Saturday, January 31, 2009


Arthur smiled at me. “I know exactly what you’re thinking - 'another ferkokta alibi.' Can't say I did not have the same view, which I conveyed to my client, Mr. Beltran aka Joker. That’s precisely when we got off on the wrong foot so to say. Mr. Beltran reacted quite negatively to my suggestion that his “alibi” was an alibi much in need of corroboration. Indeed, he very quickly began questioning my competency as an attorney. In his own words ‘I want a Real Lawyer!’ Ah yes there were several Marsdens*, all, unfortunately without success - I remained Joker's lawyer. Joker was not happy. He even made threats of dire physical consequences to myself if I didn’t remove myself from his case. He didn’t understand that I was unable to comply because I could not simply pass him and his most unpleasant personality on to a colleague as much as I may have liked to - simply a case of 'do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you'. When he realized we were stuck with each other he took to calling me “old man” – I believe he considered this insulting. I can’t say I especially enjoyed it, really, am I that old? I’m a relatively young 73 year old. I could be President of the United States or even an Astronaut! Don't you think?"
I agreed with Arthur even though I couldn't help but think that Arthur Famish was - kind of a throwback to another era.

*Marsden motion is a request from a defendant for the Judge to replace his current attorney (public defender or court appointed) with another attorney, based on the incompetent representation of the current attorney.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The Judge took the bench and the dock started to fill up with prisoners waiting to be arraigned. Arthur seemed to snap out of it. “Her name was Imelda. What she was doing with Joker who could imagine? A real nice girl. She had to nudge Joker to death before he agreed to have their little girl baptized. She threatened to take the baby to the church by herself if he wouldn’t come. Joker would never let her go outside by herself – ever. She literally could not go out without him. She said it was like being in a prison. So they went to the church. It was on Christmas Day. There was nobody there but the new priest and there was no way he was going to do the baptism but she started crying and the priest agreed to perform the ceremony if they paid the $50 in cash, no checks, no cards."
"So what's the problem? Sounds like the perfect alibi? I'm already dismissing the case."
Arthur wasn't amused. "The problem, boychik, is that Joker stood outside on the front stairs of the church so he wouldn't be deprived of his cigarettes. Joker didn't drink but he sure needed his heroin and his cigarettes. And also, according to Imelda, Joker did not like churches."
I couldn’t believe Arthur was so serious about it – like what was he going to do with that as an alibi?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Arthur stuffed a whole donut in his mouth as he explained his case. "The worst part of it was Joker had an alibi."
I grabbed one of Arthur’s donuts before he could get to it.
“He was at his daughter’s baptism at a Roman Catholic Church in El Sereno at the exact moment that Boxer was being gunned down.”
It hit me now was the moment for me to get out of div 30 otherwise I'd be trapped with Arthur's story. He takes his cases and his stories so personally. I quickly excuse myself to approach one of the court clerks. I ask her if the Judge might let me out of there early cause I could see that nothing was happening this Christmas Eve. She shook her head like everybody in the universe had just been asking the same question. “There’s another bus on its way from jail!” I go back to our desk by the front door. Arthur hasn’t moved.
“You took my donut” he says like he just noticed.
“I thought it was for me.”
“If you wanted one I would’ve gotten one for you. Now the snack bar’s closed.”
“You should be.”
“Okay, okay, so what about the wits for your guy's alibi?”
“Exactly – the witnesses. You’ve got to understand that Mr. Beltran’s former attorney - the one he neglected to pay, thus giving me the opportunity of representing Mr. Beltran, had already done some preliminary investigation of this alibi. Evidently the only person on earth who could remember and corroborate Joker’s story was Joker’s wife. You look at me askance – yes Joker had a wife. She insisted on showing me the marriage certificate when she came to my office. She was quite the pretty little thing.” And then Arthur kind of got lost in the haze of memory.