"What is the opposite of a good lawyer joke? A good joke by a lawyer .... " William Shake-a-spear
A year ago to the day, she was arrested for murder. It was on every news program in Los Angeles. A diminutive librarian charged with murdering a banker. It was the lead story for weeks.
The bank had been foreclosing on the librarian's home. She took out a second mortgage when her husband got sick and money was available. The bottom fell out of the real estate market. She was upside down with her home equity when a balloon payment came due.
The bank had sold her mortgage along with 20,000 others to a mortgage mill. It was a typical bullying tactic employed by 151 banks all over the United States. The murder victim was the president of the bank's foreclosure department.
The librarian had hired a lawyer to represent her with the foreclosure. The banker was against the ropes. The mortgage mill had taken questionable short cuts and the lawyer was successful at holding up the foreclosure for at least a couple of years. The prosecutor's theory for motive had gaping holes in it.
The librarian was arraigned and given a million dollar bond. Nobody believed for a minute that a librarian, who was losing her home, could come up with a million dollar bond.
It is called. the "City" of Angels" for good reason. She was out of jail that same afternoon. A movie producer put up the 10%, or $100,000, through a bondsman. The librarian had to sign over her rights to movie and book deals. But she walked out of jail on a capital murder charge.
Her release really helped her at trial. The jurors as well as the media saw her walking in and out of the courthouse with her lawyers and investigator. Appearance and perception is everything in this town.
Speaking of perception . . the banker' was 6'3" tall. The little librarian was 5' even. The banker was next to his car in a parking garage. He was struck on the top of the head with a hammer. The hammer struck flush - not at an angle. The hammer handle added 10" to the little librarian‘s reach. But even with the extra reach the math did not work.
The slick defense lawyer worked that picture like a Michelangelo painting to the jury. His expert witness was an attractive engineer with a PH.D from M.I.T. She was also 5 feet tall, the exact height of the librarian. She demonstrated, with her full scale 6'3" life size dummy, all the positions the banker could have been in to suffer his fatal head injury
at the hands of a 5 foot assailant.
In closing arguments the defense lawyer addressed the jury with the life sized dummy positioned next to him. A plastic hammer was attached with Velcro to the crown of the dummy's head. The handle stuck straight out. It reinforced the science that the assailant was at least 8" taller than the librarian. It was the only logical way the fatal blow could have been inflicted.
The jury bought it. They were out five minutes, an all-time record for jury verdicts in the history of California. They found the little librarian not guilty.
Later, at the celebration party, the defense lawyer realized his client was guilty as sin. "I know how she did it," he whispered to his investigator. The investigator just shook his head as he watched the little librarian fill party balloons from the helium tank.
"I can't see it,” said the investigator. "Just listen,” said the lawyer. "She had party balloons on the ceiling of the parking garage directly over his car. There was a note tied to the end of a string hanging down from the balloons. She snuck up behind him while he was reading the note and hammered him."
"So . . . what did the note say?" asked the investigator. The lawyer looked at the investigator and in his best deadpan said, "Here's your balloon payment... "
Dennis Vertin #135167
Lakeland Correctional Facility
141 First Street
Coldwater, Michigan 49036