It’s now June 10th, by the way. School is out and the Thomas children are in Richmond visiting their grandparents. Cooper, for his part, is about to call Peter in Spokane for advice about what to do with Jody Easler and her tip about his email being hacked. First, though, he prepares a motion for a stay to prevent social services from visiting to the Thomas household.
Farris includes a lot of confusing legal back and forth. Confusing, because he contradicts himself. After Cooper had Deanna tell off the caseworker who tried to visit them based on her not having a court order, Farris now says there is a court order for the visits—and that Cooper needs to get a stay to stop Loudoun County Social Services from enforcing this order. Farris never says Cooper was previously mistaken.
Because this is a request for an emergency stay, it has to be hand-delivered to Randolph. In person. Cooper casts around for someone to take it. Do law firms not have people who do this, or services? He asks Jeanne Garvis, since Deanna is in Richmond, but she has to take her kids to the dentist. He next calls Rick Thomas, and he says he’ll do it. So now we have that handled.
Finally, at 11am, Cooper calls Peter to talk to him about Jody. It’s 8am in Spokane. Farris gives us this whole conversation as a line-by-line back-and-forth. Most of it is just banter. There’s a lot of banter. Peter keeps interrupting Cooper with questions, and Cooper gets annoyed at being interrupted. Stuff like that.
Cooper, by the way, identifies Jody as “the U.S. ambassador to the UN in Geneva” and then clarifies that “technically, its (sic) an under-ambassador position, but she has the title ‘Ambassador’.” Trying to figure out what this woman’s actual position is is going to plague me throughout this entire book.
Anyway, Cooper tells Peter about running into Jody trying to open the door of the hotel next to his in New York City. He tells Cooper that Jody asked him to go into her room but that he refused.
“I tried to manage the temptation rather than run from it because—again to be candid, I didn’t want to be alone. I had just been with you and Gwen and saw you two so much in love, and that is so great. But I was feeling all alone, and Laura, you know the teacher I told you about? I had just learned she had gotten engaged. And Jody is nice to me. And she is, quite frankly, gorgeous. … So to try to get away from inviting me into her room, but not wanton got be alone, I suggested that we go for a ride in Central Park in a hansom cab. So we did. It was a little cold. She had a sleeveless dress on. Well, to make a long story short, I put my arm around her to keep her warm and she kissed me—I mean really kissed me.”
“And you didn’t stop her or protest?”
“No. I kissed back.” Both were silent for a few moments.
“I don’t want to interrupt again, Coop. Are you through?”
“Yeah. That was it, at least as far as that kind of stuff goes.”
“One kiss and a ride in the park? Nothing more?”
“Well, Peter, I don’t think that spiritually you should be feeling like this is a major tragedy. I take it she’s not a believer and you think the relationship is wrong. I would agree, but I have to believe there is more to this story or you wouldn’t be calling me about it.”
Really? That’s not enough? And Peter is only concerned about where Peter stands spiritually? Not ethically? Jody is on the other side of a major legal case. At the very least Peter should notify his clients about the incident. Which, let me remind you, he hasn’t done.
Cooper now tells Peter about the note Jody handed him at the Today Show.
“Oh my!” Peter exclaimed. “Now I understand why you need some advice.”
Peter says he’ll talk to his computer whiz friend, Aaron, and get back to Cooper about the email. That’s the end of his advice. He does have some analysis, though.
“So somebody had this whole romantic evening thing planned for you, and that the only logical conclusion is that you were being set up. And it seems pretty clear that the setup was designed to make you look bad to hurt the UN case somehow. But it would seem to make her look bad, too, so I don’t get that part of it. But you were definitely set up. Photographers probably awaited you in her hotel room. Are you sure you stayed out?”
I don’t get that part of it either.
If the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child wanted to undermine Cooper, there are ways they could do that that don’t involve throwing one of their own under the bus. Jody is on that committee. Releasing photos of Jody being intimate with Cooper—the lawyer opposing the UN in the case—is going to make Jody look ridiculous. Why would they do that? This entire plot makes no sense.
Cooper tells Peter that Sally emailed him the New York City itinerary, which is how he knew when and where to meet him—that, presumably, is how they other side put Jody in the room next to Cooper. I’m still confused, though. Did Peter book Cooper’s hotel room? If he did, wouldn’t it be under his name? And if he didn’t, how would that email have helped Jody’s side find what room Cooper would be in?
Peter says Cooper should probably be careful about what he says over the phone now, too. But not to worry! Cooper is on it. He tells Peter he’s calling from a pay phone outside his office.
“I’m not a total idiot.”
“No, but I’m trying to decide what to call you, a moron or a fool, for going for a romantic ride in Central Park with a U.S. ambassador who is on the opposite side of the biggest case in your life.”
“Point noted,” Cooper admitted.
Never once does Peter suggest that Cooper tell his clients.
When Cooper gets back to his office, he’s surprised to find Laura in his waiting room. Laura says Rick asked her to deliver the papers to Randolph. Laura asks why Cooper was outside on a pay phone, but Cooper moves right along and ignores her question completely. He is presumably worried about his room being bugged. Laura takes the papers.
“And you want me to call you as soon as I am done?”
“Where do I reach you? Here or at the pay phone across the street?”
“Get out of here, Miss Frasier.”
She was laughing as she left the office with the papers.
Okay, that was actually pretty funny.
That afternoon, Cooper goes to meet with Judge Holman about his motion for an emergency stay. Deputy Daniels jokes that Randolph has a “ten-dollar haircut” and says he wants to take out some scissors and cut off the hair that kept flopping over his forehead. Cool.
Cooper finds Judge Holman at his desk. Judge Holman started out by complimenting Cooper.
“I just wanted to tell you that I thought you presented your arguments well in the hearing—and also in the briefs. We both know that you are up against the big boys, and I am proud to say that our hometown boy did a more honorable job.”
This “hometown boy” stuff is getting old.
Judge Holman says that before granting the stay he has to get both Randolph and Rachel Hennessey, the children’s GAL, on the phone.
“Rachel Hennessey told me that I can inform you that she waits her right to participate. Said she didn’t have a dog in this particular fight.”
“All right. With a local lawyer, I’ll accept your word on that.”
Um. Really? That’s not right.
Also, it’s odd that Rachel would have no opinion here. She’s the children’s GAL. She told the kids that she’d be calling them every so often to make sure their parents were obeying the court order against spanking. You would think she’d have an opinion on whether there should also be social services visits.
So they call Randolph. Randolph wants the visits. Judge Holman questions him.
“[W]hat about the point that Mr. Stone raises that in the other cited cases there has been finding of abuse or neglect before there are such visits? There has been no such finding here.”
“That is true insofar as it goes,” Suskins replied. “But the alternative is simply to allow these families to openly flaunt your order, which you concluded was required as a matter of international law.”
“There are actually two issues rolled into this,” Holman said. “One is whether they must obey the order to not spank the children in the interim. The other is whether you can send social workers into their home.”
Randolph does not represent Loundoun County Social Services department. He wouldn’t be the one sending the social workers. The court would, via a court order Judge Holman already signed. Judge Holman is the one who sent social workers to the Thomases’ home. (That doesn’t explain Nora being there, but Randolph actually also does not represent Nora; her agency is supposedly staying out of this lawsuit entirely.)
But Judge Holman has reached his decision.
“All right, gentlemen, here’s what I am going to do. I am going to grant part of the emergency application, deny part of it, and schedule both requests for a hearing on the request for a permanent stay. The order is stayed insofar as social workers’ automatic access into either of the families’ homes. Now, if they have actual evidence that anyone is violating my order, then I will certainly entertain an enforcement motion in proper sequence. But, absent such hard evidence, leave these people alone.
“On the motion to stay the order banning spanking, I am denying that for now. You can argue this out in a hearing.” He paused to look at his calendar. “I’ll set it for ten days from today at 8:30 A.M.”
This part confused me until I realized that the stay request Cooper wrote before his phone call to Peter must have included both the social services visit and the ban on spanking—Farris did not mention that, leaving the reader to assume that it addressed only the social services visit.
Judge Holman says he is waiving the social services visits unless there is evidence that the families are violating his court order barring spanking. But at least one family already is violating this court order, and in fact that family is the family objecting to the social services visits, out of fear that a caseworker will learn that they are violating Judge Holman’s order.
Farris is not telling the story he thinks he’s telling.
Oh but wait! Judge Holman needs to complement Cooper again before Cooper leaves.
“Sorry, Cooper. I feel my hands are tied. The whole world is watching everything each of us is doing in this case, and we have to be absolutely clean on it all. You know I hate this treaty. An unbelievable group we seem to have in the Senate. But I am going to have to call every point absolutely according to the law. No hometown favoritism.”
“I understand, Your Honor. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“I believe you mean that, Cooper. That’s the way of a Virginia gentleman.”
Cooper smiled as he reflected n that compliment while driving back to his office.
Do Virginia gentlemen go on romantic cab rides with—and kiss—the opposition while arguing the most important legal cases of their career? Is that a thing Virginia gentlemen do?
Also, has Deanna told Cooper that she spanked Layton? She told Layton that she would call Cooper and tell him that she had spanked Layton, and ask him what Layton should do if Rachel, the GAL, were to call and ask him directly if his parents had spanked him. But we haven’t been told directly that she has done this, and she and Cooper have spoken since (to chase off Nora and the caseworker).
Whether Cooper knows that Deanna has already violated the court order matters—a lot. And if he doesn’t, what would he do when learning about it later? Would he tell Judge Holman, so that visits from social services visits can be reinstated? Somehow, I doubt it.
None of this is a good look. Virginia gentleman indeed.
At the end of this chapter is a short blurb where Terry gets angry with Laura because Laura is being cagey about what she did that day (he learns she was out running errands because she baked the potatoes in the microwave, rather than taking time to do them in the oven the way he preferred—sounds like a real winner right there). Laura finally tells Terry that she delivered papers for Cooper; he accuses her of hiding things.
By this point, Laura is incensed.
“I am not hiding anything. I was just trying to avoid another fight with you. Anytime the name Cooper Stone corps up in a conversation, you get upset with me. I am sensitive to it, and I am tired of fighting about it. But why you pick on me about it, I don’t know. I told you I want to marry you. What are you so jealous about?”
Segue into fighting about the fact that Terry is refusing to set a date for the wedding. Angry—and amusing Laura of being moved by Cooper’s obvious hots for her—Terry storms out on Laura.
Solid relationship, that.
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