Chapter Six

"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."

BucMey 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 Buckley. Anytime.

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 from 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 defensetney 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."

P/S: Copyright -->www_novelfreereadonline_Com