“Come on, Dave,” Michael crooned into the phone, “there has to be a way for us to plea this thing. You and I both know...” His train of thought was momentarily derailed as his door opened and Maggie entered his office. Dammit, I told Karen I was on the phone.
The expression on Maggie’s face changed his attitude immediately. She was pale and wild-eyed, gripping her leather folio as though it were a lifeline and she was in danger of drowning in a storm-tossed sea. He frowned. “Look, Dave, I’ll have to call you back.”
Replacing the phone, he crossed to her. “What’s up, Mags?”
She blinked a couple of times and licked her lips anxiously. “I...well it’s just...”
“Come on, sit down,” he said, guiding her to the black leather couch. He sat in a matching chair at an angle to her. “What’s going on?” he asked softly.
Maggie put down her folio on the coffee table in front of the couch, then clutched her hands together. “I was putting away books and I overheard some people talking.” She related the whole conversation, word for word.
Michael gazed beyond Maggie and out the window as he absently chewed the end of his thumb, listening without interruption.
When she finished, he still didn’t say anything. “I...I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean, I didn’t want to run and tattle. But they’re deliberately sabotaging you, your cases, your clients. And they tried to blame me, say that I was incompetent.” She wrung her hands restlessly.
Michael met her eyes and smiled kindly. “You did the right thing.” He lightly drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. “In all honesty, I’ve gotten a little lazy, letting other people do my research for me.” He sighed. “I need to up my game, I suppose.”
“But what are you going to do?” she asked urgently. “You know I’ve never really gotten along with Ellen. But Michael, there was a moment I didn’t even recognize John. I’m talking crazy eyes!” She shook her head. “He scared me.”
Michael placed his hand over hers. “I don’t want you to worry. I’ll take care of it. Keep putting my files directly in here. And keep acting like everything is the same. I’m going to give them a little more rope,” he said cryptically.
That weekend, Michael had his private investigator, Sam Mainor, meet him at the office. Together they outlined the placement of security cameras with audio capability in the reception area including Karen’s desk, the library, and the conference table of Michael’s office.
By Monday morning, Michael had a live feed on a small laptop computer. He could view any camera he chose or he could have a split screen of all eight at once. A six terabyte storage drive ensured that everything would be recorded. And no one was any the wiser.
Over the first couple of weeks in November, Michael was disappointed to catch nothing useful on the security cameras. Occasionally he watched as Maggie shelved books in the library. If she spent very long in there, she’d have music and inevitably she’d sing along. He smiled recalling the day of the Ramones t-shirt.
They were supposed to have been in court but the Phillips trial was delayed due to complications with the prosecution, a fact that didn’t bother Michael. If they were scrambling, all the better for his client.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving they received word that the trial would begin the week after the holiday. Tired of waiting for something to happen on video, Michael decided to force the issue a bit.
“Say, John,” he said, popping his head into Hemphill’s office, “I’m really behind on some things. Could you take a look at this deposition for the Phillips case, maybe highlight the vital parts for me, how it is connected to Devozki escort ads directory?”
John gave his best collegial smile. “Sure, Michael, I’d be glad to look it over, no problem.”
“Thanks, bro,” he grinned, “you’re a lifesaver.”
Later in the day, Michael stopped by Maggie’s office, a manila folder in his hand. “Howdy Mags, how’s it going?”
She smiled at him. “Great, boss, how are you?”
He sank into a chair beside her desk. “I’m peachy. What are your holiday plans?”
She slid back her chair to face him. “I’m headed to Rhode Island tomorrow night. Ben and I are going to our friend Casey’s. She and her fiancé just bought a house so they’re having everyone up for Thanksgiving. How about you?”
“Just a quick trip to the Bahamas,” he said. “Have you been there?”
Maggie rolled her eyes. “I’ve never been anywhere outside of the continental US. My dad was going to take me to Florence for my college graduation. We were going to check out the architecture.” A sad look crossed her face. “Well, anyway, that didn’t happen.”
He smiled at her with his eyes. “You should go,” he said quietly.
She laughed. “Yes, Michael, I’ll get right on that.”
He placed the folder on her desk. “Could you go over this deposition for me, outline the vital parts for me? It’s for the Phillips case next week.”
“Of course, glad to,” she answered.
“Thanks! We’ll get together in my office tomorrow sometime after the morning meeting.” He left, having given her the same deposition he’d given John.
The following day, Michael called together the team working on the Phillips case. Maggie, John, and Ellen met at the conference table in his office. Joining them was Stan Hodges. “I wanted fresh eyes to look over everything,” Michael explained as he welcomed Stan. They spent a good hour and a half going over witnesses and the order in which they would be called, evidence that would be introduced, and predicting the prosecution’s strategies.
“Now, John looked over some documents for me. What did you find?” Michael asked.
John slid him the folder. “I eliminated a lot of unnecessary stuff, Michael.” He glanced at Maggie. “Sometimes it’s hard to determine what’s really important. With a little experience, you learn to weed out the extraneous, focus on the vital.”
Michael flipped through the folder which was considerably thinner than when he’d given it to John the day before. He looked up at Maggie and saw her lips pressed together, a pink flush creeping up her neck. “Maggie works hard to be thorough. She’s coming along nicely.” He put down John’s folder. “Mags, how about that file you checked over?”
Maggie handed him her folder without a word. He could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. Hang on, Mags. It’ll all be worth it. Her file was about three times as thick as the one John had given him. He flipped through the first several pages. “This looks pretty in-depth,” he commented.
Maggie couldn’t hold her tongue any longer. “You’ll see I’ve highlighted the things that are absolutely vital,” she shot John a look, “and I’ve also cross-referenced testimony that is corroborated by other witnesses. I’ve included the transcripts of those interviews as well.”
“So to be clear, you didn’t remove anything from this file?” Michael asked.
“No, it’s all important. Like I said, the most vital parts are highlighted, but it’s all necessary. I also think that you help the jury follow the chain of events by connecting the dots. That’s why I added the corroborating testimony.”
Michael gave her his pleased smile. “Good work, Mags.” He looked to John. “And you’re confident in what you gave me, the parts you left out?”
John nodded sagely. “Absolutely.”
Michael leaned back in his chair and looked thoughtful. “You see, here’s the thing. John and Maggie both reviewed the same deposition.” He paused to let that thought sink in, satisfied with the shocked looks on the faces of everyone at the table.
Ellen was the first to begin sputtering. “What the...what’s going on here? Is John’s professionalism being called into question here, because that’s completely unacceptable!” She stood and pointed at Maggie. “ is...person...you’ve brought in here has done nothing but cause trouble from the moment she got here.”
Michael rested his elbows on the arms of his chair, fingers steepled in front of him and he looked slightly amused. “John, are you going to let Ellen fight your battles for you?”
John’s mouth fell open as he looked from Ellen to Maggie to Michael. The tension in the room was palpable. “Fight my...” A fiery glare spread across his face. “What exactly are you saying, Michael?”
“What I’m saying is that a recent law school grad who’s been with the rm for six months completely kicked your ass on this thing, so either A, you tanked it on purpose, or B, you’re not very good at your job.”
John’s mouth soundlessly opened and closed. Ellen jumped in. “You’d better watch yourself,” she said to Michael.
Michael continued to look amused. “I’ll take that under advisement. Now,” he looked around the table, “it’s just about time for lunch.”
Maggie rose from her seat, grateful to have a task that would take her out of this meeting. “Don’t worry, Mags. John is getting lunch today.”
Maggie froze where she was and glanced at John, who looked apoplectic. “What do you mean, I’m getting lunch today?” he demanded.
“I mean, you’re getting everyone’s order today and calling it in, then distributing it when it’s delivered.” He fixed John with an intense icy stare.
John stood, his face pure rage. “If you think for one second...”
“I don’t mind,” Maggie said so ly, hoping to defuse the situation.
“Sit down, Maggie,” Michael ordered, never taking his eyes off of John.
Maggie meekly slid back into her chair.
John continued to try to stare down Michael for a moment before knocking over his chair and storming out of the room. Ellen quickly followed him. The rest of the table sat in stunned silence.
“Well, that was fun,” Stan quipped.