Authors: Ed Gaffney
This book is dedicated to Attorneys Don Bronstein, Derege Demissie, Beth Eisenberg, Tom Hagar, Dave Nathanson, John Osler, Jim Pingeon, Mary Anne Rathmann, Rick Rathmann, Matthew Robinowitz, Eric Ruben, Brownlow Speer, Leslie Walker, Tanis Yanetti, and countless other lawyers in Massachusetts and throughout the United States for their work defending and protecting the constitutional rights of people who are too poor to hire attorneys. You are true patriots.
First, thanks to my editor, Kate Miciak, for your brilliant suggestions, enthusiastic support, and expert guidance. I am very lucky—and thrilled—to be working with you.
And thanks to my agent, Steve Axelrod, who had the insight to introduce me (and Zack and Terry) to Kate.
Thanks also to the entire Bantam Dell team for all of their hard work helping this first-time author.
For their help with research, thank you to the remarkably knowledgeable Michelle Gomez, Tina Trevaskis, and especially Kathy Lague, who did the scary stuff.
Thanks to my fearless first-draft readers: my brothers, Steve and John Gaffney, Deede Bergeron, and English experts Fred and Lee Brockmann (who read the second draft, too!).
Special thanks to Eric Ruben, whose passion and humor are the inspiration for Terry.
Thanks to everyone in the Tribe for their boundless support.
And finally, to my partner forever, Suz Brockmann, thanks for too many things to try to list. I can't wait to see what we do next. I love you.
WHEN AHMAD EL AMIN TURNED THE CORNER and headed down the street toward his apartment, raw panic knotted his stomach. From a block away, he could see a fleet of police cars and ambulances and fire trucks all with colored strobe lights flashing madly, scattered across the sidewalks and street. It was impossible to know exactly what building the authorities were occupying, but then he saw them bring a stretcher out of his apartment house. It was carrying a corpse in a black body bag. Then another stretcher emerged, with another dead body.
There had been an attack. They had been discovered. He had to escape. It would be a disaster if he was captured, or if the trunk of his car was searched. He immediately turned around and walked in the opposite direction, back toward his car, away from the chaos.
He was going to assume the worst; he'd head to the emergency meeting place to wait. If any of the others managed to escape and showed up in the next twenty-four hours, that would be best.
But if not, he'd mourn them, and then carry on alone. It would be a more difficult mission, but he would not fail. He would take his place with the blessed ones who had already died fighting this holy war.
With God's help, the blood of the infidels would flow like a river.
And, Mr. Thompkins, while you were waiting in the apartment across the hallway, what were you thinking?
I wasn't really thinking much of anything. I was just watching their door, waiting for it to open.
Well, what did you think was going to happen when it opened?
I thought that I was going to walk in and start shooting.
(Transcript of Massachusetts State Police Interview of Calvin Thompkins, January 14, Page 8)
January 15—Northampton, Massachusetts
ATTORNEY TERRY TALLACH WATCHED WITH disbelief as Hampshire County Superior Court Officer Gloria Blainey squeezed the handcuffs around his wrists and then took hold of his left elbow. “Let's go,” she said.
If this had been Terry's fantasy world, Gloria would have been an adventurous twenty-three-year-old, wearing stiletto heels and stockings, and leading him to her bedroom.
In the painfully real world, however, Gloria was a sixty-something grandmother of four, wearing dark blue Reeboks and thick socks, and leading him to the courthouse lockup because the worst judge in Massachusetts had decided to break Terry's balls.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect case—a thirty-nine-dollar-per-hour court-appointed criminal assignment with an idiot for a client.
Terry was representing James O'Toole, a squeaky-voiced kid with a limp, already a veteran of several guilty pleas to a variety of misdemeanors, who had been charged with the armed and masked robbery of a grocery store. The prosecution's case rested on the testimony of three eyewitnesses who emphatically identified O'Toole—despite the mask—because of his limp and his distinctive voice. And in case anybody cared, there were fingerprints, too. Conviction was inevitable. After which Judge Richard Cottonwood would impose a life-destroying sentence.
O'Toole had told Terry that he had spent the night with his girlfriend, and with the unwavering certainty available only to the profoundly stupid, declared that he was sure to be acquitted on the basis of her testimony. A significant flaw in that plan was that despite looking for this dream witness for weeks, Terry couldn't find her.
So in the days leading up to the trial, Terry engaged in many hours of hard negotiating, during which he cobbled together a plea bargain which would result in O'Toole getting a reasonable sentence.
Of course, O'Toole, being an idiot, refused the deal. Bringing them to the last day of trial with nothing to their case except the testimony of the defendant—a man who walked and talked funny, standing accused of a serious crime committed by a man who, well, walked and talked funny.
But then, that morning, just as Terry was entering the courthouse for the final act of the farce, a young woman identifying herself as the girlfriend's sister came up to him and said that she would testify that O'Toole had been with her sister on the night of the robbery.
So Terry called her as a witness.
Which is when things kind of went south with the Big Dick.
Richard Cottonwood never let a defendant call a witness who was not on the witness list—reason number 324 why the judge was a turd. The official rules of criminal procedure required that before the trial, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor exchange lists of witnesses that they expected to testify. But every once in a while, somebody needed to call a witness who wasn't on the list. Judges hated it, but usually allowed it, if you could show them a good reason. Not Dick Cottonwood, though. The word across the state was that in over thirty years on the bench, Cottonwood had never let a defendant call a witness who wasn't on the list.
Never. What an ass.
But Terry called the girlfriend's sister anyway, even though he knew that Cottonwood wouldn't let her testify. Terry figured that he'd have the opportunity to explain why the witness was important, so that on appeal, O'Toole had at least a chance at getting a new trial.
But instead of letting Terry make a statement as to why he needed to call the witness, Judge Cottonwood just said, “This witness was not on the list. Call another one.”
“Your Honor,” Terry had responded, “I'd like to come to sidebar to give an offer of proof as to the purpose—”
“That's not necessary,” interrupted the judge. “Are you going to call another witness, or is the defense resting?”
“I'm sorry, Your Honor,” Terry persisted, “but I need to insist on coming to sidebar in order to make a record—”
“You'll insist on nothing in my courtroom, Mr. Tallach,” said the judge. “And I order you to call your next witness.”
“But, Your Honor—” Terry said, only to be interrupted again.
“Mr. Tallach,” the judge said, “listen carefully to me. You will either call another witness or you will tell me that the defense rests. If you do anything—and I mean anything—else, I will hold you in contempt of court.”
Terry laughed. “You're going to throw me in the can for trying to defend my client?” he asked.
“Apparently I am,” the judge replied. “The court finds you in contempt, and instructs the court officers to take you into custody immediately. Court is in recess.”
And now Gloria and her partner, Big Tony Z, were escorting Terry down the back stairs to the holding cell in the courthouse basement. They stopped at the entrance, Gloria undid the cuffs, Terry walked inside, and the heavy door clanged shut behind him.
The bare, concrete floor was painted gray. An ancient sink with a rust stain beneath the single cold-water spigot was the only thing hanging on the puke-yellow cinder-block walls. The place smelled like stale sweat and urine. Terry stared through the bars at Big Tony. Incarceration wasn't all it was cracked up to be.