Friday, April 22, 2011


If you asked judges, lawyers, or the guys on the street, the answer would be the same. John Ramin was a top-notch criminal attorney and raking in the dough. He represented the gamut of defendants, from organized crime to professional men in trouble. He was respected by the judiciary and press coverage of his trials consistently took note of his skills in cross-examination and jury presentation. In court, he was, simultaneously,  courteous and dynamic, arguing with a sincerity couched in the common language of common sense. He had perfected the art of timing which enabled him to dramatize even a dangling participle. The jury was his captive audience and his closing arguments were calculatingly paced, always building to a climax of logic which made a "not guilty" verdict difficult to resist. The prosecutors rated him tough but fair, someone to respect.The pressure and tension of a trial, with spectators following his every move, was his organic high. He was that good because he was that prepared. He was a family man and could not be tempted. He had not been born to wealth and bore the earmarks of a self made man. His was the image of unqualified success. And, he was flat broke.

 For the past four months, not one new client had sought to retain him. Income had ceased while the nut remained. There seemed no answer as to why. Discreet inquiries revealed that his professional reputation had in no way declined. If anything, potential clients were fee-shy to approach him, an image he was trying to discredit without spurning rumors of a declining law practice, for that could be fatally counter productive. He was late paying bills while bottom line obligations had reduced his meager savings to zilch.

It was becoming harder and harder to function. Sleep was irregular at best, and when he opened his eyes, the awareness of depression smacked him in the face. The first daily challenge was to get up from the bed-trap and out into the world. Any trace of optimism was a sham; a smile of confidence, a back-breaking effort. His secretary was running out of paperbacks to read. He would sit at his desk, staring at a phone which now rarely rang, wondering "why?--why?--why?
He would tell himself to keep the faith, that he had to hold on, taking it one day at a time. The sun would surely rise tomorrow and who could be certain of what a new tide would bring in.
Then, one Friday afternoon, he got a call from Dick Flemming.

Flemming was a widely read investigative reporter whose assignment was the criminal courts. He covered trials and wrote about the lawyers involved. He had seen Ramin in action and his reporting had been both fair and accurate. He and Ramin had often talked during recesses of ongoing trials and, most importantly, he would always honor the agreement that something be "off the record." But, he had never called before. This was not usual. His tone was urgent and his words hurried, as if he was onto something big and important.

"Can I see you Monday morning, John, say 9:30?"

"Hold on, Dick, let me check my diary."What garbage. The only entries were payment deadlines for bills.

"Monday is good. Anything wrong, Richard?"

"No, just something I need to talk to you about."

"Ok, see you then."

All weekend, Ramin fantasized as to what this call could mean. Flemming knew a lot of people, on both sides of the law. He was a pro, a veteran, and had often gained the confidence of prosecutors and defendants. His insight into what went on in the streets was his credential. He was respected as a man who could be trusted. What the hell did he want to talk about?

Perhaps a case was about to break, an indictment about to come down against a notorious underworld figure or prominent public official. The potential defendant might be looking for competent counsel in anticipation of imminent arrest. He may have approached Flemming for his recommendation and "John Ramin" may have been suggested and okayed. And why not? Flemming probably wanted the exclusive inside coverage of the case, from indictment to verdict, a behind the scene, step by step analysis of how a defense attorney  prepares for and then begins the war of trial. The publicity would be invaluable. Ramin would take the case for short money for it would surely catapult him back into the limelight--it would generate new business and, God, would that be welcome. He became obsessed with this stroke of good fortune--this was his bailout! The adrenaline began to flow. He'd be in action again. And, he was ready.

To be continued..............

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