Is she around?
The past two days, every time I go to post a chapter, Kendra has dropped in and interrupted me, taken over the feed, and pretty much done what she does. Looks like she’s going to give me a break today.
Still, I’m going to keep this short.
If you order the paperback (which is available now, by the way), let me know! Show your proof of purchase and I’ll send you a file with the entire playlist, in order!
Now then, if you don’t feel like buying it just yet, you can try to win a copy – paperback, autographed – of all FOUR books. Click that button below!
Okay. That’s about it from me. We’re still bouncing all over the place in the book, going from one scene to
I leave you alone for ten minutes and you start blathering!
Kendra, I was keeping it short!
Not short enough! These people are here for my story, not your commentary!
Fine. As requested, here’s the chapter, with a bonus at the end.
See? Was that so tough?
Sonoran Supreme Court, Albuquerque, Sonoran Republic
“All rise, the Supreme Court for the Sonoran Republic is now in session, the Honorable Chief Justice Ileana Margarita presiding.”
The seven justices entered as the bailiff was speaking and settled into their seats.
“You may be seated.”
Kendra was actually in the court with her lawyer, Dianna Chew. Chew had strongly recommended her personal appearance rather than appearing as a hologram.
“It’s the Supreme Court,” she had explained. “I’m surprised they agreed to hear the appeal, but all that means that two justices felt it was worth listening to. It’s possible the Chief Justice will dismiss the appeal after the opening arguments, but unlikely. At the very least I expect to get into the opening arguments for both sides. Margarita’s history suggests she’d much rather let the arguments play out in full. But I’m confident, even should the case go to the Justices for a decision, we’ll win.”
Across from her was Sydney Forman, the lawyer who had been the primary counselor at the lower court, as well as four other people. Kendra didn’t recognize any of them, and wasn’t sure if they were all new ‘named’ Plaintiffs, pulled into the sunlight by the prior court’s ruling against anonymity, or just additional lawyers.
The Chief Justice spoke. “Counselors. This is a preliminary hearing to determine whether this appeal should go forward. We have familiarized ourselves with the facts of the case as presented to Judge Hodge in the Federal Court, and have a number of questions before we permit opening statements. Ms. Chew.”
Dianna rose from her chair. “Yes, Justice Margarita.”
“From reading the transcript, I understand that your client frequently appeared in court via a holographic avatar?”
“Yes, Chief Justice.”
“From a habitat? Njord, I believe it’s called?”
“Yes, Chief Justice. That is correct.”
“That will not be acceptable for this Court, should we proceed in hearing this case.”
“I have explained that to my client, Justice Margarita. She understands the necessity and will make every effort to be physically present for all required appearances. However, Chief Justice, my client has wholly justifiable reasons for being nervous about this requirement, beyond any demands of her position. As you are no doubt aware, at the closing session of the prior Court my client was nearly killed by the Plaintiff, in an attempt to exact revenge. While we are sure the Court has done everything in its power to prevent a reoccurrence, the fact of the matter remains.”
“We understand her concerns,” said Margarita. “If any reasonable doubt arises as to the security of the Court, we will immediately reconsider our position. This brings us to our next point. Mr. Forman.”
“Yes, Your Honor?” Forman stood as well.
“The proper form of address, Mr. Forman, is Justice, or Chief Justice. Please remember that.”
“My apologies, Chief Justice.”
“Your prior Plaintiff is no longer available to appear before the Court due to his behavior.”
“That is correct, Chief Justice. He is still party to this action, however.”
“That is a question that needs to be settled,” said one of the other Justices.
“Justice Tonelli brings up an excellent point,” said Margarita. “While Mr. Williamson’s claim of damages may be valid, his criminal actions in attempting to self-enact justice have rendered his case, at best, suspended.”
“May I ask for clarification? Mr. Williamson was able to bring suit against Ms. Cassidy while serving a prison sentence for his crimes; why would he not be able to continue his suit?”
“Under Sonoran law, while a convicted criminal may be party to a civil suit, and may indeed bring the suit before a court should they be given leave to appear, a person currently under indictment is forbidden from doing so. As Mr. Williamson is in that situation now, he can no longer be the lead Plaintiff in Williamson et al v. Cassidy.”
“Thank you, Chief Justice,” Forman said, seeming to mean it.
“Then, Mr. Forman, the question becomes: who is your Plaintiff? As you well know, anonymous suits are not permitted in this sort of action, as the need to prove damages goes to the heart of the case.”
“Justice Margarita, we have always been prepared to present additional Plaintiffs at the Court’s request, and in light of Mr. Williamson’s current, ah, circumstances, we thought it prudent to bring two of them to Court today.” He nudged the woman next to him, who gestured to the other two women at the table. They stood as well, leaving only the man at the end seated.
“Justices, may I present Ms. Christina Schroth and Mrs. Samantha Smith, along with my co-counsel, Ms. Jessica Rogers.” In turn each gave a nod or bow of acknowledgement to the Justices, then sat down.
Kendra’s face was a study as her nearly-automatic query of names to her implant returned results. Her lawyer noticed and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
“Schroth and Smith,” Kendra whispered back.
“What about them?”
“It’ll take too long. Ask for a recess and I’ll explain.”
The exchange had not gone unnoticed by the bench, and the Chief Justice addressed her. “Counselor? Is there a problem?”
Chew stood. “No, Chief Justice, but we would like to request a ten minute recess for consultation. No prior notice of these new Plaintiffs was given to the Defendant.”
Chew and Kendra hustled out of the court. Chew immediately said, “Talk.”
“Schroth is, or was, one of the minor Trustees of the Harriman Trust. We eased her out, along with the rest of the Trustees who had been using the Trust to backstop their own finances, when we inherited control.”
Chew was writing furiously. “How long ago was this?”
Kendra considered that. “I’d say September of 2113. No later than October. We moved pretty quickly.”
Chew was nodding. “I’ll have to check, but she may be too late to file. There’s a statutory limit for financial losses, and if you can prove she was dealing illegally with funds that weren’t hers, then she might not be eligible for redress in any case. What about the other?”
“Smith? That’s not her real name. Her real name is Anna Elizabeth, and she’s an undercover agent for the Artemis Ministry of Intelligence.”
Chew, who was thoroughly professional, was still stunned by this information. “Are you sure?”
“Dianna, we’ve been fighting these bastards for fifteen months now. We’ve had an extreme interest in tracking down all of their agents, informants, lobbyists, and pet politicians. No, I’m sure.”
“And is that information that you can bring into Court?”
Kendra frowned. “I…don’t know. I’ll have to talk with my intelligence expert and see if we have proof we can produce without blowing our sources.”
“I don’t need to tell you that could be huge, Kendra. You heard Forman; he’s implied these two have been among the ‘anonymous’ Plaintiffs from the beginning. The Republic doesn’t take kindly to being manipulated by other nations, and the Court would bury this suit in a heartbeat if we can provide evidence of foreign manipulation of the legal system for their own ends.”
The Bailiff appeared and gestured for their return.
“We need to dig into this,” Chew said as they followed.
“I agree,” said Kendra, then they were back and had to wait to speak again.
Once the Chief Justice had gaveled them back into session, she addressed Forman again.
“Mr. Forman, you will be required to produce their Affidavits of Injury or Loss, along with the requisite identifying information, within three business days, or we will dismiss your appeal with prejudice. Are we clear?”
“Yes, Chief Justice.”
“Good. Now. We have read your appeal; you are pleading prejudice on the part of Justice Hodge?”
“Yes, Chief Justice. It was evident from the start –”
“Not yet, Mr. Forman,” interrupted Margarita. “We are merely clarifying points. Who is the other person with you today?” She pointed to the man at the end.
“He is here as an amicus curiae, Chief Justice.”
“I didn’t ask why, Mr. Forman. I asked who.”
“Chief Justice, he would like to remain anonymous at this time.”
“Then he shouldn’t have appeared in my Court!” she snapped. “His identity, Mr. Forman, or he leaves.”
“A moment to consult, Chief Justice?”
The lawyer put his head down next to the other man’s and held a whispered conversation. Kendra peered interestedly at them, uncaring whether it was thought appropriate or not, and sent his image through her implant to Harpo. In seconds Harpo had an answer for her; she tapped Chew’s shoulder and wrote a name: “Daniel Parr”.
Who? Chew wrote back.
Tell you later.
Forman straightened with an air of triumph. “Chief Justice, at this time he is declining to provide his name under Sonoran Code, Section 52, paragraph C, regarding the rights to privacy for amicus curiae.”
“Mr. Forman, I am familiar with §52 dash C, and it doesn’t say what you seem to think it says.”
“Your Honor, the text is quite clear. If I may?” He pulled a padd from his stack of papers.
“Thank you. Ahem. ‘In cases before any Sonoran Court, the identity of an amicus curiae need not be revealed, if such revelation will lead to an increased risk of harm, either to them or their interests.’”
“And what risk are we discussing, Mr. Forman?”
“I’m afraid that to reveal that, Chief Justice, would reveal information which could lead to his identification.”
“So you are asserting an undefined risk?”
“Correct, Chief Justice.”
“That is insufficient, Mr. Forman. However, you have also neglected to continue your reading of §52-C.” She tapped a command into the terminal before her, and the monitor behind her lit with the relevant passage.
“As you can see, Mr. Forman, the rest of §52-C says, ‘In the event that an amicus curiae appears in person in support of their advice, the rules of the Court in which they appear shall take precedence.’ My Court, Mr. Forman, requires positive identification of all participants to the Court.”
“Ah.” Forman looked over at the as-yet-unidentified Parr, who shrugged, stood, bowed to the Court, and departed without uttering a word.
The questions went back and forth between the Court and the two parties for another hour before the Chief Justice deemed herself satisfied.
“Very well. Counselors.” All three lawyers stood. “We have enough information to move forward with the appeal. Mr. Forman, Ms. Rogers, you are to provide the required data to this Court within 72 hours, as noted previously, and make such documents as you provide available to the Defense within the same time frame. This court will reconvene in one week.”
“All rise.” The bailiff kept everyone standing until the Justices had all filed out; only then did Kendra have a chance to talk with Chew, in a space set aside for lawyers and clients appearing before the Supreme Court.
“Okay, Kendra. What’s a ‘Daniel Parr’?”
“He’s another ghost, Dianna.”
“More Artemis,” Kendra confirmed. “Not MinInt, though. He’s part of their Foreign Service.”
“And is Daniel Parr his real name?”
“As far as my information goes, yes.”
“And can you share this information in the courtroom?”
Kendra nodded eagerly. “He’s not hiding, as such. He just doesn’t want his interest in this case to be known.”
“I’ll want what you have.”
“It’ll be in your system before you get back to your office.”
A few pleasantries and they separated. Kendra was already in communication with Harpo as she made her way to the portal; she’d teleport to Houston, where she’d catch a MOV up to Njord.
I want everything, Harpocrates! Two piles: stuff that be acquired openly,
and stuff that you have to dig out. I don’t care how messy it is, or what kind
of damage you do to his systems. If it’s electronic and his, I want it.
Certainly, Admiral. It’s not often I get to do a smash-and-grab.
And that’s the end of the chapter. Now you have the song for the chapter; it’s the Authority Song by John Mellencamp. If you want the story behind the song, it’s in a separate post (playlist song number four, I think).
Oh, I love this song!