Pack up.  Haul bags to car so can return directly to Seattle after trial.  It’s beautiful.  Cold.  A whisper of ice on the windows.  Turn on the defroster.  The ice disappears without needing a scrape.  We start 15 minutes early.

Before beginning Judge Knodel asks if there’s anything to discuss.   Asks about JHB’s health.  Apologizes to me for never asking about mine.  Chuckle and tell him I’m fine.  The judge quotes a line.  I can tell right away where it’s from.  JHB says: what.  And is frowning.  What did you say about evil.  Judge repeats the quote as JHB’s scowl grows.  Judge says:  it is a line from scripture.  He meant it in a light hearted fashion to address I believe things like poor health.  JHB looks exasperated.  Judge K deflates.

Jury files in.  Def resumes the stand.  Hack away at her in calm almost pleasant fashion.  My tone is good.  Am barely looking at her as we go through documents.  Furhad is a perfect second.  He anticipates, adds, helps all without me having to even ask.  Although sometimes I ask.  Our heads huddled together.

Then we get to the warrants.  She denies seeing or knowing about them.  They are issued by the police in Belize – not the courts.  I am clear in saying so.  The subject – murder.  Move for their admission.  Objection. Denied.  Take her into her deposition where she admits knowing about them.  Move again for their admission.  Objection. Denied.  Ask her if these are the reason she has not returned to Belize.  She says no.  Return to the warrants and her deposition Ex. 8 – the post by interpol.  She agrees she saw that.  Move again for the admission of the warrants.  Objection. Denied.

This all takes 30 minutes. And even tho the documents don’t come in.  I can feel a shift in the courtroom.

Take her through inconsistent statements that she made in her police statement.  Says she never made such statements.  Even though her signature is on every page. 

Ask her how long when she came back from the neighbor’s house and resumed her spoon that it took the police to get there:  I don’t know.  1 hour maybe 2.  Go to the prior statement she gave to the FBI that has been transcribed by them.  She agrees that she told them ½ an hour to 1 hour.

Warrants.  Interpol.  FBI.  The jury is awake.

Ask permission to consult with my clients before passing the witness.  We huddle in the corner behind the easel.  They give me the last two questions:

Did she take Mr. Mc’s ashes home.  No.  Did she attend his funeral.  No.


JHB is allowed to ask Def.  leading questions over my objection.  Make a continuing objection.  Sit there.  Watching him.  I am still and calm.  Have been like this all day.  Coiled like a cobra waiting to strike. 

Ask the court for permission to make a continuing objection on the basis of leading questions of my hostile adverse party witness.  Granted.  For the most part I do not object.  Let them get through quite a bit of their dog and pony show.  Rehearsed to perfection.  Yes and No answers.  She doesn’t say “I don’t recall” – not even once.

We need to take a break – one of many sidebars that have begun to blur together.  Issue is that one of my clients who is the PR of the Estate did not submit the handwritten wills.  JHB claims she has committed perjury and was removed as PR.  This is his primary tactic in cross– attacking the surviving children. 

I tell the judge that JHB is using his face to glare at my clients in a threatening manner and I want it to stop.  Our tables are facing each other 4 feet apart and JHB’s back is to the court.  JHB scoffs and mutters under his breath.  I start to say something and JHB accuses me of interrupting him AGAIN.   Judge says if he makes faces at my clients to please object.

I say:  Your honor throughout this trial Mr. Browne has spent the majority of time talking.  He talks a lot.  It is difficult to get a word in.  And this is why sometimes I interrupt so that I can say something.  When I do that he complains to the court that I am interrupting him.  Your honor Mr. Browne is acting in a manner that is best described as white male privilege and he is engaging in mansplaining.

JHB then with his big booming theatrical voice accuses me again of outrageous conduct from the day before saying I told the jury we HATED each other:  She is a BULLY your honor.  And you are not doing anything to control her.

Look at Furhad and he is trying not to laugh. But failing.

Judge Kn looks at me and says: anything else.  I say: Mr. Browne told the jury that I was unprofessional and I could not let that stand.  It was inappropriate.  I did not tell the jury we hated each other but that we disliked each other.

As we break for lunch Judge K says:  I’m starting to get tired of this.

After lunch, JHB says that he reluctantly has to tell Judge Kn that he is showing bias in his trial of the case.  His treatment of the Defendant (in instructing her to answer my questions instead of carrying on) is unconstitutional and unfair.   

Judge K seems to deflate a little more over this criticism.  But rallies and asks me for my response.  To which I say:  Your honor you have answered constitutionally and appropriately throughout this trial and I disagree.

Jury returns. The rehearsed cross eventually comes to a close.  A few questions on redirect and then Jury questions.  The Judge does not ask one about who was taking care of Defendant’s daughter (that she was reduced to only having visitation with).  And he reserves the first question which he will decide upon Monday.  If he asks that question it will open the door on an issue that we have kept closed due to the dead man’s statute which holds that a party of interest cannot say what a dead person said.

1.     What was said in the argument before T’s death. (reserved)

2.     Did you ever threaten T. (No)

3.     Did you shoot time or ask someone else to shoot Tim. (No)

4.     Did you or Mr. T Mc receive tax assessor documents indicating property values of the grant county properties.  (I don’t look at those)

5.     How did you go on vacation w/T in feb when it was stated your first time meeting him was July 2012. (She meant Feb 2013)

6.     Did you feel Belize was unsafe prior to purchasing the property and building the home. (No) [Note: her position is that she has not returned to Belize because it is a very dangerous place for a single woman].

I like everyone one of these jury questions.

Next witness is the surviving son, C Mc.  The image of his father.  A super direct person.  I ask.  He answers.  No rehearsal.  Ask him why he brought this lawsuit.  He says what they wanted was for her to be in prison.  But when that didn’t happen they changed direction.   As we continue he is holding it together.  Just like his dad taught him to do.  But we need for the jury to see beyond the strong man façade.  And so I let my eyes glimmer.

On Tuesday in the hall after the defendant son’s testimony, I did cry.  He came to support his mom.  But still told the truth.  And he obviously loved Mr. Mc and was devastated by his death.  Felt sorrow for him.  And while our group was chatting about that, I let tears fall for him.  To me crying is not a form of weakness.  It is just part of the human experience. 

But inside the courtroom is not a place where it is okay for a lawyer to cry.  All effort should be made not to do so.  You can be accused of trying to gain juror sympathy.  Yet, I can glimmer and almost always stop the welling up of my eyes from splashing over.

For me it involves putting myself inside the skin of the person I care about and am communicating with.  Focusing only on what they are expressing and how that must feel.  You can never know the insides of someone else.  But through empathy you can be there with them in that moment.  And while there, fully intent upon them, if you really devote yourself to getting out of the way so you can be there with them – there is a connection that can be felt.

There are no walls between me and C Mc at this moment – even though he is putting up a stalwart front for the jury.  He is at a point in the story that is becoming more and more difficult.  He is taking us into that morgue.  My eyes begin to glimmer.  Giving him support as he returns to that place.  The glimmer is shared between us. He cracks.  Not in a great weepy cracking manner.  No.  But in the way that a stoic who does not want to cry and has vowed not to cry… cracks.  Voice catches.  Voice stops.  A slight shake of the head.  A loss of composure followed by a gathering up of strength.  All of us can feel through to the depth of his sorrow.  All of us are connected to him in that moment.

 And as he presses on.  My glimmer goes away.

Photo: All dressed up for the last day of trial…or so I thought.