This Frivolous Farce


cat_icon.gif coren_icon.gif grace_icon.gif


can be assumed present somewhere, but wasn't able to make the scene…

Also with appearances by:

Assistant DA Thomas Lyle, DA Sandler, and Judge Diane Fielding

Scene Title This Frivolous Farce
Synopsis The People of New York vs. Grace Matheson, on behalf of Nalani Hollingwood.
Date March 30, 2009

A Courtroom

As usual, the courthouse is chaotic and busy. There are far more steps to running a judicial system than merely arrest and trial; paralegals and ADAs run about the building trying to get one place or another, judges' interns are going insane trying to keep the case law that judges need to read straight. Into the middle of all of that, a quiet courtroom with a bailiff and a judge is going about normal business.

"Court is now in session, Judge Diane Fielding presiding."

Judge Fielding takes her seat and says, "Be seated. ADA Lyle, present your case."

Detective Shelby, once again seated behind the prosecution, pays attention like few others can. He's well-rested, and again wearing suit and tie, something most people who know him would find incredibly bizarre.

"Yes, your Honor," Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lyle replies as he stands. "On Friday February twenty-seventh, Nalani Hollingwood arrived at the Headquarters of the New York Police Department to file a police report regarding property that had been stolen from her at a photo shoot on February twentieth. Her manner and treatment of the officers there attracted an independent consultant, one Grace Matheson, to approach Miss Hollingwood and engage in what was described to me as a heated conversation. When the conversation ended, Grace Matheson began to walk away until Miss Hollingwood tripped on the hem of her dress and collided with the consultant. Miss Matheson performed a drop sweep, which tripped Nalani Hollingwood to the ground, where she fractured her wrist. Grace Matheson was allowed to walk away, and Nalani Hollingwood filed suit against the department, a lawsuit that was dropped upon Grace Matheson's arrest. The investigator of the case, Detective Coren Shelby, interviewed all of those present and reviewed surveillance footage of the incident, and also sought an independent assessment of the footage by the Federal Bureau of Investigations' Behavioral Sciences Unit. With the exception of one witness, all eyewitness testimony agreed with the scene shown by the surveillance footage from NYPD Headquarters. Based on that evidence, Detective Shelby arrested Grace Matheson on March tenth."

Seated behind the defense table with Grace, Cat listens as the prosecutor makes his statement. She, clad in a dark blue suit with white blouse this time, displays a poker face. Nothing is said until she is addressed by the judge.

The judge listens with her eyes on the ADA, and she merely nods when he concludes his statement. "Miss Chesterfield, you client wishes to make a statement at this time?"

Rising to her feet, Cat doesn't bristle at the insult from the judge in being called Miss instead of Doctor; the thought of this oddity where people who earn doctorates aren't addressed as what they are being immaterial. Her eyes settle on Grace for a moment, then turn to the judge. "Your Honor, the record cited by the prosecution clearly shows an act of self-defense. Miss Matheson, on turning away and moving to place distance between herself and Miss Hollingwood, was suddenly struck from behind. In a police station, where hostile and even dangerous people are often found, she had every reason to believe she was under assault and took action to prevent its continuance."

The judge purses her lips and gives Cat the Eye. It's notorious in the courthouse — Diane Fielding does not put up with courtroom shenanigans. "Really?" she drawls mildly. "We shall see. Mister Lyle, present your evidence."

ADA Lyle stands again as a court officer brings in a television. "I'd like to enter the surveillance footage from the twenty-seventh as exhibit A, and the sworn statements of Nalani Hollingwood, Stephanie Aberdeen, Detective Mark Roberts, Detective Pierre Poulin, and Officer Richard Johnson as exhibit B through F, and the independent assessment report from the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit and Supervisory Special Agent Jeffery Gillis as exhibit G. I can assure you, your Honor, that the New York Police Department is not in the habit of allowing hostile or dangerous individuals to loiter in the lobby of their Headquarters." He gestures for the court officer to start the surveillance footage.

Again there is that raising of the eyebrow. "Did the altercation occur in the lobby of the station?" Judge Fielding asks. According to the briefs in her hands, it appeared to her otherwise, and she pins the ADA with her hazel eyes over the top of her glasses.

"Yes, your Honor, as will be indicated by the location, date, and time stamp of the surveillance recording," ADA Lyle replies as the surveillance starts up. Sure enough, it indicates itself the video location 'Lobby 1' on February 27th, 2009. And the debacle unfolds on film. Nalani Hollingwood makes a stink at the front desk, gains the attention of Grace Matheson, who comes into sight of the camera. The two have an animated discussion, before Grace turns to leave. Nalani then appears to trip on her dress, colliding with Grace who then drop sweeps her to the ground. Nalani clearly cradles her wrist as her assistant comes on screen to her aid.

There's a slight nod and the judge turns her attention to the sceen to watch the entire altercation. When it's through, her eyes return to the briefs in front of her, which outline what testimony the officers/witnesses intend to give, as well as Grace's own statement. She looks at the bailiff and says, "Run it one more time." While he rewinds it, Judge Fielding seems intent on the papers in front of her nose. And then she turns her attention to the screen for the second playing of the situation. There is a frown on her face when she looks at Cat and Grace's table and then the ADA's table. "Mister Lyle, would you care to explain to this court what District Attorney Sandler is thinking by allowing this farce to take up time in my courtroom?"

There is a shuffle of papers and the judge pins the hapless ADA with The Eye once more. "The statute requires intent to cause physical injury, recklessness, or criminal negligence and a weapon. None of those standards appear to apply in this case."

ADA Lyle is of course prepared for this argument, as he had assumed the defense would use it. "Grace Matheson has prior Air Force training, including the defensive tactics shown on this surveillance recording, training used to incapacitate a person. The People ask that, given her training and her knowledge that such tactics can be used to cause harm to another person as a means of incapacitation, that she would willingly utilize them in the middle of a police station where her well-being would be looked after by on-duty law enforcement personnel? The People argue that such indicates intent, as she utilized defensive combat training against another person in a situation where such was unnecessary."

Detective Shelby, sitting behind the prosecution, grits his teeth at the latest argument. Unfortunately, you can't really tell a lawyer to not do their job, and ADA Lyle's job is to prosecute this case.

Judge Fielding looks utterly disgusted. "The People need to go back to law school if that is their argument, Mister Lyle. Given the woman's training in defensive tactics, had she wanted to hurt Miss Hollingwood, I believe she would have done so. And given the fact that she is a consultant for the NYPD on a semi-regular basis, I have a reasonable amount of certainty that she knows exactly what kind of people may be found in the hallways of police headquarters at any given time. Do we recall an incident very recently of an FBI agent being beaten by a suspect in a similar hallway?"

She shakes her head and looks at Grace sternly. "Miss Matheson, though I sympathize with your aversion to personal physical contact, you are not excused from some responsibility in this matter. The argument in the hallway was not your concern and I believe that you are already aware of that fact. In addition, based on the video tape and the statements issued, regardless of whether it was accidental or intentional, Miss Hollingwood made the first physical contact. In light of that, all charges are dismissed."

Judge Fielding peers at the ADA one more time. "And tell the District Attorney not to waste this court's time any more, Mister Lyle. It will be the only warning I give on frivolous criminal charges in my courtroom."

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