'Wrongful Death' Excerpt: Morality and the Law Collide in New Thriller

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from "Wrongful Death," a new legal thriller written by Big Hollywood contributor Andrew Price.

Nothing about Jeffrey Tashard’s death was what it seemed!

Based on the author’s sixteen years as a litigator, "Wrongful Death" is a contemporary legal thriller about an attorney who finds himself trapped between doing what is right and doing what is allowed as he struggles to learn what really happened to his client. And as Attorney Scott Blakely was about to discover, this extraordinary case might require an extraordinary solution.

Prologue

Doctor Victor Harwell stood outside the glass doors of the Intensive Care/Cardiac Care Unit, wiping sweat from his brow. His hands shook. On the other side of the glass, his patient, Jeffrey Tashard, began thrashing about in his bed. His vitals spiked and the monitor flashed red. Harwell watched two nurses rush to Tashard’s side as he yanked the bed railings so hard he nearly lifted his entire body off the mattress.

Harwell heard himself paged by the nurses: “Doctor Harwell to ICU STAT. Code blue.”

He wiped more sweat from his brow. His mouth went dry.

Tashard jumped again and the nurses struggled to hold him down. Tashard’s heart was ripping itself apart and no one at Warren County Hospital could do anything about it. . . not anymore.“

Code blue. Doctor Harwell to ICC. Code blue.”

Harwell swallowed hard. Without a word, he walked away.

Chapter 1

Scott Blakely’s office was located on the first floor of the old Ferris Steel Building. This reddish-brown, five-story brick building, the tallest in Greenfield, once bustled with hundreds of workers. These days, its sole occupants were the three attorneys who shared the renovated first floor. The four floors above were condemned. Scott’s office, like those of Buddy Waterman and Jack Kwon, stood off the main reception area, where their shared receptionist Sally and Scott’s assistant Karen sat.

Karen, Buddy and Scott sat around the circular table at the back of Scott’s office.They were eating donuts and watching a wedding party gather at the gothic Catholic church across the street, directly outside the window spanning Scott’s office.

“I can’t believe you’re eating another one!” Karen said to Scott. Aside frombeing his assistant, Karen was also Scott’s niece. When Scott first came to Greenfield from New York City, Karen took a semester off from college to help him. That was three years ago and she had yet to return.

“Scott’s vulnerable to baked goods,” Buddy replied in his well-practiced southern drawl. Buddy had the air of a college professor, both in manner and in dress. He always wore bow ties and tweed jackets and he sported a light-brown goatee. Today’s bow tie was red with silver stripes and didn’t match his green tweed jacket or his white sneakers.

“If Scott was Superman, his kryptonite would have jelly filling.”

“Cream,” Scott corrected him. “Speaking of vulnerability, you aren’t exactly displaying a lot of will power yourself, Buddy.”

Scott nodded toward the powdery remains of the three donuts Buddy had already eaten.

“Owing to irreconcilable differences, will power and I have gone our separate ways,” Buddy said with a wink.

“Clearly, you both need healthier diets,” said Karen.

“Part of being a lawyer involves having an unhealthy diet,” Scott countered.

“They train you for it in law school, at least mine did. Besides, a couple donuts never hurt anybody.”

“Never hurt anybody?! Donuts kill people every day! And you’re both going to be forty soon, you need to start taking better care of yourselves. Think about your arteries!”

Buddy laughed. “I’ve never heard of these ‘arteries’ of which you speak. And if donuts do indeed kill, as you claim, I’m sure it’s self-defense.” Buddy took another bite.

“Not to mention, forty ain’t as old as it used to be, young one.”

“Plus, gray is distinguished,” Scott added before running his fingers through his short brown hair, which indeed showed several gray strands.

Karen started to protest, but was interrupted by Jack Kwon appearing at the door. Jack was known to everyone as “Kwon,” except Karen called him “Kwonzo”or “Kwonzo the Maleficent” because he reminded her of an evil version of a Muppet. She also occasionally referred to Buddy as “Fozzie Waterman,” though this wasn’t intended to be insulting. It had more to do with his poor comedic timing, his penchant for bow ties, and the rusting Studebaker he drove. She liked Buddy, most people did.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the master has returned,” said Kwon, slurring his words ever-so-slightly and rushing the last few words of his sentence, as he always did. When Scott first met Kwon, he thought this was a speech impediment because it makes Kwon sound intoxicated and Scott didn’t know Kwon to drink. But Scott soon realized this was an act, designed to give Kwon a memorable accent. Kwon liked to stand out and this was one of his many tricks to get noticed. Indeed, Kwon often acted more like a caricature of a lawyer than an actual lawyer, because that seemed to make his clients happy.

“Whoopee,” Karen said and rolled her eyes. She and Kwon didn’t get along.

“You can add another name to the long list of satisfied clients of the Law Offices of Jack Kwon. Even better, you can add another check to my bank account.” Kwon laughed to himself and smoothed out his ill-fitting metallic-blue suit.

“Is this your wedding case?” Scott asked.

“Wedding case?!” Karen asked.

“No, not the wedding case, but just as delicious,” Kwon said.

“What wedding case?” Karen repeated.

Kwon poked his finger straight up in the air. “A wedding reception battle royal for the ages! My client got pistol whipped by a bridesmaid and a good time was had by all! The problem is everybody claims they saw nothin’.”

“What about the bride and groom? They must be upset this ruined their wedding?”

“‘Ruined’?! Ha! Not these people. Anyway, they claim they left right before it happened, but they’re lying. I know they’re lying because they have a story to fix the exact time they left, and people who have stories to fix exact times are lying.”

“What’s the story?” Karen asked.

Kwon laughed. “Get this. They know exactly when they left because they havean old family tradition of ‘consummating their wedding by midnight,’ so they planned the exact moment of departure from said reception.”

“How romantic,” Scott said sarcastically.

“It’s horrific!” Kwon replied. “She did five years in a women’s prison down state, where she picked up fifty tattoos and two hundred pounds. He’s a ‘recovering’ methhead, who lost most of his teeth and a hundred of the pounds she picked up. They’re the ugliest couple I’ve ever seen. It’s like tattooed Orca meets the scarecrow zombie. Imagining them bumping uglies gives me nightmares. Brrrr,” Kwon wrapped his arms around himself and shuddered.

“Always the humanitarian, aren’t you Kwonzo?” Karen asked sourly.

“There’s nothing human about these two,” Kwon assured her.

“What are you going to do if nobody talks?” Scott asked.

Kwon rubbed his chin. “That’s a good question. This is a tough one.”

“Those are the most fun,” Buddy interjected.

“Screw fun, I just want profitable. I’m thinking I should rent a cop. He can stand there looking all pissed off while I take the depositions. . . maybe even dry click his revolver once in a while. That might shake ’em up!” Kwon tapped his fingers together. “Ooh delicious!”

“Hold on Kwon, that dog don’t chivy,” Buddy said.

Everyone stared at Buddy, with confusion registering on each face.

“I’m looking that up,” Kwon said. “It better not be insulting!”

“Be my guest. But regarding your plan, it won’t work. Having the cop there will be interpreted as threatening them with criminal prosecution. That’s an ethics violation.”

“But that’s the point, to scare them,” Kwon insisted.

“I know that, but it’s still unethical,” Buddy said.

“But it’s effective,” Kwon countered.

Buddy shook his head.

“You could always have the cop pull them over before they get to the deposition, just to verify their registration or something,” Karen suggested. “Then have the cop ask if they know your client. He could say he’s finishing the investigation and needs to talk with them because of things the other witnesses said. That gets the point across, but won’t leave any connection to you.”

Now everyone stared at Karen.

Kwon laughed. “Very diabolical, kiddo! I’m impressed.”

"Hey! Stop corrupting my assistant,” Scott said, pointing at Kwon. Next, he pointed at Karen. “And you, stay away from the dark side of the force.”

“There’s no dark side about it,” Kwon said. “My clients go away happy.”

“Too happy if you ask me,” Karen grumbled.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kwon asked.

Karen threw her hands in the air. “You represent the sleaziest creatures alive and you don’t even care. You know they’re lying thieves. You should be sabotaging their cases, not helping them!”

“Au contraire,” Buddy responded. “Kwon’s clients may indeed be repugnant, but it’s not the attorney’s job to act as judge. The attorney’s job is to represent their clients earnestly and let the judges and juries be the arbiters of right and wrong.”

“Correct!” Kwon agreed. “It is the attorney’s job to profit!”

Buddy ignored him. “To ask attorneys to judge their clients would endanger the attorney-client relationship, destroying the client’s trust and keeping clients from speaking openly and honestly with their attorneys.”

“As if any ever do,” Scott countered.

“Doesn’t matter, the point is no client could feel safe talking to their attorney if they knew their attorney was judging them. That means no one could find out their true legal rights because everyone would be afraid to tell the full truth to their attorneys. If we let attorneys judge their own clients, then your rights literally depend on how sympathetic your attorney is.”

“But what about morality?!” Karen demanded.

“This isn’t about morality, it’s about legal ethics. Those are two separate things.”

“They shouldn’t be.”

“They have to be,” Buddy said. “It’s impossible to represent someone if you’re simultaneously considering the effect of representing them on the other side or the business they’re suing or the town that’s accused them of a crime. If we let attorneys focus on morality, all that becomes part of the mix. That’s why the rules of ethics exist.They exempt attorneys from those kinds of considerations by requiring the attorney tofocus solely on representing their clients to the best of their abilities without regard for personal morality or prejudice.”

“But then you can end up helping bad people,” she protested.

Buddy nodded his head. “Yes, you can. But you have to trust the judges and juries to look at each side’s best arguments and separate right from wrong according to law and morality.”

Karen furrowed her brow. “So you’re saying morality doesn’t matter to lawyers?”

“It can’t. Only the code of professional responsibility can matter.”

“But how can you just ignore morality?”

“Attorneys are hardly unique. The police can’t decide which laws to enforce. Fire departments can’t decide to ignore fires at porn shops or meth houses. They need to act regardless of their personal view of morality. Do you want the postmaster having the power to decide if you’re moral enough to get your mail? It’s the same thing with lawyers. If you open the door to letting lawyers judge their clients, then justice stops being just.”

“I get your point, but—” Karen started, before Buddy cut her off.

“I’m not saying it can’t lead to bad results, but it’s better than the alternatives. And there are limits,” Buddy said. “For example, you can’t let your client lie and you can’t let them perpetrate a fraud on the court.” “But anything else is fair game,” Kwon added, winking at Karen.

“No, Kwon, you know that’s not true,” Buddy chided him. “You have obligations of truthfulness to opposing counsel as well.”

“‘Obligation’? I’m not familiar with that term,” Kwon said.

Karen turned to face Scott, who had remained silent during this discussion. “You can’t believe any of this, right?” “Of course he can,” Buddy answered. “Scott knows legal ethics and he knows why they’re important.”

Karen folded her arms and glared at Scott. “Well?!”

“Well what?” Scott asked.

“What do you think?”

“I think I want another donut,” Scott said.

Buddy showed him the empty donut box. “Temptation denied.”

“If the donuts are gone, then you’ve all officially worn out your welcomes. Get out,” Scott said.

Buddy laughed. “Nice avoidance technique counselor. But at some point, you will need to answer the young lady’s question.”

Everyone laughed except Karen. “Seriously, you don’t believe that, do you?” she asked him again.

Scott shrugged his shoulders, but before he could answer, his phone rang. It was Sally.

“Madeline Tashard to see you.”

* * *

Scott walked out to the reception area, a cavernous room which had been completely redone with cream-colored walls and light-gray molding. An ornate tin ceiling medallion replaced the original acoustic tiles and drop-down lighting now replaced the rows of fluorescent bulbs about twenty feet above the floor. Medium-gray carpet covered the floor, hiding the vinyl-asbestos tiles beneath. A thirty-foot-long metal relief of three steel workers hammering an anvil hung on one wall, just above a commercial copier. It had been moved down from the third floor after a generation of soot was removed from it. Opposite the relief, ran a twenty-foot-long grey tinted window, which looked out over their five-car parking lot.

Beneath the relief, stood six wooden chairs for visitors. A middle-aged woman in a bright yellow sundress sat in the nearest chair. A metallic brace ran from her right ankle up her leg until it disappeared beneath her dress. In her hand, she held a wooden cane. Around her wrist, she wore several bracelets which matched her silver necklace and the clip that held her short, white-blond hair out of her face.

“I’m Scott Blakely,” Scott said as he approached her. He had put on his suit jacket before leaving his office, a habit he developed working at a big firm in New York City.

The woman struggled to her feet. As she did, Scott stepped closer to help her, but she held out her hand to stop him. “I am not helpless, Mr. Blakely,” she said without emotion, but with a hint of impatience.

Scott stepped back.

After steadying herself with her cane, the woman continued: “I called your assistant. She said to come meet you. I’m Madeline Tashard.”

“Tash-herd?” Scott repeated to make sure he pronounced the name correctly.

“Correct, T-A-S-H-A-R-D.”

“Why don’t we go to my office, Ms. Tashard?”

“Mrs.,” she corrected him.

“Why don’t we go to my office, Mrs. Tashard?”

Scott led Tashard past the reception box where Sally sat. The chest-high box stood directly before the glass doors which led to the entrance hallway. The box had three sides, with the open side being toward the wall, leaving just enough room for Sally to get in and out. On top of each wall of the box was a counter or shelf, each of which was lined with plants and business cards. The top of Sally’s head barely stuck out above the shelves. Sally, who was morbidly obese and then some, worked for all three attorneys, though she favored Scott.

As they approached Scott’s office, they came to Karen’s desk. Scott introduced her.

“This is my assistant Karen. I believe you spoke with her on the phone. She’s going to sit in and take notes.”

Tashard nodded her consent to Scott, but didn’t acknowledge Karen, though she did cast a disapproving glance at Karen’s plaid miniskirt. Karen’s youthful appearance, something she cultivated with bouncy skirts, short, tight sweaters, multi-colored plastic jewelry, and “funky” platform shoes, disguised a sharp, mature mind.

“How can I help you, Mrs. Tashard?” asked Scott, once they were seated in his office.

“They killed my husband,” she said firmly, resting her cane against the side of the chair.

Clients always start with their best “sales pitch,” and it’s important not to appear to buy in if the attorney wants to get the full story rather than a sanitized version meant to impress them. Scott knew this, so he nodded his head slightly, but otherwise avoided reacting.

When Scott didn’t speak, Tashard continued. “My husband, Dr. Jeffrey Tashard, died last July of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He died at Warren County Hospital, while being treated by Dr. Victor Harwell. Dr. Harwell could have saved him, but didn’t. It was clear medical malpractice.” Tashard spoke in abrupt sentences with traces of bitterness in her voice.

“Why do you say that?” Scott asked in a measured tone.

“Because Dr. Harwell didn’t know what to do. I watched him. He misdiagnosed the condition, he never ordered the necessary tests, and he disappeared when my husband needed him most.”

Scott wrote a quick note. “You said your husband was a doctor?”

“A psychiatrist. You may have heard of him. He treated many local professionals, including lawyers and doctors.” “How old was your husband?”

“Fifty-two.”

“Did he have heart problems before this?”

“No.”

“How did Dr. Harwell end up taking care of him? Did your husband know him?” 

“The ER doctor called him.”

“And who was that?” Scott asked.

“Doctor Ricardo.”

“Why did Doctor Ricardo choose Dr. Harwell?”

“Harwell is a cardiologist, and I understand he was on call that night.”

“I see.” Scott leaned back and pulled his notepad onto his lap. “Tell me what happened the night your husband died.” 

“It actually started three days before that,” Tashard said in a confrontational tone, like she was lecturing a college class that had annoyed her.

“Ok, three days. . . tell me what happened.”

“My husband came home from his office at the Warren County Hospital Annex complaining about not feeling well. He looked flushed, like he’d been working out.”

“Did he work out?”

“No, he never had the time. Naturally, I was concerned. But he ignored my concerns and went to the den, where he had a second office. About an hour later, he screamed. I found him writhing on the floor, clutching his chest.”

“Was he conscious?” Scott asked.

She nodded. “Yes. But he was barely coherent and he couldn’t stand. Needless to say, I called an ambulance. They put him on oxygen, which calmed him. Then they took him to Warren County Hospital, where he was checked into the intensive care unit.”

“This was three days before he died?”

“Yes. By the time I got to the ICU, Doctor Harwell had already arrived. He ran some tests and ordered pain killers and a blood thinner.”

Scott wrote this down. “Did you speak with him?”

“Who?” she asked, adding a hint of condescension to her tone.

“Dr. Harwell.”

“Not at the time and only briefly over the next two days.”

“What did he tell you about your husband’s condition?”

“He said my husband had suffered a mild heart attack. He described it as a myocardial infarction.”

“I see.”

“But he was wrong because he missed key symptoms. If he hadn’t missed those symptoms, he would have known to run a CT scan. A CT scan would have revealed what was wrong with my husband immediately. Then Harwell would have known that nothing could be done for him at WCH and he should have flown him to University Hospital, where a thoracic surgeon could have repaired his heart.”

Scott imperceptibly raised an eyebrow and leaned back in his chair. He bit the end of his pen. “Do you have any medical training, Mrs. Tashard?” His tone was calm and indifferent, yet he stared directly into her eyes.

She stared back.

“No.”

“Then how do you know all this?” he asked.

Tashard leaned forward against her cane. “From things Doctor Ricardo said, things the nurses said, and things I’ve learned investigating this matter. Harwell gave my husband blood thinners, which was the worst thing he could have done. He should have sent my husband to a bigger hospital with doctors who could have saved him by surgically repairing the dissection. That’s not something they could do at WCH.” Her contempt for Warren County Hospital was plain.

“Did anyone else hear Doctor Ricardo or the nurses make these accusations?”

“I’m sure someone did,” she said dismissively.

“Do you know of anyone specifically who was there when these things were said?”

“The records speak for themselves, Mr. Blakely.”

“You’ve seen the records?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have those?” he asked. So far, neither had looked away from the other or blinked.

“Attorney Fitzgerald has them. He has assured me this is an excellent case.”

Robert Fitzgerald, known as “Fitzy” to the local attorney community, was the only thing worse than an outsider like Scott; he was the kid from the wrong side of the tracks who dared to make good. Even worse, he proved to be an exceptional lawyer and the other local lawyers were terrified of him. In fact, they treated him like a sort of legal mystic, which prompted Scott to call him Greenfield’s own Wizard of Oz.

“Why isn’t Fitzgerald handling this matter?” Scott asked.

“He has a conflict because he sits on a fundraising committee for the hospital. He suggested I bring the case to you.”

Scott nodded, though this did not ring true. If there was one thing he knew about Fitzy, it was that Fitzy never gave up a great case just because he had a conflict. Fitzy viewed the rules of ethics as a tool to be used against the other guy, but never as a limitation on himself. Moreover, despite Fitzy’s near omnipresence in all things Greenfield, he and Scott had yet to run into each other and Scott could not recall Fitzy ever sending a case his way.

“All right,” Scott said. “At this point, I need to get the medical records and have them reviewed. If my expert agrees there’s something here, then we’ll talk about proceeding. Do you have any questions?”

“No,” she said flatly.

“Ok, then please go with Karen and give her your contact information. She’ll also have you sign some medical release forms. After my expert reviews the records, I’ll bein touch.”

Madeline Tashard struggled to her feet. “Good day, Mr. Blakely,” she said without looking at him. She followed Karen to the outer office.

“Wow! Is she ever unpleasant!” Karen said after seeing Tashard to the door.

“Yeah, she’s not gonna win any popularity contests,” agreed Scott. He hung up his suit jacket and straightened his dark-blue and gold tie.

“It sounds like a good case though, right?” Karen asked.

“I don’t know. . . hard to tell.” Scott sat down at this desk. “Something seems wrong here. For one thing, I’ve never known Fitzy to give up a great case, no matter how big of a conflict. So there may be some problem with the case itself.”

Karen frowned.

“And these are incredibly expensive cases,” Scott continued. “We’ll need several experts and they cost a fortune. I really don’t want to blow upwards of a hundred grand on a suspect case.”

Karen whistled. “That much?!”

Scott nodded. “Yeah, that’s the problem with med-mal cases.”

“It sounds like this Harwell guy was a pretty horrible doctor though?”

“We don’t know that, and we won’t know that until we get the records looked at.”

Scott folded his arms and furrowed his brow. “Hell, I’m not even sure what a dissecting aortic aneurysm is!”

Karen laughed. “I’m glad I’m not the only one!”

“Also, while this sounds like malpractice, keep in mind, the law doesn’t make doctors liable for bad results or even for all mistakes. It only makes them liable for mistakes that violate the medical standard of care. That means even if Harwell could have saved Tashard by doing something differently, the law won’t hold him liable unless the medical standard of care required him to do that.”

“How are you going to figure that out?”

“I’ll send the records to Drinker and see what he says.”

“Drinker” was Dr. Paul Trinker, a local surgeon who lost his license after repeated instances of incompetence. These days, he worked odd jobs. Scott used him as an unofficial medical advisor. The nickname “Drinker,” ironically came from Trinker’s allergy to alcohol, which prevented him from drinking.

“Shouldn’t you send them to someone who hasn’t been ‘de-doctored’?” Karen asked.

“Drinker knows his medicine. You may not want him working on you, but he’s top notch at reviewing medical records.” Scott paused. “Plus, he’s cheap.”

Karen furrowed her brow. “Is this really the kind of case you want to go cheap on?”

Scott shrugged shoulders. He didn’t mention that his checking account was hovering around zero dollars. “Drinker should be good enough. And if he says there’s a case, then I’ll consider it.”

“I thought you were done taking cases from clients you don’t like?” Karen asked.

“When did I say that?”

“During one of last week’s rants.”

“Ah. Well, if I only took cases from clients I like, I wouldn’t have any clients.”

Karen grimaced. “You can say that again. Law is not at all what I thought it would be. I thought we would be helping people.”

“We are helping people.”

“People who deserve it,” she countered.

Scott nodded his head but didn’t respond. This issue had troubled him since his time in New York, when he first realized that doing his job and doing the right thing were often mutually exclusive. In fact, in several instances, the rules which govern attorney conduct specifically prevented him from doing the right thing. This bothered him because he genuinely wanted to help people. That’s why he got into law, that’s why he left New York, and that’s even what attracted Karen to come help him. But with each passing client, that seemed less and less realistic, for it seemed that few people needed lawyers unless they brought their own troubles upon themselves. Tashard’s case at least held the promises of getting a dangerous doctor out of the profession.

Karen twisted her lips. “Does anything bother you about her behavior?”

“Tashard? Like what?”

“That’s the problem, I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“Ok, what made you think there’s anything wrong?”

Karen tapped her lips with her finger. “A couple things. Did you notice how much she claims to know about the malpractice? She’s very precise about what happened, but she claims not to have any medical training? Doesn’t that seem odd?”

Scott shrugged her shoulders. “It was her husband who died. I’m sure she’s listened to all the doctors and whomever else to find out what happened. She probably learned a lot from Fitzy too.”

“That’s another thing. This was her husband who died, but she doesn’t seem too broken up about it. If my husband was killed because of a bad doctor, I’d be furious.”

“You don’t have a husband.”

Karen pursed her lips. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I do. And yes, she seems rather nasty, but in her defense, it’s been eleven months and she’s probably told this story a dozen times. She may be numb to it? And maybe she’s been getting jerked around a lot?” Scott speculated.

“That’s possible,” Karen said doubtfully.

Scott shook his head. “Unfortunately, that’s also going to make her a hard sell to a jury. Juries want grief, no matter how long ago the event happened. Stoicism doesn’t pay. That may not be fair, but it is the reality.”

“I have faith,” Karen said with a smile, “you’ve always gotten juries to understand.” Then she frowned again. “But I still have my doubts about her. Did you notice the way she—” Karen started, but was cut off by Kwon appearing at Scott’s door.

“Pay no attention to the young lady’s doubts, counselor. ‘Wrongful death’ are two of the most beautiful words you’ll ever hear in law,” Kwon almost sang as he rubbed his hands together gleefully. “Hospitals and doctors are target defendants! Target defendants! Hospitals fall all over themselves to settle these things because they don’t want sick people thinking it might be dangerous at the hospital. That’s bad for business. And it makes this a great shakedown opportunity.” Kwon pulled his wallet from his pocket and held it to his ear. “Can you hear that, Scott? That’s the sound of opportunity.”

Karen rolled her eyes. “This isn’t about shaking anybody down, Kwonzo. It’s about helping people.”

Kwon laughed. “If you say so, kiddo. Scott, this is a great case. All you do is call the doctor’s carrier, make a big noise, and they pay right up. Then you call the hospital and do the same thing.” Kwon rubbed his hands together. “Then the delicious checks come rolling in!”

“You should put that in one of your noxious radio ads,” Karen suggested coldly.

Kwon laughed. “I don’t give out that kind of advice for free!”

Scott shook his head. “Shouldn’t you be out abusing the system somewhere?”

Kwon looked at his gaudy, gold watch, a fake he got on a family trip to New York City the prior year. “Yeah, I’m late for Liars Court, but they can’t start without me!” he said.

“Liars Court” was what the local attorneys called the family court, because no one ever told the truth in family court. Scott avoided it as a matter of policy.

“Why? Do they need their king?” Karen asked. Kwon ignored her and backed out the door. “‘Wrongful death,’ that’s all I’m saying. . . opportunity knocking.”

“Unbelievable,” Karen said with disgust when Kwon finally vanished from sight.

She turned to face Scott again. “So you’re going to turn the case down?”

Scott rubbed his chin and puffed his cheeks. He stared at his notes. “I don’t know.”

“But if you think something’s wrong?”

“Never judge a case or a client on a first impression. Always investigate before you make any decision. Let’s see what Drinker says about the records. The records are where this case really lies.”

***

Andrew Price has spent sixteen years doing everything you can imagine in the legal profession. He's worked for the Federal government doing government contracts. He's worked for what would become one of the biggest law firms in the world. Finally, he started his own general practice, where he's sued and defended just about everyone, from companies to people to hospitals to cities. He's represented lots of cops, he's dabbled in criminal law and he's handled numerous state and federal trials. He's even appeared many times before state Supreme Courts.


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