believed himself to be morally and intellectually superior to others in every way. Now he just looked like a crotchety old man.
Glass sat down and surveyed the courtroom. When his gaze landed on me, he stared at me through his tinted glasses, a look of disgust on his face.
“I thought you went to work for the district attorney,” he snarled.
“I did,” I said without standing.
“Then what are you doing at the defense table?”
“Representing my client.”
“Is the sheriff your client?”
“My clients are the people of Tennessee,” I said, feeling a bit silly at the pomposity of my own words, “and it looks like several of them have shown up today.”
A murmur went up behind me, and Glass raised his gavel. “I don’t know what all you people think you’re doing here,” he bellowed, “but if I hear a peep out of any of you I’ll have you removed from the courtroom immediately. I’m not going to allow myself to be intimidated by a mob.”
“Stop acting like a jerk!” a voice called from the back of the courtroom. The remark was followed by a loud cheer and a round of applause.
“Order!” Glass yelled as the gavel banged. “Order or I’ll clear this courtroom! Bailiffs! I’m ordering you to arrest the next person who opens his mouth!
“Call the case,” Glass barked at his clerk.
The clerk called the case of The State of Tennessee v. Leon Bates.
“Let the record show that Mr. Bates has been summoned here to answer to a charge of contempt filed by this court,” Glass said. “The court is present, the clerk is present, the prosecutor and the defendant are both present. Mr. Bates, since you don’t have an attorney, I assume you’re representing yourself.”
I stood and cleared my throat, more than a little nervous. I knew I was right, but taking on a man as powerful as a criminal court judge was always an uncomfortable experience.
“Mr. Bates doesn’t need an attorney,” I said.
“Oh, really?” Glass sneered. “And why is that?”
“Because the district attorney’s office refuses to prosecute him.”
Glass’s mouth dropped open and his complexion darkened immediately. He leaned forward on his elbows, his lips almost touching his microphone.
“Did I just hear you correctly, Mr. Dillard? Did I just hear you say that the district attorney is refusing to prosecute this case?”
“The charge has no basis in law or fact, Judge. You can’t convict an elected official of contempt of court because he refused to appear when you called him on the telephone. You could have recessed the hearing and subpoenaed him, you could have sent someone over to the sheriff’s department to get a copy of the manual, or you could have recessed court and held the hearing at a time that was convenient for Sheriff Bates. But you have neither the jurisdiction nor the authority to simply call an elected sheriff on the phone and demand that he appear in court, and you certainly don’t have the authority to charge him with a crime when he doesn’t.”
The courtroom was absolutely still, the tension palpable. I was sure that Glass had never encountered a prosecutor who wouldn’t do exactly as he ordered, and I had a pretty good idea of how he would react. I braced for the threat and told myself to hold his stare and just keep breathing steadily.
“What I can do is hold you in contempt of court in the presence of the court and deal with it summarily,” Glass said. His lips were barely moving, his tone full of anger and hatred. “I can fine you or send you off to jail, and I fully intend to if you don’t do your job and prosecute this case.”
“Go ahead, Judge,” I said. “The first thing I’ll do is file a complaint with the court of the judiciary and seek to have you suspended or removed from office. The second thing I’ll do is sue you, and after that, I’ll humiliate you in front of the court of appeals.”
I held my breath, waiting for the explosion. Glass was infamous for his temper
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