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Stand Off...Part Three...Court
When Ruby Kay arrived at the courthouse, she was surprised at how many people were gathered outside the building. Being such a small town and also a popular retirement area, she was not however surprised by the amount of senior or elderly that were among the crowd. Many of them were quite a bit older than she was but still quite competant in their own right so her competancy hearing was a cause of personal interest. Many of the crowd were people who had grown up in the small town while others were new residents of just a few years. The size of the milling crowd also told Ruby Kay that the small courtroom was crowded to the legal capacity and she could almost bet that over half of them were her cousins of which she had never really met.
She parked the Jeep in the spot designated for "Defendant" and as she got out she noted that the other two cars that were the rest of her defense team were not there yet. She had been warned that the "family" had hired a "Cracker Jack" lawyer or in that parts of Tennessee, he was called that which meant he was a very good and expensive lawyer. His fee must have been exorbiant but probably reasonable when divided among all of her adversaries. She chuckled to herself as she exited the Jeep because her lawyer was also "Cracker Jack" but not that many people knew it. She walked straight through the crowd with her back ram rod straight and her head high. She would occasionally nod when someone she knew spoke to her but for the most part, she kept a bland expression on her face. Da had always said "Never let the enemy know what you are thinking."
She did not make a dramatic entry as there was still a half hour or more to go before the hearing was due to start. She carried her small knitting bag full of important papers and placed it on the right hand side table where she knew that defendant was suppose to sit. There was no one else at the table but that did not concern her. It did bother that all of her older first cousin's family had filled out the left side of the courtroom while her side seemed to be very little except for what onlookers that had managed to grab a seat in the back. Her first cousin was deceased but his greedy widow and their brood of kids (all grown) with broods of their own were there.
Da had been one of two brothers, the oldest one, from Ruby Kay's grandparents. When they had passed on, Da had inherited the Dome. As with all the others before him, her uncle was giving a decent settlement and he moved away as had the others before him. Both brothers married but produced only one child each. Da and Mama had her and her uncle and aunt had Daniel, Ruby Kay's single first cousin. Daniel had passed a couple of years before of cancer. Ruby Kay believed that it would have never gotten to this point if Daniel was alive because his father had invested his money well and Daniel had been left well off. It was mostly gone now since Daniel had passed and his widow, Marigold had gone through the inheritance pretty quickly. Thus their interest in the Dome and the generous offer for the right to mine part of the mountain.
The little town was still small enough that it did not stand on a great deal of ceremony. When the Honorable Judge James Hatten took his bench, the court bailiff demanded the whole court to rise but once Judge Hatten was seated everyone else was allowed to be seated. When the judge realized that Ruby Kay was alone at her table, he ask of her.
"Ruby, where is your lawyer. Surely you don't intend to defend yourself?"
Ruby Kay smiled back at the judge and answered.
"He is just a bit late, Jimmy, but he will be here."
Suddenly, there was a loud noise from the plantiff's table. "I object!"
Judge Hatten turned to face the plantiff's lawyer and staring at him over his glasses, he ask the attorney. "You object to what?"
The well-dressed city lawyer stood up and stated loudly for everyone to hear.
"You and the defendant are on a first name basis, Your Honor. And you are giving her legal adivce. Perhaps you should recluse yourself as it may be a case of unintentional bias."
Jimmy Hatten's eyes narrowed even more as he retorted.
"Counselor, if you were from around here, then you would know my reputation of being one of the toughest and most unbiased judges in this county. Ms. Mcleod and I simply grew up together but that will have nothing to my impartiality and fairness of decision. I suggest you sit down and save your objections for when they are really warranted or perhaps you would like to be in contempt of court?"
The plantiff lawyer sat down and said nothing more.
The heavy silence was broken by the court doors being open and an elderly man stepped through them and down the aisle to take his place beside Ruby Kay. It was the mysterious Proffessor that so many had heard of but never seen. They also did not know that he was Rory Harkins, the famous Smokey Mountain Lawyer, that had prosecuted some of Tennessee's worst offenders. His legal record of more convictions still had yet to be broken.
The judge also nodded to the Proffessor and said "You know I don't like tardiness, Rory or rather Mr. Harkins afore I am accussed of being too friendly with you."
Rory Harkins smiled and said quietly with a slight smirk. "My old bones don't move as well as they once did. I apologize to the court, Your Honor."
At the sound of Rory Harkins' name, the plantiff lawyer's face turned ashen and he took in a deep breath. There was suddenly a sense in the air that there was still much to come.
(to be continued)