This time Erickson comes back swinging. "Your Honor," he says, "Mr. Daley is intentionally mischaracterizing the circumstances surrounding this vicious attack."
Yes, I am.
He points a finger at Terrence and adds, "The defendant struck Mr. Harper with a deadly weapon."
He was doing pretty well for a while, but now he's overplaying his hand. It's a common rookie mistake-especially in front of a smart judge like Betsy McDaniel. I read the expression on her face and keep my mouth shut. She gives Erickson an irritated look and says, "What deadly weapon did he use?"
I was hoping she was going to ask.
Erickson realizes he's in trouble. He lowers his voice and says, "The chicken."
Game over. One might say Andy's goose-or chicken-is cooked. Judge McDaniel gives him a quizzical look when she asks, "Are you suggesting a chicken is a deadly weapon?"
Unfortunately for Andy, he just did. He has no choice. "Yes, Your Honor."
I say to the judge, "Your Honor, with all due respect to Mr. Erickson, when I read the Penal Code, a chicken is not a deadly weapon, and assault with a deadly chicken is not a crime."
I catch the hint of a grin from the judge.
Andy tries again. "The defendant was a professional boxer," he says. "He was known as Terrence 'the Terminator' Love."
Judge McDaniel's stomach is growling. She points her gavel at him and says, "So?"
"In the hands of a trained fighter, even a seemingly innocuous item such as a chicken can be deadly. Some states have gone so far as to provide that the hands of a licensed boxer can be construed as lethal weapons."
"California isn't one of them," I interject. "Our statute is silent on the issue and there are no California cases holding that the hands of a professional boxer are deadly per se. In fact, there are California cases that hold that hands and feet are not deadly weapons."
Erickson says, "In the hands of a former boxer, even the smallest item can be deadly."
Judge McDaniel gives me a thoughtful look and says, "There is some authority to support Mr. Erickson's position under current California law. If I hit you with my gavel, it would hurt, but it's unlikely that I could inflict serious damage. Given your client's size and strength, the same cannot be said for him."
True enough. I hope she isn't going to put her theory to a test by handing her gavel to the Terminator. I start to weave. "Your Honor," I say, "the cases have construed certain items, such as guns, knives, chains and tire irons, as inherently deadly. Other objects must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the circumstances of their use and the size and strength of the person holding them."
She isn't buying it. "Your client is a trained fighter who weighs over three hundred pounds. What's your point?"
"Other factors should be taken into consideration."
"There's a reason he's no longer boxing."
"And that would be?"
"He wasn't very good at it."
"Objection, Your Honor," Erickson says. "Relevance."
I show a patient smile. "Your Honor," I say, "Mr. Erickson's position turns on the issue of whether a chicken became a deadly weapon in my client's hands." I turn to the Terminator and say, "Would you please tell the judge your record as a boxer?"
He gives her a sheepish look and says, "Zero and four."
I feign incredulity. "Really? You fought only four times and you never won a fight?"
His high-pitched voice is childlike when he says, "That's correct."
"Did you ever manage to knock anybody down?"
"No. I have soft hands."
"What does that mean?"
From Final Verdict by Sheldon Siegel, copyright © 2003 Sheldon Siegel, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
The Steady Running of the Hour
"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.