Paol Joonter broke an awkward silence in an attempt to calm his nerves. “It seems just like yesterday,” he said as much to himself as to those around him. He was staring out of a window in a very familiar hallway of the courthouse. The last time he was here, he was awaiting a verdict in his murder trial. Now, he waited to hear his sentencing.
“What seems like yesterday, Paol?” His lawyer accepted the prompt, knowing that it would help pass the time, if not the stress.
The client turned to his council as he answered the question. “It’s just that I remember sitting in that bench over there for two days—or was it eternity—waiting to hear the verdict. Now, here I am again waiting to hear another jury decide my fate.”
“How do you feel this time, Paol?” continued Warron.
“Frankly, I’m still disturbed, but I’m not as nervous. I think I’m beyond that now. I’m hardened, calloused inside. Maybe it’s numbness and the whole thing hasn’t really settled in yet.” Turning back to the window, he paused for a moment. “At least this time, it’s a beautiful day out there. The sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky. Maybe that’s a good omen. But how good can it possibly be?”
“Paol, remember what I’ve told you. We will appeal, and we will win. You will not have to spend any time in jail. Since this is a first-time offense, I should have no problem getting bail during the appellate process, especially because it’s a first offense, and nobody is considering you to be dangerous.”
“Yes,” countered the frustrated businessman, whose optimism had given way to cynicism in recent weeks. “You also pointed out how lawmakers on Capitol Hill were encouraging federal courts to wield harsher sentences on white-collar criminals these days.”
“True,” admitted Warron. “I did warn you that things could be different, but typically, those new laws are because white-collar crime continues to grow at alarming rates. Tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, and embezzling were wreaking havoc on the national economy. The intent of Congress was to increase penalties on these monetary types of crimes that have been impacting our economy for years.” While Warron believed that this was the case, he was also concerned about how these laws might be interpreted by federal judges and juries, particularly in the case of his client.
Paol Joonter retreated from the window and returned to the bench to sit beside Warron. Staring at the tile floor, he refused to continue to distract himself with the beautiful autumn day that was occurring outside. It was too painful for him to think that he may never be able to see a beautiful sunny day in a downtown park setting ever again.
“The way I see it, Warron, it’s either life in prison with parole in no fewer than 20 years or the death penalty. Right?”
“Wrong!” Warron refused to look at the glass half empty. “It’s neither of those scenarios… it’s appeal, Paol. Appeal and acquit.”
Paol smiled weakly. “Thanks, Warron. With your confidence, I am hopeful that you will find a way to restore justice to the system.”
Warron stood erect with the sound of echoing footsteps. “That would be Monay.”
Paol heaved a sigh of concern. “Here we go again.”