Bobby is distraught at the dolphins escaping into the ocean and begs Steve to get them back. In classic Solomon wit Steve muses:
"How, I don’t know. A writ of habeas porpoise, maybe."
(Trial & Error is now listed as Habeas Porpoise on Levine’s website.)
Always one to take the opportunity for a new client Steve Solomon advises Nash he would be interested in representing him.
Nash is facing a murder charge for while Grisby, rather than Nash, shot Nash’s partner in crime it is felony murder because Nash’s participation in the crime, breaking in and theft, brought about the shooting.
The next morning at the courthouse, Victoria Lord, is taken aside by the State Attorney, Ray Pincher. A special prosecutor is needed as Nash is his nephew. Pincher convinces Victoria to become the Special Assistant State Attorney.
When Steve and Victoria realize they are opposing counsel on the murder charge against Nash they each insist the other should resign from the case. Being trial lawyers both of them are too stubborn to withdraw.
Victoria brings an application to have Steve removed from the case. He is a potential witness and they are living together. She brings ample authority to the hearing of the motion. Steve brings his quick mind. (In Steve winging it in court I was reminded of early Calgary lawyer, Paddy Nolan, who equally relied on his lightning mind reflexes rather than dedicated legal research.) In a funny and clever exchange with toy train loving Judge Erwin Gridley, who is also a devout University of Florida Gator fan Steve convinces the judge they will both vigorously contest the case in the same way that opposing college football coaches who are father and son or brothers work just as hard to beat the family member across the field as they would to battle strangers.
Bobby is becoming an increasingly interesting and complex character. Though lacking any discernible athletic skills Steve has signed Bobby up to play on a Jewish baseball team. Bobby goes along with Steve, who loved baseball while being best remembered for being picked off third in a crucial game when he was playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
Most of the book is consumed by the trial. I was glad to see Solomon and Lord facing off again in the courtroom. In their last book, Kill All the Lawyers, the plot barely involved court.
For all his cleverness Steve is discouraged. Victoria has carefully assembled the State’s evidence and it is clear and overwhelming. She is giving him any opening.
After she has skilfully presented her case in her opening statement Steve uncharacteristically decides not to immediately respond:
The strategy – or lack of strategy – violated yet another one of his rules, based on the psychological concept of “primacy”. People are more receptive to information at the beginning of an even than in the middle or at the end. Sure, some lawyers believe in “recency,” that people remember best what they hear last. But Steve always told Victoria to get off to a quick start.
Steve is struck by the case against his client being so air tight. He reflects on one of Solomon’s laws:
6. When the testimony is too damn good, when there are no contradictions and all the potholes are filled with smooth asphalt, chances are the witness is lying.
In discussion with Bobby he realizes the attack on the park was not an act of eco-terrorism to free the dolphins. You will need to read the book find out the real reason behind the attack.
The book is a rollicking ride through the Florida court system. Steve is the lawyer that the average trial lawyer dreams of being with his irreverent bravura saying whatever he wants to judges, clients and opposing lawyers. Victoria is the lawyer most litigators are in real life. She is conservative, well prepared, careful in every statement. I hope there are more to come in the series though it has been 7 years since there was a book.
****Levine, Paul – (2006) - Solomon v. Lord; (2009) - The Deep Blue Alibi; (2011) - Kill All the Lawyers; (2102) - "L" is for Paul Levine; (2014) - Trial & Error