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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:37

Rodeheaver returned to his seat after the recess, and Jake looked at him from behind the podium. In his brief legal career, he had never won an argument, in court or out, with an expert witness. And the way his luck was running, he decided not to argue with this one.

"Dr. Rodeheaver, psychiatry is the study of the human mind, is it not?"

"And it is an inexact science at best, is it not?"

"You might examine a person and reach a diagnosis, and the next psychiatrist might reach a completely different diagnosis?"

"That's possible, yes."

"In fact, you could have ten psychiatrists examine a mental patient, and arrive at ten different opinions about what's wrong with the patient."

"But it could happen, couldn't it, Doctor?"

"Yes, it could. Just like legal opinions, I guess."

"But we're not dealing with legal opinions in this case, are we, Doctor?"

"The truth is, Doctor, in many cases psychiatry cannot tell us what is wrong with a person's mind?"

"And psychiatrists disagree all the time, don't they, Doctor?"

"Now, who do you work for, Doctor?"

"The State of Mississippi."

"And who is prosecuting Mr. HaDey?"

"During your eleven-year career with the State, how many times have you testified in trials where the insanity defense was used?"

Rodeheaver thought for a moment. "I think this is my forty-third trial."

Jake checked something in a file and eyed the doctor

with a nasty little smile. "Are you sure it's not your forty-sixth?"

"It could be, yes. I'm not certain."

The courtroom became still. Buckley and Musgrove hovered over their legal pads, but watched their witness carefully.

"Forty-six times you've testified for the State in insanity trials?"

"And forty-six times you've testified that the defendant was not legally insane. Correct, Doctor?"

"Well, let me make it simple. You've testified forty-six times, and forty-six times it has been your opinion the defendant was not legally insane. Correct?"

Rodeheaver squirmed just a little, and a hint of discomfort broke around his eyes. "I'm not sure."

"You've never seen a legally insane criminal defendant, have you, Doctor?"

"Good. Would you then, please, sir, tell us the name of the defendant and where he was tried?"

Buckley rose and buttoned his coat. "Your Honor, the State objects to these questions. Dr. Rodeheaver cannot be required to remember the names and places of the trials he has testified in."

"Overruled, Sit down. Answer the question, Doctor."

Rodeheaver breathed deeply and studied the ceiling. Jake glanced at the jurors. They were awake and waiting on an answer.

"I can't remember," he finally said.

Jake lifted a thick stack of papers and waved it at the witness. "Could it be, Doctor, that the reason you can't remember is that in eleven years, forty-six trials, you have never testified in favor of the defendant?"

"I honestly can't remember."

"Can you honestly name us one trial in which you found the defendant to be legally insane?"

"I'm sure there are some."

"Yes or no, Doctor. One trial?"

The expert looked briefly at the D.A. "No. My memory fails me. I cannot at this time."

Jake walked slowly to the defense table and picked up a thick file.

"Dr. Rodeheaver, do you recall testifying in the trial of a man by the name of Danny Booker in McMurphy County in December of 1975? A rather gruesome double homicide?"

"Yes, I recall that trial."

"And you testified to the effect that he was not legally insane, did you not?"

"Do you recall how many psychiatrists testified in his behalf?"

"Not exactly. There were several."

"Do the names Noel McClacky, M.D.; O.G. McGuire, M.D.; and Lou Watson, M.D., ring a bell?"

"They're all psychiatrists, aren't they?"

"They're all qualified, aren't they?"

"And they all examined Mr. Booker and testified at trial that in their opinions the poor man was legally insane?"

"And you testified he was not legally insane?"

"How many other doctors supported your position?"

"None, that I recall."

"So it was three against one?"

"Yes, but I'm still convinced I was right."

"I see. What did the jury do, Doctor?"

"He, uh, was found not guilty by reason of insanity."

"Thank you. Now, Dr. Rodeheaver, you're the head doctor at Whitfield, aren't you?"

"Are you directly or indirectly responsible for the treatment of every patient at Whitfield?"

"I'm directly responsible, Mr. Brigance. I may not personally see every patient, but their doctors are under my supervision."

"Thank you. Doctor, where is Danny Booker today?"

Rodeheaver shot a desperate look at Buckley, and immediately covered it with a warm, relaxed grin for the jury. He hesitated for a few seconds, then hesitated one second too long.

"He's at Whitfield, isn't he?" Jake asked in a tone of voice that informed everyone that the answer was yes.

"I believe so," Rodeheaver said.

"So, he's directly under your care, then, Doctor?"

"And what is his diagnosis, Doctor?"

"I really don't know. I have a lot of patients and-"

"Paranoid schizophrenic?"

"It's possible, yes."

Jake walked backward and sat on the railing. He turned up the volume. "Now, Doctor, I want to make this clear for the jury. In 1975 you testified that Danny Booker was legally sane and understood exactly what he was doing when he committed his crime, and the jury disagreed with you and found him not guilty, and since that time he has been a patient in your hospital, under your supervision, and treated by you as a paranoid schizophrenic. Is that correct?"

The smirk on Rodeheaver's face informed the jury that it was indeed correct.

Jake picked up another piece of paper and seemed to review it. "Do you recall testifying in the trial of a man by the name of Adam Couch in Dupree County in May of 1977?"

"I remember that case."

"It was a rape case, wasn't it?"

"And you testified on behalf of the State against Mr. Couch?"

"And you told the jury that he was not legally insane?"

"That was my testimony."

"Do you recall how many doctors testified on his behalf and told the jury he was a very sick man, that he was legally insane?"

"There were several."

"Have you ever heard of the following doctors: Felix Perry, Gene Shumate, and Hobny Wicker?"

"Are they all qualified psychiatrists?"

"And they all testified on behalf of Mr. Couch, didn't they?"

"And they all said he was legally insane, didn't they?"

"And you were the only doctor in the trial who said he was not legally insane?"

"And what did the jury do, Doctor?"

"He was found not guilty."

"By reason of insanity?"

"And where is Mr. Couch today, Doctor?"

"I think he's at Whitfield."

"And how long has he been there?"

"Since the trial, I believe."

"I see. Do you normally admit patients and keep them for several years if they are of perfectly sound mind?"

Rodeheaver shifted his weight and began a slow burn. He looked at his lawyer, the people's lawyer, as if to say he was tired of this, do something to stop it.

Jake picked up more papers. "Doctor, do you recall the trial of a man by the name of Buddy Wooddall in Cleburne County, May of 1979?"

"Yes, I certainly do."

"And you testified as an expert in the field of psychiatry and told the jury that Mr. Wooddall was not insane?"

"Do you recall how many psychiatrists testified on his behalf and told the jury the poor man was legally insane?"

"I believe there were five, Mr. Brigance."

"That's correct, Doctor. Five against one. Do you recall what the jury did?"

The anger and frustration was building in the witness

stand. The wise old grandfather/professor with all the right answers was becoming rattled. "Yes, I recall. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity."

"How do you explain that, Dr. Rodeheaver? Five against one, and the jury finds against you?"

"You just can't trust juries," he blurted, then caught himself. He fidgeted and grinned awkwardly at the jurors.

Jake stared at him with a wicked smile, then looked at the jury in disbelief. He folded his arms and allowed the last words to sink in. He waited, staring and grinning at the witness.

"You may proceed, Mr. Brigance," Noose finally said.

Moving slowly and with great animation, Jake gathered his files and notes while staring at Rodeheaver. "I think we've heard enough from this witness, Your Honor."

"Any redirect, Mr. Buckley?"

"No, sir. The State rests."

Noose addressed the jury. "Ladies and gentlemen, this trial is almost over. There will be no more witnesses. I will now meet with the attorneys to cover some technical areas, then they will be allowed to make their final arguments to you. That will begin at two o'clock and take a couple of hours. You will finally get the case around four, and I will allow you to deliberate until six. If you do not reach a verdict today, you will be taken back to your rooms until tomorrow. It is now almost eleven, and we'll recess until two. I need to see the attorneys in chambers."

Carl Lee leaned over and spoke to his lawyer for the first time since Saturday's adjournment. "You tore him up pretty good, Jake."

"Wait till you hear the closing argument."

Jake avoided Harry Rex, and drove to Karaway. His childhood home was an old country house in downtown, surrounded by ancient oaks and maples and elms that kept it cool in spite of the summer heat. In the back, past the trees, was a long open field which ran for an eighth of a mile and disappeared over a small hill. A chickenwire backstop stood over the weeds in one corner. Here, Jake had taken his first steps, rode his first bike, thrown his first football and base-

ball. Under an oak beside the field, he had buried three dogs, a raccoon, a rabbit, and some ducks. A tire from a '54 Buick swung not far from the small cemetery.

The house had been locked and deserted for two months. A neighborhood kid cut the grass and tended the lawn. Jake checked the house once a week. His parents were somewhere in Canada in a camper-the summer ritual. He wished he were with them.

He unlocked the door and walked upstairs to his room. It would never change. The walls were covered with team pictures, trophies, baseball caps, posters of Pete Rose, Archie Manning, and Hank Aaron. A row of baseball gloves hung above the closet door. A cap and gown picture sat on the dresser. His mother still cleaned it weekly. She once told him she often went to his room and expected to find him doing homework or sorting baseball cards. She would flip through his scrapbooks, and get all teary eyed.

He thought of Hanna's room, with the stuffed animals and Mother Goose wallpaper. A thick knot formed in his throat.

He looked out the window, past the trees, and saw himself swinging in the tire near the three white crosses where he buried his dogs. He remembered each funeral, and his father's promises to get another dog. He thought of Hanna and her dog, and his eyes watered.

The bed was much smaller now. He removed his shoes and lay down. A football helmet hung from the ceiling. Eighth grade, Karaway Mustangs. He scored seven touchdowns in five games. It was all on film downstairs under the bookshelves. The butterflies floated wildly through his stomach.

He carefully placed his notes-his notes, not Lucien's- on the dresser. He studied himself in the mirror.