Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Robert Bailey Takes Readers to Alabama for Memorable Legal Thriller! With a small spotlight on "Bear" Bryant...

"Well, you're still a scrawny sack a shit. Ain't that woman of
yours feeding you?"
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1969
The Man said to be at the Waysider at 5.30 in the morning. Tom arrived at 5.20, knowing that it was a bad idea to be late for a meeting set up by the Man. He hoped he would arrive first, maybe drink some water and gather his thoughts, but the Man was already there. Sitting at a table in the corner of the cafe, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant read the Birmingham News and drank coffee.
Tom waded through the other tables and approached the Man, who hadn't moved since the jingle of the front door announced Tom's arrival. Reaching the table, Tom cleared his throat. "Hey, Coach."
The Man looked up from his paper, but didn't speak or smile. After two or three seconds, his mouth curved into a grin and he extended his hand...
Matlock is Standin for
The Professor!
Tom smiled, relieved that the Man had broken the ice. As they shook hands, a waitress came over to take their orders. The Man ordered two eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits and more coffee. Tom said he'd have the same, knowing his stomach couldn't handle that much food, but too nervous to ask for a menu.
As the waitress shuffled off, the Man took a sip of coffee and leaned towards Tom. "So, how are things in Birmingham?"
"Great, Coach" Tom said, trying to keep his voice steady. "I'm with a small insurance defense firm. Getting in the courtroom a little."
"So I hear. Three jury trials and three wins in four years, right?"
Tom nodded, flattered but not surprised. The Man had so many judicial contacts, he could have made one phone call to learn Tom's trial record. "Yes, sir. I've been lucky. George McDuff is a great partner, and he..."
"Lucky my ass..."

The Professor:
 A Legal Thriller                                 By Robert Bailey
 Sometimes winning means everything...

Dean Lambert crossed his arms. "We
need you to sign it, Tom. And...there are
some other things."
"What 'other things'?"
"We've been getting complaints about
McMurtrie's Evidence. A lot of the
students think it's too hard to read...
Tom didn't say anything, just continued
to glare at his boss.
"And you can't be kicking kids out of
your class any more, Tom. I know all
about what happened...With this Drake
thing on YouTube and still on everyone's
minds, you just can't be doing stuff like
It was quite clear that Thomas Jackson McMurtrie was in awe of Paul "Bear" Bryant, who had coached him and then sought him out to come teach in the College of Law at the University of Alabama. Tom had not even considered teaching and was already working. But it didn't take much coaxing by...The Man... for Tom to agree... That had been 1969 and it was now 2009...

Now it was Tom who had earned a nickname. He was known by all as "The Professor..." Now I have to say that I was curious enough to find the real professor of evidence at U of A but I decided I had more pictures of Matlock to display! Even though he may not have ever taught law, even as a character, LOL...  Nobody knows better than I how you feel when, after 40 years, a new administrator(s) comes in and works against you, even if my tenure was only 37... Tom McMurtrie was well respected, but the new Dean was looking to replace older full professors with younger individuals he had selected himself... And when somebody wants to get rid of you, it isn't hard to make a case based upon... perception...

"You... you have a lot of nerve, "he managed.
"Coming here after what you did to me."
"As I recollect it, you hit me in the face," Tom
said. "I think I got the worse end of it..."
Rick took a deep breath, and glanced at his desk,
Leaning up against it were his four thin file
jackets. Three workers' comp cases and a car
wreck. Four measly files and you're turning down
a multi-million-dollar death case in your hometown
with Ms. Rose and Sheriff Ballard as witnesses?
Are you out of your mind?...
Rick felt panic from his head to his shoes as he
realized what he had done. My million-dollar case
just walked out the door.
Rick ran. Through the reception area. Out the door.
And down the stairs. Don't be gone. Please... don't
be gone. He barreled outside and almost fell on
the sidewalk. Looking in all directions, he didn't
see anyone.
"Having second thought?" a gravelly voice asked
from behind him...
The semester had just started and one of his new students, Dawn Murphy, had asked to be his student assistant, explaining why she needed the money. He hired her, not knowing that a couple of friendly touches would be caught on camera and used by the Dean...

This had followed the sensation of being on YouTube when he had grabbed at the arm of one of his students. There was nothing he could do about either, once they went public, but he knew he had done nothing wrong, even if the Dean wouldn't accept his word...

While that was going on, he was contacted by a former girlfriend from college and asked to look at a case. One he thought that could be handled by, in fact, the man with whom he'd had the confrontation on video. Rick Drake was now establishing his own office, was talented and, in Tom's opinion, more importantly, came from Henshaw where the accident had occurred. Always a good thing to have a hometown insider...

Ruth Ann's entire remaining family, her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild, had been killed when a large hauling truck had run into them, killing them plus the driver. She knew that she would never be able to move on in life unless she knew how and why they had been killed.

You can probably guess that there is a lot of background about the trucking company and what they'd been doing. The main issue for the owner was that he had just been given a potential contract for the sale of the company--but only if there were no lawsuits filed against them at the time of closing the sale...

Jack Willistone was prepared to do anything to make sure that sale went through...

What began to happen was, unfortunately, making it extremely hard to put together a defense case. They needed records from the company? It just happened that a fire destroyed that building just recently... Like, right after the accident...

Rick knew he needed help...and he got it when a young woman came in and volunteered to work for him... It was working perfectly but they still needed help...and so The Professor became involved at the last minute, having not tried a case for many, many years...
But just like Matlock or Perry Mason or one of the other great TV lawyers, just watching The Professor come back into his element was fascinating and so much fun to see in action.

Who wins the case is not the exciting part about this, even though I was on edge, loving the court activities a couple of times... What fascinated me was the characters--what was happening as people began to be killed, intimated, bribed... Readers begin to think they see how it's going to end and then somebody else that was earlier out of the picture shows up again... 

"I'll he here tomorrow too."
"Well, I doubt anyone else will, Tom said.
"You're wrong, buck. Like I said, what you're doing here, coming back after all you been through, has got folks stirred up. That article was positive. Reverent even. You're the Professor, goddamnit, and I think the news and the general public have started to realize it." The Judge walked away, but then turned back and squinted into the setting sun. "And so have your friends." He paused. "You know, sometimes a man can be so consistently good that people take him for granted. I remember another man kinda like that. Coached football and more a houndstooth hat." The Cock nodded. "People will come tomorrow, Tom. Rest assured...people will come."

Got to say I loved this one! Drama in the courtyard... A bad taste of remembrance for the college campus bureaucratic politics... (which helps in a way since others have it happen to them too, sad but true). But it was the honesty tested and won or lost as people were asked to help another person understand what had happened to her family... Actually, I thought a couple of other widows had a case as well...But, I guess, that's another case...LOL Got to check this one out!


About this author

Robert Bailey was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of a builder and a schoolteacher. From the time he could walk, he’s loved stories, especially those about Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football team.

Robert obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History from Davidson College in North Carolina. Law School at the University of Alabama followed, where Robert made Law Review, competed on the school’s trial team and managed to watch every home football game.

For the past thirteen years, he’s been a civil defense trial lawyer in his hometown of Huntsville. He’s married to the incomparable Dixie Bailey and they have two boys and a little girl.

When Robert’s not writing, practicing law or being a parent, he enjoys playing golf, watching Alabama football and coaching his sons’ little league baseball teams.

The Professor is his first novel.

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