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    John Henry
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This story is meant for mature audiences.  Reader discretion is advised.

Thicker Than Water - 48. Chapter 48

All rise,” The Court Clerk called out.

Diego and Billy were the only ones at their table. The boys had school and Steve had work.

You may be seated,” Judge Arthur said, as he took his seat on the bench.

Welcome back, Judge,” Mr. Clarke said. Diego was disgusted at the amount of ass kissing Calvin's lawyer got away with.

Thank you, Mr. Clarke,” the judge said, signing some documents. “Come to find out, it was a false positive.”

Damn, Diego thought, fighting hard to not say it out loud.

Mr. Clarke, I believe we ended the previous session with you needing extra time. Are you ready to proceed with your next witness?”

I am, your honor. We'd like to call Mrs. Ashley Johnson to the stand.”

Neither Diego nor Billy looked towards the gallery, but it didn't take long for Ashley to enter the well and walk to the witness stand. Instead of her usual tacky unitard of some kind of animal print, Ashley was dressed in a nice pants suit the gay men guessed someone else picked out for her. Her hair had been styled and make-up had been professionally done. If she wasn't so skeletal, she might have been pretty...maybe....

Mrs. Johnson, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” The Clerk asked.

I do.”

Please sit, Mrs. Johnson,” Judge Arthur said. “And may I offer congratulations on getting married.”

Objection, Your Honor,” Billy said. “Once again, you're showing a prejudice towards the Petitioner, and I ask that you recuse yourself from this case based on the bias you're showing.”

Over ruled, Mr. Parker. I'm free to express whatever pleasantries I wish in my courtroom. Now, Mr. Clarke, please proceed.”

Thank you, Your Honor,” Mr. Clarke said, smugly. “Mrs. Johnson, please state your full name for the record.”

Ashley Marie Johnson, formerly Rickman. Calvin and I got married Saturday night after dropping our boys off with their babysitters.”

Objection, Your Honor. Mrs. Johnson is already perjuring herself. She knows that the Petitioner has no parental rights to the Minors in this case, and that all parental rights belong to my client. The Minors are neither 'their boys' nor are Mr. Padilla and his partner 'babysitters.'”

Sustained in part. The witness shall not refer to Mr. Padilla nor his friend as babysitters, and I over rule the argument that the minors are not the Petitioner's children nor Mrs. Johnson's stepchildren. The Court has already ruled on that point before Counsel, and it would serve you well to not push it any further.”

I object to your reference to Mr. Jensen as Mr. Padilla's 'friend,' when they're presently engaged to be married, which this Court has to recognize under state and federal law. I also object to your blatant refusal to acknowledge the Court's previous ruling on this matter that my Client is sole parent of the Minors. As much as you may personally disagree with it, the law is extremely clear here, Your Honor. Mr. Johnson has zero custodial claims to Bryan and Caleb Padilla, and is not now their legal father. By allowing the Petitioner, his witnesses and counsel to refer otherwise shows a bias on your part against my client. So, yet again, I motion for you to recuse yourself from this case based on the prejudice you continually show the Petitioner and opposing counsel.”

Over ruled to all three arguments, Mr. Parker, and I find you in contempt for refusing to accept my ruling on these matters.”

Is your dick really that small, Your Honor?”

Billy!” Diego hissed, trying to pull his lawyer back into his chair. “Stop it!

Excuse me?” Judge Arthur snarled, his face turning a dark red.

Is your hearing going, too,” Billy shouted, “or is your memory as short as your penis?”

What's wrong with you?!” Diego pleaded.

Mr. Parker, I hold you in contempt!” Judge Arthur snarled as he slammed his gavel.

Ha! I hold you in greater contempt, Judge! You've made a mockery of this proceeding and this bench! You should've been removed a decade ago!”

Mr. Parker, my chambers, now!

Diego was panicking. Did his lawyer just railroad his case? Was he going to lose his sons after all? Billy closed his briefcase and moved around the table, squeezing Diego's shoulder on his way. Diego wasn't sure if Billy was doing that to reassure him or not, but if he was, it didn't work in the slightest. He sat at the table fully aware that Ashley and Calvin were staring conceitedly at him. If the case wasn't so damn important, he would've just walked out.

A few minutes later, Billy and Judge Arthur returned to the courtroom. Billy had a neutral look on his face but there was some small glint in his eye that Diego noticed. Diego didn't know what to make of it and that worried him.

Mrs. Johnson,” Judge Arthur said, sounding much calmer, “You will refrain from referring to the Minors as yours or Mr. Johnson's children, and also refrain from addressing Mr. Padilla and his fiancé as babysitters. Is that understood?”

Ashley looked at Mr. Clarke and Calvin, who both looked confused. However, Ashley said she understood.

Mr. Clarke, please continue.”

Thank you, Your Honor. Mrs. Johnson, how did you meet your husband?”

We met in a chat group online.”

And when did you become aware that my client had children?”

Right away. Calvin never hid that from me?”

Do you recall the conversation?”

I do. Calvin and I had been flirting off and on for about a month by this time, nothing serious, as I was rarely on the site at the time. I had just gone through a break up and needed someone to talk to, and Calvin happened to be online. We got to talking about our exes, and he brought up his ex-wife. We talked about that for a little bit, and that's when he brought up our—I mean—the boys.”

Can you tell us what he said to you about them?”

Calvin said that he had won custody of his kids from his ex-wife, who's dead now, and took his kids to here in Washington and had been living with his best friend, who was like a brother to him. Calvin said that he had left to find a better job in Pennsylvania, and while he was gone, his mother and best friend, Diego, took the boys from him.”

Did he say why?”

He said that his mother was a control freak and demanded that she ran every aspect of his life. As for Diego, Calvin suspected that Diego wanted kids but, since he couldn't have any of his own, he wanted to take Calvin's.”

Objection, speculation and hearsay. She's testifying to unproven theories and ideas of other people that haven't been legitimized and entered into the record, while also giving testimony she was not directly a witness to,” Billy said.

Your Honor, Mrs. Johnson was asked what Mr. Johnson told her, and that's what she's testifying to and nothing more.”

Objection overruled. Please continue, Mrs. Johnson.”

Anyway, Calvin said that he wasn't given an opportunity to fight and lost because he couldn't show up to the hearings. He tried fighting again when his mother died but couldn't get the cash together to come back, and that's when Diego swooped in and took the kids for himself.”

What was your opinion of Mr. Johnson's story?”

I was shocked. It seemed so crazy that anyone would want to separate a father from his children, especially sons.”

You were sympathetic towards Mr. Johnson, correct?”

Objection, leading the witness,” Bill interjected.

Sustained. Rephrase your question, Mr. Clarke.”

Of course, Your Honor. Mrs. Johnson, how did you feel after hearing Mr. Johnson's story?”

As I said, I was shocked. I felt bad for him and wanted to help.”

Did you help Mr. Johnson?”

Of course, eventually. We talked for a couple more months, then he told me that a preacher had contacted him about his ex-wife's death. Calvin wanted to attend in hopes of seeing his children, since the preacher said they'd be attending and he had no idea where Diego lived after all that time. I also wanted to meet Calvin in person, since we were getting closer, so I paid for his plane ticket here.”

One way?”

Correct. Calvin said that he wanted to do things right by his, I mean, the boys, and wanted to get them back.”

Did he say how he planned to do that?”

We discussed some ideas and ultimately settled on getting a lawyer and here we are.”

Can you describe your first interaction with Mr. Padilla and the boys?”

Awful. Calvin and I happened to have been in the mall having dinner when we ran into Caleb, who was a complete, emotional mess.”

Diego felt his anger starting to stir. Caleb was mad at his brother but was hardly a 'complete emotional mess.'

Do you know why?”

From what I recall, Bryan and his friends had been bullying poor Caleb.”

Diego was surprised that Billy wasn't objecting. Ashley was being rather over the top and embellishing to the point of lying. However, Billy just sat still, taking notes.

Do you know who called the police?”

I don't know for certain.”

And what was your first impression of the boys?”

Objection, relevance. Her opinion of the Minors of Record has no bearing on whether or not the Petitioner should have custody of the boys.”

Your Honor,” Mr. Clarke said, “if I could just have a little leeway, I'll show the connection.”

Objection overruled; however, Mr. Clarke, please get to the point soon.”

Of course, Your Honor. If you'd please answer the question, Mrs. Johnson.”

Well, I thought Caleb was sweet yet shy. Bryan, on the other hand, was rude and very aggressive.”

What was your opinion of Mr. Padilla when you first encountered him?”

Objection, Your Honor,” Billy said, standing for the first time, since returning from the judge's chambers. “This is character assassination. Again, Mr. Padilla's attitude and Mrs. Johnson's opinion of it are irrelevant to whether or not Mr. Johnson's claims are legitimate, which is the sole scope of this case.”

Mr. Clarke, how is Mrs. Johnson's opinion relevant?”

Your Honor, it's my client's stance that Mr. Padilla is not a fit parent and that his influence over the boys has tainted their opinions of my client.”

Your Honor,” Billy said, showing his agitation, “None of this was presented in the original filing and again, is irrelevant to Mr. Johnson's claims that he was not permitted to fight for custody. CPS found my client to be a suitable parent when he passed the background checks and home inspections after the boys were put in his care. Bryan Padilla is also a teenager who's brother wandered off and was seen with two complete strangers. Of course, Bryan would have an attitude. And Mr. Padilla was reasonably upset, when he was told that his sons were with mall security instead of at the movies like he was told, only to find out that Mr. Johnson had been with Caleb. Any parent would be upset after all of this, but none of that is relevant to Mr. Johnson's claims. Under the Rules of Court, Mr. Johnson has to stick to the scope of the case he has petitioned for, which Mr. Clarke's line of questioning falls outside of, not to mention, that character assassination is also against court rules.”

Your Honor,” Mr. Clarke said, with as much calm as he could muster, “My client has maintained from the beginning that he was denied his right to fight for the boys. Part of his argument has always been that Mr. Padilla manipulated the events surrounding the custody hearings to gain custody of the boys for himself. In order to do this, we have to present to the Court a side of Mr. Padilla that opposing counsel would like to keep hidden. If we're permitted, Your Honor, I can prove all of that, which does fit within the scope of our filings.”

Objection overruled--”

--Your Honor!” Billy said, bitterly.

Don't 'Your Honor' me, Mr. Parker. You're skating on thin ice here already. With that said, Mr. Clarke, I will revoke that ruling and strike Mrs. Johnson's testimony in that line from the record. Is that clear?”

Yes, Your Honor.”

Judge Arthur looked to Ashley and said, “Please answer the question, Mrs. Johnson.”

Yes, Sir. My opinion of Mr. Padilla was that he was an easily angry man and possibly abusive. When I explained mine and my husband's relationship to the boys, Diego flew off the handle, and I was worried he was going to attack me, my husband or the boys. I got the impression that he mistreats them.”

How so?”

Well, he came storming into the office and started yelling at everyone, especially Bryan and Caleb who were cowed in fear, as if they were about to be hit.”

Billy reached over and took Diego by the hand, as Diego was close to snapping a pen he was twisting in his grip. The act was enough to shock Diego out of his silent, seething rage.

Have you seen or spoken to Mr. Padilla since?”

I haven't.”

How about the boys?”

I saw them last Saturday for our visit.”

And how did that go?”

Objection, relevance. None of this has anything to do with whether or not Calvin Johnson should regain custody of Bryan and Caleb.”

If I could have just a little wiggle room, Your Honor?”

I'll allow it, but you better get to the point after this, Mr. Clarke. I don't want the Court's time wasted.”

Of course. Thank you, Your Honor. Mrs. Johnson, please answer my question.”

The visit was okay. Bryan had an attitude the entire time, which I chalked up to learned behavior from Diego and his boyfriend or whatever. Anyway, Caleb was sweet and engaging. Oh, before we left for the mall, Bryan had to be told to get Caleb's inhaler. Something Bryan was wearing triggered an asthma attack, and instead of helping his brother, Bryan wanted to argue about it first.”

Diego moved a little, and Billy's grip tightened, as if Billy sensed that Diego was about to say something.

No further questions, Your Honor,” Mr. Clarke said. To Billy, he added, “Your witness.”

Mrs. Johnson,” Billy said, as he stood up, “I have a few questions for you at this time. The first: are you aware of the penalty for perjury?”

Objection, Your Honor. Mr. Parker is trying to intimidate the witness.”

Mr. Parker, what's the meaning of your question?”

Billy gave Mr. Clarke a hard look and said, “I'm just making sure that Mrs. Johnson is aware that lying under oath is a punishable crime under state law. As her lawyer, Mr. Clarke should have advised her against lying and what happens if she gets caught.”

Objection overruled. Watch yourself, Mr. Parker. The witness will answer the question.”

Yes. Mr. Clarke warned me not to lie for any reason.”

So, you're saying that everything you just testified to is the truth?”

To the best of my knowledge, Yes.”

Great. Your Honor, I have nothing further for this witness at this time and would like to reserve the right to recall her at a later date?”

Objection, Your Honor,” Mr. Clarke said, clearly annoyed. “Mrs. Johnson's time is valuable and she's already here.”

Your Honor,” Billy said, “I have two rebuttal witnesses to call to counter Mrs. Johnson's claims. In addition, I'm waiting on some evidence to show up. Had Mr. Clarke called Mr. Johnson first, I'm sure we wouldn't be in this situation. Furthermore, Mr. Clarke was given a recess after my cross examination last week, which would entitle me and my client to the same privilege.”

Very well, Mr. Parker. Court will reconvene tomorrow at 10am. Court is adjourned.”

Billy and Diego waited for Calvin and company to leave before exiting the courtroom.

What the fuck, Billy? Are you trying to lose my case or just get kicked off it?”

Billy looked exasperated. “If you want to fire me, Diego, go for it, but you can't afford another lawyer, and I doubt the judge would grant you an extension to find another one.”

What are you playing at then? You didn't even ask that bitch any fucking questions!”

Her testimony was a smoke screen. She's being used to side step the fact that Clarke knows he has no case. With any other judge, the case would've been dismissed, but Clarke is using Judge Arthur to get away with a bunch of bullshit. I'm going to have to call the boys as witnesses once it's my turn, so DO NOT tell them why or even hint at what to say, do you understand me? Don't even tell Steve...and make sure they're wearing something nice. In fact,” Billy said, as he pulled out a credit card and handed it to Diego, “buy them each two new suits. Go to the tailor on Broadway and mention my name.” And with that, Billy left Diego to handle another case.

Diego didn't know what to make of the whole situation and was praying that he wasn't making a mistake by keeping Billy on the case.

I hope you weren't too bored with this scene. Courtroom scenes can be a procedural drag, but I promise everything (well 80% at least) is relevant, even the lies. Once again, I ask that you leave a review and recommendation, while also commenting and replying. It all helps promote the story to new readers.
Copyright © 2023 John Henry; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading this story.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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1 minute ago, Lee Wilson said:

Writing them is definitely better than reading them. 😀


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