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SPOILERS: 4.09 Juvenile.
The Sum of Contradictions: 44 Pyrrhus
By beurre blanc
"So, how did it go today?"
Alex took a breath, uncharacteristically lost for words. Finally she offered, "Not one of my more comfortable days in court."
Olivia raised her brows at Alex's careful phrase.
Blue eyes surveyed the ceiling for a moment, before the attorney gave a resigned sigh. "I'm not sure how I'm going to get out of this one, Liv."
"What you do mean? What happened?"
One word summed it all up for Alex. "Liz."
"Yes. You know she busted me to second chair?"
"Yeah, I heard."
Alex paused again, and Olivia waited, watching her. There was clearly some internal debate going on, and Alex was choosing her words far more carefully than was warranted by the circumstances as Olivia knew them.
The detective was on the verge of speaking, when Alex said suddenly, "I think I'm being played, Liv."
"I'm being played. Liz is maneuvering, and I think she's using me as her proxy. I think." She paused, frustrated. "It's just I'm not sure what her agenda really is. She's hard to read at the best of times, but right now There's nothing concrete, just this sense that I'm not aware of the bigger picture here."
Olivia nodded, waiting for Alex to continue.
"Three months ago I was the golden child she as much as told me she's grooming me for bigger things. And now, without warning, she not only attempts to dictate my job to me, she relegates me to second chair when I stick to my guns!"
"About my recommendation to refer him to Family Court for the DA to use his discretion and deal with him as a child, not as an adult, in the hope that he will benefit from rehabilitation and mentoring."
"And what did she say, exactly?"
"She told me that the DA disagreed with my recommendation, leaving me less than a day to prepare to go before the Grand Jury. She left me no room to move."
"Even though DNA proves Zachary Connor committed the rape, and almost certainly the murder as well?"
"Yes. Jeremy has been charged with felony murder and burglary one: the predicate felony is the burglary, and he confessed to that. So, even though we know he neither raped nor murdered Susan O'Striker, the fact he was an admitted participant makes him complicit in the murder, whether he committed the act or not. Liz's opinion is that he's old enough to have known that the burglary was wrong, and that someone could be killed."
"But he's just a child, and an immature one at that."
"That's what I tried to tell her. Jeremy lacks the capacity to ascribe greater relative importance to such an abstract concept as a potential consequence, especially when he's facing the concrete reality of a burglary gone wrong, an injured woman, and a dominant character to whom he looks up as his only friend, yelling at him and telling him what to do. He's got no other friends. None. He's immature, and easily led, and he'll do pretty much anything this other boy bids him do, to retain his 'friendship'. That's his comfortable paradigm do what Zachary says, and he'll be your friend, and then you'll have value. Then suddenly everything is out of control, there's fear and panic, and he's confused and upset. He's in no position to act in anyone's best interests but his own, and for him - that means doing what Zachary demands. That means get him the knife."
"Alex, there's no way Jeremy could have foreseen what Zachary would do. I mean, he was so panicked and upset he puked on the rug!"
"I know, I know. But he is fourteen, and the Law says he's mature enough to predict the consequences of handing Zach the knife." Alex paused, and looked Olivia directly in the eye. "Reality says the kid had no idea."
"But how can that be fair?"
"It isn't. It's not fair, Liv! It's not fair, and it's not just, and you and I both know that." Alex closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.
Olivia reached forward and laid a hand over Alex's. The blonde opened tired eyes, stood up from her easy chair, and moved to the couch, sitting beside Olivia, and leaning into the comfort of the detective's embrace. After a moment, she began again.
"You know Liz went to town on Jeremy today? First, she tried to make their expert witness look like a third grader, and then, as if her impression on the jury wasn't quite bad enough, she destroyed the poor child, and in doing so made herself look like a soulless bitch."
"And you sat through that?"
"What else could I do? Mutiny?"
Olivia's look was mildly challenging. Alex sighed in resignation, and shook her head.
"I can't make this right if I'm off the team, Liv."
"I know, Alex. I know," conceded Olivia, tightening her embrace in emphasis. "So, what now?"
"Oh, well here's the kicker." Alex sat up and turned towards Olivia. "Liz knows the jury won't give her any sympathy," 'jury already thinks I make little kids cry,' " so she wants me to call the rebuttal witness: Zachary Connor."
"But his case is still sub judice isn't it? Won't that be inadmissible?"
Alex shook her head. "As of today he has been adjudicated by Family Court, so his testimony can't be tainted by his co-conspirator status."
"Well, there's your chance. If you can show the inequity of the friendship between these boys, and the influence Zachary wields, maybe the jury will see things more favorably for Jeremy."
Alex nodded, more to herself than to Olivia.
"Maybe that's what Liz was after all along," Olivia said suddenly. "Maybe that's her way of appeasing the DA, and still bringing the full story out in court."
"Deliberately demonizing herself, so that I can earn the jury's sympathy vote?"
"Something like that. You did say you were being played."
Alex pursed her lips, and shook her head slowly. "No. No, I don't think so."
"Why not? What doesn't add up?"
Alex gave Olivia a questioning glance.
"I know you," elaborated the brunette. "Something doesn't make sense to you. What is it?"
Alex relaxed a little, and smiled briefly at Olivia's insight. "If that was Liz's objective all along, why keep the strategy a secret from me? How could that possibly be effective? No," she said resolutely, "No. Despite her brassiness, Liz is far more subtle than most people give her credit for. No, there's something else going on here between her and the new administration. I just can't tell what that is yet."
"And what brings you to this neck of the woods, Counselor?"
"Hello, John. I'm here about the O'Striker case. Is Olivia here?"
"Due back any second."
"My office, if you like?"
"What do you mean he's going to jail? That's bullshit!"
"Why the hell didn't he get offered a deal?"
"He did, and it was a good one, too."
"His mother wouldn't take it. In her eyes, he's a good kid: he made a mistake, but he's a good kid. Not even Gina Bernardo could convince her. She was determined to believe that the jury would see that he didn't do any of the 'actual bad stuff'."
"I'm sure they did, but it's not that simple."
The four men waited expectantly for Alex to explain. She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. Jeremy was a confessed participant in the burglary, and the rape and murder were consequences of that act. Even with Zach's admission in court that he committed both the rape and the murder, the law is clear: Jeremy is guilty of burglary, and felony murder. The jury had no choice."
"Aww, c'mon Counselor. That's not justice."
Alex looked up to see Olivia slip into the room. The detective caught her eye.
"It's the law, Fin, and there is no room for interpretation here."
"So the kid who commits rape and murder goes JO and gets 'rehabilitated', and his poor dumb impressionable buddy gets 10 to 25 in Attica?"
Alex looked at Munch and nodded.
"With all those other charming rapists and murderers to take 'advantage' of his poor dumb ass?"
Alex's shoulders slumped slightly at the implication. You think I don't know that?
"Well," said Munch with jovial sarcasm, "A great day for the DA's office. I'd say that calls for a celebration." He raised an imaginary glass. "To Pyrrhus."
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