Unbreakable(3)By: Emma Scott
I paced casually before the jury box, making just the right amount of eye-contact—not too much to be invasive, not too little to appear nervous—and gestured confidently with my ring-less hands.
“In closing, Mr. Knight has tried throw up a smoke screen to confuse you, a smokescreen made of numbers. Specifically the number of dollars in my client’s bank account. The defense has worked almost as hard to show you how wealthy Mr. Munro is as they have trying to mitigate their clients’ negligence. ‘Why reward a rich man with more riches?’ you might wonder, and that’s what they want you to be thinking.
“But I am here to remind you that your job is not to consider Reginald Munro as a series of numbers. He is a human being, wronged by the defendants, and seeking appropriate recompense in the eyes of the law. If he were a garbage collector would you feel more sympathy? How about if he were unemployed? Is the pain and suffering sustained by him at Hutchinson Hardware somehow less consequential simply because he drives a Rolls Royce? The answer is no.
“You are the eyes of the law, and justice is blind to all things: race, creed, religion…and how deep a victim’s pockets might be. Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. And we can’t let a business off the hook for causing both, no matter our opinions of the victim. We have to set an example because the next time they’re negligent in providing for the safety of their customers, it just might be that garbage man or the single mom working two jobs who takes the fall. Thank you.”
Mr. Knight offered a rebuttal argument but I hardly heard it. Judging by the looks on the juror’s faces, they weren’t buying it either. Judge Fitzpatrick gave them their instructions for deliberations, and the court was adjourned until they reached a verdict.
I couldn’t avoid Reginald Munro’s triumphant hug and was just thankful the jury had already filed out and didn’t see it. He hoisted me up; apparently his back had made a miraculous recovery since last Friday when my expert witness testified Munro might suffer pain for the rest of his life.
“You’re an angel of justice!” Munro crowed.
“I wouldn’t say that,” I said, fighting the urge to slap the sexist bastard. The press was still here, snapping pictures and talking into their recorders.
“I have to tell you, when Jon Lawson assigned you for my case, I had my doubts. I’d heard you were a prodigy, but hearing and seeing are two different things. And I’ve seen it all. You’re the real deal, sweetheart.”
Condescending ‘sweetheart’ aside, the compliment thrilled me.
“Thank you, Mr. Munro. That is kind of you to say.”
“Come on. Let me take you to lunch and we can discuss how Lawson & Dooney might be a good fit to handle the legal affairs of the entire Munro family.”
He said ‘family’ but he may as well have said ‘empire.’ The Munro family was akin to the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, but with a thriving hotel and luxury resort chain instead of superstores. For L&D to handle all of their legal needs was like winning a Powerball lottery.
I saw Don Knight watching us and kept my face neutral. “I’d love to, Mr. Munro, but I have a prior lunch appointment I can’t skip. And besides, it’s not over yet. The jury needs to come back for us—”
He snorted a loud laugh. “So modest. All right, I’ll dine alone today, but when they come back with a verdict, I expect dinner with you, Jon, and even that stiff-necked Dooney, and I won’t take no for an answer.”
“I’ll call you when I get word of a verdict,” I told him and eased a sigh of relief as he and his mountain of a bodyguard/driver left the courtroom.
Don Knight fell in step next to me as I left the courtroom. “I’m an idiot, aren’t I? ‘Make your rich client richer.’ I planted that seed and watched you turn it into a bumper crop.”
I smiled thinly. “You’re mixing metaphors. I’m a farmer now? I thought I was the shark smelling blood.”
“Acting as if my clients’ guilt was a foregone conclusion was an especially nice touch.”
“I thought so.”
We reached the courtroom door and Knight’s expression softened. “I admire you, Ms. Gardener, I really do. But I feel sorry for you more. Someday, I’m afraid you’ll see why.”