The Trial of D. J. Strumps
Who can say how the name of the offender slipped past the judge? Perhaps it was the hour - the wee wee hours of morning. It could have been the volume of traffic. (After a few dozen cases some things just get by.) Whatever it was the warrant had been issued for one D. J. Strumps. The detective who applied for the warrant was there in the courtroom to pick it up. His partner was with him. They looked at each other in disbelief. Now, to serve it. It was hard enough to get into the White House. Getting in to arrest the president? They imagined an army of Secret Service wearing Kevlar under their off-the-rack suits brandishing MP-5s consecutively laying down their lives to defend their principle. Still, the house was in their jurisdiction. The crime was in their jurisdiction. Obviously, there was enough evidence to obtain a warrant. If the guy didn’t want to get arrested he could have done like everybody else who’s never seen the inside of a hoosegow - obey the law. He didn’t. He had to have his day in court.
“You know,” said Sergeant Adams after a long, brooding silence, “we can’t just go walking up to the White House and knock on the door.”
“No kidding,” replied his partner Sergeant Jefferson.
“And, we can’t go into the White House carrying pistols, either.”
“Your brilliance is astounding,” came the droll response.
“So, how are we going to do this?”
“You tell me.”
“We could take the tour.”
“What, and slip away - go wandering around looking for his TV room?”
“Maybe when he comes out we can get him.”
“You ever seen the caravan he travels with?”
“We’d need a tank.”
“He has air support.”
“Who do you know in the White House?”
“Who do I know in the White House…who do YOU know in the White House?”
“I don’t know anybody in the White House.”
“What if we can lure him to a spot where we can drop a net over him?”
“What…leave a trail of Kentucky Fried chicken legs down the sidewalk up to the back of our van?”
“You’re not really helping.”
“What can I say? I never expected to get this far with this.”
“Look. The guy is a criminal. He committed a crime against one of our taxpaying citizens. Anybody else who did this would be in a cell right now. Besides, if he didn’t want to be in our jurisdiction, he could have gotten a job with a better housing arrangement. We can’t allow the fact it’s difficult do the deciding for us.”
“I do like the lure idea, though. He assaulted one lady. We can get him to try to assault another. You don’t think he takes the Secret Service everywhere he goes, do you?”
“I was thinking the same thing, pard, the very same thing.
Of course, it was easier and more likely a D.C. cop would know a high-priced hooker before he’d know a White House employee. However, the “high-priced” part would be another obstacle. Neither of them had that kind of money. Getting the department to finance it could be seen as funding entrapment, but they weren’t going to try to catch him with a hooker. They just wanted to arrest the guy, with this warrant in hand, away from his entourage. The over-aged bodyguard would be no problem. They’d certainly have their guns out first. Jefferson contacted someone he’d met during his days with vice. She wanted $1500 for the evening. He got her to come down to $900 for old time’s sake. Adams raised his eyebrows at this, but he didn’t ask. The idea was to have this leggy blond hover around Limo 1 on the president’s side of the car. She’d show a little this, and show a little that, and with any luck, the window would roll down. They’d follow. It was likely he’d drive her to a posh hotel, one that didn’t say “Strumps” on its front, so there’d be no pesky employees to wade through. Nabbing him at the elevator would be simplest. Cuffing him and escorting him out the back would ensure a head start on the avalanche of people sure to begin as soon as word got out.
It was well-known the president spent evenings at a hotel he owned in town. People of varying importance would nonchalantly go there to spend copious amounts of money in hopes of impressing the president with their own importance. He, of course, loved this. His limo arrived. The ringer was a pro and knew how to let the Secret Service guys clear the area for the president, then slip up behind them as they moved their circle outward. She stood by the door, her back to it, and did some clothing adjustments, providing several advantageous angles for any possible onlooker behind her. Sure as the world, the window rolled down. She leaned over and appeared to listen to someone. The door opened. In she went. The limo drove off leaving the Secret Service guys holding back a crowd that didn’t materialize as there was no one getting out of any limo at the moment. Scant seconds passed before it struck them what had just happened. Meanwhile, Limo 1 tailed by the two detectives drove a few blocks further up the avenue to another high-end hotel. The two got out. The detectives hurriedly parked and ran to keep up. The two went in, flagged on by the doorman. They flashed their badges, the doorman looked the other way as they entered. There they were waiting for the elevator.
“Sir, I have a warrant for your arrest,” Jefferson said to the back of the president’s head. He turned around in his own disbelief not really realizing what was just said to him. However, the grip the cop had on his wrist and the handcuffs were quite enlightening. He began to shout.
“Do you have any idea who I am?” The hooker decided to slip out the back.
“Yes, sir, and here’s a warrant with your name on it.” Adams held the warrant up to the president’s face not expecting him to read it as it was well-known the president didn’t like to read. The president got louder and started to become belligerent.
“You can’t arrest me! I’m the president of the United States!” The two detectives paid no attention to him. He was cuffed. While he tried to talk them out of the arrest, they could hustle him to the rear of the hotel, which they did. They passed a couple of employees on the way out; one maid returning with her cart at her shift’s end, and a busboy who was in the alley smoking a cigarette. Jefferson, who was as tall as the president, though not as overweight, pressed him against the wall of the hotel with one extended arm, a fist in his chest. The president’s hands were cuffed, so he tilted backward in an awkward position unable to put up much resistance. Still, he bellowed, “I’m the president, goddamit! You can’t arrest me!”
“Looks like they already did,” the busboy offered stifling a laugh. The president gave him a dirty look. Then, the busboy had to laugh. “Cooperate, D. J. They’ll go easy on you,” he said then burst out into raucous laughter. He thumped away his cigarette butt and pulled open the heavy door to go back in to find someone to tell what he just saw laughing all the way up the hall. At that moment Adams squeaked the car to a stop. Jefferson pulled the back door open and forced him in, taking care to not let him bump his head, despite his stated policy on how to treat arrestees. All the way to the station the president clamored and wailed. “You can’t.…” this and “you can’t.…” that. Jefferson so wanted to backhand him in the mouth, then say he fell into a wall trying to escape, but Adams sensed it and tried to calm him down.
“Don’t do it, partner. He’s just a perp.” Upon hearing “perp” the president redoubled his verbal output doubling its volume. When at last they arrived at the station, rolling around to the building’s rear they were met by the officers Adams had radioed ahead to meet them in case they needed help ushering in their prisoner. They did. With his twisting, and turning, and heel-dragging compounded by his corpulence, they had to wrestle their bellowing perpetrator into a holding cell. He was in one by himself for fear other prisoners might take advantage of him. It would be a long wait until morning. Morning dawned early since the two detectives decided to sleep over at the station to get a head start on transferring their prisoner to the courthouse. He was out like a log. They had to get into the cell and shake him a few times to wake him up. At first, he was quite groggy, more so than is usual. They suspected medication of some sort. That could account for his manic behavior as well, however, they weren’t ruling out a well-tended, fully-matured ego.
He eventually roused and his first major concern was his hair. It was in a rather desperate condition. Awry would be accurate. Just as they were beginning to feel a tinge of sympathy he starts with the bellowing again. Unable to muster the volume of the night before, he was more or less wheezing, but the verbiage was the same; don’t you know who I am, you can’t keep me here, you can’t do this to me, etc. Again Jefferson thought a shot to the ribs with the butt of his pistol would straighten him out. Again Adams cut him off at the pass. Whatever happened from here on in you could rest assured will be under microscopic scrutiny. As they wrestled him down the aisle between the lines of cells, the prisoners his shouting had awakened (two hours early) were cursing him more loudly than he could complain. Once they closed the door behind them they could hear applause ring out behind it. “I know who you are, and you’re really not worth this,” Adams said quietly in his ear. For some reason that shut him up. “You can make one phone call. Make it good. You have three minutes.”
“You have my cell,” he said smugly.
“Do you have any change?” Adams asked benignly.
“I don’t carry change,” he replied rather haughtily. Adams dropped a quarter on the aluminum shelf under the phone. “I don’t have any numbers. They’re all in my cell.”
“Dial 202-555-1212. That’s directory assistance. Tell them who you want to call, they’ll give you the number and return your quarter.” Adams was an infinite fount of patience. He got a feeling this guy really didn’t know how to do things like make a simple phone call. He was beginning to pity him. Of course, calling information and asking for the White House number was on the side of supreme idiocy. It would seem this service would be available to the president - to phone his own house. An information operator had all day to argue why didn’t he have his own number if he’s the president. He gave her an attorney’s name and the building his office was in. That was enough. After some muffled barking, and whining he was finished with a minute and a half to spare.
It was a quiet drive a few blocks to the courthouse. He cooperated with the transfer. The detectives handed him over to the courthouse boys who handled prisoners. Adams and Jefferson went around to the courtroom where Strumps was to be arraigned to make themselves available for any questions from the bench. An assistant district attorney was there to represent the city. She had a copy of the warrant. The detectives halfway expected her to say something signifying the magnitude of what they were trying to do, but she didn’t. It dawned on them both at the same time, she didn’t put together who the guy is. A desire to take some of that long-accrued vacation time then gripped them both at the same time. Mentally, they were tiptoeing out of the courtroom. Physically they were doing their best Bogart routine. “D. J. Strumps! Case number 70395!” a bailiff announced. Another bailiff went up to Strumps and signaled for him to move to the little podium in front of a plexiglass window to address the judge over a microphone. On the other side of the plexiglass half-a-dozen lawyers pushed their ways up to the judge’s bench.
“How does he plead?” the judge asked not knowing which of them to address the question to.
“Do you know who you have here?” one of the lawyers answered in a derisive tone that set the judge’s jaw on edge.
“How does he plead?” the judge asked again.
“That’s the president of the United States! You can’t ask him how he pleads!” another of the lawyers said, raising his voice as he did.
“Which one of you legal beagles represents this man?” she responded in her this is my courtroom voice.
The six huddled together hissing for a couple of minutes. Finally, one pokes his head up, strides closer to the bench and says, “That would be me, your honor.”
“How does he plead?” the judge asked yet again, having no trouble keeping her composure.
“Your honor. Do you realize you have the president of the United States here?” He tried not to sound condescending.
“I realize I have Case number 70395 before me, and you’re here to enter a plea.” She was now stern.
“I’m not sure you can do this, your honor. I’m not sure it’s legal.”
“Mark the defendant as non-responsive. Enter a plea of not guilty,” she told the court recorder. “Any input as to bail?”
The ADA said, “We don’t think he’s a flight risk. We have no problem with OR.”
“OR it is then. The defendant will be released on his own recognizance. We’ll fix a court date for a preliminary at October 3rd; six weeks from now. If you have a problem with that argue it out amongst yourselves before you file anything in here. We’re too busy to referee petty squabbles.”
“Yes, your honor. We have no problem with the date,” the ADA said firmly. The half dozen lawyers seemed uncertain about what they should do next.
“Gentlemen,” the judge now addressing the half-dozen lawyers gathered before her, “the next time you enter my courtroom I suggest you be prepared. Bailiff!”
“Alberto Gonzales! Case number 70396!” the bailiff announced. The judge got her courtroom security chief’s attention with a look, then nodded toward the half-dozen lawyers who still didn’t seem to know what to do next. He, in turn, nodded to two of his people. The three of them gently but firmly herded the team of lawyers out of the courtroom. As they did a loud, belligerent voice could be faintly heard somewhere far off in the building shouting, “You can’t do this to me! I’m the president! I’m the president!”
To say an explosion occurred when word of the president’s arrest got out would be accurate. Every news outlet with bus fare to D.C. just had to have this story. The usual unwanted infestation of his front lawn by a teeming army of TV camera crews was, of course, impossible. Still, he complained he was beset on all sides “like no one has ever been before.” What he and his lawyers discussed is a secret or several secrets. However, an inside connection with the narrator can divulge some of this. Initially, they discussed his arrest as a kidnapping, setting up the detectives for a capital crime. However, they weren’t sure who the high-priced hooker was. She had slipped away and not resurfaced, something they’d expect to happen eventually. Then, they had the idea of claiming entrapment. However, though he was snared by two clever cops, they really couldn’t present a believable case that using a high-priced hooker for bait, and it working, should be something the president would want published daily for a month on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Their combined legal expertise gave them the wisdom to understand clearly their client did indeed assault the lady in question on whose behalf the warrant had been issued, no matter what their client insisted to the contrary. This was, after all, not the first time. He’d even been captured on tape bragging about how he viewed assaulting women as a personal hobby with particular ego-gratification features.
In fact, the more they plumbed the depths of this dilemma, the less they could muster enthusiasm for defending this guy. The simple truth was, no one was there to exercise their outstanding courtroom skills or superior understanding of the law. They were there to concoct an elaborate lie to get their client, the president, off the hook. They all, to a man, had hoped their careers at the bar would lead to an honorable legacy, one of which the grandkids could be proud. Pursuing this cause held the obvious risk of sinking their careers entirely and branding them as the ones who tried, and failed, to get the president off yet another abusing females incident. The female in question would write a book and become a celebrity. They’d never get that appointment to the bench which was the economically secure culmination of any legal career. The more D. J. gesticulated, red-faced and slobbering, and shouted making their ears ring, the less inclined they felt to see him escape the noose. Conniving to oneself intentionally sabotaging one's own case was similar to contemplating suicide. It’s not really dangerous until it becomes a plan. After six hours of wrestling the bear it was decided to break off the session until the next day, then come in with fresh minds and pick up where they left off. The president was a bit concerned they hadn’t hashed out a plan almost immediately. His confidence wilted as he saw each of these august legal warriors don their coats, pick-up their briefcases and depart.
“Why couldn’t this bitch just get groped and like it?” he thought to himself, feeling much the put-upon victim in all this. “If she wasn’t asking for it she wouldn’t have been alone on the elevator with me.” He’d begun leaving out of his recall the fact he’d dragged her to the elevator to begin with. Since it was the freight elevator at his own hotel he knew there was no videotape. He was free to recall the event any way he wished. Who were other people to expect him to remember it the way they wanted? “All they had to do was say she was drunk, and couldn’t possibly remember.” This thought caused him to pout like he did at three years old when his mother accused him of intentionally breaking something. Unfortunately, the woman in question had gone straight to the police department once the elevator door opened, and sat down with Adams and Jefferson who could see she was sober as a judge sitting there in her disheveled clothing. It had taken Adams an epic wrestling with his own will to prevent himself from reacting emotionally. Jefferson didn’t bother. He wanted to go right out and drag him back to the station. Adams, of course, knew strategy would be required (the point of cooler heads prevailing.) She assured them she would take the stand and tell the entire story. They could see no reason to not make an arrest. In fact, cases like this usually had a plea deal, meaning: The defendant had to plead guilty, then relate before the court all the details of the crime. The president had good reason to fret.
The story gets a bit shaky along here. There was much back and forth and many comings and goings over the intervening weeks. Several attempts were made by several attorneys acting in an official White House capacity, or as D. J.’s private attorneys. No matter what they filed or what they pleaded, or asserted they couldn’t budge the judge. They tried to do end-arounds with higher courts. They tried subterfuge with threats to careers. They even filed a stay with the highest court which refused to hear it as it was not the proper jurisdiction. D. J. became angrier and more and more frustrated. He fired lawyers, then hired lawyers, all of whom kept coming up with the same results; “You have a court date October 3rd. Perhaps we should prepare a response.” He began to feel people were laughing at him behind his back, which was pretty much true, and constituted the president’s deepest insight of his entire presidency. He went public and assaulted the sitting judge’s impeccable integrity. Certain yahoos who didn’t care what the truth was, they just supported the president with a loyalty going back to his wrestling days, were eager to “believe” their poor president was being scurrilously attacked by his opposition in this most insidious and despicable way; though their actual vocabularies couldn’t stretch that far.
He appeared by phone on Wombat News, a syndicated entertainment channel operating under the guise of serious news gathering. “It’s all made up. Not a word of it is true,” he exclaimed over the phone. Their audience was livid. They didn’t even know the name of the person making the accusation, but they were convinced she was an opposition party operative who was lying her ass off just to get their hero and keep him from converting their country back into their own personal, private property. But, no matter what he did, October 2nd came and he still had a court date the next day. ‘T was then he began conniving a more direct way out. He’d just stay home. Safe in the White House the Secret Service had his back. No puny local cops could get past them! Just let ‘em try! It seems, however, just as in the days when women’s suffrage was a ballot issue, many Secret Service agents had wives who were interested in if their hubbies were going to help their boss escape justice. The inquiries, apparently, were put in such a way these agents could see their foreseeable futures being played out in nights on the sofa in the den. Yes, there was a definite “him…or me” mood in the air. It seems womankind, a little over half the country’s population, had pretty much had it with lecherous scum and would be happy to see their leader doing time.
The stage was set for a palace coup. The night of the second an anonymous tipster called the detectives, asking for Adams by name, and intimated that the hallway to the president’s TV room would be free of obstruction should someone find the need to serve perhaps a bench warrant for non-appearance in a court proceeding. Adams set the receiver in its cradle with a whistle.
“What was that?” asked Jefferson.
“It was the cavalry,” replied Adams.
“And, what did the cavalry want?”
“To tell us they weren’t showing up.”
“Did they, by any chance, say if the front door would be open?”
“Indeed they did and indeed it will be.”
Jefferson whistled. “Does this mean what I think it means?”
“You mean they met the guy?” Jefferson nodded. “Looks like it,” Adams said with a hint of incredulity in his voice. “You don’t think he’d really be a no-show…do yah?”
“If anybody would, this guy would.”
That was a “what if?” they had to consider all along, since the arrest. Imagine trying to do that twice. Later that day Adams received an email using a bulk mail/no reply sending address with a sketched map of the White House floor plan where it had to do with where to enter, and how to get to where D. J. would be holed up. “They really must not like this guy,” he thought to himself. The entrance was by a covered drive-through. They could park their car there with the door open, shove the perp in and drive away in no time at all. The TV room was surprisingly easy to get to, as well. The next day his case number was called. The bailiff called out “D. J. Strumps!” four times, then looked admonishingly at the judge. She ordered a bench warrant. Adams asked to approach the bench. He told her about the call and the email. She designated Adams and Jefferson to serve the warrant. They drove up to the gated White House entrance. It was open. The guard in the shack had his back turned and seemed to be reading a comic book. They drove through. Not a soul was in sight.
They found the entranceway marked on the map, left the engine running with the rear door on the side of the building open, and cautiously went inside - Adams holding the map. They easily found the TV room, its door shut, and could hear a TV blaring behind it. Adams looked up and saw the first lady down the hall. She obviously saw him, but expressionless she went on her way. Adams shrugged. Jefferson tried the handle. It was unlocked. He opened it quietly and peered into the room. There was the president his back to the door watching Wombat News on his wider-than-average widescreen. He was shouting encouragement to the entertainers pretending to be news presenters. “You tell ‘em! That’s right! Fake! Fake!” He was about to let out another “Fake!” when he felt a strong grip on his right shoulder. He looked up and saw Jefferson there with a grin on his face. “Hello, Mister President! So good to see you again!” For a moment horror spread across the president’s face, then his ego once again took hold and out he came with the righteous indignation which was his running theme. “Who let you in here?”
“Why. No one,” Jefferson said trying not to hide his delight. “We let ourselves in.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere, Strumps?” Adam asked as if he was talking to a schoolboy.
“O’dell! O’dell!” the president started shouting. Adams and Jefferson assumed he must be the Secret Service agent in charge.
“O’dell isn’t going to help you,” Jefferson said. He and Adams pulled Strumps from his seat, one on each arm. Jefferson expertly wound his prisoner’s arm around and behind him turning him to cuff him. Adams handed him his other arm, and out the door went the three, down the hall to the entrance with the car, door open - engine running. Strumps was about to turn and bellow something at Jefferson. He kneed his prisoner behind his knee collapsing his leg then pushed him into the back seat. He muttered “Watch your head, D. J.” as he did. Of course, Strumps knew berating the two detectives would get him nowhere, so he rode to the courthouse skulking out the window. Adams and Jefferson tried to pretend he wasn’t there, but he was huffing and puffing in his outrage sounding like some sort of livestock in their car. At last, they arrived at the station and repeated the procedure. This time before the same judge as before, the very one that had released him on no bail as a gesture of trust.
“I’m glad you finally decided to join us,” she said dryly looking at him over her glasses. “If you were out on bail I’d revoke it right now. Be advised you aren’t leaving without bail this time. Bailiff, announce the case please.”
“Case number 70395, D. J. Strumps versus Washington, the District of Columbia!” he announced.
“I suppose your counsel hasn’t had time to arrive, Mister Strumps.” The president stuck out his chin with a protruding lower lip. “Don’t act sullen with me, Mister Strumps, unless you want to be looking at a contempt citation. Will you be represented by an attorney for this proceeding?”
“Yes, if he ever finds out where I am,” Strumps haughtily replied.
“I imagine everyone knows where you are about now. However, in the interest of fairness you seem to find it difficult to muster, I will recess these proceedings for twenty minutes to give your counsel time to get here.” Strumps harumphed, arms folded across his chest. “No need to thank me, sir.” She retired to her chambers. Strumps sat at the defense table. An ADA sat at the prosecution’s table. Adams and Jefferson sat in the gallery. They were to testify about the victim’s visit and the subsequent arrest. There wasn’t much to investigate. They had photos they’d taken of her that night in her disheveled dress, and they had her testimony. He, of course, would deny it happened, or use the SODDI defense (some other dude did it.) He’d question her character and motive. In fact at this point with this defendant, Adams and Jefferson were beginning to lose confidence in their chances. Outside the courtroom, an army of reporters waited with cameras and microphones. Outside the courthouse, a fleet of live news trucks was parked. After about fifteen minutes the doors swung open and in shuffled the half-a-dozen attorneys. The bailiff disappeared into the judge’s chambers. After a minute he came out, and close behind him came the judge. They did the “all rise”, she sat down then looked over her glasses at the defense table seeing the half-a-dozen ensconced there. “Gentlemen,” she said heartily. “I see that we meet again. I certainly hope you’re prepared this time.” The one selected to speak the first time spoke up again.
“We are, your honor.”
“Let us proceed, then,” she said.
“First, your honor,” Strumps’ lawyer still standing raised his hand. “I have a motion.”
“We’ll hear your motion, counselor.”
“Your honor, the defense moves the case should be dropped as this court has no….”
“I’m going to stop you right there, counselor. I’m not going to sit here and listen to you replay all the motions you’ve already had thrown back at you this past month and a half. If you have a motion you haven’t made previously I’m willing to hear it. Barring that we will proceed.”
“We do not, your honor.”
“Then have a seat. Would the prosecution please proceed?” She was finished with him and he knew it.
The ADA then presented to the judge what evidence Adams and Jefferson were able to collect. As Adams suspected might happen the judge said she thought it was a bit thin. However, she was aware of a tape of the president, prior to becoming president, bragging to someone about this kind of behavior and admitting he not only has done it but that he does it frequently. He even seemed amused. Given this insight provided by the defendant himself, she felt the case should go to trial. Then the judged turned her attention to the problem of bail. “Mister Strumps, I gave you the benefit of the doubt as to your trustworthiness and released you on your own recognizance. You repay my consideration by not showing up for your court date. I had to issue a bench warrant and have two people bring you here at considerable inconvenience to them, I might add.”
“I was coming, your honor,” he said loudly but almost in an adolescent whine. “I lost track of the time, but I was dressed and ready.” He honestly believed she should take him at his word on this, yet she was not so moved.
“Be that as it may, sir. The agreement was for you to show on your own effort, not by the effort of others. This you did not do. I shall now set bail for you. Does the prosecution have anything on this matter?”
The ADA held up her hand, “As a matter of fact, your honor, I do. Obviously, he’s the president and resides at the White House. I don’t know how the officers who did managed to get him out of there with no confrontation with his security, but I don’t wish to take that gamble a second time. This defendant would also have the world know he’s a ‘very wealthy person’ according to him. Since his charges are a Class-A felony, I think bail should be considerable both to reflect the seriousness of his crime, and with an amount that gets his attention this time.” The judge seemed pleased with how the ADA phrased this.
“I must say I agree with the ADA on this. Does the defense have anything to offer?”
“No your honor. My client is willing to put up whatever bail your honor deems fit.”
“Well then, her honor deems two million dollars ‘fit’.”
“I’ve got that,” Strumps said.
“I’ll set a trial date for December 15th. That should be adequate for both sides. This proceeding is adjourned.” She tapped her gavel once sharply then dropped it with a clatter as she rose and retired once again to her chambers.
It took the president a little more than three hours to at last finalize the arrangements for his bail. Firstly, he didn’t actually have the money as he’d told the judge, though he knew where to get it. Or, at least, he knew someone he could lean on, make feel guilty, then wheedle the money out of. Secondly, as most people know courthouses are rarely conveniently placed near banks or other areas of commerce. At one time the great downtown squares had everything from lawyer’s offices to hardware stores and drugstores that sold ice cream floats with that grand First National Bank of Wherever. Those days are long gone, and for the president, most of his financial buddies (if you could call them that) were in New York City. After some doing requiring so-and-so to call so-and-so who in turn called so-and-so who ran over there to pick up that then ran over here to drop it off, the county clerk was squared away. A much frazzled, befuddled and chagrined president finally made it home having done no presidential work all day. He’d been sequestered in the courthouse, almost in its attic, while others did the legwork to get things in order for his release. He was then somewhat disguised in janitor’s clothing and hustled out the maintenance crew entrance into an innocuous automobile. When they drove past the flock of press, which they had to do, not one turned his (or her) head to wonder who was in that old, dented car in need of a paint job.
Later that evening, after he’d taken a nap and had something to eat, a meeting was hurriedly called so he could berate and hyper-criticize his so-called legal team for being unable to hold at bay the puniest of legal entities; some municipal judge and two city detectives. With the mass of high-class, overly paid, ivy league graduated legal eagle gray matter assembled before him, not one of these Einsteins of the Bar had anything more to say than, “It’s your word against hers. They’ll never make it stick.” He shouted, “I coulda heard that on a Hawaii Five Oh rerun!” After much remonstrance, rebuke and reproach he seemed to tire of the game. He left the room and went back to his TV room to play with his smartphone. The bevy of attorneys was speechless. Though none of them had any trial experience, being contract, real estate and finance lawyers, they all had called somebody, who called somebody to pass word along to them as to what to expect, as well as what might be done. To a man the response was, from that wide net of inquiry spread out over the D.C. area, “It’s his word against hers. They’ll never make it stick.” This somehow, even to them, didn’t seem to be enough. Of course, the sources of this wisdom, various attorneys who did have trial experience, might have elaborated. They might have added, “It all depends on how you pick the jury,” and “As long as the jury doesn’t think your client is a giant asshole.” None of the attorneys consulted felt it polite or wise to add those two bits of information though they knew the entire case hinged on these two things, all else being equal.
Some will say it takes years of practice to get down the art of voir dire; questioning possible jurors to ascertain their desirability. The above-mentioned attorneys, once told to whom they were offering advice, knew none of the lawyers involved had ever selected jurors for a panel. In fact, they were willing to wager their only experience with it was while watching television, or the occasional movie. They knew as soon as they heard the questions the president was pretty much sunk barring an act of God. No one had a reputation for being a more scurrilous, womanizing ne’er-do-well. Most of the country was embarrassed he was even near the White House, much less its current occupant. In fact, the odds of finding a jury that hadn’t a majority wishing to see him twist in the wind was so astronomical the joke became making a motion that the entire population of the country was tainted as a jury pool, and D. J. could not possibly get a fair trial as a result. What was funny was, it was probably true. Local trial attorneys knew the judge he was before. They knew she was more than likely insulted by his mere presence in her courtroom, and if he’d managed to run into a hanging judge, she was it. Many a round of scotch and water was tossed back for many evenings to come while chuckling over this dim reality. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” was the toast of the town during the next few months. The vice-president, a certain Mister Penny, was already practicing saying, “My fellow Americans, I come to you with a heavy heart…” in front of a mirror. It was all he could do over this span of time to keep from seeming enthusiastically eager.
His team of lawyers couldn’t seem to agree on much, other than that something needed to be done. Half of the half dozen thought he should declare presidents can’t be tried for petty crimes in Washington D.C. It was tantamount to giving him diplomatic immunity in his own country. They all knew for certain that none of this had been tested in court because no one had ever managed to arrest a president until now. Oh yes, there was one thing on which they all agreed. It sure was a dirty trick to lure the president with a high-priced call girl. Clever? Yes, but dastardly all the same. He tried to go about his day-to-day presidency tasks; signing bills with his tortuously flamboyant signature he’d been perfecting since high school, calling people on the phone to act informed about whatever it was they were dealing with, twittering to and fro with snappy wisecracks trying to perform on social media like the 70-something year old teenager. But, it just kept coming up. “What assault? Who assault? Where assault?” Didn’t these reporters have real stories to cover? How about all his plans? He had a plan for everything! He consulted his media relations person. She was a mare of a woman from the deep south. “She probably clomps her foot on the ground when she counts to ten,” he mused to himself. “I need these lies about an assault to stop!” he declared to her. “Yes, Sir Mister President,” was her response. She was just happy to have an important job. Her integrity was an encumbrance if it kept her from saying she worked at the White House. She believed anything he said. (Some people from her hometown actually believed God had made him president to bring on World War III, half destroy the world and cause Armageddon, thus opening the door for their Messiah to make his second coming.) It was the ultimate in importance to help him achieve this, she thought. “I’ll continue to tell them it’s a lie Mister President,” she had told him trying to reassure him. “I don’t know why I gave you this job,” he said to her back as she was leaving the Oval Office. She didn’t stop. She walked right on out of there.
At last, the day came, and it was D.J.’s moment in court. To open this theater of the absurd the Secret Service had to first descend upon the courthouse facility, sweep it for bombs, place snipers on rooftops, clear windows facing places and sundry other things the Secret Service does when the president is in town. The D.C. police department was commandeered to provide shoe leather. The Air Force had jet fighters scrambled, fully loaded with orders to shoot to kill. There wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm for the overtime involved. D.C. residents were none too happy with the disruption of their daily routine. This was all to culminate in the D.J. Show, The Greatest Show On Earth. No doubt, he’ll have to take the stand and bellow, screech and all the other stuff he found necessary to do in order to demonstrate he was in charge. He left little doubt of that, only people couldn’t quite figure out what he was in charge of. It certainly was not himself. But, when duty calls the dutiful must answer to keep their jobs. And, they must suffer silently, again to keep their jobs. Now and then the talking heads on the cable shows would call them “heroic.” That was supposed to make it worth it all somehow, that and getting to appear “on TV” for five seconds. (Hi mom!)
They did the all rise, then the judge gaveled the court into session. Right off the bat, his lawyers tried their domestic diplomatic immunity plea. The judge doused that flame before it could flicker. They tried to claim no fair jury could be found because everyone in the world knew who D.J. Strumps is. The judge acknowledged how that might be a problem, but not in an accommodating way. In fact, she shrugged before she shouted, “Motion denied!” and pounded her gavel a nice shot. In fact, over the course of more time than he was president D.J. had insulted so many people in so many places he had no sympathy whatever in these particular precincts, and this was doubly true in D.C. D.C. hated D.J. So, the judge was relentless. And with the prelims over, the voir dire began. As they questioned jurors it became clear only a handful of people as a percentage thought D.J. was anything but a womanizing, greedy liar with a big mouth. Some clearly were licking their chops, eager for a chance to yank the cord on the guillotine. Unfortunately, the prosecution had to dismiss these folks, just as they had to dismiss the half-dozen or so who sneaked in wearing MAGA hats. And, much too quickly for the defense while miraculously fast for the prosecution, a jury of America’s tried and true was seated. The judge instructed them as to what they were there to do, and what not to do. Then she said in a rather severe and authoritative tone (which D.J. honestly felt was only his to do) she said, “Mister prosecutor, your opening statement please.”
The prosecutor tried the folksy approach, shunning the suit and tie power trip. He’d leave that to the defense. He ran down the gist of the story; the defendant saw a good looking woman. He was overcome with desire. He followed her to an elevator and entered it behind her. He then grabbed her by her hair on the back of her head, and tried to force himself on her. He managed to get a few sloppy kisses in and rip her dress before she swung around, hit the emergency door open button, stomped him on the foot gave him a good women’s defense course shove of her palm into his nose, and while he stood blinking back tears trying to regain his orientation she fled out of the hotel, up the street to a police station, sat down with two detectives and swore out a complaint. Of course the defendant claims he never did such a thing, and never saw this lady in his life. (What else was he going to say. His attorneys were hoping they wouldn’t find that out.) He called the two detectives, one at a time. They swore to her condition, state of mind and veracity in their own judgement the night of the incident. He then asked how they’d managed to arrest him, and before any of the half-dozen realized someone needed to object, and fast, sergeant Adams related the story to the jury about how they saw him pull a high-priced hooker (one they came to become acquainted with during the course of their duties with the vice squad) into his limousine leaving his Secret Service detachment clueless on the pavement outside, and rushed her to a swanky hotel near the one which bore his name, Strumps House. There, as they waited for an elevator, the two detectives managed to cuff him and load him into an unmarked car.
The hooker wasn’t available to testify, so the prosecutor ended with the injured party relating her tale. All the while D.J. sat sneering at her, shifting in his seat leaning forward, now stretching backward. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he’d done the forefinger and thumb pistol sign at her mafioso style. His attorneys thought the amount of noise it would require to stop him would create a disturbance as great as the one he was creating all on his own, and even they, at this point, had lost any enthusiasm they may have once had for winning in this courtroom. She, at last, left the stand, and the prosecution rested. “Is that all you got?” D.J. howled contemptuously. “Shhh! Shhh!” six defense attorneys hissed at once. The judge was not pleased.
“One more outburst Mister Strumps and I’ll cite you for contempt.”
“You can’t do that to me!” he shouted, “I’m the pres…!” but before he could finish one of the six physically shoved his shoulder forcing his chair around to face him while another deftly stood up and slid on his butt across the defense table till he was between the judge and his client. A third rose and began, “Your honor, what my client meant to say was…” and before he could finish the judge was pounding her gavel.
“Counselor. Control your client, or I will.” Two surly looking police sergeants, one at the jury room door and one at the judge’s chambers entrance glared at D.J., their gym-pumped muscles bristling beneath their intentionally too tight short sleeves. It was obvious where their loyalties lie. D.J. took one look at the largest of the two and found a reason to suddenly quieten down. “Now.” She knocked the gavel on its pad once more for good measure. “Does the defense have any witnesses?”
“No, your honor.” As the one attorney now addressing the judge continued the other two subduing their client managed to push his chair almost to the railing behind the defense table. They had it turned so D.J.’s back was to the proceedings. The one who had sat on the table was now directly obscuring any sight D.J. could have of the judge, while the other one whispered as loudly as he could almost nose to nose with his client in hopes of overwhelming him enough to allow the third attorney to complete his statement. “Our defendant has provided the court with a statement denying the charges. As it’s her word against our clients, with no physical evidence, no witnesses and no corroborating testimony we move the prosecution has no case and charges be dropped.”
Of course, D.J. heard this, planted his feet firmly on the carpeted floor, and swung his chair around to shout, “Yeah, your honor!” There was a sharp snap of the gavel.
“I have to agree with defense counsel and request the prosecution drop the charges.” The judge was stern.
The prosecution expected this. “Yes, your honor,” was all he said.
Then the judge said, “D.J. Strumps, I cite you with contempt of court. Bailiffs, remove this man.” The two large policemen took D.J. one on each arm, cuffed him, then escorted him out of the courtroom to be placed in a holding cell. The Secret Service agents present all looked on dumbfounded, but not one seeming to possess the need to act. There was another sharp tap of the gavel, and the judge said in her authoritative voice, “Call the next case.”
And, so it was that the question of whether a sitting president could be tried for a crime was settled: Yes, if you can manage to get him into the courtroom. The judge found him guilty of contempt in a separate session and fined him the maximum, fifteen-hundred dollars. She specified he had to pay in cash. D.C. wasn’t going to accept any of D.J.’s checks. A family member managed to make it to the courthouse before it closed with the money, so the president was spared another night in the hoosegow. The entourage made it out to an awaiting motorcade which formed a long black parade back to the White House. Rumor has it he then teetered back and forth from celebrating a win and a tirade of anger because he had to go in the first place. Some of the White House staff managed to get anti-depressants from a friendly doctor employed nearby, thus averting their own nervous breakdowns until the thing passed over. However, some say, for D.J., nothing truly passes.