July 21, 2011

A Time To Kill - John Grisham(page 1)

A Time To Kill
John Grisham
Billy Ray Cobb was the younger and smaller of the two rednecks. At twenty-three he was already a three-year veteran of the state penitentiary at Parchm^an. Possession, with intent to sell. He was a lean, tough little punk who had survived
prison by somehow maintaining a ready supply of drugs th^at he sold and sometimes gave to the blacks and the guards for protection. In the year since his release he had continued to prosper, and his small-time narcotics business had elevated him to the position of one of the more affluent rednecks in Ford County. He was a businessman, with employees, obligations, deals, everything but taxes. Down at the Ford place in Clanton he was known as the last man in recent history to pay cash for a new pickup truck. Sixteen thousand cash, for a custom-built, four-wheel drive, canary yellow, luxury Ford pickup. The fancy chrome wheels and mudgrip racing tires had been received in a business deal. The rebel flag hanging across the rear window had been stolen by Cobb from a drunken fraternity boy at an Ole Miss football game.

The pickup was Billy Ray's most prized possession. He sat on the tailgate drinking a beer, smoking a joint, watching his friend Willard take his turn with the black girl.
Willard was four years older and a dozen years slower. He was generally a harmless sort who had never been in serious trouble and had never been seriously employed. Maybe an occasional fight with a night in jail, but nothing that would distinguish him. He called himself a pulpwood cutter, but a bad back customarily kept him out of the woods. He had hurt his back working on an offshore rig somewhere in the Gulf, and the oil company paid him a nice settlement, which he lost when his ex-wife cleaned him out. His primary vocation was that of a part-time employee of Billy Ray Cobb, who didn't pay much but was liberal with his dope. For the first time in years Willard could always get his hands on something. And he always needed something. He'd been that way since he hurt his back.
She was ten, and small for her age. She lay on her elbows, which were stuck and bound together with yellow nylon rope. Her legs were spread grotesquely with the right foot tied tight to an oak sapling and the left to a rotting, leaning post of a long-neglected fence.
The ski rope had cut into her ankles and the blood ran down her legs. Her face was bloody and swollen, with one eye bulging and closed and the other eye half open so she could see the other white man sitting on the truck. She did not look at the man on top of her. He was breathing hard and sweating and cursing. He was hurting her. When he finished, he slapped her and laughed, and the other man laughed in return, then they laughed harder and rolled around the grass by the truck
like two crazy men, screaming and laughing. She turned away from them and cried softly, careful to keep herself quiet.
She had been slapped earlier for crying and screaming. They promised to kill her if she didn't keep quiet.
They grew tired of laughing and pulled themselves onto the tailgate, where Willard cleaned himself with the little nigger's shirt, which by now was soaked with blood and sweat. Cobb handed him a cold beer from the cooler and commented on the humidity.
They watched her as she sobbed and made strange, quiet sounds, then became still.
Cobb's beer was half empty, and it was not cold anymore. He threw it at the girl. It hit her in the stomach, splashing white foam, and it rolled off in the dirt near some other cans, all of which had originated from the same cooler. For two six-packs now they had thrown their half-empty cans at her and laughed. Willard had trouble with the target, but Cobb was fairly accurate. They were not ones to waste beer, but the heavier cans could be felt better and it was great fun to watch the foam shoot everywhere.
The warm beer mixed with the dark blood and ran down her face and neck into a puddle behind her head. She did not move.
Willard asked Cobb if he thought she was dead. Cobb opened another beer and explained that she was not dead because niggers generally could not be killed by kicking and beating and raping. It took much more, something like a knife or a gun or a rope to dispose of a nigger. Although he had never taken part in such a killing, he had lived with a bunch of niggers in prison and knew all about them. They were always killing each other, and they always used a weapon of some sort. Those who were just beaten and raped never died. Some of the whites were beaten and raped, and some of them died. But none of the niggers. Their heads were harder. Willard seemed satisfied.
Willard asked what he planned to do now that they were through with her. Cobb sucked on his joint, chased it with beer, and said he wasn't through. He bounced from the tailgate and staggered across the small clearing to where she was tied. He
cursed her and screamed at her to wake up, then he poured cold beer in her face, laughing like a crazy man.
She watched him as he walked around the tree on her right side, and she stared at him as he stared between her legs. When he lowered his pants she turned to the left and closed her eyes. He was hurting her again.
She looked out through the woods and saw something -a man running wildly through the vines and underbrush. It was her daddy, yelling and pointing at her and coming desperately to save her. She cried out for him, and he disappeared. She fell asleep. When she awoke one of the men was lying under the tailgate, the other under a tree. They were asleep. Her arms and legs were numb. The blood and beer and urine had mixed with the dirt underneath her to form a sticky paste that glued her small body to the ground and crackled when she moved and wiggled. Escape, she thought, but her mightiest efforts moved her only a few inches to the right. Her feet were tied so high her buttocks barely touched the ground. Her legs and arms were so deadened they refused to move.
She searched the woods for her daddy and quietly called his name. She waited, then slept again. When she awoke the second time they were up and moving around. The tall one staggered to her with a small knife. He grabbed her left ankle and sawed furiously on the rope until it gave way. Then he freed the right leg, and she curled into a fetal position with her back to them.
Cobb strung a length of quarter-inch ski rope over a limb and tied a loop in one end with a slip knot. He grabbed her and put the noose around her head, then walked across the clearing with the other end of the rope and sat on the tailgate, where Willard was smoking a fresh joint and grinning at Cobb for what he was about to do. Cobb pulled the rope tight, then gave a vicious yank, bouncing the little nude body along the ground and stopping it directly under the limb. She gagged and coughed, so he kindly loosened the rope to spare her a few more minutes. He tied the rope to the bumper and opened another beer.
They sat on the tailgate drinking, smoking, and staring at her. They had been at the lake most of the day, where Cobb had a friend with a boat and some extra girls
who were supposed to be easy but turned out to be untouchable. Cobb had been generous with his drugs and beer, but the girls did not reciprocate. Frustrated, they left the lake and were driving to no place in particular when they happened across the girl. She was walking along a gravel road with a sack of groceries when Willard nailed her in the back of the head with a beer can.
"You gonna do it?" asked Willard, his eyes red and glazed.
Cobb hesitated. "Naw, I'll let you do it. It was your idea."
Willard took a drag on his joint, then spit and said, "Wasn't my idea. You're the expert on killin' niggers. Do it."
Cobb untied the rope from the bumper and pulled it tight. It peeled bark from the limb and sprinkled fine bits of elm around the girl, who was watching them carefully now. She coughed. Suddenly, she heard something-like a car with loud pipes. The two men turned quickly and looked down the dirt road to the highway in the distance. They cursed and scrambled around, one slamming the tailgate and the other running toward her. He tripped and landed near her. They cursed each other while they grabbed her, removed the rope from her neck, dragged her to the pickup and threw her over the tailgate into the bed of the truck. Cobb slapped her and threatened to kill her if she did not lie still and keep quiet. He said he would take her home if she stayed down and did as told; otherwise, they would kill her. They slammed the doors and sped onto the dirt road. She was going home.
She passed out.
Cobb and Willard waved at the Firebird with the loud pipes as it passed them on the narrow dirt road. Willard checked the back to make sure the little nigger was lying down.
Cobb turned onto the highway and raced away.
"What now?" Willard asked nervously.
"Don't know," Cobb answered nervously. "But we gotta do something fast before she gets blood all over my truck. Look at her back there, she's bleedin' all over the place." Willard thought for a minute while he finished a beer. "Let's throw her off a bridge," he said proudly.
"Good idea. Damned good idea." Cobb slammed on the brakes. "Gimme a beer," he ordered Willard, who stumbled out of the truck and fetched two beers from the back.
"She's even got blood on the cooler," he reported as they raced off again.
Gwen Hailey sensed something horrible. Normally she would have sent one of the three boys to the store, but they were being punished by their father and had been sentenced to weed-pulling in the garden. Tonya had been to the stor e before by herself-it was only a mile away-and had proven reliable. But after two hours Gwen sent the boys to look for their little sister. They figured she was down at the Pounders' house playing with the many Pounders kids, or maybe she had ventured past the store to visit her best friend,
Bessie Pierson.
Mr. Bates at the store said she had come and gone an hour earlier. Jarvis, the middle boy, found a sack of groceries beside the road.
Gwen called her husband at the paper mill, then loaded Carl Lee, Jr., into the car and began driving the gravel roads around the store. They drove to a settlement of ancient shotgun houses on Graham Plantation to check with an aunt. They stopped at Broadway's store a mile from Bates Grocery and were told by a group of old black men that she had not been seen. They crisscrossed the gravel roads and dusty field roads for three square miles around their house.

Cobb could not find a bridge unoccupied by niggers with fishing poles. Every bridge they approached had four or five niggers hanging off the sides with large straw hats and cane poles, and under every bridge on the banks there would be another group sitting on buckets with the same straw hats and cane poles, motionless except for an occasional swat at a fly or a slap at a mosquito.
He was scared now. Willard had passed out and was of no help, and he was left alone to dispose of the girl in such a way that she could never tell. Willard snored as he frantically drove the gravel roads and county roads in search of a bridge or ramp on some river where he could stop and toss her without being seen by half a dozen niggers with straw hats. He looked in the mirror and saw her trying to stand. He slammed his brakes, and she crashed into the front of the bed, just under the window. Willard ricocheted off the dash into the floorboard, where he continued to snore. Cobb cursed them both equally.
Lake Chatulla was nothing more than a huge, shallow, man-made mudhole with a grass-covered dam running exactly one mile along one end. It sat in the far southwest corner of
Ford County, with a few acres in Van Buren County. In the spring it would hold the distinction of being the largest body of water in Mississippi. But by late summer the rains were long gone, and the sun would cook the shallow water until the lake would dehydrate. Its once ambitious shorelines would retreat and move much closer together, creating a depthless basin of reddish brown water. It was fed from all directions by innumerable streams, creeks, sloughs, and a couple of currents large enough to be named rivers. The existence of all these tributaries necessarily gave rise to a good number of bridges near the lake.
It was over these bridges the yellow pickup flew in an all-out effort to find a suitable place to unload an unwanted passenger. Cobb was desperate. He knew of one other bridge, a narrow wooden one over Foggy Creek. As he approached, he saw niggers with cane poles, so he turned off a side road and stopped the truck. He lowered the tailgate, dragged her out, and threw her in a small ravine lined with kudzu.
Carl Lee Hailey did not hurry home. Gwen was easily excited, and she had called the mill numerous times when she thought the children had been kidnapped. He
punched out at quitting time, and made the thirty-minute drive home in thirty minutes. Anxiety hit him when he turned onto his gravel drive and saw the patrol car parked next to the front porch. Other cars belonging to Owen's family were scattered along the long drive and in the yard, and there was one car he didn't recognize. It had cane poles sticking out the side windows, and there were at least seven straw hats sitting in it.
Where were Tonya and the boys?
As he opened the front door he heard Gwen crying. To his right in the small living room he found a crowd huddled above a small figure lying on the couch. The child was covered with wet towels and surrounded by crying relatives. As he moved to the couch the crying stopped and the crowd backed away. Only Gwen stayed by the girl. She softly stroked her hair. He knelt beside the couch and touched the girl's shoulder. He spoke to his daughter, and she tried to smile. Her face was bloody pulp covered with knots and lacerations. Both eyes were swollen shut and bleeding. His eyes watered as he looked at her tiny body, completely wrapped in towels and bleeding from ankles to forehead.
Carl Lee asked Gwen what happened. She began shaking and wailing, and was led to the kitchen by her brother. Carl Lee stood and turned to the crowd and demanded to know what happened.
He asked for the third time. The deputy, Willie Hastings, one of Gwen's cousins, stepped forward and told Carl Lee that some people were fishing down by Foggy Creek when they saw Tonya lying in the middle of the road. She told them her daddy's name, and they brought her home.
Hastings shut up and stared at his feet.
Carl Lee stared at him and waited. Everyone else stopped breathing and watched the floor. "What happened, Willie?" Carl Lee yelled as he stared at the deputy.
Hastings spoke slowly, and while staring out the window repeated what Tonya had told her mother about the white men and their pickup, and the rope and the trees, and being hurt when they got on her. -Hastings stopped when he heard the siren from the ambulance.
The crowd filed solemnly through the front door and waited on the porch, where they watched the crew unload a stretcher and head for the house.
The paramedics stopped in the yard when the front door opened and Carl Lee walked out with his daughter in his arms. He whispered gently to her as huge tears dripped from his chin. He walked to the rear of the ambulance and stepped inside. The paramedics closed the door and carefully removed her from his embrace.
Ozzie Walls was the only black sheriff in Mississippi. There had been a few others in recent history, but for the moment he was the only one. He took great pride in that fact, since Ford County was seventy-four percent white and the other black sheriffs had been from much blacker counties.
Not since Reconstruction had a black sheriff been elected in a white county in Mississippi.
He was raised in Ford County, and he was kin to most of the blacks and a few of the whites. After desegregation in the late sixties, he was a member of the first mixed graduating class at Clanton High School. He wanted to play football nearby at Ole Miss, but there were already two blacks on the team. He starred instead at Alcorn State, and was a defensive tackle for the Rams when a knee injury sent him back to Clanton. He missed football, but enjoyed being the high sheriff, especially at election time when he received more . white votes than his white opponents. The white kids loved him because he was a hero, a football star who had played on TV and had his picture in magazines.
Their parents respected him and voted for him because he was a tough cop who did not discriminate between black punks and white punks. The white politicians supported him because, since e became the sheriff, the Justice Department stayed out of Ford County.
The blacks adored him because he was Ozzie, one of their own.
He skipped supper and waited in his office at the jail for Hastings to report from the
Hailey house. He had a suspect. Billy Ray Cobb was no stranger to the sheriffs office.
Ozzie knew he sold drugs- he just couldn't catch him. He also knew Cobb had a mean streak.
The dispatcher called in the deputies, and as they reported to the jail Ozzie gave them instructions to locate, but not arrest, Billy Ray Cobb. There were twelve deputies in all -nine white and three black. They fanned out across the county in search of a fancy yellow Ford pickup with a rebel flag in the rear window.
When Hastings arrived he and the sheriff left for the Ford County hospital. As usual,
Hastings drove and Ozzie gave orders on the radio. In the waiting room on the second floor they found the Hailey clan. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and strangers crowded into the small room and some waited in the narrow hallway. There were whispers and quiet tears. Tonya was in surgery.
Carl Lee sat on a cheap plastic couch in a dark corner with Gwen next to him and the boys next to her. He stared at the floor and did not notice the crowd. Gwen laid her head on his shoulder and cried softly. The boys sat rigidly with their hands on knees, occasionally glancing at their father as if waiting on words of reassurance.
Ozzie worked his way through the crowd, quietly shaking hands and patting backs and whispering that he would catch them. He knelt before Carl Lee and Gwen.
"How is she?" he asked. Carl Lee did not see him. Gwen cried louder and the boys sniffed and wiped tears. He patted Gwen on the knee and stood. One of her brothers led Ozzie and Hastings out of the room into the hall, away from the family. He shook Ozzie's hand and thanked him for coming.
"How is she?" Ozzie asked.
"Not too good. She's in surgery and most likely will be there for a while. She's got broken bones and a bad concussion. She's beat up real bad. There's rope burns on her neck like they tried to hang her."
"Was she raped?" he asked, certain of the answer.
"Yeah. She told her momma they took turns on her and hurt her real bad. Doctors confirmed it."
"How's Carl Lee and Gwen?"
"They're tore up pretty bad. I think they're in shock. Carl Lee ain't said a word since he got here."
, JDzzie assured him they would find the two men, and it wouldn't take long, and when they found them they would be locked up someplace safe. The brother suggested he should hide them in another jail, for their own safety.
Three miles out of Clanto n, Ozzie pointed to a gravel driveway. "Pull in there," he told
Hastings, who turned off the highway and drove into the front yard of a dilapidated house trailer. It was almost dark.
Ozzie took his night stick and banged violently on the front door. "Open up, Bumpous!"
The trailer shook and Bumpous scrambled to the bathroom to flush a fresh joint.
"Open up, Bumpous!" Ozzie banged. "I know you're in there. Open up or I'll kick in the door."
Bumpous yanked the door open and Ozzie walked in. "You know, Bumpous, evertime I visit you I smell somethin' funny and the commode's flushin'. Get some clothes on. I gotta job for you."
"I'll explain it outside where I can breathe. Just get some clothes on and hurry."
"What if I don't want to?"
"Fine. I'll see your parole officer tomorrow."
"I'll be out in a minute."
Ozzie smiled and walked to his car. Bobby Bumpous was one of his favorites. Since his parole two years earlier, he had led a reasonably clean life, occasionally succumbing to the lure of an easy drug sale for a quick buck. Ozzie watched him like a hawk and knew of such transactions, and Bumpous knew Ozzie knew;
therefore, Bumpous was usually most eager to help his friend, Sheriff Walls. The plan was to eventually use Bumpous to nail Billy Ray Cobb for dealing, but that would be postponed for now.
After a few minutes he marched outside, still tucking his shirttail and zipping his pants.
"Who you lookin' for?" he demanded.
"Billy Ray Cobb."
"That's no problem. You can find him without me."
"Shut up and listen. We think Cobb was involved in a rape this afternoon. A black girl was raped by two white men, and I think Cobb was there."
"Cobb ain't into rape, Sheriff. He's into drugs, remember?"
"Shut up and listen. You find Cobb and spend some time with him. Five minutes ago his truck was spotted at Huey's. Buy him a beer. Shoot some pool, roll dice, what- ever. Find out what he did today. Who was he with? Where'd he go? You know how he likes to talk, right?"
"Call the dispatcher when you find him. They'll call me. I'll be somewhere close. You understand?"
"Sure, Sheriff. No problem."
"Any questions?"
"Yeah. I'm broke. Who's gonna pay for this?"
Ozzie handed him a twenty and left. Hastings drove in the direction of Huey's, down by the lake.
"You sure you can trust him?" Hastings asked. . "Who?"
"That Bumpous kid."
"Sure I trust him. He's proved very reliable since he was paroled. He's a good kid tryin' to go straight, for the most part. He supports his local sheriff and would do anything I ask."
"Because I caught him with ten ounces of pot a year ago. He'd been outta jail about a year when I caught his brother with an ounce, and I told him he was lookin' at thirty years. He started cryin' and carryin' on, cried all night in his cell. By mornin' he was ready to talk.
Told me his supplier was his brother, Bobby. So I let him go and went to see Bobby. I knocked on his door and I could hear the commode flushin'. He wouldn't come to the door, so I kicked it in. I found him in his underwear in the bathroom tryin' to unstop the commode. There was dope all over the place. Don't know how much he flushed, but most of it was comin' back out in the overflow. Scared him so bad he wet his drawers."
"You kiddin'?"
"Nope. The kid pissed all over himself. He was a sight standin' there with wet drawers, a plunger in one hand, dope in the other, and the room fillin' up with commode water."
"What'd you do?"
"Threatened to kill him."
"What'd he do?"
"Started cryin'. Cried like a baby. Cried 'bout his momma and prison and all this and that.
Promised he'd never screw up again."
"You arrest him?"
"Naw, I just couldn't. I talked real ugly to him and threatened him some more. I put him on probation right there in his bathroom. He's been fun to work with ever since."
They drove by Huey's and saw Cobb's truck in the gravel parking lot with a dozen other pickups and four-wheel drives. They parked behind a black church on a hill up the highway from Huey's, where they had a good view of the honky tonk, or tonk, as it was affectionately called by the patrons. Another patrol car hid behind
some trees at the other end of the highway. Moments later Bumpous flew by and wheeled into the parking lot.
He locked his brakes, spraying gravel and dust, then backed next to Cobb's truck. He looked around and casually entered Huey's. Thirty minutes later the dispatcher advised
Ozzie that the informant had found the subject, a male white, at Huey's, an establishment on Highway 305 near the lake. Within minutes two more patrol cars were hidden close by. They waited.
"What makes you so sure it's Cobb?" Hastings asked.
"I ain't sure. I just got a hunch. The little girl said it was a truck with shiny wheels and big tires."
"That narrows it down to two thousand."
"She also said it was yellow, looked new, and had a big flag hangin' in the rear window."
"That brings it down to two hundred."
"Maybe less than that. How many of those are as mean as Billy Ray Cobb?"
"What if it ain't him?"
"It is."
"If it ain't?"
"We'll know shortly. He's got a big mouth, 'specially when he's drinkin'."
For two hours they waited and watched pickups come and go. Truck drivers, pulpwood cutters, factory workers, and farmhands parked their pickups and jeeps in the gravel and strutted inside to drink, shoot pool, listen to the band, but mainly to look for stray women.
Some would leave and walk next door to Ann's Lounge, where they would stay for a few minutes and return to Huey's. Ann's Lounge was darker both inside and out, and it lacked the colorful beer signs and live music that made Huey's such a hit with the locals. Ann's was known for its drug traffic, whereas Huey's had it all- music, women, happy hours, poker machines, dice, dancing, and plenty of fights. One brawl spilled through the door into the parking lot, where a group of wild rednecks kicked and clawed each other at random until they grew winded and returned to the dice table.
"Hope that wasn't Bumpous," observed the sheriff.
The restrooms inside were small and nasty, and most of the patrons found it necessary to relieve themselves between the pickups in the parking lot. This was especially true on
Mondays when ten- cent beer night drew rednecks from four counties and every truck in the parking lot received at least three sprayings. About once a week an innocent passing motorist would get shocked by something he or she saw in the parking lot, and Ozzie would be forced to make an arrest. Otherwise, he left the places alone.
Both tonks were in violation of numerous laws. There was gambling, drugs, illegal whiskey, minors, they refused to close on time, etc. Shortly after he was elected the first time Ozzie made the mistake, due in part to a hasty campaign promise, of closing all the honky tonks in the county. It was a horrible mistake. The crime rate soared. The jail was packed. The court dockets multiplied.
The rednecks united and drove in caravans to Clanton, where they parked around the courthouse on the square. Hundreds of them. Every night they invaded the square, drinking, fighting, playing loud music, and shouting obscenities at the horrified town folk. Each morning the square resembled a landfill with cans and bottles thrown everywhere. He closed the black tonks too, and break-ins, burglaries, and stabbings tripled in one month. There were two murders in one week.
Finally, with the city under siege, a group of local ministers met secretly with Ozzie and begged him to ease up on the tonks. He politely reminded them that during the campaign they had insisted on the closings. They admitted they were wrong and pleaded for relief.
Yes, they would support him in the next election. Ozzie relented, and life returned to normal in Ford County.
Ozzie was not pleased that the establishments thrived in his county, but he was convinced beyond any doubt that his law-abiding constituents were much safer when the tonks were open.
At ten-thirty the dispatcher radioed that the informant was on the phone and wanted to see the sheriff. Ozzie gave his location, and a minute later they watched Bumpous emerge and stagger to his truck. He spun tires, slung gravel, and raced toward the church.
"He's drunk," said Hastings.
He wheeled through the church parking lot and came to a screeching stop a few feet from the patrol car. "Howdy, Sheriff!" he yelled.
Ozzie walked to the pickup. "What took so long?"
"You told me to take all night."
"You found him two hours ago."
"That's true, Sheriff, but have you ever tried to spend twenty dollars on beer when it's fifty cents a can?"
"You drunk?"
"Naw, just havin' a good time. Could I have another twenty?"
"What'd you find out?"
" 'Bout what?"
"Oh, he's in there all right."
"I know he's in there! What else?"
Bumpous quit smiling and looked at the tonk in the distance. "He's laughin' about it,
Sheriff. It's a big joke. Said he finally found a nigger who was a virgin. Somebody asked how old she was, and Cobb said eight or nine. Everybody laughed."
Hastings closed his eyes and dropped his head. Ozzie gritted his teeth and looked away.
"What else did he say?"
"He's bad drunk. He won't remember any of it in the mornin'. Said she was a cute little nigger."
"Who was with him?"
"Pete Willard."
"Is he in there?"
"Yep, they're both laughin' about it."
"Where are they?"
"Left-hand side, next to the pinball machines."
Ozzie smiled. "Okay, Bumpous. You did good. Get lost."
Hastings called the dispatcher with the two names. The dispatcher relayed the message to
Deput y Looney, who was parked in the street in front of the home of County Judge
Percy Bullard. Looney rang the doorbell and handed the judge two affidavits and two arrest warrants. Bullard scribbled on the warrants and returned them to Looney, who thanked His Honor and left. Twenty minutes later Looney handed the warrants to Ozzie behind the church.
At exactly eleven, the band quit in mid-song, the dice disappeared, the dancers froze, the cue balls stopped rolling, and someone turned on the lights. All eyes followed the big sheriff as he and his men swaggered slowly across the dance floor to a table by the pinball machines. Cobb, Willard, and two others sat in a booth, the table littered with empty beer cans^ Ozzie walked to the table and grinned at Cobb.
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't allow niggers in here," Cobb blurted out, and the four burst into laughter. Ozzie kept grinning.
When the laughing stopped, Ozzie said, "You boys havin' a good time, Billy Ray?"
"We was."
"Looks like it. I hate to break things up, but you and Mr. Willard need to come with me."
"Where we goin'?" Willard asked.
"For a ride."
"I ain't movin'," Cobb vowed. With that, the other two scooted from the booth and joined the spectators.
"I'm placin' you both under arrest," Ozzie said.
"You got warrants?" Cobb asked.
Hastings produced the warrants, and Ozzie threw them among the beer cans. "Yeah, we got warrants. Now get up."
Willard stared desperately at Cobb, who sipped a beer and said, "I ain't goin' to jail."
Looney handed Ozzie the longest, blackest nightstick ever used in Ford County. Willard was panic- stricken. Ozzie cocked it and struck the center of the table, sending beer and cans and foam in all directions. Willard bolted upright, slapped his wrists together and thrust them at Looney, who was waiting with the handcuffs. He was dragged outside and thrown into a patrol car. Ozzie tapped his left palm with the stick and grinned at Cobb.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in court.
You have the right to a lawyer. If you can't afford one, the state'll furnish one. Any questions?"
"Yeah, what time is it?"
"Time to go to jail, big man."
"Go to hell, nigger."
Ozzie grabbed his hair and lifted him from the booth, then drove his face into the floor.
He jammed a knee into his spine and slid his nightstick under his throat, and pulled upward while driving the knee deeper into his back. Cobb squealed until the stick began crushing his larynx.
The handcuffs were slapped into place, and Ozzie dragged him by his hair across the dance floor, out the door, across the gravel and threw him into the back seat with Wil-lard.
News of the rape spread quickly. More friends and relatives crowded into the waiting room and the halls around it. Tonya was out of surgery and listed as critical. Ozzie talked to Gwen's brother in the hall and told of the arrests. Yes, they were the ones, he was sure.
Jake Brigance rolled across his wife and staggered to the small bathroom a few feet from his bed, where he searched and groped in the dark for the screaming alarm clock. He found it where he had left it, and killed it with a quick and violent slap. It was 5:30 A.M., Wednesday, May 15.
He stood in the dark for a moment, breathless, terrified, his heart pounding rapidly, staring at the fluorescent numbers glowing at him from the face of the clock, a clock he hated. Its piercing scream could be heard down the street. He flirted with cardiac arrest every morning at this time when the thing erupted. On occasion, about twice a year, he was successful in shoving Carla onto the floor, and she would maybe turn it off before returning to bed. Most of the time, however, she was not sympathetic. She thought he was crazy for getting up at such an hour.
The clock sat on the windowsill so that Jake was required to move around a bit before it was silenced. Once up, Jake would not permit himself to crawl back under the covers. It was one of his rules. At one time the alarm was on the nightstand, and the volume was reduced. Carla would reach and turn it off before Jake heard anything. Then he would sleep until seven or eight and ruin his entire day. He would miss being in the office by seven, which was another rule. The alarm stayed in the bathroom and served its purpose.
Jake stepped to the sink and splashed cold water on'his face and hair. He switched on the light and gasped in horror at the sight in the mirror. His straight brown hair shot in all directions, and the hairline had receded at least two inches during the night. Either that or his forehead had grown. His eyes were matted and swollen with the white stuff packed in the corners. A seam in a blanket left a bright red scar along the left side of his face. He touched, then rubbed it and wondered if it would go away. With his right hand he pushed his hair back and inspected the hairline. At thirty-two, he had no gray hair. Gray hair was not the problem. The problem was pattern baldness, which Jake had richly inherited from both sides of his family. He longed for a full, thick hairline beginning an inch above his eyebrows. He still had plenty of hair, Carla told him. But it wouldn't last long at the rate it was disappearing. She also assured him he was as handsome as ever, and he believed her.
She had explained that a receding hairline gave him a look of maturity that was essential for a young attorney. He believed that too.
But what about old, bald attorneys, or even mature, middle-aged bald attorneys? Why couldn't the hair return after he grew wrinkles and gray sideburns and looked very mature?
Jake pondered these things in the shower. He took quick showers, and he shaved and dressed quickly. He had to be at the Coffee Shop at 6:00 A.M.-another rule. He turned on lights and slammed and banged drawers and closet doors in an effort to arouse Carla.
This was the morning ritual during the summer when she was not teaching school. He had explained to her numerous times that she had all day to catch up on any lost sleep, and that these early moments should be spent together. She moaned and tunneled deeper under the covers. Once dressed, Jake jumped on the bed with all fours and kissed her in the ear, down the neck, and all over the face until she finally swung at him. Then he yanked the covers off the bed and laughed as she curled up and shivered and begged for the blankets. He held them and admired her dark, tanned, thin, almost perfect legs. The bulky nightshirt covered nothing below the waist, and a hundred lewd thoughts danced before him.
About once a month this ritual would get out of hand. She would not protest, and the blankets would be jointly removed. On those mornings Jake undressed even quicker and broke at least three of his rules. That's how Hanna was conceived.
But not this morning. He covered his wife, kissed her gently, and turned out the lights.
She breathed easier, and fell asleep.
Down the hall he quietly opened Hanna's door and knelt beside her. She was four, the only child, and there would be no others. She lay in her bed surrounded by dolls and stuffed animals. He kissed her lightly on the cheek. She was as beautiful as her mother, and the two were identical in looks and manners. They had large bluish-gray eyes that could cry instantly, if necessary. They wore their dark hair the same way-had it cut by the same person at the same time. They even dressed alike.
Jake adored the two women in his life. He kissed the second one goodbye and went to the kitchen to make coffee for Carla. On his way out he released Max, the mutt, into the backyard, where she simultaneously relieved herself and barked at Mrs. Pickle's cat next door. Few people attacked the morning like Jake Brigance. He walked briskly to the end of the driveway and got the morning papers for Carla. It was dark, clear, and cool with the promise of summer rapidly approaching.
He studied the darkness up and down Adams Street, then turned and admired his house.
Two homes in Ford County were on the National Register of Historic Places, and Jake
Brigance owned one of them. Although it was heavily mortgaged, he was proud of it nonetheless. It was a nineteenth-century Victorian built by a retired railroad man who died on the first Christmas Eve he spent in his new home. The facade was a huge, centered gable with hipped roof over a wide, inset front porch. Under the gable a small portico covered with bargeboard hung gently over the porch.
The five supporting pillars were round and painted white and slate blue. Each column bore a handmade floral carving, each with a different flower-daffodils, irises, and sunflowers. The railing between the pillars was filled with lavish lacework. Upstairs, three bay windows opened onto a small balcony, and to the left
of the balcony an octagonal tower with stained-glass windows protruded and rose above the gable until it peaked with an iron-crested finial. Below the tower and to the left of the porch, a wide, graceful veranda with ornamental railing extended from the house and served as a carport. The front panels were a collage of gingerbread, cedar shingles, scallops, fish scales, tiny intricate gables, and miniature spindles.
Carla had located a paint consultant in New Orleans, and the fairy chose six original colors-mostly shades of blue, teal, peach, and white. The paint job took two months and cost Jake five thousand dollars, and that did not include the countless hours he and Carla had spent dangling from ladders and scraping cornices. And although he was not wild about some of the colors, he had never dared suggest repainting.
As with every Victorian, the house was gloriously unique. It had a piquant, provocative, engaging quality derived from an ingenuous, joyous, almost childlike bearing. Carla had wanted it since before they married, and when the owner in Memphis finally died and the estate was closed, they bought it for a song because no one else would have it. It had been abandoned for twenty years.
They borrowed heavily from two of the three banks in Clanton, and spent the next three years sweating and doting over their landmark. Now people drove by and took pictures of it.
The third local bank held the mortgage on Jake's car, the only Saab in Ford County. And a red Saab at that. He wiped the dew from the windshield and unlocked the door. Max was still barking and had awakened the army of blue-jays that lived in Mrs. Pickle's maple tree. They sang to him and called farewell as he smiled and whistled in return. He backed into Adams Street. Two blocks east he turned south on Jefferson, which two blocks later ran dead end into Washington Street. Jake had often wondered why every small Southern town had an Adams, a Jefferson, and a Washington, but no Lincoln or
Grant. Washington Street ran east and west on the north side of the Clanton square.
Because Clanton was the county seat it had a square, and the square quite naturally had a courthouse in the center of it. General Clanton had laid out the town with much thought, and the square was long and wide and the courthouse lawn was covered with massive oak trees, all lined neatly and spaced equally apart. The Ford County courthouse was well into its second century, built after the Yankees burned the first one. It defiantly faced south, as if telling those from the North to politely and eternally kiss its ass. It was old and stately, with white columns along the front and black shutters around the dozens of windows. The original red brick had long since been painted white, and every four years the Boy Scouts added a thick layer of shiny enamel for their traditional summer project.
Several bond issues over the years had allowed additions and renovations.
The lawn around it was clean and neatly trimmed. A crew from the jail manicured it twice a week.
Clanton had three coffee shops-two for the whites and one for the blacks, and all three were on the square. It was not illegal or uncommon for whites to eat at Claude's, the black cafe on the west side.
And it was safe for the blacks to eat at the Tea Shoppe, on the south side, or the Coffee
Shop on Washington Street. They didn't, however, since they were told they could back in the seventies.
Jake ate barbecue every Friday at Claude's, as did most of the white liberals in Clanton.
But six mornings a week he was a regular at the Coffee Shop.
He parked the Saab in front of his office on Washington Street and walked three doors to the Coffee Shop. It had opened an hour earlier and by now was bustling with action.
Waitresses scurried about serving coffee and breakfast and chatting incessantly with the farmers and mechanics and deputies who were the regulars. This was no white-collar cafe. The white collars gathered across the square at the Tea Shoppe later in the morning and discussed national politics, tennis, golf, and the stock market. At the Coffee Shop they talked about local politics, football, and bass fishing. Jake was one of the few white collars allowed to frequent the Coffee Shop. He was well liked and accepted by the blue collars, most of whom at one time or another had found their way to his office for a will, a deed, a divorce, a defense, or any one of a thousand other problems.
They picked at him and told crooked lawyer jokes, but he had a thick skin. They asked him to explain Supreme Court rulings and other legal oddities during breakfast, and he gave a lot of free legal advice at the Coffee Shop. Jake had a way of cutting through the excess and discussing the meat of any issue. They appreciated that. They didn't always agree with him, but they always got honest answers. They argued at times, but there were never hard feelings.
He made his entrance at six, and it took five minutes to greet everyone, shake hands, slap backs, and say smart things to the waitresses. By the time he sat at his table his favorite girl, Dell, had his coffee and regular breakfast of toast, jelly, and grits. She patted him on the hand and called him honey and sweetheart and generally made a fuss over him. She griped and snapped at the others, but had a different routine for Jake.
He ate with Tim Nunley, a mechanic down at the Chevrolet place, and two brothers, Bill and Bert West, who worked at the shoe factory north of town. He splashed three drops of
Tabasco on his grits and stirred them artfully with a slice of butter-. He covered the toast with a half inch of homemade strawberry jelly. Once his food was properly prepared, he tasted the coffee and started eating. They ate quietly and discussed how the crappie were biting.
In a booth by the window a few feet from Jake's table, three deputies talked among themselves. The big one, Marshall Prather, turned to Jake and asked loudly, "Say, Jake, didn't you defend Billy Ray Cobb a few years ago?"
The cafe was instantly silent as everyone looked at the lawyer. Startled not by the question but by its response, Jake swallowed his grits and searched for the name.
"Billy Ray Cobb," he repeated aloud. "What kind of case was it?"
"Dope," Prather said. "Caught him sellin' dope about four years ago. Spent time in
Parchman and got out last year."
Jake remembered. "Naw, I didn't represent him. I think he had a Memphis lawyer."
Prather seemed satisfied and returned to his pancakes. Jake waited.
Finally he asked, "Why? What's he done now?"
"We picked him up last night for rape."
"Yeah, him and Pete Willard."
"Who'd they rape?"
"You remember that Hailey nigger you got off in that murder trial a few years ago?"
"Lester Hailey. Of course I remember."
"You know his brother Carl Lee?"
"Sure. Know him well. I know all the Haileys. Represented most of them."
"Well, it was his little girl."
"You're kidding?"
"How old is she?"
Jake's appetite disappeared as the cafe returned to normal. He played with his coffee and listened to the conversation change from fishing to Japanese cars and back to fishing.
When the West brothers left, he slid into the booth with the deputies.
"How is she?" he asked.
"The Hailey girl."
"Pretty bad," said Prather. "She's in the hospital."
"What happened?"
"We don't know everything. She ain't been able to talk much. Her momma sent her to the store.
They live on Craft Road behind Bates Grocery."
"I know where they live."
"Somehow they got her in Cobb's pickup and took her out in the woods somewhere and raped her."
"Both of them?"
"Yeah, several times. And they kicked her and beat her real bad. Some of her kinfolks didn't know her, she was beat so bad."
Jake shook his head. "That's sick."
"Sure is. Worst I've ever seen. They tried to kill her. Left her for dead."
"Who found her?"
"Buncha niggers fishin' down by Foggy Creek. Saw her floppin' out in the middle of the road. Had her hands tied behind her. She was talkin' a little-told them who her daddy was and they took her home."
"How'd you know it was Billy Ray Cobb?"
"She told her momma it was a yellow pickup truck with a rebel flag hangin' in the rear window. That's about all Ozzie needed. He had it figured out by the time she got to the hospital."
Prather was careful not to say too much. He liked Jake, but he was a lawyer and he handled a lot of criminal cases.
"Who is Pete Willard?"
"Some friend of Cobb's."
"Where'd y'all find them?"
"That figures." Jake drank his coffee and thought of Hanna.
"Sick, sick, sick," Looney mumbled.
"How's Carl Lee?"
Prather wiped syrup from his mustache. "Personally, I don't know him, but I ain't ever heard anything bad about him. They're still at the hospital. I think Ozzie was with them all night. He knows them real well, of course, he knows all those folks real well. Hastings is kin to the girl somehow."
"When's the preliminary hearing?"
"Bullard set it for one P.M. today. Ain't that right, Looney?" Looney nodded.
"Any bond?"
"Ain't been set yet. Bollard's gonna wait till the hearing. If she dies, they'll be lookin' at capital murder, won't they?"
Jake nodded.
"They can't have a bond for capital murder, can they, Jake?" Looney asked.
"They can but I've never seen one. I know Bullard won't set a bond for capital murder, and if he did, they couldn't make it."
"If she don't die, how much time can they get?" asked Nesbit, the third deputy.
Others listened as Jake explained. "They can get life sentences for the rape. I assume they will also be charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault."
"They already have."
"Then they can get twenty years for the kidnapping and twenty years for the aggravated assault."
"Yeah, but how much time will they serve?" asked Looney.
Jake thought a second. "They could conceivably be paroled in thirteen years. Seven for the rape, three for the kidnapping, and three for the aggravated assault. That's assuming they're convicted on all charges and sentenced to the maximum."
"What about Cobb? He's got a record."
"Yeah, but he's not habitual unless he's got two prior convictions."
"Thirteen years," Looney repeated, shaking his head.
Jake stared through the window. The square was coming to life as pickups full of fruits and vegetables parked next to the sidewalk around the courthouse lawn, and the old farmers in faded overalls neatly arranged the small baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers and squash on the tailgate s and hoods. Watermelons from Florida were placed next to the dusty slick tires, and the farmers left for an early-morning meeting under the Vietnam monument, where they sat on benches and chewed Red Man and whittled while they caught up on the gossip. They're probably talking
about the rape, Jake thought. It was daylight now, and time for the office. The deputies were finished with their food, and
Jake excused himself. He hugged Dell, paid his check, and for a second thought of driving home to check on Hanna.
At three minutes before seven, he unlocked his office and turned on the lights.
Carl Lee had difficulty sleeping on the couch in the waiting room. Tonya was serious but stable. They had seen her at midnight, after the doctor warned that she looked bad. She did. Gwen had kissed the little bandaged face while Carl Lee stood at the foot of the bed, subdued, motionless, unable to do anything but stare blankly at the small figure surrounded by machines, tubes, and nurses. Gwen was later sedated and taken to her mother's house in Clanton. The boys went home with Gwen's brother.
The crowd had dispersed around one, leaving Carl Lee alone on the couch. Ozzie brought coffee and doughnuts at two, and told Carl Lee all he knew about Cobb and Willard.
Jake's office was a two-story building in a row of two-story buildings overlooking the courthouse on the north side of the square, just down from the Coffee Shop. The building was built by the Wilbanks family back in the 1890s, back when they owned Ford County.
And there had been a Wilbanks practicing law in the building from the day it was built until 1979, the year of the disbarment. Next door to the east was an insurance agent Jake had sued for botching a claim for Tim Nunley, the mechanic down at the Chevrolet place.
To the west was the bank with the mortgage on the Saab. All the buildings around the square were two-story brick except the banks. The one next door had also been built by the Wilbankses and had just two floors, but the one on the southeast corner of the square had three floors, and the newest one, on the southwest corner, had four floors.
Jake practiced alone, and had since 1979, the year of the disbarment. He liked it that way, especially since there was no other lawyer in Clanton competent enough to practice with him. There were several good lawyers in town, but most were with the Sullivan firm over in the bank building with four floors. Jake detested the Sullivan firm. Every lawyer detested the Sullivan firm except those in it. There were eight in all, eight of the most pompous and arrogant jerks Jake had ever met. Two had Harvard degrees. They had the big farmers, the banks, the insurance companies, the railroads, everybody with money.
The other fourteen lawyers in the county picked up the scraps and represented people- living, breathing human souls, most of whom had very little money. These were the
"street lawyers"-those in the trenches helping people in trouble. Jake was proud to be a street lawyer.
His offices were huge. He used only five of the ten rooms in the building. Downstairs there was a reception room, a large conference room, a kitchen, and a smaller storage and junk room. Upstairs, Jake had his vast office and another smaller office he referred to as the war room. It had no windows, no telephones, no distractions. Three offices sat empty upstairs and two downstairs. In years past these had been occupied by the prestigious
Wilbanks firm, long before the disbarment. Jake's office upstairs, the office, was immense; thirty by thirty with a ten-foot hardwood ceiling, hardwood floors, huge fireplace, and three desks-his work desk, a small conference desk in one corner, and a rolltop desk in another corner under the portrait of William Faulkner. The antique oak furniture had been there for almost a century, as had the books and shelves that covered one wall. The view of the square and courthouse was impressive, and could be enhanced by opening the French doors and walking onto a small balcony overhanging the sidewalk next to Wash- ington Street. Jake had, without a doubt, the finest office in Clanton. Even his bitter enemies in the Sullivan firm would concede that much.
For all the opulence and square footage, Jake paid the sum of four hundred dollars a month to his landlord and former boss, Lucien Wilbanks, who had been disbarred in 1979.
For decades the Wilbanks family ruled Ford County. They were proud, wealthy people, prominent in farming, banking, politics, and especially law. All the Wilbanks men were lawyers, and were educated at Ivy League schools. They founded banks, churches, schools, and several served in public office. The firm of Wilbanks & Wilbanks had been the most powerful and prestigious in north Mississippi for many years.
Then came Lucien. He was the only male Wilbanks of his generation. There was a sister and some nieces, but they were expected only to marry well. Great things were expected of Lucien as a child, but by the third grade it was evident he would be a different
Wilbanks. He inherited the law firm in 1965 when his father and uncle were killed in a plane crash. Although he was forty, he had just recently, several months prior to their deaths,-completed his study of the law by correspondence courses. Somehow he passed the bar exam. He took control of the firm and clients began disappearing. Big clients, like insurance companies, banks, and farmers, all left and went to the newly established
Sullivan firm. Sullivan had been a junior partner in the Wilbanks firm until Lucien fired him and evicted him, after which he left with the other junior partners and most of the clients. Then Lucien fired everyone else-associates, secretaries, clerks-everyone but Ethel
Twitty, his late father's favorite secretary.
Ethel and John Wilbanks had been very close through the years. In fact she had a younger son who greatly resembled Lucien. The poor fellow spent most of his time in and out of various nut houses. Lucien jokingly referred to him as his retarded brother. After the plane crash, the retarded brother appeared in Clanton and started telling folks he was the illegitimate son of John Wilbanks. Ethel was humiliated, but couldn't control him.
Clanton seethed with scandal. A lawsuit was filed by the Sullivan firm as counsel for the retarded brother seeking a portion of the estate. Lucien was furious. A trial ensued, and
Lucien vigorously defended his honor and pride and family name. He also vigorously defended his father's estate, all of which had been left to Lucien and his sister. At trial the jury noted the striking resemblance between Lucien and Ethel's
son, who was several years younger. The retarded brother was strategically seated as close as possible to
Lucien. The Sullivan lawyers instructed him to walk, talk, sit, and do everything just like
Lucien. They even dressed him like Lucien. Ethel and her husband denied the boy was any kin to the Wilbanks, but the jury felt otherwise. He was found to be an heir of John
Wilbanks, and was awarded one third of the estate. Lucien cursed the jury, slapped the poor boy, and was carried screaming from the courtroom and taken to jail. The jury's decision was reversed and dismissed on appeal, but Lucien feared more litigation if Ethel ever changed her story. Thus, Ethel Twitty remained with the Wilbanks firm.
Lucien was satisfied when the firm disintegrated. He never intended to practice law like his ancestors. He wanted to be a criminal lawyer, and the old firm's clientele had become strictly corporate. He wanted the rapes, the murders, the child abuses, the ugly cases no one else wanted. He wanted to be a civil rights lawyer and litigate civil liberties. But most of all, Lucien wanted to be a radical, a flaming radical of a lawyer with unpopular cases and causes, and lots of attention.
He grew a beard, divorced his wife, renounced his church, sold his share of the country club, joined the NAACP and ACLU, resigned from the bank board, and in general became the scourge of Clanton. He sued the schools because of segregation, the governor because of the prison, the city because it refused to pave streets in the black section, the bank because there were no black tellers, the state because of capital punishment, and the factories because they would not recognize organized labor. He fought and won many criminal cases, and not just in Ford County. His reputation spread, and a large following developed among blacks, poor whites, and the few unions in north Mississippi. He stumbled into some lucrative personal injury and wrong- ful death cases. There were some nice settlements. The firm, he and Ethel, was more profitable than ever. Lucien did not need the money. He had been born with it and never thought about it. Ethel did the counting.
The law became his life. With no family, he became a workaholic. Fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, Lucien practiced law with a passion. He had no other
interests, except alcohol. In the late sixties he noticed an affinity for Jack Daniel's. By the early seventies he was a drunk, and when he hired Jake in 1978 he was a full-fledged alcoholic. But he never let booze interfere with his work; he learned to drink and work at the same time.
Lucien was always half drunk, and he was a dangerous lawyer in that condition. Bold and abrasive by nature, he was downright frightening when he was drinking. At trial he would embarrass the opposing attorneys, insult the judge, abuse the witnesses, then apologize to the jury. He respected no one and could not be intimidated. He was feared because he would say and do anything. People" walked lightly around Lucien. He knew it and loved it. He became more and more eccentric. The more he drank, the crazier he acted, then people talked about him even more, so he drank even more.
Between 1966 and 1978 Lucien hired and disposed of eleven associates. He hired blacks,
Jews, Hispanics, women, and not one kept the pace he demanded. He was a tyrant around the office, constantly cursing and berating the young lawyers. Some quit the first month.
One lasted two years. It was difficult to accept Lucien's craziness. He had the money to be eccentric-his associates did not.
He hired Jake in 1978 fresh from law school. Jake was from Karaway, a small town of twenty-five hundred, eighteen miles west of Clanton. He was clean-cut, conservative, a devout Presbyterian with a pretty wife who wanted babies. Lucien hired him to see if he could corrupt him. Jake took the job with strong reservations because he had no other offers close to home.
A year later Lucien was disbarred. It was a tragedy for those very few who liked him.
The small union at the shoe factory north of town had called a strike. It was a union
Lucien had organized and represented. The factory began hiring new workers to replace the strikers, and violence fol- lowed. Lucien appeared on the picket line to rally his people. He was drunker than normal. A group of scabs attempted to cross the line and a brawl erupted. Lucien led the charge, was arrested and jailed. He was
convicted in city court of assault and battery and disorderly conduct. He appealed and lost, appealed and lost.
The State Bar Association had grown weary of Lucien over the years. No other attorney in the state had received as many complaints as had Lucien Wilbanks. Private reprimands, public reprimands, and suspensions had all been used, all to no avail. The
Complaints Tribunal and Disciplinary Committee moved swiftly. He was disbarred for outrageous conduct unbecoming a member of the bar. He appealed and lost, appealed and lost.
He was devastated. Jake was in Lucien's office, the big office upstairs, when word came from Jackson that the Supreme Court had upheld the disbarment. Lucien hung up the phone and walked to the doors overlooking the square. Jake watched him closely, waiting for the tirade. But Lucien said nothing. He walked slowly down the stairs, stopped and stared at Ethel, who was crying, and then looked at Jake. He opened the door and said,
"Take care of this place. I'll see you later."
They ran to the front window and watched him speed away from the square in his ragged old Porsche. For several months there was no word from him. Jake labored diligently on
Lucien's cases while Ethel kept the office from chaos. Some of the cases were settled, some left for other lawyers, some went to trial.
Six months later Jake returned to his office after a long day in court and found Lucien asleep on the Persian rug in the big office. "Lucien! Are you all right?" he asked.
Lucien jumped up and sat in the big leather chair behind the desk. He was sober, tanned, relaxed. "Jake, my boy, how are you?" he asked warmly.
"Fine, just fine. Where have you been?"
"Cayman Islands."
"Doing what?"
"Drinking rum, lying on the beach, chasing little native girls."
"Sounds like fun. Why did you leave?"
"It got boring."
Jake sat across the desk. "It's good to see you, Lucien."
"Good to see you, Jake. How are things around here?"
"Hectic. But okay, I guess."
"Did you settle Medley?"
"Yeah. They paid eighty thousand."
"That's very good. Was he happy?"
"Yes, seemed to be."
"Did Cruger go to trial?"
Jake looked at the floor. "No, he hired Fredrix. I think it's set for trial next month."
"I should've talked to him before I left."
"He's guilty, isn't he?"
"Yes, very. It doesn't matter who represents him. Most defendants are guilty. Remember that." Lucien walked to the French doors and gazed at the courthouse. "What are your plans, Jake?"
"I'd like to stay here. What are your plans?"
"You're a good man, Jake, and I want you to stay. Me, I don't know. I thought about moving to the Caribbean, but I won't. It's a nice place to visit, but it gets old. I have no plans really. I may travel. Spend some money. I'm worth a ton, you know."
Jake agreed. Lucien turned and waved his arms around the room. "I want you to have all this, Jake. I want you to stay here and keep some semblance of a firm going. Move into this office; use this desk that my grandfather brought from Virginia after the Civil War.
Keep the files, cases, clients, books, everything."
"That's very generous, Lucien."
"Most of the clients will disappear. No reflection on you -you'll be a great lawyer someday. But most of my clients have followed me for years."
Jake didn't want most of his clients. "How about rent?"
"Pay me what you can afford. Money will be tight at first, but you'll make it. I don't need money, but you do."
"You're being very kind."
"I'm really a nice guy." They both laughed awkwardly.
Jake quit smiling. "What about Ethel?"
"It's up to you. She's a good secretary who's forgotten more law than you'll ever know. I know you don't like her, but she would be hard to replace. Fire her if you want to. I don't care."
Lucien headed for the door. "Call me if you need me. I'll be around. I want you to move into this office. It was my father's and grandfather's. Put my junk in some boxes, and I'll pick it up later."
Cobb and Willard awoke with throbbing heads and red, swollen eyes. Ozzie was yelling at them.
They were in a small cell by themselves. Through the bars to the right was a cell where the state prisoners were held awaiting the trip to Parchman. A dozen blacks leaned through the bars and glared at the two white boys as they struggled to clear their eyes. To the left was a smaller cell, also full of blacks. Wake up, Ozzie yelled, and stay quiet, or he would integrate his jail.
Jake's quiet time was from seven until Ethel arrived at eight-thirty. He was jealous with this time. He locked the front door, ignored the phone, and refused to make appointments.
He meticulously planned his day. By eight-thirty he would have enough work dictated to keep Ethel busy and quiet until noon. By nine he was either in court or seeing clients. He would not take calls until eleven, when he methodically returned the morning's messages-all of them. He never delayed returning a phone call-another rule. Jake worked systematically and efficiently with little wasted time. These habits he had not learned from Lucien.
At eight-thirty Ethel made her usual noisy entrance downstairs. She made fresh coffee and opened the mail as she had every day for the past forty-one years. She was sixty-four and looked fifty. She was plump, but not fat, well kept, but not attractive. She chomped on a greasy sausage and biscuit brought from home and read Jake's mail.
Jake heard voices. Ethel was talking to another woman. He checked his appointment book-none until ten.
"Good morning, Mr. Brigance," Ethel announced through the intercom.
"Morning, Ethel." She preferred to be called Mrs.
Twitty. Lucien and everyone else called her that. But Jake had called her Ethel since he had fired her shortly after the disbarment.
"There's a lady here to see you."
"She doesn't have an appointment."
"Yes, sir, I know."
"Make one for tomorrow morning after ten-thirty. I'm busy now."
"Yes, sir. But she says it's urgent."
"Who is it?" he snapped. It was always urgent when they dropped in unannounced, like dropping by a funeral home or a Laundromat. Probably some urgent question about
Uncle Luke's will or the case set for trial in three months.
"A Mrs. Willard," Ethel replied.
"First name?"
"Earnestine Willard. You don't know her, but her son's in jail."
Jake saw his appointments on time, but drop-ins were another matter. Ethel either ran them off or made appointments for the next day or so. Mr. Brigance was very busy, she would explain, but he could work you in day after tomorrow. This impressed people.
"Tell her I'm not interested."
"But she says she must find a lawyer. Her son has to be in court at one this afternoon."
"Tell her to see Drew Jack Tyndale, the public defender. He's good and he's free."
Ethel relayed the message. "But, Mr. Brigance, she wants to hire you. Someone told her you're the best criminal lawyer in the county." The amusement was obvious in Ethel's voice.
"Tell her that's true, but I'm not interested."
Ozzie handcuffed Willard and led him down the hall to his office in the front section of the Ford County jail. He removed the handcuffs and seated him in a wooden chair in the center of the cramped room. Ozzie sat in the big chair across the desk and looked down at the defendant.
"Mr. Willard, this here is Lieutenant Griffin with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Over here is Investigator Rady with my office, and this here is Deputy Looney and Deputy
Prather, whom you met last night but I doubt if you remember it. I'm Sheriff Walls."
Willard jerked his head fearfully to look at each one. He was surrounded. The door was shut. Two tape recorders sat side by side near the edge of the sheriffs desk.
"We'd like to ask you some questions, okay?"
"I don't know." ^
"Before I start, I wanna make sure you understand your rights. First of all, you have the right to remain silent. Understand?"
"Uh huh."
"You don't have to talk if you don't want to, but if you do, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Understand?"
"Uh huh."
"Can you read and write?"
"Good, then read this and sign it. It says you've been advised of your rights."
Willard signed. Ozzie pushed the red button on one of the tape recorders.
"You understand this tape recorder is on?"
"Uh hu h."
"And it's Wednesday, May 15, at eight forty-three in the mornin'."
"If you say so."
"What's your full name?"
"James Louis Willard."
"Pete. Pete Willard."
"Route 6, Box 14, Lake Village, Mississippi."
"What road?"
"Bethel Road."
"Who do you live with?"
"My momma, Earnestine Willard. I'm divorced."
"You know Billy Ray Cobb?"
Willard hesitated and noticed his feet. His boots were back in the cell. His white socks were dirty and did not hide his two big toes. Safe question, he thought.
"Yeah, I know him."
"Was you with him yesterday?"
"Uh huh."
"Where were y'all?"
"Down at the lake."
"What time did you leave?"
" 'Bout three."
"What were you drivin'?"
"I wasn't."
"What were you ridin' in?"
Hesitation. He studied his toes. "I don't think I wanna talk no more." Ozzie pushed another button and the recorder stopped. He breathed deeply at Willard. "You ever been to Parchman?"
Willard shook his head.
"You know how many niggers at Parchman?"
Willard shook his head.
" 'Bout five thousand. You know how many white boys are there?"
" 'Bout a thousand."
Willard dropped his chin to his chest. Ozzie let him think for a minute, then winked at
Lieutenant Griffin.
"You got any idea what those niggers will do to a white boy who raped a little black girl?"
No response.
"Lieutenant Griffin, tell Mr. Willard how white boys are treated at Parchman."
Griffin walked to Ozzie's desk and sat on the edge. He looked down at Willard. "About five years ago a young white man in Helena County, over in the delta, raped a black girl.
She was twelve. They were waiting on him when he got to Parchman. Knew he was coming. First night about thirty blacks tied him over a fifty-five-gallon drum and climbed on. The guards watched and laughed. There's no sympathy for rapists. They got him every night for three months, and then killed him. They found him castrated, stuffed in the drum."
Willard cringed, then threw his head back and breathed heavily toward the ceiling.
"Look, Pete," Ozzie said, "we're not after you. We want Cobb. I've been after that boy since he left Parchman. I want him real bad. You help us get Cobb and I'll help you as much as I can. I ain't promisin' nothin', but me and the D.A. work close together. You help me get Cobb, and I'll help you with the D.A. Just tell us what happened."
"I wanna lawyer," Willard said.
Ozzie dropped his head and groaned. "What's a lawyer gonna do, Pete? Get the niggers off of you? I'm tryin' to help you and you're bein' a wiseass."
"You need to listen to the sheriff, son. He's trying to save your life," Griffin said helpfully.
"There's a good chance you could get off with just a few years here in this jail," Rady said.
"It's much safer than Parchman," Prather said.
"Choice is yours, Pete," Ozzie said. "You can die at Parchman or stay here. I'll even consider makin' you a trusty if you behave."
Willard dropped his head and rubbed his temples. "Okay, okay."
Ozzie punched the red button.
"Where'd you find the girl?"
"Some gravel road."
"Which road?"
"I don't know. I's drunk."
"Where'd you take her?"
"I don't know."
"Just you and Cobb?" . "Yeah."
"Who raped her?"
"We both did. Billy Ray went first."
"How many times?"
"I don't remember. I's smokin' weed and drinkin'."
"Both of you raped her?"
"Where'd you dump her?"
"Don't remember. I swear I don't remember."
Ozzie pushed another button. "We'll type this up and get you to sign it."
Willard shook his head. "Just don't tell Billy Ray." "We won't," promised the sheriff.
Percy Bullard fidgeted nervously in the leather chair behind the huge, battered oak desk in the judge's chambers behind the courtroom, where a crowd had gathered to see about the rape. In the small room next door the lawyers gathered around the coffee machine and gossiped about the rape. Bullard's small black robe hung in a corner by the window that looked north over Washington Street. His size-six feet were wearing jogging shoes that barely touched the floor. He was a small, nervous type who worried about preliminary hearings and every other routine hearing.
After thirteen years on the bench he had never learned to relax. Fortunately, he was not required to hear big cases; those were for the
Circuit Court judge. Bullard was just a County Court judge, and he had reached his pinnacle.
Mr. Pate, the ancient courtroom deputy, knocked on the door.
"Come in!" Bullard demanded.
"Afternoon, Judge."
"How many blacks out there?" Bullard asked abruptly.
"Half the courtroom."
"That's a hundred people! They don't draw that much for a good murder trial. Whatta they want?"
Mr. Pate shook his head.
"They must think we're trying these boys today."
"I guess they're just concerned," Mr. Pate said softly.
"Concerned about what? I'm not turning them loose. It's just a preliminary hearing." He quieted and stared at the window. "Is the family out there?"
"I think so. I recognize a few of them, but I don't know her parents."
"How about security?"
"Sheriffs got ever deputy and ever reserve close to the courtroom. We checked everbody at the door."
"Find anything?"
"No, sir."
"Where are the boys?"
"Sheriffs got them. They'll be here in a minute."
The judge seemed satisfied. Mr. Pate laid a handwritten note on the desk.
"What is it?"
Mr. Pate inhaled deeply. "It's a request from a TV crew from Memphis to film the hearing."
"What!" Bullard's face turned red and he rocked furiously in the swivel chair. "Cameras," he yelled, "In my courtroom!" He ripped the note and threw the pieces in the direction of the trash can.
"Where are they?"
"In the rotunda."
"Order them out of the courthouse."
Mr. Pate left quickly.
Carl Lee Hailey sat on the row next to the back. Dozens of relatives and friends surrounded him in the rows of padded benches on the right side of the courtroom. The benches on the left side were empty. Deputies milled about, armed, apprehensive, keeping a nervous watch on the group of blacks, and especially on Carl Lee, who sat bent over, elbows on knees, staring blankly at the floor.
Jake looked out his window across the square to the rear of the courthouse, which faced south. It was 1:00 P.M. He had skipped lunch, as usual, and had no business across the street, but he did need some fresh air. He hadn't left the building all day, and although he had no desire to hear the details of the rape, he hated to miss the hearing. There had to be a crowd in the courtroom because there were no empty parking spaces around the square.
A handful of reporters and photographers waited anxiously near the rear of the courthouse by the wooden doors where Cobb and Willard would enter.
The jail was two blocks off the square on the south side, down the highway. Ozzie drove the car with Cobb and Willard in the back seat. With a squad car in front and one behind, the procession turned off Washington Street into the short driveway leading under the veranda of the courthouse.
Six deputies escorted the defendants past the reporters, through the doors, and up the back stairs to the small room just outside the courtroom. Jake grabbed his coat, ignored
Ethel, and raced across the street. He ran up the back stairs, through a small hall outside the jury room, and entered the courtroom from a side door just as Mr. Pate led His Honor to the bench.
"All rise for the court," Mr. Pate shouted. Everyone stood. Bullard stepped to the bench and sat down.
"Be seated," he yelled. "Where are the defendants? Where? Bring them in then."
Cobb and Willard were led, handcuffed, into the courtroom from the small holding room.
They were unshaven, wrinkled, dirty, and looked confused. Willard stared at the large group of blacks while Cobb turned his back. Looney removed the handcuffs and seated them next to Drew Jack Tyndale, the public defender, at the long table where the defense sat. Next to it was a long table where the county prosecutor, Rocky Childers, sat taking notes and looking important.
Willard glanced over his shoulder and again checked on the blacks. On the front row just behind him sat his mother and Cobb's mother, each with a deputy for protection. Willard felt safe with all the deputies. Cobb refused to turn around.
From the back row, eighty feet away, Carl Lee raised his head and looked at the backs of the two men who raped his daughter. They were mangy, bearded, dirty-looking strangers.
He covered his face and bent over. The deputies stood behind him, backs against the wall, watching every move. "Now listen," Bullard began loudly, "This is just a preliminary hearing, not a trial. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine if there is enough evidence that a crime has been committed to bind these defendants over to the grand jury. The defendants can even waive this hearing if they want to."
Tyndale stood. "No sir, Your Honor, we wish to proceed with the hearing."
"Very well. I have copies of affidavits sworn to by Sheriff Walls charging both defendants with rape of a female under the age of twelve, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. Mr. Childers, you may call your first witness."
"Your Honor, the State calls Sheriff Ozzie Walls."
Jake sat in the jury box, along with several other attorneys, all of whom pretended to be busy reading important materials. Ozzie was sworn and sat in the witness chair to the left of Bullard, a few feet from the jury box.
"Would you state your name?"
"Sheriff Ozzie Walls."
"You're the sheriff of Ford County?"
"I know who he is," Bullard mumbled as he flipped through the file.
"Sheriff, yesterday afternoon, did your office receive a call about a missing child?"
"Yes, around four-thirty."
"What did your office do?"
"Deputy Willie Hastings was dispatched to the residence of Gwen and Carl Lee Hailey, the parents of the girl."
"Where was that?"
"Down on Craft Road, back behind Bates Grocery."
"What did he find?"
"He found the girl's mother, who made the call. Then drove around searchin' for the girl."
"Did he find her?"
"No. When he returned to the house, the girl was there. She'd been found by some folks fishin', and they took her home."
"What shape was the girl in?"
"She'd been raped and beaten."
"Was she conscious?"
"Yeah. She could talk, or mumble, a little."
"What did she say?"
Tyndale jumped to his feet. "Your Honor, please, I know hearsay is admissible in a hearing like this, but this is triple hearsay."
"Overruled. Shut up. Sit down. Continue, Mr. Childers."
"What did she say?"
"Told her momma it was two white men in a yellow pickup truck with a rebel flag in the window.
That's about all. She couldn't say much. Had both jaws broken and her face kicked in."
"What happened then?"
"The deputy called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital."
"How is she?"
"They say she's critical."
"What happened then?"
"Based on what I knew at the time I had a suspect in mind."
"So what'd you do?"
"I located an informant, a reliable informant, and placed him in a beer joint down by the lake."
Childers was not one to dwell on details, especially in front of Bullard. Jake knew it, as did Tyndale. Bullard sent every case to the grand jury, so every preliminary was a formality.
Regardless of the case, the facts, the proof, regardless of anything, Bullard would bind the defendant over to the grand jury. If there was insufficient proof, let the grand jury turn them loose, not Bullard. He had to be reelected, the grand jury did not. Voters got upset when criminals were cut loose. Most defense lawyers in the county waived the preliminary hearings before Bullard. Not Jake. He viewed such hearings as the best and quickest way to look at the prosecution's case.
Tyndale seldom waived a preliminary hearing.
"Which beer joint?"
"What'd he find out?"
"Said he heard Cobb and Willard, the two defendants over there, braggin' 'bout rapin' a little black girl." (
Cobb and Willard exchanged stares. Who was the informant? They remembered little from Huey's.
"What'd you find at Huey's?"
"We arrested Cobb and Willard, then we searched a pickup titled in the name of Billy Ray Cobb."
"What'd you find?"
"We towed it in and examined it this mornin'. Lot of blood stains."
"What else?"
"We found a small T-shirt covered with blood."
"Whose T-shirt?"
"It belonged to Tonya Hailey, the little girl who was raped. Her daddy, Carl Lee Hailey, identified it this •nin'."
Carl Lee heard his name and sat upright. Ozzie stared straight at him. Jake turned and saw Carl Lee for the first time.
"Describe the truck."
"New yellow Ford half-ton pickup. Big chrome wheels and mud tires. Rebel flag in the rear window."
"Owned by who?"
Ozzie pointed at the defendants. "Billy Ray Cobb."
"Does it match the description given by the girl?"
Childers paused and reviewed his notes. "Now, Sheriff, what other evidence do you have against these defendants?"
"We talked to Pete Willard this mornin' at the jail. He signed a confession."
"You did what!" Cobb blurted. Willard cowered and looked for help.
"Order! Order!" shouted Bullard as he banged his gavel. Tyndale separated his clients.
"Did you advise Mr. Willard of his rights?"
"Did he understand them?"
"Did he sign a statement to that effect?"
"Who was present when Mr. Willard made his statement?"
"Me, two deputies, my investigator, Rady, and Lieutenant Griffin with the Highway Patrol."
"Do you have the confession?"
"Please read it."
The courtroom was still and silent as Ozzie read the short statement. Carl Lee stared blankly at the two defendants. Cobb glared at Willard, who picked dirt off his boots.
"Thank you, Sheriff," Childers said when Ozzie finished. "Did Mr. Willard sign the confession?"
"Yes, in front of three witnesses."
"The State has nothing further, Your Honor."
Bullard shouted, "You may cross-examine, Mr. Tyndale."
"I have nothing at this time, Your Honor."
Good move, thought Jake. Strategically, for the de- listen, take notes, let the court reporter record the testimony, and stay quiet. The grand jury would see the case anyway, so why bother? And never allow the defendants to testify. Their testimony would serve no purpose and haunt them at trial. Jake knew they would not testify because he knew Tyndale.
"Call your next witness," demanded the Judge.
"We have nothing further, Your Honor."
"Good. Sit down. Mr. Tyndale, do you have any witnesses?"
"No, Your Honor."
"Good. The court finds there is sufficient evidence that numerous crimes have been committed by these defendants, and the court orders Mr. Cobb and Mr. Willard to be held to await action by the Ford County grand jury, which is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 27. Any questions?"
Tyndale rose slowly. "Yes, Your Honor, we would request the court to set a reasonable bond for these de-"
"Forget it," snapped Bullard. "Bail will be denied as of now. It's my understanding that the girl is in critical condition. If she dies, there will of course be other charges."
"Well, Your Honor, in that case, I would like to request a bail hearing a few days from now, in the hopes that her condition improves."
Bullard studied Tyndale carefully. Good idea, he thought. "Granted. A bail hearing is set for next Monday, May 20, in this courtroom. Until then the defendants will remain in the custody of the Ford County sheriff. Court's adjourned."
Bullard rapped the gavel and disappeared. The deputies swarmed around the defendants, handcuffed them, and they too disappeared from the courtroom, into the holding room, down the back stairs, past the reporters, and into the squad car.
The hearing was typical for Bullard-less than twenty minutes. Justice could be very swift in his courtroom.
Jake talked to the other lawyers and watched the crowd file silently through the enormous wooden doors at the rear of the courtroom. Carl Lee was in no hurry to leave, and motioned for Jake to follow him. They met in the rotunda.
Carl Lee wanted to talk, and he excused himself from the crowd and promised to meet them at the hospital. He and Jake walked down the winding staircase to the first floor.
"I'm truly sorry, Carl Lee," Jake said.
"Yeah, me too."
"How is she?"
"She'll make it."
"How's Gwen?"
"Okay, I guess."
"How about you?"
They walked slowly down the hall toward the rear of the courthouse. "It ain't sunk in yet.
I mean, twenty-four hours ago everthing was fine. Now look at us. My little girl's layin' up in the hospital with tubes all over her body. My wife's, crazy and my boys are scared to death, and all I think about is gettin' my hands on those bastards."
"I wish I could do something, Carl Lee."
"All you can do is pray for her, pray for us."
"I know it hurts."
"You gotta little girl, don't you, Jake?"
Carl Lee said nothing as they walked in silence. Jake changed the subject. "Where's Lester?"
"What's he doing?"
"Workin' for a steel company. Good job. Got married."
"You're kidding? Lester, married?"
"Yeah, married a white girl."
"White girl! What's he want with a white girl?"
"Aw, you know Lester. Always an uppity nigger. He's on his way home now. Be in late tonight."
"What for?"
They stopped at the rear door. Jake asked again: "What's Lester coming in for?"
"Family business."
"Y'all planning something?"
"Nope. He just wants to see his niece."
"Y'all don't get excited."
"That's easy for you to say, Jake."
"I know."
"What would you plan, Jake?"
What do you mean?"
"You gotta little girl. Suppose she's layin up in the hospital, beat and raped. What would you do?"
Jake looked through the window of the door and could not answer. Carl Lee waited.
"Don't do anything stupid, Carl Lee."
"Answer my question. What would you do?"
"I don't know. I don't know what I'd do."
"Lemme ask you this. If it was your little girl, and if it was two niggers, and you could get your hands on them, what would you do?"
"Kill them."
Carl Lee smiled, then laughed. "Sure you would, Jake, sure you would. Then you'd hire some big- shot lawyer to say you's crazy, just like you did in Lester's trial."
"We didn't say Lester was crazy. We just said Bowie needed killing."
"You got him off, didn't you?"
Carl Lee walked to the stairs and looked up. "This how they get to the courtroom?" he asked without looking at Jake.
"Those boys."
"Yeah. Most of the time they take them up those stairs. It's quicker and safer. They can park right outside the door here, and run them up the stairs."
Carl Lee walked to the rear door and looked through the window at the veranda. "How many murder trials you had, Jake?"
"Three. Lester's and two more."
"How many were black?"
"All three."
"How many you win?"
"All three."
"You pretty good on nigger shootin's, ain't you?"
"I guess."
"You ready for another one?"
"Don't do it, Carl Lee. It's not worth it. What if you're convicted and get the gas chamber?
What about the kids? Who'll raise them? Those punks aren't worth it."
"You just told me you'd d o it."
Jake walked to the door next to Carl Lee. "It's different with me. I could probably get off."
"I'm white, and this is a white county. With a little luck I could get an all-white jury, which will naturally be sympathetic. This is not New York or California. A man's supposed to protect his family. A jury would eat it up."
"And me?"
' "Like I said, this ain't New York or California. Some whites would admire you, but most would want to see you hang. It would be much harder to win an acquittal."
"But you could do it, couldn't you, Jake?"
"Don't do it, Carl Lee."
"I have no choice, Jake. I'll never sleep till those bastards are dead. I owe it to my little girl, I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my people. It'll be done."
They opened the doors, walked under the veranda and down the driveway to Washington
Street, across from Jake's office. They shook hands. Jake promised to stop by the hospital tomorrow to see Gwen and the family.
"One more thing, Jake. Will you meet me at the jail when they arrest me?"
Jake nodded before he thought. Carl Lee %miled and walked down the sidewalk to his truck.
Lester Hailey married a Swedish girl from Wisconsin, and although she still professed love for him, Lester suspected the novelty of his skin was beginning to fade. She was terrified of Mississippi, and flatly refused to travel south with Lester even though he assured her she would be safe. She had never met his family. Not that his people were anxious to meet her-they were not. It was not uncommon for Southern blacks to move north and marry white girls, but no Hailey had ever mixed.
There were many Haileys in Chicago; most were kin, and all married black. The family was not impressed with Lester's blonde wife. He drove to Clanton in his new Cadillac, by himself.
It was late Wednesday night when he arrived at the hospital and found some cousins reading magazines in the second-floor waiting room. He embraced Carl Lee. They had not seen each other since the Christmas holidays, when half the blacks in Chicago trooped home to Mississippi and Alabama.
They stepped-, into the hall, away from the relatives. "How is she?" Lester asked.
"Better. Much better. Might go home this weekend."
Lester was relieved. When he left Chicago eleven hours earlier she had been near death, according to the cousin who had called and scared him from bed. He lit a Kool under the
NO SMOKING sign and stared at his big brother. "You okay?"
Carl Lee nodded and glanced down the hall.
"How's Gwen?"
"Crazier than normal. She's at her momma's. You come by yourself?"
"Yeah," Lester answered defensively.
"Don't get smart. I didn't drive all day to hear crap about my wife."
"Okay, okay. You still got gas?"
Lester smiled and chuckled. He had been plagued by stomach gas since the day he married the Swede. She pre- pared dishes he couldn't pronounce, and his system behaved violently. He longed for collards, peas, okra, fried chicken, barbecue pork, and fatback.
They found a small waiting room on the third floor with folding chairs and a card table.
Lester bought two cups of stale, thick coffee from a machine and stirred the powdered cream with his finger. He listened intently as Carl Lee detailed the rape, the arrests, and the hearing. Lester found some napkins and diagrammed the courthouse and the jail. It had been four years since his murder trial, and he had trouble with the drawings. He had spent only a week in jail, prior to posting bond, and had not visited the place since his acquittal. In fact, he had left for Chicago shortly after his trial. The victim had relatives.
They made plans and discarded them, plotting well past midnight.
At noon Thursday Tonya was removed from intensive care and placed in a private room.
She was listed as stable. The doctors relaxed, and her family brought candy, toys, and flowers. With two broken jaws and a mouthful of wire, she could only stare at the candy.
Her brothers ate most of it.
They clung to her bed and held her hand, as if to protect and reassure. The room stayed full o'f friends and strangers, all patting her gently and saying how sweet she was, all treating her as someone special, someone who had been through this horrible thing. The crowd moved in shifts, from the hall into her room, and back into the hall, where the nurses watched carefully.
The wounds hurt, and at times she cried. Every hour the nurses cleared a path through the visitors and found the patient for a dose of painkiller.
That night in her room, the crowd hushed as the Memphis station talked about the rape.
The television showed pictures of the two white men, but she couldn't see very well.
The Ford County Courthouse opened at 8:00 A.M. and closed at 5:00 P.M. every day except Friday, when it closed at four-thirty. At four-thirty on Friday Carl Lee was hiding in a moi-iiuui icsiroom wnen tney locked the courthouse. He sat on a toilet and listened quietly for an hour. No janitors. No one. Silence. He walked through the wide, semidark hall to the rear doors, and peeked through the window. No one in sight. He listened for a while. The courthouse was deserted. He turned and looked down the long hall, through the rotunda and through the front doors, two hundred feet away.
He studied the building. The two sets of rear doors opened to the inside into a large, rectangular entrance area. To the far right was a set of stairs, and to the left was an identical stairway. The open area narrowed and led into the hall. Carl Lee pretended to be on trial. He grabbed his hands behind him, and touched his back to the rear door. He walked to his right thirty feet to the stairs; up the stairs, ten steps, then a small landing, then a ninety-degree turn to the left, just like Lester said; then, ten more steps to the holding room. It was a small room, fifteen by fifteen, with nothing but a window and two doors. One door he opened, and walked into the huge courtroom in front of the rows of padded pews. He walked to the aisle and sat in the front row. Surveying the room, he noticed in front of him the railing, or bar, as Lester called it, which separated the general public from the area where the judge, jury, witnesses, lawyers, defendants, and clerks sat and worked.
He walked down the aisle to the rear doors and examined the courtroom in detail. It looked much different from Wednesday. Back down the aisle, he returned to the holding room and tried the other door, which led to the area behind the bar where the trial took place. He sat at the long table where Lester and Cobb and Willard had sat. To the right was another long table where the prosecutors sat.
Behind the tables was a row of wooden chairs, then the bar with swinging gates on both ends. The judge sat high and lordly behind the elevated bench, his back to the wall under the faded portrait of Jefferson Davis, frowning down on everyone in the room. The jury box was against the wall to Carl Lee's right, to the judge's left, under the yellow portraits of other forgotten Confederate heroes. The witness stand was next to the bench, but lower, of course, and in front of the jury. To Carl Lee's left, opposite the jury box, was a long, enclosed workbench covered with large red docket books.
Clerks and lawyers usually milled around behind it during a trial. Behind the workbench, through the wall, was the holding room.
Carl Lee stood, still as though handcuffed, and walked slowly through the small swinging gate in the bar, and was led through the first door into the holding room; then down the steps, ten of them, through the narrow, shadowy stairway; then he stopped. From the landing halfway down the steps, he could see the rear doors of the courthouse and most of the entrance area between the doors and the hall. At the foot of the stairs, to the right, was a door that he opened and found a crowded, junky janitor's closet. He closed the door and explored the small room. It turned and ran under the stairway. It was dark, dusty, crowded with brooms and buckets and seldom used. He opened the door slightly and looked up the stairs.
For another hour he roamed the courthouse. The other rear stairway led to another holding room just behind the jury box. One door went to the courtroom, the other to the jury room. The stairs continued to the third floor, where he found the county law library and two witness rooms, just as Lester said.
Up and down, up and down, he traced and retraced the movements to be made by the men who raped his daughter.
He sat in the judge's chair and surveyed his domain. He sat in the jury box and rocked in one of the comfortable chairs. He sat in the witness chair and blew into the microphone.
It was finally dark at seven when Carl Lee raised a window in the restroom next to the janitor's closet, and slid quietly through the bushes and into the darkness.
"Who would you report it to?" Carla asked as she closed the fourteen-inch pizza box and poured some more lemonade.
Jake rocked slightly in the wicker swing on the front porch and watched Hanna skip rope on the sidewalk next to the street.
"Are you there?" she asked.
"Who would you report it to?"
"I don't plan to report it," he said.
"I think you should."
"I think I shouldn't."
"Why not?"
His rocking gained speed and he sipped the lemonade. He spoke slowly. "First of all, I don't know for sure that a crime is being planned. He said some things any father would say, and I'm sure he's having thoughts any father would have. But as
far as actually planning a crime, I don't think so. Secondly, what he said to me was said in confidence, just as if he was a client. In fact, he probably thinks of me as his lawyer."
"But even if you're his lawyer, and you know he's planning a crime, you have to report it, don't you?"
"Yes. If I'm certain of his plans. But I'm not."
She was not satisfied. "I think you should report it."
Jake did not respond. It wouldn't matter. He ate his last bite of crust and tried to ignore her.
"You want Carl Lee to do it, don't you?"
"Do what?"
"Kill those boys."
"No, I don't." He was not convincing. "But if he did, I wouldn't blame him because I'd do the same thing."
"Don't start that again."
"I'm serious and you know it. I'd do it."
"Jake, you couldn't kill a man."
"Okay. Whatever. I'm not going to argue. We've been through it before."
Carla yelled at Hanna to move away from the street. She sat next to him in the swing and rattled her ice cubes. "Would you represent him?"
"I hope so."
"Would the jury convict him?"
"Would you?"
"I don't know."
"Well, think of Hanna. Just look at that sweet little innocent child out there skipping rope.
You're a mother. Now think of the little Hailey girl, lying there, beaten, bloody, begging
for her momma and daddy-"
"Shut up, Jake!"
He smiled. "Answer the question. You're on the jury. Would you vote to convict the father?"
She placed her glass on the windowsill and suddenly became interested in her cuticles.
Jake smelled victory.
"Come on. You're on the jury. Conviction or acquittal?"
"I'm always on the jury around here. Either that or I'm being cross-examined."
"Convict or acquit?"
She glared at him. "It would be hard to convict."
He grinned and rested his case.
"But I don't see how he could kill them if they're in jail."
"Easy. They're not always in jail. They go to court and they're transported to and from.
Remember Oswald and Jack Ruby. Plus, they get out if they can make bail."
"When can they do that?"
"Bonds will be set Monday. If they bond out, they're loose."
"And if they can't?"
"They remain in jail until trial."
"When is the trial?"
"Probably late summer."
"I think you should report it."
Jake bolted from the swing and went to play with Hanna.
K. T. Bruster, or Cat Bruster, as he was known, was, to his knowledge, the only one-eyed black millionaire in Memphis. He owned a string of black topless joints in town, all of which he operated legally. He owned blocks of rental property, which he operated legally, and he owned two churches in south Memphis, which were also operated legally.
He was a benefactor for numerous black causes, a friend of the politicians, and a hero to his people.
It was important for Cat to be popular in the community because he would be indicted again and tried again, and in all likelihood acquitted again by his peers, half of whom were black. The authorities had found it impossible to convict Cat of killing people and of selling such things as women, cocaine, stolen goods, credit cards, food stamps, un-taxed liquor, guns, and light artillery.
He had one eye with him. The other one was somewhere in a rice paddy in Vietnam. He lost it the same day in 1971 that his buddy Carl Lee Hailey was hit in the leg. Carl Lee carried him for two hours before they found help. After the war
he returned to Memphis and brought with him two pounds of hashish. The proceeds went to buy a small saloon on
South Main, and he almost starved before he won a whore in a poker game with a pimp.
He promised her she could quit whoring if she would take off her clothes and dance on his tables. Overnight he had more business than he could seat, so he bought another bar, and brought in more dancers. He found his niche in the market, and within two years he was a very wealthy man.
His office was above one of his clubs just off South Main between Vance and Beale, in the roughest part of Memphis. The sign above the sidewalk advertised Bud and breasts, but much more was for sale behind the black windows.
Carl Lee and Lester found the lounge-Brown Sugar- around noon, Saturday. They sat at the bar, ordered Bud, and watched the breasts.
"Is Cat in?" Carl Lee asked the bartender when he walked behind them. He grunted and returned to the sink, where he continued his beer mug washing. Carl Lee glanced at him between sips and dance routines.
"Another beer!" Lester said loudly without taking his eyes off the dancers.
"Cat Bruster here?" Carl Lee asked firmly when the bartender brought the beer.
"Who wants to know?"
"I do."
"So me and Cat are good friends. Fought together in 'Nam." "Name?"
"Hailey. Carl Lee Hailey. From Mississippi."
The bartender disappeared, and a minute later emerged from between two mirrors behind the liquor. He motioned for the Haileys, who followed him through a small door, past the restrooms and through a locked door up the stairs. The office was dark and gaudy. The carpet on the floor was gold, on the walls, red, on the ceiling, green. A green shag ceiling.
Thin steel bars covered the two blackened windows, and for good measure a set of heavy, dusty, burgundy drapes hung from ceiling to floor to catch and smother any sunlight robust enough to penetrate the painted glass. A small, ineffective chrome chandelier with mirror panes rotated slowly in the center of the room, barely above their heads.
Two mammoth bodyguards in matching three-piece black suits dismissed the bartender and seated Lester and Carl Lee, and stood behind them.
The brothers admired the furnishings. "Nice, ain't it?" Lester said. B.B. King mourned softly on a hidden stereo.
Suddenly, Cat entered from a hidden door behind the marble and glass desk. He lunged at
Carl Lee. "My man! My man! Carl Lee Hailey!" He shouted and grabbed Carl Lee. "So good to see you, Carl Lee! So good to see you!"
Carl Lee stood and they bearhugged. "How are you, my man!" Cat demanded.
"Doin' fine, Cat, just fine. And you?"
"Great! Great! Who's this?" He turned to Lester and threw a hand in his chest. Lester shook it violently.
iuia ucie s my orother, Lester," Carl Lee said. "He's from Chicago."
"Glad to know you, Lester. Me and the big man here are mighty tight. Mighty tight."
"He's told me all about you," Lester said. Cat admired Carl Lee. "My, my, Carl Lee. You lookin' good. How's the leg?"
"It's fine, Cat. Tightens up sometimes when it rains, but it's fine."
"We mighty tight, ain't we?"
Carl Lee nodded and smiled. Cat released him. "You fellas want a drink?"
"No thanks," said Carl Lee.
"I'll take a beer," said Lester. Cat snapped his fingers and a bodyguard disappeared. Carl
Lee fell into his chair and Cat sat on the edge of his desk, his feet dangling and swinging like a kid on a pier. He grinned at Carl Lee, who squirmed under all the admiration.
"Why don't you move to Memphis and go to work for me?" Cat said. Carl Lee knew it was coming. Cat had been offering him jobs for ten years.
"No thanks, Cat. I'm happy."
"And I'm happy for you. What's on your mind?"
Carl Lee opened his mouth, hesitated, crossed his legs and frowned. He nodded, and said,
"Need a favor, Cat. Just a small favor."
Cat spread his arms. "Anything, big man, anything you want."
"You remember them M-16's we used in 'Nam? I need one of them. As quick as possible."
Cat recoiled his arms and folded them across his chest. He studied his friend. "That's a bad gun.
What kinda squirrels you huntin' down there?"
"It ain't for squirrels."
Cat analyzed them both. He knew better than to ask why. It was serious, or Carl Lee wouldn't be there. "Semi?"
"Nope. The real thing."
"You talkin' some cash."
"How much?"
"It's illegal as hell, you know?"
"If I could buy it at Sears I wouldn't be here."
Cat grinned again. "When do you need it?"
The beer arrived and was served to Lester. Cat moved behind his desk, to his orange
vinyl captain's chair. "Thousand bucks."
"I got it."
Cat was mildly surprised, but didn't show it. Where did this simple small-town
Mississippi nigger find a thousand dollars? Must have borrowed it from his brother.
"Thousand for anyone else, but not for you, big man."
"How much?"
"Nothin', Carl Lee, nothin'. I owe you somethin' worth much more than money."
"I'll be glad to pay for it."
"Nope. I won't hear it. The gun's yours."
"That's mighty kind, Cat."
"I'd give you fifty of them."
"Just need one. When can I get it?"
"Lemme check." Cat phoned someone and mumbled a few sentences into the receiver.
The orders given, he hung up and explained it would take about an hour.
"We can wait," Carl Lee said.
Cat removed the patch from his left eye and wiped the empty socket with a handkerchief.
"I gotta better idea." He snapped at the bodyguards. "Get my car. We'll drive over and pick it up."
They followed Cat through a secret door and down a hall. "I live here, you know." He pointed.
"Through that door is my pad. Usually keep some naked women around."
"I'd like to see it," Lester volunteered.
"That's okay," said Carl Lee.
Farther down the hall Cat pointed to a thick, black, shiny iron door at the end of a short hallway. He stopped as if to admire it. "That's where I keep my cash. Post a guard in there around the clock."
"How much?" Lester asked with a sip of beer.
Cat glared at him and continued down the hall. Carl Lee frowned at his brother and shook his head.
Where the hall ended they climbed a narrow stairway to the fourth floor. It was darker, and somewhere in the darkness Cat found a button on a wall. They waited silently for a few __""" u,.m me wait opened and revealed a bright elevator with red carpet and a NO SMOKING sign. Cat pushed another button.
"You gotta walk up to catch the elevator goin' down," he said with amusement. "Security reasons."
They nodded approval and admiration.
It opened in the basement. One of the bodyguards waited by the open door of a clean white stretch limo, and Cat invited his guests in for a ride. They moved slowly past a row of Fleetwoods, several more limos, a Rolls, and an assortment of European luxury cars.
"They're all mine," he said proudly.
The driver honked and a heavy door rolled up to reveal a one-way side street. "Drive slow," Cat yelled to the chauffeur and the bodyguard way up front. "I wanna show you fellas around some."
Carl Lee had received the tour a few years earlier during his last visit to Cat. There were rows of beaten and paintless shacks that the great man referred to as rental properties.
There were ancient red-bricked warehouses with blackened or boarded windows and no clue as to what was stored inside. There was a church, a prosperous church, and a few blocks away, another one. He owned the preachers too, he said. There were dozens of corner taverns with open doors and groups of young blacks sitting on benches outside drinking quart bottles of Stag beer. He pointed proudly to a burned-out building near
Beale and told with great zeal the story of a competitor who had attempted to gain a foothold in the topless business. He had no competitors, he said. And then there were the clubs, places with names like Angels and Cat's House and Black Paradise, places where a man could go for good drink, good food, good music, naked women, and possibly more, he said.
The clubs had made him a very rich man. Eight of them in all.
They were shown all eight. Plus what seemed like most of the real estate in south Memphis. At the dead end of a nameless street near the river, the driver turned
sharply between two of the red- bricked warehouses and drove through a narrow alley until a gate opened to the right. Past the gate a door opened next to a loading dock and the limo disappeared into the building. It stopped and the bodyguard got out.
"Keep your seats," Cat said.
The trunk opened, then shut. In less than a minute the limo was again cruising the streets of Memphis.
"How 'bout lunch?" Cat asked. Before they answered he yelled at the driver, "Black
Paradise. Call and tell them I'm comin' for lunch.
"Got the best prime rib in Memphis, right here in one of my clubs. Course you won't read about it in the Sunday paper. I've been shunned by the critics. Can you imagine?"
"Sounds like discrimination," Lester said.
"Yeah, I'm sure it is. But I don't use that until I'm indicted."
"We ain't read about you lately, Cat," Carl Lee said.
"It's been three years since my last trial. Tax evasion. Feds spent three weeks puttin' on proof, and the jury stayed out twenty-seven minutes and returned with the two most precious words in the Afro-English language-'Not guilty.' "
"I've heard them myself," Lester said.
A doorman waited under the canopy at the club, and a set of matching bodyguards, different bodyguards, escorted the great one and his guests to a private booth away from the dance floor. Drinks and food were served by a squad of waiters. Lester switched to
Scotch and was drunk when the prime rib arrived. Carl Lee drank iced tea and swapped war stories with Cat.
When the food was gone, a bodyguard approached and whispered to Cat. He grinned and looked at Carl Lee. "Y'all in the red Eldorado with Illinois plates?"
"Yeah. But we left it at the other place."
"It's parked outside ... in the trunk."
"What?" said Lester. "How-"
Cat roared and slapped him on the back. "Don't ask, my man, don't ask. It's all taken care of, my man. Cat can do anything."
As usual, Jake worked Saturday morning, after breakfast at the Coffee Shop. He enjoyed the tranquility of his office on Saturday-no phones, no Ethel. He locked the office, ig- uuicu me pnone, and avoided clients. He organized files, read recent decisions from the
Supreme Court and planned strategy if a trial was approaching. His best thoughts and ideas came during quiet Saturday mornings.
At eleven he phoned the jail. "Sheriff in?" he asked the dispatcher.
"Lemme check," came the reply.
Moments passed before the sheriff answered. "Sheriff Walls," he announced.
"Ozzie, Jake Brigance. How are you?"
"Fine, Jake. You?"
"Fine. Will you be there for a while?"
"Coupla hours. What's up?"
"Not much. Just need to talk for a minute. I'll be there in thirty minutes."
"I'll be waitin'."
Jake and the sheriff had a mutual like and respect for each other. Jake had roughed him up a few times during cross-examinations, but Ozzie considered it business and nothing personal. Jake campaigned for Ozzie, and Lucien financed the campaigns, so Ozzie didn't mind a few sarcastic and pointed questions during trial. He liked to watch Jake at trial.
And he liked to kid him about the game. In 1969, when Jake was a sophomore quarterback at Karaway, Ozzie was a senior all- conference, all-state tackle at Clanton.
The two rivals, both undefeated, met in the final game at Clanton for the conference championship. For four long quarters Ozzie terrorized the Karaway offense, which was much smaller and led by a gutsy but battered sophomore quarterback. Late in the fourth quarter, leading 44-0, Ozzie broke Jake's leg on a blitz.
For years now he had threatened to break the other one. He always accused Jake of limping and asked about the leg.
"What's on your mind, buddy?" Ozzie asked as they sat in his small office.
"Carl Lee. I'm a little worried about him."
"What way?"
"Look, Ozzie, whatever we say here is said in confidence. I don't want anyone to know about this conversation."
"You sound serious, Jake."
"I am serious. I talked to Carl Lee Wednesday after the hearing. He's out of his mind, and
I understand that. I would be too. He was talking about killing the boys, and he sounded serious. I just think you ought to know."
"They're safe, Jake. He couldn't get to them if he wanted to. We've had some phone calls, anonymous of course, with all kinds of threats. Black folks are bad upset. But the boys're safe. They're in a cell by themselves, and we're real careful."
"That's good. I haven't been hired by Carl Lee, but I've represented all the Haileys at one time or another and I'm sure he considers me to be his lawyer, for whatever reason. I feel a responsibility to let you know."
"I'm not worried, Jake."
"Good. Let me ask you something. I've got a daughter, and you've got a daughter, right?"
"Got two of them."
"What's Carl Lee thinking? I mean, as a black father?"
"Same thing you'd be thinkin'."
"And what's that?"
Ozzie reared back in his chair and crossed his arms. He thought for a moment. "He's wonderin' if she's okay, physically, I mean. Is she gonna live, and if she does, how bad is she hurt. Can she ever have kids? Then he's wonderin' if she's okay mentally and emotionally, and how will this affect her for the rest of her life. Thirdly, he wants to kill the bastards."
"Would you?"
"It's easy to say I would, but a man don't know what he'd do. I think my kids need me at home a whole lot more than Parchman needs me. What would you be thinkin', Jake?"
"About the same, I guess. I don't know what I'd do. Probably go crazy." He paused and stared at the desk. "But I might seriously plan to kill whoever did it. It'd be mighty hard to lie down at night knowing he was still alive."
"What would a jury do?"
"Depends on who's on the jury. You pick the right jury and you walk. If the D.A. picks the right jury you get the gas. It depends strictly on the jury, and in this county you can . me ngrit lolks. People are tired of raping and robbing and killing. I know white folks are."
"Everbody is."
"My point is that there'd be a lot of sympathy for a father who took matters into his own hands.
People don't trust our judicial system. I think I could at least hang a jury. Just convince one or two that the bastard needed to die."
"Like Monroe Bowie."
"Exactly. Just like Monroe Bowie. He was a sorry nigger who needed killing and Lester took a walk. By the way, Ozzie, why do you suppose Lester drove from Chicago?"
"He's pretty close to his brother. We're watchin' him too."
The conversation changed and Ozzie finally asked about the leg. They shook hands and
Jake left.
He drove straight home, where Carla was waiting with her list. She didn't mind the
Saturdays at the office as long as he was home by noon and pretty much followed orders thereafter.
On Sunday afternoon a crowd gathered at the hospital and followed the little Hailey girl's wheelchair as it was pushed by her father down the hall, through the doors, and into the parking lot, where he gently raised her and sat her in the front seat. As she sat between her parents, with her three brothers in the back seat, he drove away, followed by a procession of friends and relatives and strangers. The caravan moved slowly, deliberately out of town and into the country.
She sat up in the front seat like a big girl. Her father was silent, her mother tearful, and her brothers mute and rigid.
Another throng waited at the house and rushed to the porch as the cars moved up the driveway and parked on the grass on the long front yard. The crowd hushed as he carried her up the steps, through the door, and laid her on the couch. She was glad to be home, but tired of the spectators.
Her mother held her feet as cousins, uncles, aunts, neighbors, and everybody walked to her and touched her and smiled, some through tears, and said nothing. Her daddy went outside and talked to Uncle Lester and the men. Her brothers were in the kitchen with the crowd devouring the pile of food.
Rocky Childers had been the prosecuto r for Ford County for more years than he cared to remember. The job paid fifteen thousand a year and required most of his time. It also destroyed any practice he hoped to build. At forty-two he was washed up as a lawyer, stuck in a dead-end part- time, full-time job, elected permanently every four years.
Thankfully, he had a wife with a good job so they could drive new Buicks and afford the country club dues and in general put on the necessary airs of educated white people in
Ford County. At a younger age he had political ambitions, but the voters dissuaded him, and he was malcontent to exhaust his career prosecuting drunks, shoplifters, and juvenile delinquents, and being abused by Judge Bullard, whom he despised. Excitement crept up occasionally when people like Cobb and Willard screwed up, and Rocky, by statutory authority, handled the preliminary and other hearings before the cases were sent to the grand jury and then to Circuit Court, and then to the real prosecutor, the big prosecutor, the district attorney, Mr. Rufus Buckley, from Polk County. It was Buckley who had disposed of Rocky's political career.
Normally, a bail hearing was no big affair for Childers, but this was a bit different. Since
Wednesday he had received dozens of phone calls from blacks, all registered voters or claiming to be, who were very concerned about Cobb and Willard being released from jail. They wanted the boys locked up, just like the black ones who got in trouble and could not make bail before trial.
Childers promised his best, but explained the bonds would be set by County Judge Percy
Bullard, whose number was also in the phone book. On Ben-nington Street. They promised to be in court Monday to watch him and Bullard.
At twelve-thirty Monday, Childers was summoned to the judge's chambers, where the sheriff and Bullard were waiting. The judge was so nervous he could not sit.
"How much bond do you want?" he snapped at Childers.
"I dunno, Judge. I haven't thought much about it."
"Don't you think it's about time you thought about it?" He paced rapidly back and forth behind his desk, then to the window, then back to his desk. Ozzie was amused and silent.
"Not really," Childers answered softly. "It's your decision. You're the judge."
"Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! How much will you ask for?"
"I always ask for more than I expect," replied Childers coolly, thoroughly enjoying the judge's neurosis.
"How much is that?"
"I dunno. I hadn't thought much about it."
Dullard's neck turned dark red and he glared at Ozzie. "Whatta you think, Sheriff?"
"Well," Ozzie drawled, "I would suggest pretty stiff bonds. These boys need to be in jail for their own safety. Black folk are restless out there. They might get hurt if they bond out. Better go high."
"How much money they got?"
"Willard's broke. Can't tell about Cobb. Drug money's hard to trace. He might could find twenty, thirty thousand. I hear he's hired some big-shot Memphis lawyer. Supposed to be here today. He must have some money."
"Damn, why don't I know these things. Who'd he hire?"
"Bernard. Peter K. Bernard," answered Childers. "He called me this morning."
"Never heard of him," retorted Bullard with an air of superiority, as though he memorized some kind of judicial rap sheet on all lawyers.
Bullard studied the trees outside the window as the sheriff and prosecutor exchanged winks. The bonds would be exorbitant, as always. The bail bondsmen loved Bullard for his outrageous bonds. They watched with delight as desperate families scraped and mortgaged to collect the ten percent premiums they charged to write the bonds. Bullard would be high, and he didn't care. It was politically safe to set them high and keep the criminals in jail. The blacks would appreciate it and that was important even if the county was seventy-four percent white. He owed the blacks a few favors.
"Let's go a hundred thousand on Willard and two hundred on Cobb. That oughtta satisfy them."
"Satisfy who?" asked Ozzie.
"Er, uh, the people, the people out there. Sound okay to you?"
"Fine with me," said Childers. "But what about the hearing?" he asked with a grin.
"We'll give them a hearing, a fair hearing, then I'll set the bonds at a hundred and two hundred."
"And I suppose you want me to ask for three hundred apiece so you can look fair?" asked Childers.
"I don't care what you ask for!" yelled the judge.
"Sounds fair to me," said Ozzie as he headed for the door. "Will you call me to testify?" he asked Childers.
"Naw, we don't need you. I don't guess the State will call anybody since we're having such a fair hearing."
They left the chambers and Bullard stewed. He locked the door behind them and pulled a half pint of vodka from his briefcase, and gulped it furiously. Mr. Pate waited outside the door. Five minutes later Bullard barged into the packed courtroom.
"All rise for the court!" Mr. Pate shouted.
"Be seated!" screamed the judge before anyone could stand. "Where are the defendants?
Cobb and Willard were escorted from the holding room and seated at the defense table.
Cobb's new lawyer smiled at his client as the handcuffs were removed. Willard's lawyer,
Tyndale, the public defender, ignored him.
The same crowd of blacks had returned from last Wednesday, and had brought some friends. They closely followed the movements of the two white boys. Lester saw them for the first time. Carl Lee was not in the courtroom.
From the bench Bullard counted deputies-nine in all. That had to be a record. Then he counted blacks-hundreds of them all bunched together, all glaring at the two rapists, who sat at the same table between their lawyers. The vodka felt good. He took a sip of what appeared to be ice water from a Styrofoam cup and managed a slight grin. It burned slowly downward and his cheeks flushed. What he ought to do was order the deputies out of the courtroom and throw Cobb and Willard to the niggers. That would be fun to watch, and justice would be served. He could just see the fat nigger women stomping up and down while their men carved on the boys with switchblades and machetes. Then, when they were finished, they would collect themselves and all march quietly from the courtroom. He smiled to himself.
He motioned for Mr. Pate, who approached the bench. "I've got a half pint of ice water in my desk drawer," he whispered. "Pour me some in a Styrofoam cup."
Mr. Pate nodded and disappeared.
"This is a bail hearing," he declared loudly, "and I don't intend for it to last long. Are the defendants ready?"
"Yes, sir," said Tyndale.
"Yes, Your Honor," said Mr. Bernard.
"The State ready?"
"Yes, sir," answered Childers without standing.
"Good. Call your first witness."
Childers addressed the judge. "Your Honor, the State will call no witnesses. His Honor is well aware of the charges against these two defendants, since His Honor held the preliminary hearing last Wednesday. It is my understanding the victim is now home, so we do not anticipate further charges. The grand jury will be asked next Monday to indict the two defendants for rape, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. Because of the violent nature of these crimes, because of the age of the victim, and because Mr. Cobb is a convicted felon, the State would ask for the maximum bonds, and not a penny less."
Bullard almost choked on his ice water. What maximum? There's no such thing as a maximum bond.
"What do you suggest, Mr. Childers?"
"Half a million apiece!" Childers announced proudly and sat down.
Half a million! Out of the question, thought Bullard. He sipped furiously and glared at the prosecutor. Half a million! Double-crossed in open court. He sent Mr. Pate after more ice water.
"The defense may proceed."
Cobb's new lawyer stood purposefully. He cleared his throat and removed his horn-rimmed, academic, go-to-hell reading glasses. "May it please the court, Your Honor, my name is Peter K. Bernard. 1 am irom jviempms, aim i uavt been retained by Mr. Cobb to represent him-"
"Do you have a license to practice in Mississippi?" interrupted Bullard.
Bernard was caught off-guard. "Well, uh, not exactly, Your Honor."
"I see. When you say 'not exactly,' do you mean something other than no?"
Several lawyers in the jury box snickered. Bullard was famous for this. He hated
Memphis lawyers, and required them to associate local counsel before appearing in his court. Years before when he was practicing, a Memphis judge had kicked him out of court because he was not licensed in Tennessee. He had enjoyed revenge since the day he was elected.
"Your Honor, I am not licensed in Mississippi, but I am licensed in Tennessee."
"I would hope so," came the retort from the bench. More suppressed laughter from the jury box.
"Are you familiar with our local rules here in Ford County?" His Honor asked.
"Er, uh, yes, sir."
"Do you have a copy of these rules?"
"Yes, sir."
"And you read them carefully before you ventured into my courtroom?"
"Uh, yes, sir, most of them."
"Did you understand Rule 14 when you read it?"
Cobb glanced up suspiciously at his new lawyer.
"Uh, I don't recall that one," Bernard admitted.
"I didn't think so. Rule 14 requires out-of-state unlicensed attorneys to associate local counsel when appearing in my courtroom."
"Yes, sir."
From his looks and mannerisms, Bernard was a polished attorney, at least he was known as such in Memphis. He was, however, in the process of being totally degraded and humbled before a small- town, redneck judge with a quick tongue.
"Yes, sir, what?" snapped Bullard.
"Yes, sir, I think I've heard of that rule."
"There is none, but I planned-"
"Then you drove down here from Memphis, carefully read my rules, and deliberately ignored them. Right?"
Bernard lowered his head and stared at a blank yellow legal pad on the table. Tyndale rose slowly. "Your Honor, for the record, I show myself as associated counsel for Mr.
Bernard for purposes of this hearing and for no other purpose."
Bullard smiled. Slick move, Tyndale, slick move. The ice water warmed him and he relaxed. "Very well. Call your first witness."
Bernard stood straight again. He cocked his head. "Your Honor, on behalf of Mr. Cobb, I would like to call his brother, Mr. Fred Cobb, to the stand."
"Make it brief," Bullard mumbled.
CobB's brother was sworn and seated in the witness chair. Bernard assumed the podium and began a long, detailed direct examination. He was well prepared. He elicited proof that Billy Ray Cobb was gainfully employed, owned real estate in Ford County, grew up there, had most of his family there, and friends, and had no reason to leave. A solid citizen with deep roots with much to lose if he fled. A man who could be trusted to show up for court. A man worthy of a low bond.
Bullard sipped, tapped his pen, and searched the black faces in the audience.
Childers had no questions. Bernard called Cobb's mother, Cora, who repeated what her son Fred said about her son Billy Ray. She managed a couple of tears at an awkward moment, and Bullard shook his head.
Tyndale was next. He went through the same motions with Willard's family. Half a million dollars bond! Anything less would be too little, and the blacks wouldn't like it.
The judge had new reason to hate Childers. But he liked the blacks because they elected him last time.
He received fifty-one percent of the vote countywide, but he got all the nigger vote.
"Anything else?" he asked when Tyndale finished.
The three lawyers looked blankly at each other, then at the judge. Bernard stood. "Your
Honor, I would like to summarize my client's position in regard to a reasonable bond-"
"Forget it, pal. I've heard enough from you and your client. Sit down."
Bullard hesitated, then rapidly announced: "Bond is hereby set at one hundred thousand for Pete Willard, and two hundred thousand for Billy Ray Cobb. Defendants will remain in the custody of the sheriff until they are able to make bail. Court's adjourned." He rapped the gavel and disappeared into his chambers, where he finished the half pint and opened another one.
Lester was pleased with the bonds. His had been fifty thousand for the murder of Monroe
Bowie. Of course, Bowie was black, and bonds were generally lower for those cases.
The crowd inched toward the rear door, but Lester did not move. He watched closely as the two white boys were handcuffed and taken through the door into the holding room.
When they were out of sight, he placed his head in his hands and said a short prayer.
Then he listened.
At least ten times a day Jake walked through the French doors and onto the balcony to inspect downtown Clanton. He sometimes puffed a cheap cigar and blew smoke over Washington Street.
Even in the summer he left the windows open in the big office. The sounds of the busy small town made good company as he worked quietly. At times he was amazed at the volume of noise generated on the streets around the courthouse, and at other times he walked to the balcony to see why things were so quiet.
Just before 2:00 P.M., Monday, May 20, he walked to the balcony and lit a cigar. A heavy silence engulfed downtown Clanton, Mississippi.
Cobb went first down the stairs, cautiously, with his hands cuffed behind him, then
Willard, then Deputy Looney. Ten steps down, then the landing, turn right, then ten steps to the first floor. Three other deputies waited outside by the patrol cars smoking cigarettes and watching reporters.
When Cobb reached the second step from the floor, and Willard was three steps behind, and Looney was one step off the landing, the small, dirty, neglected, unnoticed door to the janitor's closet burst open and Mr. Carl Lee Hailey sprung from the darkness with an M-16. At point-blank range he opened fire. The loud, rapid, clapping, popping gunfire shook the courthouse and exploded the silence. The rapists froze, then screamed as they were hit-Cobb first, in the stomach and chest, then Willard in the face, neck, and throat.
They twisted vainly up the stairs, handcuffed and helpless, stumbling over each other as their skin and blood splashed together.
Looney was hit in the leg but managed to scramble up the stairs into the holding room, where he crouched and listened as Cobb and Willard screamed and moaned and the crazy nigger laughed.
Bullets ricocheted between the walls of the narrow stairway, and Looney could see, looking down toward the landing, blood and flesh splashing on the walls and dripping down.
In short, sudden bursts of seven or eight rounds each, the enormous booming sound of the M-16 echoed through the courthouse for an eternity. Through the gunfire and the sounds of the bullets rattling around the walls of the stairway, the high-pitched, shrill, laughing voice of Carl Lee could be plainly heard.
When he stopped, he threw the rifle at the two corpses and ran. Into the restroom, he jammed the door with a chair, crawled out a window into the bushes, then onto the sidewalk. Nonchalantly, he walked to his pickup and drove home.
Lester froze when the shooting started. The gunfire was heard loudly in the courtroom.
Willard's mother screamed and Cobb's mother screamed, and the deputies raced into the holding room, but did not venture down the stairs. Lester listened intently for the sounds of handguns, and hearing none, he left the courtroom.
With the first shot, Bullard grabbed the half pint and crawled under his desk while Mr.
Pate locked the door.
Cobb, or what was left of him, came to rest on Willard. Their blood mixed and puddled on each step, then it overflowed and dripped to the next step, where it puddled before overflowing and dripping to the next. Soon the foot of the stairway was flooded with the mixture.
Jake sprinted across the street to the rear door of the courthouse. Deputy Prather crouched in front of the door, gun drawn, and cursed the reporters who pressed forward. The other deputies knelt fearfully on the doorsteps next to the patrol cars. Jake ran to the front of the courthouse, where more deputies were guarding the door and evacuating the county employees and courtroom spectators. A mass of bodies poured onto the front steps. Jake fought through the stampede and into the rotunda and found Ozzie directing people and yelling in all directions. He motioned for Jake, and they walked down the hall to the rear doors, where a half dozen deputies stood, guns in hand, gazing silently at the stairway.
Jake felt nauseated. Willard had almost made it to the landing. The front of his head was missing, and his brains rolled out like jelly covering his face. Cobb had been able to twist over and absorb the bullets with his back. His face was buried in Willard's stomach, and his feet touched the fourth step from the floor. The blood continued from the lifeless bodies, and it covered completely the bottom six steps. The crimson pool on the floor inched quickly toward the deputies, who slowly backed away. The weapon was between
Cobb's legs on the fifth step, and it too was covered with blood.
The group stood silently, mesmerized by the two bodies, which, though dead, continued to spew blood. The thick smell of gunfire hung over the stairway and drifted toward the hall into the rotunda, where the deputies continued to move people toward the front door.
"Jake, you'd better leave," Ozzie said without looking from the bodies.
"Just leave."
" 'Cause we gotta take pictures and collect evidence and stuff, and you don't need to be here." cui you aon t interrogate him out ot my presence. Understand?" Ozzie nodded.
The photographs were taken, the mess cleaned, the evidence gathered, the bodies removed, and two hours later Ozzie left town followed by five patrol cars. Hastings drove and led the convoy into the country, toward the lake, past Bates Grocery, onto Craft Road. The Hailey driveway was empty except for Owen's car, Carl Lee's pickup, and the red Cadillac from Illinois.
Ozzie expected no trouble as the patrol cars parked in a row across the front yard, and the deputies crouched behind the open doors, watching as the sheriff walked alone to the house. He stopped.
The front door opened slowly and the Hailey family emerged. Carl Lee walked to the edge of the porch with Tonya in his arms. He looked down at his friend the sheriff, and behind him at the row of cars and deputies. To his right was Gwen, and to his left were his three sons, the smallest one crying softly but the older ones brave and proud. Behind them stood Lester.
The two groups watched each other, each waiting for the other to say or do something, each wanting to avoid what was about to happen. The only sounds were the soft sniffles of the little girl, her mother, and the youngest boy.
The children had tried to understand. Their daddy had explained to them what he had just done, and why. They understood that, but they could not comprehend why he had to be arrested and taken to jail.
Ozzie kicked at a clod of dirt, occasionally glancing at the family, then at his men.
Finally, he said, "You better come with me."
Carl Lee nodded slightly, but did not move. Gwen and the boy cried louder as Lester took the girl from her daddy. Then Carl Lee knelt before the three boys and whispered to them again that he must leave but wouldn't be gone long. He hugged them, and they all cried and clutched him. He turned, an d kissed his wife, then walked down the steps to the sner-iff.
"You wanna handcuff me, Ozzie?"
"Naw, Carl Lee, just get in the car."
Moss Junior Tatum, the chief deputy, and Jake talked quietly in Ozzie's office while deputies, reserves, trusties, and other jailhouse regulars gathered in the large, cluttered workroom next to the office and waited anxiously for the arrival of the new prisoner.
Two of the deputies peered through the blinds at the reporters and cameramen waiting in the parking lot between the jail and the highway. The television vans were from
Memphis, Jackson, and Tupelo, and they were parked in various directions throughout the crowded lot. Moss did not like this, so he walked slowly down the sidewalk and ordered the press to regroup in a certain area, and to move the vans.
"Will you make a statement?" yelled a reporter.
"Yeah, move the vans."
"Can you say anything about the murders?"
"Yeah, two people got killed."
"How about the details?"
"Nope. I wasn't there."
"Do you have a suspect?"
"Who is it?"
"I'll tell you when the vans are moved."
The vans were immediately moved and the cameras and microphones were bunched together near the sidewalk. Moss pointed and directed until he was satisfied, then stepped to the crowd. He calmly chewed on a toothpick and stuck both thumbs in the front belt loops, just under the overlapping belly.
"Who did it?"
"Is he under arrest?"
"Was the girl's family involved?"
"Are both dead?"
Moss smiled and shook his head. "One at a time. Yes we have a suspect. He's under arrest and will be here in a minute. Keep the vans outta the way. That's all I have."
Moss walked back to the jail as they continued to can at mm. He ignored them and entered the crowded workroom.
"How's Looney?" he asked.
"Prather's with him at the hospital. He's fine-slight wound to the leg."
"Yeah, that and a slight heart attack," Moss said with a smile. The others laughed.
"Here they come!" a trusty shouted, and everyone inside moved to the windows as the line of blue lights rolled slowly into the parking lot. Ozzie drove the first car with Carl
Lee seated, unhandcuffed, in the front. Hastings reclined in the back and waved at the cameras as the car passed them and continued through the crowd, past the vans and around to the rear of the jail, where Ozzie parked and the three walked casually inside.
Carl Lee was given to the jailer, and Ozzie walked down the hall to his office where Jake was waiting.
"You can see him in a minute, Jake," he said.
"Thanks. You sure he did it?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"He didn't confess, did he?"
"No, he didn't say much of nothin'. I guess Lester coached him."
Moss walked in. "Ozzie, them reporters wanna talk to you. I said you'd be out in a minute."
"Thanks, Moss," Ozzie sighed.
"Anybody see it?" Jake asked.
Ozzie wiped his forehead with a red handkerchief. "Yeah, Looney can I.D. him. You know Murphy, the little crippled man who sweeps floors in the courthouse?"
"Sure. Stutters real bad."
"He saw the whole thing. He was sittin' on the east stairs, directly across from where it happened. Eatin' his lunch. Scared him so bad he couldn't talk for an hour." Ozzie paused and eyed Jake.
"Why am I tellin' you all this?"
"What difference does it make? I'll find out sooner or later. Where's my man?"
"Down the hall in the jail. They gotta take his picture and all that. Be 'bout thirty minutes."
Ozzie left and Jake used his phone to call Carla and remind her to watch the news and record it. \_/z.zav^ iciwu me iiiiu ujjuuiica aiiu utimuiiuv i am i an- swerin' no questions.
We have a suspect in custody. Name of Carl Lee Hailey from Ford County. Arrested for two counts of murder."
"Is he the girl's father?"
"Yes, he is."
"How do you know he did it?"
"We're very smart."
"Any eyewitnesses?"
"None that we know of."
"Has he confessed?"
"Where'd you find him?"
"At his house."
"Was a deputy shot?"
"How is he?"
"He's fine. He's in the hospital, but he's okay."
"What's his name?"
"Looney. DeWayne Looney."
"When's the preliminary hearing?"
"I'm not the judge."
"Any idea?"
"Maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday. No more questions, please. I have no further information to release at this time."
The jailer took Carl Lee's wallet, money, watch, keys, ring, and pocketknife and listed the items on an inventory form that Carl Lee signed and dated. In a small room next to the jailer's station, he was photographed and fingerprinted, just as Lester said. Ozzie waited outside the door and led him down the hall to a small room where the drunks were taken to blow into the Intoxilyzer. Jake sat at a small table next to the machine. Ozzie excused himself.
The lawyer and client sat across the table and analyzed each other carefully. They grinned admiringly but neither spoke. They had last talked five days before, on Wednesday after the preliminary hearing, the day after the rape.
Carl Lee was not as troubled now. His face was relaxed and his eyes were clear. Finally he said: "You didn't think I'd do it, Jake."
"Not really. You did do it?"
"You know I did."
Jake smiled, nodded, and crossed his arms. "How do you feel?"
Carl Lee relaxed and sat back in the folding chair. "Well, I feel better. I don't feel good 'bout the whole thing. I wish it didn't happen. But I wish my girl was okay too, you know.
I didn't have nothin' against them boys till they messed with her. Now they got what they started. I feel sorry for their mommas and daddies, if they got daddies, which I doubt."
"Are you scared?"
"Of what?"
"How about the gas chamber?"
"Naw, Jake, that's why I got you. I don't plan to go to no gas chamber. I saw you get
Lester off, now just get me off. You can do it, Jake."
"It's not quite that easy, Carl Lee."
"Say what?"
"You just don't shoot a person, or persons, in cold blood, and then tell the jury they needed killing, and expect to walk out of the courtroom."
"You did with Lester."
"But every case is different. And the big difference here is that you killed two white boys and Lester killed a nigger. Big difference."
"You scared, Jake?"
"Why should I be scared? I'm not facing the gas chamber."
"You don't sound too confident."
You big stupid idiot, thought Jake. How could he be confident at a time like this. The bodies were still warm. Sure, he was confident before the killings, but now it was different. His client was facing the gas for a crime which he admits he committed.
"Where'd you get the gun?"
"A friend in Memphis."
"Okay. Did Lester help?"
"Nope. He knew 'bout what Fs gonna do, and he wanted to help, but I wouldn't let him."
"How's Gwen?"
"She's pretty crazy right now, but tester's with her. She didn't know a thing about it."
"The kids?"
"You know how kids are. They don't want their daddy in jail. They upset, but they'll make it. Lester'll take care of them."
"Is he going back to Chicago?"
"Not for a while. Jake, when do we go to court?"
"The preliminary should be tomorrow or Wednesday, depends on Bullard."
"Is he the judge?"
"He will be for the preliminary hearing. But he won't hear the trial. That'll be in Circuit Court."
"Who's the judge there?"
"Omar Noose from Van Buren County; same judge who tried Lester."
"Good. He's okay, ain't he?"
"Yeah, he's a good judge."
"When will the trial be?"
"Late summer or early fall. Buckley will push for a quick trial."
"Who's Buckley?"
"Rufus Buckley. District attorney. Same D.A. who prosecuted Lester. You remember him. Big, loud guy-"
"Yeah, yeah, I remember. Big bad Rufus Buckley. I'd forgot all about him. He's pretty mean, ain't he?"
"He's good, very good. He's corrupt and ambitious, and he'll eat this up because of the publicity."
"You've beat him, ain't you?"
"Yeah, and he's beat me."
Jake opened his briefcase and removed a file. Inside was a contract for legal services, which he studied although he had it memorized. His fees were based on the ability to pay, and the blacks generally could pay little unless there was a close and generous relative in
St. Louis or Chicago with a good-paying job. Those were rare. In Lester's trial there had been a brother in California who worked for the post office but he'd been
unwilling or unable to help. There were some sisters scattered around but they had their own problems and had offered only moral support for Lester.
Gwen had a big family, and they stayed out of trouble, but they were not prosperous. Carl
Lee owned a few acres around his house and had mortgaged it to help Lester pay Jake before.
He had charged Lester five thousand for his murder trial; half was paid before trial and the rest in installments over three years.
Jake hated to discuss fees. It was the most difficult part of practicing law. Clients wanted to know up front, immediately, how much he would cost, and they all reacted differently.
Some were shocked, some just swallowed hard, a few had stormed out of his office.
Some negotiated, but most paid or promised to pay.
He studied the file and the contract and thought desperately of a fair fee. There were other lawyers out there who would take such a case for almost nothing. Nothing but publicity. He thought about the acreage, and the job at the paper mill, and the family, and finally said, "My fee is ten thousand."
Carl Lee was not moved. "You charged Lester five thousand."
Jake anticipated this. "You have three counts; Lester had one."
"How many times can I go to the gas chamber?"
"Good point. How much can you pay?"
"I can pay a thousand now," he said proudl y. "And I'll borrow as much as I can on my land and give it all to you."
Jake thought a minute. "I've got a better idea. Let's agree on a fee. You pay a thousand now and sign a note for the rest. Borrow on your land and pay against the note."
"How much you want?" asked Carl Lee.
"Ten thousand."
"I'll pay five."
"You can pay more than that."
"And you can do it for less than ten."
"Okay, I can do it for nine."
"Then I can pay six."
"Can we agree on seventy-five hundred?"
"Yeah, I think I can pay that much. Depends on how much they'll loan me on my land.
You want me to pay a thousand now and sign a note for sixty- five hundred?"
"That's right."
"Okay, you got a deal."
Jake filled in the blanks in the contract and promissory note, and Carl Lee signed both.
"Jake, how much would you charge a man with plenty of money?"
"Fifty thousand."
"Fifty thousand! You serious?"
"Man, that's a lotta money. You ever get that much?"
"No, but I haven't seen too many people on trial for murder with that kind of money."
Carl Lee wanted to know about his bond, the grand jury, the trial, the witnesses, who would be on the jury, when could he get out of jail, could Jake speed up the trial, when could he tell his version, and a thousand other questions. Jake said they would have plenty of time to talk. He promised to call Gwen and his boss at the paper mill.
He left and Carl Lee was placed in his cell, the one next to the cell for state prisoners.
The Saab was blocked by a television van. Jake inquired as to who owned it. Most of the reporters had left but a few loitered about, expecting something. It was almost dark.
"Are you with the sheriffs department?" asked a reporter.
"No, I'm a lawyer," Jake answered nonchalantly, attempting to seem disinterested.
"Are you Mr. Hailey's attorney?"
Jake turned and stared at the reporter as the others listened. "Matter of fact, I am."
"Will you answer some questions?"
"You can ask some. I won't promise any answers."
"Will you step over here?"
Jake walked to the microphones and cameras and tried to act annoyed by the inconvenience. Ozzie and the deputies watched from inside. "Jake loves cameras," he said.
"All lawyers do," added Moss.
"What is your name, sir?"
"Jake Brigance,"
"You're Mr. Hailey's attorney."
"Correct," Jake answered coolly.
"Mr. Hailey is the father of the young girl raped by the two men who were killed today?"
"Who killed the two men?"
"I don't know."
"Was it Mr. Hailey?"
"I said I don't know."
"What's your client been charged with?"
"He's been arrested for the murders of Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard. He hasn't formally been charged with anything."
"Do you expect Mr. Hailey to be indicted for the two murders?"
"No comment."
"Why no comment?"
"Have you talked with Mr. Hailey?" asked another reporter.
"Yes, just a moment ago."
"How is he?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, uh, how is he?"
"You mean, how does he like jail?" Jake asked with a slight grin.
"Uh, yeah."
"No comment."
"When will he be in court?"
"Probably tomorrow or Wednesday."
"Will he plead guilty?"
Jake smiled and replied, "Of course not."
After a cold supper, they sat in the swing on the front porch and watched the lawn sprinkler and talked about the case. The killings were big news across the country, and
Carla recorded as many television reports as possible. Two of the networks covered the story live through their Memphis affiliates, and the Memphis, Jackson, and Tupelo stations re- U4UYWU ivyvyvti&w v/A V-AJUru/ O.JL1U YVllldlU l/Vlllg ll/Ll 111LU
LJ.1G ^JUl l~ house surrounded by deputies, and seconds later, being carried from the courthouse under white sheets. One of the stations played the actual audio of the gunfire over film of the deputies scrambling for cover.
Jake's interview was too late for the evening news, so he and Carla waited, with the recorder, for the ten o'clock, and there he was, briefcase in hand, looking trim, fit, handsome, and arrogant, and very disgusted with the reporters for the inconvenience.
Jake thought he looked great on TV, and he was excited to be there. There had been one other brief appearance, after Lester's acquittal, and the regulars at the Coffee Shop had kidded him for months.
He felt good. He relished the publicity and anticipated much more. He could not think of another case, another set of facts, another setting which could generate as much publicity as the trial of Carl Lee Hailey. And the acquittal of Carl Lee Hailey, for the murder of the two white men who raped his daughter, before an all-white jury in rural Mississippi^
"What're you smiling about?" Carla interrupted.
"Sure. You're thinking about the trial, and the cameras, the reporters, the acquittal, and walking out of the courthouse, arm around Carl Lee, reporters chasing you with the cameras rolling, people slapping you on the back, congratulations everywhere. I know exactly what you're thinking about."
"Then why'd you ask?"
"To see if you'd admit it."
"Okay, I admit it. This case could make me famous and make us a million bucks, in the long run."
"If you win."
"Yes, if I win."
"And if you lose?"
"I'll win."
"But if you don't?"
"Think positive."
The phone rang and Jake spent ten minutes with the editor, owner, and only reporter of
The Clanton Chronicle. It rang again, and Jake talked with a reporter with the Memphis morning paper. He hung up and called Lester ana Gwen, then the foreman at the paper mill.
At eleven-fifteen it rang again, and Jake received his first death threat, anonymous of course. He was called a nigger-loving son of a bitch, one who would not live if the nigger walked.
Dell Perkins served more coffee and grits than usual Tuesday morning after the killings.
All the regulars and some extras had gathered early to read the papers and talk about the killings, which had taken place less than three hundred feet from the front door of the
Coffee Shop. Claude's and the Tea Shoppe were also crowded earlier than usual. Jake's picture made the front page of the Tupelo paper, and the Memphis and Jackson papers had front-page photos of Cobb and Willard, both before the shootings and afterward as the bodies were loaded into the ambulance. There were no pictures of Carl Lee. All three papers ran detailed accounts of the past six days in Clanton.
It was widely accepted around town that Carl Lee had done the killing, but rumors of additional gunmen surfaced and flourished until one table at the Tea Shoppe had a whole band of wild niggers in on the attack. However, the deputies in the Coffee Shop, though not talkative, throttled the gossip and kept it pretty much under control. Deputy Looney was a regular, and there was concern for his wounds, which appeared to be more serious than originally reported. He remained in the hospital, and he had identified the gunman as
Lester Hailey's brother.
Jake entered at six and sat near the front with some farmers. He nodded at Prather and the other deputy, but they pretended not to see him. They'll be okay once Looney is released, he thought.
There were some remarks about the front-page picture, but no one questioned Jake about his new client or the killings. He detected a certain coolness among some of the regulars.
He ate quickly and left.
At nine Ethel called Jake. Bullard was holding.
"Hello, Judge. How are you?"
"Terrible. You represent Carl Lee Hailey?"
"Yes, sir."
"When do you want the preliminary?"
"Why are you asking me, Judge?"
"Good question. Look, the funerals are tomorrow morning sometime, and I think it would be best to wait till they bury those bastards, don't you?"
"Yeah, Judge, good idea."
"How 'bout tomorrow afternoon at two?"
Bullard hesitated. "Jake, would you consider waiving the preliminary and letting me send the case straight to the grand jury?"
"Judge, I never waive a preliminary, you know that."
"Yeah, I know. Just thought I'd ask a favor. I won't hear this trial, and I have no desire to get near it. See you tomorrow."
An hour later Ethel squawked through the intercom again: "Mr. Brigance, there are some reporters here to see you."
Jake was ecstatic. "From where?"
"Memphis and Jackson, I believe."
"Seat them in the conference room. I'll be down in a minute."
He straightened his tie and brushed his hair, and checked the street below for television vans. He decided to make them wait, and after a couple of meaningless phone calls he walked down the stairs, ignored Ethel, and entered the conference room. They asked him to sit at one end of the long table, because of the lighting. He declined, told himself he would control things, and sat at one side with his back to the rows of thick, expensive law books.
The microphones were placed before him and the camera lights adjusted, and finally an attractive lady from Memphis with streaks of bright orange across her forehead and under her eyes cleared her throat and asserted herself. "Mr. Brigance, you represent Carl Lee
"Yes, I do."
"And he's been charged with the murders of Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard?"
"That's correct."
"And Cobb and Willard were charged with raping Mr. Hailey's daughter?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"Does Mr. Hailey deny killing Cobb and Willard?"
"He will plead not guilty to the charges."
"Will he be charged for the shooting of the deputy, Mr. Looney?"
"Yes. We anticipate a third charge of aggravated assault against the officer."
"Do you anticipate a defense of insanity?"
"I'm not willing to discuss the defense at this time because he has not been indicted."
"Are you saying there's a chance he may not be indicted?"
A fat pitch, one Jake was hoping for. The grand jury would either indict him or not, and the grand jurors would not be selected until Circuit Court convened on Monday, May 27.
So the future members of the grand jury were walking the streets of Clanton, tending their shops, working in the factories, cleaning house, reading newspapers, watching TV, and discussing whether or not he should be indicted.
"Yes, I think there's a chance he may not be indicted. It's up to the grand jury, or will be after the preliminary hearing."
"When's the preliminary hearing?"
"Tomorrow. Two P.M."
"You're assuming Judge Bullard will bind him over to the grand jury?"
"That's a pretty safe assumption," replied Jake, knowing Bullard would be thrilled with the answer.
"When will the grand jury meet?"
"A new grand jury will be sworn in Monday morning. It could look at the case by
Monday afternoon."
"When do you anticipate a trial?"
"Assuming he's indicted, the case could be tried in late summer or early fall."
"Which court?"
"Circuit Court of Ford County."
"Who would be the judge?"
"Honorable Omar Noose."
"Where's he from?"
"Chester, Mississippi. Van Buren County."
"You mean the case will be tried here in Clanton?"
"Yes, unless venue is changed."
"Will you request a change of venue?"
"Very good question, and one I'm not prepared to answer at this time. It's a bit premature to talk defense strategy."
"Why would you want a change of venue?"
To find a blacker county, Jake thought. He answered thoughtfully, "The usual reasons.
Pretrial publicity, etc."
"Who makes the decision to change venue?"
"Judge Noose. The decision is within his sole discretion."
"Has bond been set?"
"No, and it probably won't be until after the indictments come down. He's entitled to a reasonable bond now, but as a matter of practice in this county bonds are not set in capital murder cases until after the indictment and arraignment in Circuit Court. At that point the bond will be set by Judge Noose."
"What can you tell us about Mr. Hailey?"
Jake relaxed and reflected a minute while the cameras continued. Another fat pitch, with a golden chance to plant some seeds. "He's thirty-seven years old. Married to the same woman for twenty years. Four kids-three boys and a girl. Nice guy with a clean record.
Never been in trouble before. Decorated in Vietnam. Works fifty hours a week at the paper mill in Coleman. Pays his bills and owns a little land, does to church every Sunday with his family. Minds his own business and expects to be left alone."
"Will you allow us to talk to him?"
"Of course not."
"Wasn't his brother tried for murder several years ago?"
"He was, and he was acquitted."
"You were his attorney?"
"Yes, I was."
"You've handled several murder trials in Ford County, haven't you?"
"How many acquittals?"
"All of them," he answered slowly.
"Doesn't the jury have several options in Mississippi?" asked the lady from Memphis.
"That's right. With a capital murder indictment, the jury at trial can find the defendant guilty of manslaughter, which carries twenty years, or capital murder, which carries life or death as determined by the jury. And the jury can find the defendant not guilty." Jake smiled at the cameras. "Again, you're assuming he'll be indicted."
"How's the Hailey girl?"
"She's at home. Went home Sunday. She's expected to be fine."
The reporters looked at each other and searched for other questions. Jake knew this was the dangerous part, when they ran out of things to ask and began serving up screwball questions.
He stood and buttoned his coat. "Look, I appreciate you folks stopping by. I'm usually available, just give a little more notice, and I'll be glad to talk to you anytime."
They thanked him and left.
At ten Wednesday morning, in a no-frills double service at the funeral home, the rednecks buried their dead. The minister, a freshly ordained Pentecostal, struggled desperately for comforting and reassuring thoughts to lay upon the small crowd and over the two closed caskets. The service was brief with few tears.
The pickups and dirty Chevrolets moved slowly behind the single hearse as the procession left town and crawled into the country. They parked behind a small red brick church. The bodies were laid to rest one at a time at opposite ends of the tiny, overgrown cemetery. After a few additional words of inspiration, the crowd dispersed.
Cobb's parents had divorced when he was small, and his father drove from Birmingham for the funeral. After the burial he disappeared. Mrs. Cobb lived in a small, clean white frame house near the settlement of Lake Village, ten miles south of Clanton. Her other two sons and their cousins and friends gathered under an oak tree in the backyard while the women made a fuss over Mrs. Cobb.
The men talked about niggers in general, and chewed Red Man and sipped whiskey, and reminisced about the other days when niggers knew their place. Now they were just pampered and protected by the government and courts. And there was nothing white people could do. One cousin knew a friend or someone who used to be active in the Klan, and he might give him a call. Cobb's grandfather had been in the Klan long before his death, the cousin explained, and when he and Billy Ray were kids the old man would tell stories about hanging niggers in Ford and Tyler counties. What they should do was the same thing the nigger had done, but there were no volunteers. Maybe the Klan would be interested. There was a chapter farther down south near Jackson, near Nettles County, and the cousin was authorized to contact them.
The women prepared lunch. The men ate quietly, then returned to the whiskey under the shade tree.
The nigger's hearing at 2:00 P.M. was mentioned, and they loaded up and drove to Clanton.
There was a Clanton before the killings, and there was a Clanton after the killings, and it would be months before the two resembled each other. One tragic, bloody event, the duration of which was less than fifteen seconds, transformed the quiet Southern town of eight thousand into a mecca for journalists, reporters, camera crews, photographers, some from neighboring towns, others from the national news organizations. Cameramen and
TV reporters bumped into one another on the sidewalks around the square as they asked the man in the street for the hundredth time how he or she felt about the Hailey event and how he or she would vote if he or she was on the jury. There was no clear verdict from the man on the street. Television vans followed small, marked, imported television cars around the square and down the streets chasing leads, stories, and interviews. Ozzie was a favorite at first. He was interviewed a half dozen times the day after the shooting, then found other business and delegated the interviewing to Moss Junior, who enjoyed bantering with the press. He could answer twenty questions and not divulge one new detail. He also lied a lot, and the ignorant foreigners could not tell his lies from his truth.
"Sir, is there any evidence of additional gunmen?"
"Really! Who?"
"We have evidence that the shootin's were authorized and financed by an offshoot of the
Black Panthers," Moss Junior replied with a straight face.
Half the reporters would either stutter or stare blankly while the other half repeated what he said and scribbled furiously.
Bullard refused to leave his office or take calls. He called Jake again and begged him to waive the preliminary. Jake refused. Reporters waited in the lobby of Bullard's office on the first floor of the courthouse, but he was safe with his vodka behind the locked door.
There was a request to film the funeral. The Cobb boys said yes, for a fee, but Mrs.
Willard vetoed the proposal. The reporters waited outside the funeral home and filmed what they could. Then they followed the procession to the grave sites, and filmed the burials, and followed the mourners to Mrs. Cobb's, where Freddie, the oldest, cursed them and made them leave.
The Coffee Shop on Wednesday was silent. The regulars, including Jake, eyed the strangers who had invaded their sanctuary. Most of them had beards, spoke with unusual accents, and did not order grits.
"Aren't you Mr. Hailey's attorney?" shouted one from across the room. Jake worked on his toast and said nothing.
"Aren't you? Sir?"
"What if I am?" shot Jake.
"Will he plead guilty?"
"I'm eating breakfast."
"Will he?"
"No comment."
"Why no comment?"
"No comment."
"But why?"
"I don't comment during breakfast. No comment."
"May I talk to you later?"
"Yeah, make an appointment. I talk at sixty bucks an hour."
The regulars hooted, but the strangers were undaunted.
Jake consented to an interview, without charge, with a Memphis paper Wednesday, then barricaded himself in the war room and prepared for the preliminary hearing. At noon he visited his famous client at the jail.
Carl Lee was rested and relaxed. From his cell he could see the coming and going of the reporters in the parking lot.
"How's jail?" Jake asked.
"Not that bad. Food's good. I eat with Ozzie in his office."
"You what!"
"Yep. Play cards too."
"You're kidding, Carl Lee."
"Nope. Watch TV too. Saw you on the news last night. You looked real good. I'm gonna make you famous, Jake, ain't I?"
Jake said nothing.
"When do I get on TV? I mean, I did the killin' and you and Ozzie gettin' famous for it."
The client was grinning- the lawyer was not.
"Today, 4n about an hour."
"Yeah, I heard we's goin' to court. What for?"
"Preliminary hearing. It's no big deal, at least it's not supposed to be. This one will be different because of the cameras."
"What do I say?"
"Nothing! You don't say a word to anyone. Not to the judge, the prosecutor, the reporters, anyone. We just listen. We listen to the prosecutor and see what kind of case he's got.
They're supposed to have an eyewitness, and he might testify. Ozzie will testify and tell the judge about the gun, the fingerprints, and Looney-"
"How's Looney?"
"Don't know. Worse than they thought."
"Man, I feel bad 'bout shootin' Looney. I didn't even see the man."
"Well, they're going to charge you with aggravated assault for shooting Looney. Anyway, the preliminary is just a formality. Its purpose is to allow the judge to determine if there's enough evidence to bind you over to the grand jury. Bullard always does that, so it's just a formality."
"Then why do it?"
"We could waive it," replied Jake, thinking of all the cameras he would miss. "But I don't like to. It's a good chance to see what kind of case the State has."
"Well, Jake, I'd say they gotta pretty good case, wouldn't you?"
"I would think so. But let's just listen. That's the strategy of a preliminary hearing. Okay?"
"Sounds good to me. You talked to Gwen or Lester today?"
"No, I called them Monday night."
"They were here yesterday in Ozzie's office. Said they'd be in court today."
"I think everyone will be in court today."
Jake left. In the parking lot he brushed by some of the reporters who were awaiting Carl
Lee's departure from jail. He had no comments for them and no comments for the reporters waiting outside his office. He was too busy at the moment for questions, but he was very aware of the cameras. At one-thirty he went to the courthouse and hid in the law library on the third floor.
Ozzie and Moss Junior and the deputies watched the parking lot and quietly cursed the mob of reporters and cameramen. It was one forty-five, time to transport the prisoner to court.
"Kinda reminds me of a buncha vultures waitin' for a dead dog beside the highway,"
Moss Junior observed as he gazed through the blinds.
"Rudest buncha folks I ever saw," added Prather. "Won't take no for an answer. They expect the whole town to cater to them."
"And that's only half of them-other half s waitin' at the courthouse."
Ozzie hadn't said much. One newspaper had criticized him for the shooting, implying the security around the courthouse was intentionally relaxed. He was tired of the press.
Twice Wednesday he had ordered reporters out of the jail.
"I got an idea," he said.
"What?" asked Moss Junior.
"Is Curtis Todd still in jail?"
"Yep. Gets out next week."
"He sorta favors Carl Lee, don't he?"
"Whatta you mean?"
"Well, I mean, he's 'bout as black as Carl Lee, roughly the same height and weight, ain't he?"
"Yeah, well, so what?" asked Prather.
Moss Junior grinned and looked at Ozzie, whose eyes never left the window. "Ozzie, you wouldn't."
"What?" asked Prather.
"Let's go. Get Carl Lee and Curtis Todd," Ozzie ordered. "Drive my car around back.
Bring Todd here for some instructions."
Ten minutes later the front door of the jail opened and a squad of deputies escorted the prisoner down the sidewalk. Two deputies walked in front, two behind, and one on each side of the man with the thick sunglasses and handcuffs, which were not fastened. As they approached the reporters, the cameras clicked and rolled. The questions flew:
"Sir, will you plead guilty?"
"Sir, will you plead not guilty?"
"Sir, how will you plead?"
"Mr. Hailey, will you plead insanity?"
The prisoner smiled and continued the slow walk to the waiting patrol cars. The deputies smiled grimly and ignored the mob. The photographers scrambled about trying to get the perfect shot of the most famous vigilante in the country.
Suddenly, with the nation watching, with deputies all around him, with dozens of reporters recording his every move, the prisoner broke and ran. He jolted, jumped, twisted, and squirmed, running wildly across the parking lot, over a ditch, across the highway, into some trees and out of sight. The reporters shouted and broke ranks and several even chased him for a moment. Curiously, the deputies ran back to the jail and slammed the door, leaving the vultures roaming in circles of disarray. In the woods, the prisoner removed the handcuffs and walked home. Curtis Todd had just been paroled one week early.
Ozzie, Moss Junior, and Carl Lee quickly left through the rear of the jail and drove down a back street to the courthouse, where more deputies waited to escort him into the courthouse.
"How many niggers out there?" Bullard screamed at Mr. Pate.
"A ton."
"Wonderful! A ton of niggers. I guess there's a ton of rednecks too?"
"Quite a few."
"Is the courtroom full?"
"My God-it's only a preliminary!" Bullard screamed. He finished a half pint of vodka as
Mr. Pate handed him another one.
"Take it easy, Judge."
"Brigance. It's all his fault. He could waive this if he wanted to. I asked him to. Asked him twice. He knows I'll send it to the grand jury. He knows that. All lawyers know that.
But now I gotta make all the niggers mad because I won't turn him loose, and I'll make all the rednecks mad because I won't execute him today in the courtroom. I'll get Brigance for this. He's playing for the cameras. I have to get reelected, but he doesn't, does he?"
"No, Judge."
"How many officers out there?"
"Plenty. Sheriffs called in the reserves. You're safe."
"How about the press?"
"They're lined up on the front rows."
"No cameras!"
"No cameras."
"Is Hailey here?"
"Yes, sir. He's in the courtroom with Brigance. Ever-body's ready, just waitin' on you."
His Honor filled a Styrofoam cup with straight vodka. "Okay, let's go."
Just like in the old days before the sixties, the courtroom was neatly segregated with the blacks and whites separated by the center aisle. The officers stood solemnly in the aisle and around the walls of the courtroom. Of particular concern was an assemblage of slightly intoxicated whites sitting together in two rows near the front. A couple were recognized as brothers or cousins of the late Billy Ray Cobb.
They were watched closely. The two front rows, the one on the right in front of the blacks and the one on the left in front of the whites, were occupied by two dozen journalists of various sorts. Some took notes while some sketched the defendant, his lawyer, and now finally, the judge.
"They gonna make this nigger a hero," mumbled one of the rednecks, loud enough for the reporters. When Bullard assumed the bench, the deputies locked the rear door.
"Call your first witness," he ordered in the direction of Rocky Childers.
"The State calls Sheriff Ozzie Walls."
The sheriff was sworn and took the stand. He relaxed and began a long narrative describing the scene of the shooting, the bodies, the wounds, the gun, the fingerprints on the gun and the fingerprints of the defendant. Childers produced an affidavit signed by
Officer Looney and witnessed by the sheriff and Moss Junior. It identified the gunman as
Carl Lee. Ozzie verified Looney's signature and read the affidavit into the record.
"Sheriff, do you know of any other eyewitness?" asked Childers with no enthusiasm.
"Yes, Murphy, the janitor."
"What's his first name?"
"Nobody knows. He's just Murphy."
"Okay. Have you talked to him?"
"No, but my investigator did."
"Who is your investigator?"
"Officer Rady."
Rady was sworn and seated in the witness chair. Mr. Pate fetched the judge another cup of ice water from chambers. Jake took pages of notes. He would call no witnesses, and he chose not to cross-examine the sheriff. Occasionally, the State's witnesses would get their lies confused in a preliminary, and Jake would ask a few questions on cross-examination to nail down, for the record, the discrepancies. Later at trial when the lying started again,
Jake would produce the testimony from the preliminary to further confuse the liars. But not today.
"Sir, have you had an occasion to talk with Murphy?" Childers asked.
"Murphy who?"
"I don't know-just Murphy, the janitor."
"Oh him. Yes, sir."
"Good. What did he say?"
"About what?"
Childers hung his head. Rady was new, and had not testified much. Ozzie thought this would be good practice.
"About the shooting! Tell us what he told you about the shooting."
Jake stood. "Your Honor. I object. I know hearsay is admissible in a preliminary, but this
Murphy fella is available. He works here in the courthouse. Why not let him testify?"
"Because he stutters," replied Bullard.
"He stutters. And I don't want to hear him stutter for the next thirty minutes. Objection overruled. Continue, Mr. Childers."
Jake sat in disbelief. Bullard snickered at Mr. Pate, who left for more ice water.
"Now, Mr. Rady, what did Murphy tell you about the shooting?"
"Well, he's hard to understand because he was so excited, and when he gets excited he stutters real bad. I mean he stutters anyway, but-"
"Just tell us what he said!" Bullard shouted.
"Okay. He said he saw a male black shoot the two white boys and the deputy."
"Thank you," said Childers. "Now where was he when this took place?"
"He was sittin' on the stairs directly opposite the stairs where they got shot."
"And he saw it all?"
"Said he did."
"Has he identified the gunman?"
"Yes, we showed him photos of ten male blacks, and he identified the defendant, sittin' over there."
" Good. Thank you. Your Honor, we have nothing further."
"Any questions, Mr. Brigance?" asked the judge.
"No, sir," Jake said as he stood.
"Any witnesses?"
"No, sir."
"Any requests, motions, anything?"
"No, sir."
Jake knew better than to request bail. First, it would do no good. Bullard would not set bail for capital murder. Second, it would make the judge look bad.
"Thank you, Mr. Brigance. The court finds sufficient evidence exists to hold this defendant for action by the Ford County grand jury. Mr. Hailey shall remain in the custody of the sheriff, without bond. Court's adjourned."
Carl Lee was quickly handcuffed and escorted from the courtroom. The area around the rear door downstairs was sealed and guarded. The cameras outside caught a glimpse of the defendant between the door and the waiting patrol car. He was in jail before the spectators cleared the courtroom.
The deputies directed the whites on one side to leave first, followed by the blacks.
The reporters requested some of Jake's time, and they were instructed to meet him in the rotunda in a few minutes. He made them wait by first going to chambers and giving his regards to the judge.
Then he walked to the third floor to check on a book. When the courtroom was empty and they had waited long enough, he walked through the rear door, into the rotunda and faced the cameras.
A microphone with red letters on it was thrust into his face. "Why didn't you request bond?" a reporter demanded.
"That comes later."
"Will Mr. Hailey plead an insanity defense?"
"As I've stated, it's too early to answer that question. We must now wait for the grand jury-he may not be indicted. If he is, we'll start planning his defense."
"Mr. Buckley, the D.A., has stated he expects easy convictions. Any comment?"
"I'm afraid Mr. Buckley often speaks when he shouldn't. It's asinine for him to make any comment on this case until it is considered by the grand jury."
"He also said he would vigorously oppose any request for a change of venue."
"That request hasn't been made yet. He really doesn't care where the trial is held. He'd try it in the desert as long as the press showed up."
"Can we assume there are hard feelings between you and the D.A.?"
"If you want to. He's a good prosecutor and a worthy adversary. He just talks when he shouldn't."
He answered a few other assorted questions and excused himself.
Late Wednesday night the doctors cut below Looney's knee and removed the lower third of his leg. They called Ozzie at the jail, and he told Carl Lee.
Rufus Buckley scanned the Thursday morning papers and read with great interest the accounts of the preliminary hearing in Ford County. He was delighted to see his name mentioned by the reporters and by Mr. Brigance. The disparaging remarks were greatly outweighed by the fact that his name was in print. He didn't like Brigance, but he was glad Jake mentioned his name before the cameras and reporters. For two days the spotlight had been on Brigance and the defendant; it was about time the D.A. was mentioned. Brigance should not criticize anyone for seeking publicity.
Lucien Wilbanks wrote the book on manipulating the press both before and during a trial, and he had taught Jake well. But Buckley held no grudge. He was pleased. He relished the thought of a long, nasty trial with his first opportunity at real, meaningful exposure.
He looked forward to Monday, the first day of the May term of court in Ford County.
He was forty-one, and when he was first elected nine years earlier he had been the youngest D.A. in Mississippi. Now he was one year into his third term and his ambitions were calling. It was time to move on to another public office, say, attorney general, or possibly governor. And then to Congress. He had it all planned, but he was not well known outside the Twenty-second Judicial District (Ford, Tyler, Polk, Van Buren, and Milburn counties). He needed to be seen, and heard. He needed publicity. What Rufus needed more than anything else was a big, nasty, controversial, well- publicized conviction in a murder trial.
Ford County was directly north of Smithfield, the county seat of Polk County, where Rufus lived.
He had grown up in Tyler County, near the Tennessee line, north of Ford County. He had a good base, politically. He was a good prosecutor. During elections he boasted of a ninety percent conviction rate, and of sending more men to death row than any prosecutor in the state. He was loud, abrasive, sanctimonious. His client was the people of the State of Mississippi, by God, and he took that obligation
seriously. The people hated crime, and he hated crime, and together they could eliminate it.
He could talk to a jury; oh, how he could talk to a jury. He could preach, pray, sway, plead, beg. He could inflame a jury to the point it couldn't wait to get back to that jury room and have a prayer meeting, then vote and return with a rope to hang the defendant.
He could talk like the blacks and he could talk like the rednecks, and that was enough to satisfy most of the jurors in the Twenty- second. And the juries were good to him in Ford
County. He liked Clanton.
When he arrived at his office in the Polk County Courthouse, Rufus was delighted to see a camera crew waiting in his reception room. He was very busy, he explained, looking at his watch, but he might have a minute for a few questions.
He arranged them in his office and sat splendidly in his leather swivel behind the desk.
The reporter was from Jackson.
"Mr. Buckley, do you have any sympathy for Mr. Hai-ley?"
He smiled seriously, obviously in deep thought. "Yes, I do. I have sympathy for any parent whose child is raped. I certainly do. But what I cannot condone, and what our system cannot tolerate, is this type of vigilante justice."
"Are you a parent?"
"I am. I have one small son and two daughters, one the age of the Hailey girl, and I'd be outraged if one of my daughters were raped. But I would hope our judicial system would deal effectively with the rapist. I have that much confidence in the system."
"So you anticipate a conviction?"
"Certainly. I normally get a conviction when I go after one, and I intend to get a conviction in this case."
"Will you ask for the death penalty?"
"Yes, it looks like a clear case of premeditated murder. I think the gas chamber would be appropriate."
"Do you predict a death penalty verdict?"
"Of course. Ford County jurors have always been willing to apply the death penalty when
I ask for it and it's appropriate. I get very good juries up there."
"Mr. Brigance, the defendant's attorney, has stated the grand jury may not indict his client."
Buckley chuckled at this. "Well, Mr. Brigance should not be so foolish. The case will be presented to the grand jury Monday, and we'll have our indictments Monday afternoon. I promise you that.
Really, he knows better." "You think the case will be tried in Ford County?" "I don't care where it's tried. I'll get a conviction." "Do you anticipate the insanity defense?" "I anticipate everything. Mr. Brigance is a most capable criminal defense attorney. I don't know what ploy he will use, but the State of Mississippi will be ready." "What about a plea bargain?'*
"I don't much believe in plea negotiating. Neither does Brigance. I wouldn't expect that."
"He said he's never lost a murder case to you." The smile disappeared instantly. He leaned forward on the desk and looked harshly at the reporter. "True, but I bet he didn't mention a number of armed robberies and grand larcenies, did he? I've won my share.
Ninety percent to be exact."
The camera was turned off and the reporter thanked him for his time. No problem, said
Ethel waddled up the stairs and stood before the big desk. "Mr. Brigance, my husband and I received an obscene phone call last night, and I've just taken the second one here at the office. I don't like this."
He motioned to a chair. "Sit down, Ethel. What did these people say?"
"They weren't really obscene. They were threatening. They threatened me because I work for you. Said I'd be sorry because I worked for a nigger lover. The ones here threaten to harm you and your family. I'm just scared."
Jake was worried too, but shrugged it off for Ethel. He had called Ozzie on Wednesday and reported the calls to his house.
"Change your number, Ethel. I'll pay for it."
"I don't want to change my number. I've had it for seventeen years."
"Good, then don't. I've had my home number changed, and it's no big deal."
"Well, I'll not do it."
"Fine. What else do you want?"
"Well, I don't think you should have taken that case. I-"
"And I don't care what you think! You're not paid to think about my cases. If I want to know what you think, I'll ask. Until I do, keep quiet."
She huffed and left. Jake called Ozzie again.
An hour later Ethel announced through the intercom: "Lucien called this morning. He asked me to copy some recent cases, and he wants you to deliver them this afternoon.
Said it had been five weeks since your last visit."
"Four weeks. Copy the cases, and I'll take them this afternoon."
Lucien stopped by the office or called once a month. He read cases and kept abreast of current developments in the law. He had little else to do except drink Jack Daniel's and play the stock market, both of which he did recklessly. He was a drunk, and he spent most of his time on the front porch of his big white house on the hill, eight blocks off the square, overlooking Clanton, sipping
Jack in the Black and reading cases.
He had deteriorated since the disbarment. A full-time maid doubled as a nurse who served drinks on the porch f rom noon until midnight. He seldom ate or slept, preferring instead to rock away the hours.
Jake was expected to visit at least once a month. The visits were made out of some sense of duty. Lucien was a bitter, sick old man who cursed lawyers, judges, and especially the
State Bar Association. Jake was his only friend, the only audience he could find and keep captive long enough to hear his sermons. Along with the preaching he also freely dispensed unsolicited advice on Jake's cases, a most annoying habit. He knew about the cases, although Jake never knew how Lucien knew so much. He was seldom seen downtown or anywhere in Clanton except at the package store in the black section.
The Saab parked behind the dirty, dented Porsche, and Jake handed the cases to Lucien.
There were no hellos or other greetings, just the handing of the copies to Lucien, who said nothing. They sat in the wicker rockers on the long porch and looked out over
Clanton. The top floor of the courthouse stood above the buildings and houses and trees around the square.
Finally he offered whiskey, then wine, then beer. Jake declined. Carla frowned on drinking, and Lucien knew it.
"For what?" Jake asked.
"For the Hailey case."
"Why am I to be congratulated?"
"I never had a case that big, and I had some big ones."
"Big in terms of what?"
"Publicity. Exposure, That's the name of the game for lawyers, Jake. If you're unknown, you starve. When people get in trouble they call a lawyer, and they call someone they've heard of. You must sell yourself to the public, if you're a street lawyer. Of course it's different if you're in a big corporate or insurance firm where you sit on your ass and bill a hundred bucks an hour, ten hours a day, ripping off little people and-"
"Lucien," Jake interrupted quietly, "we've talked about this many times. Let's talk about the Hailey case."
"All right, all right. I'll bet Noose refuses to change venue."
"Who said I would request it?"
"You're stupid if you don't."
"Simple statistics! This county is twenty-six percent black. Every other county in the
Twenty- second is at least thirty percent black. Van Buren County is forty percent. That means more black jurors, potentialjurors.. If you get it moved, you have a better chance for blacks in the jury box. If it's tried here, you run the risk of an all-white jury, and believe me, I've seen enough all-white juries in this county. All you need is one black to hang it and get a mistrial."
"But then it'll be retried." ' '
"Then hang it again. They'll give up after three trials. A hung jury is the same as a loss on
Buckley's scorecard. He'll quit after the third trial."
"So I simply tell Noose I want the trial moved to a blacker county so I can get a blacker jury."
"You can if you want to, but I wouldn't. I'd go through the usual crap about pretrial publicity, a biased community, and on and on."
"And you don't think Noose'11 buy it."
"Naw. This case is too big, and it'll get bigger. The press has intervened and already started the trial. Everyone's heard of it, and not just in Ford County. You couldn't find a person in this state without a preconceived notion of guilt or innocence. So why move it to another county?"
"Then why should I request it?"
"Because when that poor man is convicted, you'll need something to argue on appeal.
You can claim he was denied a fair trial because venue was not changed."
"Thanks for the encouragement. What're the chances of getting it moved to another district, say somewhere in the delta?"
"Forget it. You can request a change of venue, but you cannot request a certain location."
Jake didn't know that. He usually learned something during these visits. He nodded confidently and studied the old man with the long, dirty gray beard. There had never been a time when he stumped Lucien on a point of criminal law.
"Sallie!" Lucien screamed, throwing his ice cubes into the shrubs.
"Who's Sallie?"
"My maid," he replied as a tall, attractive black lady opened the screen door and smiled at Jake.
"Yeah, Lucien?" she answered.
"My glass is empty."
She walked elegantly across the porch and took his glass. She was under thirty, shapely, pretty, and very dark. Jake ordered iced tea.
"Where'd you find her?" he asked.
Lucien stared at the courthouse.
"Where'd you find her?"
"I dunno."
"How old is she?"
Lucien was silent.
"She live here?"
No response.
"How much do you pay her?"
"Why is it any of your business? More than you pay Ethel. She's a nurse too, you know."
Sure, Jake thought with a grin. "I'll bet she does a lot of things."
"Don't worry about it."
"I take it you're not thrilled with my chances for an acquittal."
Lucien reflected a moment. The maid/nurse returned with the whiskey and tea.
"Not really. It will be difficult."
"Looks like it was premeditated. From what I gather it was well planned. Right?"
"I'm sure you'll plead insanity."
"I don't know."
"You must plead insanity," Lucien lectured sternly. "There is no other possible defense.
You can't claim it was an accident. You can't say he shot those two boys, handcuffed and unarmed, with a machine gun in self-defense, can you?"
"You won't create an alibi and tell the jury he was at home with his family?"
"Of course not."
"Then what other defense do you have? You must say he was crazy!"
"But, Lucien, he was not insane, and there's no way I can find some bogus psychiatrist to say he was. He planned it meticulously, every detail."
Lucien smiled and took a drink. "That's why you're in trouble, my boy."
Jake sat his tea on the table and rocked slowly. Lucien savored the moment. "That's why you're in trouble," he repeated.
"What about the jury? You know they'll be sympathetic."
"That's exactly why you must plead insanity. You must give the jury a way out. You must show them a way to find him not guilty, if they are so inclined. If they're
sympathetic, if they want to acquit, you must provide them with a defense tney can use to do it. It makes no difference if they believe the insanity crap. That's not important in the jury room.
What's important is that the jury have a legal basis for an acquittal, assuming they want to acquit."
"Will they want to acquit?"
"Some will, but Buckley will make an awfully strong case of premeditated murder. He's good. He'll take away their sympathy. Hailey'll be just another black on trial for killing a white man when Buckley gets through with him."
Lucien rattled his ice cubes and stared at the brown liquid. "And what about the deputy?
Assault with intent to kill a peace officer carries life, no parole. Talk your way out of that one."
"There was no intent."
"Great. That'll be real convincing when the poor guy hobbles to the witness stand and shows the jury his nub."
"Yes. Nub. They cut his leg off last night."
"Yes, the one Mr. Hailey shot."
"I thought he was okay."
"Oh he's fine. Just minus a leg."
"How'd you find out?"
"I've got sources."
Jake walked to the edge of the porch and leaned on a column. He felt weak. The confidence was gone, taken away again by Lucien. He was an expert at poking holes in every case Jake tried. It was sport to him, and he was usually right.
"Look, Jake, I don't mean to sound so hopeless. The case can be won-it's a long shot, but it can be won. You can walk him out of there, and you need to believe you can. Just don't get too cocky. You've said enough to the press for a while. Back off, and go to work."
Lucien walked to the edge of the porch and spat in the shrubs. "Always keep in mind that
Mr. Hailey is guilty, guilty as hell. Most criminal defendants are, but especially this one.
He took the law into his own hands, and he murdered two people. Planned it all, very carefully. Our legal system does not permit vigilante justice. Now, you can win the case, and if you do, justice will prevail. But if you lose it, justice will also prevail. Kind of a strange case, I guess. I just wish I had it."
"You serious?"
"Sure I'm serious. It's a trial lawyer's dream. Win it and you're famous. The biggest gun in these parts. It could make you rich."
"I'll need your help."
"You've got it. I need something to do."
After dinner, and after Hanna was asleep, Jake told Carla about the calls at the office.
They had received a strange call before during one of the other murder trials, but no threats were made, just some groaning and breathing. But these were different. They mentioned Jake's name and his family, and promised revenge if Carl Lee was acquitted.
"Are you worried?" she asked.
"Not really. It's probably just some kids, or some of Cobb's friends. Does it scare you?"
"I would prefer they didn't call."
"Everybody's getting calls. Ozzie's had hundreds. Bul-lard, Childers, everybody. I'm not worried about it."
"What if it becomes more serious?"
"Carla, I would never endanger my family. It's not worth it. I'll withdraw from the case if
I think the threats are legitimate. I promise."
She was not impressed.
Lester peeled off nine one-hundred-dollar bills and laid them majestically on Jake's desk.
"That's only nine hundred," Jake said. "Our agreement was a thousand."
"Gwen needed groceries."
"You sure Lester didn't need some whiskey?"
"Come on, Jake, you know I wouldn't steal from my own brother."
"Okay, okay. When's Gwen going to the bank to borrow the rest?"
"I'm goin' right now to see the banker. Atcavage?"
"Yeah, Stan Atcavage, next door at Security Bank. Good friend of mine. He loaned it before on your trial. You got the deed?"
"In my pocket. How much you reckon he'll give us?"
"No idea. Why don't you go find out."
Lester left, and ten minutes later Atcavage was on the phone.
"Jake, I can't loan the money to these people. What if he's convicted-no offense, I know you're a good lawyer- my divorce, remember-but how's he gonna pay me sitting on death row?"
"Thanks. Look Stan, if he defaults you own ten acres, right?"
"Right, with a shack on it. Ten acres of trees and kudzu plus an old house. Just what my new wife wants. Come on, Jake." .
"It's a nice house, and it's almost paid for."
"It's a shack, a clean shack. But it's not worth anything, Jake."
"It's gotta be worth something."
"Jake, I don't want it. The bank does not want it."
"You loaned it before."
"And he wasn't in jail before; his brother was, remember. He was working at the paper mill. Good job, too. Now he's headed for Parchman."
"Thanks, Stan, for the vote of confidence."
"Come on, Jake, I've got confidence in your ability, but I can't loan money on it. If anybody can get him off, you can. And I hope you do. But I can't make this loan. The auditors would scream."
Lester tried the Peoples Bank and Ford National, with the same results. They hoped his brother was acquitted, but what if he wasn't.
Wonderful, thought Jake. Nine hundred dollars for a capital murder case.
Claude had never seen the need for printed menus in his cafe. Years before when he first opened he couldn't afford menus, and now that he could he didn't need them because most folks knew what he served. For breakfast he cooked everything but rice and toast, and the prices varied. For Friday lunch he barbecued pork shoulder and spare ribs, and everybody knew it. He had few white customers during the week, but at noon Friday, every Friday, his small cafe was half white. Claude had known for some time that whites enjoyed barbecue as much as blacks; they just didn't know how to prepare it.
Jake and Atcavage found a small table near the kitchen. Claude himself delivered two plates of ribs and slaw. He leaned toward Jake and said softly, "Good luck to you. Hope you get him off."
"Thanks, Claude. I hope you're on the jury."
Claude laughed and said louder, "Can I volunteer?"
Jake attacked the ribs and chewed on Atcavage for not making the loan. The banker was steadfast, but did offer to lend five thousand if Jake would cosign. That would be unethical, Jake explained.
On the sidewalk a line formed and faces squinted through the painted letters on the front windows. Claude was everywhere, taking orders, giving orders, cooking, counting money, shouting, swearing, greeting customers, and asking them to leave. On Friday, the customers were allotted twenty minutes after the food was served, then Claude asked and sometimes demanded that they pay and leave so he could sell more barbecue.
"Quit talkin' and eat!" he would yell.
"I've got ten more minutes, Claude."
"You got seven."
On Wednesday he fried catfish, and allowed thirty minutes because of the bones. The white folks avoided Claude's on Wednesday, and he knew why. It was the grease, a secret recipe grease handed down by his grandmother, he said. It was heavy and sticky and wreaked havoc with the lower intestines of white people. It didn't faze the blacks, who piled in by the carloads every Wednesday.
Two foreigners sat near the cash register and watched Claude fearfully as he directed lunch.
Probably reporters, thought Jake. Each time Claude drew nigh and glared, they obediently picked up and gnawed a rib. They had not experienced ribs before, and
it was obvious to everyone they were from the North. They had wanted chef salads, but Claude cursed them, and told them to eat barbecue or leave. Then he announced to the crowd these silly fools wanted chef salads.
"Here's your food. Hurry up and eat it," he had demanded when he served them.
"No steak knives?" one had asked crisply.
Claude rolled his eyes and staggered away mumbling.
One noticed Jake, and, after staring for a few minutes, finally walked over and knelt by the table.
"Aren't you Jake Brigarice, Mr. Hailey's attorney?"
"Yes, I am. Who are you?"
"I'm Roger McKittrick, with The New York Times."
"Nice to meet you," Jake said with a ^mile and a new attitude.
"I'm covering the Hailey case, and I'd like to talk with you sometime. As soon as possible, really."
"Sure. I'm not too busy this afternoon. It's Friday."
"I could do it late."
"How about four?"
"Fine," said McKittrick, who noticed Claude approaching from the kitchen. "I'll see you then."
"Okay, buddy," Claude yelled at McKittrick. "Time's up. Get your check and leave."
Jake and Atcavage finished in fifteen minutes, and waited for the verbal assault from
Claude. They licked their fingers and mopped their faces and commented on the tenderness of the ribs.
"This case'll make you famous, won't it?" asked Atcavage.
"I hope. Evidently it won't make any money."
"Seriously, Jake, won't it help your practice?"
"If I win, I'll have more clients than I can handle. Sure it'll help. I can pick and choose my cases, pick and choose my clients."
"Financially, what'll it mean?"
"I have no idea. There's no way to predict who or what it might attract. I'll have more cases to choose from, so that means more money. I could quit worrying about the overhead."
"Surely you don't worry about the overhead."
"Look, Stan, we're not all filthy rich. A law degree is not worth what it once was-too many of us. Fourteen in this little town. Competition is tough, even in Clanton-not enough good cases and too many lawyers. It's worse in the big towns, and the law schools graduate more and more, many of whom can't find jobs. I get ten kids a year knocking on my door looking for work. A big firm in Memphis laid off some lawyers a few months ago. Can you imagine? Just like a factory, they laid them off. I suppose they went down to the unemployment office and stood in line with the 'dozer operators. Lawyers now, not secretaries or truck drivers, but lawyers."
"Sorry I asked."
"Sure I worry about the overhead. It runs me four thousand a month, and I practice alone.
That's fifty thousand a year before I clear a dime. Some months are good, others slow.
They're all unpredictable. I wouldn't dare estimate what I'll gross next month. That's why this case is so important. There will never be another one like it. It's the biggest. I'll practice the rest of my life and never have another reporter from The New York Times stop me in a cafe and ask for an interview. If I win, I'll be the top dog in this part of the state. I can forget about the overhead."
"And if you lose?"
Jake paused and glanced around for Claude. "The publicity will be abundant regardless of the outcome. Win or lose, the case will help my practice. But a loss will really hurt.
Every lawyer in the county is secretly hoping I blow it. They want him convicted. They're jealous, afraid I might get too big and take away their clients. Lawyers are extremely jealous."
"You too?"
"Sure. Take the Sullivan firm. I despise every lawyer in that firm, but I'm jealous to an extent. I wish I had some of their clients, some of their retainers, some of their security.
They know that every month they'll get a nice check, it's guaranteed almost, and every
Christmas they'll get a big bonus. They represent old money, steady money. That would be enjoyable for a change. Me, I represent drunks, thugs, wife beaters, husband beaters, injured people, most of whom have little or no money. And I never know from one month to the next how many of these people will show up at my office."
"Look, Jake," Atcavage interrupted. "I would really like to finish this discussion, but
Claude just looked at his watch and then looked at us. I think our twenty minutes are up."
Jake's check was seventy-one cents more than At-cavage's, and since both orders were identical, Claude was interrogated. No problem, he explained, Jake got an extra rib.
McKittrick was personable and precise, thorough and pushy. He had arrived in Clanton on Wednesday to investigate and write about what was billed as the most famous murder in the country, at the moment. He talked to Ozzie and Moss Junior,
and they suggested he talk to Jake. He talked to Bullard, through the door, and the judge suggested he talk to
Jake. He interviewed Gwen and Lester, but was not permitted to meet the girl. He visited with the regulars at the Coffee Shop and the Tea Shoppe, and he visited with the regulars at Huey's and Ann's Lounge. He talked to Willard's ex-wife and mother, but Mrs. Cobb was through with reporters. One of Cobb's brothers offered to talk for a fee. McKittrick declined. He drove to the paper mill and talked to the coworkers, and he drove to
Smithfield to interview the D.A. He would be in town for a few more days, then return for the trial.
He was from Texas, and retained, when convenient, a slight drawl, which impressed the locals and opened them up. He even said "you all" and "y'all" occasionally, and this distinguished him from most of the other reporters who clung to their crisp, precise, modern American pronunciation.
"What's that?" McKittrick pointed to the center of Jake's desk.
"That's a tape recorder," Jake answered.
McKittrick sat his own recorder on the desk and looked at Jake's. "May I ask why?"
"You may. It's my office, my interview, and if I want to record it, I will."
"Are you expecting trouble?"
"I'm trying to prevent it. I hate to be misquoted."
"I'm not known for misquoting."
"Good. Then you won't mind if both of us record ever-thing."
"You don't trust me, do you, Mr. Brigance?"
"Hell no. And my n ame is Jake."
"Why don't you trust me?"
"Because you're a reporter, you're from a New York paper, you're looking for a sensational story, and if you're true to form, you'll write some well-informed, moralistic piece of trash depicting us all as racist, ignorant rednecks."
"You're wrong. First of all, I'm from Texas."
"Your paper is from New York."
"But I consider myself a Southerner."
"How long have you been gone?"
"About twenty years."
Jake smiled and shook his head, as if to say: That's too long.
"And I don't work for a sensational newspaper."
"We'll see. The trial is several months away. We'll have time to read your stories."
"Fair enough."
Jake punched the play button on his tape recorder, and McKittrick did likewise.
"Can Carl Lee Hailey receive a fair trial in Ford County?"
"Why couldn't he?" Jake asked.
"Well, he's black. He killed two white men, and he will be tried by a white jury."
"You mean he will be tried by a bunch of white racists."
"No, that's not what I said, nor what I implied. Why do you automatically assume I think you are all a bunch of racists?"
"Because you do. We're stereotyped, and you know it."
McKittrick shrugged and wrote something on his steno pad. "Will you answer the question?"
"Yes. He^can receive a fair trial in Ford County, if he's tried here."
"Do you want it tried here?"
"I'm sure we'll try to move it."
"To where?"
"We won't suggest a place. That's up to the judge."
"Where did he get the M-16?"
Jake chuckled and stared at the tape recorder. "I do not know."
"Would he be indicted if he were white?"
"He's black, and he has not been indicted."
"But if he were white, would there be an indictment?"
"Yes, in my opinion."
"Would he be convicted?"
"Would you like a cigar?" Jake opened a desk drawer and found a Roi-Tan. He unwrapped it; then lit it with a butane lighter.
"No thanks."
"No, he would not be convicted if he were white. In my opinion. Not in Mississippi, not in Texas, not in Wyoming. I'm not sure about New York."
"Why not?"
"Do you have a daughter?"
"Then you wouldn't understand."
"I think I do. Will Mr. Hailey be convicted?"
"So the system does not work as fairly for blacks?"
"Have you talked with Raymond Hughes?"
"No. Who is he?"
"He ran for sheriff last time, and had the misfortune of making the runoff against Ozzie
Walls. He's white. Ozzie, of course, is not. If I'm not mistaken, he got thirty-one percent of the vote. In a county that's seventy-four percent white. Why don't you ask Mr. Hughes if the system treats blacks fairly?"
"I was referring to the judicial system."
"It's the same system. Who do you think sits in the jury box? The same registered voters who elected Ozzie Walls."
"Well, if a white man would not be convicted, and Mr. Hailey will probably be convicted, explain to me how the system treats both fairly."
"It doesn't."
"I'm not sure I'm following you."
"The system reflects society. It's not always fair, but it's as fair as the system in New
York, or Massachusetts, or California. It's as fair as biased, emotional humans can make it."
"And you think Mr. Hailey will be treated as fairly here as he would be in New York?"
"I'm saying there's as much racism in New York as in Mississippi. Look at our public schools- they're as desegregated as any."
"By court order."
"Sure, but what about the courts in New York. For years you pious bastards pointed your fingers and noses at us down here and demanded that we desegregate. It happened, and it has not been the end of the world. But you've conveniently ignored your own schools and neighborhoods, your own voting irregularities, your own all-white juries and city councils. We were wrong, and we've paid dearly for it. But we learned, and although the change has been slow and painful, at least we're trying. Y'all are still pointing fingers."
"I didn't intend to refight Gettysburg."
"I'm sorry. What defense will we use? I do not know at this point. Honestly, it's just too early. He hasn't even been indicted."
"Of course he will?"
"Of course we don't know yet. More than likely. When will this be printed?"
"Maybe Sunday."
"Makes no difference. No one here takes your paper. Yes, he will be indicted."
McKittrick glanced at his watch, and Jake turned off his recorder.
"Look, I'm not a bad guy," McKittrick said. "Let's drink a beer sometime and finish this."
"Off the record, I don't drink. But I accept your invitation."
The First Presbyterian Church of Clanton was directly across the street from the First
United Methodist Church of Clanton, and both churches were within sight of the much larger First Baptist Church. The Baptists had more members and money, but the
Presbyterians and Methodists adjourned earlier on Sunday and outraced the Baptists to the restaurants for Sunday dinner. The Baptists would arrive at twelve-thirty and stand in line while the Presbyterians and Methodists ate slowly and waved at them.
Jake was content not to be a Baptist. They were a bit too narrow and strict, and they were forever preaching about Sunday night church, a ritual Jake had always struggled with.
Carla was raised as a Baptist, Jake a Methodist, and during the courtship a compromise was negotiated, and they became Presbyterians. They were happy with their church and its activities, and seldom missed.
On Sunday, they sat in their usual pew, with Hanna asleep between them, and ignored the sermon. Jake ignored it by watching the preacher and picturing his confronting Buckley, in court, before twelve good and lawful citizens, as the nation watched and waited, and
Carla ignored it by watching the preacher and mentally redecorating the dining room. Jake caught a few inquisitive stares during the worship service, and he figured his fellow church members were somewhat awed to have a celebrity among them. There were some strange faces in the congregation, and they were either long-lost repentant members or reporters. Jake was unsure until one persisted in staring at him-then he knew they were all reporters.
"Enjoyed your sermon, Reverend," Jake lied as he shook hands with the minister on the steps outside the sanctuary.
"Good to see you, Jake," replied the reverend. "We've watched you all week on TV. My kids get excited every time they see you."
"Thanks. Just pray for us."
They drove to Karaway for Sunday lunch with Jake's parents. Gene and Eva Brigance lived in the old family house, a sprawling country home on five acres of wooded land in downtown Karaway, three blocks from Main Street and two blocks from the school where Jake and his sister put in twelve years. Both were retired, but young enough to travel the continent in a mobile home each summer. They would leave Monday for
Canada and return after Labor Day. Jake was their only son. An older daughter lived in
New Orleans.
Sunday lunch on Eva's table was a typical Southern feast of fried meats, fresh garden vegetables- boiled, battered, baked, and raw, homemade rolls and biscuits, two gravies, watermelon, cantaloupe, peach cobbler, lemon pie, and strawberry shortcake. Little of it would be eaten, and the leftovers would be neatly packaged by Eva and Carla and sent to
Clanton, where it would last for a week.
"How are your parents, Carla?" Mr. Brigance asked as he passed the rolls.
"They're fine. I talked to Mother yesterday."
"Are they in Knoxville?"
"No, sir. They're already in Wilmington for the summer."
"Will y'all be going to visit them?" asked Eva as she poured the tea from a one-gallon ceramic pitcher.
Carla glanced at Jake, who was dipping butterbeans onto Hanna's plate. He did not want to discuss
Carl Lee Hailey. Every meal since Monday night had centered around the case, and Jake was in no mood to answer the same questions.
"Yes, ma'am. We plan to. It depends on Jake's schedule. It could be a busy summer."
"So we've heard," Eva said flatly, slowly as if to remind her son he had not called since the killings.
"Is something wrong with your phone, son?" asked Mr. Brigance.
"Yes. We've had the number changed."
The four adults ate slowly, apprehensively, while Hanna looked at the shortcake.
"Yes, I know. That's what the operator told us. To an unlisted number."
"Sorry. I've been very busy. It's been hectic."
"So we've read," said his father.
Eva stopped eating and cleared her throat. "Jake, do you really think you can get him off?"
"I'm worried about your family," said his father. "It could be a very dangerous case."
"He shot them in cold blood," Eva said.
"They raped his daughter, Mother. What would you do if someone raped Hanna?"
"What's rape?" asked Hanna.
"Never mind, dear," Carla said. "Could we please change the subject." She looked firmly at the three Bri-gances, and they started eating again. The daughter-in-law had spoken, with wisdom, as usual.
Jake smiled at his mother without looking at Mr. Bri-gance. "I just don't want to talk about the case, Mother. I'm tired of it."
"I guess we'll have to read about it," said Mr. Brigance.
They talked about Canada.
At about the time the Brigances finished lunch, the sanctuary of the Mt. Zion Chapel
CME rocked and swayed as the Right Reverend Ollie Agee whipped the devotees into a glorified frenzy.
Deacons danced. Elders chanted. Women fainted. Grown men screamed and raised their arms toward the heavens as the small children looked upward in holy terror. Choir members lurched and lunged and jerked, then broke down and shrieked different stanzas of the same song. The organist played one song, the pianist another, and the choir sang whatever came over it. Th e reverend hopped around the pulpit in his long white robe with purple trim, yelling, praying, screaming at God, and perspiring.
The bedlam rose and fell, rising it seemed with each new fainting, and falling with fatigue. Through years of experience Agee knew precisely when the fury reached its peak, when the delirium gave way to weariness, and when the flock needed a break. At that precise moment, he jigged to the pulpit and slapped it with the power of God
Almighty. Instantly the music died, the convulsions ceased, the fainters awoke, the children stopped crying, and the multitude settled submissively into the pews. It was time for the sermon.
As the reverend was about to preach, the rear doors opened and the Haileys entered the sanctuary. Little Tonya walked by herself, limping, holding her mother's hand. Her brothers marched behind, and Uncle Lester followed. They moved slowly down the aisle and found a seat near the front. The reverend nodded at the organist, who began to play softly, then the choir began to hum and sway. The deacons stood and swayed with the choir. Not to be outdone, the elders stood and began to chant. Then, of all things, Sister
Crystal fainted violently. Her fainting was contagious, and the other sisters began dropping like flies. The elders chanted louder than the choir, so the choir got
excited. The organist could not be heard, so she increased the volume. The pianist joined in with a clanging rendition of a hymn unlike the hymn being played by the organist. The organist thundered back. Reverend Agee fluttered down from the podium and danced his way toward the Haileys.
Everyone followed-the choir, the deacons, the elders, the women, the crying children-everyone followed the reverend to greet the little Hailey girl.
Jail did not bother Carl Lee. Home was more pleasant, but under the circumstances, he found jail life tolerable. It was a new jail, built with federal money under the mandate of a prisoners' rights lawsuit. The food was cooked by two huge black women who knew how to cook and write bad checks. They were eligible for early release, but Ozzie had not bothered to tell them. The food was served to forty prisoners, give or take a few, by the trusties. Thirteen of the prisoners belonged at Parchman, but it was full. So they waited, never knowing if the next day would be their day for the dreaded trip to the sprawling, enclosed delta farm where the food was not as good, the beds were not as soft, the air conditioning was nonexistent, the mosquitoes immense, plentiful, and vicious, and where toilets were scarce and clogged.
Carl Lee's cell was next to Cell Two, where the state prisoners waited. With two exceptions, they were black, and with no exceptions, they were violent. But they were all afraid of Carl Lee. He shared Cell One with two shoplifters who were not just scared, but downright terrified of their famous cellmate. Each evening he was escorted to Ozzie's office, where he and the sheriff ate dinner and watched the news. He was a celebrity, and he liked that almost as much as did his lawyer and the D.A. He wanted to explain things to the reporters, tell them about his daughter and why he should not be in jail, but his lawyer said no.
After Gwen and Lester left late Sunday afternoon, Oz-zie, Moss Junior, and Carl Lee sneaked out the rear of the jail and went to the hospital. It was Carl Lee's idea, and Ozzie saw no harm. Looney was alone in a private room when the three entered. Carl Lee took one look at the leg, then stared at Looney. They shook hands. With watery eyes and a breaking voice Carl Lee said he was sorry, that he had no intention of hurting anyone but the two boys, that he wished and prayed he could undo what he had done to Looney.
Without hesitation, Looney accepted the apology.
Jake was waiting in Ozzie's office when they sneaked back into the jail. Ozzie and Moss
Junior excused themselves, leaving the defendant with his lawyer.
"Where have y'all been?" Jake asked suspiciously.
"Went to the hospital to see Looney."
"You what!"
"Nothin' wrong, is it?"
"I wish you would check with me before you make any more visits."
"What's wrong with seein' Looney?"
"Looney will be the star witness for the State when they attempt to send you to the gas chamber. That's all. He ain't on our side, Carl Lee, and any talking you do with Looney should be with your attorney present. Understand?"
"Not really."
"I can't believe Ozzie would do that," Jake mumbled.
"It was my idea," Carl Lee admitted.
"Well, if you get any more ideas, please let me know about them. Okay?"
"You talked to Lester lately?"
"Yeah, him and Gwen came by today. Brought me goodies. Told me 'bout the banks."
Jake planned to play hardball about his fee; no way he could represent Carl Lee for nine hundred dollars. The case would consume his practice for the next three monms ai least, and nine hundred would be less than minimum wage. It would not be fair to him or his family to work for nothing. Carl Lee would simply have to raise the money. There were plenty of relatives. Gwen had a big family. They would just have to sacrifice, maybe sell a few automobiles, maybe some land, but Jake would get his fee.
If not, Carl Lee could find another lawyer.
"I'll give you the deed to my place," Carl Lee offered.
Jake melted. "I don't want your place, Carl Lee. I want cash. Sixty-five hundred dollars."
"Show me how, and I'll do it. You the lawyer, you figure out a way. I'm with you."
Jake was beat and he knew it. "I can't do it for nine hundred dollars, Carl Lee. I can't let this case bankrupt me. I'm a lawyer. I'm supposed to make money."
"Jake, I'll pay you the money. I promise. It may take a long time, but I'll pay you. Trust me."
Not if you're on death row, thought Jake. He changed the subject. "You know the grand jury meets tomorrow, and it'll take up your case."
"So I go to court?"
"Naw, it means you'll be indicted tomorrow. The courthouse will be full of people and reporters. Judge Noose will be here to open the May term of court. Buckley'll be running around chasing cameras and blowing smoke. It's a big day. Noose starts an armed robbery trial in the afternoon. If you're indicted tomorrow, we'll be in court Wednesday or Thursday for the arraignment."
"The what?"
"The arraignment. In a capital murder case, the judge is required by law to read the indictment to you in open court in front of God and everybody. They'll make a big deal out of it. We'll enter a plea of not guilty, and Noose sets the trial date. We ask for a reasonable bond, and he says no. When I mention bond Buckley'll scream and turn cartwheels. The more I think of him the more I hate him. He'll be a large pain in the ass."
"Why don't I get a bond?"
"For capital murder, the judge does not have to set a bond. He can if he wants to, but most don't. Even if Noose set a bond, you couldn't pay it, so don't worry about it. You'll be in jail until trial."
"I lost my job, you know."
"Gwen drove over Friday and got my paycheck. They told her. Nice, ain't it. Work there eleven years, miss five days, and they fire me. Guess they think I ain't comin' back."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Carl Lee. Real sorry."
The Honorable Omar Noose had not always been so honorable. Before he became the circuit judge for the Twenty-second Judicial District, he was a lawyer with meager talent and few clients, but he was a politician of formidable skills. Five terms in the Mississippi
Legislature had corrupted him and taught him the art of political swindling and manipulation. Senator Noose prospered handsomely as chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee, and few people in Van Buren County questioned how he and his family lived so affluently on his legislative salary of seven thousand dollars a year.
Like most members of the Mississippi Legislature, he ran for reelection one time too many, and in the summer of 1971 he was humiliated by an unknown opponent. A year later, Judge Loopus, his predecessor on the bench, died, and Noose persuaded his friends in the Legislature to persuade the governor to appoint him to serve the unexpired term.
That's how ex-State Senator Noose became Circuit Judge Noose. He was elected in 1975, and reelected in 1979 and 1983.
Repentant, reformed, and very humbled by his rapid descent from power, Judge Noose applied himself to the study of the law, and after a shaky start, grew to the job. It paid sixty thousand a year, so he could afford to be honest. Now, at sixty-three, he was a wise old judge, well respected by most lawyers and by the state Supreme Court, which seldom reversed his rulings. He was quiet but charming, patient but strict, and he had a huge monument of a nose that was very long and very pointed and served as a throne for his black-rimmed, octagon-shaped reading glasses, which he wore constantly but never used.
His nose, plus his tall, gawky frame, plus his wild, untamed, dense gray hair, plus his squeaky voice, had given rise to his secret nickname, whispered among lawyers, of
Ichabod. Ichabod Noose. The Honorable Ichabod Noose.
He assumed the bench, and the crowded courtroom stood as Ozzie mumbled incoherently a statutorily required paragraph to officially open the May term of the Ford County
Circuit Court. A long, flowery prayer was offered by a local minister, and the congregation sat down. Prospective jurors filled one side of the courtroom. Criminals and other litigants, their families and friends, the press, and the curious filled the other side.
Noose required every lawyer in the county to attend the opening of the term, and the members of the bar sat in the jury box, all decked out in full regalia, all loo king important.
Buckley and his assistant, D. R. Mus-grove, sat at the prosecution's table, splendidly representing the State. Jake sat by himself in a wooden chair in front of the railing. The clerks and court reporters stood behind the large red docket books on the workbench, and with everyone else.watched intently as Ichabod situated himself in his chair upon the bench, straightened his robe, adjusted his hideous reading glasses, and peered over them at the assemblage.
"Good morning," he squeaked loudly. He pulled the microphone closer and cleared his throat. "It's always nice to be in Ford County for the May term of court. I see most members of the bar found time to appear for the opening of court, and as
usual, I will request Madam Clerk to note those absent attorneys so that I may personally contact them. I see a large number of potential jurors present, and I thank each of you for being here. I realize you had no choice, but your presence is vital to our judicial process. We will empanel a grand jury momentarily, and then we will select several trial juries to serve this week and next. I trust each member of the bar has a copy of the docket, and you will note it looks somewhat crowded. My calendar reveals at least two cases set for trial each day this week and next, but it's my understanding most of the criminal cases set for trial will go off on negotiated plea bargains. Nonetheless, we have many cases to move, and I request the diligent cooperation of the bar. Once the new grand jury is empaneled and goes to work, and once the indictments start coming down, I will schedule arraignments and first appearances. Let's quickly call the docket, criminal first, then civil; then the attorneys may be excused as we select a grand jury.
"State versus Warren Moke. Armed robbery, set for trial this afternoon."
Buckley rose slowly, purposefully. "The State of Missis- sippi is ready for trial, Your
Honor," he announced gloriously for the spectators.
"So's the defense," said Tyndale, the court-appointed lawyer.
"How long do you anticipate for trial?" asked the judge.
"Day and a half," answered Buckley. Tyndale nodded in agreement.
"Good. We'll select the trial jury this morning and start the trial at one P.M. today. State versus William Daal, forgery, six counts, set for tomorrow."
"Your Honor," answered D.R. Musgrove, "there will be a plea in that case."
"Good. State versus Roger Hornton, grand larceny, two counts, set for tomorrow."
Noose continued through the docket. Each case drew the same response. Buckley would stand and proclaim the State ready for trial, or Musgrove would quietly inform the court that a plea had been negotiated. The defense attorneys would stand and nod. Jake had no cases in the May term, and although he tried his best to look bored, he enjoyed the call of the docket because he could learn who had the cases and what the competition was doing.
It was also a chance to look good before some of the local folks. Half the members of the
Sullivan firm were present, and they too looked bored as they sat arrogantly together in the front row of the jury box. The older partners of the Sullivan firm would not dare make an appearance at docket call, and they would lie and tell Noose they were in trial in
Federal Court over in Oxford or perhaps before the Supreme Court in Jackson.
Dignity prevented their mingling with the ordinary members of the bar, so the firm's younger lieutenants were sent to satisfy Noose and request that all the firm's civil cases be continued, postponed, delayed, stalled, or acted upon in such a way that the firm could drag them on forever and continue to bill by the hour. Their clients were insurance companies who generally preferred not to go to trial and would pay by the hour for legal maneuvering designed solely to keep the cases away from the juries. It would be cheaper and fairer to pay a reasonable settlement and avoid both litigation and the parasitic defense firms like Sullivan & O'Hare, but the insurance companies and their adjusters were too stupid and cheap, so street lawyers like Jake Brigance earned their livelihoods suing insurance companies and forcing them to pay more than what they would have paid had they dealt fairly from the beginning.
Jake hated insurance companies, and he hated insurance defense attorneys, and he especially hated the Sullivan firm's younger members, all of whom were his age, and all of whom would gladly cut his throat, their associates' throats, their partners' throats, anyone's throat to make partner and earn two hundred thousand a year and skip docket calls.
Jake particularly hated Lotterhouse, or L. Winston Lot-terhouse, as the letterhead proclaimed him, a little four-eyed wimp with a Harvard degree and a bad case of haughty self-importance who was next in line to make partner and thus had been especially indiscriminate with his throat cutting during the past year. He sat smugly between two other Sullivan associates and held seven files, each of which was being charged a hundred dollars per hour while he answered the docket call.
Noose began the civil docket. "Collins versus Royal Consolidated General Mutual
Insurance Company."
Lotterhouse stood slowly. Seconds meant minutes. Minutes meant hours. Hours meant fees, retainers, bonuses, partnerships.
"Your Honor, sir, that case is set prime for a week from Wednesday."
"I realize that," Noose said.
"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
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 determ ining 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 Gossett. 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."
"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 c ame 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\.cu"t ^UUi 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,
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.
Buckley's knees quivered. He tried to speak, but nothing came forth. Ozzie suppressed his joy.
"We have a motion and a second," announced Mrs. Gossett. "All in favor raise your hands."
Five black hands went up, along with Crowell's. Sk votes. The motion failed.
"Whatta we do now?" asked Mrs. Gossett.
Buckley spoke rapidly: "Someone make a motion to indict Mr. Hailey for two counts of capital murder and one count of assault on a peace officer."
"So move," said one of the whites.
"Second," said another.
"All in favor, raise your hands," said Mrs. Gossett. "I count twelve hands. All opposed-I count five plus mine makes six. Twelve to six. What does that mean?"
"That means he's been indicted," Buckley replied proudly. He breathed normally again, and the color returned to his face. He whispered to a secretary, then addressed the grand jury. "Let's take a ten-minute recess. We have about forty more cases to work on, so please don't be gone long. I would like to remind you of something Judge Noose said this morning. These deliberations are extremely confidential.
You are not to discuss any 01 your worK ouisiue room-"
"What he's tryin' to say," interrupted Crowell, "is that we can't tell anybody that he came within one vote of not gettin' the indictments. Ain't that right, Buckley?"
The D.A. quickly left the room and slammed the door.
Surrounded by dozens of cameras and reporters, Buckley stood on the front steps of the courthouse and waved copies of the indictments. He preached, lectured, moralized, praised the grand jury, sermonized against crime and vigilantes, and condemned Carl Lee_Hailey. Bring on the trial. Put the jury in the box. He guaranteed a conviction. He guaranteed a death penalty. He was obnoxious, offensive, arrogant, self-righteous. He was himself. Vintage Buckley. A few of the reporters left, but he labored on. He extolled himself and his trial skills and his ninety, no, ninety-five percent conviction rate. More reporters left. More cameras were turned off. He praised Judge Noose for his wisdom and fairness. He acclaimed the intelligence and good judgment of Ford County jurors.
He outlasted them. They grew weary of him and they all left.
Stump Sisson was the Klan's Imperial Wizard for Mississippi, and he had called the meeting at the small cabin deep in the pine forests of Nettles County, two hundred and thirty miles south of Ford County. There were no robes, rituals, or speeches. The small group of Klansmen discussed the events in Ford County with a Mr. Freddie Cobb, brother of Billy Ray Cobb, deceased. Freddie had called a friend who called Stump to arrange the meeting.
Had they indicted the nigger? Cobb was not sure, but he had heard the trial would be in late summer, or early fall. What concerned him most was all the talk about the nigger pleading insanity and getting off. It wasn't right. The nigger killed his brother in cold blood, planned the shooting. He hid in a closet and waited for his brother. It was coldblooded murder, and now there was talk of the nigger walking free. What could the
Klan do about it? The niggers have plenty of protection nowadays-the NAACP, ACLU, a thousand other civil rights groups, plus the courts and the government. Hell, whit e folks ain't got a chance, except for the Klan. Who else would march and stand up for white people. All the laws favor the niggers, and the liberal
nigger-loving politicians keep making more laws against white people. Somebody's got to stand up for them. That's why he called the Klan.
Is the nigger in jail? Yes, and he's treated like a king. Got a nigger sheriff up there, Walls, and he likes this nigger. Gives him special privileges and extra protection. The sheriffs another story. Someone said Hailey might get out of jail this week on bond. Just a rumor.
They hoped he got out.
What about your brother? Did he rape her? We're not sure, probably not. Willard, the other guy, confessed to rape, but Billy Ray never confessed. He had plenty of women.
Why would he rape a little nigger girl? And if he did, what was the big deal?
Who's the nigger's lawyer? Brigance, a local boy in Clanton. Young, but pretty good.
Does a lot of criminal work and has a good reputation, won several minuet told some reporters the nigger would plead insanity and get off.
Who's the judge? Don't know yet. Bullard was the county judge, but someone said he would not hear the case. There's talk of moving the case to another county, so who knows who will be the judge.
Sisson and the Kluxers listened intently to this ignorant redneck. They liked the part about the NAACP and the government and the politicians, but they had also read the papers and watched TV and they knew his brother had received justice. But at the hands of a nigger. It was unthinkable. The case had real potential. With the trial several months away, there was time to plan a rebellion. They could march during the day around the courthouse in their white robes and pointed, hooded masks. They could make speeches to a captive audience and parade in front of the cameras. The press would love it-hate them, but love the altercations, the disruptions. And at night they could intimidate with burning crosses and threatening phone calls. The targets would be easy and unsuspecting.
Violence would be unavoidable. They knew how to provoke it. They fully appreciated what the sight of marching white robes did to crowds of angry niggers.
Ford County could be their playground for hide and seek, search and destroy, and hit and run. They had time to organize and call in comrades from other states. What Kluxer would miss this golden moment? And new recruits? Why, this case could fuel the fires of racism and bring nigger haters out of the woods and onto the streets. Membership was down. Hailey would be their new battle cry, the rallying point.
"Mr. Cobb, can you get us the names and addresses of the nigger, his family, his lawyer, the judge, and the jurors?" asked Sisson.
Cobb pondered this task. "Everbody but the jurors. They ain't been picked yet."
"When will you know them?"
"Damned if I know. I guess at trial. What're y'all thinkin'?"
"We're not sure, but the Klan most likely will get involved. We need to flex our muscle a bit, and this could be a good opportunity."
"Can I help?" Cobb asked eagerly.
"Sure, but you need to be a member."
"We ain't got no Klan up there. It folded a long time ago. My granddaddy used to be a member."
"You mean the grandfather of the victim was a Klansman?"
"Yep," Cobb answered proudly.
"Well, then, we must get involved." The Klansmen shook their heads in disbelief and vowed revenge. They explained to Cobb that if he could get five or six friends of similar thinking and motivation to agree to join, they would have a big, secret ceremony deep in the woods of Ford County with a huge burning cross and all sorts of rituals.-They would be inducted as members, full- fledged members, of the Ku Klux Klan. Ford County
Klavern. And they would all join in and make a spectacle of the trial of Carl Lee Hailey.
They would raise so much hell in Ford County this summer that no juror with any common sense would consider voting to acquit the nigger. Just recruit half a dozen more, and they would make him the leader of the Ford County Klavern. Cobb said he had enough cousins to start a klavern. He left the meeting drunk with excitement of being a
Klansman, just like his grandfather.
Buckley's timing was a little off. His 4:00 P.M. press show was ignored by the evening news. Jake flipped the channels on a small black and white in his office, and laughed out loud when the networks and then Memphis, then Jackson, then Tupelo signed off with no news of the indictments.
He could see the Buckley family in their den glued to the set, turning knobs and searching desperately for their hero while he yelled at them all to be quiet. And then at seven, after the Tupelo weather, the last weather, they backed away and left him alone in his recliner. Maybe at ten, he probably said.
At ten, Jake and Carla laid cross-legged and tangled in the dark on the sofa, waiting on the news.
Finally, there he was, on trie iront steps, waving papcis anu awuuiig i^*, u street preacher while the Channel 4 man on the scene explained that this was Rufus Buckley, the D.A. who would prosecute Carl Lee Hailey now that he had been indicted. After an awful glimpse of Buckley, the report panned around the square for a wonderful view of downtown Clanton, and then finally back to the reporter for two sentences about a trial in late summer.
"He's offensive," Carla said. "Why would he call a press conference to announce the indictments?"
"He's a prosecutor. We defense lawyers hate the press."
"I've noticed. My scrapbook is rapidly filling up."
"Be sure and make copies for Mom."
"Will you autograph it for her?"
"Only for a fee. Yours, I will autograph for free."
"Fine. And if you lose, I'll send you a bill for clipping and pasting."
"I remind you, dear, that I have never lost a murder case. Three and oh, as a matter of fact."
Carla punched the remote control and the weatherman remained but his volume disappeared. "You know what I dislike most about your murder trials?" She kicked the cushions from her thin, bronze, almost perfect legs.
"The blood, the carnage, the gruesomeness?"
"No." She unfolded her shoulder-length hair and let it fall around her on the arm of the sofa.
"The loss of life, regardless of how insignificant?"
"No." She was wearing one of his old, starched-out, sixteen-by-thirty-four, pinpoint
Oxford button- downs, and she began to play with the buttons.
"The horrible specter of an innocent man facing the gas chamber?"
"No." She was unbuttoning it. The bluish gray rays from the television flashed like a strobe in the dark room as the artchorperson smiled and mouthed good night.
"The fear of a young family as the father walks into the courtroom and faces a jury of his peers?"
"No." It was unbuttoned, and under it a thin, fluorescent band of white silk glittered against the brown skin.
"The latent unfairness of our judicial system?"
"No." She slid an almost perfect bronze leg up, up, up to the back of the sofa where it gently came to rest.
"The unethical and unscrupulous tactics employed by cops and prosecutors to nail innocent defendants?"
"No." She unsnapped the band of silk between the two almost perfect breasts.
"The fervor, the fury, the intensity, the uncontrolled emotions, the struggle of the human spirit, the unbridled passion?"
"Close enough," she said. Shirts and shorts ricocheted off the lamps and coffee tables as the bodies meshed deep under the cushions. The old sofa, a gift from her parents, rocked and squeaked on the ancient hardwood floor. It was sturdy, and accustomed to the rocking and squeaking. Max the mix- breed instinctively ran down the hall to stand guard by Hanna's door.
Harry Rex Vonner was a huge slob of a lawyer who specialized in nasty divorce cases and perpetually kept some jerk in jail for back child support. He was vile and vicious, and his services were in great demand by divorcing parties in Ford County. He could get the children, the house, the farm, the VCR, and microwave, everything. One wealthy farmer kept him on retainer just so the current wife couldn't hire him for the next divorce. Harry
Rex sent his criminal cases to Jake, and Jake sent his nasty divorces to Harry Rex. They were friends and disliked the other lawyers, especially the Sullivan firm.
Tuesday morning he barged in and growled at Ethel: "Jake in?" He lumbered toward the stairs, glaring at her and daring her to speak. She nodded, knowing better than to ask if he was expected. He had cursed her before. He had cursed everybody before.
The stairway shook as he thundered upward. He was gasping for air as he entered the big office.
"Morning, Harry Rex. You gonna make it?"
"Why don't you get an office downstairs?" he demanded between breaths.
"You need the exercise. If it weren't for those stairs your weight would be over three hundred."
"Thanks. Say, I just came from the courtroom. Noose wants you in chambers at ten-thirty if possible. Wants to talk about Hailey with you and Buckley. Set up arraignment, trial date, all that crap. He asked me to tell you."
"Good. I'll be there."
"I guess you heard about the grand jury?"
"Sure. I've got a copy of the indictment right here."
Harry Rex smiled. "No. No, I mean the vote on the indictment."
Jake froze and looked at him curiously. Harry Rex moved in silent and dark circles like a cloud over the county. He was an endless source of gossip and rumor, and took great pride in spreading only the truth-most of the time. He was the first to
know almost everything. The legend of Harry Rex began twenty years earlier with his first jury trial.
The railroad he had sued for millions refused to offer a dime, and after three days of trial the jur y retired to deliberate. The railroad lawyers became concerned when the jury failed to return with a quick verdict in their favor. They offered Harry Rex twenty-five thousand to settle when the deliberations went into the second day. With nerves of steel, he told them to go to hell. His client wanted the money. He told his client to go to hell.
Hours later a weary and fatigued jury returned with a verdict for one hundred fifty thousand. Harry Rex shot the bird at the railroad lawyers, snubbed his clients and went to the bar at the Best Western. He bought drinks for everyone, and during the course of the long evening explained in detail exactly how he had wired the jury room and knew exactly what the jury was up to. Word spread, and Murphy found a series of wires running through the heating ducts to the jury room. The State Bar Association snooped around, but found nothing. For twenty years the judges had ordered the bailiffs to inspect the jury room when Harry Rex was in any way connected with a case.
"How do you know the vote?" Jake asked, suspicion hanging on every syllable.
"I got sources."
"Okay, what was the vote?"
"Twelve to six. One fewer vote and you wouldn't be holding that indictment."
"Twelve to six," Jake repeated.
"Buckley near 'bout died. A guy named Crowell, white guy, took charge and almost convinced enough of them not to indict your man."
"Do you know Crowell?"
"I handled his divorce two years ago. He lived in Jackson until his first wife was raped by a nigger. She went crazy and they got a divorce. She took a steak knife and sliced her wrists. Then he moved to Clanton and married some sleazebag out in the county. Lasted about a year. He ate Buckley's lunch. Told him to shut up and sit down. I wish I could've seen it."
"Sounds like you did."
"Naw. Just got a good source."
"Jake, come on."
"You been wiring rooms again?"
"Nope. I just listen. That's a good sign, ain't it?"
"The close vote. Six outta eighteen voted to let him walk. Five niggers and Crowell.
That's a good sign. Just get a couple of niggers on the jury and hang it. Right?"
"It's not that easy. If it's tried in this county there's a good chance we'll have an all-white jury. They're common here, and as you know, they're still very constitutional. Plus this guy Crowell sounds like he came outta nowhere."
"That's what Buckley thought. -You should see that ass. He's in the courtroom strutting around ready to sign autographs over his big TV splash last night. No one wants to talk about it, so he manages to work it into every conversation. He's like a kid begging for attention."
"Be sweet. He may be your next governor."
"Not if he loses Hailey. And he's gonna lose Hailey, Jake. We'll pick us a good jury, twelve good and faithful citizens, then we'll buy them."
"I didn't hear that."
"Works every time."
A few minutes after ten-thirty, Jake entered the judge's chamber behind the courtroom and coolly shook hands with Buckley, Musgrove, and Ichabod. They had been waiting on him. Noose waved him toward a seat and sat behind the desk.
"Jake, this will take just a few minutes." He peered down that nose. "I would like to arraign Carl Lee Hailey in the morning at nine. Any problems with that?"
"No. That'll be fine," replied Jake.
"We'll have some other arraignments in the morning, then we start a burglary case at ten. Right, Rufus?"
"Yes, sir."
"Okay. Now let's discuss a trial date for Mr. Hailey. As you know, the next term of court here is in late August- third Monday-and I'm sure the docket will be just as crowded then.
Because of the nature of this case and, frankly, because of the publicity, I think it would be best if we had a trial as soon as practical."
"The sooner the better," inserted Buckley.
"Jake, how long will you need to prepare for trial?"
"Sixty days."
"Sixty days!" Buckley repeated in disbelief. "Why so long?"
Jake ignored him and watched Ichabod adjust his reading glasses and study his calendar.
"Would it be safe to anticipate a request for a change of venue?" he asked.
"Won't make any difference," Buckley said. "We'll get a conviction anywhere."
"Save it for the cameras, Rufus," Jake said quietly.
"You shouldn't talk about cameras," Buckley shot back. "You seem to enjoy them yourself."
"Gentlemen, please," Noose said. "What other pretrial motions can we expect from the defense?"
Jake thought for a moment. "There will be others."
"May I inquire about the others?" asked Noose with a hint of irritation.
"Judge, I really don't care to discuss my defense at this time. We just received the indictment and I haven't discussed it with my client. We obviously have some work to do."
"How much time do you need?"
"Sixty days."
"Are you kidding!" Buckley shouted. "Is this a joke? The State could try it tomorrow,
Judge. Sixty days is ridiculous."
Jake began to burn but said nothing. Buckley walked to the window and mumbled to himself in disbelief.
Noose studied his calendar. "Why sixty days?"
"It could be a complicated case."
Buckley laughed and continued shaking his head.
"Then we can expect a defense of insanity?" asked the judge.
"Yes, sir. And it will take time to have Mr. Hailey examined by a psychiatrist. Then the
State will of course want him examined by its doctors."
"I see."
"And we may have other pretnal matters. 11 s a oig case, and I want to make sure we have time to adequately prepare."
"Mr. Buckley?" said the judge.
"Whatever. It makes no difference to the State. We'll be ready. We could try it tomorrow."
Noose scribbled on his calendar and adjusted his reading glasses, which were perched on the tip of that nose and held in place by a tiny wart located perfectly at the foot of the beak. Due to the size of the nose and the odd shape of the head, specially built reading glasses with extra long stems were required for His Honor, who never used them for reading or any other purpose except in a vain effort to distract from the size and shape of the nose. Jake had always suspected this, but lacked the courage to inform His Honor that the ridiculous, orange-tinted hexagonal glasses diverted attention from everything else directly to the nose.
"How long do you anticipate for trial, Jake?" Noose asked.
"Three or four days. But it could take three days to pick the jury."
"Mr. Buckley?"
"Sounds about right. But I don't understand why it takes sixty days to prepare for a three-day trial. I think it should be tried sooner."
"Relax, Rufus," Jake said calmly. "The cameras will be here in sixty days, even ninety days. They won't forget about you. You can give interviews, hold press conferences, preach sermons, everything. The works. But don't worry so much. You'll get your chance."
Buckley's eyes narrowed and his face reddened. He took three steps in Jake's direction.
"If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Brigance, you've given more interviews and seen more cameras than I have during the past week."
"I know, and you're jealous, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not jealous! I don't care about the cameras-"
"Since when?"
"Gentlemen, please," Noose interrupted. "This promises to be a long, emotional case. I expect my attorneys to act like professionals. Now, my calendar is congested. The only opening I have is the week of July 22. Does that present a problem?"
"We can try it that week," said Musgrove.
Jake smiled at Buckley and flipped through his pocket calendar. "Looks good to me."
"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?"
"The worst kind."
"How many kinds are there?"
"Basically three. Manslaughter, regular murder, and capital murder."
"What's manslaughter?"
"Twenty years."
"What's regular murder?"
"Twenty to life."
"What's capital murder?"
"Gas chamber."
"What's aggravated assault on an officer?"
"Life. No parole."
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 yo u 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."
"You promise?"
"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?"
"Just thinkin'."
"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 iu n^,, 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."
"Nothing new?"
"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."
"That bad, huh?"
"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?"
"In my office."
"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."
"The girl, too?"
"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 th e 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.
Noose had scheduled a dozen arraignments for 9:00 A.M., and when he settled into the chair on the bench he shifted through the files until he found Hailey's. He looked to the front row in the courtroom and saw a somber group of suspicious-looking men, all newly indicted. At the far end of the front row, two deputies sat next to a handcuffed defendant, and Brigance was whispering to him. Must be Hailey.
Noose picked up a red court file and adjusted his read- ing glasses so they would not hinder his reading. "State versus Carl Lee Hailey, case number 3889. Will Mr. Hailey come forward?" The handcuffs were removed, and Carl Lee followed his attorney to the bench, where they stood looking up to His Honor, who quietly and nervously scanned the indictment in the file. The courtroom grew silent. Buckley rose and strutted slowly to within a few feet of the defendant. The artists near the railing busily sketched the scene.
Jake glared at Buckley, who had no reason to stand before the bench during the arraignment. The D.A. was dressed in his finest black three-piece polyester suit. Every hair on his huge head had been meticulously combed and plastered in place. He had the appearance of a television evangelist.
Jake walked to Buckley and whispered, "That's a nice suit, Rufus."
"Thanks," he replied, somewhat off-guard.
"Does it glow in the dark?" Jake asked, then returned to the side of his client.
"Are you Carl Lee Hailey?" asked the judge.
"Mr. Brigance your attorney?"
"I'm holding here a copy of an indictment returned against you by the grand jury. Have you been served a copy of this?"
"Have you read it?"
"Have you discussed it with your attorney?"
"Do you understand it?"
"Good. I'm required by law to read it to you in open court." Noose cleared his throat. "
'The grand jurors of the State of Mississippi, taken from the body of good and lawful citizens of Ford County thereof, duly elected, empaneled, sworn, and charged to inquire in and for said county and state aforesaid, in the name and under the authority of the State of Mississippi, upon their oaths present that Carl Lee
Hailey, late of the county and state aloresaia, wimm me jurisdiction of this court, did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously and intentionally and with malice aforethought, kill and murder Billy Ray Cobb, a human being, and Pete Wil-lard, a
human being, and did shoot and attempt to kill DeWayne Looney, a peace officer, in direct violation of the
Mississippi Code, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Mississippi. A true bill. Signed, Laverne Gossett, foreman of the grand jury."
Noose caught his breath. "Do you understand the charges against you?"
"Do you understand that if convicted you could be put to death in the gas chamber at the state penitentiary at Parchman?"
"Do you wish to plead guilty or not guilty?"
"Not guilty."
Noose reviewed his calendar as the audience watched intently. The reporters took notes.
The artists focused-on the principals, including Buckley, who had managed to enter the picture and stand sideways, allowing for a profile shot. He was anxious to say something.
He scowled contemptuously at the rear of Carl Lee's head, as if he could not wait to fry this murderer. He swaggered to the table where Musgrove was sitting and the two whispered importantly. He marched across the courtroom and engaged in hushed conversation with one of the clerks. Then he returned to the bench where the defendant stood motionless next to his attorney, who was aware of Buckley's show and was trying desperately to ignore it.
"Mr. Hailey," Noose squeaked, "your trial is set for Monday, July 22. All pretrial motions and matters must be filed by June 24, and disposed of by July 8."
Carl Lee and Jake nodded.
"Anything further?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Buckley boomed loud enough for the reporters in the rotunda. "The
State opposes any request for bail by this defendant."
Jake gripped his fists and wanted to scream. "Your Honor, the defendant has not yet asked for bail. Mr. Buckley, as usual, is confused about the procedure. He cannot oppose a request until it is made. He should've learned that in law school."
Buckley was stung, but continued. "Your Honor, Mr. Brigance always requests bail, and
I'm sure he'll request it today. The State will oppose any such request."
"Well, why don't you wait until he makes his request?" Noose asked the D.A. with a touch of irritation.
"Very well," Buckley said. His face had reddened and he glared at Jake.
"Do you plan to request bail?" Noose asked.
"I had planned to at the proper time, but before I got a chance Mr. Buckley intervened with his theatrics-"
"Never mind Mr. Buckley," Noose interrupted.
"I know, Judge, he's just confused."
"Bail, Mr. Brigance?"
"Yes, I had planned to request it."
"I thought so, and I've already considered whether bail should be allowed in this case. As you know, it is completely within my discretion, and I never allow bail in a capital murder case. I don't feel as though an exception is in order in this case."
"You mean you've decided to deny bail?"
"Yes." '
Jake shrugged his shoulders and laid a file on the table. "Good enough."
"Anything further?" Noose asked.
"No, Your Honor," Jake said.
Buckley shook his head in silence.
"Good. Mr. Hailey, you are hereby ordered to remain in the custody of the Ford County sheriff until trial. You are dismissed."
Carl Lee returned to the front row, where a deputy waited with the handcuffs. Jake opened his briefcase, and was stuffing it with files and papers when Buckley grabbed his arm.
"That was a cheap shot, Brigance," he said through clenched teeth.
"You asked for it," Jake replied. "Let go of my arm."
Buckley released his arm. "I don't appreciate it."
"Too bad, big man. You shouldn't talk so mucn. Big mouths get burned." Buckley had three inches and fifty pounds on Jake, and his irritation was growing. The exchange had drawn attention, and a deputy moved between them. Jake winked at Buckley and left the courtroom.
At two the Hailey clan, led by Uncle Lester, entered Jake's office through the rear door.
Jake met them in a small office next to the conference room downstairs. They talked about the press conference. Twenty minutes later, Ozzie and Carl Lee strolled nonchalantly through the rear door, and Jake led them to the office, where Carl Lee was reunited with his family. Ozzie and Jake left the room.
The press conference was carefully orchestrated by Jake, who marveled at his ability to manipulate the press and its willingness to be manipulated. On one side of the long conference table he sat with the three Hailey boys standing behind him. Gwen was seated to his left, Carl Lee to his right holding Tonya.
Legal etiquette forbade revealing the identity of a child rape victim, but Tonya was different. Her name, face, and age were well known because of her daddy. She had already been exposed to the world, and Jake wanted her to be seen and photographed in her best white Sunday dress sitting on her daddy's knee. The jurors, whoever they were and wherever they lived, would be watching. Reporters crammed into the room, which overflowed and trailed down the hall to the reception area, where Ethel rudely ordered them to sit and leave her alone. A deputy guarded the front door, and two others sat on the rear steps. Sheriff Walls and Lester stood awkwardly behind the Haileys and their lawyer. Microphones were clustered on the table in front of Jake, and the cameras clicked and flashed under the warm television lights.
"I have a few prefatory remarks," Jake began. "First, all questions will be answered by me. No questions are to be directed to Mr. Hailey or any member of his family. If he is asked a question, I will instruct him not to answer. Second, I would like to introduce his family. To my left is his wife, Gwen Hailey. Standing behind us are his sons, Carl Lee,
Jr., Jarvis, and Robert. Behind the boys is Mr. Hailey's brother, Lester Hailey."
Jake paused and smiled at Tonya. "Sitting in her daddy's lap is Tonya Hailey. Now I'll answer questions."
"What happened in court this morning?"
"Mr. Hailey was arraigned, he pled not guilty, and his trial was set for July 22."
"Was there an altercation between you and the district attorney?"
"Yes. After the arraignment, Mr. Buckley approached me, grabbed my arm, and looked as if he planned to assault me when a deputy intervened."
"What caused it?"
"Mr. Buckley has a tendency to crack under pressure."
"Are you and Mr. Buckley friends?"
"Will the trial be in Clanton?"
"A motion to change venue will be filed by the defense. The location of the trial will be determined by Judge Noose. No predictions."
" Could you describe what this has done to the Hailey family?"
Jake thought a minute while the cameras rolled. He glanced at Carl Lee and Tonya.
"You're looking at a very nice family. Two weeks ago life was good and simple. There was a job at the paper mill, a little money in the bank, security, stability, church every
Sunday together, a loving family. Then, for reasons known only to God, two drunk, drugged punks committed a horrible, violent act against this little ten-year-old girl. They shocked us, and made us all feel sick. They ruined her life, and the lives of her parents and family. It was too much for her father. He snapped. He
broke. Now he's in jail facing trial and the prospect of the gas chamber. The job is gone. The money is gone. The innocence is gone. The children face the possibility of growing up without their father.
Their mother must now find a job to support them, and she'll have to beg and borrow from friends and relatives in order to survive.
"To answer your question, sir, the family has been devastated and destroyed."
Gwen began crying quietly, and Jake handed ner a handkerchief.
"Are you hinting at a defense of insanity?"
"Will there in fact be a plea of insanity?"
"Can you prove it?"
"That will be left for the jury. We will provide them experts in the field of psychiatry."
"Have you already consulted with these experts?"
"Yes," lied Jake.
"Could you give us their names?"
"No, that would be inappropriate at this point."
"We've heard rumors of death threats against Mr. Hai-ley. Could you confirm?"
"There continue to be threats against Mr. Hailey, his family, my family, the sheriff, the judge, just about everyone involved. I don't know how serious they are."
Carl Lee patted Tonya on the leg and looked blankly at the table. He looked scared, pitiful, and in need of sympathy. His boys looked scared too, but, according to strict orders, they stood at attention, afraid to move. Carl Lee, Jr., the oldest at fifteen, stood behind Jake. Jarvis, the middle son at thirteen, stood behind his daddy. And Robert, age eleven, stood behind his mother. They wore identical navy suits with white shirts and little red bow ties. Robert's" suit was once Carl Lee, Jr.'s, then Jarvis's, and now his, and it looked a bit more worn than the other two. But it was clean, neatly pressed, and perfectly cuffed. The boys looked sharp. How could any juror vote to force these children to live without their father?
The press conference was a hit. Segments of it ran on the networks and local stations, both on the evening and late news. The Thursday papers ran front page pictures of the
Haileys and their lawyer. The Swede had called several times during the two weeks her husband had been in Mississippi. She didn't trust him down there. There were old girlfriends he had confessed to. Each time she called, Lester was not around, and Gwen lied and explained that he was fishing or cutting pulpwood so they could buy groceries.
Gwen was tired of lying, and Lester was tired of carousing, and they were tired of each other. When the phone rang before dawn Friday morning, Lester answered it. It was the Swede.
Two hours later the red Cadillac was parked at the jail. Moss Junior led Lester into Carl
Lee's cell.
The brothers whispered above the sleep of the inmates.
"Gotta go home," Lester mumbled, somewhat ashamed, somewhat timid.
"Why?" Carl Lee asked as if he had been expecting it.
"My wife called this mornin'. I gotta be at work tomorrow or I'm fired."
Carl Lee nodded approvingly.
"I'm sorry, bubba. I feel bad about goin', but I ain't got no choice."
"I understand. When you comin' back?"
"When you want me back?"
"For the trial. It'll be real hard on Gwen and the kids. Can you be back then?"
"You know I'll be here. I got some vacation time and all. I'll be here."
They sat on the edge of Carl Lee's bunk and watched each other in silence. The cell was dark and quiet. The two bunks opposite Carl Lee's were empty.
"Man, I forgot how bad this place is," Lester said.
"I just hope I ain't here much longer."
They stood and embraced, and Lester called for Moss Junior to open the cell. "I'm proud of you, bubba," he said to his older brother, then left for Chicago.
\-*aii j-jcc a acwvjiiu VIMIXU ui me illuming wao ilia aliuilicy, who met him in Ozzie's office. Jake was red eyed and irritable.
"Carl Lee, I talked to two psychiatrists in Memphis yesterday. Do you know what the minimum fee is to evaluate you for trial purposes? Do you?"
"Am I supposed to know?" asked Carl Lee.
"One thousand dollars," Jake shouted. "One thousand dollars. Where can you find a thousand dollars?"
"I gave you all the money I got. I even offered-"
"I don't want the deed to your land. Why? Because nobody wants to buy it, and if you can't sell it, it's no good. We've got to have cash, Carl Lee. Not for me, but for the psychiatrists."
"Why!" Jake repeated in disbelief. "Why? Because I'd like to keep you away from the gas chamber, and it's only a hundred miles from here. It's not that far. And to do that, we've got to convince the jury that you were insane when you shot those boys. I can't tell them you were crazy. You can't tell them you were crazy. It takes a psychiatrist. An expert. A doctor. And they don't work for free. Understand?"
Carl Lee leaned on his knees and watched a spider crawl across the dusty carpet. After twelve days in jail and two court appearances, he had had enough of the criminal justice system. He thought of the hours and minutes before the killings. What was he thinking?
Sure the boys had to die. He had no regrets. But did he contemplate jail, or poverty, or lawyers, or psychiatrists? Maybe, but only in passing. Those unpleasantries were only by-products to be encountered and endured temporarily before he was set free. After the deed, the system would process him, vindicate him, and send him home to his family. It would be easy, just as Les-ter's episode had been virtually painless.
But the system was not working now. It was conspiring to keep him in jail, to break him, to make orphans of his children. It seemed determined to punish him for performing an act he considered unavoidable. And now, his only ally was making demands he could not meet. His lawyer asked the impossible. His friend Jake was angry and yelling.
"Get it," Jake shouted as he headed for the door. "Get it from your brothers and sisters, from Gwen's family, get it from your friends, get it from your church. But get it. And as soon as possible."
Jake slammed the door and marched out of the jail.
Carl Lee's third visitor of the morning arrived before noon in a long black limousine with a chauffeur and Tennessee plates. It maneuvered through the small
parking lot and came to rest straddling three spaces. A large black bodyguard emerged-from behind the wheel and opened the door to release his boss. They strutted up the sidewalk and into the jail.
The secretary stopped typing and smiled suspiciously. "Good mornin'."
"Mornin'," said the smaller one, the one with the patch. "My name is Cat Bruster, and I'd like to see Sheriff Walls."
"May I ask what for?"
"Yes ma'am. It's regardin' a Mr. Hailey, a resident of your fine facility."
The sheriff heard his name mentioned, and appeared from his office to greet this infamous visitor.
"Mr. Bruster, I'm Ozzie Walls." They shook hands. The bodyguard did not move.
"Nice to meet you, Sheriff. I'm Cat Bruster, from Memphis."
"Yes. I know who you are. Seen you in the news. What brings you to Ford County?"
"Well, I gotta buddy in bad trouble. Carl Lee Hailey, and I'm here to help."
"Okay. Who's he?" Ozzie asked, looking up at the bodyguard. Ozzie was six feet four, and at least five inches shorter than the bodyguard. He weighed at least three hundred pounds, most of it in his arms.
"This here is Tiny Tom," Cat explained. "We just call him Tiny for short."
"I see."
"He's sort of like a bodyguard." «
"He's not carryin' a gun, is he?"
"Naw, Sheriff, he don't need a gun."
rair enougn. wny aon t you and liny step into my office?"
In the office, Tiny closed the door and stood by it while his boss took a seat across from the sheriff.
"He can sit if he wants to," Ozzie explained to Cat.
"Naw, Sheriff, he always stands by the door. That's the way he's been trained."
"Sorta like a police dog?"
"Fine. What'd you wanna talk about?"
Cat crossed his legs and laid a diamond-clustered hand on his knee. "Well, Sheriff, me and Carl Lee go way back. Fought together in 'Nam. We was pinned down near Da Nang, summer of '71. I got hit in the head, and, bam!, two seconds later he got hit in the leg.
Our squad disappeared, and the gooks was usin' us for target practice. Carl Lee limped to where Fs layin', put me on his shoulders, and ran through the gunfire to a ditch next to a trail. I hung on his back while he crawled two miles. Saved my life. He got a medal for it.
You know that?"
"It's true. We laid next to each other in a hospital in Saigon for two months, then got our black asses outta Vietnam. Don't plan to go back."
Ozzie was listening intently.
"And now that my man is in trouble, I'd like to help."
"Did he get the M-16 from you?"
Tiny grunted and Cat smiled. "Of course not."
"Would you like to see him?"
"Why sure. It's that easy?"
"Yep. If you can move Tiny away from that door, I'll get him."
Tiny stepped aside, and two minutes later Ozzie was back with the prisoner. Cat yelled at him, hugged him, and they patted each other like boxers. Carl Lee looked awkwardly at
Ozzie, who took the hint and left. Tiny again closed the door and stood guard. Carl Lee moved two chairs together so they could face each other closely and talk.
Cat spoke first. "I'm proud of you, big man, for what you did. Real proud. Why didn't you tell me that's why you wanted the gun?"
"Just didn't."
"How was it?"
"Just like 'Nam, except they couldn't shoot back."
"That's the best way."
"Yeah, I guess. I just wish none of this had to happen."
"You ain't sorry, are you?"
Carl Lee rocked in his chair and studied the ceiling. "I'd do it over, so I got no regrets about that. I just wish they hadn't messed with my little girl. I wish she was the same. I wish none of it ever happened."
"Right, right. It's gotta be tough on you here."
"I ain't worried 'bout me. I'm real concerned with my family."
"Right, right. How's the wife?"
"She's okay. She'll make it."
"I saw in the paper where the trial's in July. You been in the paper more than me here lately."
"Yeah, Cat. But you always get off. I ain't so sure 'bout me."
"You gotta good lawyer, don't you?"
"Yeah. He's good."
Cat stood and walked around the office, admiring Oz-zie's trophies and certificates.
"That's the main reason I came to see you, my man."
"What's that?" Carl Lee asked, unsure of what his friend had in mind, but certain his visit had a purpose.
"Carl Lee, you know how many times I been on trial?"
"Seems like all the time."
"Five! Five times they put me on trial. The federal boys. The state boys. The city boys.
Dope, gamblin', bribery, guns, racketeerin', whores. You name it, and they've tried me for it. And you know somethin', Carl Lee, I've been guilty of it all. Evertime I've gone to trial, I've been guilty as hell. You know how many times I been convicted?"
"None! Not once have they got me. Five trials, five not guilties."
Carl Lee smiled with admiration.
"You know why they can't convict me?"
Carl Lee had an idea, but he shook his head anyway.
"Because, Carl Lee, I got the smartest, meanest, v"» -n_» n.^utai illinium lawyer in inese pans, .tie cneats, ne plays dirty, and the cops hate him. But I'm sittin' here instead of some prison. He'll do whatever it takes to win a case."
"Who is he?" Carl Lee asked eagerly.
"You've seen him on television walkin' in and outta court. He's in the papers all the time.
Evertime some big-shot crook gets in trouble, he's there. He gets the drug dealers, the politicians, me, all the big-time thugs."
"What's his name?"
"He handles nothin' but criminal cases, mainly dope, bribery, extortion, stuff like that.
But you know what his favorite is?"
"Murder. He loves murder cases. Ain't never lost one. Gets all the big ones in Memphis.
Remember when they caught those two niggers throwin' a dude off the bridge into the
Mississippi. Caught them redhanded. 'Bout five years ago?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"Had a big trial for two weeks, and they got off. He was the man. Walked them outta there. Not guilty."
"I think I remember seein' him on TV."
"Sure you did. He's a bad dude, Carl Lee. I'm tellin' you the man never loses."
"What's his name?"
Cat landed in his chair and stared solemnly into Carl Lee's face. "Bo Marsharfsky," he said.
Carl Lee gazed upward as if he remembered the name. "So what?"
Cat laid five fingers with eight carats on Carl Lee's knee. "So he wants to help you, my man."
"I already got one lawyer I can't pay. How I'm gonna pay another?"
"You ain't gotta pay, Carl Lee. That's where I come in. He's on my retainer all the time. I own him. Paid the guy 'bout a hundred thousand last year just to keep me outta trouble.
You don't pay."
Suddenly, Carl Lee had a keen interest in Bo Marsharfsky. "How does he know 'bout me?"
"Because he reads the paper and watches the tube. You know how lawyers are. I was in his office yesterday and he was studyin' the paper with your picture on the
front. I told him 'bout me and you. He went crazy. Said he had to have your case. I said I would help."
"And that's why you're here?"
"Right, right. He said he knew just the folks to get you off."
"Like who?"
"Doctors, psychiatrists, folks like that. He knows them all."
"They cost money."
"I'll pay for it, Carl Lee! Listen to me! I'll pay for it all. You'll have the best lawyer and doctors money can buy, and your old pal Cat will pay the tab. Don't worry 'bout money!"
"But I gotta good lawyer."
"How old is he?"
"I guess 'bout thirty."
Cat rolled his eyes in amazement. "He's a child, Carl Lee. He ain't been outta school long enough. Marsharfsky's fifty, and he's handled more murder cases than your boy'll ever see. This is your life, Carl Lee. Don't trust it to no rookie."
Suddenly, Jake was awful young. But then there was Lester's trial when Jake had been even younger.
"Look, Carl Lee, I been in many trials, and that crap is complicated and technical. One mistake and your ass is gone. If this kid misses one trick, it might be the difference between life and death. You can't afford to have no young kid in there hopin' he don't mess up. One mistake," Cat snapped his fingers for special effect, "and you're in the gas chamber. Marsharfsky don't make mistakes."
Carl Lee was on the ropes. "Would he work with my lawyer?" he asked, seeking compromise.
"No! No way. He don't work with nobody. He don't need no help. Your boy'd be in the way."
Carl Lee placed his elbows on his knees and stared at his feet. A thousand bucks for a doctor would be impossible. He did not understand the need for one since he had not felt insane at the time, but evidently one would be necessary. Everyone seemed to think so. A thousand bucks for a cheap doctor. Cat was offering the best money could buy. i naic 10 uo mis 10 my lawyer, ne muttered quietly.
"Don't be stupid, man," Cat scolded. "You better be lookin' out for Carl Lee and to hell with this child. This ain't no time to worry 'bout hurtin' feelin's. He's a lawyer, forget him.
He'll get over it."
"But I already paid him-"
"How much?" Cat demanded, snapping his fingers at Tiny.
"Nine hundred bucks."
Tiny produced a wad of cash, and Cat peeled off nine one-hundred-dollar bills and stuffed them in Carl Lee's shirt pocket. "Here's somethin' for the kids," he said as he unraveled a one-thousand dollar bill and stuffed it with the rest.
Carl Lee's pulse jumped as he thought of the cash covering his heart. He felt it move in the pocket and press gently against his chest. He wanted to look at the big bill and hold it firmly in his hand.
Food, he thought, food for his kids.
"We gotta deal?" Cat asked with a smile.
"You want me to fire my lawyer and hire yours?" he asked carefully.
"Right, right."
"And you gonna pay for everthing?"
"Right, right."
"What about this money?"
"It's yours. Lemme know if you need more."
"Mighty nice of you, Cat."
"I'm a very nice man. I'm helpin' two friends. One saved my life many years ago, and the other saves my ass ever two years."
"Why does he want my case so bad?"
"Publicity. You know how lawyers are. Look at how much press this kid's already made off you. It's a lawyer's dream. We gotta deal?"
"Yeah. It's a deal."
Cat struck him on the shoulder with an affectionate blow, and walked to the phone on
Ozzie's desk. He punched the numbers. "Collect to 901-566-9800. From Cat Bruster.
Person to person to Bo Marsharfsky."
On the twentieth floor in a downtown office building, Bo Marsharfsky hung up the phone and asked his secretary if the press release was prepared. She handed it to him, and he read it carefully.
"This looks fine," he said. "Get it to both newspapers immediately. Tell them to use the file photograph, the new one. See Frank Fields at the Post. Tell him I want it on the front page in the morning. He owes me a favor."
"Yes, sir. What about the TV stations?" she asked.
"Deliver them a copy. I can't talk now, but I'll hold a news conference in Clanton next week."
Lucien called at six-thirty Saturday morning. Carla was buried deep under the blankets and did not respond to the phone. Jake rolled toward the wall and grappled with the lamp until he found the receiver. "Hello," he managed weakly.
"What're you doing?" Lucien asked.
"I was sleeping until the phone rang."
"You seen the paper?"
"What time is it?"
"Go get the paper and call me after you read it."
The phone was dead. Jake stared at the receiver, then placed it on the table. He sat on the edge of the bed, rubbed the fog from his eyes, and tried to remember the last time Lucien called his house.
It must be important.
He made the coffee, turned out the dog, and walked quickly in his gym shorts and sweatshirt to the edge of the street where the three morning papers had fallen within ten inches of each other. He rolled the rubber bands off onto the kitchen table and spread the papers next to his coffee. Nothing in the Jackson paper. Nothing from Tupelo. The
Memphis Post carried a headline of death in the Middle East, and, then, he saw it. On the bottom half of the front page he saw himself, and under his picture was the caption: "Jake
Brigance-Out." Next was a picture of Carl Lee, and then a splendid picture of a face he had seen before. Under it, the words: "Bo Marsharfsky-In." The headline announced that the noted Memphis criminal attorney had been hired to represent the "vigilante killer."
aureiy n was a mistake. He had seen Carl Lee only yesterday. He read the story slowly.
There were few details, just a history of Mar-sharfsky's greatest verdicts. He promised a news conference in Clanton. He said the case would present new challenges, etc. He had faith in the jurors of Ford County.
Jake slipped silently into starched khakis and a button-down. His wife was still lost somewhere deep in the bed. He would tell her later. He took the paper and drove to the office. The Coffee Shop would not be safe. At Ethel's desk he read the story again and stared at his picture on the front page.
Lucien had a few words of comfort. He knew Marsharf-sky, or "The Shark," as he was known. He was a sleazy crook with polish and finesse. Lucien admired him.
Moss Junior led Carl Lee into Ozzie's office, where Jake waited with a newspaper. The deputy quickly left and closed the door. Carl Lee sat on the small black vinyl couch.
Jake threw the newspaper at him. "Have you seen this?" he demanded.
Carl Lee glared at him and ignored the paper.
"Why, Carl Lee?"
"I don't have to explain, Jake."
"Yes, you do. You didn't have the guts to call me like a man and tell me. You let me read it in the paper. I demand an explanation."
"You wanted too much money, Jake. You're always gripin' over the money. Here I am sittin' in jail and you're bitchin' 'bout somethin' I can't help."
"Money. You can't afford to pay me. How can you afford Marsharfsky?"
"I ain't gotta pay him."
"You heard me. I ain't payin' him."
"I guess he works for free."
"Nope. Somebody else is payin'."
"Who!" Jake shouted.
"I ain't tellin'. It ain't none of your business, Jake."
"You've hired the biggest criminal lawyer in Memphis, and someone else is payin' his bill?"
The NAACP, thought Jake. No, they wouldn't hire Marsharfsky. They've got their own lawyers. Besides,xhe was too expensive for them. Who else?
Carl Lee took the newspaper and folded it neatly. He was ashamed, and felt bad, but the decision had been made. He had asked Ozzie to call Jake and convey the news, but the sheriff wanted no part of it. He should have called, but he was not going to apologize. He studied his picture on the front page. He liked the part about the vigilante business.
"And you're not going to tell me who?" Jake said, s omewhat quieter.
"Naw, Jake. I ain't tellin'."
"Did you discuss it with Lester?"
The glare returned to his eyes. "Nope. He ain't on trial, and it ain't none of his business."
"Where is he?"
"Chicago. Left yesterday. And don't you go call him. I've made up my mind, Jake."
We'll see, Jake said to himself. Lester would find out shortly.
Jake opened the door. "That's it. I'm fired. Just like that."
Carl Lee stared at his picture and said nothing.
Carla was eating breakfast and waiting. A reporter from Jackson had called looking for
Jake, and had told her about Marsharfsky.
There were no words, just motions. He filled a cup with coffee and went to the back porch. He sipped from the steaming cup and surveyed the unkempt hedges that lined the boundary of his long and narrow backyard. A brilliant sun baked the rich green Bermuda and dried the dew, creating a sticky haze that drifted upward and hung to his shirt. The hedges and grass were waiting on their weekly grooming. He kicked off his loafers-no socks-and walked through the soggy turf to inspect a broken birdbath near a scrawny crepe myrtle, the only tree of any significance. UC11111U Him.
He took her hand and smiled. "You okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Did you talk to him?"
"What did he say?"
He shook his head and said nothing.
"I'm sorry, Jake."
He nodded and stared at the birdbath.
"There will be other cases," she said without confidence.
"I know." He thought of Buckley, and could hear the laughter. He thought of the guys at the Coffee Shop, and vowed not to return. He thought of the cameras and reporters, and a dull pain moved through his stomach. He thought of Lester, his only hope of retrieving the case.
"Would you like some breakfast?" she asked.
"No. I'm not hungry. Thanks."
"Look on the bright side," she said. "We won't be afraid to answer the phone."
"I think I'll cut the grass," he said.
The Council of Ministers was a group of black preachers that had been formed to coordinate political activities in the black communities of Ford County. It met infrequently during the off years, but during election years it met weekly, on Sunday afternoons, to interview candidates and discuss issues, and, more importantly, to determine the benevolence of each office seeker. Deals were cut, strategies developed, money exchanged. The council had proven it could deliver the black vote. Gifts and offerings to black churches rose dramatically during elections.
The Reverend Ollie Agee called a special meeting of the council for Sunday afternoon at his church. He wrapped up his sermon early, and by 4:00 P.M. his flock had scattered when the Cadillacs and Lincolns began filling his parking lot. The meetings were secret, with only ministers who were council members invited. There were twenty-three black churches in Ford County, and twenty-two members were present when Reverend Agee called the meeting to order. The meeting would be brief, since some of the ministers, especially from the Church of Christ, would begin their evening services shortly.
The purpose of the meeting, he explained, was to organize moral, political, and financial support of Carl Lee Hai-ley, a member in good standing of his church. A legal defense fund must be established to assure the best legal representation. Another fund must be established to provide support for his family. He, Reverend Agee, would chair the fund-raising efforts, with each minister responsible for his own congregation, as usual. A special offering would be taken during the morning and evening services, starting next
Sunday. Agee would use his discretion in disbursing the money to the family. Half of the proceeds would go to the defense fund. Time was important. The trial was next month.
The money had to be raised quickly while the issue was hot, and the people were in a giving mood.
cuuncn unanimously agreed witn Keverend Agee. He continued.
The NAACP must become active in the Hailey case. He would not be on trial if he was white. Not in Ford County. He was on trial only because he was black, and this must be addressed by the NAACP. The national director had been called. The Memphis and
Jackson chapters had promised help. Press conferences would be held. Demonstrations and marches would be important. Maybe boycotts of white-owned businesses-that was a popular tactic at the moment, and it worked with amazing results.
This must be done immediately, while the people were willing and in a giving mood. The ministers unanimously agreed and left for their evening services.
In part due to fatigue, and in part due to embarrassment, Jake slept through church. Carla fixed pancakes, and they enjoyed a long breakfast with Hanna on the patio. He ignored the Sunday papers after he found, on the front page of the second section of The
Memphis Post, a full-page spread on Marsharfsky and his famous new client. The story was complete with pictures and quotes from the great lawyer. The Hailey case presented his biggest challenge, he said. Serious legal and social issues would be addressed. A novel defense would be employed, he promised. He had not lost a murder case in twelve years, he boasted. It would be difficult, but he had confidence in the wisdom and fairness of Mississippi jurors.
Jake read the article without comment and laid the paper in the trash can.
Carla suggested a picnic, and although he needed to work he knew better than to mention it. They loaded the Saab with food and toys and drove to the lake. The brown, muddy waters of Lake Chatulla had crested for the year, and within days would begin their slow withdrawal to the center. The high water attracted a flotilla of skiboats, bass rigs, catamarans, and dinghies.
Carla threw two heavy quilts under an oak on the side of a hill while Jake unloaded the food and doll house. Hanna arranged her large family with pets and automobiles on one quilt and began giving orders and setting up house. Her parents
listened and smiled. Her birth had been a harrowing, gut-wrenching nightmare, two and a half months premature and shrouded with conflicting symptoms and prognoses. For eleven days Jake sat by the incubator in ICU and watched the tiny, purple, scrawny, beautiful three-pound body cling to life while an army of doctors and nurses studied the monitors and adjusted tubes and needles, and shook their heads. When he was alone he touched the incubator and wiped tears from his cheeks. He prayed as he had never prayed. He slept in a rocking chair near his daughter and dreamed of a beautiful blue-eyed, dark-haired little girl playing with dolls and sleeping on his shoulder. He could hear her voice. After a month the nurses smiled and the doctors relented. The tubes were removed one at a time each day for a week. Her weight ballooned to a hearty four and a half pounds, and the proud parents took her home. The doctors suggested no more children, unless adopted.
She was perfect now, and the sound of her voice could still bring tears to his eyes. They ate and chuckled as Hanna lectured her dolls on proper hygiene.
"This is the first time you've relaxed in two weeks," Carla said as they lay on their quilt.
Wildly colored catamarans crisscrossed the lake below dodging a hundred roaring boats pulling half- drunken skiers.
"We went to church last Sunday," he replied.
"And all you thought about was the trial."
"Still thinking about it."
"It's over, isn't it?"
"I don't know."
"Will he change his mind?"
' "He might, if Lester talks to him. It's hard to say. Blacks are so unpredictable, especially when they're in trouble. He's got a good deal, really. He's got the best criminal lawyer in
Memphis, and he's free."
"Who's paying the bill?"
"An old friend of Carl Lee's from Memphis, a guy by the name of Cat Bruster."
"Who's he?"
f\. very ncn pimp, dope pusher, thug, thief. Marsharf-sky's his lawyer. A couple of crooks."
"Did Carl Lee tell you this?"
"No. He wouldn't tell me, so I asked Ozzie."
"Does Lester know?"
"Not yet."
"What do you mean by that? You're not going to call him, are you?"
"Well, yes, I had planned to."
"That's going a bit far, isn't it?"
"I don't think so. Lester has a right to know, and-"
"Then Carl Lee should tell him."
"He should, but he won't. He's made a mistake, and he does not realize it."
"But it's his problem, not yours. At least not anymore."
"Carl Lee's too embarrassed to tell Lester. He knows Lester will cuss him and tell him he's made another mistake."
"So it's up to you to intervene in their family affairs."
"No. But I think Lester should know."
"I'm sure he'll see it in the papers."
"Maybe not," Jake said without any conviction. "I think Hanna needs some more orange juice."
"I think you want to change the subject."
"The subject doesn't bother me. I want the case, and I intend to get it back. Lester's the only person who can retrieve it."
Her eyes narrowed and he could feel them. He watched a bass rig drift into a mud bar on the near shore.
"Jake, that's unethical, and you know it." Her voice was calm, yet controlled and firm.
The words were slow and scornful.
"That's not true, Carla. I'm a very ethical attorney."
"You've always preached ethics. But at this moment you're scheming to solicit the case.
That's wrong, Jake."
"Retrieve, not solicit."
"What's the difference?"
"Soliciting is unethical. I've never seen a prohibition against retrieving."
"It's not right, Jake. Carl Lee's hired another lawyer and it's time for you to forget it."
"And I suppose you think Marsharfsky reads ethics opinions. How do you think he got the case? He's been hired by a man who's never h eard of him. He chased the case, and he's got it."
"So that makes it okay if you chase it now?"
"Retrieve, not chase."
Hanna demanded cookies, and Carla searched through the picnic basket. Jake reclined on an elbow and ignored them both. He thought of Lucien. What would he do in this situation? Probably rent a plane, fly to Chicago, get Lester, slip him some money, bring him home, and convince him to browbeat Carl Lee. He would assure Lester that
Marsharfsky could not practice in Mississippi, and since he was a foreigner, the rednecks on the jury wouldn't believe him anyway. He would call Marsharfsky and curse him for chasing cases and threaten him with an ethics complaint the minute he stepped into
Mississippi. He would get his black cronies to call Gwen and Ozzie and persuade them that the only lawyer with a dog's chance in hell of winning the case was Lucien Wilbanks.
Finally, Carl Lee would knuckle under and send for Lucien.
That's exactly what Lucien would do. Talk about ethics.
"Why are you smiling?" Carla interrupted.
"Just thinking about how nice it is out here with you and Hanna. We don't do this enough."
"You're disappointed, aren't you?"
"Sure. There will never be another case like this one. Win it, and I'm the greatest lawyer in these parts. We would never have to worry about money again."
"And if you lost it?"
"It would still be a drawing card. But I can't lose what I don't have."
"A little. It's hard to accept. Every lawyer in the county is laughing about it, except maybe Harry Rex. But I'll get over it."
"What should I do with the scrapbook?"
"Save it. You might fill it up yet."
unc, nine reel long and tour feet wide, made to fit inconspicuously in the long bed of a pickup. Much larger crosses were used for the rituals, but the small ones worked better in the nocturnal raids into residential areas. They were not used often, or often enough according to their builders. In fact, it had been many years since one had been used in
Ford County. The last one was planted in the yard of a nigger accused of raping a white woman.
Several hours before dawn on Monday morning, the cross was lifted quietly and quickly from the pickup and thrust into a ten-inch, freshly dug slot in the front yard of the quaint Victorian house on Adams Street. A small torch was thrown at the foot of the cross, and in seconds it was in flames.
The pickup disappeared into the night and stopped at a pay phone at the edge of town, where a call was placed to the dispatcher.
Moments later, Deputy Marshall Prather turned down Adams and instantly saw the blazing cross in Jake's front yard. He turned into the driveway and parked behind the
Saab. He punched the doorbell and stood on the porch watching the flames. It was almost three-thirty. He punched it again. Adams was dark and silent except for the glow of the cross and the snapping and crackling of the wood burning fifty feet away. Finally, Jake stumbled through the front door and froze, wild-eyed and stunned, next to the deputy.
The two stood side by side on the porch, mesmerized not only by the burning cross, but by its purpose.
"Mornin", Jake," Prather finally said without looking from the fire.
"Who did it?" Jake asked with a scratchy, dry throat.
"Don't know. They didn't leave a name. Just called and told us about it."
"When did they call?"
"Fifteen minutes ago."
Jake ran his fingers through his hair in an effort to keep it from blowing wild in the soft breeze.
"How long will it burn?" he asked, knowing Prather knew as little or even less than he about burning crosses.
"No tellin'. Probably soaked in kerosene. Smells like it anyway. Might burn for a couple of hours. You want me to call a fire truck?"
Jake looked up and down the street. Every house was silent and dark.
"Naw. No need to wake everybody. Let it burn. It won't hurt anything, will it?"
"It's your yard."
Prather never moved; just stood there, hands in his pockets, his belly hanging over his belt. "Ain't had one of these in a long time around here. Last one I remember was in
Karaway, nineteen-sixry-"
"Nineteen sixty-seven."
"You remember?"
"Yeah. I was in high school. We drove out and watched it burn."
"What was that nigger's name?"
"Robinson, something Robinson. Said he raped Velma Thayer."
"Did he?" asked Prather.
"The jury thought so. He's in Parchman chopping cotton for the rest of his life."
Prather seemed satisfied.
"Let me get Carla," Jake mumbled as he disappeared. He returned with his wife behind him.
"My God, Jake! Who did it?"
"Who knows."
"Is it the KKK?" she asked.
"Must be," answered the deputy. "I don't know anybody else who burns crosses, do you,
Jake shook his head.
"I thought they left Ford County years ago," said Prather.
"Looks like they're back," said Jake.
Carla stood frozen, her hand over her mouth, terrified. The glow of the fire reddened her face. "Do something, Jake. Put it out."
Jake watched the fire and again glanced up and down the street. The snapping and popping grew louder and the orange flames reached higher into the night. For a moment he hoped it would die quickly without being seen by anyone other than the three of them, and that it would simply go away and be forgotten and no one in Clanton would ever know. Then he smiled at his foolishness. iiamci giumcu, anu it was oovious he was tired of standing on the porch. "Say, Jake, uh, I don't mean to bring this up, but accordin' to the papers they got the wrong lawyer. That true?"
"I guess they can't read," Jake muttered.
"Probably not."
"Tell me, Prather, do you know of any active Klan members in this county?"
"Not a one. Got some in the southern part of the state, but none around here. Not that I know of. FBI told us the Klan was a thing of the past."
"That's not very comforting."
"Why not?"
"Because these guys, if they're Klan members, are not from around here. Visitors from parts unknown. It means they're serious, don't you think, Prather?"
"I don't know. I'd worry more if it was local people workin' with the Klan. Could mean the Klan's comin' back."
"What does it mean, the cross?" Carla asked the deputy.
"It's a warnin'. Means stop what you're doin', or the next time we'll do more than burn a little wood. They used these things for years to intimidate whites who were sympathetic to niggers and all that civil rights crap. If the whites didn't stop their nigger lovin', then violence followed. Bombs, dynamite, beatings, even murder. But that was a • long time ago, I thought. In your case, it's their way of tellin' Jake to stay away from Hailey. But since he ain't Hailey's lawyer no more, I don't know what it means."
"Go check on Hanna," Jake said to Carla, who went inside.
"If you got a water hose, I'll be glad to put it out," offered Prather.
"That's a good idea," Jake said. "I'd hate for the neighbors to see it."
Jake and Carla stood on the porch in their bathrobes and watched the deputy spray the burning cross. The wood fizzed and smoked as the water covered the cross and snuffed out the flames.
Prather soaked it for fifteen minutes, then neatly rolled the hose and placed it behind the shrubs in the flower bed next to the front steps.
"Thanks, Marshall. Let's keep this quiet, okay?"
Prather wiped his hands on his pants and straightened his hat. "Sure. Y'all lock up good.
If you hear anything, call the dispatcher. We'll keep a close watch on it for the next few days."
He backed from the driveway and drove slowly down Adams Street toward the square.
They sat in the swing and watched the smoking cross.
"I feel like I'm looking at an old issue of Life magazine," Jake said.
"Or a chapter from a Mississippi history textbook. Maybe we should tell them you got fired."
"For being so blunt."
"I'm sorry. Should I say discharged, or terminated, or-"
"Just say he found another lawyer. You're really scared aren't you?"
"You know I'm scared. I'm terrified. If they can burn a cross in our front yard, what's to stop them from burning the house? It's not worth it, Jake. I want you to be happy and successful and all that wonderful stuff, but not at the expense of our safety. No case is worth this."
"You're glad I got fired?"
"I'm glad he found another lawyer. Maybe they'll leave us alone now."
Jake put his arm around her, and pulled her into his lap. The swing rocked gently. She was beautiful, at three-thirty in the morning in her bathrobe.
"They won't be back, will they?" she asked.
"Naw. They're through with us. They'll find out I'm off the case, then they'll call and apologize."
"It's not funny, Jake."
"I know."
"Do you think people will know?"
"Not for another hour. When the Coffee Shop opens at five, Dell Perkins will know every detail before she pours the first cup of coffee."
"What're you going to do with it?" she asked, nodding at the cross, now barely visible under the half moon.
i vc goi an idea. Let s load it up, take it to Memphis, and burn it in Marsharfsky's yard."
"I'm going to bed."
By 9:00 A.M. Jake had finished dictating his motion to withdraw as counsel of record.
Ethel was typing it with zest when she interrupted him: "Mr. Brigance, there's a Mr.
Marsharf-sky on the phone. I told him you were in conference, and he said he would hold."
"I'll talk to him." Jake gripped the receiver. "Hello."
"Mr. Brigance, Bo Marsharfsky in Memphis. How are you?"
"Good. I'm sure you saw the morning paper Saturday and Sunday. You do get the paper in Clantpn?"
"Yes, and we have telephones and mail."
"So you saw the stories on Mr. Hailey?"
"Y es. You write' some very nice articles."
"I'll ignore that. I wanted to discuss the Hailey case if you have a minute."
"I would love to."
"As I understand Mississippi procedure, out-of-state counsel must associate local counsel for trial purposes."
"You mean you don't have a Mississippi license?" Jake asked incredulously.
"Well, no, I don't."
"That wasn't mentioned in your articles."
"I'll ignore that too. Do the judges require local counsel in all cases?"
"Some do, some don't."
"I see. What about Noose?"
"Thanks. Well, I usually associate local counsel when I try cases out in the country. The locals feel better with one of their own sitting there at counsel table with me."
"That's real nice."
"I don't suppose you'd be interested in-"
"You must be kidding!" Jake yelled. "I've just been fired and now you want me to carry your briefcase. You're crazy. I wouldn't have my name associated with yours."
"Wait a minute, hayseed-"
"No, you wait a minute, counselor. This may come as a surprise to you, but in this state we have ethics and laws against soliciting litigation and clients. Champerty-ever hear of it? Of course not.
It's a felony in Mississippi, as in most states. We have canons of ethics that prohibit ambulance chasing and solicitation. Ethics, Mr. Shark, ever hear of them?"
"I don't chase cases, sonny. They come to me."
"Like Carl Lee Hailey. I'm supposed to believe he picked your name out of the yellow pages. I'm sure you have a full-page ad, next to the abortionists."
"He was referred to me."
"Yeah, by your pimp. I know exactly how you got him. Outright solicitation. I may file a complaint with the bar. Better yet, I might have your methods reviewed by the grand jury."
"Yeah, I understand you and the D.A. are real close. Good day, counselor."
Marsharfsky got the last word before he hung up. Jake fumed for an hour before he could concentrate on the brief he was writing. Lucien would have been proud of him.
Just before lunch Jake received a call from Walter Sullivan, of the Sullivan firm.
"Jake, my boy, how are you?"
"Good. Listen, Jake, Bo Marsharfsky is an old friend of mine. We defended a couple of bank officials years ago on fraud charges. Got them off, too. He's quite a lawyer. He's associated me as local counsel for Carl Lee Hailey. I was just wanting to know-"
Jake dropped the receiver and walked out of his office. He spent the afternoon on
Lucien's front porch.
Gwen did not have Lester's number. Neither did Ozzie, nor did anyone else. The operator said there were two pages of Haileys in the Chicago phone book, at least a dozen Lester
Haileys, and several L. S.'s. Jake asked for the first five Lester Haileys and called each one. They were all white. He called Tank Scales, the owner of one of the safer and finer black honky tonks in the county. Tank's Tonk, as it was known. Lester was especially fond of the place. Tank was a client and often provided Jake with valuable and confidential information on various blacks, their dealings and whereabouts.
Tank stopped by the office Tuesday morning on the way to the bank.
"Have you seen Lester Hailey in the past two weeks?" Jake asked.
"Sure. Spent several days at the place shootin' pool, drinkin' beer. Went back to Chicago last weekend, I heard. Must've, I didn't see him all weekend."
"Who was he with?"
"Hisself mostly."
"What about Iris?"
"Yeah, he brung her a couple of times when Henry was outta town. Makes me nervous when he brings her. Henry's a bad dude. He'd cut them both if he knew they's datin'."
"They've been doing it for ten years, Tank."
"Yeah, sh,e got two kids by Lester. Everbody knows it but Henry. Poor old Henry. He'll find out one day, and you'll have another murder case."
"Listen, Tank, can you talk to Iris?"
"She don't come in too often."
"That's not what I asked. I need Lester's phone number in Chicago. I figure Iris knows it."
"I'm sure she does. I think he sends her money."
"Can you get it for me? I need to talk to Lester."
"Sure, Jake. If she's got it, I'll get it."
By Wednesday Jake's office had returned to normal. Clients began to reappear. Ethel was especially sweet, or as sweet as possible for a cranky old nag. He went through the motions of practicing law, but the pain showed. He skipped the Coffee Shop each morning and avoided the courthouse by making Ethel do the filing or checking or whatever business required his presence across the street. He was embarrassed, humiliated, and troubled. It was difficult to concentrate on other
cases. He contemplated a long vacation, but couldn't afford it. Money was tight, and he was not motivated to work.
He spent most of his time in his office doing little but watching the courthouse and the town square below.
He dwelt on Carl Lee, sitting in his cell a few blocks away, and asked himself a thousand times why he had been betrayed. He had pushed too hard for money, and forgot there were other lawyers willing to take the case for free. He hated Marsharfsky. He recalled the many times he had seen Marsharfsky parade in and out of Memphis courtrooms proclaiming the innocence and mistreatment of his pitiful, oppressed clients. Dope dealers, pimps, crooked politicians, and slimy corporate thugs. All guilty, all deserving of long prison terms, or perhaps even death. He was a yankee, with an obnoxious twang from somewhere in the upper Midwest. It would irritate anybody south of Memphis. An accomplished actor, he would look directly into the cameras and whine: "My client has been horribly abused by the Memphis police." Jake had seen it a dozen times. "My client is completely, totally, absolutely innocent. He should not be on trial. My client is a model citizen, a taxpayer." What about his four prior convictions for extortion? "He was framed by the FBI. Set up by the government. Besides, he's paid his debt. He's innocent this time." Jake hated him, and to his recollection, he had lost as many as he had won.
By Wednesday afternoon, Marsharfsky had not been seen in Clanton. Ozzie promised to notify Jake if he showed up at the jail.
Circuit Court would be in session until Friday, and it would be respectful to meet briefly with Judge Noose and explain the circumstances of his departure from the case. His
Honor was presiding over a civil case, and there was a good chance Buckley would be absent. He had .to be absent. He could not be seen or heard.
Noose usually recessed for ten minutes around three-thirty, and precisely at that time Jake entered chambers through the side door. He had not been seen. He sat patiently by the window waiting for Ichabod to descend from the bench and
stagger into the room. Five minutes later the door flung open, and His Honor walked in.
"Jake, how are you?" he asked.
"Fine, Judge. Can I have a minute?" Jake asked as he closed the door.
"Sure, sit down. What's on your mind?" Noose removed his robe, threw it over a chair, and lay on top of the desk, knocking off books, files, and the telephone in the process.
Once his gawky frame had ceased moving, he slowly folded his hands over his stomach, closed his eyes, and breathed deeply. "It's my back, Jake. My doctor-tells me to rest on a hard surface when possible."
"Uh, sure, Judge. Should I leave?"
"No, no. What's on your mind?"
"The Hailey case."
"I thought so. I saw your motion. Found a new lawyer, huh?"
"Yes, sir. I had no idea it was coming. I expected to try the case in July."
"You owe no apologies, Jake. The motion to withdraw will be granted. It's not your fault.
Happens all the time. Who's the new guy Marsharfsky?"
"Yes, sir. From Memphis."
"With a name like that he should be a hit in Ford County."
"Yes, sir." Almost as bad as Noose, thought Jake.
"He has no Mississippi license," Jake explained, helpfully.
"That's interesting. Is he familiar with our procedure?"
"I'm not sure he's ever tried a case in Mississippi. He told me he normally associates a local boy when he's out in the country."
"In the country?"
"That's what he said."
"Well, he'd better associate if he comes into my court. I've had some bad experiences with out-of-state attorneys, especially from Memphis."
"Yes, sir."
Noose was breathing harder, and Jake decided to leave. "Judge, I need to go. If I don't see you in July, I'll see you during the August term of court. Take care of your back."
"Thanks, Jake. Take care."
Jake almost made it to the rear door of the small office when the main door from the courtroom opened and the Honorable L. Winston Lotterhouse and another hatchet man from the Sullivan firm strutted into chambers.
"Well, hello, Jake," Lotterhouse announced. "You know K. Peter Otter, our newest associate."
"Nice to meet you K. Peter," replied Jake.
"Are we interrupting anything?"
"No, I was just leaving. Judge Noose is resting his back, and I was on my way out."
"Sit down, gentlemen," Noose said.
Lotterhouse smelled blood. "Say, Jake, I'm sure Walter Sullivan has informed you that our firm will serve as local counsel for Carl Lee Hailey."
"I have heard."
"I'm sorry it happened to you."
"Your grief is overwhelming."
"It does present an interesting case for our firm. We don't get too many criminal cases, you know."
"I know," Jake said, looking for a hole to crawl in. "I need to run. Nice chatting with you,
L. Winston. Nice meeting you, K. Peter. Tell J. Walter and F. Robert and all the boys I said hello."
Jake slid out of the rear door of the courthouse and cursed himself for showing his face where he could get it slapped. He ran to his office.
"Has Tank Scales called?" he asked Ethel as he starte d up the stairs.
"No. But Mr. Buckley is waiting."
Jake stopped on the first step. "Waiting where?" he asked without moving his jaws.
"Upstairs. In your office."
He walked slowly to her desk and leaned across to within inches of her face. She had sinned, and she knew it.
He glared at her fiercely. "I didn't know he had an appointment." Again, the jaws did not move.
"He didn't," she replied, her eyes glued to the desk.
"I didn't know he owned this building."
She didn't move, didn't answer.
"I didn't know he had a key to my office."
Again, no movement, no answer.
He leaned closer. "I should fire you for this."
Her lip quivered and she looked helpless.
"I'm sick of you, Ethel. Sick of your attitude, your voice, your insubordination. Sick of the way you treat people, sick of everything about you."
Her eyes watered. "I'm sorry."
"No you're not. You know, and have known for years, that no one, no one in the world, not even my wife, goes up those stairs into my office if I'm not here."
"He insisted."
"He's an ass. He gets paid for pushing people around. But not in this office."
"Shhh. He can hear you."
"I don't care. He knows he's an ass."
He leaned even closer until their noses were six inches apart. "Would you like to keep your job, Ethel?"
She nodded, unable to speak.
"Then do exactly as I say. Go upstairs to my office, fetch Mr. Buckley, and lead him into the conference room, where I'll meet him. And don't ever do it again."
Ethel wiped her face and ran up the stairs. Moments later the D.A. was seated in the conference room with the door closed. He waited.
Jake was next door in the small kitchen drinking orange juice and assessing Buckley. He drank slowly. After fifteen minutes he opened the door and entered the room. Buckley was seated at one end of the long conference table. Jake sat at the other end, far away.
"Hello, Rufus. What do you want?"
"Nice place you have here. Lucien's old offices, I believe."
"That's right. What brings you here?"
"Just wanted to visit."
"I'm very busy."
"And I wanted to discuss the Hailey case."
"Call Marsharfsky."
"I was looking forward to the battle, especially with you on the other side. You're a worthy adversary, Jake."
"I'm honored."
"Don't get me wrong. I don't like you, and I haven't for a long time."
"Since Lester Hailey."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. You won, but you cheated."
"I won, that's all that counts. And I didn't cheat. You got caught with your pants down."
"You cheated and Noose let you by with it."
"Whatever. I don't like you either."
"Good. That makes me feel better. What do you know about Marsharfsky?"
"Is that the reason you're here?"
"Could be."
"I've never met the man, but if he was my father I wouldn't tell you anything. What else do you want?"
"Surely you've talked to him."
"We had some words on the phone. Don't tell me you're worried about him."
"No. Just curious. He's got a good reputation."
"Yes, he does. You didn't come here to discuss his reputation."
"No, not really. I wanted to talk about the case."
"What about it?"
"Chances for an acquittal, possible defenses, was he really insane. Things like that."
"I thought you guaranteed a conviction. In front of the cameras, remember? Just after the indictment. One of your press conferences."
"Do you miss the cameras already, Jake?"
"Relax, Rufus. I'm out of the game. The cameras are all yours, at least yours and
Marsharfsky's, and Walter Sullivan's. Go get them, tiger. If I've stolen some of your spotlight, then I'm deeply sorry. I know how it hurts you."
"Apology accepted. Has Marsharfsky been to town?"
"I don't know."
"He promised a press conference this week."
"And you came here to talk about his press conference, right?"
"No, I wanted to discuss Hailey, but obviously you're too busy."
"That's right. Plus I have nothing to discuss with you, Mr. Governor."
"I resent that."
"Why? You know it's true.- You'd prosecute your mother for a couple of headlines."
Buckley stood and began pacing back and forth behind his chair. "I wish you were still on this case, Brigance," he said, the volume increasing.
"So do I."
"I'd teach you a few things about prosecuting murderers. I really wanted to clean your plow."
"You haven't been too successful in the past."
"That's why I wanted you on this one, Brigance. I wanted you so bad." His face had returned to the deep red that was so familiar.
"There'll be others, Governor."
"Don't call me that," he shouted.
"It's true, isn't it, Governor. That's why you chase the cameras so hard. Everybody knows it. There goes old Rufus, chasing cameras, running for governor. Sure it's true."
"I'm doing my job. Prosecuting thugs."
"Carl Lee Hailey's no thug."
"Watch me burn him."
"It won't be'that easy."
"Watch me."
"It takes twelve out of twelve."
"No problem."
"Just like your grand jury?"
Buckley froze in his tracks. He squinted his eyes and frowned at Jake. Three huge wrinkles creased neatly across his mammoth forehead. "What do you know about the grand jury?"
"As much as you do. One vote less and you'd have sucked eggs."
"That's not true!"
"Come on, Governor. You're not talking to a reporter. I know exactly what happened.
Knew it within hours."
"I'll tell Noose."
"And I'll tell the newspapers. That'll look good before the trial."
"You wouldn't dare."
"Not now. I have no reason to. I've been fired, remember? That's the reason you're here, right, Rufus? To remind me that I'm no longer on the case, t» ut you are. To rub a little salt in the wounds. Okay, you've done it. Now I wish you'd leave. Go check on the grand jury. Or maybe there's a reporter hanging around the courthouse. Just leave."
"Gladly. I'm sorry I bothered."
"Me too."
Buckley opened the door leading into the hall, then stopped. "I lied, Jake. I'm tickled to death you're not on this case."
"I know you lied. But don't count me out."
"What does that mean?"
"Good day, Rufus."
The Ford County grand jury had been busy, and by Thursday of the second week of the term Jake had been retained by two freshly indicted defendants. One was a black who cut another black at Massey's Tonk back in April. Jake enjoyed the stabbings because acquittals were possible; just get an all-white jury full of rednecks who could care less if all niggers stabbed each other. They were just having a little fun down at the tonk, things got out of hand, one got stabbed, but didn't die. No harm, no conviction. It was similar to the strategy Jake had learned with Lester Hailey. The new client promised fifteen hundred dollars, but first had to post bond.
The other new indictee was a white kid caught driving a stolen pickup. It was the third time he'd been caught in a stolen pickup, and there was no way to keep him out of
Parchman for seven years.
Both were in jail, and their presence there afforded Jake the opportunity, and duty, to visit them and check with Ozzie. Late Thursday afternoon he found the sheriff in his office.
"Are you busy?" Jake asked. A hundred pounds of paper was strewn over the desk and onto the floor.
"No, just paperwork. Any more burnin' crosses?"
"No, thank God. One's enough."
"I haven't seen your friend from Memphis."
"That's strange," said Jake. "I thought he would be here by now. Have you talked to Carl Lee?"
"Every day. He's gettin' nervous. The lawyer ain't even called, Jake."
"Good. Let him sweat. I don't feel sorry for him."
"You think he made a mistake?"
"I know he did. I know these rednecks around here, Ozzie, and I know how they act when you put them on a jury. They won't be impressed by some slick-talking foreigner. You agree?"
"I don't know. You're the lawyer. I don't doubt what you say, Jake. I've seen you work."
"He's not even licensed to practice in Mississippi. Judge Noose is laying for him. He hates out-of state lawyers."
"You're kiddin'?"
"Nope. I talked to him yesterday."
Ozzie looked disturbed and eyed Jake carefully. "You wanna see him?"
"Carl Lee."
"No! I have no reason to see him." Jake glanced in his briefcase. "I need to see Leroy
Glass, aggravated assault."
"You got Leroy?"
"Yeah. His folks came in this morning."
"Follow me."
Jake waited in the Intoxilyzer room while a trusty went for the new client. Leroy wore the standard Ford County jail issue of glow-in-the-dark orange coveralls. Pink sponge rollers shot in all directions from his scalp, and two long greasy cornrows clung to the back of his neck. His black leathery feet were protected from the dirty linoleum by a pair of lime green terrycloth slides. No socks. A wicked, aged scar started next to his right ear lobe, made the ridge over his cheekbone, and connected neatly with his right nostril. It proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Leroy was no stranger to stabbings and carvings. He wore it like a medal. He smoked Kools.
"Leroy, I'm Jake Brigance," the lawyer introduced himself and pointed to a folding chair next to the Pepsi machine. "Your momma and brother hired me this morning."
"Good to know you, Mr. Jake."
A trusty waited in the hall by the door as Jake asked questions. He filled three pages of notes on Leroy Glass. Of primary interest, at least at this point, was money. How much did he have, and where could he find more. They would talk about the stabbing later.
Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, friends, anyone with a job who might be able to make a loan. Jake took phone numbers.
"Who referred you to me?" Jake asked.
"Saw you on TV, Mr. Jake. You and Carl Lee Hailey."
Jake was proud, but did not smile. Television was just part of his job. "You know Carl Lee?"
"Yeah, know Lester too. You's Lester's lawyer, wasn't you?"
"Me and Carl Lee in the same cell. Moved me last night."
"You don't say."
"Yeah. He don't talk much. He said you's a real good lawyer and all, but he found somebody else from Memphis."
"That's right. What does he think of his new lawyer?"
"I don't know, Mr. Jake. He was fussin' this mornin' cause the new lawyer ain't been to see him yet. He say you come to see him all the time and talk 'bout the case, but the new lawyer, some funny name, ain't even been down to meet him yet."
Jake concealed his delight with a grim face, but it was difficult. "I'll tell you something if you promise you won't tell Carl Lee."
"His new lawyer can't come to see him."
"No! Why not?"
"Because he doesn't have a license to practice law in Mississippi. He's a Tennessee lawyer. He'll get thrown out of court if he comes down here by himself. I'm afraid Carl
Lee's made a big mistake."
"Why don't you tell him?"
"Because he's already fired me. I can't give him advice anymore."
"Somebody ought to."
"You just promised you won't, okay?"
"Okay. I won't."
"I swear."
"Good. I gotta go. I'll meet with the bondsman in the morning, and maybe we'll have you out in a day or so. Not a word to Carl Lee, right?"
Tank Scales was leaning on the Saab in the parking lot when Jake left the jail. He stepped on a cigarette butt and pulled a piece of paper from his shirt pocket. "Two numbers. Top one's for home, bottom for work. But don't call at work unless you have to."
"Good work, Tank. Did you get them from Iris?"
"Yeah. She didn't want to. She stopped by the tonk last night and I got her drunk."
"I owe you one."
"I'll get it, sooner or later."
It was dark, almost eight o'clock. Dinner was cold, but that was not unusual. That's why he had bought her a microwave. She was accustomed to the hours and the warmed-over dinners,- and she did not complain. They would eat when he came home, whether it was six or ten.
Jake drove from the jail to his office. He wouldn't dare call Lester from home, not with
Carla listening. He settled behind his desk and stared at the numbers Tank had located.
Carl Lee had told him not to make this call. Why should he do it? Would it be solicitation? Unethical? Would it be unethical to call Lester and tell him that Carl Lee had fired him and hired another lawyer? No. And to answer Lester's questions about the new lawyer? No. And to express concern? No. And to criticize the new lawyer? Probably not. Would it be unethical to encourage Lester to talk to his brother? No. And convince him to fire Marsharfsky? Probably so. And to rehire Jake? Yes, no doubt about it. That would be very unethical. What if he just called Lester and talked about Carl Lee and allowed the conversation to follow its own course.
"Is there a Lester Hailey there?"
"Yes. Who's calling?" came the accented reply from the Swede.
"Jake Brigance, from Mississippi."
"One moment."
Jake checked his watch. Eight-thirty. It was the same time in Chicago, wasn't it?
"Lester, how are you?"
"Fine, Jake. Tired, but fine. How 'bout you?"
"Great. Listen, have you talked to Carl Lee this week?"
"No. I left Friday, and I've been workin' two shifts since Sunday. I ain't had time for nothin'."
"You seen the newspapers?"
"No. What's happened?"
"You won't believe it, Lester."
"What is it, Jake?"
"Carl Lee fired me and hired a big-shot lawyer from Memphis."
"What! You're kiddin'? When?"
"Last Friday. I guess after you left. He didn't bother to tell me. I read it in the Memphis paper Saturday morning."
"He's crazy. Why'd he do it, Jake? Who'd he hire?"
"You know a guy named Cat Bruster from Memphis?"
"Of course."
"It's his lawyer. Cat's paying for it. He drove down from Memphis last Friday and saw
Carl Lee at the jail. Next morning I saw my picture in the paper and read where I've been fired."
"Who's the lawyer?"
"Bo Marsharfsky."
"He any good?"
"He's a crook. He defends all the pimps and drug dealers in Memphis."
"Sounds like a Polack."
"He is. I think he's from Chicago."
"Yeah, bunch of Polacks up here. Does he talk like these?"
"Like he's got a mouthful of hot grease. He'll go over big in Ford County."
"Stupid, stupid, stupid. Carl Lee never was too bright. I always had to think for him.
Stupid, stupid."
"Yeah, he's made a mistake, Lester. You know what a murder trial is like because you've been there. You realize how important that jury is when they leave the courtroom and go to the jury room. Your life is in their hands. Twelve local people back there fighting and arguing over your case, your life. The jury's the most important part. That's why you gotta be able to talk to the jury."
"That's right, Jake. You can do it too."
"I'm sure Marsharfsky can do it in Memphis, but not Ford County. Not jn rural
Mississippi. These people won't trust him."
"You're right, Jake. I can't believe he did it. He's screwed up again."
"He did it, Lester, and I'm worried about him."
"Have you talked to him?"
"Last Saturday, after I saw the newspaper, I went straight to the jail. I asked him why, and he could not answer. He felt bad about it. I haven't talked to him since then. But neither has Marsharfsky. He hasn't found Clanton yet, and I understand Carl Lee's upset.
As far as I can tell, nothing has been done on the case this week."
"Has Ozzie talked to him?"
"Yeah, but you know Ozzie. He's not go nna say too much. He knows Bruster's a crook and Marsharfsky's a crook, but he won't lean on Carl Lee."
"Man oh man. I can't believe it. He's stupid if he thinks those rednecks'll listen to some shyster from Memphis. Hell, Jake, they don't trust the lawyers from Tyler County and it's next door. Man oh man."
Jake smiled at the receiver. So far, nothing unethical.
"What should I do, Jake?"
"I don't know, Lester. He needs some help, and you're the only one he'll listen to. You know how headstrong he is."
"I guess I'd better call him."
No, thought Jake, it would be easier for Carl Lee to say no over the phone. Confrontation was needed between the brothers. A drive from Chicago would make an impact.
"I don't think you'll get very far over the phone. His mind's made up. Only you can change it, and you can't do it over the phone."
Lester paused a few seconds while Jake waited anxiously. "What's today?",
"Thursday, June 6."
"Let's see," Lester mumbled. "I'm ten hours away. I work the four-to-midnight shift tomorrow and again Sunday. I could leave here midnight tomorrow, and be in Clanton by ten Saturday mornin'.
Then I could leave early Sunday mornin' and be back by four. That's a lot of drivin', but I can handle it."
"It's very important, Lester. I think it's worth the trip."
"Where will you be Saturday, Jake?"
"Here at the office."
"Okay. I'll go to the jail, and if I need you I'll call the office."
"Sounds good. One other thing, Lester. Carl Lee told me not to call you. Don't mention it."
"What'll I tell him?"
"Tell him you called Iris, and she gave you the story."
"Iris who?"
"Come on, Lester. It's been common knowledge around here for years. Everybody knows it but her husband, and he'll find out."
"I hope not. We'll have us another murder. You'll have another client."
"Please. I can't keep the ones I've got. Call me Saturday."
He ate from the microwave at ten-thirty. Hanna was asleep. They talked about Leroy
Glass and the white kid in the stolen pickup. About Carl Lee, but not about Lester. She felt better, safer now that Carl Lee Hailey was behind them. No more calls. No more burning crosses. No more stares at church. There would be other cases, she promised. He said little; just ate and smiled.
Just before the courthouse closed on Friday, Jake called the clerk to see if a trial was in progress. No, she said, Noose was gone. Buckley, Musgrove, everybody was gone. The courtroom was deserted. Secure with that knowledge, Jake eased across the street, through the rear door of the courthouse, and down the hall to the clerk's office. He flirted with the clerks and secretaries while he located Carl Lee's file. He held his breath as he flipped through the pages. Good! Just as he had hoped. Nothing had been added to the file all week, with the exception of his motion to withdraw as counsel. Marsharfsky and his local counsel had not touched the file. Nothing had been done. He flirted some more and eased back to his office.
Leroy Glass was still in jail. His bond was ten thousand dollars, and his family couldn't raise the thousand-dollar premium to pay a bondsman. So he continued to share the cell with Carl Lee. Jake had a friend who was a bondsman and who took care of Jake's clients. If a client needed out of jail, and there was little danger of him disappearing once he was sprung, the bond would be written.
Terms were available for Jake's clients. Say, five percent down and so much a month. If
Jake wanted Leroy Glass out of jail, the bond could be written anytime. But Jake needed him in jail.
"Look, Leroy, I'm sorry. I'm working with the bondsman," Jake explained to his client in the Intoxilyzer room.
"But you said I'd be out by now."
"Your folks don't have the money, Leroy. I can't pay it myself. We'll get you out, but it'll take a few days. I want you out so you can go to work, make some money and pay me."
Leroy seemed satisfied. "Okay, Mr. Jake, just do what you can."
"Food's pretty good here, isn't it?" Jake asked with a smile.
"It ain't bad. Better at home."
"We'll get you out," Jake promised.
"How's the nigger I stabbed?"
"Not sure. Ozzie said he's still in the hospital. Moss
Thrum says he's been released. Who knows. I don't think he's hurt too bad."
"Who was the woman?" Jake asked, unable to remember the details.
"Willie's woman."
"Willie who?"
"Willie Hoyt."
Jake thought for a second and tried to recall the indictment. "That's not the man you stabbed."
"Naw, he's Curtis Sprawling."
"You mean, y'all were fighting over another man's woman?"
"That's right."
"Where was Willie?"
"He was fightin' too."
"Who was he fighting?"
"Some other dude."
"You mean the four of you were fighting over Willie's woman?"
"Yeah, you got it."
"What caused the fight?"
"Her husband was outta town."
"She's married?"
"That's right."
"What's her husband's name?"
"Johnny Sands. When he's outta town, there's normally a fight."
"Why is that?"
'"Cause she ain't got no kids, can't have any, and she likes to have company. Know what I mean?
When he leaves, everybody knows it. If she shows up at a tonk, look out for a fight."
What a trial, thought Jake. "But I thought you said she showed up with Willie Hoyt?"
"That's right. But that don't mean nothin' because everybody at the tonk starts easin' up on her, buyin' drinks, wantin' to dance. You can't help it."
"Some woman, huh?"
"Oh, Mr. Jake, she looks so good. You oughtta see her."
"I will. On the witness stand."
Leroy gazed at the wall, smiling, dreaming, lusting after the wife of Johnny Sands. Never mind that he stabbed a man and could get twenty years. He had proven, in hand-to-hand combat, that he was worthy.
"Listen, Leroy, you haven't talked to Carl Lee, have you?"
"Sure. I'm still in his cell. We talk all the time. Ain't much else to do."
"You haven't told him what we discussed yesterday?"
"Oh no. I told you I wouldn't."
"But I'll tell you this, Mr. Jake, he's some kinda worried. He ain't heard from his new lawyer. He's bad upset. I had to bite my tongue to keep from tellin' him, but I didn't. I did tell him you were my lawyer."
"That's okay."
"He said you was good 'bout comin' by the jail and talkin' 'bout the case and all. He said I hired a good lawyer."
"Not good enough for him, though."
"I think Carl Lee's confused. He ain't sure who to trust or anything. He's a good dude."
"Well, don't be telling him what we discussed, right? It's confidential."
"Right. But somebody needs to."
"He didn't consult with me or anyone else before he fired me and hired his new lawyer.
He's a grown man. He made the decision. It's his baby." Jake paused and moved closer to
Leroy. He lowered his voice. "And I'll tell you something else, but you can't tell it. I checked his court file thirty minutes ago. His new lawyer hasn't touched the case all week. Not one thing has been filed. Nothing."
Leroy frowned and shook his head. "Man oh man."
His lawyer continued. "These big shots operate like that. Talk a lot, blow a lot of smoke, fly by the seat of their pants. Take more cases than they can handle, and end up losing more than they win. I know them. I watch them all the time. Most are overrated."
"Is that why he ain't been to see Carl Lee?"
"Sure. He's too busy. Plus he's got plenty of other big cases. He don't care about Carl Lee."
"That's bad. Carl Lee deserves better."
"It was his choice. He'll have to live with it."
"You think he'll be convicted, Mr. Jake?"
"No doubt about it. He's looking at the gas chamber. He's hired a bogus big-shot lawyer who doesn't have time to work on his case, doesn't even have the time to talk to him in jail."
"Are you sayin' you could get him off?"
Jake relaxed and crossed his legs. "No, I never make that promise, and I won't make it for your trial. A lawyer is stupid if he promises an acquittal. Too many things can go wrong at trial."
"Carl Lee said his lawyer promised a not guilty in the newspaper."
"He's a fool."
"Where you been?" Carl Lee asked his cellmate as the jailer locked the door.
"Talkin' to my lawyer."
Leroy sat on his bunk directly across the cell from Carl Lee, who was rereading a newspaper. He folded the paper and laid it under his bunk.
"You look worried," Carl Lee said. "Bad news about your case?"
"Naw. Just can't make my bail. Jake says it'll be a few days."
"Jake talk about me?"
"Naw. Not much."
"Not much? What'd he say?"
"Just ask how you was."
"That all?"
"He's not mad at me?"
"Naw. He might be worried about you, but I don't think he's mad."
"Why's he worried about me?"
"I don't know," Leroy answered as he stretched out on his bunk, folding his hands behind his head.
"Come on, Leroy. You know somethin' you ain't tellin'. What'd Jake say about me?"
"Jake said I can't tell you what we talk about. He says it's confidential. You wouldn't want your lawyer repeatin' what y'all talk about, would you?"
"I ain't seen my lawyer."
"You had a good lawyer till you fired him."
"I gotta good one now."
. "How do you know? You ain't ever met him. He's too busy to come talk to you, and if he's that busy, he ain't got time to work on your case."
"How do you know about him?" "I asked Jake."
"Yeah. What'd he say?"
Leroy was silent.
"I wanna know what he said," demanded Carl Lee as he sat on the edge of Leroy's bunk.
He glared at his smaller, weaker cellmate. Leroy decided he was frightened and now had a good excuse to tell Carl Lee. Either talk or get slapped.
"He's a crook," Leroy said. "He's a big-sho t crook who'll sell you out. He don't care about you or your case. He just wants the publicity. He hasn't touched your case all week.
Jake knows, he checked in the courthouse this afternoon. Not a sign of Mr. Big Shot. He's too busy to leave Memphis and check on you. He's got too many other crooked clients in
Memphis, includin' your friend Mr. Bruster."
"You're crazy, Leroy."
"Okay, I'm crazy. Wait and see who pleads insaneness. Wait and see how hard he works on your case."
"What makes you such an expert?"
"You asked me and I'm tellin' you."
Carl Lee walked to the door and grabbed the bars, gripping them tightly with his huge hands. The cell had shrunk in three weeks, and the smaller it became the harder it was for him to think, to reason, to plan, to react. He could not concentrate in jail. He knew only what was told to him and had no one to trust. Gwen was irrational. Ozzie was noncommittal. Lester was in Chicago. There was no other person he trusted except Jake, and for some reason he had found a new lawyer. Money, that was the reason. Nineteen hundred dollars cash, paid by the biggest pimp and dope dealer in Memphis, whose lawyer specialized in defending pimps and dope dealers, and all kinds of cutthroats and hoodlums. Did Marsharfsky represent decent people? What would the jury think when they watched Carl Lee sit at the defense table next to Marsharfsky? He was guilty, of course. Why else would he hire a famous, big-city crook like Marsharfsky?
"You know what them rednecks on the jury'H say when they see Marsharfsky?" Leroy asked.
"They're gonna think this poor nigger is guilty, and he's sold his soul to hire the biggest crook in Memphis to tell us he ain't guilty."
Carl Lee mumbled something through the bars.
"They're gonna fry you, Carl Lee."
Moss Junior Tatum was on duty at six-thirty Saturday morning when the phone rang in
Ozzie's office. It was the sheriff.
"What're you doing awake?" asked Moss.
"I'm not sure I'm awake," answered the sheriff. "Listen, Moss, do you remember an old black preacher named Street, Reverend Isaiah Street?"
"Not really."
"Yeah you do. He preached for fifty years at Springdale Church, north of town. First member of the NAACP in Ford County. He taught all the blacks around here how to march and boycott back in the sixties."
"Yeah, now I remember. Didn't the Klan catch him once?"
"Yeah, they beat him and burned his house, but nothin' serious. Summer of '65."
"I thought he died a few years back."
"Naw, he's been half dead for ten years, but he still moves a little. He called me at five-thirty and talked for an hour. Reminded me of all the political favors I owe him."
"What's he want?"
"He'll be there at seven to see Carl Lee. Why, I don't know. But treat him nice. Put them in my office and let them talk. I'll be in later."
ouic, oneriii.
In his heyday in the sixties, the Reverend Isaiah Street had been the moving force behind civil rights activity in Ford County. He walked with Martin Luther King in Memphis and
Montgomery. He organized marches and protests in Clanton and Karaway and other towns in north Mississippi. In the summer of '64 he greeted students from the North and coordinated their efforts to register black voters. Some had lived in his home that memorable summer, and they still visited him from time to time. He was no radical. He was quiet, compassionate, intelligent, and had earned the respect of all blacks and most whites. His was a calm, cool voice in the midst of hatred and controversy. He unofficially officiated the great public school desegregation in '69, and Ford County saw little trouble.
A stroke in '75 deadened the right side of his body but left his mind untouched. Now, at seventy- eight, he walked by himself, slowly and with a cane. Proud, dignified, erect as possible. He was ushered into the sheriffs office and seated. He,declined coffee, and Moss Junior left to get the defendant.
"You awake, Carl Lee?" he whispered loudly, not wanting to wake the other prisoners, who would begin screaming for breakfast, medicine, lawyers, bondsmen, and girlfriends.
Carl Lee sat up immediately. "Yeah, I didn't sleep much."
"You have a visitor. Come on." Moss quietly unlocked the cell.
Carl Lee had met the reverend years earlier when he addressed the last senior class at
East High, the black school. Desegregation followed, and East became the junior high.
He had not seen the reverend since the stroke.
"Carl Lee, do you know Reverend Isaiah Street?" Moss asked properly.
"Yes, we met years ago."
"Good, I'll close the door and let y'all talk."
"How are you, sir?" Carl Lee asked. They sat next to each other on the couch.
"Finej my son, and you?"
"As good as possible."
"I've been in jail too, you know. Years ago. It's a terri- ble place, but I guess it's necessary. How are they treating you?"
"Fine, just fine. Ozzie lets me do as I please."
"Yes, Ozzie. We're very proud of him, aren't we?"
"Yes, sub. He's a good man." Carl Lee studied the frail, feeble old man with the cane. His body was weak and tired, but his mind was sharp, his voice strong.
"We're proud of you too, Carl Lee. I don't condone violence, but at times it's necessary too, I guess. You did a good deed, my son."
"Yes, suh," answered Carl Lee, uncertain of the appropriate response.
"I guess you wonder why I'm here."
Carl Lee nodded. The reverend tapped his cane on the floor.
"I'm concerned about your acquittal. The black community is concerned. If you were white, you would most likely go to trial, and most likely be acquitted. The rape of a child is a horrible crime, and who's to blame a father for rectifying the wrong? A white father, that is. A black father evokes the same sympathy among blacks, but there's one problem: the jury will be white. So a black father and a white father would not have equal chances with the jury. Do you follow me?"
"I think so."
"The jury is all important. Guilt versus innocence. Freedom versus prison. Life versus death. All to be determined by the jury. It's a fragile system, this trusting of lives to twelve average, ordinary people who do not understand the law and are intimidated by the process."
"Yes, suh."
"Your acquittal by a white jury for the killings of two white men will do more for the black folk of Mississippi than any event since we integrated the schools. And it's not just Mississippi; it's black folk everywhere. Yours is a most famous case, and it's being watched carefully by many people."
"I just did what I had to do."
"Precisely. You did what you thought was right. It was right; although it was brutal and ugly, it was right. And most folks, black and white, believe that. But will you be treated as though you were white? That's the question."
"Ana 11 I'm convicted?"
"Your conviction would be another slap at us; a symbol of deep-seated racism; of old prejudices, old hatreds. It would be a disaster. You must not be convicted."
"I'm doin' all I can do."
"Are you? Let's talk about your attorney, if we may."
Carl Lee nodded.
"Have you met him?"
"No." Carl Lee lowered his head and rubbed his eyes. "Have you?"
"Yes, I have."
"You have? When?"
"In Memphis in 1968.1 was with Dr. King. Marsharfsky was one of the attorneys representing the garbage workers on strike against the city. He asked Dr. King to leave
Memphis, claimed he was agitating the whites and inciting the blacks, and that he was impeding the contract negotiations. He was arrogant and abusive. He cursed Dr. King-in private, of course. We thought he was selling out the workers and getting money under the table from the city. I think we were right." Carl Lee breathed deeply and rubbed his temples.
"I've followed his career," the reverend continued. "He's made a name for himself representing gangsters, thieves, and pimps. He gets some of them off, but they're always guilty. When you see one of his clients, you know he's guilty. That's what worries me most about you. I'm afraid you'll be considered guilty by association."
Carl Lee sunk lower, his elbows resting on his knees. "Who told you to come here?" he asked softly.
"I had a talk with an old friend."
"Just an old friend, my son. He's concerned about you too. We're all concerned about you."
"He's the best lawyer in Memphis."
"This isn't Memphis, is it?"
"He's an expert on criminal law."
"That could be because he's a criminal."
Carl Lee stood abruptly and walked across the room, his back to the reverend.
"He's free. He's not costin' me a dime."
"His fee won't seem important when you're on death row, my son."
Moments passed and neither spoke. Finally, the reverend lowered his cane and struggled to his feet.
"I've said enough. I'm leaving. Good luck, Carl Lee."
Carl Lee shook his hand. "I do appreciate your concern and I thank you for visitin'."
"My point is simply this, my son. Your case will be difficult enough to win. Don't make it more difficult with a crook like Marsharfsky."
Lester left Chicago just before midnight Friday. He headed south alone, as usual. Earlier his wife went north to Green Bay for a weekend with her family. He liked Green Bay much less than she liked Mississippi, and neither cared to visit the other's family. They were nice people, the Swedes, and they would treat him like family if he allowed it. But they were different, and it wasn't just their whiteness. He grew up with whites in the
South and knew them. He didn't like them all and didn't like most of their feelings toward him, but at least he knew them. But the Northern whites, especially the Swedes, were different. Their customs, speech, food, almost everythin g was foreign to him, and he would never feel comfortable with them.
There would be a divorce, probably within a year: He was black, and his wife's older cousin had married a black in the early seventies and received a lot of attention. Lester was a fad, and she was tired of him. Luckily, there were no kids. He suspected someone else. He had someone else too, and Iris had promised to marry him and move to Chicago once she ditched Henry.
Both sides of Interstate 57 looked the same after midnight-scattered lights from the small, neat farms strewn over the countryside, and occasionally a big town like Champaign or
Effingham. The north was where he lived and worked, but it wasn't home. Home was where Momma was, in Mississippi, although he would never live there again. Too much ignorance and poverty. He didn't mind the racism; it wasn't as bad as it once was and he was accustomed to it. It would always be there, but gradually becoming less visible.
i ne wmtes stui owned and controlled everything, and that in itself was not unbearable. It was not about to change. What he found intolerable was the
ignorance and stark poverty of many of the blacks; the dilapidated, shotgun houses, the high infant mortality rate, the hopelessly unemployed, the unwed mothers and their unfed babies. It was depressing to the point of being intolerable, and intolerable to the point he fled Mississippi like thousands of others and migrated north in search of a job, any decent-paying job which could ease the pain of poverty.
It was both pleasant and depressing to return to Mississippi. Pleasant in that he would see his family; depressing because he would see their poverty. There were bright spots. Carl
Lee had a decent job, a clean house, and well-dressed kids. He was an exception, and now it was all in jeopardy because of two drunk, low-bred pieces of white trash. Blacks had an excuse for being worthless, but for whites in a white world, there were no excuses.
They were dead, thank God, and he was proud of his big brother.
Six hours out of Chicago the sun appeared as he crossed the river at Cairo. Two hours later he crossed it again at Memphis. He drove southeast into Mississippi, and an hour later circled the courthouse in Clanton. He'd been awake for twenty hours.
"Carl Lee, you have a visitor," Ozzie said through the iron bars in the door.
"I'm not surprised. Who is it?"
"Just follow me. I think you better use my office. This could take a while."
Jake loitered at his office waiting on the phone to ring. Ten o'clock. Lester should be in town, if he's coming. Eleven. Jake riffled through some stale files and made notes for
Ethel. Noon. He called Carla and lied about meeting a new client at one o'clock, so forget lunch. He would work in the yard later. One o'clock. He found an ancient case from
Wyoming where a husband was acquitted after tracking down the man who raped his wife. In 1893. He copied the case, then threw it in the garbage. Two o'clock. Was Lester in town? He could go visit Leroy and snoop around the jail. No, that didn't feel right. He napped on the couch in the big office.
At two-fifteen the phone rang. Jake bolted upright and scrambled from the couch. His heart was pounding as he grabbed the phone. "Hello!"
"Jake, this is Ozzie."
"Yeah, Ozzie, what's up?"
"Your presence is requested here at the jail."
"What?" Jake asked, feigning innocence.
"You're needed down here."
"By who?"
"Carl Lee wants to talk to you."
"Is Lester there?"
"Yeah. He wants you too."
"Be there in a minute."
"They've been in there for over four hours," Ozzie said, pointing to the office door.
"Doing what?" asked Jake,
"Talkin', cussin', shoutin'. Things got quiet about thirty minutes ago. Carl Lee came out and asked me to call you."
"Thanks. Let's go in."
"No way, man. I ain't goin' in there. They didn't send for me. You're on your own."
Jake knocked on the door.
"Come in!"
He opened it slowly, walked inside and closed it. Carl Lee was sitting behind the desk.
Lester was lying on the couch. He stood and shook Jake's hand. "Good to see you, Jake."
"Good to see you, Lester. What brings you home?"
"Family business."
Jake looked at Carl Lee, then walked to the desk and shook his hand. The defendant was clearly irritated.
"Y'all sent for me?"
"Yeah, Jake, sit down. We need to talk," said Lester. "Carl Lee's got somethin' to tell you."
"You tell him," Carl Lee said.
Lester sighed and rubbed his eyes. He was tired and irusiraiea. "i ami saym' anotner word. This is between .you and Jake." Lester closed his eyes and relaxed on the couch.
Jake sat in a padded, folding chair that he leaned against the wall opposite the couch. He watched Lester carefully, but did not look at Carl Lee, who rocked slowly in Ozzie's swivel chair. Carl Lee said nothing. Lester said nothing. After three minutes of silence,
Jake was annoyed.
"Who sent for me?" he demanded.
"I did," answered Carl Lee.
"Well, what do you want?"
"I wanna give you my case back."
"You assume I want it back."
"What!" Lester sat up and looked at Jake.
"It's not a gift you give or take away. It's an agreement between you and your attorney.
Don't act as though you're doing me a great favor." Jake's voice was rising, his anger apparent.
"Do you want the case?" asked Carl Lee.
"Are you trying to rehire me, Carl Lee?"
"That's right."
"Why do you want to rehire me?"
" 'Cause Lester wants me to."
"Fine, then I don't want your case." Jake stood and started for the door. "If Lester wants me and you want Mar-sharfsky, then stick with Marsharfsky. If you can't think for yourself, you need Marsharfsky."
"Wait, Jake. Be cool, man," Lester said as he met Jake at the door. "Sit down, sit down. I don't blame you for bein' mad at Carl Lee for firm' you. He was wrong. Right, Carl Lee?"
Carl Lee picked at his fingernails.
"Sit down, Jake, sit down and let's talk," Lester pleaded as he led him back to the folding chair.
"Good. Now, let's discuss this situation. Carl Lee, do you want Jake to be your lawyer?"
Carl Lee nodded. "Yeah."
"Good. Now, Jake-"
"Explain why." Jake asked Carl Lee.
"Explain why you want me to handle your case. Explain why you're firing Marsharfsky."
"I don't have to explain."
"Yes! Yes, you do. You at least owe me an explanation. You fired me a week ago and didn't have the guts to call me. I read it in the newspaper. Then I read about your new high-priced lawyer who evidently can't find his way to Clanton. Now you call me and expect me to drop everything because you might change your mind again. Explain, please."
"Explain, Carl Lee. Talk to Jake," Lester said.
Carl Lee leaned forward and placed his elbows on the desk. He buried his face in his hands and spoke between his palms. "I'm just confused. This place is drivin' me crazy.
My nerves are shot. I'm worried about my little girl. I'm worried about my family. I'm worried about my own skin. Everbody's tellin' me to do somethin' different. I ain't ever been in a situation like this and I don't know what to do. All I can do is trust people. I trust Lester, and I trust you, Jake. That's all I can do."
"You trust my advice?" asked Jake.
"I always have."
"And you trust me to handle your case?"
"Yeah, Jake, I want you to handle it."
"Good enough."
Jake relaxed, and Lester eased into the couch. "You'll need to notify Marsharfsky. Until you do, I can't work on your case."
"We'll do that this afternoon," Lester said.
"Good. Once you talk to him, give me a call. There's a lot of work to do, and the time will disappear."
"What about the money?" asked Lester.
"Same fee. Same arrangements. Is that satisfactory?"
"Okay with me," replied Carl Lee. "I'll pay you any way I can."
"We'll discuss that later."
"What about the doctors?" asked Carl Lee.
"We'll make some arrangements. I don't know. It'll work out."
The defendant smiled. Lester snored loudly and Carl Lee laughed at his brother. "I figured you called him, but he swears you didn't."
Jake smiled awkwardly but said nothing. Lester was a nar, a- laieni wmcn naa proved extremely beneficial during his murder trial.
"I'm,sorry, Jake. I was wrong."
"No apologies. There's too much work to spend time apologizing."
Next to the parking lot outside the jail, a reporter stood under a shade tree waiting for something to happen.
"Excuse me, sir, aren't you Mr. Brigance?"
"Who wants to know?"
"I'm Richard Flay, with The Jackson Daily. You're Jake Brigance."
"Mr. Hailey's ex-lawyer."
"No. Mr. Hailey's lawyer."
"I thought he had retained Bo Marsharfsky. In" fact, that's why I'm here. I heard a rumor
Marsharfsky would be here this-afternoon."
"If you see him, tell him he's too late."
Lester slept hard on the couch in Ozzie's office. The dispatcher woke him at 4:00 A.M.
Sunday, and after filling a tall Styrofoam cup with black coffee, he left for Chicaga. Late
Saturday night he and Carl Lee had called Cat in his office above the club and informed him of Carl Lee's conversion. Cat was indifferent and busy. He said he would call
Marsharfsky. There was no mention of the money.
Not long after Lester disappeared, Jake staggered down his driveway in his bathrobe to get the Sunday papers. Clanton was an hour southeast of Memphis, three hours north of
Jackson, and forty- five minutes from Tupelo. All three cities had daily papers with fat
Sunday editions that were available in Clanton. Jake had long subscribed to all three, and was now glad he did so Carla would have plenty of material for her scrapbook. He spread the papers and began the task of plowing through f ive inches of print.
Nothing in the Jackson paper. He hoped Richard Flay had reported something. He should have spent more time with him outside the jail. Nothing from Memphis. Nothing from
Tupelo. Jake was not surprised, just hopeful that somehow the story had been discovered.
But it happened too late yesterday. Maybe Monday. He was tired of hiding; tired of feeling embarrassed. Until it was in the papers and read by the boys at the Coffee Shop, and the people at church, and the other lawyers, including Buckley and Sullivan and Lot-terhouse, until everybody knew it was his case again, he would stay quiet and out of view. How should he tell Sullivan? Carl Lee would call Marsharfsky, or the pimp, probably the pimp, who would then call Marsharfsky with the news. What kind of press release would Marsharfsky write for that? Then the great lawyer would call Walter
Sullivan with the wonderful news. That should happen Monday morning, if not sooner.
Word would spread quickly throughout the Sullivan firm, and the senior partners, junior partners, and little associates would all gather in the long, mahogany-laced conference room and curse Brigance and his low ethics and tactics. The associates would try to impress their bosses by spouting rules and code numbers of ethics Brigance probably violated. Jake hated them, every one of them. He would send Sullivan a short, curt letter with a copy to Lotterhouse. He wouldn't call or write Buckley. He would be in shock after he saw the paper. A letter to Judge Noose with a copy to tsucKiey would worn nne.
He wouia noi nonor mm with a personal letter.
Jake had a thought, then hesitated, then dialed Lucien's number. It was a few minutes after seven.
The nurse/maid/ bartender answered the phone.
"This is Jake. Is Lucien awake?"
"Just a moment." She rolled over and handed the phone to Lucien.
"Lucien, it's Jake."
"Yeah, whatta you want?"
"Good news. Carl Lee Hailey rehired me yesterday. The case is mine again."
"Which case?"
'The Hailey case!"
"Oh, the vigilante. He's yours?"
"As of yesterday. We've got work to do."
"When's the trial? July sometime?"
"That's pretty close. What's priority?"
"A psychiatrist. A cheap one who'll say anything."
"I know just the man," said Lucien.
"Good. Get busy. I'll call in a couple of days."
Carla awoke, at a decent hour and found her husband in the kitchen with newspapers strewn over and under the breakfast table. She made fresh coffee and, without a word, sat across the table. He smiled at her and continued reading.
"What time did you get up?" she asked.
"Why so early? It's Sunday."
"I couldn't sleep."
"Too excited?"
Jake lowered the paper. "As a matter of fact, I am excited. Very excited. It's too bad the excitement will not be shared."
"I'm sorry about last night."
"You don't have to apologize. I know how you feel. Your problem is that you only look at the negative, never the positive. You have no idea what this case can do for us."
"Jake, this case scares me. The phone calls, the threats, the burning cross. If the case means a million dollars, is it worth it if something happens?"
"Nothing will happen. We'll get some more threats and they'll stare at us at church and around town, but nothing serious."
"But you can't be sure."
"We went through this last night and I don't care to rehash it this morning. I do have an idea, though."
"I can't wait to hear it."
"You and Hanna fly to North Carolina and stay with your parents until after the trial.
They'd love to have you, and we wouldn't worry about the Klan or whoever likes to burn crosses."7
"But the trial is six weeks away! You want us to stay in Wilmington for six weeks?"
"I love my parents, but that's ridiculous."
"You don't see enough of them, and they don't see enough of Hanna."
"And we don't see enough of you. I'm not leaving for six weeks."
"There's a ton of preparation. I'll eat and sleep this case until the trial is over. I'll work nights, weekends-"
"What else is new?"
"I'll ignore y'all and think of nothing but this case."
"We're used to that."
Jake smiled at her. "You're saying you can handle it?"
"I can handle you. It's those crazies out there that scare me."
"When the crazies get serious, I'll back off. I will run from this case if my family is in danger."
"You promise?"
"Of course I promise. Let's send Hanna."
"If we're not in danger, why do you want to send anybody?"
"Just for safety. She'd have a great time spending the summer with her grandparents.
They'd love it."
"She wouldn't last a week without me."
"And you wouldn't last a week without her."
That s true. It s out of the question. I don t worry about her as long as I can hold her and squeeze her."
The coffee was ready and Carla filled their cups. "Anything in the paper?"
"No. I thought the Jackson paper might run something, but it happened too late, I guess."
"I guess your timing is a little rusty after a week's layoff."
"Just wait till in the morning."
"How do you know?"
"I promise."
She shook her head and searched for the fashion and food sections. "Are you going to church?"
"Why not? You've got the case. You're a star again."
"Yeah, but no one knows it yet."
"I see. Next Sunday."
"Of course."
At Mount Hebron, Mount Zion, Mount Pleasant, and at Brown's Chapel, Green's Chapel, and Norris Road, Section Line Road, Bethel Road, and at God's Temple, Christ's Temple, and Saints' Temple, the buckets and baskets and plates were passed and re-passed and left at the altars and front doors to collect the money for Carl Lee Hailey and his family. The large, family-size Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets were used in many of the churches. The bigger the bucket, or basket, the smaller the individual offerings appeared as they fell to the bottom, thus allowing the minister just cause to order another passing through the flock. It was a special offering, separate from the regular giving, and was preceded in virtually every church with a heart-wrenching account of what happened to the precious little Hailey girl, and what would happen to her daddy and family if the buckets were not filled. In many instances the sacred name of the NAACP was invoked and the effect was a loosening of the wallets and purses.
It worked. The buckets were emptied, the money counted, and the ritual repeated during the evening services. Late Sunday night the morning offerings and evening offer- ings were combined and counted by each minister, who would then deliver a great percentage of the total to the Reverend Agee sometime Monday. He would keep the money somewhere in his church, and a great percentage of it would be spent for the benefit of the Hailey family.
From two to five each Sunday afternoon, the prisoners in the Ford County jail were turned out into a large fenced yard across the small back street behind the jail. A limit of three friends and/or relatives for each prisoner was allowed inside for no
more than an hour. There were a couple of shade trees, some broken picnic tables, and a well-maintained basketball hoop. Deputies and dogs watched carefully from the other side of the fence.
A routine was established. Gwen and the kids would leave church after the benediction around three, and drive to the jail. Ozzie allowed Carl Lee early entrance to the recreation area so he could assume the best picnic table, the one with four legs and a shade tree. He would sit there by himself, speaking to no one, and watch the basketball skirmish until his family arrived. It wasn't basketball, but a hybrid of rugby, wrestling, judo, and basketball. No one dared officiate. No blood, no foul. And, surprisingly, no fights. A fight meant quick admittance to solitary and no recreation for a month.
There were a few visitors, some girlfriends and wives, and they would sit in the grass by the fence with their men and quietly watch the mayhem under the basketball hoop. One couple asked Carl Lee if they could use his table for lunch. He shook his head, and they ate in the grass.
Gwen and the kids arrived before three. Deputy Hastings, her cousin, unlocked the gate and the children ran to meet their daddy. Gwen spread the food. Carl Lee was aware of the stares from the less fortunate, and he enjoyed the envy. Had he been white, or smaller and weaker, or perhaps charged with a lesser crime, he would have been asked to share his food. But he was Carl Lee Hailey, and no one stared too long. The-game returned to its fury and violence, and the family ate in peace. Tonya always sat next to her daddy.
"They started an offerin' for us this mornin'," Gwen said after lunch.
"Who did?"
"The church. Reverend Agee said all the black churches in the county are gonna take up money ever Sunday for us and for the lawyer fees."
"How much?"
"Don't know. He said they gonna pass the bucket ever Sunday until the trial."
"That's mighty nice. What'd he say 'bout me?"
"Just talked about your case and all. Said how expensive it would be, and how we'd need help from the churches. Talked about Christian givin' and all that. Said you're a real hero to your people."
What a pleasant surprise, thought Carl Lee. He expected some help from his church, but nothing financial. "How many churches?"
"All the black ones in the county."
"When do we get the money?"
"He didn't say."
After he got his cut, thought Carl Lee. "Boys, y'all take your sister and go play over there by the fence. Me and Momma needs to talk. Be careful now."
Carl Lee, Jr., and Robert took their little sister by the hand and did exactly as ordered.
"What does the doctor say?" Carl Lee asked as he watched the children walk away.
"She's doin' good. Her jaw's healin' good. He might take the wire off in a month. She can't run and jump and play yet, but it won't be long. Still some soreness."
"What about the, uh, the other?"
Gwen shook her head and covered her eyes. She began crying and wiping her eyes. She spoke and her voice cracked. "She'll never have kids. He told me . . ." She stopped, wiped her face and tried to continue. She began sobbing loudly, and buried her face in a paper towel. Carl Lee felt sick. He placed his forehead in his palms. He ground his teeth together as his eyes watered. "What'd he say?"
Gwen raised her head and spoke haltingly, righting back tears. "He told me Tuesday there was too much damage . . ." She wiped her wet face with her fingers. "But he wants to send her to a specialist in Memphis."
"He's not sure?"
She shook her head. "Ninety percent sure. But he thinks she should be examined by another doctor in Memphis. We're supposed to take her in a month." Gwen tore off another paper towel and wiped her face. She handed one to her husband, who quickly dabbed his eyes.
Next to the fence, Tonya sat listening to her brothers argue about which one would be a deputy and which one would be in jail. She watched her parents talk and shake their heads and cry. She knew something was wrong with her. She rubbed her eyes and started crying too.
"The nightmares are gettin' worse," Gwen said, interrupting the silence. "I have to sleep with her ever night. She dreams about men comin' to get her, men hidin' in the closets, chasin' her through the woods. She wakes up screamin' and sweatin'.
The doctor says she needs to see a psychiatrist. Says it'll get worse before it gets better."
"How much will it cost?"
"I don't know. I haven't called yet."
"Better call. Where is this psychiatrist?"
"How are the boys treatin' her?"
"They've been great. They treat her special. But the nightmares keep them scared. When she wakes up screamin' she wakes everybody. The boys run to her bed and try to help, but it scares them. Last night she wouldn't go back to sleep unless the boys slept on the floor next to her. We all laid there wide awake with the lights on."
"The boys'll be all right."
"They miss their daddy."
Carl Lee managed a forced smile. "It won't be much longer."
"You really think so?"
"I don't know what to think anymore. But I don't plan to spend the rest of my life in jail. I hired Jake back."
"Yesterday. That Memphis lawyer never showed up, never even called. I fired him and hired Jake again."
"But you said Jake is too young."
"I was wrong. He is young, but he's good. Ask Lester."
"It's your trial."
Carl Lee walked slowly around the yard, never leaving the fence. He thought of the two boys, somewhere out there, dead and buried, their flesh rotting by now, their souls burning in hell. Before they died, they met his little girl, only briefly, and within two hours wrecked her little body and ruined her mind. So brutal was their attack that she could never have children; so violent the encounter that she now saw them hiding for her, waiting in closets. Could she ever forget about it, block it out, erase it from her mind so her life would be normal? Maybe a psychiatrist could do that. Would other children allow her to be normal?
She was just a little nigger, they probably thought. Somebody's little nigger kid.
Illegitimate, of course, like all of them. Rape would be nothing new.
He remembered them in court. One proud, the other scared. He remembered them coming down the stairs as he awaited the execution. Then, the looks of horror as he stepped forward with the M-16. The sound of the gunfire, the cries for help, the screams as they fell backward together, one on top of the other, handcuffed, screaming and twisting, going nowhere. He remembered smiling, even laughing, as he watched them struggle with their heads half blown away, and when their bodies were still, he ran.
He smiled again. He was proud of it. The first gook he killed in Vietnam had bothered him more.
The letter to Walter Sullivan was to the point:
Dear J. Walter:
By now it's safe to assume Mr. Marsharfsky has informed you that his employment by Carl Lee Hailey has been terminated. Your services as local counsel will, of course, no longer be needed.
Have a nice day.
Sincerely, Jake
A copy was sent to L. Winston Lotterhouse. The letter to Noose was just as short:
Dear Judge Noose:
Please be advised that I have been retained by Carl Lee Hailey. We are preparing for trial on July 22. Please show me as counsel of record.
Sincerely, Jake
A copy was sent to Buckley.
Marsharfsky called at nine-thirty Monday. Jake watched the hold button blink for two minutes before he lifted the receiver. "Hello."
"How'd you do it?"
"Who is this?"
"Your secretary didn't tell you? This is Bo Marsharfsky, and I want to know how you did it."
"Did what?"
"Hustled my case."
Stay cool, thought Jake. He's an agitator. "As I recall, it was hustled from me," replied Jake.
"I never met him before he hired me."
"You didn't have to. You sent your pimp, remember?"
"Are you accusing me of chasing cases?"
Marsharfsky paused and Jake braced for the obscenities.
"You know something, Mr. Brigance, you're right. I chase cases everyday. I'm a pro at hustling cases. That's how I make so much money. If there's a big criminal case, I intend to get it. And I'll use whatever method I find necessary."
"Funny, that wasn't mentioned in the paper."
"And if I want the Hailey case, I'll get it."
"Come on down." Jake hung up and laughed for ten minutes. He lit a cheap cigar, and began working on his motion for a change of venue.
Two days later Lucien called and instructed Ethel to instruct Jake to come see him. It was important. He had a visitor Jake needed to meet.
The visitor was Dr. W.T. Bass, a retired psychiatrist from Jackson. He had known Lucien for years, and they had collaborated on a couple of insane criminals during their friendship. Both of the criminals were still in Parchman. His retirement had been one year before the disbarment and had been precipitated by the same thing that contributed heavily to the disbarment, to wit, a strong affection for Jack Daniel's. He visited Lucien occasionally in Clanton, and Lucien visited him more frequently in Jackson, and they enjoyed their visits because they enjoyed staying drunk together.
They sat on the big porch and waited on Jake.
"Just say he was insane," instructed Lucien.
"Was he?" asked the doctor.
"That's not important."
"What is important?"
"It's important to give the jury an excuse to acquit the man. They won't care if he's crazy or not. But they'll need some reason to acquit him."
"It would be nice to examine him."
"You can. You can talk to him all you want. He's at the jail just waiting on someone to talk to."
"I'll need to meet with him several times."
"I know that."
"What if I don't think he was insane at the time of the shooting?"
"Then you won't get to testify at trial, and you won't get your name and picture in the paper, and you won't be interviewed on TV."
Lucien paused long enough to take a long drink. "Just do as I say. Interview him, take a bunch of notes. Ask stupid questions. You know what to do. Then say he was crazy."
"I'm not so sure about this. It hasn't worked too well in the past."
"Look, you're a doctor, aren't you? Then act proud, vain, arrogant. Act like a doctor's supposed to act. Give your opinion and dare anyone to question it."
"I don't know. It hasn't worked too well in the past."
"Just do as I say."
"I've done that before, and they're both at Parchman."
"They were hopeless. Hailey's different."
"Does he have a chance?"
"I thought you said he was different."
"He's a decent man with a good reason for killing."
"Then why are his chances slim?"
"The law says his reason is not good enough."
"That's par for the law."
"Plus he's black, and this is a white county. I have no confidence in these bigots around here."
"And if he were white?"
"If he were white and he killed two blacks who raped his daughter, the jury would give him the courthouse."
Bass finished one glass and poured another. A fifth and a bucket of ice sat on the wicker table between the two.
"What about his lawyer?" he asked.
"He should be here in a minute."
"He used to work for you?" ^
"Yeah, but I don't think you met him. He was in the firm about two years before I left.
He's young, early thirties. Clean, aggressive, works hard."
"And he used to work for you?"
"That's what I said. He's got trial experience for his age. This is not his first murder case, but, if I'm not mistaken, it's his first insanity case."
"That's nice to hear. I don't want someone asking a lot of questions."
"I like your confidence. Wait till you meet the D.A."
"I just don't feel good about this. We tried it twice, and it didn't work." Lucien shook his head in bewilderment. "You've got to be the humblest doctor I've known."
"And the poorest."
"You're supposed to be pompous and arrogant. You're the expert. Act like one. Who's gonna question your professional opinion in Clanton, Mississippi?"
"The State will have experts."
"They will have one psychiatrist from Whitfield. He'll examine the defendant for a few hours, and then drive up for trial and testify that the defendant is the sanest man he's ever met. He's never seen a legally insane defendant. To him no one is insane. Everybody's blessed with perfect mental health. Whitfield is full of sane people, except when it applies for government money, then half the state's crazy. He'd get fired if he started saying defendants are legally insane. So that's who you're up against."
"And the jury will automatically believe me?"
"You act as though you've never been through one of these before."
"Twice, remember. One rapist, one murderer. Neither was insane, in spite of what I said.
Both are now locked away where they belong."
Lucien took a long drink and studied the light brown liquid and the floating ice cubes.
"You said you would help me. God knows you owe me the favor. How many divorces did I handle for you?"
"Three. And I got cleaned out every time."
"You deserved it every time. It was either give in or go to trial and have your habits discussed in open court."
"I remember."
"How many clients, or patients, have I sent you over the years?"
"Not enough to pay my alimony."
"Remember the malpractice case by the lady whose treatment consisted primarily of weekly sessions on your couch with the foldaway bed? Your malpractice carrier refused to defend, so you called your dear friend Lucien who settled it for peanuts and kept it out of court."
"There were no witnesses."
"Just the lady herself. And the court files showing where your wives had sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery."
"They couldn't prove it."
"They didn't get a chance. We didn't want them to try, remember?"
"All right, enough, enough. I said I would help. What about my credentials?"
"Are you a compulsive worrier?"
"No. I just get nervous when I think of courtrooms."
"Your credentials are fine. You've been qualified before as an expert witness. Don't worry so much."
"What about this?" He waved his drink at Lucien.
"You shouldn't drink so much," he said piously.
The doctor dropped his drink and exploded in laughter. He rofled out of his chair and crawled to the edge of the porch, holding his stomach and shaking in laughter.
"You're drunk," Lucien said as he left for another bottle.
When Jake arrived an hour later, Lucien was rocking slowly in his huge wicker rocker.
The doctor was asleep in the swing at the far end of the porch. He was barefoot, and his toes had disappeared into the shrubbery that lined the porch. Jake walked up the steps and startled Lucien.
"Jake, my boy, how are you?" he slurred.
"Fine, Lucien. I see you're doing quite well." He looked at the empty bottle and one not quite empty.
"I wanted you to meet that man," he said, trying to sit up straight.
"Who is he?"
"He's our psychiatrist. Dr. W.T. Bass, from Jackson. Good friend of mine. He'll help us with Hailey."
"Is he good?"
"The best. We've worked together on several insanity cases."
Jake took a few steps in the direction of the swing and stopped. The doctor was lying on his back with his shirt unbuttoned and his mouth wide open. He snored heavily, with an unusual guttural gurgling sound. A horsefly the size of a small sparrow buzzed around his nose and retreated to the top of the swing with each thunderous exhalation. A rancid vapor emanated with the snoring and hung like an invisible fog over the end of the porch.
"He's a doctor?" Jake asked as he sat next to Lucien.
"Psychiatry," Lucien said proudly.
"Did he help you with those?" Jake nodded at the bottles.
"I helped him. He drinks like a fish, but he's always sober at trial."
"That's comforting."
"You'll like him. He's cheap. Owes me a favor. Won't cost a dime."
"I like him already."
Lucien's face was as red as his eyes. "Wanna drink?"
"No. It's three-thirty in the afternoon."
"Really! What day is it?"
"Wednesday, June 12. How long have y'all been drinking?"
" 'Bout thirty years." Lucien laughed and rattled his ice cubes.
"I mean today."
"We drank our breakfast. What difference does it make?"
"Does he work?"
"Naw, he's retired."
"Was his retirement voluntary?"
"You mean, was he disbarred, so to speak?"
"That's right, so to speak."
"No. He still has his license, and his credentials are impeccable."
"He looks impeccable."
"Booze got him a few years ago. Booze and alimony. I handled three of his divorces. He reached the point where all of his income went for alimony and child support, so he quit working."
"How does he manage?"
"We, uh, I mean, he stashed some away. Hid it from his wives and their hungry lawyers.
He's really quite comfortable."
"He looks comfortable."
"Plus he peddles a little dope, but only to a rich clientele. Not really dope, but narcotics which he can legally prescribe. It's not really illegal; just a little unethical."
"What's he doing here?"
"He visits occasionally. He lives in Jackson but hates it. I called him Sunday after I talked to you. He wants to meet Hailey as soon as possible, tomorrow if he can."
The doctor grunted and rolled to his side, causing the swing to move suddenly. It swung a few times, and he moved again, still snoring. He stretched his right leg, and his foot caught a thick branch in the shrubbery. The swing jerked sideways and threw the good doctor onto the porch. His head crashed onto the wooden floor while his right foot remained lodged through the end of the swing. He grimaced and coughed, then began snoring again. Jake instinctively started toward him, but stopped when it was apparent he was unharmed and still asleep.
"Leave him alone!" ordered Lucien between laughs.
Lucien slid an ice cube down the porch and just missed the doctor's head. The second cube landed perfectly on the tip of his nose. "Perfect shot!" Lucien roared. "Wake up, you drunk!"
Jake walked down the steps toward his car, listening to his former boss laugh and curse and throw ice cubes at Dr. W.T. Bass, psychiatrist, witness for the defense.
Deputy DeWayne Looney left the hospital on crutches, and drove his wife and three children to the jail, where the sheriff, the other deputies, the reserves, and a few friends waited with a cake and small gifts. He would be a dispatcher now, and would retain his badge and uniform and full salary.
The fellowship hall of the Springdale Church had been thoroughly cleaned and shined, and the folding tables and chairs dusted and placed in perfect rows around the room. It was the largest black church in the county and it was in Clanton, so the Reverend Agee deemed it necessary to meet there. The purpose of the press
conference was to get vocal, to show support of the local boy who made good, and to announce the establishment of the Carl Lee Hailey Legal Defense Fund.
The national director of the NAACP was present with a five-thousand-dollar check and a promise of serious money later. The executive director of the Memphis branch brought five thousand and grandly laid it on the table. They sat with Agee behind the two folding tables in the front of the room with every member of the council seated behind them and two hundred black church members in the crowded audience. Gwen sat next to Agee. A few reporters and cameras, much fewer than expected, grouped in the center of the room and filmed away.
Agee spoke first and was inspired by the cameras. He talked of the Haileys and their goodness and innocence, and of baptizing Tonya when she was only eight. He talked of a family wrecked by racism and hatred. There were sniffles in the audience. Then he got mean. He tore into the judicial system and its desire to prosecute a good and decent man who had done no wrong; a man, who, if white, would not be on trial; a man who was on trial only because he was black and that was what was so wrong with the prosecution and persecution of Carl Lee Hailey. He found his rhythm and the crowd joined in, and the press conference took on the fervor of a tent revival. He lasted for forty-five minutes.
He was a hard act to follow. But the national director did not hesitate. He delivered a thirty-minute oratorical condemnation of racism. He seized the moment and spouted national statistics on crime and arrests and convictions and inmate population and summed it all up by declaring that the criminal justice system was controlled by white people who unfairly persecuted black people. Then in a bewildering flurry of rationale he brought the national statistics to Ford County and pronounced the system unfit to deal with Carl Lee Hailey. The lights from the TV cameras produced a line of sweat above his eyebrows and he warmed to the task. He got angrier than Reverend Agee and pounded the podium and made the cluster of microphones jump and shake. He exhorted the blacks of Ford County and of Mississippi to give until it hurt. He promised demonstrations and marches. The trial would be a battle cry for black and oppressed folk everywhere.
He answered questions. How much money would be raised? At least fifty thousand, they hoped. It would be expensive to defend Carl Lee Hailey and fifty thousand may not be enough, but they would raise whatever it took. But time was
running short. Where would the money go? Legal fees and litigation expenses. A battery of lawyers and doctors would be needed. Would NAACP lawyers be used? Of course. The legal staff in
Washington was already at work on the case. The capital defense unit would handle all aspects of the trial. Carl Lee Hailey had become their top priority and all available resources would be devoted to his defense.
When he finished, Reverend Agee retook the podium and nodded at a piano player in the corner. The music started. They all stood, hand in hand, and sang a stirring rendition of
"We Shall Overcome."
Jake read about the defense fund in Tuesday's paper. He had heard rumors of the special offer ing being administered by the council, but was told the money was for the support of the family. Fifty thousand for legal fees! He was angry, but interested. Would he be fired again? Suppose Carl Lee refused to hire the NAACP lawyers, what would happen to the money? The trial was five weeks away, plenty of time for the capital defense team to descend on Clanton. He had read about these guys; a team of six capital murder specialists who toured the South defending blacks accused of heinous and notorious crimes. "The Death Squad" was their nickname. They were very bright, very talented, very educated lawyers dedicated to rescuing black murderers from the vari- ous gas chambers and electric chairs around the South. They handled nothing .but capital murder cases and were very, very good at their work. The NAACP ran their interference, raising money, organizing local blacks, and generating publicity. Racism was their best, and sometimes only, defense and though they lost much more than they won, their record was not bad. The cases they handled were supposed to be lost, all of them. Their goal was to martyr the defendant before the trial and hopefully hang the jury. Now they were coming to Clanton.
A week earlier Buckley had filed the proper motions to have Carl Lee examined by the
State's doctors. Jake requested the doctors be required to conduct their examinations in
Clantqn, preferably in Jake's office. Noose declined, and ordered the sheriff to transport
Carl Lee to the Mississippi State Mental Hospital at Whitfield. Jake requested that he be allowed to accompany his client and be present during the examinations. Again, Noose declined.
Early Wednesday morning, Jake and Ozzie sipped coffee in the sheriffs office and waited for Carl Lee to shower and change clothes. Whitfield was three hours away, and he was to check ia at nine. Jake had final instructions for his client.
"How long will y'all be there?" Jake asked Ozzie.
"You're the lawyer. How long will it take?"
"Three or four days. You've been there before, haven't you?"
"Sure, we've had to transport plenty of crazy people. But nothin' like this. Where do they keep him?"
"They've got all kinds of cells."
Deputy Hastings casually entered the office, sleepy-eyed and crunching on a stale doughnut. "How many cars we takin'?"
"Two," answered Ozzie. "I'll drive mine and you drive yours. I'll take Pirtle and Carl Lee, you take Riley and Nes-bit."
"Three shotguns in each car. Plenty of shells. Everbody wears a vest, including Carl Lee.
Get the cars ready. I'd like to leave by five-thirty."
Hastings mumbled something and disappeared.
"Are you expecting trouble?" Jake asked.
"We've had some phone calls. Two in particular mentioned the trip to Whitfield. Lot of highway between here and there."
"How are you going?"
"Most folks take 22 to the interstate, wouldn't .you say? It might be safer to take some smaller highways. We'll probably run 14 south to 89."
"That would be unexpected."
"Good. I'm glad you approve."
"He's my client, you know."
"For right now, anyway."
Carl Lee quickly devoured the eggs and biscuits as Jake briefed him on what to expect during the stay at Whitfield.
"I know, Jake. You want me to act crazy, right?" Carl Lee said with a laugh. Ozzie thought it was funny too.
"This is serious, Carl Lee. Listen to me."
"Why? You said yourself it won't matter what I say or do down there. They won't say I was insane when I shot them. Them doctors work for the State, right? The State's prosecutin' me, right? What difference does it make what I say or do? They've already made up their minds. Ain't that right, Ozzie?"
"I'm not gettin' involved. I work for the State."
"You work for the County," said Jake.
"Name, rank, and serial number. That's all they're get-tin' outta me," Carl Lee said as he emptied a small paper sack.
"Very funny," said Jake.
"He's crackin' up, Jake," Ozzie said.
Carl Lee stuck two straws up his nose and began tiptoeing around the office, staring at the ceiling and then grabbing at something above his head. He put it in
the sack. He lunged at another one and put it in the sack. Hastings returned and stopped in the door.
Carl Lee grinned at him with wild eyes, then grabbed at another one toward the ceiling.
"What the hell he's doin'?" Hastings asked.
"Catchin' butterflies," Carl Lee said.
Jake grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door. "I think you should leave him at
Whitfield." He slammed the door and left the jail.
Noose had scheduled the venue hearing for Monday, June 24, in Clanton. The hearing would be long and well publicized. Jake had requested the change of venue, and he had the burden of proving Carl Lee could not receive a fair and impartial trial in Ford County.
He needed witnesses. Persons with credibility in the community who were willing to testify that a fair trial was not possible. Atcavage said he might do it as a favor, but the bank might not want him involved. Harry Rex had eagerly volunteered. Reverend Agee said he would be glad to testify, but that was before the NAACP announced its lawyers would be handling the case. Lucien had no credibility, and Jake did not seriously consider asking him.
Buckley, on the other hand, would line up a dozen credible witnesses-elected officials, lawyers, businessmen, maybe other sheriffs-all of whom would testify that they had vaguely heard of Carl Lee Hailey and he could most certainly receive a fair trial in Clanton. .
Jake personally preferred the trial to be in Clanton, in his courthouse across the street from his office, in front of his people. Trials were pressure-filled, tedious,
sleepless ordeals. It would be nice to have this one in a friendly arena, three minutes from his driveway. When the trial recessed, he could spend the free moments in his office doing research, preparing witnesses or relaxing. He could eat at the Coffee Shop or Claude's, or even run home for a quick lunch. His client could remain in the Ford County jail, near his family.
And, of course, his media exposure would be much greater. The reporters would gather in front of his office each morning of the trial and follow him as he walked slowly toward the courthouse.
That thought was exciting.
Did it matter where they tried Carl Lee Hailey? Lucien was correct: the publicity had reached every resident of every county in Mississippi. So why change venue? His guilt or innocence had already been prejudged by every prospective juror in the state. Sure it mattered. Some prospective jurors were white and some were black. Percentage-wise, there would be more white ones in Ford County than the surrounding counties. Jake loved black jurors, especially in criminal cases and especially when the criminal was black. They were not as anxious to convict. They were open minded. He preferred them in civil cases, too. They felt for the underdog against the big corporation or insurance company, and they were more liberal with other people's money. As a rule, he picked all the black jurors he could find, but they were scarce in Ford County.
It was imperative the case be tried in another county, a blacker county. One black could hang the jury. A majority could force, maybe, an acquittal. Two weeks in a motel and strange courthouse was not appealing, but the small discomforts were greatly outweighed by the need to have black faces in the jury box.
The venue question had been thoroughly researched by Lucien. As instructed, Jake arrived promptly, although reluctantly, at 8:00 A.M. Sallie served breakfast on the porch.
Jake drank coffee and orange juice; Lucien, bourbon and water. For three hours they covered every aspect of a change of venue. Lucien had copies of every
Supreme Court case for the past eighty years, and lectured like a professor. The pupil took notes, argued once or twice, but mainly listened.
Whitfield was located a few miles from Jackson in a rural part of Rankin County. Two guards waited by the front gate and argued with reporters. Carl Lee was scheduled to arrive at nine, that was all the guards knew. At eight-thirty two patrol cars with Ford
County insignia rolled to a stop at the gate. The reporters and their cameramen ran to the driver of the first car. Ozzie's window was down.
"Where's Carl Lee Hailey?" a reporter shouted in a panic.
"He's in the other car," Ozzie drawled, winking at Carl Lee in the back seat.
"He's in the second car!" someone shouted, and they ran to Hastings' car.
"Where's Hailey?" they demanded.
Pirtle, in the front seat, pointed to Hastings, the driver. "That's him."
"Are you Carl Lee Hailey?" a reporter screamed at Hastings.
"Why are you driving?"
"What's with the uniform?"
"They made me a deputy," answered Hastings with a straight face. The gate opened, and the two cars sped through.
Carl Lee was processed in the main building and led, along with Ozzie and the deputies, to another building where he was checked into his cell, or room, as it was called. The door was locked behind him. Ozzie and his men were excused and returned to Clanton.
After lunch, an assistant of some sort with a clipboard and white jacket arrived and began asking questions. Starting with birth, he asked Carl Lee about every significant event and person in his life. It lasted two hours. At 4:00 P.M., two security guards handcuffed Carl
Lee and rode him in a golf cart to a modern brick building a half mile from his room. He was led to the office of Dr. Wilbert Rodeheaver, head of staff. The guards waited in the hall by the door.
It had been five weeks since the shootings of Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard. The trial was four weeks away. The three m otels in Clanton were booked solid for the week of the trial and, the week before. The Best Western was the largest and nicest, and had attracted the Memphis and Jackson press. The Clanton Court had the best bar and restaurant, and was booked by reporters from Atlanta, Washington, and New York. At the less than elegant East Side Motel the rates had curiously doubled for the month of July but it had nonetheless sold out.
The town had been friendly at first to these outsiders, most of whom were rude and spoke with different accents. But some of the descriptions of Clanton and its people had been less than flattering, and most of the locals now honored a secret code of silence. A noisy cafe would become instantly silent when a stranger walked in and took a seat. Merchants around the square offered little assistance to anyone they did not recognize. The employees in the courthouse had become deaf to questions asked a thousand times by nosy intruders. Even the Memphis and Jackson reporters had to struggle to extract anything new from the locals. The
people were tired of being described as backward, redneck, and racist. They ignored the outsiders whom they could not trust and went about their business.
The bar at the Clanton Court became the watering hole for the reporters. It was the one place in town they could go to find a friendly face and good conversation. They sat in the booths under the big-screen TV and gossiped about the small town and the upcoming trial. They compared notes and stories and leads and rumors, and drank until they were drunk because there was nothing else to do in Clanton after dark.
The motels filled Sunday night, June 23, the night before the venue hearing. Early
Monday morning they gathered in the restaurant at the Best Western to drink coffee and speculate. The hearing was the first major skirmish, and could likely be the only courtroom action until the trial. A rumor surfaced that Noose was ill and did not want to hear the case, and that he would ask the Supreme Court to appoint another judge.
Just a rumor, with no source and nothing more definite, said a reporter from Jackson. At eight they packed their cameras and microphones and left for the square. One group set up outside the jail, another at the rear of the courthouse, but most headed for the courtroom. By eight-thirty it was filled.
From the balcony of his office, Jake watched the activity around the courthouse. His heart beat faster than normal, and his stomach tingled. He smiled. He was ready for Buck-ley, ready for the cameras.
Noose looked down past the end of his nose, over his reading glasses, and around the packed courtroom. Everyone was in place.
"The court has before it," he began, "the defendant's motion for a change of venue. The trial in this matter has been set for Monday, July 22. That's four weeks from today, according to my calendar^ I have set a deadline for filing motions and
disposing of same, and I believe those are the only two deadlines between now and trial."
"That's correct, Your Honor," thundered Buckley, half standing behind his table. Jake rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Thank you, Mr. Buckley," Noose said dryly. "The defendant has filed the proper notice that he intends to use an insanity defense. Has he been examined at Whitfield?"
"Yes sir, Your Honor, last week," Jake answered.
"Will he employ his own psychiatrist?"
"Of course, Your Honor."
"Has he been examined by his own?"
"Yes, sir."
"Good. So that's out of the way. What other motions do you anticipate filing?"
"Your Honor, we expect to file a motion requesting the clerk to summons more than the usual number of prospective jurors-"
"The state will oppose that motion," Buckley yelled as he jumped to his feet.
"Sit down, Mr. Buckley!" Noose said sternly, ripping off his glasses and glaring at the
D.A. "Please don't yell at me again. Of course you will oppose it. You will oppose any motion filed by the defense. That's your job. Don't interrupt again. You'll have ample opportunity after we adjourn to perform for the media."
Buckley slumped in his chair and hid his red face. Noose had never screamed at him before.
"Continue, Mr. Brigance."
Jake was startled by Ichabod's meanness. He looked tired and ill. Perhaps it was the pressure.
"We may have some written objections to anticipated evidence."
"Motions in limineT'
"Yes, sir."
"We'll hear those at trial. Anything else?"
"Not at this time."
"Now, Mr. Buckley, will the State file any motions?"
"I can't think of any," Buckley answered meekly.
"Good. I want to make sure there are no surprises between now and trial. I will be here one week before trial to hear and decide any pretrial matters. I expect any motions to be filed promptly, so that we can tie up any loose ends well before the twenty-second."
Noose flipped through his file and studied Jake's motion for a change of venue. Jake whispered to Carl Lee, whose presence was not required for the hearing, but he insisted.
Gwen and the three boys sat in the first row behind their daddy. Tonya was not in the courtroom.
"Mr. Brigance, your motion appears to be in order. How many witnesses?"
"Three, Your Honor."
"Mr. Buckley, how many will you call?"
"We have twenty-one," Buckley said proudly.
"Twenty-one!" yelled the judge.
Buckley cowered and glanced at Musgrove. "B-but, we probably won't need them all. In fact, I know we won't call all of them."
"Pick your best five, Mr. Buckley. I don't plan to be here all day."
"Yes, Your Honor."
"Mr. Brigance, you've asked for a change of venue. It's your motion. You may proceed."
Jake stood and walked slowly across the courtroom, behind Buckley, to the wooden podium in front of the jury box. "May it please the court, Your Honor, Mr. Hailey has requested that his trial be moved from Ford County. The reason is obvious: the publicity in this case will prevent a fair trial. The good people of this county have prejudged the guilt or innocence of Carl Lee Hailey. He is charged with killing two men, both of whom were born here and left families here. Their lives were not famous, but their deaths certainly have been. Mr. Hailey was known by few outside his community until now.
Now everyone in this county knows who he is, knows about his family and his daughter and what happened to her, and knows most of the details of his alleged crimes. It will be impossible to find twelve people in Ford County who have not already prejudged this case. This trial should be held in another part of the state where the people are not so familiar with the facts."
"Where would you suggest?" interrupted the judge.
"I wouldn't recommend a specific county, but it should be as far away as possible.
Perhaps the Gulf Coast."
"Obvious reasons, Your Honor. It's four hundred miles away, and I'm sure the people down there do not know as much as the people around here."
"And you think the people in south Mississippi haven't heard about it?"
"I'm sure they have. But they are much further away."
"But they have televisions and newspapers, don't they, Mr. Brigance?"
"I'm sure they do."
"Do you believe you could go to any county in this state and find twelve people who haven't heard the details of this case?"
Jake looked at his legal pad. He could hear the artists sketching on their pads behind him.
He could see Buckley grinning out ot the corner of his eye. "It would be difficult," he said quietly.
"Call your first witness."
Harry Rex Vonner was sworn in and took his seat on the witness stand. The wooden swivel chair popped and creaked under the heavy load. He blew into the microphone and a loud hiss echoed around the courtroom. He smiled at Jake and nodded.
"Would you state your name?"
"Harry Rex Vonner."
"And your address?"
"Eighty-four ninety-three Cedarbrush, Clanton, Mississippi."
"How long have you lived in Clanton?"
"All my life. Forty-six years."
"Your occupation?"
"I'm a lawyer. I've had my license for twenty-two years."
"Have you ever met Carl Lee Hailey?"
"What do you know about him?"
"He supposedly shot two men, Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard, and he wounded a deputy, DeWayne Looney."
"Did you Know either of those boys?"
"Not personally. I knew of Billy Ray Cobb."
"How did you learn of the shootings?"
"Well, it happened on a Monday, I believe. I was in the courthouse, on the first floor, checking title on some land in the clerk's office, when I heard the gunshots. I ran out into the hall and bedlam had broken loose. I asked a deputy and he told me that the boys had been killed near the back door of the courthouse. I hung around here for a while, and pretty soon there was a rumor that the killer was the father of the little girl who got raped."
"What was your initial reaction?"
"I was shocked, like most people. But I was shocked when I first heard of the rape too."
"When did you learn that Mr, Hailey had been arrested?"
"Later that night. It was all over the television."
"What did you see on TV?"
"Well, I watched as much of it as I could. There were news reports from the local stations in Memphis and Tupelo. We've got the cable, you know, so I watched the news out of
New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. Just about every channel had something about the shootings and the arrest. There was footage from the courthouse and jail. It was a big deal. Biggest thing that ever happened in Clanton, Mississippi."
"How did you react when you learned that the girl's father had supposedly done the shooting?"
"It was no big surprise to me. I mean, we all sort of figured it was him. I admired him.
I've got kids, and I sympathize wi th what he did. I still admire him."
"How much do you know about the rape?"
Buckley leapt to his feet. "Objection! The rape is irrelevant!"
Noose ripped off his glasses again and stared angrily at the D.A. Seconds passed and
Buckley glanced at the table. He shifted his weight from one foot to the next, then sat down. Noose leaned forward and glared down from the bench.
"Mr. Buckley, don't yell at me. If you do it again, so help me God, I will hold you in contempt. You may be correct, the rape may be irrelevant. But this is not the trial, is it?
This is simply a hearing, isn't it? We don't have a jury in the box, do we? You're overruled and out of order. Now stay in your seat. I know it's hard with this sort of audience, but I instruct you to stay in your seat unless you have something truly worthy to say. At that point, you may stand and politely and quietly tell me what's on your mind."
"Thank you, Your Honor," Jake said as he smiled at Buckley. "Now, Mr. Vonner, as I was saying, how much do you know about the rape?"
"Just what I've heard."
"And what's that?"
Buckley stood and bowed like a Japanese sumo wrestler. "If Your Honor please," he said softly and sweetly, "I would like to object at this point, if it pleases the court. The witness may testify to only what he knows from first-hand knowledge, not from what he's heard from other people."
Noose answered just as sweetly. "Thank you, Mr. Buck- ley. Your objection is noted, and you are overruled. Please continue, Mr. Brigance."
"Thank you, Your Honor."
"What have you heard about the rape?"
"Cobb and Willard grabbed the little Hailey girl and took her out in the woods somewhere. They were drunk, they tied her to a tree, raped her repeatedly and tried to hang her. They even urinated on her."
"They what!" asked Noose.
"They pissed on her, Judge."
The courtroom buzzed at this revelation. Jake had never heard it, Buckley hadn't heard it, and evidently no one knew it but Harry Rex. Noose shook his head and lightly rapped his gavel.
Jake scribbled something on his legal pad and marveled at his friend's esoteric knowledge. "Where did you learn about the rape?"
"All over town. It's common knowledge. The cops were giving the details the next morning at the Coffee Shop. Everybody knows it."
"Is it common knowledge throughout the county?"
"Yes. I haven't talked to anybody in a month who did not know the details of the rape."
"Tell us what you know about the shootings."
"Well, like I said, it was a Monday, afternoon. The boys were here in this courtroom for a bail hearing, I believe, and when they left the courtroom they were handcuffed and led by the deputies down the back stairs. When they got down the stairs, Mr. Hailey jumped out of a closet with an M 16. They were killed and DeWayne Looney was shot. Part of his leg was amputated."
"Exactly where did this take place?"
"Right below us here, at the rear entrance of the courthouse. Mr. Hailey was hiding in a janitor's closet and just stepped out and opened fire."
"Do you believe this to be true?"
"I know it's true."
"Where did you learn all this?"
"Here and there. Around town. In the newspapers. Everybody knows about it."
"Where have you heard it discussed?"
"Everywhere. In bars, in churches, at the bank, at the cleaners, at the Tea Shoppe, at the cafes around town, at the liquor store. Everywhere."
"Have you talked to anyone who believes Mr. Hailey did not kill Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard?"
"No. You won't find a single person in this county who believes he didn't do it."
"Have most folks around here made up their minds about his guilt or innocence?"
"Every single one of them. There are no fence strad-dlers on this one. It's a hot topic, and everyone has an opinion."
"In your opinion, could Mr. Hailey receive a fair trial in Ford County?"
"No, sir. You couldn't find three people in this county of thirty thousand who have not already made up their minds, one way or the other. Mr. Hailey has been judged already.
There's just no way to find an impartial jury."
"Thank you, Mr. Vonner. No further questions, Your Honor." Buckley patted his pompadour and ran his fingers over his ears to make sure every hair was in place. He walked purposefully to the podium.
"Mr. Vonner," he, bellowed magnificently, "have you already prejudged Carl Lee Hailey?"
"Damn right I have."
"Your language, please," said Noose.
"And what would your judgment be?"
"Mr. Buckley, let me explain it this way. And I'll do so very carefully and slowly so that even you will understand it. If I was the sheriff, I would not have arrested him. If I was on the grand jury, I would not have indicted him. If I was the judge, I would not try him.
If I was the D.A., I would not prosecute him. If I was on the trial jury, I would vote to give him a key to the city, a plaque to hang on his wall, and I would send him home to his family. And, Mr. Buckley, if my daughter is ever raped, I hope I have the guts to do what he did."
"I see. You think people should carry guns and settle their disputes in shootouts?"
"I think children have a right not to be raped, and their parents have the right to protect them. I think little girls are special, and if mine was tied to a tree and gang raped by two dopeheads I'm sure it would make me crazy. I think good and decent fathers should have a constitutional right to execute any pervert who touches their children. And I think you're a lying coward when you claim you would not want to kill the man who raped your daughter."
"Mr. Vonner, please!" Noose said. Buckley struggled, but kept his cool. "You obviously feel very strongly about this case, don't you?"
"You're very perceptive."
"And you want to see him acquitted, don't you?"
"I would pay money, if I had any."
"And you think he stands a better chance of acquittal in another county, don't you?"
"I think he's entitled to a jury made up of people who don't know everything about the case before the trial starts."
"You would acquit him, wouldn't you?"
"That's what I said."
"And you've no doubt talked to other people who would acquit him?"
"I have talked to many."
"Are there folks in Ford County who would vote to convict him?"
"Of course. Plenty of them. He's black, isn't he?"
"In all your discussions around the county, have you detected a clear majority one way or the other?"
"Not really."
Buckley looked at his legal pad and made a note. "Mr. Vonner, is Jake Brigance a close friend of yours?"
Harry Rex smiled and rolled his eyes at Noose. "I'm a lawyer, Mr. Buckley, my friends are few and far between. But he is one of them. Yes, sir."
"And he asked you to come testify?"
"No. I just happened to stumble through the courtroom a few moments ago and landed here in this chair. I had no idea you guys were having a hearing this morning."
Buckley threw his legal pad on the table and sat down. Harry Rex was excused.
"Call your next witness," Noose ordered.
"Reverend Ollie Agee," Jake said.
The reverend was led from the witness room and seated in the witness stand. Jake had met him at his church the day before with a list of questions. He wanted to testify. They did not discuss the NAACP lawyers. The reverend was an excellent witness. His deep, graveled voice needed no microphone as it carried around the courtroom. Yes, he knew the details of the rape and the shooting. They were members of his church. He had known them for years, they were family almost, and he had held their hands and suffered with them after the rape. Yes, he had talked to countless people since it happened and everyone had an opinion on guilt or innocence. He and twenty-two other black ministers were members of the council and they had all talked about the Hailey case. And, no, there were no unmade minds in Ford County. A fair trial was not possible in Ford County, in his opinion. Buckley asked one question. "Reverend Agee, have you talked to any black who would vote to convict Carl Lee Hailey?"
"No, suh, I have not."
The reverend was excused. He took a seat in the courtroom between two of his brethren on the council.
"Call your next witness," Noose said.
Jake smiled at the D.A., and announced, "Sheriff Ozzie Walls."
Buckley and Musgrove immediately locked heads and whispered. Ozzie was on their side, the side of law and order, the prosecution's side. It was not his job to help the defense. Proves you can't trust a nigger, thought Buckley. They take up for each other when they know they're guilty.
Jake led Ozzie through a discussion of the rape and the backgrounds of Cobb and
Willard. It was boring and repetitious, and Buckley wanted to object. But he'd been embarrassed enough for one day. Jake sensed that Buckley would remain in his seat so he dwelt on the rape and the gory details.
Finally, Noose had enough.
"Move on please, Mr. Brigance."
"Yes, Your Honor. Sheriff Walls, did you arrest Carl Lee Hailey?"
"I did."
"Do you believe he killed Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard?"
"I do."
"Have you met anybody in this county who believes he did not shoot them?"
"No, sir."
"Is it widely believed in this county that Mr. Hailey killed them?"
"Yes. Everbody believes it. At least everbody I've talked to."
"Sheriff, do you circulate in this county?"
"Yes, sir. It's my job to know what's goin' on."
"And you talk to a lot of people?"
"More than I would like."
"Have you run across anyone who hasn't heard of Carl Lee Hailey?"
Ozzie paused and answered slowly. "A person would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know of Carl Lee Hailey."
"Have you met anyone without an opinion on his guilt or in nocence?"
"There's no such person in this county."
"Can he get a fair trial here?"
"I don't know about that. I do know you can't find twelve people who don't know all about the rape and the shootin'."
"No further questions," Jake said to Noose.
"Is he your last witness?"
"Yes, sir."
"Any cross-examination, Mr. Buckley?"
Buckley remained in his seat and shook his head.
"Good," said His Honor. "Let's take a short recess. I would like to see the attorneys in chambers."
The courtroom erupted in conversation as the attorneys followed Noose and Mr. Pate through the door beside the bench. Noose closed the door to his chambers and removed his robe. Mr. Pate brought him a cup of black coffee.
"Gentlemen, I am considering imposing a gag order from now until the trial is over. I am disturbed by the publicity, and I don't want this case tried by the press. Any comments?"
Buckley looked pale and shaken. He opened his mouth, but nothing happened.
"Good idea, Your Honor," Jake said painfully. "1 had considered requesting such an order."
"Yes, I'm sure you have. I've noticed how you run from publicity. What about you, Mr. Buckley?"
"Uh, who would it apply to?"
"You, Mr. Buckley. You, and Mr. Brigance, would be ordered not to discuss any aspect of the case or the trial with the press. It would apply to everyone, at least everyone under the control of this court. The attorneys, the clerks, the court officials, the sheriff."
"But why?" asked Buckley.
"I don't like the idea of the two of you trying this case through the media. I'm not blind.
You've both fought for the spotlight, and I can only imagine what the trial will be like. A circus, that's what it will be. Not a trial, but a three-ring circus." Noose walked to the window and mumbled something to himself. He paused for a moment, then continued mumbling. The attorneys looked at each other, then at the awkward frame standing in the window.
"I'm imposing a gag order, effective immediately, from now until the trial is over.
Violation of the order will result in contempt of court proceedings. You are not to discuss any aspect of this case with any member of the press. Any questions?"
"No, sir," Jake said quickly.
Buckley looked at Musgrove and shook his head.
"Now, back to this hearing. Mr. Buckley, you said you have over twenty witnesses. How many do you really need?"
"Five or six."
"That's much better. Who are they?"
"Floyd Loyd."
"Who's he?"
"Supervisor, First District, Ford County."
"What's his testimony?"
"He's lived here for fifty years, been in office ten years or so. In his opinion a fair trial is possible in this county."
"I suppose he's never heard of this case?" Noose said sarcastically.
"I'm not sure."
"Who else?"
"Nathan Baker. Justice of the Peace, Third District, Ford County."
"Same testimony?"
"Well, basically, yes."
"Who else?"
"Edgar Lee Baldwin, former supervisor, Ford County."
"He was indicted a few years back, wasn't he?" Jake asked.
Buckley's face turned redder than Jake had ever seen it. His huge mouth dropped open and his eyes glazed over.
"He was not convicted," shot Musgrove.
"I didn't say he was. I simply said he was indicted. FBI, wasn't it?"
"Enough, enough," said Noose. "What will Mr. Baldwin tell us?"
"He's lived here all his life. He knows the people of Ford County, and thinks Mr. Hailey can receive a fair trial here," Musgrove answered. Buckley remained speechless as he stared at Jake.
"Who else?"
"Sheriff Harry Bryant, Tyler County."
"Sheriff Bryant? What'll he say?"
Musgrove was talking for the State now. "Your Honor, we have two theories we are submitting in opposition to the motion for a change of venue. First, we contend a fair trial is possible here in Ford County. Second, if the court is of the opinion that a fair trial is not possible here, the State contends that the immense publicity has reached every prospective juror in this state. The same prejudices and opinions, for and against, which exist in this county exist in every county. Therefore, nothing will be gained by moving the trial. We have witnesses to support this second theory."
"That's a novel concept, Mr. Musgrove. I don't think I've heard it before."
"Neither have I," added Jake.
"Who else do you have?"
"Robert Kelly Williams, district attorney for the Ninth District."
"Southwestern tip of the state."
"He drove all the way up here to testify that everyone in his neck of the woods has already prejudged the case?"
"Yes, sir."
"Who else?"
"Grady Listen, district attorney, Fourteenth District."
"Same testimony?"
"Yes, sir."
"Is that all?"
"Well, Your Honor, we have several more. But their testimony will pretty much follow the other witnesses'."
"Good, then we can limit your proof to these six witnesses?"
"Yes, sir."
"I will hear your proof. I will allow each of you five minutes to conclude your arguments, and I will rule on this motion within two weeks. Any questions?"
It hurt to say no to the reporters. They followed Jake across Washington Street, where he excused himself, offered his no comments, and sought refuge in his office. Undaunted, a photographer from Newsweek pushed his way inside and asked if Jake would pose for a photograph. He wanted one of those important ones
with a stern look and thick leather books in the background. Jake straightened his tie and showed the photographer into the conference room, where he posed in court-ordered silence. The photographer thanked him and left.
"May I have a few minutes of your time?" Ethel asked politely as her boss headed for the stairs.
"Why don't you sit down. We need to talk."
She's finally quitting, Jake thought as he took a seat by the front window.
"What's on your mind?"
"You're the highest-paid legal secretary in town. You got a raise three months ago."
"Not my money. Please listen. You don't have enough in the bank to pay this month's bills. June is almost gone, and we've grossed seventeen hundred dollars."
Jake closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead.
"Look at these bills," she said, waving a stack of invoices. "Four thousand dollars worth.
How am I supposed to pay these?"
"How much is in the bank?"
"Nineteen hundred dollars, as of Friday. Nothing came in this morning."
"Not a dime."
"What about the settlement on the Liford case? That's three thousand in fees."
Ethel shook her head. "Mr. Brigance, that file has not been closed. Mr. Liford has not
signed the release. You were to take it by his house. Three weeks ago, remember?"
"No, I don't remember. What about Buck Britt's retainer? That's a thousand dollars."
"His check bounced. The bank returned it, and it's been on your desk for two weeks."
She paused and took a deep breath. "You've stopped seeing clients. You don't return phone calls, and-"
"Don't lecture me, Ethel!"
"And you're a month behind on everything."
"That's enough."
"Ever since you took the Hailey case. That's all you think about. You're obsessed with it.
It's going to break us."
"Us! How many paychecks have you missed, Ethel? How many of those bills are past due? Huh?"
"But no more than usual, right?"
"Yes, but what about next month? The trial is four weeks away."
"Shut up, Ethel. Just shut up. If you can't take the pressure, then quit. If you can't keep your mouth shut, then you're fired."
"You'd like to fire me, wouldn't you?"
"I could care less."
She was a tough, hard woman. Fourteen years with Lu-cien had toughened her skin and hardened her conscience, but she was a woman nonetheless, and at this moment her lip started to quiver, and her eyes watered. She dropped her head.
"I'm sorry," she muttered. "I'm just worried."
"Worried about what?"
"Me and Bud."
"What's wrong with Bud?"
"He's a very sick man."
"I know that."
"His blood pressure keeps acting up. Especially after the phone calls. He's had three strokes in five years, and he's due for another one. He's scared; we're both scared."
"How many phone calls?"
"Several. They threaten to burn our house or blow it up. They always tell us they know where we live, and if Hailey is acquitted, then they'll burn it or stick
dynamite under it while we are asleep. A couple have threatened to kill us. It's just not worth it."
"Maybe you should quit."
"And starve? Bud hasn't worked in ten years, you know that. Where else would I work?"
"Look, Ethel, I've had threats too. I don't take them seriously. I promised Carla I'd give up the case before I endangered my family, and you should be comforted by that. You and
Bud should relax. The threats are not serious. There are a lot of nuts out there."
"That's what worries me. People are crazy enough to do something."
"Naw, you worry too much. I'll tell Ozzie to watch your house a bit closer."
"Will you do that?"
"Sure. They've been watching mine. Take my word, Ethel, there's nothing to worry about.
Probably just some young punks."

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn