Recap | Main | Chapter Eight

Well kids, this week’s installment is at the end of the week instead of the beginning because my body decided that having a food allergy attack so I had to be doped up on Benadryl was a good way to keep me away from this barely readable novel. As I keep mentioning by calling our hero lawyer variations on, “Author Avatar Peter,” the character is a pretty obvious self-insert author avatar, down to the character matching an idealized depiction of his physical characteristics, and while Farris has mixed some things up so it’s not a one-to-one match, he’s not a good enough writer that it’s not obvious that he sees the character as an especially heroic version of himself. It’s time to soldier on, because as unreadable as this book is, it’s a glimpse into the mind of Michael Farris and this stuff needs to be documented so it’s out there.

And so, onward and upward to the second part of chapter seven, the preliminary injunction hearing! I’m sure that it will be concise and to the point, and that we won’t get pages and pages of Farris rehashing the Federal Rules of Civil Proceedure so that he can impress homeschool parents with how good he is at lawyering.

As a quick refresher, Author Avatar Lawyer Peter Barron is now in Bellingham preparing for the injunction hearing. Also, our Volvo driving abortionist Rhonda is, surprise! pregnant with Shady Vince’s child, which he of course wants her to abort because pregnant abortionists are bad for business, but she wants to keep the baby and get shotgun married to Vince. But first they have to convince the judge to issue an injunction banning our Merry Band of Protesters from protesting in front of the clinic.

Well, isn’t this lovely. More sexism from Mike Farris right off the bat. Author Avatar Peter arrives at the federal courthouse for the preliminary injunction hearing and recognizes his hot shot LA lawyer opponent right away because he’s wearing a flashy gray double-breasted Italian suit and geometric-patterned tie. I think he’s basically describing Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian during the OJ Simpson trial. Flashy LA Lawyer Barry Penner is friendly and personable, and but then we meet his associate, Dana Storino, and Farris’s sexism kicks in. The only things he tells us about her is that she “wore a tailored red wool suit, and her short auburn hair was moussed stylishly but rigidly in place.” I think he’s still drawing character descriptions from the OJ trial, because this sounds like he’s describing Marcia Clark after her mid-trial makeover. Anyway, Flashy LA Lawyer Barry introduces her to Author Avatar Peter, and after Peter tells her he’s happy to meet her, she replies, “Hello, Mr. Barron,” as she’s, “holding tightly to the black leather litigation case she was pulling behind her.”

Reading this exchange, my takeaway was that it was basic, boring professional introductions and that was that. Apparently however, from that brief description of Dana Storino, the audience is supposed to infer that she’s arrogant. Don’t ask me how, maybe it’s the tailored suit, maybe it’s the fact that her hair isn’t in soft curls framing her face like a good Gothard clone, or maybe it’s that she doesn’t fawn all over Author Avatar Peter, but somewhere in that introduction of the character, Farris thinks he’s describing an arrogant lawyer. Peter wishes he was facing her, not Flashy LA Lawyer Barry, before Judge Tyler, because the judge, “disdained arrogant lawyers, especially those from out of state.” Best I can tell is that Farris thinks that lawyering while female and not showing enough deference to the menfolk makes you arrogant.

Carrying on, since I can’t spend two paragraphs ranting about every half page of prose, I’ll try to speed through as much as possible. If he keeps declaring women “arrogant” without actually demonstrating anything that fits his descriptions though, we’ll be here all night.

Wait, what? Author Avatar Lawyer Peter is only just meeting the defendants that morning in the courtroom right before the hearing? It’s been so long since I read the first part that I totally forgot that he’s showing up to this preliminary injunction hearing without actually having talked to any of these people in person other than Suzie, who he already knows. I’m sure this is going to end well.

And I just did another double take. Shady Vince is in the courtroom with Single Person Lisa in his undercover infiltrator mode as Good Christian Stephen Gray, now steady boyfriend of Single Person Lisa Edgar. We’re apparently supposed to believe that Flashy LA Lawyer Barry is totally good with not only presenting Vince’s doctored video into evidence knowing full well it’s doctored, he’s doing it with Vince in the courtroom pretending to be somebody else. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d think a hotshot high powered lawyer wouldn’t risk his reputation and his firm’s reputation with this kind of shenanigans. Oh well, it’s not like Farris is capable of writing anything other than cookie cutter villains.

OF COURSE Creepy Colonel Danners is sitting at the counsel table while the rest of the defendants are shoved off to the side. Once again reminding me why I keep calling him Creepy Colonel Control Freak.

We’re introduced next to Judge Tyler, who is basically a prototypical country boy who’s really the smartest person in the room, but still has a chip on his shoulder because of being from a rural Real America and disrespected, so he loves showing up big city lawyers. I feel like I’m playing Stereotype Bingo with all these characters right now.

I have to say, for a character who’s so clearly an author avatar, Peter Barron is kind of useless. The judge asks the attorneys to introduce themselves, and when time comes for Peter to give his introduction, he also introduces the Creepy Colonel Control Freak sitting at the table and the other defendants sitting behind him, but since the good Author Avatar Lawyer didn’t show up ahead of time to prep anybody, Shirley Alper starts to stand up during the introductions and turns red with embarrassment when he motions her to stay seated. Maybe, just maybe here, dude should have put the slightest bit of effort into preparing his clients for how to behave in court instead of waltzing in at the last minute after nothing but a speakerphone convo before hand.

Anyway, on to the hearing. I’m going to fly through this part because Farris hasn’t figured out that courtroom realism is boring and includes way more details than anybody would ever care to read. Basically, the clinic’s lawyers are asking for a 200 foot buffer zone, and in what I think is an effort to show some sort of balance, we get a competing rights analysis with the judge questioning our flashy LA attorney about why our Merry Band of Protesters’ rights to free speech protest should be curtailed by patients’ rights not to be harassed and have their access to a legal medical procedure be impeded. Flashy LA attorney argues that the court should err on the side of the clinic because the clinic was following the law while the protesters were violating it by harassing patients.

Here’s where I want to remind you that as much as Farris keeps having his pro-life protesters reiterate that they didn’t harass anybody and didn’t violate any laws, I started out in my first installment with calling Ginny the sidewalk counselor, “Handsy Sidewalk Counselor Ginny” because we’re introduced to her as she’s putting her hand on the arm of a patient heading into the clinic. Farris’s own details depict protesters who are crossing a line, and even as a free speech absolutist who really doesn’t like protest buffer zones on principle, the facts as he presents them would be enough for me to be willing to take an injunction case against protesters. You don’t touch somebody without permission, and touching somebody without permission in an environment with heightened tensions like at an abortion clinic protest is a de facto threatening act.

Returning to the story, the judge asks our flashy LA lawyer why he’s supposed to believe the clinic’s affidavits claiming illegal activity, and not the affidavits from our Merry Band of Protesters insisting that they didn’t do anything wrong. This gives Flashy LA Lawyer Barry the opportunity to introduce into evidence the video that Shady Vince doctored. Remember, Flashy LA Lawyer Barry knows the tape is doctored, so here we have a name partner at a high powered firm knowingly introducing a fraudulent tape into evidence. Farris has a pretty low view of his own profession if he actually thinks an attorney would do this.

The courtroom wrangling here about whether it can be introduced into evidence is super boring, but Creepy Colonel Control Freak is angry about the existence of a tape and convinced it’s a bluff because it couldn’t possibly be true. Him being such a control freak and all, there’s no way a tape could exist of the protesters behaving badly, never mind that in the first chapter Farris depicted them behaving badly.

Moving on though, Flashy LA Lawyer Barry calls Rhonda Marsano, the clinic’s doctor, to the stand to set the foundation for why the tape should be admitted into evidence. Rhonda perjures herself no less than two times, the first time in answer to the question of whether the doctored tape accurately reflects the events at the clinic. Because every villain in this book really needs a mustache to twirl, we find out that Flashy LA Lawyer coached her to perjure herself by convincing her that it was “essentially correct,” since apparently this guy is committing ethics violations left and right. Oh yeah, and then the second time she perjures herself, she’s “been briefed” though Farris doesn’t specify whether it was Vince or the lawyer who briefed her that she had to lie about who edited the tape for time and claim it was the bookkeeper, who knew how to do it because she edits commercials out of her favorite soaps.

In any event, after all the wrangling and Rhonda’s perjured testimony, the judge lets them play the video so he can decide whether to admit it into evidence. Remember, Vince goaded some of the college student protesters into chanting “baby killer, baby killer” in the car when they were driving somewhere, and then spliced in that audio to make it look like the protesters were chanting it, which we’re supposed to believe no good pro-lifers would ever do. This is where I interject that I’ve actually witnessed Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, screaming “baby killer” outside an abortion clinic in Melbourne, Florida, but as I keep saying, this book exists as propaganda to convince rank and file evangelicals who don’t know what really went down in the movement that FACE is just the persecution of innocent Christians.

The tape ends, the Creepy Colonel convinces Author Avatar Peter that the tape has to be doctored, and in more wrangling over whether to admit the tape into evidence, Rhonda perjures herself for a third time. Because this is boring me writing it, it’s probably boring you reading it, so we’ll just skip ahead and say that the judge agrees to admit it into evidence and ends up issuing a preliminary injunction, but instead of a 200 foot buffer zone, the injunction is just that they have to follow all of Colonel Control Freak Danner’s very rigid rules for protesting, and as long as they do that, they can petition for the case to be dismissed in a year. If they don’t though, he’ll hold them in contempt.

Our Merry Band of Protesters considers that a victory, the clinic lawyers aren’t particularly happy, and with that the chapter ends.

Or actually, the chapter ends with Peter getting an emergency phone call from Spokane!

Tune in next time to find out what the emergency is, and in a preview of coming attractions, I’ve read ahead and you’re going to be getting a lot of ranting from me in this next installment.

Recap | Main | Chapter Eight

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Published by Kathryn Brightbill

I was born at a very young age.

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