Chapter Thirty

According to Napier and Nitchman, Mr. Cristano at Justice desperately wanted a full report on what had happened last night when Hoppy met Millie for their latest personal visit. "Everything?" Hoppy asked. The three were huddled over a rickety table in a smoky diner, sipping boiled coffee from paper cups and waiting for greasy grilled cheese sandwiches.

"Skip the personal stuff," Napier said, doubtful if there was much personal stuff to skip.

If they only knew, Hoppy thought, still quite proud of himself. "Well, I showed Millie the memo on Robilio," he said, not knowing how much of the truth he should tell.


"And, well, she read it."

"Of course she read it. Then what did she do?" Napier asked.

"What was her response?" Nitchman asked.

Sure, he could lie and tell them she was stunned by the memo, believed every word of it, and couldn't wait to show it to her pals on the jury. That's what they wanted to hear. But Hoppy didn't know what to do. Lying could only make matters worse. "She didn't respond too well," he said, then told them the truth.

When the sandwiches arrived, Nitchman left to call Mr. Cristano. Hoppy and Napier ate without looking at each other. Hoppy felt like such a failure. Surely he was one step closer to prison.

"When do you see her again?" asked Napier.

"Not sure. The Judge hasn't said yet. There's a chance the trial could be over this weekend."

Nitchman returned and took his seat. "Mr. Cristano is on his way," he said gravely, and Hoppy's stomach began to churn. "He'll be here late tonight and wants to meet with you first thing in the morning."


"He is not a happy man."

"Neither am I."

ROHR SPENT his lunch hour locked in his office with Cleve, doing the dirty work that had to be kept to themselves. Most of the other lawyers used runners like Cleve to spread cash and chase cases and perform dark little deeds not taught in law school, but none of them would ever admit to such unethical activity. Trial lawyers keep their runners to themselves.

Rohr had several choices. He could tell Cleve to tell Derrick Maples to get lost. He could pay Derrick Maples $25,000 in cash, and he could promise another $25,000 for each plaintiff's vote in the final verdict, assuming there would be at least nine. This would cost $225,000 at most, a sum Rohr was perfectly willing to pay. But he was extremely doubtful Angel Weese could deliver more than two votes-her own and maybe Loreen Duke's. She was not a leader. He could manipulate Derrick into approaching the lawyers for the defense, then try to catch them in bed together. This would probably result in Angel's getting removed, an event Rohr did not want.

Rohr could wire Cleve, capture incriminating statements from Derrick, then threaten the kid with criminal prosecution if he didn't lean on his girlfriend. This was risky, because the bribery plot had been hatched in Rohr's own office.

They covered each scenario with the seasoned judgment of men who'd done it before. A hybrid was developed.

"Here's what we'll do," Rohr said. "We'll give him fifteen grand now, promise the other ten after the verdict, and we'll also get him on tape now. We'll mark some of the bills, set him up for later. We'll promise him twenty-five for the other votes, and if we get our verdict, then we'll screw him when he demands the rest. We'll have him on tape, and when he makes noise we'll threaten to call the FBI."

"I like it," Cleve said. "He gets his money, we get our verdict, he gets screwed. Sounds like justice to me."

"Get yourself wired and get the cash. This needs to be done this afternoon."

BUT DERRICK had other plans. They met in a lounge at the Resort Casino, a dark bar sadly filled with losers massaging their losses with cheap drinks while outside the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was inching toward seventy.

Derrick wasn't about to get a postverdict screwing. He wanted Angel's twenty-five thousand in cash, now, up front, and he also wanted a "deposit," as he called it, for each of the other jurors. A preverdict deposit. In cash too, of course, something reasonable and fair, say, five thousand per juror. Cleve did the quick math, and got it wrong. Derrick was figuring on a unanimous verdict, so the deposit of five grand times eleven other jurors worked out nicely to fifty-five thousand dollars. Add Angel's, and all Derrick wanted was eighty thousand cash now.

He knew a girl in the clerk's office, and this friend had looked at the file. "You guys are suing the tobacco company for millions," he said, every word getting captured by a body mike in Cleve's shirt pocket. "Eighty thousand is a drop in the bucket."

"You're crazy," Cleve said.

"And you're crooked."

"There's no way we can pay eighty thousand cash. Like I said before, when the money gets too big, then we run the risk of getting caught."

"Fine. I'll go talk to the tobacco company."

"You do that. I'll read about it in the newspapers."

They didn't finish their drinks. Cleve again left early, but this time Derrick did not chase him.

THE PARADE of beauties continued Thursday afternoon as Cable put on the stand Dr. Myra Sprawling-Goode, a black professor and researcher at Rutgers who turned every head in the depraved courtroom as she presented herself for testimony. She was almost six feet tall, as striking and slender and well dressed as the last witness. Her creamy light brown skin creased perfectly as she smiled at the jurors, a smile that lingered on Lonnie Shaver, who actually smiled back.

Cable had an unlimited budget when he began his search for experts, so he was not compelled to use people who weren't sharp and glib and able to connect with average folk. He had videotaped Dr. Sprawling-Goode twice before he hired her, then once during her deposition in Rohr's office. Like all his witnesses, she had spent two days getting grilled in a mock courtroom setting a month before ,the trial began. She crossed her legs and the courtroom took a collective deep breath.

She was a professor of marketing with two doctorates and impressive credentials, no surprise. She'd spent eight years in advertising on Madison Avenue after she had completed her education, then returned to academia, where she belonged. Her field of expertise was consumer advertising, a subject she taught at the graduate level and one she researched continually. Her purpose at the trial soon became clear. A cynic might have claimed she was there to look pretty, to connect with Lonnie Shaver and Loreen Duke and Angel Weese, to make them proud that a fellow African-American was perfectly capable of projecting expert opinions in this crucial trial.

She was actually there because of Fitch. Six years earlier, after a scare in New Jersey in which a jury stayed out three days before returning with a defense verdict, Fitch had hatched the plan to find an attractive female researcher, preferably at a reputable university, to take a chunk of grant money and study cigarette advertising and its effects on teenagers. The parameters of the project would be vaguely defined by the source of the money, and Fitch was hoping the study would one day be useful in a trial.

Dr. Sprawling-Goode had never heard of Rankin Fitch. She had received an eight-hundred-thousand-dollar grant from the Consumer Product Institute, an obscure and previously unheard of think tank in Ottawa which existed, it claimed, to study the marketing trends of thousands of consumer products. She knew little about the Consumer Product Institute. Neither did Rohr. He and his investigators had been digging for two years. It was very private, protected to some degree by Canadian law, and apparently funded by large consumer product companies, none of which appeared to be cigarette manufacturers.

Her findings were contained in a handsome, bound, two-inch-thick report, which Cable got admitted into evidence. It joined a stack of other exhibits as an official piece of the record. Exhibit number eighty-four, to be exact, adding to the twenty thousand or so pages already in evidence and expected to be reviewed by the jury during deliberations.

After the thorough and efficient setup, her findings were succinct and unsurprising. With certain clearly defined and obvious exceptions, all advertising for consumer products is aimed at young adults. Cars, toothpaste, soap, cereal, beer, soft drinks, apparel, cologne-all of the most heavily advertised products have young adults as their target audience. The same is true for cigarettes. Sure, they are portrayed as the products of choice of the thin and beautiful, the active and carefree, the rich and glamorous. But so are countless other products.

She then ticked off a list of specifics, starting with automobiles. When was the last time you saw a TV ad for a sports car with a fat fifty-year-old man behind the wheel? Or a mini-van driven by an obese housewife with six kids and a dirty dog hanging out the windows? Never happens. Beer? You got ten guys sitting in a den watching the Super Bowl. Most have hair, strong chins, perfect jeans, and flat stomachs. This is not reality, but it's successful advertising.

Her testimony became quite humorous as she went through her list. Toothpaste? Ever see an ugly person with ugly teeth grinning at you through the TV? Of course not. They all have perfect teeth. Even in the acne commercials the troubled teens have only a pimple or two.

She smiled easily and even giggled at times at her own comments. The jury smiled along with her. Her point found its mark repeatedly. If successful advertising depends on targeting young adults, why shouldn't tobacco companies be allowed to do it?

She stopped smiling when Cable moved her to the issue of targeting kids. She and her research team had found no evidence of this, and they had studied thousands of tobacco ads over the past forty years. They had watched, studied, and cataloged every cigarette ad used during the TV days. And she noted, almost in an aside, that smoking had increased since such ads were banned from TV. She had spent almost two years searching for evidence that tobacco companies target teens, because she had started the project with this unfounded bias. But it simply wasn't true.

In her opinion, the only way to prevent kids from being influenced by cigarette ads was to ban all of them-billboards, buses, newspapers, magazines, coupons. And, in her opinion, this would do nothing to slow tobacco sales. It would have no impact whatsoever on underage smoking.

Cable thanked her as if she were a volunteer. She'd already been paid sixty thousand dollars to testify, and would send a bill for another fifteen. Rohr, who was anything but a gentleman, knew the pitfalls of attacking such a pretty lady in the Deep South. He delicately probed instead. He had lots of questions about the Consumer Product Institute, and the eight hundred thousand dollars it had paid for this study. She told him everything she knew. It was an academic body established to study trends and formulate policy. It was funded by private industry.

"Any tobacco companies?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"Any subsidiaries of tobacco companies?"

"I'm not sure."

He asked her about companies related to tobacco companies, parent companies, sister companies, and divisions and conglomerates, and she knew nothing.

She knew nothing because that was the way Fitch had planned it.

CLAIRE'S TRAIL took an unexpected turn Thursday morning. The ex-boyfriend of a friend of Claire's took a thousand dollars in cash and said his ex-girlfriend was now in Greenwich Village working as a waitress while aspiring to do serious work in soap operas. His ex-girlfriend and Claire had worked together at Mulligan's and allegedly had been close friends. Swanson flew to New York, arrived late Thursday afternoon, and took a cab to a small hotel in SoHo where he paid cash for one night and started making calls. He found Beverly at work in a pizzeria. She answered the phone in a hurry.

"Is this Beverly Monk?" Swanson asked, in his best imitation of Nicholas Easter. He'd listened to his recorded voice many times.

"It is. Who is this?"

"The Beverly Monk who once worked at Mulligan's in Lawrence?"

A pause, then, "Yes. Who is this?"

"This is Jeff Kerr, Beverly. It's been a long time." Swanson and Fitch were gambling that after Claire and Jeff left Lawrence they had not kept in touch with Beverly.

"Who?" she asked, and Swanson was relieved.

"Jeff Kerr. You know, I went with Claire. I was a law student."

"Oh yeah," she said as if maybe she remembered him and maybe she didn't.

"Look, I'm in the city, and I was wondering if you've heard from Claire recently."

"I don't understand," she said slowly, obviously trying to place the name with the face and figure out who was who and why was he here.

"Yeah, it's a long story, but Claire and I split six months ago. I'm sorta looking for her."

"I haven't talked to Claire in four years."

"Oh, I see."

"Look, I'm real busy. Maybe some other time."

"Sure." Swanson hung up and called Fitch. They decided it was worth the risk to approach Beverly Monk, with cash, and ask about Claire. If she hadn't talked to her in four years, it would be impossible for her to quickly find Marlee and report the contact. Swanson would follow her, and wait until tomorrow.

EACH JURY CONSULTANT was required by Fitch to prepare a one-page report at the close of trial each day. One page, double-spaced, straightforward, with no words beyond four syllables and setting forth in clear language that expert's impressions of the day's witnesses and how their testimony was received by the jury. Fitch demanded honest opinions, and had berated his experts before when the language was too sugary. He insisted on pessimism. The reports were due on his desk precisely one hour after Judge Harkin recessed for the day.

Wednesday's reports on Jankle were mixed to bad, but Thursday's summaries of Dr. Denise McQuade and Dr. Myra Sprawling-Goode were nothing short of magnificent. Aside from brightening up a drab courtroom packed with boring men in dull suits, both women had performed well on the stand. The jurors paid attention, and seemed to believe what they heard. Especially the men.

Still, Fitch was not consoled. He had never felt worse at this point in a trial. The defense had lost one of its most sympathetic jurors with the exit of Herrera. The New York financial press had suddenly declared the defense to be on the ropes and was openly concerned about a plaintiff's verdict. Barker's column in Mogul was the week's hottest topic. Jankle had been a disaster. Luther Vandemeer of Trellco, the smartest and most influential of the Big Four CEO's, had called with harsh words during lunch. The jury was sequestered, and the longer the trial dragged on, the more blame the jurors would heap upon the party now calling the witnesses.

THE TENTH NIGHT of sequestration passed without incident. No wayward lovers. No unauthorized trips to casinos. No spontaneous yoga at full volume. Herrera was missed by no one. He had packed in minutes and left, telling the Sheriff repeatedly he was being framed and vowing to get to the bottom of it.

An impromptu checkers tournament began in the dining room after dinner. Herman had a braille board with numbered spaces, and the night before, he'd whipped Jerry eleven straight games. Challenges were issued, and Herman's wife brought his board to the room and a crowd gathered. In less than an hour, he took three straight from Nicholas, three more from Jerry, three from Henry Vu, who'd never played the game, three straight from Willis, and was about to play Jerry again, this time for a small wager, when Loreen Duke entered the room in search of another dessert. She'd played the game as a child with her father. When she beat Herman in the first game, there was not the slightest trace of sympathy for the blind man. They played until curfew.

Phillip Savelle stayed in his room, as usual. He spoke occasionally during meals at the motel and during coffee breaks in the jury room, but he was perfectly content to keep his nose in a book and ignore everyone.

Nicholas had tried twice to reach him, to no avail. He would not suffer small talk, and wanted no one to know anything about him.