Waiting for Cary Grant

Free Waiting for Cary Grant by Mary Matthews

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Authors: Mary Matthews
accident.” Donna Mosscato interjected.
    “Ms. Mosscato,” Judge Franklin sighed with the exasperation of a kindergarten teacher unable to reach a child with obvious intelligence limitations, “The issue isn’t what you believe. It’s what plaintiff is willing to accept in a case of catastrophic tragedy, all of which, if Mr. Michaels is to be believed, could have been prevented if Safety Tire had simply recalled a product that it knew to be inherently dangerous. How do you think your corporate suits are going to look alongside a little girl?”
    “It’s not our fault,” Donna said. Judge Franklin stared out the window.
    “Have you received anything from the truck driver?” Judge Franklin asked.
    “The limits of his insurance policy, your Honor. He doesn’t have any penetrable assets. His income goes to child support and alimony,” he said.
    “Mr Michaels, as I heard you say in one of your seminars a few years ago, ‘anything can happen in the courtroom, and the best lawyers know that even in the best of cases, they have only an eighty percent chance of winning.”‘
    “When a family dies, because a company wants to save a few bucks, I’ll take that eighty percent chance,” Harlan said.
    “Well, is that going to be your attitude, Mr. Michaels?” Judge Franklin asked.
    “Yes. It is your Honor.”
    Judge Franklin looked at Stephanie next. He leaned towards her, to increase the intimidation effect. “With early intervention, cases stop polluting the Court’s calendar. That didn’t happen here. You should have settled with Mr. Michaels months ago. I am offended by your case’s presence on my calendar, Ms. St. Claire. Now, that being said, think again, and then tell me, what are you prepared to offer today?”
    Stephanie tried to swallow down the shame. “I don’t have anything to offer today.”
    “I beg your pardon, counsel?”
    Stephanie shrunk under Judge Franklin’s glare. She couldn’t look at Harlan. Ever again.
    “Ms. St. Claire, this is called a mandatory settlement conference. I can see that you’re a baby lawyer, and maybe no one has told you this yet, but the purpose of mandatory settlement conferences is to settle cases, and that typically involves the lawyers and parties making offers to settle. Otherwise, we wouldn’t waste everyone’s time having them. I’ll give you another tip. Don’t antagonize the court. Some fairly bright new lawyers realize that as a matter of common sense. But that doesn’t seem to have happened with you.”
    The obsequious sheriff laughed.
    Stephanie’s cheeks were burning. She couldn’t look at Harlan. He would hate her now.
    “Your Honor, I don’t think Ms. St. Claire is the problem here.”
    “Excuse me, Mr. Michaels?” Judge Franklin glared at the one with the audacity to speak.
    “Apparently, the problem is with Safety Tire and Mr. Seams. It’s not Ms. St. Claire. I think Ms. St. Claire is just here as a pinch hitter for Mr. Seams. He’s the primary lawyer on the case.”
    “Then why the hell isn’t he here?! Get him on the phone! Ms. St. Claire, the primary lawyer, the TRIAL LAWYER needs to appear at the mandatory settlement conference. It’s not professional for anyone else to appear.”
    “Your Honor, Ms. St. Claire is always professional. She’s an exemplary member of the Bar.”
    “Thank you, Mr. Michaels.”
    “Thank you, Harlan.” She whispered.
    He simply nodded. She’d been told that he was the fiercest, nastiest opponent she’d ever meet. And that was from his friends. Even his friends said that everyone has their Harlan tolerance. And yet he insisted on being nice to her. In the ugly and brutal world of litigation, Harlan Michaels was the only kind voice she heard.
    “Your Honor, I’m requesting an immediate trial date.” Harlan said.
    “You’ll get it.” Judge Franklin replied.
    Harlan winked at Kathy as they walked out of the Courthouse.
    “Kathy, I’m sorry. Things may have sounded a little rough in there.

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