[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For 1-55 (Chapters 1-13), see here.
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Chap 14 056-063 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 Chap 15 064-074 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 Chap 16 075-084 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 Chap 17 85-95 96
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 097
Chapter 18 (2 of 15): Arrest
“Don’t worry about that. I just do. I … we … the firm has connections. Everywhere.”
“Is it legal?”
“Well, let’s just say that tiān gāo huángdì yuǎn … or, heaven is high and the emperor is far away. Listen, Mazarine, we have more important things to concern ourselves with right now.”
“But I haven’t done anything? Doesn’t that matter?”
“Not really. That’s for a trial to sort out. Unless you plead guilty, of course.”
“Guilty?” She is almost screaming.
“All right, all right. I know this is frightening. And it is serious. But let me explain a few things to you.
“First, the D.A. would not be doing this if he weren’t pretty sure he has a makeable case. He does not want to end up with egg all over his face. And he’s a pit bull once he gets hold of you. I’ve been up against him in the past, and he was usually more than competent. In the past, as I say. I have no doubt he’s been seduced by the prospect of publicity this case is going to generate. It’s already gone international.
“Second, he has certain evidence that I think it will be difficult but not impossible to get around. We’ll get into that later.
“Third, the question of bail. According to Michelle, you’ve lived here a long time, went to school at the university, work here. Right?”
“That’s good. And your father is a plastic surgeon and an adjunct professor in the department of surgery at the university medical school. Right?”
“Bail is certainly not automatic. Especially in a high-profile case like this one. And it is a brutal murder, no question of that.”
“You mean I could sit in jail until the trial?” Mazarine was agahast.
“But I thought I was innocent until proven guilty. If that’s really true, wouldn’t I be in jail while I am innocent?”
“Sharp. Good for you. Yes, you could sit in jail till the trial. Yes, you are innocent until proven guilty. And, yes, you’d be one of many innocents in jail awaiting trial.”
“That makes no sense.”
“True. That’s American law for you. Supposedly that’s what bail is for. In theory. You’d think the Supreme Court would have addressed this particular bit of legal illogic, but it never has.”
“How much would my bail be?”
“That brings up another important point. What I do does not come cheap. A good murder defense will run at least a million dollars. A lot more if you lose and we have to go to appeal. Michelle and her organization have kicked in a retainer of a hundred thousand. Before I can come aboard full bore I need five hundred thousand from you for the firm and another five hundred to be held in escrow for future expenses.”
Mazarine’s mind is reeling. “Yes, yes. O.K. I can handle that without any problem. I’ll call to my broker before we leave here and arrange it.” She hesitates. “What are all these expense for aside from your fee?”
“Well, I’ll have a co-counsel from the firm. He’ll be with me in the court room. We’ll be using half a dozen attorneys doing research here at the firm and helping us prep the case. We hire publicists, people to go on the talk shows to put our spin on things, feed op-ed pieces to the press, update the weeklies. It’ll be months before we go to trial, and we want to keep the jury pool fully informed.” She smiles sardonically as she says this. “We need jury consultants, outside experts, maybe even other investigators than our in-house staff. We may need experts to testify at the trial. Believe me, it adds up fast. And it’s all essential. I really do know what I am doing. Think of it as a major film production, and I’m the director. I don’t want to have to limit my budget.”
“So, how much bail?”
“Hard to say. How much do you have left after the legal fees I’ve outlined?”
“I can probably put together another four million of my own. My parents would go to bat for me. Maybe they could scrape together another one or two more. That’s about it. Six million would be the absolute max.”
Natalie wears a thoughtful expression. “Well, if we’re lucky, we’ll get bail at, maybe, one million. You’ve got to understand the judge will have certain pressures on him not to seem lenient – if he grants bail at all, that is. The climate today is not kind to a liberal take on crime. And the city has a sizeable Asian population, and they vote. They are interested in this case, as you may imagine. The judge knows this.
“No,” she shakes her head, “I certainly can’t see bail going much lower than one million, but it could also be as high five million in a murder case like this.”
“Five million? That seems kind of high, doesn’t it?”
“It’s pretty much up to the judge. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution says that bail shall not be ‘excessive’. But what does that mean? What does any adjective really mean? They’re all fuzzy sets, right? What is ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘fair’, ‘beautiful’, ‘excessive’? What appears plausible to the python often puzzles the pig.”
Mazarine manages a weak smile. “And if it’s higher? Say ten million?”
“Well, I suppose anything’s possible. Then, I’m sad to say, you’ll be spending the next months in jail until we go to trial, which will means this summer at the earliest.”
Mazarine’s shoulders collapse in on her chest, and the horrific reality of the nightmare in which she now stars begins to sink it.
“I’m sorry, Mazarine. I’m not going to lie to you about any of this. If it comes to that, you’re just going to have to tough it out.”
Natalie pauses and gets up to check the lobby.
“Staff starting to arrive,” she explains. “Now, here’s some good news.
TO BE CONTINUED