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Running With Scissors

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“Why are you smiling like that?”

Katya looks up from where she’s staring into her coffee and feels the stupid grin spread across her face for the first time. She loses it promptly, and tries her best to look Shea in the eye. “No reason,” she shrugs, fiddling with her spoon. Shea ducks her head to meet Katya’s gaze.

“Come on,” she smirks, “something happened with the big titty lawyer didn’t it?”

Katya smiled sheepishly. “You could say that.”

“I’m getting bored already,” Shea sighed, folding her napkin over one finger and delicately dabbing at the corners of her lips with it. “Spit it out.”

“I think we’re a thing now,” Katya said, “like we didn’t outright say, we - are - a - thing, but we pretty much agreed it. Last night.”

Shea beamed. “About time! I knew it was more than fucking. Congrats, Katya.”

Katya looked out at the street, feeling the grin creep across her face again. It’s so bright outside, and the street is bustling. Someone is playing ping pong behind them, and she mentally curses Shea for bringing them to Sawada again (“but the fairy lights, Katya!”). Shea excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and Katya’s phone buzzes on the table.

Hi baby. Thanks again for last night. I’m so happy <3

The grin is starting to hurt Katya’s cheeks now.

Me too. Wanna get dinner later?

Can’t sorry, work to do on the Kim Barber case. Rain check!

The grin disappears. The Kim Barber case. Fuck. Fuck. 

“Jeez, who shit on your biscuits?” Shea tucks her skirt neatly as she sits, glancing at Katya with mild concern. “What’s going on?”

“I’ve just realized...”

Shea waits for a beat, but there’s no follow up. “Yes?” she prompts.

“The Kim Barber case,” Katya groans. “We’re up against each other.”

“Well... yeah,” Shea stutters out a laugh, shaking her head. “Of course you are.”

“I completely forgot! Now we’re dating and we have to go up against each other in this fucking case, oh God, what am I going to do, this is going to be so awkward, and she– and I–“

“Okay, shut up a second,” Shea cuts in. She grips Katya’s erratically bouncing knee hard, and squeezes until its still. “You’re a professional. She’s a professional. You guys both have a job to do and you can get through it. Then, once this case is done, make sure you don’t take any clients that she’s prosecuting, yeah?”

Katya takes a deep breath, and smiles at Shea. “Yeah,” she says, “you’re right, of course you’re right. We are both adults, this is going to be fine.”

-

“Please rise for the honorable Judge Hides.”

There’s heavy shuffling in the courtroom as everybody stands while the Judge enters. Katya glances sideways, and sees Trixie smirking at her. She looks away, down at her notepad in front of her, and tilts her head from side to side, trying to crick her neck.

When Judge Hides emerges from her chambers, Katya can tell immediately that she is not in the mood. She barely looks up as she barks “sit down” and drops heavily into her chair, shuffling notes around and huffing quietly to herself. Once the sound of people seating themselves dies down, the drop of a pin could be heard in court, as everyone waits for the Judge to speak.

“We’re all done with character witness, I sincerely hope?” she mutters finally, still looking down at her notes. Trixie and Katya both stand, and glance at each other quickly.

“Yes, your Honor,” they both say at the same time. Katya cricks her neck again.

“Fine. Closing arguments. Ms. Mattel, for the People. Go.”

Katya sits down and spends the next forty-five minutes making pretend notes on the sheet in front of her and completely ignoring Trixie. It’s the closing argument tactic she opts for in almost every trial, and it very rarely lets her down. People tend to think that trials are exactly the way they see them on Law & Order, where lawyers stroll around the courtroom at will, approach the jury and speak directly to them, and argue constantly and dramatically for effect. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If Trixie or Katya started wandering around giving pointed speeches or addressing jurors, any judge would reprimand them extensively. There have been a few dramatic arguments in this trial, but Trixie is no Marcia Clark and Katya is no Johnnie Cochran, they (try to) stay calm, play by the rules, and observe proper courtroom etiquette.

So when Trixie stands and begins her closing argument, Katya does what she always does at this point in any trial: under the guise of taking notes, she lists every single character she can dredge from her mind that features in Grey’s Anatomy, then The West Wing, then Friday Night Lights, and steadfastly does not look away from her paper at any point. When she runs out of characters, she lists every president in chronological order along with their political party and the years they were in power. After this she lists every NBA Most Valuable Player in chronological order along with the team they were playing for at the time, and the year they were drafted. This is usually enough to see her through her opponent’s argument, and it is this time too. When they run longer, her next options are songs by Frank Turner and female Roland Garros champions of the Open Era from 1968 onwards.

This tactic tends to work as it riles up whatever prosecutor is trying to beat her, and she knows that it will definitely have the desired effect on Trixie. She stares down at the lists in front of her even when she feels Trixie glancing at her every so often, when she hears Trixie go silent and knows it’s because she wants a reaction from Katya to whatever she’s just said.

Katya won’t give it to her. She knows that no good ever comes from listening to your opponent’s closing argument. She’s read paper after article after textbook that says she needs to stay on high alert throughout this final part of the trial, listening out for inappropriate statements or colloquy, especially after Fitzpatrick v. Wendy’s when the defense failed to object to so-called “reptile-based remarks” during closings. In her opinion, this kind of oversight is a rarity, especially in criminal trials. The jury has already made their minds up at this point, for the most part. There is no use in her objecting to anything that Trixie says at this point, because it won’t matter. It won’t have any bearing on the jurors’ opinions of her client. Objecting anything at this time would only ever be for an inappropriate statement, which is what she pays law clerks to notice.

Katya doesn’t listen to her opponents’ closings because she doesn’t need to. Nothing that they say will sway her from what she has prepared for her own closing.

Katya’s job in her closing argument is to tell the jury what to do. That’s all they want to hear. They’ve made up their mind on the case, and they just want to be told what to do next. Katya tells them. She uses her closing to tell them to acquit her client, it’s that simple. They want to know how the questions on the verdict form tie to the evidence they have just observed. They want to know how to deliberate. Katya tells them. She anticipates the arguments of opposing jurors, and arms the favorable ones with the rhetoric she thinks they’ll need to persuade the ones that don’t agree with her case, or the fence-sitters. The real work she does here is on the favorable jurors, because they are going to argue her case in that jury room when she can’t, and they are the ones that will win her the trial.

“Ms. Zamolodchikova, would you like to take a recess before your closing argument?” Judge Hides says as Trixie takes her seat.

“Yes your Honor,” Katya replies. Always give the jury a rest where you can. Give them time to forget what they’ve just heard from Trixie. Give them time to reset and be ready to really listen to her.

“Very well. Ten minutes everyone.”

-

“Ladies, gentlemen, and anyone who identifies as otherwise. This is the last voice you will hear from the defense. Only you will judge this case as far as the facts go. You have sat here and listened for a long time to me, Ms. Mattel, Judge Hides, and the many witnesses we have called. You must have a lot of questions. You have heard the same case described by two people in entirely different ways. I am relying upon the oath you have taken to decide the outcome of this case based on the facts which have been presented to you, concluding that my client is not guilty of this crime.

For all I know, you may hate my client. You may like her. You may see yourself in her, whether you wish to or not. You should not let any of this interfere with your decision, even though this is difficult to do. The oath you have taken states you should decide based on the facts presented to you, and nothing else. If you don’t do this, and you find my client guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, you will be living a lie that you must carry for the rest of your days.

The key here, is reasonable doubt. This is the key in many cases, and it most certainly comes into play today. Do you truly believe, truly believe, beyond any – reasonable – doubt, that this woman is guilty of this crime and deserves to spend the rest of her life in prison? Away from her family, her loved ones, her community?

The term ‘reasonable doubt’ can be wide meaning. But here, you must ask yourself… was there a witness presented by the prosecution in this trial that I didn’t believe was telling me the truth? The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, may God help them? If there was, and I know you know there was, then you must find my client ‘not guilty’, because this is reasonable doubt. You doubt that the statement made by a prosecution witness was wholly and one hundred percent accurate, and so you cannot find my client guilty based on the case Ms. Mattel has built against her. Johnnie Cochran said it best, and you will have heard this many times: ‘if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’.

In that jury room, you are going to come together and decide the course of this woman’s life, and the lives of everybody she is connected to. So are you sure, are you absolutely sure that she is guilty? Because you must be. You must be cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die certain, that she is. You are going to go into that room and deliberate. You will discuss the facts of the case, and the opinions you have formed based on these facts. You must remain focused and clear headed. You must not be bulldozed by others, and you must fight for your voice to be heard in that room.

Then you will vote, one by one. You may have to deliberate some more, and then vote again, maybe again and again. But do not be swayed in your belief. Do not be pressured into voting a certain way just to get it over with. A woman’s life hangs in the balance. What if it were your life? What if you were sitting here, accused of a crime you did not commit? Would you want the jury to convict you, if they had the smallest, most miniscule doubt in the back of their mind, in the pit of their stomach, that you were innocent? You would not. You would want them to find you ‘not guilty’. And that is what you must do for this woman here. If your life hung in the balance… would you want you in your corner?”

-

“If it doesn’t fit you must acquit? Are you kidding me? Fucking Johnnie Cochran?”

Katya looks up from her coffee to see Trixie standing at the end of her booth, her trench coat flapping around her thighs as she hitches a bag more securely onto her shoulder. She smiles as she sees how the usually-unflappable Trixie looks… well… flapped.

“It’s used so often because it’s true,” she shrugs, stirring her pistachio latte. Trixie huffs and sits down in the booth opposite her, flinging her back to the end of her bench.

“Do you think there’ll be a verdict today?”

Katya checks her watch. It glints in the early afternoon sun as she twists her wrist. “Doubt it,” she says, sipping her coffee. “I’m going home when I’ve finished this, I don’t want to sit in this shitty Starbucks all night for a verdict that won’t come til tomorrow at the very earliest.”

“I don’t even think it’ll be tomorrow,” Trixie says, absentmindedly swiping her finger through the foam at the top of Katya’s cup. She sucks the tip of her finger, and grimaces at the nutty flavor. “I think it’ll be next week. That jury is totally split.”

“What day is it?” Katya mumbles, squinting at the screen of her phone.

“Wednesday.”

Katya hums thoughtfully. “Yeah, you might be right.” She glances at Trixie, then offers her hand out to shake. “Ten bucks says it’s Monday?”

Trixie grins, and grips her hand. “I’ll take that. It’s definitely gonna be Tuesday.”

They fall silent for a few minutes, Trixie scrolling through her phone and Katya making notes on the murder case Bianca has given her.

“What’re you doing tonight then, at home?”

Katya looks up from her notepad. “Nothing, probably just order in and work on this new case I’ve got.”

Trixie nods, and looks out of the window. “Want some company?”

Katya smiles. “Sure.”