Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Farin Powell Presents Explosive Legal Thriller--The Judge!

Friday, July 2, 4:00 p.m.  Judge McNeil assumed that the only sentencing on his court's docket would not take more than ten minutes of his time. He was anxious to go back to his chambers and review several defense motions filed in the triple-murder case. He wished he could transfer the case to another judge. Whenever he was handling a high-profile case, he cringed every time he read the Washington Post's coverage of his decisions.
At the defense table, attorney Amanda Perkins was seated next to her client. The young defendant was accompanied by a deputy US Marshal and wore an orange jumpsuit--the DC jail's uniform. McNeil hoped Perkins would not repeat her usual bombastic allocution. It was a well-known fact that he didn't like her, and the feeling was mutual. Over the past five years, he had held her in contempt of court twice, each time imposing a heavy fine on her--and he was convinced his rulings were fair. She could have faced jail time.
After his courtroom clerk called the case for the record, McNeil turned to the prosecutor and asked, "Is the government ready to proceed?"
A young male prosecutor jumped to his feet and nodded. "Yes, Your Honor."
"Go ahead."
"Your Honor," the prosecutor said, addressing the court. "Damian Lewis is seventeen years old, and although we've charged him as an adult, we agree with the presentencing report of the probation department and Attorney Perkins's request that he should be given credit for the nine months he has spent in jail and be placed on probation for two years under the Youth Rehabilitation Act."
"The fact that you all have agreed doesn't mean that I should follow your proposal," the judge replied. He then directed his gaze toward the defense table. "Ms. Perkins, I've read your report and the three letters from members of the community submitted on behalf of your client, so you don't need to repeat them. I'm ready for the concluding part of your allocution."
McNeil moved in his black leather swivel chair and shuffled some papers around in a folder on the bench. Then he turned away, staring at the pictures of the retired judges on the wall.
"Your Honor," Amanda said as she stood and addressed McNeil, who didn't shift his gaze from the pictures on the wall. "Damian Lewis was abandoned by his mother three days after he was born in DC's General Hospital. He lived in different foster homes and group homes until he became eligible for the independent living program. He has three juvenile delinquencies, but he stayed out of trouble for a long time until this recent--"
McNeil swiveled his chair quickly and looked Amanda in the eyes, "Ms. Perkins, those were significant adjudications: theft one, assault with a deadly weapon, and carrying a pistol--"
"Your Honor, he was only twelve years old when--"
"Ms.  Perkins, do not interrupt me when I'm talking," McNeil said, raising his voice...
"Mr. Lewis," the judge said, addressing the defendant, "in case felony number 237, I sentence you to four years of imprisonment. I'm obliged by law to order at least one hundred dollars to be paid to the Victims of Crime fund. You can pay that within four years."
"Your Honor," Amanda pleaded, "the government agreed to probation under the Youth Act, which expunges my client's criminal record. I urge the court--"
"Ms. Perkins, I've ruled, and you're still talking."
"Your Honor, with all due respect, this is a harsh sentence. You know what happens to a seventeen-year-old in jail while--"
"The law allows me to give him up to thirty years."
"Such length jail time is intended for drug czars, not a seventeen-year-old--"
Judge McNeil stood and pointed to a young deputy US marshal who stood at the court entrance. "Could you please escort Ms. Perkins out of my courtroom?"

The Judge

By Farin Powell

Amanda paced the hallway outside Judge McNeil's courtroom for a few minutes, not knowing what to do. Her face was flushed. Like a wounded tiger, she was ready to attack anyone who appeared in her path. The judge had kicked her out of his courtroom and had not even allowed her to explain his harsh sentence to her client. She stopped pacing and stood for a few seconds and then ran to the escalator in the atrium, heading for the court's criminal division on the fourth floor. After filing a notice of appear with the court clerk challenging the jury's decision and the court's rulings, including sentencing, she rushed to the lawyers' lounge. She sat at one of the computers and drafted a short two-page motion asking the judge to reconsider his sentencing.
When she returned to the court clerk's office, the clerk was surprised to see her again. "Ms. Perkins, it's almost time to go home. What had you got this time?"
"It's a Rule 35 motion; I'm asking him to reconsider his sentencing."
"Good luck," the clerk chuckled as she stamped the copies of the motions...

Judge McNeil had become known for his harsh punishments and, especially, of his treatment of a certain lawyer he didn't like. Of course, Amanda Perkins, had similar thoughts, though perhaps quite a bit stronger... McNeil's best friend and fellow judge had shared that he seemed to have started to change after his wife had died...but that was over 10 years ago. But his daughter had also disappeared! Sure, McNeil kept within the letter of the law, but that didn't mean that his decisions had been made based upon the specific crime, but rather on his own thoughts on the matter, which sometimes were entirely personal...

Readers won't be surprised that three of those men who had been sentenced by The Judge had kidnapped him! They were out for revenge, but also to ensure that another young man didn't get treated like The Judge had treated them...

Fortunately, one of the men began to be concerned how they were treating their captive. He was beaten, drugged up and kept hostage, with constant threats for his life... They even forced him to dig his own grave...just in case... Only one of the men did anything to keep him alive. 

Judge Walter McNeil had been kidnapped on his way home from the DC Superior Court, literally picked up on the street and thrown into the back of a car and knocked unconscious. He was forced to call in and explain that an emergency had forced his leaving town, but that he would try to keep in touch...

The first action was to force him to give the verdict that was being dictated... by the leader of the group, who was a relative of the accused...

"I'm so sorry. You're right. I was wrong
in my--"
"A human being can be wrong. You are
a monster. Admit it!" Boss shouted.
"When my wife died, a part of me died
too. I had so much pain I couldn't see
other people's pain. I'm sorry. I
understand your pain. I have a missing
daughter too. I've been searching to find
her for the past four years now." the
judge said as he lowered his gaze and
stared at the run again.
Boss became quiet, letting McNeil
bask in Boss's hatred for a few moments
before he left the room. Once he closed
the door behind him, he flashed a
satisfied smile. McNeil, your real
punishment will come soon.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Amanda Perkins is the lead character, whose male admirer happens to be detective Aristo Manfredi. She has had one too many unwinnable debates with The Judge and decides to move across country to work with another law firm...

It's frustrating for readers to watch as she is shut down in court and is even forced to leave the court when she continues to badger The Judge...  Of course I have to quickly point out that it was truly The Judge who was being rude and unreasonable...so, of course, we hate him...😧

At least until he is kidnapped and we realize what he is going through...

The Judge's absence was being talked about through the justice system and what he was sending in for actions to occur sometimes didn't make sense. Not until somebody realized that there might be messages being sent in his emails...

I was enjoying reading a good legal thriller until the final twist brought about a totally unexpected change to the story that just could not have been expected--Loved it! Especially impressive was the way the author presented clues without reference to how they would fit in to the storyline later...

Obviously something would change for The Judge. But would he become angrier, unable to function in court? Again, I was pleased with the author's handling of that situation...

Many years before, McNeil had purchased a good printed copy of Edvard Munch's The Scream. It was suspended on the wall above the fireplace in his living room. Since his return from Denver, every time he looked at the painting, he felt the artist had painted his silent scream. Next to the painting was a large picture of a happy five-year-old Daphne with her mother. One day, he stared at the picture for a long time. Than, when tears formed in his eyes, he left the room. He thought about another father who had lost his daughter...

Does it take trauma of some sort to make us face ourselves and what we've become? Farin Powell does not spare any of those who were involved with The Judge. Certainly, Amanda Perkins was placed in an unimaginable position before the book concludes... We see how she responds to the unexpected choices she had to make. It certainly increased my opinion of this particular character and I hope she will continue to be a main character in future Powell novels...

But what would The Judge do after all that he had been forced to suffer? That was a primary factor in evaluating the quality of the book, don't you think? Here, too, I was gratified with the author's efforts on her readers' behalf... For me, it was moving toward a perfect ending...

And, then, Zap! Powell created a zinger of a hanging ending... Is she telling us what the next court trial for Amanda Perkins will be in her next novel? Here's one reader that is hoping... And, then, Zap! Another cliff-hanger for us...

Of the thirty days he had stayed in Mexico City...twenty-nine gathering information about Brazil. His research had revealed that at the time of Brazil's independence in 1822, two-thirds of its population had African or mixed heritage. The most recent statistics showed that 45 percent of Brazilians were considered people of color. He had dismissed publications and discussions about social class discrimination in Brazil...[he] had found his paradise...
He looked at his name and repeated it in his head: Ronaldo da Silva. He liked the sound of it, but he still had to get used to it... 
He finished his margarita and walked through Cinelandia Square, smelling and breathing the sweet warm air coming off the ocean. He was loving every moment of his new life. He was too preoccupied with his future to notice the Brazilian man who had been following him all afternoon.

Teasers to think about...but nothing that precludes a fully complete novel, The Judge that is well worth your consideration. For those who enjoy legal thrillers, do check out this unique storyline, the well-thought out characters who hold your attention and the exciting and extraordinary court scenes! Highly recommended...


Farin Powell practices law in Washington, DC. In addition to many legal publications, she has published short stories and poems in various literary magazines and poetry anthologies. She is the author of the book of poetry A Piece of Heaven and the novels Two Weddings, and Roxana's Revolution.

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