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The two lawyers had risen hastily when Chief Justice Pendarvis entered; he responded to
their greetings and seated himself at his desk, reaching for the silver cigar box and taking
out a panatela. Gustavus Adolphus Brannhard picked up the cigar he had laid aside and
began puffing on it; Leslie Coombes took a cigarette from his case. They both looked at
him, waiting like two drawn weapons—a battle ax and a rapier.
“Well, gentlemen, as you know, we have a couple of homicide cases and nobody to
prosecute them,” he began.
“Why bother, your Honor?” Coombes asked. “Both charges are completely frivolous.
One man killed a wild animal, and the other killed a man who was trying to kill him.”
“Well, your Honor, I don’t believe my client is guilty of anything, legally or morally,”
Brannhard said. “I want that established by an acquittal.” He looked at Coombes. “I
should think Mr. Coombes would be just as anxious to have his client cleared of any
stigma of murder, too.”
“I am quite agreed. People who have been charged with crimes ought to have public
vindication if they are innocent. Now, in the first place, I planned to hold the Kellogg
trial first, and then the Holloway trial. Are you both satisfied with that arrangement?”
“Absolutely not, your Honor,” Brannhard said promptly. “The whole basis of the
Holloway defense is that this man Borch was killed in commission of a felony. We’re
prepared to prove that, but we don’t want our case prejudiced by an earlier trial.”
Coombes laughed. “Mr. Brannhard wants to clear his client by preconvicting mine. We
can’t agree to anything like that.”
“Yes, and he is making the same objection to trying your client first. Well, I’m going to
remove both objections. I’m going to order the two cases combined, and both defendants
tried together.”
A momentary glow of unholy glee on Gus Brannhard’s face; Coombes didn’t like the
idea at all.
“Your Honor, I trust that that suggestion was only made facetiously,” he said.
“It wasn’t, Mr. Coombes.”
“Then if your Honor will not hold me in contempt for saying so, it is the most shockingly
irregular—I won’t go so far as to say improper—trial procedure I’ve ever heard of. This
is not a case of accomplices charged with the same crime; this is a case of two men
charged with different criminal acts, and the conviction of either would mean the almost