Monday, January 28, 2008

Chapter 1: Part 3

“Counsel,” Farnsworth warned, “none of that. Now how do you respond?”

My apology, Your Honor, and to you, too, Kyle,” she said, her expression flat and insincere. She stood, walked toward the bench and assumed a pose in the middle of the floor. Her suit was hand-tailored, as were most of her clothes, to look appropriately conservative and yet hint at the shapely body it clung to. “I meant to say that this is a clear and simple case. My client properly applied for the rezoning permit, he lawfully obtained the necessary approval, and as directed in the rezoning decision, he will replace the trees that are to be removed with new plantings elsewhere on the property. Furthermore, he intends to add other landscaping elements that will leave the neighborhood more beautiful than it has ever been. My client fully intends to minimize disruption and make Liberty Park a better place to live for the current residents, as well as those who will eventually purchase his new condominiums.”

Kyle drummed his fingers on the table and felt a twitch starting under his eye. He reached under his jacket and rubbed his chest where the pain had been even though it was now passed; it was a habit he had had for some time. He faced Allison. “If your client is so well intended, you might think he would have accepted at least one of our invitations to meet with the homeowners.”

Emma nodded in agreement and her neighbors’ chorus of approval could be heard rising in the background.

Farnsworth rapped his gavel hard and Emma jumped in her chair.

“Your Honor,” Kyle continued, “the former school site is the only public green space in the neighborhood. The trees are integral to what makes Liberty Park beautiful, and it is beautiful right now,” he said looking at the developer once more. “The trees represent the childhood history of these taxpayers; they play with their grandchildren and great grandchildren under those trees. Your Honor, it is our position that the zoning variance was awarded in error; it clearly violates the language of the Ordinance. We respectfully request that you give a permanent order today that enforces the letter and intent of the Ordinance.”

“I’ll review both the Ordinance and the rezoning decision in question, and I’ll hear your arguments,” Farnsworth said, looking first at his watch and then his calendar, “next Tuesday morning, ten o’clock. In the meantime, the temporary injunction stands. No action is to be taken with respect to altering the land and trees in question. And that includes painting any additional red X’s.” He hit his gavel on the bench again and motioned for the bailiff to clear the courtroom.

Kyle rocked in his shoes as a prickly sensation crept up his back. He felt like he might topple over and land facedown on the floor. “Your Honor, the Ordinance expressly states….”

“I said Tuesday, Counsel. Now don’t anger me.”

“If I may, sir….”

Farnsworth brought his gavel down hard. It echoed like a gunshot. This time even Kyle jumped. He pressed no further.

Kyle looked at Allison, who grinned at him like a spoiled princess who had once again gotten her way. “Let’s go, Emma,” he finally said as he reached to pull his client’s chair away from the table. “I’m afraid we’re finished here for now.”

“Does he mean we get to keep our trees?”

“For a few more days, at the least.”

“A few days? That’s all?”

“We’ll know more on Tuesday.

“You can talk him into longer, can’t you?”

“I intend to, Emma.”

“Well that was fun,” Allison said, closing in on Kyle with her client close at her side. “Much better than when in your days working with legal aid, don’t you think?”

“No cause for celebration, Allison. The Ordinance was written to prevent circumstances such as this.”

“I like how you promised to be aggressive.”

“What are you doing here? I was expecting Goldberg.”

“It was a last minute change, that’s all. Don’t let it upset you, Kyle.”

He wanted to charge, to get in her face, but restrained himself. The floor seemed to be moving up toward him; he locked his knees. He reached for his briefcase and then looked back at Allison. “See you Tuesday; come prepared.”

“You never stood up to me before, Kyle. I like it, I think it’s sexy. Too bad you didn’t try it sooner.”

“You still think every man wants you, I see.”

Allison, unaffected, nodded and walked away, followed by her client, who kept looking over his shoulder and grinning like an idiot at Kyle.

“You know her?” Emma asked.

“We’ve had words before,” Kyle said as watched his opponent leave the courtroom. He then guided Emma outside into the hall where the neighbors stood together, waiting patiently for them. Kyle explained the proceedings and reminded them the tree ordinance was a relatively new law; it had not yet been tested in court.

After a few questions the small crowd broke up, leaving Kyle and Emma standing in the nearly empty halls of the courthouse. He turned to face his client.

“I let you down today, Emma.” He unbuttoned his collar and loosened his tie even more. “I should’ve spoken up more but I didn’t. It won’t happen again.”

“You tried to, I heard you.” She patted his arm and smiled. “You’re a good lawyer, I know, ‘cause we prayed and then the Lord sent you to us. Now if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate you showing me to the bus stop.”

“I brought you here, Emma, and I will take you home.”

“I don’t want to be no trouble for you.”

“It’s no trouble.” He took her by the arm and slowly led her down the hall toward an exit.

“You didn’t let me down today, Mr. Griffin, you did just fine. I especially liked the way you told the judge how rude that man was, ignoring us like he did.”

Kyle tried to grin but managed only to clench his teeth, remembering when he tripped and fell running after Allison.

No comments: