The Not Exactly Complete Works of Peter Schulman

Circumstantial Evidence

©2010 Peter Schulman


  Chapter 1  

  Chapter 2  

  Chapter 3  

  Chapter 4  

  Chapter 5  

  Chapter 6  

  Chapter 7  

  Chapter 8  

  Chapter 9  

  Chapter 10  

  Chapter 11  

  Chapter 12  

Chapter 11

Priscilla Caldwell showed up looking more cheerful than I would have under the circumstances.

“Mrs. Caldwell, Alfred is convinced you did not kill your husband. I've cleared the roadblocks, so assuming your alibi is remotely credible, I’m taking your case and I will do everything I can to get your conviction thrown out.”

“My friends call me Prissy.” She was completely at ease.

“We’re not exactly friends yet. So far, all I've done for you is put you in prison for life. That’s not usually the basis for an enduring friendship.”

“I’m willing to overlook that. And I’m sure you'll like me. I’m very likable.”

“Okay, Prissy. Another case made it possible for me to be available for you. He has no money. He has no power. The weight of the entire system is against him. He is innocent and I’m the only thing standing between him and life in prison. Can I persuade you to pick up whatever expenses are necessary for his defense as a public service in the interests of justice? I know how committed Prentice was to public service.”

“You are audacious.”

“Faint heart never won fair reversal.”

She smiled. “Agreed.”

“You are very likable. Alfred said you had an alibi. Please tell me about it and don’t leave anything out.”

“Very well. I was at the Cherry Hill Hilton on Route 70 with a lovely man buried very deep inside me.”

“Oh, God. Too much detail. If you get to testify, never, ever say anything like that to a jury.” I held my hands out in front of me in a slow down position. “Say you were making love.”

“We weren’t making love. He’s just a good fuck.”

This woman was sixty-two, from old money.

“Oh, God. We'll come up with a way to say it but you’re not going to win the jury over with 'a good fuck' either. Who was he?”

“Erskine Patterson.”

“How long have you been intimate with him?”

“We weren’t intimate. I just fucked him.”

I shook my head. “For how long?”

“Five or six years.”

“Did your husband know?”

“Of course.”

“Of course?”

“That was our agreement. No secrets.”

“How long was your husband involved with Melanie Chambers?”

“Around five years.”

“Did you know about it?”

“Of course.”

“Were you jealous?”

She laughed. “I don’t think you’re getting the picture. We had an open marriage, we swung. He fucked her in our bed while I was fucking her husband in the guest room. I encouraged him. She was a great fuck. I even fucked her myself with a strap-on while he -”

This time I said Oh, God to myself. “Again, that’s more detail than I need,” I interrupted.

“I just wanted you to understand the context.”

“I understand the context. So why didn’t Erskine Patterson testify you were with him?”

“Alfred thought the jury wouldn’t like me as an adulteress.”

“The women wouldn’t have liked you. The men would have wanted a crack at you.” My impulse control had not yet surfaced.

“Thank you for the compliment.” She said it sweetly, almost shyly.

“I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. Sometimes I let out my smartass without thinking.”

“Oh no, I appreciate the vote of confidence.”

I laughed. “The jury doesn’t have to like you if you were somewhere else. Did his wife know?”

“Of course. She’s one of the group.”

“Did he use his credit card to pay for the room?”

“I think we used mine,” she said.

“What time did you check in?”

“Around six. We had dinner in the restaurant and then went up to the room for the night.”

“And Alfred thought this would not be helpful?”

“No, he didn’t.”

Amazing. “Why didn’t he ask Melanie Chambers if you knew and approved?” I asked.

“He thought the jury really wouldn’t like me if we both did it for recreation.”

“The women. The men would probably be happy married to someone who gave them that latitude.”

“How sweet.” She briefly grasped my lower arm with her hand as she said it. She was naturally seductive. I could see why men were interested in her. “Also,” she said, “Melanie’s husband had grown a little disenchanted with the scene.”

“Alfred knew that?” I asked.

“He did.”

“He would have been a viable suspect. Did you ask Alfred to make sure you were convicted?” It came out before I realized I said it.

She didn’t answer.

“There I go again,” I said. “I’ll try to keep it in check. How long had Melanie’s husband felt this way?”

“For about a year.”

“What’s his name?”

“Jackson Chambers.”

“Don’t any of you people have normal first names?”

“This from John Smith?”

“Jonathan. I’ll grant my parents had a twisted sense of humor. I take it they call you Prissy partly as an inside joke.”

“You are good. That’s why I wanted you.”

“Can you think of anybody else who might have wanted to harm your husband?”

“Not that I know of. But who knows what other people are thinking?”

“I’ll need contact information for everybody in your group,” I told her.

“What would they have to add to what I've told you?”

“I don’t know. I want to cover it all so there are no surprises.”

“Have I surprised you?” she asked, feigning surprise.

“After hearing all of this I can’t believe I got you convicted.”

“Can you get me off?”

Was her phrasing intentional?

“Ah, if we get a new trial, even Prentice’s family would acquit you. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is getting the reversal.”

“How long will this take?”

“It’s difficult to say. I’ll start with a Post-Trial Motion we'll probably lose. Next would be an appeal to the Superior Court. We'll ask for oral argument. Of course, while this is going on the Commonwealth will put in their two cents. Even if the Superior Court says we’re right, I’m afraid you could be here a couple years.”

“I’m sure you'll do everything you can,” she said.

“One more thing, I’m not sure how to ask this. Have you, uh, been with anybody on the Superior Court?”

“Nobody on the current Court. There really haven’t been that many. We just tend to get involved with prominent people.”

“I’m sure the plebian masses will be disappointed to hear that.”

“I’m hoping that is really a compliment and not disapproval.”

“Probably some of both,” I said. “Sorry. I’m still suffering from surprise.”

“Well, thank you for the complimentary part. I understand. This can take some adjustment.”

“It can. I’ll keep you informed.”

“Thank you.”

She even shook hands sensually, like she wanted to make sure I would call her for a date. If any member of the jury had gotten a chance to meet her personally, I would never have gotten a conviction. She was very likeable.

As long as I was already out visiting prisons I went to see Phillip Patrick. It seemed like everybody was held somewhere on State Road.

I explained that I could afford to put more time into his case than the Defenders' Association and could afford to spend more on investigation than they could, and it would cost him nothing.

“So you’re going to be my friend?”

“No, I’m going to be your lawyer.”

“But you'll be my friend.”

“Yes, Phillip, I’ll be your friend. But I’m also going to be your lawyer and help you in court.”

“You’re going to ask me questions.” He was enthusiastic.

“Yes, I’ll ask you questions and I’ll do everything I can to make sure you don’t wind up in jail. Is that okay with you?”

“You’re my friend. You’re going to help me,” he said excitedly.

That was as close as I was going to get to his agreeing to my representation.

He wouldn’t be able to offer much help in his defense.

It wasn’t clear what I could do for him. Even if I could convince a jury he was the way he was because some mental illness drove him to drink himself stupid, the best I could accomplish would be to have him locked up in the mental health system indefinitely instead of the prison system if I didn’t get him acquitted.

I drove back into town and parked. I stopped by the Defenders' Association to tell them I would be representing Phillip Patrick. They were happy to have one less case.

Since I had already paid for parking, I stopped in to see Alfred Boxer. He had received a transcript of the trial. He was prepared to FedEx me all the materials as well as a check from Mrs. Caldwell but, since I was there, he handed them to me.

I called the ADA on Janet Reedy and told him I would be representing Phillip Patrick. He told me we had a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday so I stopped by to pick up everything I was entitled to, which prior to the hearing wasn’t much.

I called Lily. We discussed Patrick and agreed that, in the absence of anything useful to work with the best approach would be to find out what we could about Janet Reedy.

Martha Washington called. She had negotiated a lease in Bala Cynwyd in a building with excess available space. The price was outstanding. We could move in Friday and the phones would be installed that day.

When I returned home, I went downstairs to the workout room and did about fifty minutes of upper body work with dumbbells.

I went up to my office and prepared a motion to suppress Phillip Patrick’s “confession“ while the material was fresh in my mind.

I cleaned up and headed into town for my regular Tuesday night Argentine tango class with Jamie.


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  Chapter 13  

  Chapter 14  

  Chapter 15  

  Chapter 16  

  Chapter 17  

  Chapter 18  

  Chapter 19  

  Chapter 20  

  Chapter 21  

  Chapter 22  

  Chapter 23