After Ms. Franzen left, I leaned back in my chair and looked at all the notes I had taken.
Money can’t buy time.
I had tried several times during the interview to convince her to seek a continuance to give me time to prepare properly, but every time I did, she was adamant that the case had to go forward. I had finally decided to leave it for the time being. I would meet with my client to see if I could convince him.
He was in charge, not her.
I let out a low sigh and swiveled on my chair to look out my window. She had pled for justice; that was where she had got me.
I would have to pull late nights and work all weekend to make sure Jimmy had some form of reasonable representation.
I rubbed my head, wondering if I was insane to step into a mess like this one week before trial. Perhaps I needed to talk to a therapist. They could probably explain my actions better than I could.
My next phone call was to the public defender’s office. Jimmy was currently represented by an attorney named Wyatt Custer. After a quick conversation with an operator, she connected me to Wyatt’s telephone.
“How can I help you?” Wyatt asked after I had introduced myself, and we had exchanged a few pleasantries.
I paused, uncertain of what to say.
Despite Ms. Franzen’s insistence that Wyatt had not done anything on the case, that was unlikely. If I were him, I would have been prepared for the case several weeks in advance, using the final days to hone my presentation.
Most public defenders I knew were very busy and under-appreciated. Wyatt might be underprepared, but it was unlikely he was unprepared.
I had to handle the situation delicately; otherwise, Wyatt might be upset that all his efforts had come to naught.
“I have been hired to represent Jimmy Franzen in his upcoming murder trial,” I said, deciding to just come straight out with it.
I could’ve heard a pin drop on the other side of the phone.
“Come again?” Wyatt asked in a neutral tone that didn’t give me any information as to how he was receiving the news.
“I’m sorry to be talking to you about this so late in the case—”
“That’s the best news I’ve heard all day!”
It was my turn to be shocked and a little disturbed.
Maybe my client’s mother was right, and Wyatt had done nothing to prepare.
If it were me, I would’ve been furious to have a case ripped out from underneath me at the eleventh hour.
It also does not bode well if he is this excited about kicking this case to the curb. Maybe there is a reason he was trying to plead it out.
“I hope this doesn’t catch you off guard,” I said, persisting with my planned statements on the off chance I was misreading his response. Maybe he was being sarcastic.
“No, no, no, that’s quite all right.” There was no doubt about it now. The man was ecstatic. “I’m happy to help you in any way I can. I’ll get the file sent over to you immediately.”
I licked my lips. “Have there been any recent developments in the case that I should be aware of?”
“No, my client—excuse me—your client has refused even to consider a plea bargain. The evidence against him is solid. The prosecution has two witnesses who are the crux of the case, and they’ve got their ducks in order. They refused to talk with my investigator, and our preliminary research into them has turned up nothing.”
That investigation should have been over weeks ago.
“Send me what you’ve got. I’ll take a look.” I was just about to end the conversation when another thought occurred to me. “Who is the prosecutor?”
“Just one sec, let me look.” It was another bad sign he didn’t know it off the top of his head. This was a murder trial after all, not some kid picked up for shoplifting. “Here it is. Cindy Seakowics.”
I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. She was my ex-girlfriend from undergrad.
“Good luck,” Wyatt said, not bothering to hide a gleeful chuckle, “you’re going to need it.”
I must have said goodbye, but I couldn’t remember for sure.
I imagined him cheering after he got off the phone, and for a moment, it was almost like I could hear it. I checked to make sure the call had indeed disconnected before slumping back in my chair.
What have I done?
If I had known Cindy Seakowics was on the case, I would’ve sent Ms. Franzen packing, justice or no.
It wasn’t that I was afraid to go up against an ex-girlfriend. I just had enough on my plate without adding that on top.
Way too late for that now.
I gritted my teeth.