asked Flaggs.

"Yeah, Barney, I say this grand jury should indict Mr. Hailey. I sure do."

"Any more questions?" interrupted Buckley.

"Not so fast," replied Crowell as he turned from the window. "I think you're tryin' to ram this case down our throats, Mr. Buckley, and I resent it. I wanna talk about it some. You sit down and if we need you, we'll ask you."

Buckley glared fiercely and pointed his finger. "I don't have to sit, and I don't have to stay quiet!" he yelled.

"Yes. Yes, you do," Crowell answered coolly with a caustic grin. "Because if you don't, we can make you leave, can't we, Mr. Buckley? We can ask you to leave this room, and if you refuse, we'll go ask the judge. He'll make you leave, won't he, Mr. Buckley?"

Rufus stood motionless, speechless, and stunned. His stomach turned flips and his knees were spongy, but he was frozen in place.

"So, if you would like to hear the rest of our deliberations, sit down and shut up."

Buckley sat next to the bailiff, who was now awake.

"Thank you," said Crowell. "I wanna ask you folks a question. How many of you would do or wanna do what Mr. Hailey did if someone raped your daughter, or maybe your

wife, or what about your motner now many: i cut hands."

Seven or eight hands shot up, and Buckley dropped his head. Crowell smiled and continued, "I admire him for what he did. It took guts. I'd hope I'd have the courage to do what he did, 'cause Lord knows I'd want to. Sometimes a man's just gotta do what he's gotta do. This man deserves a trophy, not an indictment."

Crowell walked slowly around the tables, enjoying the attention. "Before you vote, I want you to do one thing. I want you to think about that poor little girl. I think she's ten. Try to picture her layin' there, hands tied behind her, cryin', beggin' for her daddy. And think of those two outlaws, drunk, doped up, takin' turns rapin' and beatin' and kickin' her. Hell, they even tried to kill her. Think of your own daughter. Put her in the place of the little Hailey girl.

"Now, wouldn't you say they got pretty much what they deserved? We should be thankful they're dead. I feel safer just knowin' those two bastards are no longer here to rape and kill other children. Mr. Hailey has done us a great service. Let's don't indict him. Let's send him home to his family, where he belongs. He's a good man who's done a good thing."

Crowell finished and returned to the window. Buckley watched him fearfully, and when he was certain he was finished, he stood. "Sir, are you finished?" There was no response.

"Good. Ladies and gentlemen of the grand jury. I would like to explain a few things. A grand jury is not supposed to try the case. That's what a trial jury is for. Mr. Hailey will get a fair trial before twelve fair and impartial jurors, and if he's innocent, he'll be acquitted. But his guilt or innocence is not supposed to be determined by the grand jury. You're supposed to decide, after listening to the State's version of the evidence, if there is a strong possibility a crime has been committed. Now, I submit to you that a crime has been committed by Carl Lee Hailey. Three crimes actually. He killed two men, and he wounded another. We have eyewitnesses."

Buckley was warming as he circled the tables. The confidence was back. "The duty of this grand jury is to indict him, and if he has a valid defense, he'll have a chance to present it at trial. If he has a legal reason for doing what he did, let him prove it at trial. That's what trials are for. The State charges him with a crime, and the State must prove at trial he committed the crime. If he has a defense, and if he can convince the trial jury, he will be acquitted, I assure you. Good for him. But it's not the duty of this grand jury to decide today that Mr. Hailey should go free. There'll be another day for that, right, Sheriff?"

Ozzie nodded and said, "That's right. The grand jury is to indict if the evidence is presented. The trial jury will not convict him if the State can't prove its case, or if he puts a good defense. But the grand jury don't worry 'bout things like that."

"Anything further from the grand jury?" Buckley asked anxiously. "Okay, we need a motion."

"I make a motion we don't indict him for anything," yelled Crowell.

"Second," mumbled Barney Flaggs.