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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:32

"But we do appreciate your assistance," Ellen said.

"Up yours, Ellie Mae."

"And you can still drink with us," she said.

"And furnish the tequila."

"There will be no more alcohol in this office," Jake said.

"Until the noon recess," said Harry Rex.

"I want you to stand behind the clerk's table, just loiter about like you always do, and take notes on the jury. Try to match them with the notecards. There'll probably be a hundred and twenty."

Daybreak brought the army out in force. The barricades were reinstalled, and on each corner of the square soldiers clustered around the orange and white barrels blocking the street. They were poised and anxious, watching every car intently, waiting for the enemy to attack, wanting some excitement. Things stirred a little when a few of the vultures in their compact wagons and minivans with fancy logos on the doors appeared at seven-thirty. The troops surrounded the vehicles and informed everyone there would be no parking around the courthouse during the trial. The vultures disappeared down the side streets, then moments later reappeared on foot with their bulky cameras and equipment. Some set up camp on the front steps of the courthouse, others by the back door, and another group in the rotunda outside the main door of the courtroom on the second floor.

Murphy, the janitor and only real eyewitness to the killings of Cobb and Willard, informed the press, as best he could, that the courtroom would be opened at eight, and not a minute before. A line formed and soon circled the rotunda.

The church buses parked somewhere off the square, and the marchers were led slowly down Jackson Street by the ministers. They carried FREE CARL LEE signs and sang "We Shall Overcome" in a perfect chorus. As they neared the square, the soldiers heard them and the radios began squawking. Ozzie and the colonel conferred quickly, and the soldiers relaxed. The marchers were led by Ozzie to a section of the front lawn where they milled about and waited under the watchful eyes of the Mississippi National Guard.

At eight, a metal detector was moved to the front doors of the courtroom, and a trio of heavily armed deputies began slowly searching and admitting the crowd of spectators that now filled the rotunda and trailed off into the halls. Inside the courtroom, Prather directed traffic, seating people on the long pews on one side of the aisle while reserving the other side for the jurors. The front pew was reserved for the family, and the second row was filled with courtroom artists who immediately began sketching the bench and the bar and the portraits of Confederate heroes.

The Klan felt obligated to make its presence known on opening day, especially to the prospective jurors as they arrived. Two dozen Kluxers in full parade dress walked quietly onto Washington Street. They were immediately stopped and surrounded by soldiers. The potbellied colonel swaggered across the street and for the first time in his life came face to face with a white-robed and white-hooded Ku Klux Klansman, who happened to be a foot taller. He then noticed the cameras, which had gravitated to this confrontation, and the bully in him vanished. His usual bark and growl was instantly replaced by a high-pitched, nervous, trembling stutter that was incomprehensible even to himself.

Ozzie arrived and saved him. "Good mornin', fellas," he said coolly as he stepped beside the faltering colonel. "We've got you surrounded, and we've got you outnumbered. We also know we can't keep you from being here."

"That's right," said the leader.

"If you'll just follow me and do as I say, we won't have any trouble."

They followed Ozzie and the colonel to a small area on the front lawn, where it was explained that this was their turf for the trial. Stay there and stay quiet, and the colonel would personally keep the troops off them. They agreed.

As expected, the sight of the white robes aroused the blacks who were some two hundred feet away. They began shouting: "Free Carl Lee! Free Carl Lee! Free Carl Lee!"

The Klansmen shook their fists and shouted back:

As the jurors began arriving, they walked briskly through the rows of soldiers. They clutched their summonses and listened in disbelief as the two groups screamed at each other.

The Honorable Rufus Buckley arrived in Clanton and politely informed the guardsmen of who he was and what that meant, and he was allowed to park in his spot marked RESERVED FOR D.A. next to the courthouse. The reporters went wild. This must be important, someone had broken through the barricade. Buckley sat in his well-used Cadillac for a moment to allow the reporters to catch him. They surrounded him as he slammed the door. He smiled and smiled and made his way ever so slowly to the front door of the courthouse. The rapid fire of questions proved irresistible, and Buckley violated the gag order at least eight times, each time smiling and explaining that he could not answer the question he had just answered. Musgrove trailed behind carrying the great man's briefcase.

Jake paced nervously in his office. The door was locked. Ellen was downstairs working on another brief. Harry Rex was at ,the Coffee Shop eating another breakfast and gossiping. The notecards were scattered on his desk, and he was

tired of them. He flipped through a brief, then walked to the French doors. The shouting echoed through the open windows. He returned to the desk and studied the outline of his opening comments to the prospective jurors. The first impression was critical.

He lay on the couch, closed his eyes, and thought of a thousand things he'd rather be doing. For the most part, he enjoyed his work. But there were moments, frightening moments like this one, when he wished he'd become an insurance agent or a stockbroker. Or maybe even a tax lawyer. Surely those guys didn't regularly suffer from nausea and diarrhea at critical moments in their careers.

Lucien had taught him that fear was good; fear was an ally; that every lawyer was afraid when he stood before a new jury and presented his case. It was okay to be afraid- just don't show it. Jurors would not follow the lawyer with the quickest tongue or prettiest words. They would not follow the sharpest dresser. They would not follow a clown or court jester. They would not follow the lawyer who preached the loudest or fought the hardest. Lucien had convinced him that jurors followed the lawyer who told the truth, regardless of his looks, words, or superficial abilities. A lawyer had to be himself in the courtroom, and if he was afraid, so be it. The jurors were afraid too.

Make friends with fear, Lucien always said, because it will not go away, and it will destroy you if left uncontrolled.

The fear hit deep in his bowels, and he walked carefully downstairs to the rest room.

"How are you, boss?" Ellen asked when.he checked on her.

"Ready, I guess. We'll leave in a minute."

"There are some reporters waiting outside. I told them you had withdrawn from the case and left town."

"At this moment, I wish I had."

"Have you heard of Wendall Solomon?"

"Not right off hand."

"He's with the Southern Prisoner Defense Fund. I worked under him last summer. He's tried over a hundred capital cases all over the South. He gets so nervous before a trial he can neither eat nor sleep. His doctor gives him seda-

tives, but he's still so jumpy no one speaks to him on opening day. And that's after a hundred of these trials."

"How does your father handle it?"

"He has a couple of martinis with a Valium. Then he lies on his desk with the door locked and the lights off until it's time for court. His nerves are ragged and he's ill-tempered. Of course, a lot of that is natural."

"So you know the feeling?"

"You look tired. But you'll do."

Jake checked his watch. "Let's go."

The reporters on the sidewalk pounced on their prey. "No comment" he insisted as he moved slowly across the street toward the courthouse. The barrage continued.

"Is it true you plan to ask for a mistrial?"

"I can't do that until the trial starts."

"Is it true the Klan has threatened you?"

"Is it true you sent your family out of town until after the trial?"

Jake hesitated and glanced at the reporter. "No comment."

"What do you think of the National Guard?"

"Can your client get a fair trial in Ford County?"

Jake shook his head, then added, "No comment."

A deputy stood guard a few feet from where the bodies had come to rest. He pointed at Ellen. "Who's she, Jake?"

"She's harmless. She's with me."

They ran up the rear stairs. Carl Lee sat alone at the defense table, his back to the packed courtroom. Jean Gil-lespie was busy checking in jurors while deputies roamed the aisles looking for anything suspicious. Jake greeted his client warmly, taking special care to shake his hand, smile broadly at him, and put his hand on his shoulder. Ellen unpacked the briefcases and neatly arranged the files on the table.

Jake whispered to his client and looked around the courtroom. All eyes were on him. The Hailey clan sat handsomely in the front row. Jake smiled at them and nodded at Lester. Tbnya and the boys were decked out in their Sunday

clothes, and they sat between Lester and Gwen like perfect little statues. -The jurors sat across the aisle, and they were carefully studying Hailey's lawyer. Jake thought this would be a good time for the jurors to see the family, so he walked through the swinging gate in the railing and went to speak to the Haileys. He patted Gwen on the shoulder, shook hands with Lester, pinched each of the boys, and, finally, hugged Tonya, the little Hailey girl, the one who had been raped by the two rednecks who got what they deserved. The jurors watched every move of this production, and paid special attention to the little girl.

"Noose wants us in chambers," Musgrove whispered to Jake as he returned to the defense table.

Ichabod, Buckley, and the court reporter were chatting when Jake and Ellen entered chambers. Jake introduced his clerk to His Honor and Buckley and Musgrove, and to Norma Gallo, the court reporter. He explained that Ellen Roark was a third-year law student at Ole Miss who was clerking in his office, and requested that she be allowed to sit near counsel table and participate in the proceedings in chambers. Buckley had no objections. It was common practice, Noose explained, and he welcomed her.

"Preliminary matters, gentlemen?" Noose asked.

"None," said the D.A.

"Several," said Jake as he opened a file. "I want this on the record."

Norma Gallo started writing.

"First of all, I want to renew my motion for a change of venue-"

"We object," interrupted Buckley.

"Shut up, Governor!" Jake yelled. "I'm not through, and don't interrupt me again!"

Buckley and the others were startled by this loss of composure. It's all those margaritas, thought Ellen.

"I apologize, Mr. Brigance," Buckley said calmly. "Please don't refer to me as governor."

"Let me say something at this point," Noose started. "This trial will be a long and arduous ordeal. I can appreciate the pressure you're both under. I've been in your shoes many times myself, and I know what you're going through. You're both excellent lawyers, and I'm thankful that I have

two fine lawyers for a trial of this magnitude. I can also detect a certain amount of ill will between you. That's certainly not uncommon, and I will not ask you to shake hands and be good friends. But I will insist that when you're in my courtroom or in these chambers that you refrain from interrupting each other, and that the shouting be held to a bare minimum. You will refer to each other as Mr. Brigance, and Mr. Buckley, and Mr. Musgrove. Now do each of you understand what I'm saying?"

"Good. Then continue, Mr. Brigance."

"Thank you, Your Honor, I appreciate that. As I was saying, the defendant renews his motion for a change of venue. I want the record to reflect that as we sit here now in chambers, at nine-fifteen, July twenty-second, as we are about to select a jury, the Ford County Courthouse is surrounded by the Mississippi National Guard. On the front lawn a group of Ku Klux Klansmen, in white robes, is at this very moment yelling at a group of black demonstrators, who are, of course, yelling back. The two groups are separated by heavily armed National Guardsmen. As the jurors arrived for court this morning, they witnessed this circus on the courthouse lawn. It will be impossible to select a fair and impartial jury."

Buckley watched with a cocky grin on his huge face, and when Jake finished he said, "May I respond, Your Honor?"

"No," Noose said bluntly. "Motion is overruled. What else do you have?"

"The defense moves to strike this entire panel."

"On the grounds that there has been an overt effort by the Klan to intimidate this panel. We know of at least twenty cross burnings."

"I intend to excuse those twenty, assuming they all showed up," said Noose.

"Fine," Jake replied sarcastically. "What about the threats we don't know about? What about the jurors who've heard of the cross burnings?"

Noose wiped his eyes and said nothing. Buckley had a speech but didn't want to interrupt.

"I've got a list here," Jake said, reaching into a file, "of the twenty jurors who received visits. I've also got copies of the police reports, and an affidavit from Sheriff Walls in which he details the acts of intimidation. I am submitting these to the court in support of my motion to strike this panel. I want this made a part of the record so the Supreme Court can see it in black and white."

"Expecting an appeal, Mr. Brigance?" asked Mr. Buck-ley.

Ellen had just met Rufus Buckley, and now, seconds later, she understood exactly why Jake and Harry Rex hated him.

"No, Governor, I'm not expecting an appeal. I'm trying to insure that my man gets a fair trial from a fair jury. You should understand that."

"I'm not going to strike this panel. That would cost us a week," Noose said.

"What's time when a man's life is at stake? We're talking about justice. The right to a fair trial, remember, a most basic constitutional right. It's a travesty not to strike this panel when you know for a fact that some of these people have been intimidated by a bunch of goons in white robes who want to see my client hanged."

"Your motion is overruled," Noose said flatly. "What else do you have?"

"Nothing, really. I request that when you do excuse the twenty, you so do in such a way that the other jurors don't know the reason."

"I can handle that, Mr. Brigance."

Mr. Pate was sent to find Jean Gillespie. Noose handed her a list of the twenty names. She returned to the courtroom and read the list. They were not needed for jury duty, and were free to go. She returned to chambers.

"How many jurors do we have?" Noose asked her.

"That's enough. I'm sure we can find twelve who are fit to serve."

"You couldn't find two," Jake mumbled to Ellen, loud enough for Noose to hear and Norma Gallo to record. His Honor excused them and they took their places in the courtroom.

Ninety-four names were written on small strips of paper that were placed in a short wooden cylinder. Jean Gillespie spun the cylinder, stopped it, and picked a name at random. She handed it to Noose, who sat above her and everyone else on his throne, or bench, as it was called. The courtroom watched in dead silence as he squinted down that nose and looked at the first name.

"Marcia Dickens, juror number two," yelled Noose. White, fat, over sixty with a rather unforgiving look. Zero for two.

"Jo Beth Mills, number three."

Jake sank a little in his seat. She was white, about fifty, and worked for minimum wage at a shirt factory in Karaway. Thanks to affirmative action, she had a black boss who was ignorant and abusive. She had a zero by her name on the Brigance notecard. Zero for three.

Jake stared desperately at Jean as she spun again. "Reba Betts, number four."

He sunk lower and began pinching his forehead. Zero for four. "This is incredible," he mumbled in the direction of Ellen. Harry Rex shook his head.

"Gerald Ault, number five."

Jake smiled as his number-one juror took a seat next to Reba Betts. Buckley placed a nasty black mark by his name.

"Alex Summers, number six."

Carl Lee managed a weak smile as the first black emerged from the rear and took a seat next to Gerald Ault. Buckley smiled too as he neatly circled the name of the first black.

The next four were white women, none of whom rated above three on the scale. Jake was worried as the first pew

filled. By law he had twelve peremptory challenges, free strikes with no reason required. The luck of the draw would force him to use at least half of his peremptories on the first pew.

"Walter Godsey, number eleven," announced Noose, his voice declining steadily in volume. Godsey was a middle-aged sharecropper with no compassion and no potential.

When Noose finished the second row, it contained seven white women, two black men, and Godsey. Jake sensed a disaster. Relief didn't come until the fourth row when Jean hit a hot streak and pulled the names of seven men, four of whom were black.

It took almost an hour to seat the entire panel. Noose recessed for fifteen minutes to allow Jean time to type a numerical list of names. Jake and Ellen used the break to review their notes and place the names with the faces. Harry Rex had sat at the counter behind the red docket books and feverishly taken notes while Noose called the names. He huddled with Jake and agreed things were not going well.

At eleven, Noose reassumed the bench, and the courtroom was silenced. Someone suggested he should use the mike, and he placed it within inches of his nose. He spoke loudly, and his fragile, obnoxious voice rattled violently around the courtroom as he asked a lengthy series of statu-torily required questions. He introduced Carl Lee and asked if any juror was kin to him or knew him. They all knew of him, and Noose assumed that, but only two of the panel admitted knowing him prior to May. Noose introduced the lawyers, then explained briefly the nature of the charges. Not a single juror confessed to being ignorant of the Hailey case.

Noose rambled on and on, and mercifully finished at twelve-thirty. He recessed until two.

Dell delivered hot sandwiches and iced tea to the conference room. Jake hugged and thanked her, and told her to send him the bill. He ignored his food, and laid the notecards on the table in the order the jurors had been seated. Harry Rex attacked a roast beef and cheddar sandwich. "We got a terrible draw," he kept repeating with both cheeks stretched to the limit. "We got a terrible draw."

When the ninety-fourth card was in place, Jake stood back and studied them. Ellen stood beside him and nibbled on a french fry. She studied the cards.

"We got a terrible draw," Harry Rex said, washing it all down with a pint of tea.

"Would you shut up," Jake snapped.

"Of the first fifty, we have eight black men, three black women, and thirty white women. That leaves nine white men, and most are unattractive. Looks like a white female jury," Ellen said.

"White females, white females," Harry Rex said. "The worst possible jurors in the world. White females!"

Ellen stared at him. "I think fat white men are the worst jurors."

"Don't get me wrong, Row Ark, I love white females. I've married four of them, remember. I just hate white female jurors."

"I wouldn't vote to convict him."

"Row Ark, you're an ACLU communist. You wouldn't vote to convict anybody of anything. In your little demented mind you think child pornographers and PLO terrorists are really swell people who've been abused by the system and should be given a break."

"And in your rational, civilized, and compassionate mind, what do you think we should do with them?"

"Hang them by their toes, castrate them, and let them bleed to death, without a trial."

"And the way you understand the law, that would be constitutional?"

"Maybe not, but it'd stop a lot of child pornography and terrorism. Jake, are you gonna eat this sandwich?"