THAT NEXT DAY when I said goodbye to Beth, it was the first time that I’d not felt a sense of foreboding like I would never see her again! Before she left, we began planning the early stages of dates for our wedding, aiming for June after I graduated law school in May. By then I would have taken the Bar Exam, and hopefully passed on my first attempt! I knew if I didn’t, I would be the first person from my school to fail it in decades – no pressure!
I hoped to get a job in New Haven or Hartford before I graduated. I was pretty sure that Judge Jones was going to be a strong reference! In fact, my time with her seemed to work amazingly well for both of us. The week before I was set to return to Harlan, I helped her decipher a chemical mess that lawyers for both sides of a lawsuit kept going back and forth with experts. The whole case rested on a chemical that seemingly caused forty Big children to suddenly stop growing, and then begin regressing in their potty training to the point all of them were now diapered and being treated as if they were Littles in their education.
“So, was this intentional?” she was trying to decipher. Really the case was about whether or not the company was knowingly responsible when someone used the chemical in the snack food being given out as samples. A lower court had said no, but the plaintiffs had appealed saying the judge had improperly thrown out evidence of a chemical chain that was present.
I had recognized that chemical chain when we were sitting in her chambers going over decisions she was publishing. “Umm… Judge Jones?”
“Yes Cam?” she said. “Remember we’re in my chambers, enough of the Judge crap.”
“Sorry Aunt Ruth,” I said rolling my eyes. Over the course of the summer, she’d rendered a verdict that if we were at home, or alone in her chambers or her car, there was to be none of the Judge Jones ‘nonsense.’
“We’ll get you past this one of these days,” she said with a smile, “But seriously, what?”
“I recognize one of these protein chains that are in this document…”
“What do you mean?”
“They claim that the children lost all of their potty training, right?”
She nodded, “Every last one of them.”
“Well, it’s because of this chemical chain. It’s in Bigs’ breast milk, and it’s what causes Littles to become incontinent.”
“So, did they know this?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know if there’s any way to prove it, but I would guess yes. It’s a pretty specific molecule that I only know of because of a friend of mine from college.”
We discussed things quite in-depth, and she ended up ordering a new trial to be held with a specific ruling that the evidence had to be shown to the jury! I followed the case a few months later and discovered that SafeFoods was now a party to the suit. I felt it was definitely justice deserved when they lost their case a year later and were ordered to pay the victims’ families one-hundred-and-eighty-million dollars!
The day I packed my car back up and headed back to Harlan, was a bit of a melancholy day. It was raining as I hugged Aunt Ruth goodbye underneath the garage roof.
“You be safe going back, and good luck this semester! If you don’t find something with a firm this spring, let me know and we can get you on for a full-time clerkship. I would love to have you around for a couple years, and it’d be a good way to get your feet wet.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, thank you so much for everything!”
I had a long drive back to school, and passed much of it on the phone with Beth. She and her mom had picked out a beautiful private ranch for the wedding that was Little friendly for our small ceremony. They’d made some friends in that community that they invited, along with both sets of my grandparents, and both sets of her grandparents. Some aunts and uncles on both sides would be coming with cousins too. I couldn’t help but smile with how excited she was to be able to plan our future! Aunt Ruth was even going to preside over the ceremony for us!
By the time I reached my first class back that semester, we were pretty much planned I thought… Of course, she had set me straight about that when I mistakenly said that!
I was happy to leave her to it though, and focused on getting back in the swing of things for the semester. Walking into my first class back I saw Wendy already sitting waiting in a seat, and chose one next to her. “Hey Cameron, how was your summer?”
“Great! I spent the time clerking with Judge Jones in the 3rd Circuit,” I had just said that as Edgar walked in.
“You were working with her?” Edgar said. “She’s definitely got balls! That Dane vs. Tully case is going to be one of the biggest cases in thirty years as people study it.”
Right then the professor came up, “You’re right Edgar, it definitely is. Cameron, you were interning for her, any idea where she came up with that unique view on the law?”
I choked for a second and debated what to say, “I’m not sure that I should say sir, I was involved in some pretty privileged conversations there, and it’s still up in litigation to see if the Supreme Court is going to take it on appeal?”
He looked at me and nodded, “Probably a pretty good plan… You know you might make a good lawyer someday,” he joked. I felt like groaning, the number of jokes like that I heard on a regular basis were painful!
“I hope so sir,” I told him with a smile.
When he walked away further Edgar was sitting on the other side of me from Wendy. “Was that your idea?”
“Like I said, I can’t really discuss that case… but I will say Judge Jones is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s very clever!”
Class began shortly thereafter with the traditional syllabus being handed out and loads of cases assigned for us to study. To my shock Dane vs. Tully was listed on the syllabus. “You sure you can’t talk about it?” Wendy said.
I shrugged, “I guess before I say yes or no, let me talk to Judge Jones for her permission?”
“Please!” The professor said, having overheard me. “You are young enough that I don’t know that you understand the gravity of that decision. If the Supreme Court chooses not to take the case, then that will be a new precedent. If they take it up and uphold or strike it down those will also be new precedents… It is probably the biggest case in Little Rights in the past half-century.”
“Huh?” I said, “It wasn’t that big of a case? Just involved one woman?”
“And figuring a way around that Little Fugitive Statute of the Constitution. Honestly it was brilliant work, I expect it to have a decent chance of being upheld if it’s heard.”
“I’ll ask…” I said, suddenly wondering what my idea had set into motion.
After classes were over that day Samantha walked back with me to the residential village. “It was your idea, wasn’t it?” She asked.
“To deal in the fact there was no specific time listed on the statute?”
“I really shouldn’t say…”
“It’s okay, I know it was. I can see your fingerprints all over it, Cameron. I’m grateful for it too!”
“Umm… Thanks,” I told her.
“So, what did you do there, besides help make legal history?”
“Well… Beth got emancipated in June!”
“Wait, that’s that Little you knew from back home, right?”
I nodded, “Her parents drove her down to see me and she gave me the good news… I asked her to marry me!”
She gave me a big grin, “Good for you!” She stiffened though, “Is that okay legally?”
“Now that she’s emancipated, she’s an adult again, so yes, it is!”
“That’s exciting! When’s the big day?”
I talked with her for a while longer before finally making it into my apartment. I sent Judge Jones a text message, ‘Aunt Ruth, would you please call me when you get a chance, I got asked a lot of questions today and need to know what I can and can’t say. Thanks!’
Looking at the time I was pretty sure she was probably still in court, so I called Beth, “Hi Beth!” I said to her.
We spoke for a good thirty minutes before Judge Jones called, “I need to take this, I’ll talk to you later Beth!”
“Love you Cam,” she said to me and made an air kiss at me over the video.
“Love you too Beth,” I smiled.
I answered the phone, “Hello?”
“Hi Aunt Ruth,” I said.
“How was your first day back?”
“Umm… Good, I guess… I failed to realize how much my internship with you was going to result in questions from students and professors.”
She sighed, “Yeah, that happens sometimes when you’re around the big ones. Which case?”
“Dane vs. Tully,” I said.
“Oh… Yeah, that one does seem to be picking up a fan base, doesn’t it?”
“It’s on my syllabus this semester along with every other major civil rights case involving Littles. They were asking me questions about it, but I deferred until I could talk to you. What can I say?”
She made a ‘hmm…’ sound that I knew meant she was thinking heavily. “Anything that’s in the decision that was published is fair game. I wouldn’t say that you gave me the idea, but you can explain the rationale behind the no time statute there… Honestly you shouldn’t talk too much beyond that though until it works itself through the appeals.”
“That’s more than what I thought I could say honestly,” I told her.
We talked for a bit longer before I hung up and printed off the decision. I made a few notes and texted her a couple of questions on some things that I thought might be okay to say. In class later that week the professor mentioned that the Supreme Court had declined to take up the case, after a brief was filed that Mrs. Tully was now legally emancipated. It effectively side-stepped a decision from them. It did leave the judgement of Judge Jones standing, and made it a precedent at least within the 3rd Circuit, but likely it could be applied elsewhere and stand until it made it back to the Supreme Court.
“So, what can you tell us now?” the professor had asked me.
“Well, I spoke with Judge Jones, and she suggested I stay within the opinion while we were waiting to see what the Supreme Court would do.”
“Since they just dodged it?”
“I might be able to answer a few more things next week? Again, we had some privileged conversations over the past few months.”
“You got to know her pretty well?” My professor asked.
“Well, yeah, I ended up taking a room at her house, so I spent a lot of time with her.”
“You stayed with her?”
“Well, her and her husband… and I met a couple of her children and grandchildren later in the summer,” I said.
“So, you know a lot more about her docket?”
I shrugged, “Probably more than an outsider?”
In the end I broke it down to the fact that Mrs. Tully had been living on her own for four years after recovering from horrible abuse. The decision was an elegant one hoping to help her buy time with her kids at least, because Judge Jones despised breaking up families. That day when I left class the professor, Doctor Warner, motioned for me to stop. “You realize you have one of the best chances to get a career skyrocketing after graduation now?”
“You’re party to one of the most monumental decisions in decades. You clerked with Judge Jones, who I’ve heard quietly is being vetted to take over the Supreme Court spot that Judge Mansfield just stepped down from.”
“She is,” he said.
“Cool! She deserves it. She’s brilliant!”
He laughed, “Yes, she is. But if you end up being able to say you clerked with a Supreme Court Justice…”
“Oh… That’s good for me too, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. I think the key isn’t whether you get a job this year, it’s what you want to specialize in. From what I’ve seen Corporate Malfeasance or Civil Rights seem to be up your alley.
“Those do both interest me Professor.”
“Well, I’ll keep my ears open for the right firm and start pushing your name out.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said with a smile that stayed on my face all the way to my apartment. I gathered my mail from my mailbox and walked inside to look through everything. It was mostly junk, but I noted a flyer that said, Need Extra Cash? I was morbidly curious, so I looked up the information and felt sick to my stomach.
Are you a Mid looking for some extra $$$? College student? Grad Student? We at Serendipity Industries are looking for people like you to answer surveys and try a variety of products...
‘This sounds like something Addy’s parents’ company would be sending out…’ I couldn’t help but thinking.
I was about to do a little research on the company when my phone lit up and showed Beth’s face.
“Hey Cameron!” She said to me, “How did today go?”
“Oh… well I guess I might be having to choose between amazing job offers according to Professor Warner.”
“I guess Judge Jones…”
“You mean Aunt Ruth!” She corrected with a smile.
I sighed, “Aunt Ruth is being vetted for that open Supreme Court seat.”
“Does she stand a chance of being confirmed?” She asked me.
I shrugged, “I don’t know, the Tully case seriously has a lot of people angry at her, but it also got a lot of progressive attention.”
“That’s cool!” She told me. “So, where are we looking at living?”
I smiled, “I really want to stay in New Haven honestly, but I’m okay with up there in New Albany, or anywhere here in the State of Hartford.”
“What about going straight to the Capital?”
“Live there?” I shook my head, “It would be one of the worst places we could live with you…” I cringed, “Honestly beside Ames I can’t think of a more dangerous place for us to live for your safety?”
She shrugged, “It may be unavoidable someday Cam if you become as big as I think you might!”
I laughed, “Trust me, no Mid is going to be sitting on a major judicial seat anytime soon!”
We talked for a while. Towards the end of the call she said, “I’m working on trying to find my own job here too… just so I can save up some money for when we’re married.”
“Not sure yet, I have a few leads. Mom is actually looking at one with me.”
“What happened to her job?”
“She officially retired last week… but she just wants to find something to occupy her time now.”
“That’s cool, tell her congratulations for me!”
She smiled, “I will Cameron. I love you!”
“Love you too!”