BACK FROM THE DEAD
There was a much smaller crowd outside Court 25 on Monday morning. No sign of any Tang Clan members. Of course, Wai had told them not to come, it was pointless. Mandy was there with her team. Ronnie Yuen and Tommy Wong seemed very smug. Ben and Dylan ignored them. Chan Chi Wah was also there, and to Ben’s disgust approached him, smiling.
“Ah, Mr. McCann, such a tragedy about Judge Lee.”
“Get out of my way, Chan.” Ben had decided that there was no point playing games with this guy.
“Mr. McCann, there is no need for such an attitude, I am shocked. I can understand however that the present circumstances are rather unfortunate for you and your client. A new trial will cost a fortune, I guess?”
Ben stared stonily at him.
“Chan” he hissed, “I’m going to get you, one day I’m going to get you, I’ll never rest until I do.”
“I think not Mr. McCann, you’re out of your league. Go back to England, that’s my advice to you. It would be most upsetting if the same thing happened to you as your partner.”
“I will one day, Chan, when you’re behind bars.” Chan smiled sweetly at Ben.
“Good luck, Mr. McCann. You need it.” He smiled again and wandered off to his cohort of cronies. Ben was boiling with rage and Dylan saw it.
“Calm down, old son. Don’t let him get to you.”
“Dylan, he virtually admitted he was behind your kidnapping.”
“Really? What did he say exactly?” Ben repeated it. Dylan shook his head.
“You know that’s not enough. He’s clever, he’ll never admit to anything directly. Come on, let’s go into court.”
By the time they entered the court, everyone had taken their seats. Richard and Gordon looked very solemn, whereas Yuen and Wong seemed very chirpy. They clearly understood that they had the upper hand. Had Mandy told them anything about his clients’ finances? No doubt he had mentioned to Mandy previously that clients’ funds were not unlimited. Ronnie approached Gordon, Ben heard the conversation.
“I say, Gordon”, said Ronnie, “this is a bad show. Clearly the trial has to be adjourned. The judge may never come back, I suggest we make a decision now. Let’s fix a date for a complete re-trial before another judge. At least then we know where we stand.”
“I have my instructions, Ronnie”, said Gordon. “I cannot at the moment accept a new trial before a new judge until we know the severity of Judge Lee’s condition. Indeed, it is Judge Lee’s decision, we cannot take his discretion away, no matter how much you personally want to.” He looked Ronnie directly in the eyes.
“Of course, of course, we all want the Judge to continue with the trial, but we have to face realities.”
“We will face reality when we are aware of the true facts.” said Gordon.
“Well, no doubt Judge Rogan will advise us of the true facts in a moment.” Ronnie almost laughed. Gordon stared stonily ahead. All sat silently for a moment pending the entrance of Judge Rogan. Suddenly three knocks were heard, a loud “all rise”, and the judge made his entrance.
Judge Lee sat down and surveyed his court.
Everyone in court, save for his clerk Rebecca, stared at the judge, open-mouthed. Patrick’s eyes were bulging, as were Chan Chi Wah’s. Ben looked at Dylan in astonishment. Gordon and Richard could not take their eyes off the judge. Ben thought he saw a small smile on Mandy’s lips. Certainly, Rebecca was enjoying this immensely, and her eyes sparkled at Ben. The judge spoke.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the reports of my demise have been exaggerated. It would appear that I suffered an attack of angina on Friday evening, no doubt brought on by your robust cross- examination, Mr. Yuen.” Gales of laughter from the Plaintiffs’ side of the bench. The judge smiled.
“The doctors have advised me that I am capable of continuing my duties as long as I take things a little easier, watch what I eat, and stop smoking. That is what I intend to do. I must avoid unnecessary stress too, and again Mr. Yuen may I refer to your cross-examination technique demonstrated thus far in this trial in this regard, which in the main has aggravated me greatly.”
Again, peals of laughter from the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, in particular from Dylan, who appeared to be having a fit.
“The point is, this trial continues”, said the judge. Dylan kicked Ben under the table. Ronnie stood up, having recovered his composure.
“My Lord, may I express the pleasure we all feel that you are sitting here today in court, apparently sound and well.”
“Thank you, Mr. Yuen. I am sure that you are happy that the trial is to proceed.” Ben was astonished, had the Judge guessed the circumstances that his clients faced?
“Yes indeed, My Lord. May I add a word of caution, My Lord. It is likely that this trial will last a few more weeks, and despite My Lord’s comments upon my cross-examination techniques, I feel obliged to test the evidence of the Plaintiffs to a very high degree. It is my client’s belief that the Plaintiffs’ case is essentially misconceived. It is my belief that a vigorous cross-examination is essential in the interests of justice.”
“I would not dream of suggesting to you, Mr. Yuen, how to present your case. It would appear however that we are now left with the expert witnesses, is that correct?” Ronnie looked at Gordon, who nodded.
“That is correct, My Lord”, said Ronnie.
“In which case I am sure that your form of cross-examination of the expert witnesses will take a different form to that of the lay witnesses. Am I correct, Mr. Yuen?
“Ah...yes, My Lord.”
“In which case I see no worries to my health in continuing with the trial.” The judge’s eyes twinkled. “Do the Plaintiffs have any objections to the trial continuing?”
“No, My Lord, we would be delighted to continue.”
“Mr. Yuen, for the record?”
“My Lord, may I express how happy we are that My Lord feels well enough to continue.”
“Indeed”, smiled the Judge. “And the abbot, for the record?” The question was interpreted into Cantonese, and the abbot, somewhat nonplussed, gave his assent.
“Very good. I understand that I’ve surprised you all with my Lazarus-like rise from the dead. I have surprised myself in fact. I gather there are no witnesses available today, Mr. Stewart?”
“I regret that is the case, My Lord. Our expert witnesses were not put on notice for this morning’s hearing for obvious reasons.”
“Would they be available tomorrow, Mr. Stewart?” Gordon turned round to gaze at Ben, who in turn looked at Wai, who nodded.
“Yes, My Lord, I understand Professor Yau, the local historian, will be able to commence his evidence in the morning.”
“Very well.10.00am tomorrow then. Good morning!” The judge stood up, bowed, and left the court. Ben left the court immediately to light a cigarette, Dylan following behind.
“Unbelievable!” said Dylan. “Good old Judge Lee!”
“Yeah, he’s saved our bacon. I think he knew our problem if this case was adjourned. Funny what he said about Ronnie.” They laughed like school kids. Gordon and Richard were also laughing when they left the courtroom.
“Well, gentlemen”, beamed Gordon, “We live to fight another day!”
“Indeed we do, Gordon”, said Ben. He caught Mandy’s eye, she was about to enter a conference room with her Counsel. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. Ben also noted Chan Chi Wah on the way to the elevators, and couldn’t resist it.
“Hey, Mr.Chan, hold on!” Chan turned his head and scowled at Ben.
“What do you want, McCann, I’m in a hurry.”
“Just to say, isn’t it good news about the judge?” Chan gazed into Ben’s eyes angrily.
“You may think this is funny, McCann, but I’ll have the last laugh, I guarantee, with or without this judge. Watch your back, Mr. McCann, I would hate for something to happen to you.”
“That’s very nice of you to warn me, Mr. Chan. Have a nice day now.”
Ben chortled as Chan angrily entered the elevator. “Do you think it was wise to wind him up like that?” asked Dylan.
“I’m not afraid of that little shit, Dylan. And anyway, we’re back in the ball game!”
“Let’s hope we make the play-offs then, at least.”
They went downstairs with Gordon and Richard, replaying the Judge’s comments to Ronnie ad nauseam, to Ronnie’s great annoyance, who was also in the lounge. This may be as good as it gets, thought Ben, so we might as well enjoy it!