Anonymous Tip: The Seattle Stranger

Anonymous Tip: The Seattle Stranger July 17, 2015

A Review Series of Anonymous Tip, by Michael Farris

Pp. 92-95

This week we have the ex parte hearing with Judge Romer, in which Lawyer Peter Barron asks the judge to order Casey to be examined by a psychologist of his choosing in addition to the CPS-selected psychologist. During a conversation between Peter and Prosecutor Gail Willet in the last section, we learned that the defense is entitled to their own exam “under JCR 23.2” but only for “good cause shown.” This afternoon’s hearing will resolve the issue.

As the scene opens we get a bunch of front matter about where the judge’s chambers are, and about the clerk pulling the file and taking it in to Judge Romer while Peter waits for Gail to arrive, etc. etc. Gail arrives with Donna in tow. We’re not told why, but presumably Donna is worried about Gail going into the hearing alone given that Gail’s not in on the plot to falsify evidence that Donna has cooked up with Blackburn. Peter introduces himself to Gail, whom he has not yet met in person, but Gail does not introduce Peter to Donna. Finally, they are called into the judge’s chambers.

“Mr. Barron, I guess I’m a little surprised that there was such a quick substitution of counsel. But, of course, that’s really none of my business,” the judge said. If it had been two longtime Spokane attorneys before him, Romer would have asked what happened and Peter would have told the story. The whole conversation would have been off the record. But with a Seattle stranger and a CPS worker in their midst, such a discussion was simply not going to happen.

I’m honestly not sure of what to make of this bit. Farris takes the opportunity to reiterate that Gail is a “Seattle stranger” and is not yet trusted by those in Spokane. But honestly, I’m a bit bothered that Peter would have told the judge and opposing attorney about Bill Walinski’s attempt to solicit sex from Gwen, his client, without first getting permission from Gwen to do so. From what we’ve seen so far, Gwen finds the situation very embarrassing, and I doubt she would want it public. Peter ought to be helping Gwen report what happened to the bar association, but he has yet to do so.

“Why are you here to see me? This looks so routine. Ms. Willet, I take it you are resisting this motion? Tell me why,” the judge said, placing all the papers back on his desk, leaning his elbows on the desk and cradling his chin in both hands.

“Your Honor, the state believes this is just too many examinations for one little girl in such a short time,” Willet replied.

Perhaps it’s just me, but haven’t we been told that the burden is on Peter to show cause? Gail’s response makes it sound like the burden is on her to raise an objection, and not the other way around. I suppose it could simply be that the judge is wanting to weigh Peter’s cause argument, as presumably outlined in the papers on the judge’s desk, against any reason not to appoint a second psychologist.

“Your honor, if the court had selected a neutral expert, we probably wouldn’t be making this motion for an additional psychological examination. In fact, my client raised the same concern about too many exams in one week. But my understanding of the court’s order is that this examination is by a CPS-chosen psychologist. It is simply not appropriate to have one side obtain an exam while the other side has nothing. Of course, if the state was willing to cancel the appointment with their expert and allow the court to appoint an independent psychologist chosen by the court, then maybe we could forego a second examination.”

I have to say, Peter sounds completely reasonable here. Of course, this isn’t going to fly with Donna, because Blackburn has already bribed the CPS-appointed psychologist—but Gail does not know that.

“That’s not a bad idea,” the judge said, rocking gently back and forth in his chair. “What about that, Ms. Willet?”

Willet did not care about choosing the psychologist. She didn’t know who was good and who was bad in Spokane. And she was unaware of CPS’s special arrangement with Dr. McGuire. But she cared a great deal about losing her first encounter with Peter Barron.

“Your Honor, psychologists are busy. I doubt that it will be possible to find a so-called ‘neutral expert’ on such short notice who can do the examinations, write a report, and appear next Tuesday.”

There is such a think as picking your battles, is there not? Gail seems to care more about winning the battle at hand than she does about taking the long view—or considering how she may look if she picks small battles and then loses them.

The judge replied before Peter could speak. “Well, here in Spokane we’ve got the psychological community a bit more attentive to the needs of judges than perhaps is the case in Seattle. I am sure that with two or three phone calls I can find an appropriate psychologist to meet our schedule. What do you say?”

Gee golly, Farris really wants to keep up this Spokane v. Seattle thing. Ouch.

Corliss was about to panic. She tugged on Willet’s jacket sleeve as unobtrusively as possible and pointedly shook her head “no” when Willet turned to look.

Farris tells us that “partly because of Corliss’s gesture and partly out of personal stubbornness” Gail restated her position and refused to budge. Judge Romer responds by allowing Peter’s motion to appoint a second psychologist.

Embarrassed at losing even the most minor of arguments,

Like I said . . .

Willet said, “Your honor, we want it clear that Mrs. Landis should not be taking this child to the psychologist alone. She may take off for all we know.”

Wait-what? Why is Gwen taking Casey to the psychologist in the first place? Isn’t that something the foster family would do? This sent me flipping back to the earlier hearing trying to see if this had been stated anywhere before. Not only was it not, but Gwen and Casey’s existing psychologist appointments aren’t even scheduled consecutively, and Casey was taken to the doctor by her foster mother. I’m not sure why there is any assumption that things would be different with the second psychologist.

Peter quickly countered, “Your Honor, I would be happy to accompany my client and her daughter to the interview. And I or one of my staff will stay with them through the whole interview. I would be reluctant to drive this little girl alone myself.”

First of all, of course you would, Peter, of course you would. It gives you another chance to spend time with hot gorgeous sweet Gwen. But second of all, why is Peter assuming that the alternative to Gwen taking Casey to the psychologist is him taking Casey to the psychologist? Once again, wouldn’t her foster mother take her?

Before the prosecutor could bog him down in any more trivial arguments, the judge replied, “Fine, Peter. If you give me your assurance, that’s good enough for me.”

And with that, the hearing is over.

And now, bonus section!

Before leaving for work, Gwen placed her second call to Casey.

“Mommy, where are you?”
“I’m at home, Casey doll.”
“Mommy, come get me.”
“Casey, are you OK? Are they nice to you?”
“Mommy, I wanna come home. Come get me.”
“Casey, are you playing with their children?”
“Are they nice to you?”
“Did you go to the doctor today?”
“Uh-huh . . . Mommy, I wanna go home. Come get me.”
“Casey, I’ll get you as soon as I can. Real soon.”

Casey began to cry, unable to understand why her mommy wouldn’t come. Gwen’s tears were soft but very bitter.

That conversation actually sounds very realistic. I could get into all of the things Gwen could have done to improve Casey’s mood—say, ask her about specific fun things she’d done that day, or start planning what they’d do the first day she got back—but Gwen’s been through a bit of an emotional roller coaster at this point, so I’ll cut her some slack.

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