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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:21

"Fine. All motions must be filed and pretrial matters disposed of by Monday, July 8. Arraignment is set for tomorrow at nine. Any questions?"

Jake stood and shook hands with Noose and Musgrove, and left.

After lunch he visited his famous client in Ozzie's office at the jail. A copy of the indictment had been served on Carl Lee in his cell. He had some questions for his lawyer.

"What's capital murder?"

"How many kinds are there?"

"Basically three. Manslaughter, regular murder, and capital murder."

"What's manslaughter?"

"What's regular murder?"

"What's aggravated assault on an officer?"

Carl Lee studied the indictment carefully. "You mean I got two gas chambers and a life sentence."

"Not yet. You're entitled to a trial first. Which, by the way, has been set for July 22."

"That's two months away! Why so long?"

"We need the time. It'll take that long to find a psychiatrist who'll say you were crazy. Then Buckley gets to send you to Whitfield to be examined by the State's doctors, and they'll all say you were not crazy at the time. We file motions, Buckley files motions, we have a bunch of hearings. It takes time."

"No way to have it sooner?"

"We don't want it sooner."

"What if I do?" Carl Lee snapped.

Jake studied him carefully. "What's the matter, Dig man?"

"I gotta get outta here, and fast."

"I thought you said jail wasn't so bad."

"It ain't, but I need to get home. Gwen's outta money, can't find a job. Lester's in trouble with his wife. She's callin' all the time, so he won't last much longer. I hate to ask my folk for help."

"But they will, won't they?"

"Some. They got their own problems. You gotta get me outta here, Jake."

"Look, you'll be arraigned in the morning at nine. The trial is July 22, and the date won't be changed, so forget about that. Have I explained the arraignment to you?"

Carl Lee shook his head.

"It won't last twenty minutes. We appear before Judge Noose in the big courtroom. He'll ask you some questions, then ask me some questions. He'll read the indictment to you in open court, and ask if you've received a copy. Then he'll ask you to plead guilty or not guilty. When you answer not guilty, he'll set the trial date. You'll sit down, and me and Buckley will get into a big fight over your bond. Noose will refuse to set a bond, then they'll bring you back to the jail, where you'll stay until the trial."

"What about after the trial?"

Jake smiled. "Naw, you won't be in jail after the trial."

"Nope. No promises. Any questions about tomorrow?"

"No. Say, Jake, uh, how much money did I pay you?"

Jake hesitated and smelled trouble. "Why do you ask?"

"Nine hundred, plus a note."

Gwen had less than a hundred dollars. Bills were due and food was low. She had visited on Sunday and cried for an hour. Panic was a part of her life, her makeup, her composition. But he knew they were broke and she was scared. Her family would be of little help, maybe some vegetables from the garden and a few bucks for milk and eggs. When it came to funerals and hospital stays they were very dependable. They were generous and gave of their time freely to wail and moan and put on a show. But when real money was

needed they scattered like chickens. He had little use for her family, and his wasn't much better.

He wanted to ask Jake for a hundred dollars, but decided to wait until Gwen was completely broke. It would be easier then.

Jake flipped through his legal pad and waited for Carl Lee to ask for money. Criminal clients, especially the blacks, always asked for some of the fee back after it was paid. He doubted he would ever see more than nine hundred dollars, and he was not about to return any. Besides, the blacks always took care of their own. The families would be there and the churches would get involved. No one would starve.

He waited and placed the legal pad and file in his briefcase. "Any questions, Carl Lee?"

"Yeah. What can I say tomorrow?"

"What do you want to say?"

"I wanna tell that judge why I shot them boys. They raped my daughter. They needed shootin'."

"And you want to explain that to the judge tomorrow?"

"And you think he'll turn you loose once you explain it all?"

Carl Lee said nothing.

"Look, Carl Lee, you hired me to be your lawyer. And you hired me because you have confidence in me, right? And if I want you to say something tomorrow, I'll tell you. If I don't, you stay quiet. When you go to trial in July you'll have the chance to tell your side. But in the meantime, I'll do the talking."

"You got that right."

Lester and Gwen piled the boys and Tonya in the red Cadillac and drove to the doctor's building next to the hospital. The rape was two weeks in the past. Tbnya walked with a slight limp and wanted to run and climb steps with her brothers. But her mother held her hand. The soreness in her legs and buttocks was almost gone, the bandages on her wrists and ankles had been removed by the doctor last week, and the cuts were healing nicely. The gauze and cotton between her legs remained.

In a small room she unaressea anu sat HCAI mother on a padded table. Her mother hugged her and helped her stay warm. The doctor poked in her mouth and rubbed her jaw. He held her wrists and ankles and inspected them. He laid her on the table and touched between her legs. She cried and clutched her mother, who leaned over her.

She was hurting again.

At five Wednesday morning, Jake sipped coffee in his office and stared through the French doors across the dark courtyard square. He had slept fitfully, and several hours earlier had given up and left his warm bed in a desperate effort to find a nameless Georgia case that, as he thought he remembered from law school, required the judge to allow bail in a capital murder case if the defendant had no prior criminal record, owned property in the county, had a stable job, and had plenty of relatives nearby. It had not been found. He did find a battery of recent, well-reasoned, clear, and unambiguous Mississippi cases allowing the judge complete discretion in denying bail to such defendants. That was the law and Jake now knew it well, but he needed something to argue to Ichabod. He dreaded asking bail for Carl Lee. Buckley would scream and preach and cite those wonderful cases, and Noose would smile and listen, then deny bail. Jake would get his tail kicked in the first skirmish.

"You're here early this morning, sweetheart," Dell said to her favorite customer as she poured his coffee.

"At least I'm here." He had missed a few mornings since the amputation. Looney was popular, and there was resentment at the Coffee Shop and around town for Hailey's lawyer. He was aware of it and tried to ignore it.

There was resentment among many for any lawyer who would defend a nigger for killing two white men.

"You got a minute?" Jake asked.

"Sure," Dell said, looking around. At five-fifteen, the cafe was not yet full. She sat across from Jake in a small booth and poured coffee.

"What's the talk in here?" he asked.

"The usual. Politics, fishing, farming. It never changes. I've been here for twenty-one years, serving the same food to the same people, and they're still talking about the same things."

"Hailey. We get a lotta talk about tnat. except wiicn me strangers are here, then it goes back to the usual."

"Because if you act like you know anything about the case, some reporter will follow you outside with a bunch of questions."

"No. It's great. Business has never been better."

Jake smiled and buttered his grits, then added Tabasco.

"How do you feel about the case?"

Dell scratched her nose with long, red, fake fingernails and blew into her coffee. She was famous for her bluntness, and he was hoping for a straight answer.

"He's guilty. He killed them. It's cut and dried. But he had the best damned excuse I've ever seen. There's some sympathy for him."

"Let's say you're on the jury. Guilty or innocent?"

She watched the front door and waved at a regular. "Well, my instinct is to forgive anyone who kills a rapist. Especially a father. But, on the other hand, we can't allow people to grab guns and hand out their own justice. Can you prove he was crazy when he did it?"

"Let's assume I can."

"Then I would vote not guilty, even though I don't think he was crazy."

He smeared strawberry preserves on dry toast and nodded his approval.

"But what about Looney?" she asked. "He's a friend of mine."

"It was an accident."

"Is that good enough?"

"No. No, it's not. The gun did not go off by accident. Looney was accidentally shot, but I doubt if that's a valid defense. Would you convict him for shooting Looney?",

"Maybe," she answered slowly. "He lost a leg."

How could he be insane when he shot Cobb and Wil-lard, and not when he shot Looney, Jake thought, but didn't ask. He changed the subject.

"What's the gossip on me?"

"About the same. Someone was asking where you were the other day, and said you don't have time for us now that

you're a celebrity. I've heard some mumbling, about you and the nigger, but it's pretty quiet. They don't criticize you loudly. I won't let them."

"You're a sweetheart."

"I'm a mean bitch and you know it."

"No. You just try to be."

"Yeah, watch this." She jumped from the booth and shouted abuse at a table of farmers who had motioned for more coffee. Jake finished alone, and returned to the office.

When Ethel arrived at eight-thirty, two reporters were loitering on the sidewalk outside the locked door. They followed Ethel inside and demanded to see Mr. Brigance. She refused, and asked them to leave. They refused, and repeated their demand. Jake heard the commotion downstairs and locked his door. Let Ethel fight with them.

From his office he watched a camera crew set up by the rear door of the courthouse. He smiled and felt a wonderful surge of adrenaline. He could see himself on the evening news walking briskly, stern, businesslike, across the street followed by reporters begging for dialogue but getting no comments. And this was just the arraignment. Imagine the trial! Cameras everywhere, reporters yelling questions, front page stories, perhaps magazine covers. An Atlanta paper had called it the most sensational murder in the South in twenty years. He would have taken the case for free, almost.

Moments later he interrupted the argument downstairs, and warmly greeted the reporters. Ethel disappeared into the conference room.

"Could you answer some questions?" one of them asked.

"No," Jake answered politely. "I have to meet with Judge Noose."

"Just a couple of questions?"

"No. But there will be a press conference at three P.M." Jake opened the door, and the reporters followed him onto the sidewalk.

"Where's the press conference?"

"What's the purpose?"

"To discuss the case."

Jake walked slowly across the street and up the short

driveway to the courthouse answering questions along me way.

"Will Mr. Hailey be at the press conference?"

"Yes, along with his family."

"Yes, she will be there."

"Will Mr. Hailey -answer questions?"

"Maybe. I haven't decided."

Jake said good day, and disappeared into the courthouse, leaving the reporters to chat and gossip about the press conference.

Buckley entered the courthouse through the huge wooden front doors, amid no fanfare. He had hoped for a camera or two, but was dismayed to learn they were gathering at the rear door to catch a glimpse of the defendant. He would use the rear door in the future.

Judge Noose parked by a fire hydrant in front of the post office and loped along the east sidewalk across the courtyard square and into the courthouse. He, too, attracted no attention, except for a few curious stares.

Ozzie peered through the front windows of the jail and watched the mob waiting for Carl Lee in the parking lot. The ploy of another end run crossed his mind, but he dismissed it. His office had received two dozen death threats on Carl Lee, and Ozzie took a few seriously. They were specific, with dates and places. But most were just general, everyday death threats. And this was just the arraignment. He thought of the trial, and mumbled something to Moss Junior. They surrounded Carl Lee with uniformed bodies and marched him down the sidewalk, past the press and into a rented step van. Six deputies and a driver piled in. Escorted by Ozzie's three newest patrol cars, the van drove quickly to the courthouse.