Forbid Them Not: A Tale of Three Phone Calls

Forbid Them Not: A Tale of Three Phone Calls October 19, 2018

Forbid Them Not, pp. 285-289

Cooper has just learned that Terry fed information about the case to the Washington Times. Cooper is angry. He is also conflicted. So he calls Peter. And as usual, Peter gives him terrible advice.

“Hello,” Peter mumbled, scrambling to pick up the bedside portable phone and get into the bathroom before Gwen was awakened.

“Did I wake you up?” Cooper asked.

“No … not really … my alarm was set to go off in five minutes. What’s up, Cooper?”

“I need a good lawyer,” he replied.

“What?”

“I need a good lawyer,” he replied.

“What?”

“I think I am going to commit a crime of violence, and I want someone to represent me.”

Peter said nothing.

“I am kidding, of course.”

“I knew that,” Peter replied.

“Well, at least I am kidding about doing it. I am not kidding about being mad.”

Cooper tells Peter that Terry told the Washington Times that Cooper was going to be off the case, and that he suspects Terry also told the New York Times that Randall was funding the case, though he has no proof on that score.

“It’s got to have been Pipkin. He wants me off the case.”

“So he can keep you away from his girlfriend,” Peter concluded.

“Fiancee,” Cooper corrected.

This is all very functional.

“Did Laura know about the donor?”

“Yeah, Deanna told her. She thought it was OK. But Laura swears that she didn’t tell Pipkin. I asked her point blank, and she kept assuring me that she hadn’t told him.”

What Laura didn’t tell him was that she had heard Deanna tell Terry. It seems like that would have been relevant to include in her answer to Cooper’s “point blank” question. Layer upon layer of deception.

It’s all downhill from here, folks.

Cooper wants to question Laura again about whether she told Pipkin about Randall, but Peter stops him.

“I think your reason for asking Laura about this would be to bring Pipkin down in her eyes. And then, things might go bad between them. And then she would be available. And then, hey, surprise! You are also available. Nice and convenient.”

Peter and Cooper go back and forth about this. Cooper insists that even if it’s somewhat self serving, he has an obligation to tell Laura that Terry leaked information to the press, to prevent her from marrying a jerk. Peter disagrees.

“All right, he’s a jerk. But is this the way you want to have a foundation for a relationship? Do you want to win her heart by simply being better than some creep? Don’t you want her to want you just because she loves you and thinks you’re the right guy for her?”

What a freaking mess. Terry and Cooper are not the only men in the world. Is no one considering that Laura might not jump straight in bed with Cooper after breaking up with Terry? Oh, I’m sorry. I meant in wed.

In the end, Peter and Cooper decide that no one should tell Laura. I’m not kidding! They decide that the proper course of action is to withhold this information from her completely. Forever. Well, mostly forever.

“If there were an actual wedding date maybe someone should talk to her father—not you—but someone. If her father knew, I would guess he would intervene.”

Um.

Yeah no, that’s all I’ve got.

The one thing I can say is, ya’ll have fun with that fan fiction. How do we think Laura’s dad would respond to receiving this information? I mean for god’s sake, he lives in Florida, four states away from Laura. Laura has been out of college and working, living by herself, for three years. She’s what, twenty-five? She’s a grown ass adult, that’s what.

One hopes Laura’s dad would tell Cooper to go talk to Laura already.

So anyway, no one is telling Laura—or her dad, for the time being.

“[T]here is one thing you should do. You should let your clients know about this so that they will keep their confidential communications away from Laura because they have a habit of winding up with Pipkin.”

Let’s recap, shall we? Rather than telling Laura that Terry has been sharing information with the press, and letting her decide what to do about it, they decide to simply cut Laura out, without doing her the curtesy of telling her why they’re doing so. Oh, but, they’ll tell her friends. Her friends will know she’s a leak. But not her. She’ll be in the dark. Unless she and Terry set a wedding date. In that case, they’ll tell her daddy.

Run away, Laura, run away. 

Here’s the thing: Laura wasn’t the leak. Deanna was. Laura covered for Deanna, yes, but it was Deanna who leaked the information. Now yes, they don’t know this. But they do know that Deanna leaked the information to Laura. Laura wasn’t supposed to know that Randall was funding the case in the first place. Cooper only told his clients—the two couples. But no, they’re not censuring the known leaker. Only Laura. Completely untried.

Deanna was horrified to learn of the call from the reporter. And she was very, very sorry to have forgotten that Pipkin had been in the room when she originally told Laura about Mr. Wasson’s donations. And she promised not to say anything more of a confidential nature to Laura. And she promised not to tell Laura about this call from the reporter. And, again, she was very, very sorry about the whole thing.

This is such a freaking mess.

Deanna sat stunned for the next thirty minutes, reviewing every detail of her conversation with Cooper. She was very sorry she had been the source of the leak. And she would indeed keep her promise to Cooper not to tell Laura anymore confidential information about the case. But she just couldn’t keep her promise about not telling Laura of Pipkin’s behavior. That wasn’t about the case. She just couldn’t let her friend marry  man who was not to be trusted.

There is nothing about this that is not messed up.

Cooper is flat wrong to withhold this information from Laura. Peter is flat wrong to tell him to. This doesn’t seem that complicated to me. Cooper—or someone deputized by Cooper—needs to tell Laura that Terry has fed information to the press. The next step may be to not give Laura confidential information—she’s not a direct party to the case and really shouldn’t have been given confidential information in the first place—but this should be an informed decision.

Somehow, through all of this, what makes me most angry is that Cooper has set Deanna up to leak information again. Deanna is absolutely right that Laura should be told. But Cooper insisted that she promise him that she wouldn’t tell Laura. What is Farris doing here anyway? What are we supposed to take away from this? That women can’t keep their mouths shut? That men are idiots?

I get the feeling that this entire thing was manufactured to create a situation where Laura will find out and break up with Terry, without Cooper getting his hands dirty. And to get there, Deanna has to take the fall. Deanna’s moral grayness lets Cooper maintain a clean conscience with regard to his interaction with Laura. At least, in Farris’ view.

Outside of Farris’ view, this entire thing is nuts. In the real world, friends tell friends when their partners leak information to the press in order to sabotage court cases they are personally invested in. Wow, that was a mouthful.

Frankly, Cooper is way too personally invested in this case. He needs to hand it off to someone who can handle it professionally. How would a dispassionate lawyer have handled this situation? A dispassionate lawyer might tell the two couples that Terry leaked information to the press, and inform them that moving forward, information would be given to them and them alone, and not to Laura, as she is not party to the case. Hell, a dispassionate lawyer wouldn’t have shared so much information with Laura in the first place.

Consider this: the only reason Cooper makes Deanna promise not to tell Laura that Terry leaked information is that Cooper doesn’t want Deanna to break up with Terry over this, because if she subsequently began dating him, he would feel that he had won her illegitimately. These are not considerations that should drive decisions in court cases.

Or, well, ever.

 

What will Laura do after Deanna spills all? If only there was a way to know! Tune in next week to find out!

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