Scene 1 - Instant Famous
-Please play the music while reading the story-
(Thomas's narration begins)
“Yeap! That was me. A broken man they said. The last of the Mohicans. It’s strange how time flies. It’s been 15 years of my life as a lawyer. My last 2 years as a criminal lawyer before I quitted was memorable. My heart reputed with a high blood pressure had been beating at 180/100 ever since and now it’s plain 130/90 and doctor said it’s normal now since I am no longer having my private practice in New York. Guess I probably had died 5 years ago when I lost my right to be a lawyer. Maybe I am just a walking dead man now if not for Jennifer. She’s the reason that I am still alive today. When there is no hope, she is the hope. And Jennifer, thank you for not giving up on me.
Yeap! That was me a broken man that you saw again. But did I tell you before, that 7 years ago yeah that 7 years ago, I was the man of the world. I have no doubts and no fear. Having being an attorney who only dealt with agreements and documents made me felt that my forte was somewhere else. It was that one case that I did. A so called traffic offence case of my old friend that changed my life that day. I remember it was that day when my focus and outlook about the law changed and my ambition got all so fired up because of one thing that came to my mind and one thing only. It was justice. Not only I tasted the aura of fighting for someone’s right for justice, it somehow made me famous instantly. Well not to the world yet at that time but at least to all the press and media and that’s what I got without even knowing how important they are to me for my career. Yeap! That was the day. The incredible turning point of my life all right. That day, the wings of justice came to my heart when I found the statue of liberty buried in it forever.”
(Thomas's narration ends)
(It was at the High Court in New York where Judge Morrison C. Scott was presiding and Thomas’s case was about to be called up. It was a traffic offence case involving his old friend called Lisa Kokinsky who was issued with a traffic summon for jaywalking instead of using an overhead bridge to cross a busy road in New York during one hot afternoon lunch hour. Well what seemed to be a perfectly normal traffic offence case turned up to be a civil right abuse case that morning.
Suddenly Lisa was whispering to Thomas while waiting for her case to be called up. She noticed a group of reporters entered the Court sitting at the public gallery behind her and watching her. Lisa felt rather anxious and extremely uncomfortable when all eyes were watching her.)
Lisa: Thomas! (loud whisper)
Thomas: Yes! Lisa! (soft whisper)
Lisa: Thomas! I think I am going to plead guilty. I have decided to change my mind.
Thomas: What! Now? Your case will be called up soon. Why the change? I thought you wanted to fight your case. Fight all the way as we discussed yesterday.
(Yesterday at 7.00 pm where Lisa was consulting Thomas at his legal office.)
Thomas: Lisa I think you are looking for a wrong attorney. I don’t go to Court. My practice is limited to doing documents and agreements. You need an experienced attorney for your case.
Lisa: Tom! You know I can’t afford an attorney who goes to Court. Can’t you just help me just this once?
Thomas: But Lisa…
Lisa: Are you an attorney? Can..can you attend Court?
Thomas: Yes I can but…
Lisa: Tom! I need you to fight for me okay. I got no one to turn to. Just you.
Lisa: Look! You are an attorney and I know I have a constituting right to say things. I need to hire a lawyer to tell the Judge and fight for a victim like me.
Thomas: It’s constitutional not constituting.
Lisa: What ever shit! The point is Thomas after all these years of going to law school and finally becoming a lawyer like the way you dream of “LA LAW” and now you can’t even use your qualification to help an old friend like me huh?
Thomas: (Sighed)… Alright! You made your point! ….(sighed)….Okay I will help you.
Lisa: Yes! Yes! Thanks Thomas! I know it. I know you will help me again after so long! You know what! Thomas! That bullshit officer! I am going to sue him and sue the entire Road Transport Department. Hell! I going to sue the US Government for crying out loud.
Thomas: Calm done Lisa. Now! You said the officer only issued you a jaywalking summon and not your colleague. Was your colleague walking with you?
Lisa: Yeah! She was. I can call her to become my witness.
Thomas: Okay! Did the officer explain why he issue summon to you and not your colleague?
Lisa: He said that I shouted at him and said obscenities to him.
Thomas: Well! Did you say obscenities to him?
Lisa: No! Well! A little. What’s wrong with that? I was just exercising my freedom of speech. In fact we were actually walking away when I said that?
Thomas: Wait!.....wait!.. First tell me what you said?
Lisa: Well! Ummmm….
Thomas: Lisa, if you really want me to help you, you got to tell me.
Lisa: Okay! Alright! I said …..I said.. uhhh….Fucking cop and screwed his mother fucking mother jack ass mother fucked up cop.
Lisa: That’s what I said.
Thomas: Did you shout?
Lisa: No! I didn’t. I was just saying loud. I wasn’t even facing him when I said it.
Thomas: What you mean?
Lisa: I was already walking away from him. I was facing another direction away from him already.
Thomas: You mean you uttered those words when you were actually away from him and the reason he decided to issue the summon to you is because he heard you saying obscenities and not because you jaywalked.
Lisa: Well! That’s pretty it.
Thomas: Lisa! Listen. My advice is why not just settle the summon? It only cost you 100 dollars. You can afford it, don’t you? I mean if you were to drag the case any longer, it will be too costly to litigate it further. The legal fees to do this will be 20 times more than the fine.
Lisa: NO! I want to fight. It’s my right! It is not the money issue, Thomas! I want to get this son of the bitch.
(Thomas was silent for awhile as he understood what Lisa really wanted. She wanted justice and not the economy of dollar and cent.)
Lisa: Surely there must be a law that can protect me from this asshole.
Thomas: Yes there is. So by fighting your case, you are proving your point that a citizen of America deserves to be treated fairly and equally. By not issuing a traffic summon to your colleague is inequality when both of you had committed a similar offence.
(Thomas was rubbing his chin as he was thinking of other possible relevant issue in Lisa’s case.)
Thomas: The second point is that by issuing you a Summon because you uttered obscenities, which mean after the jaywalking offence had been committed and over, will be tantamount to curtailing your freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America. Your first amendment had been violated…..Mmmmmm….
I think you got a case, Lisa.
Lisa: That’s right. That’s what I want to hear from you Thomas. That’s what I want from you. ….See you are a damn good lawyer.
Thomas: Alright Lisa. Alright….. You have just raised a constitutional point in your case which is freedom of speech.
Lisa: Consti….constituting what?
Thomas: (chuckled)… Constitutional point!
Lisa: What ever the shit law is…
(That night, Thomas was so amazed to witness his old friend’s fighting spirit. It was the first time, he finally understood why making a wrong thing to a right thing is so important to an individual. It was not because of self-satisfaction, it was bigger. It was to make things right when it is wronged by someone from a government executive level. Not just to uphold the law but also to follow the law and abide the law. From there, Thomas began to feel what was the true meaning to believing and practicing freedom of speech when it was curtailed in Lisa’s case. She was only exercising her freedom of speech enshrined in the US Constitution. Without it, there will be no rule of law. Without rule of law, there will be no justice. When there is no justice, there is no peace in a nation.)
(Next day, at 8.00 am at New York High Court before the Court commences, Thomas was walking along a path way to the Courts and he met the Prosecutor, Lewis Myford Charles, who will be prosecuting Lisa in Court that morning. Lewis was one of the most corrupted and cocky prosecutor in New York that any lawyers ever know. When go to trial, no defence lawyer would like to be his opponent due to his vicious prosecution mind when appearing in Court.)
Lewis: Morning Thomas! I didn’t know you go to Court. I thought you usually work in your office. You know working in office will get you nowhere. No one will know where you are and especially who you are. See for me. I have targeted myself to handle at least 100 cases per month with at least 5 full criminal trials to break my previous record and the press just loves me. Don’t you think so? Like I say, if you want to be famous you need to go to Court, buddy!
(Lewis walked passed Thomas before finishing his last sentence. Acting rather extremely cocky that morning. Then a reporter by the name of Roger Saviggio, saw Thomas talking to Lewis and thought Thomas might have a major murder case for him to report as head line news, so he approached Thomas.)
Roger: Sir, do you have a murder case today? May I know your name sir?
Thomas: Actually no, mine is just a traffic offence case and my name is…
(Before Thomas could finish his reply, Roger turned away approaching another criminal lawyer in the Court. Roger became disinterested with Thomas’s case because his was only a trivial traffic offence case. No newspaper would like to report such cases as headlines. It’s bad for sales and ratings. Feeling disappointed after having overrun by the cocky prosecutor in the morning and now the reporter shying away from him, Thomas decided to take matters into his own hands. As Roger was moving away from him, Thomas exclaimed loudly.)
Thomas: My name is Thomas Merrison and I am defending a case based on an issue of an officer abusing his power. Injustice has been caused to my client and ..and… our constitutional right for freedom of speech was violated..
(Suddenly Roger turned back and approached Thomas and seemed rather interested. This attracted another reporter and gradually more and more reporters seemed to come over to Thomas and interviewed him. Seeing so many reporters suddenly crowded within him, Thomas felt he has to finish what he started by speaking like a politician. An ugly and angry politician.)
Thomas: Today! THIS IS A DAY WHERE JUSTICE IS DEAD!. No longer could we have equality in our lives when we see an officer who was supposed to protect us abuse his power and abuse us…I mean abuse our civil rights. NO WAY! TODAY WE WILL VOICE OUT! WE WILL TELL THE COURT ABOUT THIS INJUSTICE! …BECAUSE TODAY! A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY!
(* mimicking President Franklin Roosevelt famous Pearl Harbour speech … a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.*)
(Thomas’s sudden rhetoric and political speech raised eye brows from all the reporters that morning. Then Lisa’s case was adjourned till the afternoon. At 2.30 pm when the Court opened its door again for the public after the lunch hour, a team of about 80 reporters came in and filled up the entire public gallery. The earlier reporters in the morning probably had tipped reporters from other press and media to attend Court to watch Lisa’s case because it was a human rights violation case and a day when they all felt in infamy following what Thomas had indicated in the morning. This sudden surge of reporters caused great tension in Court. The public, the court clerks, the Judge, the Prosecutor and especially Lisa were so surprised to see the huge number of reporters turning up for such a minor and trivial traffic offence case. It looked like as if there will be a high end murder trial in the Court. Even Thomas was surprised himself thinking “what time bomb he had just created for the Court to blow up”.)
Lewis: It seems the press and media coming here for me. See I am so famous and they are even here when it is only a normal traffic offence case. So your client pleading guilty? I can agree to a reduction of fine if you request from the Court later since I am in the good mood today!
Thomas: No! Sorry Lewis. My client is pleading not guilty and will fight all the way.
Lewis: What ! Are you out of your mind? For what? For a 100 dollar fine. You got to be kidding me!
Thomas: Sorry, This is my client’s instruction. It’s her right under the constitution.
Lewis: Constitution! My ass! You know your client committed the offence of jaywalking so what is there to fight? We got all the witnesses. Are you blind or something?
Thomas: Well! This is why you are not a defence attorney, Lewis!
Lewis: God damned it! I am gonna miss my golf session in the afternoon! It’s your client’s funeral then. The Judge might increase the fine if I can prove malicious intent. You know it, right?
Thomas: Yes! And she will fight still and more!
(This silenced the Prosecutor, Lewis, as Thomas had just spoiled his plan of going back early to play golf that day thinking it was just a “normal plead guilty and pay fine” case that didn’t happen. So Lewis turned his attention towards his file and study it. Looking vicious as if he was going to get Lisa for her stubbornness and stupidity in fighting over a losing case.)
(Back to the High Court when Lisa’s case was about to be called as the next case.)
Lisa: Thomas look around you. There are so many press and media in the Court room. I am just too scared and I do not want my case to be publicized. It will be embarrassing to me.
Thomas: Embarrassing? How come you say it is embarrassing when you are fighting for your right as a citizen of the United States?
Lisa: Sorry Tom! I got to work and I don’t want to lose my job over this. My boss will kill me if he reads it in the newspaper tomorrow. You got no idea what it will be like tomorrow. Just say to the Judge I am pleading guilty okay?
(The case was called and Lisa pleaded guilty despite Thomas’s advice and Thomas mitigated for her and requested the Judge to reduce the fine but the Judge disagreed. Then the Judge paused for awhile and asked Thomas a question.)
Judge Morrison: Mr. Thomas, with huge appearance of the press and media in my Court today, I actually thought your client wanted to fight her case by not pleading guilty.
Thomas: My Lord. My client had initially wanted to fight but unfortunately due to public pressure and negative publicity that may affect her career, she is worried that this case will cause further embarrassment to her and her job and she has decided to plead guilty and pay the fine after all.
Lewis: Objection, Your Honor! It’s whether you are guilty or not guilty. Is Mr. Thomas mitigating for his client or changing her client’s plea. The issue of embarrassment holds no water in this.
Thomas: My Lord so much as I wanted to fight for my client in this case that would also involve a constitutional issue….
Judge Morrison: Hold on! Mr. Thomas. Do not be confused between what your client wants this morning and the constitutional issue that you are about to raise in this Court. Is your client pleading guilty or not?
Thomas: (sighed)….Yes. Guilty. Your Honor.
Judge Morrison: Then there is nothing to fight in this case. I hereby sentence a maximum fine of 100 dollar against your client in lieu a day’s jail. Save all your rhetoric arguments of whatever constitutional issues you might have in the Supreme Court if at all there is an appeal. As in this Court today, there is nothing to hear when your client pleads quilty.
Thomas: Yes honor. I do understand!
Judge Morrison: Next case!
(Thomas finally understood what Judge Morrison was hinting to him. If a client wants to fight, he has to fight all the way not just to the present High Court but to the Supreme Court and make his fight clear and unambiguous. One must achieve justice all the way and not half way and give up. Next day, all the press newspapers have headlines stating that a corrupted cop abused his power by issuing summon to one offender and not to the other when the same offence was committed by both offenders. The headlines also illustrated disappointment on how the offender didn’t fight for her right for freedom of speech against her lawyer’s advice. As news traveled fast, what turned out to be a normal traffic offence case became a hot news as everyone including other non-government organizations were debating about Lisa’s decision in not exercising her constitutional right as a citizen due to publicity pressure as opposed to a corrupted cop abusing his power in the case. Lisa Kokinsky who thought the press would not be interested to write headlines about her case in Court if she pleaded quilty had more than what she bargained for. An instant celebrity status in the legal faternity and gossip magazines. She was halfway becoming the next "Paris Hilton" kind of news that most gossip magazines and tabloids would love to write about. This became evident when she was expecting to get fired from her employer, she got promoted as her company's new Public Relation Officer. And she never jaywalk ever since.
It gave total satisfaction to Thomas when things turned out well for his client. A week later when Thomas attended the High Court again for a probate matter in one of his normal cases, every lawyer who walked passed him seemed to smile at him including all the court clerks, interpreters and staffs from other Courts. Even the press and media kept asking him what other cases he handled that day. Hoping for another big and interesting phenomenon to appear again like the traffic offence case. The only person who had been dodging Thomas ever since that case was the cocky Prosecutor, Lewis Myford Charles.
Like Lisa Kokinsky, it was from that one particular case onwards, Thomas had got his instant celebrity status as a famous lawyer in New York out of nowhere and from a small and trivial traffic offence case. However, he always remember how he couldn’t fight what was burning in his heart. The will to fight for justice to protect a person’s constitutional right of freedom of speech. The first amendment of the constitution of the United States of America. Finally all these amendments have meant something to him and when he told his personal assistant, Jennifer Paddington, that day, she responded wildly.)
Jennifer: I knew it. I saw it coming. Damn it! You have a new love in your life. I KNEW IT!
Thomas: What? Wh..what are you talking about sweetie? You are my only love!
Jennifer: Don't deny it. I can see it in your eyes and in your heart. YOU HAVE A NEW LOVE!
Thomas: Don't be ridiculous! Who are you referring to?
Jennifer: Who else? It's so blooooooddyyyy obvious?
Jennifer: The Statue of Liberty!
(Thomas and Jennifer laughed their hearts out in the legal office conference room. Their laughter were so loud until the legal clerks and the staffs in the legal office were wondering what came into them that morning. It was the happiest time that Thomas and Jennifer could ever remember in Thomas's private practice as a defence attorney in New York.)