The judge shuffled through prior record papers, although well aware of the charges being brought against the young man. This particular defendant had been before this court many times, all for the same offense. But this was the first time she’d be rendering a ruling in his case. She was the chief justice of the Fairfax County family court system.
The judge folded the file she had in front of her and held it up before asking how many times he’d been in court for the same charges.
The young man’s heretofore strict posture seemed to be imploding, and his six-foot, two-inch frame took on the appearance of a much shorter man. “Seven, Your Honor.”
Without preamble he said, “Miss Monroe, would it be fair to state you do not particularly like your brother-in-law, Cole Harris?”
Flummoxed, Ms. Monroe’s eyes widened in surprise. She didn’t know quite what to be indignant about—the attorney’s address of ‘Miss’ or his matter-of-fact statement about Cole.
“Miss Monroe?” Mr. Byers prodded, turning his back on her as if indicating he didn’t truly care what she answered.
“I’m sorry, that was a rather abrupt question,” she stated, trying unsuccessfully to smile demurely to those in the courtroom, particularly the judge.
“Yes or no would be a sufficient answer,” he said, turning back to face her.
“Okay. Yes,” she said, not caring that her voice had gone up an octave or two.
“Yes, what, Miss Monroe?”
“I do not particularly like my sister’s choice in husbands.”
“Husbands, Miss Monroe? Why, has your sister had more than one you didn’t like?” the defense attorney asked, cutting his eyes away from and then back to the witness.
“No, he’s the only one she’s had,” the witness testified, wishing she hadn’t mentioned it.
“Do you have a husband, Miss Monroe?”
“Objection, Your Honor. Irrelevant and no lead-in to this line of questioning. The witness is not on trial,” the prosecutor railed.
“Mr. Byers?” the judge queried, a hint of a smile threatening to pull at the corner of her mouth.
“I intend to show relevance, Your Honor, and the witness, herself, raised the line of questioning by bringing up husbands.”
“I’ll allow it,” the judge ruled. “Please answer the question, Ms. Monroe.”
“No,” the witness said flatly.
“No, you’re not married, or no, you won’t answer the question?” Mr. Byers taunted.
A nonplussed look came over the witness’ face. “No, I’m not married,” she said, trying desperately to control her tone.
“I’m always amused at how people become terse when they don’t wish to respond,” defense counsel offered, his eyes twinkling in merriment.
“Objection. The defense is badgering the witness,” Mr. White bellowed, practically knocking his chair backwards as he jumped up.
“Mr. Byers, mind your manners,” Judith intoned, a smile edging her lips.