(Gosa, the lead attorney for Senator Livingston and Whitehall, one of the lead District Attorneys, are negotiating. There are two small chairs in the office, but Gosa has chosen to stand over the desk which Whitehall is sitting at. There are file folders all over the desk and it appears that there has been a great deal of stress in the office lately.)
Gosa: Listen, Mr. Whitehall, we both know that your case against Senator Livingston is weak at best. He is willing to plead guilty to manslaughter one in exchange for dropping this ridiculous child abuse charge and not pushing for any higher charges.
Whitehall: You underestimate our case dramatically. Unless you know something that we don't, your client should be in a lot more trouble than man one. We should at least be discussing murder charges.
Gosa: I'm just telling you that if you do not negotiate with us you will be very sorry.
Whitehall: Ma'am, I didn't kill anyone. Your client did, I'm not going to be sorry.
Gosa: You and I both know Charles is the true aggressor here. We're giving you a break.
Whitehall: I refuse to believe that a 120 lb. kid with handcuffs on would be stupid enough to charge a 300 lb. man with free arms, and if he did, I refuse to believe that he was a serious enough threat to warrant deadly retaliation.
Gosa: Believe what you will, but that is our offer.
Whitehall: The other DA's in the case should be here soon. I'll run it by them, but don't expect anything.
Gosa: I won't and if you need me, I'll be with my client down the hall. Good day. (leaves) (Whitehall buries his head in his work and shortly two other DA's, Mr. Hameron and Mr. Michaels walk into the room)
Whitehall: (staring down at his desk, without looking up) Welcome gentlemen, have a seat. (they oblige) As you know, we have a dilemma on our hands.
Michaels: Dilemma isn't the word for it.
Whitehall: (continues) We have Senator Livingston locked up on a murder and child abuse charge. We get the honor of deciding how to play it. As you know, Livingston's lawyers have offered a manslaughter one plea bargain. In exchange, we drop the child abuse charge and the murder charge.
Hameron: I say take the deal, getting him on a…
Michaels: Take the deal? Are you crazy? This man is a cold-blooded murderer and a child abuser, we can't just let him get off that easy.
Hameron: You are forgetting that the man is a State Senator. A trial with him would be an uphill battle to say the least.
Michaels: I can nail that bastard! Let me go to trial with murder one and child abuse and I can put him away for a long time.
Hameron: It doesn't matter…
Whitehall: Why don't we try a different approach, let's look at the charges one at a time starting with the child abuse charge.
Hameron: It'll never stick. The only people that knew about it are dead. All of the evidence is circumstantial. A grand jury would just laugh at us.
Michaels: What about the bruises? Also, someone at the school had to be told about it. We can go down there and talk to them.
Hameron: I already dif. The district must be determined to cover their own ass because no one heard or saw anything that would indicate that there was abuse taking place. That should figure though, his education reform bill got millions for poor school districts, including the one in question.
Michaels: You are trying to tell me that this bastard pushes a bill through and gets some money for the district, and in exchange, everyone there becomes blind to the pain of a child?
Hameron: It appears so.
Michaels: I can't believe this.
Whitehall: So what about the murder charge?
Michaels: I can have the cop testify that he put the handcuffs on loose, and the forensics team report will indicate that there was no struggle. Also, the breaking of the glass in the case and the getting of the gun indicates premeditation. So, it should be little trouble to stick him with murder one. That's a mandatory life sentence.
Hameron: The Senator had the key, why would he break the glass? Also, we seem to be forgetting something here. It doesn't matter what the jury thinks anymore. If we get a judge that is favorable to Livingston he will find some crock of an excuse to overturn the decision…leaving us with little if anything.
Michaels: (getting angrier with every word) First thing, he didn't have the key handy so the only way to get in the cabinet was to break the glass. Second, any judge who wants to keep his seat will distance himself from this case if he remotely knows the Senator.
Hameron: (matching Michaels' anger) If we cut the deal that they have offered, he spends five years guaranteed in jail; we avoid the media frenzy, the costly trial and the gamble that is the judge situation. It's a sure thing.
Michaels: (Pounds his fist on the corner of the desk) Listen! I have three little girls at home, lovely sweet and innocent. I'd love to go home and tell them that I made the streets just a little safer for them today. I took some scumbag off the streets. However, lately I've been watching as 25% of the perps that walk in here get away either scott free or almost because some cop forgot to read him his rights or there was a typo on the search warrant. I'm tired of people beating and abusing the system. I'm not talking about petty thieves and shoplifters getting off, I'm talking about armed robbers, murderers and rapists, the scum of the earth walking the streets because they got one up on the system. No more, I'm making a stand here and I'm taking a child abuser and a murderer off the streets for a long as I can. You have a daughter don't you?
Hameron: (sneering) Yes, I have one, a little girl of 11 months, my pride and joy. Why?
Michaels: You know that serial rapist that you had come through not to long ago, the one that raped ten little girls.
Hameron: I remember him well.
Michaels: (Talking louder) Good, because I know for a fact that with the deal you cut he will be out in ten years if he behaves himself. Ten years!
Hameron: It was the best I could get under the circumstances.
Michaels: (Calms himself for a second) The circumstances were that you didn't want a trial. (Gets angry again and leans forward into Hameron's face) I hope to hell that when that man gets out, he picks your daughter next, just so you will have some stake in this other than…(Hameron pushes Michaels causing his chair to flip backwards)
Hameron: No one talks about my daughter like that! (Hameron wants to follow up but Whitehall speaks up first.)
Whitehall: Gentlemen, please! This job is hard enough without resorting to physical violence. Just let it go for a second. (Michaels stands up and brushes himself off) Take some deep breaths and let's focus on the job at hand. I'm sure that none of the things said were really meant. Now, let's shake hands and move on. (They lightly shake hands) Here's the problem as I see it. One of you wants to dig in and fight. The other deal with the devil. We can't have it both ways gentlemen. However, Solomon did say, "split the baby in half." Maybe we can split this in half.
Michaels: How so?
Whitehall: We offer a deal for murder 2. Maximum is 25 years. I think his lawyers will be favorable to that.
Michaels: I see no harm in offering, as long as we don't seal the deal just yet.
Hameron: I'm fine with it.
Whitehall: Good. Mrs. Lute, can you come in here a moment. (Mrs. Lute, the secretary steps in through the door) Go down the hall and give the attorneys for Mr. Livingston this note (jots a quick note), wait for their reply and bring it back. (she grabs the note and leaves)
Michaels: You realize murder 2 is a complete farce, if there was any murder it's in the first degree. The breaking of the glass and obtaining the gun shows premeditation.
Whitehall: We can pretend that he did it in the heat of an argument. Besides, it may be our best hope for settling this argument and putting a real piece of trash behind bars.
Hameron: (starts chuckling)
Michaels: What's so funny?
Hameron: I was just reading over some of the things that Senator Livingston has done in the State Senate over his term. Remember that big prison bill a couple of years ago.
Michaels: Yeah, it was all over the news, so what?
Hameron: He speared it through the Senate. In fact, he co-sponsored it. It took away conjugal visits, cigarettes, enforced uniforms and even removed the weight lifting equipment from the gyms.
Michaels: If that gets out while he's in jail…
Hameron: It gets better, last year, he killed a bill to build a new prison to ease overcrowding. He filibustered the damn thing to death despite the support of most of the Senators.
Michaels: He's going to have to watch his back in jail.
Whitehall: Perhaps, but you are forgetting something important. This bill made the lives of several people high up in the prison system a lot easier. There are some wardens and higher-ups very glad for what he did.
Hameron: Do you think they'll protect him?
Whitehall: You seemed convinced that judges would protect him, why not a Warden?
Hameron: Hmm (a knock is heard on the door, the secretary comes back in and drops a note off on the desk but doesn't leave the room) (Whitehall picks it up and reads it)
Whitehall: "Murder 2 is negotiable" what the hell does that mean?
Hameron: Beats me.
Whitehall: Mrs. Lute, bring Livingston's attorneys here if you could. (she nods and leaves)
Michaels: What does he want, preferential treatment?
Whitehall: It beats me.
Hameron: Is it possible the Senator did it in self-defense?
Michaels: No, what's brought that on?
Hameron: Charles was not very balanced going into that room, even though he was cuffed he may have tried to attack the Senator.
Michaels: Two things: one, Charles was handcuffed, he wasn't much of a threat to the UN-cuffed Senator and two, all the Senator had to do was call for help and the two officers just outside would have come in.
Hameron: I guess so, I'm just trying to cover all of the bases because I have a bad feeling about all of this.
Michaels: Me too, but we can't dwell. (There is a brief silence but soon there is a tapping at the door and Ms. Gosa, Senator Livingston's attorney enters the room but remains standing)
Whitehall: I thought the Senator had three Lawyers, not one.
Gosa: The other two have gone back to base so to speak for research. I have been authorized to make decisions unilaterally until they return.
Whitehall: Very well, I'll cut to the chase, what do you mean by negotiable?
Gosa: We'll settle for murder two but we want him up for parole in ten.
Whitehall: Ma'am, you realize that there are laws and that a violent offender has to serve a certain percent of his sentence before coming up for parole and ten years will not meet that requirement.
Gosa: Very well, then I guess there is no use in me being here.
Whitehall: We might be able to negotiate something else.
Gosa: You are either willing and able to offer that deal right now or I have nothing to be here for.
Whitehall: I'm willing to make the deal, but I would need special permission from a judge to impose such a sentence. So, it appears I am unable.
Gosa: Then I'll have the Senator return to his cell for the rest of the day, afternoon gentlemen. If you were wise, you would take this deal.
Whitehall: Maybe another night in jail will do him some good and wizen him up a little. We could have him for murder one, we're the ones being generous here.
Gosa: Afternoon. (walks out)
Hameron: I've just gone back on view, I think we should fight it out.
Whitehall: Very well, a decision has been made, Michaels, find out everything that happened in that room from the time Charles arrived to his death, I want to know: what he said, where he stood, where he sat and even when and if he went to the bathroom. Hameron, your job is to find any connection between the Senator and Charles you can find. I don't care if they just passed on the street once, I want to know about it…. (there is a knock at the door) (Mrs. Lute comes in and leaves a note on the desk) (Whitehall reads it and is visibly surprised)
Hameron: What does it say?
Whitehall: The Senator has been released!
Whitehall: The forensics report came back. They're saying Charles broke the glass somehow and it was self-defense. (Michaels buries his head in a file folder)
Hameron: That's bull! The boy was handcuffed, what did he do, ram it open with his head? I think that would have been obvious.
Whitehall: All that it says is that Charles was the clear aggressor, probably broke the glass and was killed attacking the Senator.
Hameron: I don't believe this. What did he do? Donate a new lab to the forensics team, new microscopes, what is it?
Michaels: Try computers, he sponsored a bill that got the state forensics team over two million in new computers. These computers are touted for helping catch the cross-road rapist and the back-woods murderer.
Hameron: (cups his head in his hands) I don't believe this, I understand what you were talking about earlier Michaels and I apologize for going against you for so long. We can go after the team, we can get an independent analysis and prove that this was a fix, we can put an end to this… (Whitehall is shaking his head side to side)
Whitehall: He's won. The evidence has probably been destroyed. If we tried to put him on trial, all his defense would have to do is introduce this report to evidence and then we could never nail him. He's free.
Hameron: I don't care what you say. I'm going to fight. This bastard is doing his time like everyone else, and I'm going to take those cocky bastards at the forensics department down a notch.
Whitehall: You can try, but you are messing with people a lot more powerful than you, tread carefully.
Hameron: I'll tread where I have to! (storms out) (an awkward silence falls over the room)
Whitehall: What are you going to tell your girls tonight?
Michaels: Probably that daddy has quit his job. (walks out) (Whitehall just sits there for a moment then crumples up the note he was handed, throws it away, opens a folder and starts reading)