Hayley - Kathryn Shay

Chapter 1

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He was slick, all right. Hayley Casella watched her nemesis walk across the over-sized courtroom with a confident stride. He turned a big, smarmy smile on the female witness. Well, not smarmy exactly. Secure. Scintillating. Maybe sexy. If she didn’t despise him so much, she might…

Best not to think about that.

“Mrs. Thomas, you comfortable? Need anything?” He was delaying the point, which he always did to build up tension. After arguing several cases with him, she knew his tactics.

The elderly woman put her hand on her heart. “Why, I don’t think so, Mr. Covington.”

“Good, good.” Covington pivoted slightly and glanced at Hayley, his expression one of amusement. He didn’t take her seriously, which maddened her. Her brother Finn said he was psyching her out, which was worse. Every time she argued with him, she vowed not to fall into that trap.

“Now, for the day in question, June 12th, did you see the fight in the cafeteria?”

“I was supervising the second lunch period. There’s a group of boys who act up.”

“Act up how?”

“They make rude noises. They say things to girls. They try to leave early. I alerted the principals to this, but nothing was done.”

“What did these boys do on June 12th?”

“They picked on a younger student. They always do. His name is Bobby Hanson, right there in the audience.”

“How do they pick on him?”

“They topple his tray. Once they tripped him.”

“Did he get hurt with their mischief?”

“I object.”

Amy Branson, the judge, was a fair, respected woman in her fifties. She was also tough on decorum. “What’s your objection, ADA Casella?”

“Mischief is not what we’re prosecuting in this courtroom. Mr. Covington’s use of the term is not only erroneous, but insensitive.” She extended her arm with a flourish. “As you can see in the third row, Jamie Callahan assaulted Bobby Hanson.”

Callahan was rich kid who’d gotten into Grayson Academy only because his parents donated money. Bobby, on the other hand, had won a scholarship to go there. His mother said she thought he’d be safe from the public-school bullying. Little did she know the likes of Jamie Callahan populated the school.

Since Bobby was sitting where she pointed, the jury would witness the casts on both his arms.

“You have not proved the assault was perpetrated by my client!”

“Hmm, I wonder why.” She turned back to the judge and smiled sweetly. “We located several eyewitnesses to the incident, that for some unknown reason are getting picked off, one by one.”

“Now, I object.” Whirling around, Paul Covington’s face flushed. Angular, rough-hewn features, eyes as blue as the Caribbean Sea, and full lips were all accented by his anger. “The implication of Ms. Casella’s histrionics is that perhaps my client had something to do with witnesses recanting.”

“I retract the question.” Under her breath she said, “Histrionics, my ass.”

“Your honor, could you please muzzle her asides?”

She pivoted quickly. “Muzzle? How dare you refer to women with animal imagery?”

A hard gavel silenced them. It echoed in the large room, wood-paneled, with a row of windows and sky-high ceilings. “I declare a fifteen-minute recess. Counselors, in my chambers.” Judge Branson glared at them. “Now.”

They followed her into her large office, with wood paneling interrupted by shelves filled with books, a television, several framed awards and degrees. Leather couches and a chair faced wide windows. A bathroom completed the suite. She removed her robe, hung it up on a hanger and sat behind her desk. Like school children, Hayley and Paul stood before her.

“I have had it with you two. Every time you show up in my courtroom, I cringe knowing what’s coming. And I’m not the only judge in the circuit who dreads dealing with you.”



“Do not speak. This is a warning. One more clash like what I just endured and I’ll put both of you in jail for contempt. Do you two even understand the concept?”

They both nodded.

“Then tell me. You begin, ADA.”

“Contempt is being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers.”

“Mr. Covington, what behavior happens in contempt?”

“Behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.”

“Now that we’ve established the definition, I hope you can see that name calling and asides are disrespectful and disruptive. If this happens again, you will be hauled away and jailed.”

Contempt charges issued to lawyers rarely, if ever, happened. Hayley couldn’t think of any lawyer being accused of it.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Now leave me alone for five minutes to recover from you.”

They turned and walked out the door. Hell, all Paul