In Justice We Trust
Location: Southern California
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:31 pm
Chapter 6—Justice Conquers All
December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018
Miles looked out the window of the terminal at the jet that would take him back to the United States. From the outside, it didn’t look particularly large, but he knew from the sheer length of the flight that it had to be immense. Besides, considering the visible second deck, he knew its outside appearance was deceiving. He smiled, amused, as he raised a camera and took a photograph of the aircraft. Ema had asked him to show her a picture later. The gigantic Airbus A380-900 was the largest type of passenger jet in the world. This one would take Miles from London to Los Angeles, non-stop. The plane wasn’t boarding yet, but he knew they were going to make the announcement soon.
He sat down and took out the newspaper he had been reading earlier. It was a day old, but he had seen an article in it that sparked his interest. Specifically, Franziska was prosecuting a case that Wright was defending. The proceedings the previous day had ended in a big mystery. Specifically, a witness had testified that the killer flew in order to flee the scene of the crime.
Gumshoe, who was utterly confused by the case, had called Miles about it and asked for help. There were only two possibilities, and given how difficult a flying trick would be, it seemed far more likely that his theory was correct. Then again, his theory was just as far-fetched.
Miles felt his cell phone start vibrating in his coat pocket.Славься, славься, наш Русский Царь!
Господом данный нам Царь-Государь!
Да будет безсмерте—
“This is Edgeworth,” Miles said, answering his cell phone.
“I didn’t call at a bad time again, did I?” Gumshoe’s voice asked.
“No. It’s around nine over here. Still, I can’t understand why you’d call so late at night on your end.”
“I’m busy filing reports, sir.”
“On Franziska’s orders, I’m guessing.”
“I hope it’s not interfering with your work.”
“Oh, no, sir! I’m on double overtime!”
“Hm. Other than Franziska’s presence, how are things with you?”
“They’re just great, sir! I finally got the thermostat in my apartment fixed!”
“Ha. I see. Was it a do-it-yourself job or did you hire someone?”
“I hired someone,” Gumshoe said, sounding a little downcast. “When I tried to do it myself, the building blew a fuse and I got charged for the electrician to fix it. …So how are you? Have you made up with Ms. Skye yet?”
“Yes. She and I got engaged a month and a half ago.”
“That’s GREAT, sir! When’s the wedding!?”
“We haven’t decided on an exact date yet, but we’re planning for it to be sometime this spring. Ema’s quite excited about it.”
“Um… I’m… kinda scared to ask, but where is it?”
“We haven’t decided yet. Balboa Park was suggested, but neither of us saw much point in going all the way to San Diego just for a wedding. We’ll most likely have it at one of the churches in London—provided they’re willing to host a secular wedding.”
“Oh…” Gumshoe sounded extremely saddened by that news.
“I’d be willing to pay for your trip over here if money’s an issue for you.”
“No… I couldn’t… Not that much, sir…”
“If it means your presence at our wedding, Lana and I are both willing to pay.”
“I… I really couldn’t…”
“Not even if it was because I want you to be my best man?”
“N… No… I really need every penny I can earn… E-Even if you…” Gumshoe paused. Miles thought he heard the sound of crying.Poor Gumshoe…
“I’ll take Balboa Park into further consideration,” Miles said. “If the wedding were there, would you be able to attend?”
“Wh… What, sir?”
“If we had the wedding at Balboa Park, would you be able to attend.”
“Yes! Yes, sir!”
“I’ll talk to Lana about it, then. Don’t get your hopes up, but we’ll definitely give it more consideration than we initially did.”
“Thank you, sir…”
“Now… On a different note, has the Galactica case ended, or is it carrying over another day?”
“Not guilty. I gave Mr. Wright your messages, too.”
“I see… What made the case?”
“Just like you thought… Yesterday’s search really paid off, sir! Umm… You had it all figured out yesterday, didn’t you?”
“It was just a theory… If Acro really was the killer, I thought this was the only way it could end. Especially if ‘he’ was the defense attorney…”
“You mean Mr. Wright?”
“Of course… Well Detective, my plane is about to leave. Do me a favor and try not to be too harsh on Acro. Once I get back, I’ll make a stop by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.”
“Yes sir! I’ll be waiting for you! Goodbye Mr. Edgeworth!”
Miles sighed as he hung up. Admittedly, he felt somewhat sorry for Franziska, though he was glad the right verdict was given. Still, given her likely mood after losing a case, it was probably going to be a good idea to avoid her for the time being. The trip was more so business than social. The only reason he was going was in order to help convince the Bar Association that Lana could still prosecute. The British had been willing to excuse her actions, but the American system was unlikely to be so forgiving.
Lana had left for the United States the previous day. As Miles was engaged to her, he was not going to actually help decide whether or not she could become a prosecutor. However, he was going to attend the meeting to help Lana’s case. Dzhugashvili was going to be leading the panel, and he was known for sticking strictly to the rules. However, there were rules that he would likely forget. That was what Miles was there for; if necessary, he would bring up counterpoints to every point Dzhugashvili made.
“VIRGIN ATLANTIC FLIGHT 13, NON-STOP SERVICE TO LOS ANGELES, HAS COMMENCED BOARDING FOR UPPER CLASS PASSENGERS.”
Miles folded the newspaper up and placed it in his bag. After checking to make sure everything was in order, he walked over to the gate. The flight was going to be a long one. Then again, he chose Upper Class seating for a good reason. What better place on a jet to take a nap in than an Upper Class seat?
Miles could not help but smile as he walked into the Prosecutor’s Office Lobby the following day. The receptionist briefly glanced at Miles as he opened the door, then looked back to his computer. A moment later, he looked back at Miles in shock.
“M-Mr. Edgeworth!?” he exclaimed. “H… How…?”
“That can be cleared up later,” Miles answered. “I’m needed at the hearing for Ms. Lana Skye.”
Without another word, Miles walked to the elevator and called it, waiting a few moments before the doors opened with the familiar ding. He entered, pressing the button for the thirteenth floor as the doors closed.
Upon reaching the thirteenth floor, Miles walked into the meeting room. Several lawyers were waiting there to serve on the panel that would decide Lana’s case. Lana was already seated at an individual table while the rest of the tables were arranged in a U shape, all positioned so the panel could see Lana perfectly. Miles recognized several of the lawyers there. Marvin Grossberg’s unmistakable figure occupied one table next to Winston Payne. Dzhugashvili was at another table.
Miles took his seat next to Lana as the last members of the panel filed in.
“And here I was thinking Ms. Skye was joking,” Payne commented as Miles entered.
“I’d think my ring would prove that I wasn’t,” Lana replied.
“Moving on,” Dzhugashvili said, “everyone has arrived, so let’s begin the hearing. Ms. Skye, what is your reason for thinking you should be allowed to prosecute in the United States?”
“The forgeries I committed were coerced, and were Ema not in danger, I would have never committed them.”
“If your sister were to be used to force you to forge evidence again, would you?”
Lana didn’t answer.
“Ms. Skye, answer the question,” Dzhugashvili said.
“I don’t know,” Lana replied.
“And that is why we cannot let you prosecute here,” Payne said.
“What’s so funny, Mr. Edgeworth?” Grossberg asked.
“The argument that since Ms. Skye might act selfishly, she cannot prosecute,” Miles answered.
“Well, that is a rather—”
“Mr. Grossberg,” Miles interrupted. “The argument is severely flawed. Plenty of people are allowed to stand in court despite selfish desires. In fact, one such person recently did just that. If you’re going to use selfishness as an excuse to keep Ms. Skye from prosecuting, then it appears a fair number of you will need to be disbarred.”
“Excuse me? Mr. Edgeworth, I won’t have you slandering us.”
“It’s no slander. After all, Mr. Grossberg, I believe you are one such person who acted selfishly. Do you recall what I speak of?”
“My boy, I did nothing ille—”
“Stop right there. This argument is not about legality, but selfishness. You sold sensitive information for a large sum of money. I think few here would not call that selfish. In fact, that particular leak was illegal.”
Lana cleared her throat. “Indeed,” she said, “my time serving Gant has shown me that the legal world is not an altruistic one. At least half of you have acted selfishly at one point or another.”
“Nonsense!” Payne barked, striking the table with his left hand.
“Coldkiller X,” Lana said.
Payne winced. “I-I retract my previous statement.”
“How many of you can safely say that you have never once in your legal careers acted selfishly?” Lana continued.
There was no response.
Still nothing. Even Dzhugashvili was silent. Lana smiled.
“It looks like that argument has fallen short. What other reasons might there be for not allowing me to prosecute?”
“You broke the law,” Grossberg said.
“So did you,” Lana replied before Miles could speak, “yet you still have your badge.”
Grossberg didn’t reply, but it was clear that Lana’s statement had hit a nerve.
“The law is still the law,” Dzhugashvili said after a moment. “You are right in saying that there are lawyers who have broken the law. They will be dealt with as is necessary. The fact remains that you broke the law, though, and thus, you cannot be allowed to prosecute here.”
“I disagree,” Miles responded.
“Yes, Ms. Skye forged evidence. However, responsibility for the evidence used in court does not fall on the Chief Prosecutor. Rather, it falls on the prosecutor in charge of the case. As Ms. Skye has not directly prosecuted any cases here, she cannot be kept from prosecuting on the grounds that you outlined. However, if you intend to call for the disbarment of all lawyers who have presented forged evidence, knowingly or unknowingly, then the Prosecutor’s Office will be a rather lonely place before long.”
Dzhugashvili was silent for a moment, apparently thinking.Let me guess: “You’re only saying that because you love her.”
“Mr. Edgeworth, I think it’s rather clear that your reason for saying that is that you love Ms. Skye.”
“The law is the law,” Miles replied, smiling. “My reason for bringing it up does not change the fact that it will need to be enforced if your demands are to be met.”
“Surely you realize that you will be among the disbarred.”
“Of course I realize it. After all, I’m the first person who used Gant’s handiwork.”
No one seemed willing to speak.
“So,” Miles continued, “is there anything more that needs to be debated? Indeed, Mr. Dzhugashvili raises a valid point. However, this panel would not be voting on the matter were the law all that carried weight in this hearing.”
“Hm,” Dzhugashvili hummed. “I have a proposal. Ms. Skye, you are currently authorized to prosecute in the United Kingdom, correct?”
“Yes,” Lana replied.
“In that case, I propose that you prosecute there for one year. After the year has passed, we will review your record there and use only that to decide whether or not you shall be allowed to prosecute here. Does that sound fair?”
“What about the rest of you?” Dzhugashvili asked the panel. “Any objections?”
There was no response.
“Then we have a consensus. Ms. Skye, you will return in one year to have your record reviewed and your privilege to prosecute in the United States ascertained.”
“Thank you,” Lana replied.
“That is all. This meeting is adjourned.”
Dzhugashvili stood up and calmly walked out. The rest of the panel did likewise, as did Miles and Lana. As they waited for everyone to walk out the door before they left, there was an uneasy silence between them.I hope I didn’t offend her… The way I spoke in there, I didn’t give Lana a chance to prove her point on her own…
“Miles…” Lana finally said as they walked toward the elevators, “back in the meeting… were you bluffing?”
“Bluffing?” Miles asked, confused.
“When you pointed out your own responsibility for the evidence, would you have really accepted disbarment over this, or were you bluffing?”
“It was no bluff,” Miles answered without any pause. “Justice means very much to me, but I won’t fight for a system that is unjust even if it is in the pursuit of justice.” He looked to Lana. “There was also you to consider. I wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing as you took partial blame for Gant’s crimes. You deserve another chance; I wasn’t going to let the Bar Association be swayed by a bad first impression.”
Lana took Miles’s right hand in her left as they walked. “You risked your badge for me. I didn’t know you cared about me that much.”Was it really for you? If I was helping someone I had a neutral opinion of, would I have done the same?
“I choose to believe you did it for me,” Lana said, apparently noticing Miles’s sudden change in facial expression. “And even if you didn’t, that wouldn’t change anything. I know you take pride in your duty. Whether you do it for yourself or for someone else, as long as it’s just, I approve of it.”Hopefully, choosing between you and justice will never be an issue.
“I’ll catch up with you in a moment,” Miles said to Lana. “I need to have a word with the Chief Prosecutor.”
“Okay.” Lana let go of Miles’s hand as the elevator heading down to the parking lot arrived. She was about to walk in, but then stopped and turned back to Miles. “What do you think about going out for dinner tonight?”
“Do you have anywhere in particular in mind?”
“I’m fine with any place. I’m not picky.”
“As long as it’s not some squalid diner, I’m fine with any place.”
“Okay. I’ll call you once I’ve chosen a place. Does that sound—”
The elevator buzzed loudly, interrupting Lana’s question.
“That sounds fine,” Miles replied over the buzzing.
Lana smiled, her teeth shining like polished white marble, before entering the elevator.
Miles turned to another elevator and called for one to take him up. It didn’t take long for one to arrive. He stepped in and went to the twentieth floor.Why do I get the feeling Dzhugashvili’s the new Chief Prosecutor?
Miles approached the door, and, sure enough, the plaque in front said, IVAN DZHUGASHVILI. He knocked on the door.
“Come in,” Dzhugashvili said from the other side. Miles opened the door and walked in. Apparently, Dzhugashvili had seen fit to change the décor. Rather than the high-tech modern appearance it had when Lana was the Chief Prosecutor, the office now looked like a trip to the 19th Century. The only modern-looking object in the room was the computer. A gigantic dark wood bookcase lined an entire wall, stretching from floor to ceiling and filled with numerous law books, case files, and leisure reading. “Have a seat,” Dzhugashvili said.
“Thank you,” Miles replied, sitting down in the chair in front of Dzhugashvili’s desk.
“I have to admit, I didn’t expect you to go so far for Ms. Skye.”
“I don’t know whether I pointed out our responsibility to save Lana or because it simply needed to be considered.”
“Would you have done that had the person at the hearing, for example, been Mr. Payne?”
“Exactly. It appears you are still swayed by personal opinions and emotion from time to time.”
“However, regardless of the reason, I was still correct.”
“That you were, which is why I kept your argument in mind. …Moving on, is there something you wished to discuss with me?”
“Yes. I get the impression that my parting message led to a rather serious misunderstanding.”
“To some, yes,” Dzhugashvili stated. “Your friend Mr. Wright apparently thinks rather ill of you now.”
“I’ll tend to that wound when the time comes. More importantly, has my record here been terminated?”
“No. I was almost certain you were still alive. Had you really died, I’m sure Detective Gumshoe would have been far more depressed than he acted.”
“I see. Did he actually tell anyone?”
“No. Anyway, if your record’s all you came to ask about, then that’s it.”
“That’s all. I imagine I’ll come back every now and then. I’m sure Franziska’s under a lot of stress.”
“That much is quite clear. The detectives are under even more stress because of it.”
“I hope she hasn’t given you any trouble.”
“Not at all. The instant she tried to whip me the first time, I blocked the whip with my cane. when the whip wound around it, I easily wrested it from her hands. Ever since then, she’s had a good understanding of who’s in charge.”
“Congratulations,” Miles said with a laugh. “Very few people can tame that wild mare.”
“I got that impression.”
For a moment, neither of them spoke.
“Anyway,” Dzhugashvili said, “if that’s all you came for, then you may go.”
“That’s all,” Miles said as he got up. “I’m sure we’ll meet again soon enough.”
“Until we meet again,” Dzhugashvili said as Miles walked out the door.
Mere seconds after Miles entered the elevator, his cell phone rang.
“This is Edgeworth,” he said upon answering it.
“Miles,” Lana said, “I’m really sorry, but we’re going to have to cancel our date.”
“Why? Did something come up?”
“Yes. Ema called during the meeting, saying that she found Barbara lying on the floor of our apartment.”
“No, just inactive. She was breathing, and could still tell when Ema or Katara was nearby, but she wouldn’t get up.”
“She’s at the vet now, but Ema wants me to be available to call once the diagnosis is done.”
“Okay… Do you want me to come to your room?”
“No… Not now, anyway.”
“I understand. If you ever feel you need to be with me, just call me. I’ll be over as soon as possible.”
“Best wishes, Lana,” Miles said.
“Thanks. You, too.”
Lana ended the call. Miles had a strong feeling Barbara was not going to live much longer. According to Lana, she was almost twenty, which was very old for a cat. In addition, she was already suffering from all sorts of problems; she was almost completely blind, had arthritic limbs, vomited almost daily, and was extremely skinny despite having an excellent diet. Even if Barbara survived this latest problem, she was unlikely to live for more than a few months.It’s at a time like this that families need to be together. I’ll be there for you, Lana. For Ema, too. After all, both of you will be part of my family soon enough.