Michael Connelly: The Reversal

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Michael Connelly The Reversal
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    The Reversal
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Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years. With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.

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Knowing as little as I did about the case in the details, I was of the impression that he was an innocent man who had been subjected to a quarter century of torture and that he deserved whatever he could get for it. I did, however, know enough about the case to understand that with the DNA evidence cutting Jessup’s way, the case was a loser and the idea of retrying Jessup seemed to be an exercise in political masochism unlikely to come from the brain trust of Williams and Ridell.


“What do you know that I don’t know?” I asked. “And that the Los Angeles Times doesn’t know.”

Williams smiled smugly and leaned forward across the table to deliver his answer.

“All Jessup established with the help of the GJP is that his DNA was not on the victim’s dress,” he said. “As the petitioner, it was not up to him to establish who it did come from.”

“So you ran it through the data banks.”

Williams nodded.

“We did. And we got a hit.”

He offered nothing else.

“Well, who was it?”

“I’m not going to reveal that to you unless you come aboard on the case. Otherwise, I need to keep it confidential. But I will say that I believe our findings lead to a trial tactic that could neutralize the DNA question, leaving the rest of the case-and the evidence-pretty much intact. DNA was not needed to convict him the first time. We won’t need it now. As in nineteen eighty-six, we believe Jessup is guilty of this crime and I would be delinquent in my duties if I did not attempt to prosecute him, no matter the chances of conviction, the potential political fallout and the public perception of the case.”

Spoken as if he were looking at the cameras and not at me.

“Then why don’t you prosecute him?” I asked. “Why come to me? You have three hundred able lawyers working for you. I can think of one you’ve got stuck up in the Van Nuys office who would take this case in a heartbeat. Why come to me?”

“Because this prosecution can’t come from within the DA’s office. I am sure you have read or heard the allegations. There’s a taint on this case and it doesn’t matter that there isn’t one goddamn lawyer working for me who was around back then. I still need to bring in an outsider, an independent to take it to court. Somebody-”

“That’s what the attorney general’s office is for,” I said. “You need an independent counsel, you go to him.”

Now I was just poking him in the eye and everybody at the table knew it. There was no way Gabriel Williams was going to ask the state AG to come in on the case. That would cross the razor-wire line of politics. The AG post was an elected office in California and was seen by every political pundit in town as Williams’s next stop on his way to the governor’s mansion or some other lofty political plateau. The last thing Williams would be willing to do was hand a potential political rival a case that could be used against him, no matter how old it was. In politics, in the courtroom, in life, you don’t give your opponent the club with which he can turn around and clobber you.

“We’re not going to the AG with this one,” Williams said in a matter-of-fact manner. “That’s why I want you, Mickey. You’re a well-known and respected criminal defense attorney. I think the public will trust you to be independent in this matter and will therefore trust and accept the conviction you’ll win in this case.”

While I was staring at Williams a waiter came to the table to take our order. Without ever breaking eye contact with me, Williams told him to go away.

“I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to this,” I said. “Who’s Jessup’s defense attorney? I would find it difficult to go up against a colleague I know well.”

“Right now all he’s got is the GJP lawyer and his civil litigator. He hasn’t hired defense counsel because quite frankly he’s expecting us to drop this whole thing.”

I nodded, another hurdle cleared for the moment.

“But he’s got a surprise coming,” Williams said. “We’re going to bring him down here and retry him. He did it, Mickey, and that’s all you really need to know. There’s a little girl who’s still dead, and that’s all any prosecutor needs to know. Take the case. Do something for your community and for yourself. Who knows, you might even like it and want to stay on. If so, we’ll definitely entertain the possibility.”

I dropped my eyes to the linen tablecloth and thought about his last words. For a moment, I involuntarily conjured the image of my daughter sitting in a courtroom and watching me stand for the People instead of the accused. Williams kept talking, unaware that I had already come to a decision.

“Obviously, I can’t pay you your rate, but if you take this on, I don’t think you’ll be doing it for the money anyway. I can give you an office and a secretary. And I can give you whatever science and forensics you need. The very best of every-”

“I don’t want an office in the DA’s office. I would need to be independent of that. I have to be completely autonomous. No more lunches. We make the announcement and then you leave me alone. I decide how to proceed with the case.”

“Fine. Use your own office, just as long as you don’t store evidence there. And, of course, you make your own decisions.”

“And if I do this, I pick second chair and my own investigator out of the LAPD. People I can trust.”

“In or outside my office for your second?”

“I would need someone inside.”

“Then I assume we’re talking about your ex-wife.”

“That’s right-if she’ll take it. And if somehow we get a conviction out of this thing, you pull her out of Van Nuys and put her downtown in Major Crimes, where she belongs.”

“That’s easier said than-”

“That’s the deal. Take it or leave it.”

Williams glanced at Ridell and I saw the supposed sidekick give an almost imperceptible nod of approval.

“All right,” Williams said, turning back to me. “Then I guess I’ll take it. You win and she’s in. We have a deal.”

He reached his hand across the table and I shook it. He smiled but I didn’t.

“Mickey Haller for the People,” he said. “Has a nice ring to it.”

For the People. It should have made me feel good. It should have made me feel like I was part of something that was noble and right. But all I had was the bad feeling that I had crossed some sort of line within myself.

“Wonderful,” I said.


Friday, February 12, 10:00A.M.

Harry Bosch stepped up to the front counter of the District Attorney’s Office on the eighteenth floor of the Criminal Courts Building. He gave his name and said he had a ten A.M. appointment with District Attorney Gabriel Williams.

“Actually, your meeting is in conference room A,” said the receptionist after checking a computer screen in front of her. “You go through the door, turn right and go to the end of the hall. Right again and CONFERENCE ROOM A is on the left. It’s marked on the door. They’re expecting you.”

The door in the paneled-wood wall behind her buzzed free and Bosch went through, wondering about the fact that they were waiting for him. Since he had received the summons from the DA’s secretary the afternoon before, Bosch had been unable to determine what it was about. Secrecy was expected from the DA’s Office but usually some information trickled out. He hadn’t even known he would be meeting with more than one person until now.

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