Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/
Previous chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/01/daily-blog-9117/
This was a fun one to edit and review. The court case chapters were originally a single chapter, but were split into two parts: 6-1, 7, 6-2, 8, etc. They were seven pages, and very cumbersome. I think I’ve gotten them both to a digestible point, and they provide a lot of answers to questions posed in the early chapters. You find out what triggered the slew of events that’s about to go down in a relatively hopeful way.
It was one of the most difficult chapters to handle, due to the amount of research I had to do. I ended up watching multiple CPS related cases so I could understand the ins and outs of what I needed to portray in a concise manner. Dialogue can become very cumbersome, very quickly, so I had to pick and choose carefully what to omit. This is exacerbated by the motion-focused structure I’ve chosen to write this book in. There is a lot that happens in the decade or so that leads to what’s going on in the present. The order matters, especially when there are a total of seven characters perspectives to consider. I started with just three for act one, then cover a different group in act 2, which makes it a lot easier to manage (and understand from a flow/timeline perspective).
December 4th, 2015
Hadley closed her hand around Simons, who sat to her left. She was three months sober, too sober as the jurisdictional hearing regarding Adam was about to start. The court itself was unimpressive, cheap wood and scratched furnishings. TV loves to play these things up.
A young male bailiff announced “Please rise. Honorable judge Tracy Davids is now presiding.” An old woman entered the room. “Court is now in session.” Hadley rose, still grasping Simons hand, and studied the frail old-woman as she approached the judges stand. Her hair was a dyed light brown, her mouth cornered an ugly grimace, compounded by tens of frown-lines running up her cheeks. She wore a loose black-gown under large spectacles with a gold accent and chain securing them to her neck. As Judge Davids reached the stand, the bailiff announced, “If you have any electronic devices or cell phones, please silence or turn them off. You may be seated. Thank you.” He’s awfully chipper.
Sitting back down, Hadley let go of Simon’s hand and started to nervously scratch her own. You can do this, Hadley. She’s human too, and a mother, she’ll understand. The Judge was shuffling papers around. Probably the social services complaint. It’s author, Gia, was sitting twenty feet to the left of Hadley and Simon. It took everything Hadley had not to try and tear her lying throat out now. But had she lied? I don’t even know what she told CPS. She was my friend, I’m being unfair.
Voice cracking, the Judge started, “This is the case of Simon and Hadley Sheffield vs. the State of Massachusetts regarding custody of Adam Sheffield.” Thank Christ Adam isn’t here, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. “Are the defendants present?”
Simon’s lawyer rose, addressing the Judge, “Yes, your honor. Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield are seated to my right. My name is Keller Ross, and I will be representing their case, your honor.”
As Keller sat, the Judge asked, “Who will be representing the plaintiffs today?”
An older looking man rose, and said, “Your honor, I am Bill Jeffrey, and I will argue on behalf of the state.”
“Very good, Jeffrey and Ross, you may be seated.” Responded the Judge. She sounds…bored. Well fuck you too, bitch, you better do your job. This matters! As the two lawyers sat down, the Judge continued, “Gentlemen, I am Tracy Davids, and I will be presiding over this case. Now, from what I understand this case was appealed from a lower Court’s decision by Mr. Sheffield. Is this the council’s understanding?”
Keller stood, remarking “Yes, your honor, it is.” Before re-taking his seat. As the Judge looked to the plaintiff’s, Jeffrey simply nodded. Is he taking this seriously? Our case isn’t that hopeless, is it?
Jacobs pursed her lips, reviewing the document before saying “Due to the…severity of this documents implications, and the limitations of a single Judge presiding, I think it’s important to manage expectations, Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield. I find it unlikely that your son will be released to you today, however I will consider your arguments and potentially recommend this case for further review or a special conditional release, in the case I find issue with Social Services conduct in removing Adam from your care upon birth.” How dare she say his name. I just want my…my son. “I find these types of hearings to be more efficient allowing the plaintiffs to start. Go ahead Mr. Jeffrey.”
Standing, Jeffrey said, “Thank you, your honor, I’ll try to make this quick for you.” Smiling slightly, he walked forward, and continued in his monotone drivel, “Your honor, the defendants have demonstrated a clear pattern of neglect, abuse, and borderline criminal intent towards their son. All of this before he was even born!” Fuck you, you…bastard. I love Adam, you don’t know shit. “As if Gia Sheffield’s report to CPS wasn’t disturbing enough, I urge you to consider the toxicological reports, which found SMS traces of both heroin and MDMA in Mrs. Sheffield’s system.” As Jeffrey said this, he turned to look at Hadley. “As you likely know, your honor, this means it is a scientific fact that Mrs. Sheffield used both of these illegal and highly destructive drugs during the beginning of the second trimester or later. Due to this abuse, Adam was born prematurely, your honor.” Jeffrey’s face contorted into a vindictive, cruel, smile as he looked Hadley in the eye. “It’s a miracle that Adam was even born. An attempted murder case, would be far more appropriate under these horrendous circumstances than a simple custody battle.” As he finished, Hadley’s jaw started quivering and her eyes welled. He’s trying to fuck with me, I need to keep it together.
Gently, Simon reclaimed her hand under the table, squeezing twice, before tightening his grip. Hadley moved her right hand to rest on his. Thank God you’re here, Simon. Before Jeffrey could continue, Keller interjected, “Objection, your honor!”
Curtly, she responded, “Reasoning, Mr. Ross?”
Noticing the tone, Keller, exasperated, responded, “Your honor, besides the fact that Mr. Jeffrey seeks to intimidate my client by making aggressive faces at her, his argument is clearly speculative. He has no place making character assessments or suggesting a charge beyond the scope of this court.”
“She’s hardly on the stand yet, Mr. Ross. I see nothing wrong with Mr. Jeffrey’s opening statement. Please refrain from making comments about the oppositions face, moving forward.” Replied the Judge, smiling ever so slightly at Keller’s disbelief. She already thinks I’m unfit.
Chuckling, Mr. Jeffrey continued “I suppose I’ll end early, I think the court gets the gist of what’s happened here.” As Jeffrey returned to his seat, Simon’s hand tightened. Wincing in pain, Hadley looked up at her husband. His jaw had tightened, lips had folded into a snarl, and he was staring straight at the Judge. He needs to calm down, I’ve never seen that look. Hadley started messaging Simon’s forearm and kissed his shoulder.
Moving closer, she whispered, “She’s a bitch, it’s not our fault, we need to keep it together, honey. His face softened as he lowered his head in a defeated manner. I’m not sure I like that look any better.
Keller got up, approached the Judge, and said, “My clients admit they’ve made poor choices in the past regarding use of prohibited substances. But it has been stated time and again, that neither Mrs. or Mr. Sheffield realized that a pregnancy had occurred. When they did, Mrs. Sheffield immediately withdrew from all drugs that could harm her child. The test used is sensitive to the past six months, it was administered half a month after a premature birth, meaning Mrs. Sheffield could have stopped all use during the first trimester.” I tried. That has to count for something, right? “It’s widely available information that some women do not show in the first trimester, or even until the end of their second.” When you weigh one hundred and five pounds, you do. “As for my client’s sister in law, Gia Sheffield’s claims were both unwarranted and inaccurate, which I will demonstrate.” Keller moved back to his seat.
The Judge, looking unimpressed, turned to Jeffrey and asked, “Is your first witness present, Mr. Jeffrey?”
Standing, Jeffrey responded, “She is, your honor. Gia Sheffield please rise for testimony.” Hadley watched as Gia got up and walked towards the stand. She wore a modest, green dress that draped over her knees. She was a stout, uptight looking women in her early thirties, and stood at a modest 5’3. As she sat Hadley made eye contact and Gia pursed her lips into a conservative, almost sympathetic smile. Don’t give me that look, I’ve been trying to reach you for months. Gia’s eyes were a dark grey with brown accents near the center of her iris. She had a clear complexion, muted cheekbones, and a long, angular jaw. She’s pretty, nothing special though.
The Judge recited, “Do you, Gia Sheffield, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
Wavering, in a mousy voice, Gia said, “I do.”
The Judge turned to Jeffrey and said, “Plaintiff’s witness.”
Nodding to the Judge, Jeffrey approached Gia, asking, “Mrs. Sheffield, is it true that on August fourteenth, two-thousand fifteen, you attended a party thrown by your brother in law, Simon Sheffield?”
“Yes.” Gia responded, looking down at her lap.
Nodding smugly, Jeffrey continued, “Mrs. Sheffield, could you describe both the nature of the party and what you saw Hadley Sheffield do at said party?”
Gia quickly glanced at Simon. Her face had an apologetic, almost guilty grimace. Looking back to the states lawyer, Gia answered, “Well, Simon and Hadley had just found out they were pregnant. Tom and I were really excited for them, since they’d been trying for about a year. So, I guess it was to celebrate the good news. I need to be clear, Simon, Tom, and I were having drinks, probably too many, but Hadley wasn’t. That was good, but about halfway into the poker game, I saw her go into the kitchen and take a white pill. Normally I wouldn’t think too much about it, but Tom had just had surgery to fix his L2 vertebrate, you know he lifts a lot at that gym, and I always tell him he should slow down.”
“Please focus on what Hadley Sheffield was doing, Gia.” Said the Judge, annoyed.
Cheeks flushing, Gia bit her tongue, and continued, “Sorry, anyway, after his surgery he had to take these little white oxycodone tablets. The pill I saw Hadley pick up looked an awful lot like that. So, I was worried about the baby, you know. So, around thirty minutes later, Simon and Tom went outside for a smoke break. I don’t smoke and I guess Hadley had quit for the baby. I suppose, we were left alone, so naturally we talked a little bit. Eventually, Hadley went to the restroom…” Gia paused, blushing deeper. “…and I went to the kitchen to look for the bottle, just to make sure, you understand. In the second drawer, down, there were a whole lot of bottles. I’m sure that Simon, being a big-time doctor had some stock for various reasons. But on top of the pile was a bottle of oxycodone, and it wasn’t prescribed to Hadley.” No…I don’t understand! Fuck you! Wasn’t your god-damn place to snoop around our private property. Bitch…
“Who was the bottle prescribed to, Mrs. Sheffield?” asked Jeffrey, looking self-satisfied.
Pausing a moment, seeming to not want to continue, Gia said “It wasn’t a name I recognized.”
Looking to the Judge, Jeffrey said, “Plaintiff’s rest the witness.”
The Judge, face flat and unreadable, inquired, “Would the defense like to cross examine the witness.” As she said this Jeffrey sauntered to his seat. He looks so relaxed, so sure he’s got us beat.
Rising, Keller answered, “Yes, your honor.” He approached Gia, a kind, exposed look marred his aged face. “I understand, you must have been very upset, Gia. Finding out your friend, no, your sister, may have been exposing her unborn baby to dangerous chemicals?”
Eagerly, Gia responded, “I was! I was devastated! I mean, I love Hadley, and I love Simon. They are family to me, and they’ve always been the nicest to me out of Tom’s relatives. I couldn’t believe it. But I had to file a report to CPS, I didn’t want to, but for Adam’s sake…” Friends? Friends would ask for the context before shouting off to CPS.
Nodding empathetically, Keller continued, “Under those circumstances, I’d be a wreck. I’d probably have a hard time knowing what to do next, too.”
Jeffrey stood, suddenly, and shouted, “Objection! This is speculation!”
The Judge, smiling, responded, “Questioning sustained.” Shows him right, maybe Jacobs isn’t a total cunt. That was bad, I need to work on my language, getting too jaded…
Nodding at the Judge, Keller continued, “Now, under the circumstances, you were upset. Rightly so. What you describe, the entire drawer of pills, is concerning to me. Yes, you saw Hadley take a white pill, and yes the oxycodone you found was white. But as exhibit c-7 clearly shows, eight of the seventeen pill containers in the drawer contained white pills, four of which are similar in size and shape to the oxycodone. One, of particular interest, was a folate supplement prescribed to Hadley.” As Keller said this, Gia’s face paled. “As you likely know, having had a child, folate is extremely important to the development of the fetus. Most new mothers are given this prescription. Now I’m not saying you did something bad, but considering the sheer number of pills in that drawer, wouldn’t it have been prudent to simply ask Hadley what she had taken?”
Gia’s pallor had taken on a ghostly hue, as she responded, “I…when I took folate, it was a green pill. I hadn’t even thought of that.”
Smiling kindly, Keller continued “I understand your confusion, but you see, Hadley was taking a concentrated form of folate, folic acid, which is generally sold in a white capsule or a white tablet casing.” Damn, I see why Simon wanted Keller so bad.
Gia’s brow tightened in distress as her eyes welled up. Scrambling, she wiped her eyes, looking to Hadley, and pleaded, “I had no idea, I’m so sorry Hadley, Simon. I didn’t know.” You should have asked, Gia. Feeling a sudden pang of sympathy, Hadley nodded at Gia, smiling in slight reassurance. Some color returned to Gia’s face, as she wiped the tears from her cheek.
Looking to the Judge, who seemed more engaged at this point, Keller stated, “Defense rests, your honor.”
Head hanging, Gia pushed herself up and returned to her seat, avoiding Jeffrey’s gaze. He was giving her his look. Clearly, he’s unhappy with how that unfolded. Not so cocky now, eh? Maybe we aren’t screwed after all. Hadley looked to Simon and saw a thin, hopeful smile on his face.
Thanks for reading!
Next chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/03/daily-blog-9317/