JUSTICE ON THE SIDE
(Flying Horses, Loopholes and Ernie Hunter’s Law)
by Nino E, Green
Ernie Hunter, fresh out of law school, had passed the Bar Examination and been admitted to the practice of law. But the clients seeking assistance from his fledgling practice were few, and his meager cash flow had dwindled from little to none. By Friday, next, he would have to see his banker for a loan in order to pay Rita, his secretary. But first, he would visit Recorders Court. A criminal defense assignment would not solve his immediate problem, but it would help him keep his anemic law practice afloat. So, on a Monday morning, early, he was at Recorders Court, waiting at the desk of the court’s assignment clerk.
“Got anything interesting to start the week?” Ernie asked when the assignment clerk arrived.
The clerk, was a gaunt, sleepy-eyed old-timer, clean-shaven, but with wavy white hair, badly in need of a trim, a bulbous nose and a pocked, ashen pallor. He glanced up at Ernie briefly, looked back down at the papers on his desk, and shuffled through them for almost a full minute before looking up again. He studied Ernie for a moment and stifled a yawn. “You’re new here,” he stated, revealing his grasp of the obvious.
“Not really,” said Ernie with a smile. “I’ve been here before, a few times.” Almost true, he thought. During a summer recess from law school, he had watched court proceeding with his father who had been summoned for jury duty, but he had been excused for no reason that Ernie had been able to discern. “And I had a trial here a while back,” he lied, “but this is the first time I’m here to ask for an assignment. “Do you know any of the judges?” The clerk wore an out-of-style, double breasted, navy blue wool suite, no vest, a white shirt with a frayed, open collar, and a pink tie with what appeared to be several, small mustard stains just below a loose knot. “I have to observe cerain…uh….priorities. The judges, of course. Not mine.”
“Not personally. Like I said, I only had the one trial here. In Judge Koczinski’s court. A paying client,” he lied again as he waited while the clerk shuffled through more papers.
When the clerk again looked up Ernie, he said with a resigned smile “One of the judges must be pissed off at Jack Kaiser. He asked me to pull an assignment I was holding for Jack. I guess I could give it to you. It’s an arson. The defendant’s in custody. He’s supposed to have torched an apartment building on the west side. Dexter Boulevard, I believe. Arraignment is this morning if you’re interested. Are you?”
“Sure,” Ernie replied without hesitating. “I’ll take it. Right up my alley,” he added, in case it were necessary to reassure his new found benefactor. “Where do I find the…uh…defendant?”
This book takes Ernest Hunter, known to his colleagues in the legal profession as Ernie the Attorney, form the streets of Detroit to the backroads of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Faced with a series of challenges that will test his courage, creativity and luck, he discovers that the law is as fickle and imperfect as those who enforce its mandates. When judges and juries impose their own brand of justice, the law’s predictability becomes an illusion.
Ernie is forced to think on his feet as he attempts the seemingly impossible, searching for imaginary loopholes and trying to teach proverbial horses to fly. Justice, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; and Ernie sees justice through the eyes of his clients. Whether justice has been done will depend on which side you were on.
Ernie begins his career as a lawyer defending an arsonist and a sexual predator, both of whom he knows to be guilty.
“How can you defend someone who you know is guilty?” some would ask.
“How can I not?” Ernie would answer.