Later that evening, Judge Mitchell is murdered.
Sabre’s shock at his death is only surpassed by an attempt on the life of Dr. Carolina Heller, a psychologist she employs on a regular basis. Sabre now fears for her own life.
Sabre enlists her private eye JP, and they begin to comb and scrutinize her cases, searching for connections between the two crimes. But Sabre’s life is in danger from someone much closer to her.
Sabre and JP’s roads diverge. While JP infiltrates a twisted world of greed and corruption, Sabre is caught up in a domestic crisis fueled by obsession. As each is forced to fight their own battles, the question soon becomes, can they find a way to save one another?
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Attorney Sabre Orin Brown leaned against the wall outside of Judge Lawrence Mitchell’s chambers as she waited for him. Although she was thirty-one years old, she always felt like a schoolgirl in trouble whenever a judge requested her presence. And this was Scary Larry. Who knew what he might say or do? He was known to shout at attorneys when they did something he didn’t like.
Sabre recalled a few times as a child when she had sat outside the principal’s office with the same sick ache in her stomach. But then she usually knew what she had done wrong. It was always the same thing: She just couldn’t keep her mouth shut in class and loved to argue. Once she told a teacher his statement about inner cities was not only stupid, but racist. She knew the second she said it, she shouldn’t have. The teacher yanked her out of her seat and marched her past the other sixth grade students and down the hall to the principal’s office.
Pulling her back to the present, Judge Mitchell said, “Thank you for coming, Sabre.”
“Of course,” she said.
Judge Mitchell opened the door to his chambers, removed his robe from his tall, lanky body, and hung it on a clothes tree in the corner of his office. “Have a seat,” he said.
Sabre took a seat without responding. She watched the judge, in his early sixties, as he sat down behind his massive oak desk. He picked up a photograph of a younger self, three small children, and a woman whom Sabre knew to be his first wife, among many. Admiration covered his face, but as he set the photo down and turned to Sabre his brow wrinkled and his smile disappeared.
“I may as well get right to the point, Sabre, since there’s no easy way to say this.” He paused just briefly. “We have a problem on a case.”
“You mean a conflict?”
“No. It has to do with a party on one of our cases. Something of which I’ve recently become aware.”
“Your Honor, shouldn’t we have the other attorneys here? County Counsel at least?”
“No one else can know this. I wouldn’t be telling you except….”
“Your Honor,” she interrupted him again, “I mean no disrespect, but I’m really not comfortable with this interchange without the other attorneys on the case present.” She felt her hands quiver a little. No matter how many years she had lived or how many letters she had after her name, authority figures still made her nervous. But she had several cases right now that were very touchy and she didn’t want to risk an appellate issue on any of them because of an ex parte hearing with a judge.
She expected him to rebuke her, but he didn’t. He calmly said, “Sabre, I know this can jeopardize your case and it can get me thrown off the bench, but it has to be said.” Voices filled the hallway from a courtroom that had emptied. “Please shut the door,” the judge said.
His comments made her even more wary. Sabre stood up, took one step toward the door, and looked out. She spotted Dave Cosby, a deputy County Counsel, walking with a bailiff. “Dave,” she called. “Can you come here a second?”
She turned back to the judge. His face was red with anger and for a second Sabre thought she saw fear in his face. “We need a County Counsel in here, Your Honor. I’m just not comfortable with this.”
“There’s no need for County Counsel,” he said louder.
“So, should I get the DA? Is it a delinquency case?”
Scary Larry jumped up from his big leather chair and flung his arms out, making a dismissal gesture just as Casey stepped inside. “Get out! Both of you. Just get out. You’re on your own,” he bellowed.[/toggle][toggle title=”Read the first chapter of The Advocate’s Ex Parte”]
“Scary Larry is dead,” her best friend, Bob Clark, told Sabre as he approached her in the parking lot of San Diego Juvenile Court. Sabre had just opened her trunk to remove her briefcase.
She turned abruptly, her shoulder-length brown hair dusting across her face as she swung around. “Oh no! What happened?”
“Hit and run. Right here at the courthouse.” He pointed south. “Back there where the judges park. He was hit walking to his car and left there to die.”
“Did anyone see it?”
“I heard it was almost six o’clock before he left and nearly everyone was gone. It’s kind of secluded back there. I guess a man found him when he went for a walk with his dog. He called 9-1-1, but the judge didn’t make it.”
Sabre removed her briefcase, closed the trunk, and started to walk with Bob toward the courthouse. The blood had drained from her face, leaving it void of color, and her petite body appeared unsteady as she took her first step. Bob took her briefcase, reached over, and put his arm around her.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She stopped. “I’m not sure.”
“I didn’t expect you to be so upset over that crazy, old coot. He was a nice enough guy, but he was totally whacked. I’m sorry he’s dead, but you seem overly affected. What is it?”
“He called me into his chambers yesterday afternoon.”
“And he wanted to tell me something about a case we’re on.” Sabre took a deep breath.
“So, what did he tell you?”
“Nothing, really. The other attorneys weren’t there and I was uncomfortable having an ex parte hearing.”
“Did he tell you what case it was?”
“No, we never got that far. I saw Cosby in the hallway and invited him in, but Judge Mitchell flipped out and bellowed at us to get out. And then he said I was on my own.”
“What do you mean? What exactly did he say?”
“He said, ‘You’re on your own,’” Sabre said, pronouncing each word slowly and deliberately. “So Cosby and I left. I don’t know what he meant, but like you said, ‘He’s whacked.’ It could’ve been anything.”
“Or it could have been something that got him killed.”
“Oh no! Do you think if I had listened to him he wouldn’t be dead now?”
“No. What could you have possibly done?”
“Told the police, maybe.”
“He could have done that.”
“He seemed afraid of something, but he’s such an odd duck, I didn’t really give it that much thought.”
They stopped talking when they stepped through the courthouse door. After dropping their files on the metal detector belt, they walked through.
“I wonder who’s covering Judge Mitchell’s cases today,” Sabre said, as she picked up her files.
“They have a pro-tem in the dependency court, and they’ve disbursed the few delinquency cases he had among the other judges.”
“He shouldn’t have too many of those since he was easing out of delinquency. He didn’t seem too happy to be spending his time in dependency court.”
“Naw, he pretty much hated it. I think the presiding judge wanted to get rid of him. Maybe he thought Scary Larry would leave if he was unhappy enough.”
“I don’t think he could afford to retire. He has too much alimony to pay. What was he on? Wife Number Six?”
“Five or Six, I’ve lost track, but who cares. He’s dead now. I guess his ex-wives will all have to find another cash cow.” Bob paused. “And did you know we have a new County Counsel in Mitchell’s department?”
“No, I didn’t hear anything about that. Who is it?”
“It’s Marge Benson.”
“Are you kidding me? She’s back?” Sabre frowned. “But she stayed with the DA’s office when they made the conversion. What’s she doing with County Counsel?”
“I don’t know. Maybe she missed us.”
“Right,” Sabre said sarcastically. “She liked us about as much as we liked her.” Sabre wrinkled her nose. “It’s been so nice around here and now it’s going to be miserable.”
“It’ll be fine. We were newbies back then. Now we’re the king and queen of juvenile court, remember?”
Sabre smiled. He was right. Benson was difficult to work with because she never compromised, but they could beat her on some of the legal issues. They both had a lot more experience now. She wouldn’t be able to push them around like she did when they first came here. Even back then, they beat her on their first jurisdictional trial together. Benson hated losing to a couple of rookies and made their lives miserable the remainder of the time she was there.
But what bothered Sabre the most was that it would be more difficult for the clients. Benson was so bent on protecting children from physical abuse that she often didn’t see the emotional damage that it caused. Sometimes providing services to keep a family together resulted in a better solution than ripping the families apart. But Benson was a bulldozer, tearing everything up and trying to build something new when a little refurbishing may have been a better way to go.
“Sobs?” Bob said. His nickname for her came from her initials, Sabre Orin Brown, his little S.O.B.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about life at juvenile court with Marge Benson,” Sabre said. “What’s up?”
“Sobs, I think you should call JP and tell him about your ex-parte hearing with Scary Larry. Maybe have him look at the cases you two have—or had—in common. It could be the judge was trying to warn you.”
“I could, but JP’s on vacation.” Sabre emphasized the word “vacation.” “What’s that about anyway? He never takes a vacation.”
“That’s right. I forgot.” Bob looked away.
“What is it?”
“He has company…from Texas.”
“His what?” Sabre’s eyes widened.
“I’m sorry, Sobs. I’m sure it’s nothing. They’re probably just friends.”
“Who would be friends with an ex-wife?” Sabre flipped one hand up in a gesture of dismissal. “It doesn’t matter. He can see whomever he wants.”
Bob raised his eyebrow and tilted his head to one side. His full head of wavy hair was graying prematurely. “Honey, this is Bob you’re talking to. I know you have feelings for him, no matter how hard you try to fight it. You two need to quit dancing around and sit down and talk this out.”
Sabre shook her head and cleared her throat. “There’s nothing to talk out. It could never work. Someone would end up getting hurt, and I would lose a perfectly good private investigator. I can’t afford to do that now. I have too many cases that really need some serious work, not the least of which is the Durham case this afternoon.”
“Is JP working on that?”
“Yes, he started before he went on ‘vacation.’ He left me a message this morning and said he would bring me a report before the hearing this afternoon. He said he had something that might help me with the 707 hearing.”
“Sorry, I don’t speak delinquency. Wait, I know, that’s where the DA is trying to have him tried as an adult, right?”
“That’s it. Stick with me and you’ll have the language down in no time.” Sabre pursed her lips as if she were thinking. “Here’s the thing: Judge Mitchell presided over that case. Everyone believed he would rule against my client and send him downtown for the trial.”
“Maybe Durham had him snuffed.”
“Don’t be silly. How could he do that? Besides, my client’s just a kid.”
“Yeah, a kid who’s charged with a double homicide—a gruesome, bloody, double homicide.”
Remarks from Readers–The Advocate’s Ex Parte
Another of your excellent books. I shall await your next novel.–Jean
I have just finished the fifth book in the Advocate Series, and thought I would drop you a line, I have thoroughly enjoyed all five of the books and wondered when you will be publishing any more ..Regards—Norma
I enjoyed reading all the books in the Advocate Series. They were great reads that I did not want to put down! I hope there will be more books coming in this series.–Nina Faix
Hi Teresa, I absolutely loved your latest book (as well as all the others). My only complaint is that you can’t write fast enough to put out more books. As soon as I finish reading one of your books, I’m like an addict waiting for the next fix. I hope you have enough stories in you to reach “Z” (and beyond) so I won’t have to go cold turkey. You are the Wo(man)!—Loreen B.
I have just finished the 5th Advocate book and I love the series!!!! I hope you will continue it! Please DON’T stop writing!!!—Judy B
Loved it.—Vicki Smith
I had to write to say how much I am enjoying your latest book. I’m 3/4 of the way thru & have a hard time putting it down to do anything else, yet, I want to make it last, don’t want it to end.Also, can’t help it…… I think I’m in love with JP. LOL!—Pat