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property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
WARNING: Casey-lovers beware.
Silly Defamation Thing
Alex brought the picture in to study it more closely. "So that's what happens to a body after six months in the water," she mused. She handed it to her legal assistant. "Have this one and the shotgun to the face"--she rifled through the stack and held out a second photo--"blown up for trial."
When Alex looked up again, her assistant was still there. "Yes, Marie?" She didn't have a lot of time for socializing, not if she wanted to be on time for the Collins autopsy.
The woman hesitated, then wordlessly handed her something.
As she examined it, horror dawned on Alex's face. "Oh, my God," she mumbled. "Oh, my--" Reaching for the trash basket beneath her desk, she lost her rice pilaf and small Greek salad with house dressing and extra feta into it. In one of the rare instances since she'd become an ADA, tears filled her blue eyes. "Who could hate me this much?" she asked.
Silence filled the room.
NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT, COMMERCIAL DIVISION
JUDGE LENA PETROVSKY PRESIDING BY SPECIAL APPOINTMENT
"And that, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, is when the defendant, wilfully and with malice aforethought, wrote a story depicting me in a relationship with--"
Alex closed her eyes, then opened them again to seek out the one person who could steady her nerves. The detective's caring gaze was like a lifeline. Olivia had been a rock throughout this whole thing, from the moment she hurried over to the ADA's office in response to the assistant's urgent call, staring in disbelief at the writing titled "Prosecutorial Misconduct: Two Lawyers in Love."
"How can people do things like this to each other, Olivia?"
Some people just aren't right, Alex. We can't try to understand it, we can only try to get past it."
Olivia had been there, night after night, offering a shoulder to cry on when the attorney didn't think she could get through it. A helping hand for Alex to hold, a soothing breast to lay her head upon, a nice firm ass to--
"Oh. Yes." Alex blinked. "--with Casey Novak," she resumed. She picked up a 27-page stapled document from the table and opened it to a random spot. "`Oh, Casey, when I see you in that shade of purple, I get this strange urge,' the blonde attorney whispered.'"
"Stop!" the judge interrupted. "You are forbidden to use the words `urge' and `Casey' in the same sentence again in my courtroom."
Alex flipped the sheet over. "Does your ruling apply to the word `throbbing'?"
"As in `Novak's question sucked'?"
"Uh . . . ." Alex cringed as she skimmed the text. "No."
Petrovsky scowled at her.
"Understood, Your Honor; I'll move on." Alex nodded to the bailiff. "Lights please, Harry."
"Anything for you, Miss Cabot."
Defense counsel shot to her feet. "Your Honor, I renew my objection to this exhibit under Rule 403. Its probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect."
"Save it," Petrovsky snapped. "Your client should have thought of that before she wrote that so-called `story.'"
Counsel remained standing. "Further, Your Honor, I must again renew my motion to dismiss based upon the First Amendment," she said. "Ms. Sorong has a right to express herself."
"Does your client have the right to yell `fire' in a crowded theater?" Petrovsky asked.
"Does she have a right to falsely accusely someone of committing mass murder?"
The overhead lights dimmed, and an image appeared on the screen. The jury gasped.
Wielding a long pointer, Alex slapped it against the screen. "Note the complexion, even after makeup has been applied," she said. The next slide appeared, and she whacked the screen again. "The color coordinated outfit with gogo boots actually worn to court."
"Oh, God, I remember that day," Petrovsky said.
"And now . . . ." Alex nodded again to her assistant. "The video."
On the back row, two jurors wept openly.
The defendant's attorney leapt to her feet. "This is all immaterial, Your Honor. It's not defamatory to suggest that someone has bad taste--" She glanced at a full-on shot of Novak walking down the hall. "Really bad taste in women."
"What is your response to that, Miss Cabot?" Petrovsky asked.
"Your Honor, a statement is defamatory if it has a tendency to subject the victim to public scorn or ridicule," Cabot recited. "That includes accusations that the victim is mentally deranged."
"Mentally deranged?" counsel complained. "Oh, come on. No one reading this story could reasonably think Ms. Cabot is deranged just because she went out with Casey Novak. Stupid, yes. Desperate, yes. Legally blind, yes."
"If I may, Your Honor," Alex said. "I believe that Exhibit 17 will resolve this issue." She gestured again to her assistant, and a new image appeared on the screen.
"This, members of the jury, is Detective Olivia Benson," Alex said.
All six jurors leaned forward eagerly.
"In writing 'Prosecutorial Misconduct,' Ms. Sorong implied that I would consider sleeping with Casey Novak while Detective Benson existed anywhere on the planet," Alex argued.
"Objection overruled," Petrovsky said to counsel. Observing a commotion in the jury box, she banged her gavel. "Enough of that!" she shouted. "You jurors in the back row, return to your seats."
"No," a man said, crossing his arms in defiance. "They've been in front the whole time. We demand to be allowed to move to the front row." The other two nodded their agreement.
"A copy of Exhibit 17 will be made available in the jury room," Petrovsky said.
"Oh. OK, then." He lifted himself off Juror No. 2's lap and climbed back over the padded seat.
Alex watched as the jury filed out to begin its deliberations, then strolled into the public area, where she settled in beside Olivia to wait.
Three minutes later, the bailiff entered the courtroom and handed a note to the judge.
"The jury has requested individual copies of Exhibit Number 17 and some pizza," Petrovsky read. "They also want to know whether they are limited to an award of damages against the defendant, or whether imprisonment is an option."
"Well, that's ridiculous, of course," defense counsel said.
"Just because it hasn't been done before doesn't make it wrong," Alex replied. "The best judges are those who think outside the box."
"Hmm." The judge stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Time to make new law, I think. Tell the jury they can go up to six months."
"You can't do that, Your Honor!"
"Guess you'll have to appeal me, then," Petrovsky said. "You should have a ruling in, oh, about six months."
The bailiff departed, and almost immediately entered with another note.
"The jury says thanks, and they'll be out as soon as they've finished their pizza," Petrovsky reported.
Alex reached for Olivia's hand. "It's almost over," she said. "I have a good feeling about it."
"Then we can go home to celebrate," Olivia replied. "I'm thinking some red wine, some take-out Czechoslovakian, some 69ing on top of the dresser . . . ."
"Oh, Liv," Alex said. "Recreating our first date!" She smiled adoringly. "You always know just what to say . . . ."
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