Old Man Tutt - Arthur Ch. Train - ebook

Old Man Tutt ebook

Arthur Ch. Train



America’s wisest and kindliest lawyer tackles a series of impossible cases and wins. Mr. Ephraim Tutt is a wily old lawyer who supported the common man and always had a trick up his sleeve to right the law’s injustices. Based on author Arthur Train’s experiences working in the offices of the New York District Attorney, „Old Man Tutt „ is a must-read for fans of legal mysteries. Arthur Cheney Train, also called Arthur Chesney Train, was an American lawyer and writer of legal thrillers, particularly known for his novels of courtroom intrigue and the creation of the fictional lawyer Mr. Ephraim Tutt. Train was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was lawyer Charles Russell Train, who served for many years as attorney general of Massachusetts, and his mother was Sara Maria Cheney. Train graduated with a BA from Harvard University in 1896 and LLB from Harvard Law School in 1899.

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Ephraim Tutt, his brief case on his knees, sat inside the rail, waiting for the prisoners’ pleas to be taken before arguing a motion. He had watched that tragic procession a thousand times without ever losing interest in its melodrama.

Who were these men that, one after another, were led to the bar and answered “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”? What had they done? What was their past, and their future? How could the crude machinery of so-called justice properly evaluate the moral obliquity of their offenses? The mitigating circumstances?

The types in the courtroom always differed. The woman on the front bench, for instance, holding a baby–what was hidden behind the mask of her honest Irish face? And that near-by row of ragged urchins, all about the same age–what were they doing there?

The door leading to the prison pen opened and a big hulking man, his hair awry and his collarless shirt unbuttoned at the neck, stumbled in, shackled to a keeper, and clumped to the bar. One of the [2] boys leaned over and slapped him good-naturedly on the shoulder as he passed, while the woman with the baby reached out and patted his arm. The prisoner turned and gave her a grim smile that tried hard to be encouraging.

“Vance Halloran, you are indicted for murder in the first degree. How do you plead? “Guilty’ or “Not guilty’?”

Halloran stared uncertainly at the clerk, then mumbled something to old Captain Gallagher, the court officer, beside him.

“He says he hasn’t any money to hire a lawyer. Wants the court to assign him one.”

Assistant District Attorney O’Brion, popularly known as the Bulldog, glancing up from his papers, caught sight of Mr. Tutt. The chance of a lifetime to hand the old boy a ripe juicy melon! Halloran was as good as in the chair already! Pity he wasn’t some one more important than a mere newspaper-truck driver!

Stepping to the bench, the prosecutor whispered to the presiding judge, who coincidentally raised his eyes to the group of waiting attorneys.

“H’m! Let me see!... I’ll assign Mr. Tutt to the defense in this case,” he announced finally.

O’Brion couldn’t help grinning.

The old lawyer, thus unexpectedly yanked back from his philosophical speculations, arose.

“If the Court please,” he said, “while I much [3] appreciate the compliment paid me by Your Honor, I beg to state that my health and professional engagements are such that I must ask you to excuse me.”

“I wish I was half as tough,” muttered O’Brion out of the corner of his mouth. “He’ll live to be a hundred.”

“This is a very serious case,” replied the judge. “Its defense will demand ability and experience. I know of no one better qualified than yourself to undertake it.”

Mr. Tutt realized that he was licked before he started.

Twice before in recent years he had thrashed O’Brion in seemingly hopeless cases, and now the Bulldog intended to get even with him. Well, no use kicking against the pricks.

“I bow to Your Honor’s decision.”

Mr. Tutt stepped across to where the prisoner stood bewilderedly at the rail. He certainly was a tough-looking customer!

“If the Court please, under the circumstances, I request that the pleading in this case be adjourned for one week, so that I may have proper opportunity to confer with my client.”

“I object to any delay,” interposed O’Brion. “I ask that the defendant be compelled to plead and that the date of the trial be set here and now.”

“He ain’t got a chance!” Captain Gallagher informed the lawyer. “Shot a feller right on Centre Street in broad daylight. They found the gun and everything. Better plead him to murder in the second, if you can get O’Brion to take it.”

“If the case is as serious as Your Honor indicates, I should have ample time in which to prepare my defense,” answered Mr. Tutt.

“The facts are perfectly simple,” insisted the prosecutor. “There isn’t any defense.”

“You may have until day after tomorrow in which to plead,” ruled the judge. “That should be long enough to review the evidence and decide upon your course.”

“I serve notice on the defense that I shall move for an immediate trial and a special jury,” warned O’Brion. “Take him back to the Tombs. Next case!”

Halloran was led away and Mr. Tutt, forgetful of his motion, walked out of the courtroom. Pausing to light a stogie in the rotunda, he was overtaken by the woman with the baby and the covey of little boys.

“I’m Mrs. Halloran, sir,” she said, laying her hand on his arm. “Thank God, he’s got a good lawyer to defend him!”

“I’ll do my best! Tell me about the case.”

“They say he shot Mike Kelly, but I’m sure he didn’t. He ain’t that kind. He works nights drivin’ a delivery truck for the Star. Kelly drove for the [5] Express. They had some sort of a row once, but it was nothing–Kelly quarreled with everybody. The other afternoon my husband went out for a walk. On his way home he heard a shot just beside him, and a man comin’ in the opposite direction dropped to the sidewalk. It was Kelly!” She shuddered. “Vance didn’t come back, and it wasn’t until next day that I found out he was in the Tombs, charged with murder. But he didn’t do it!”

“"Course he didn’t do it! He’s a swell guy!” interrupted one of the boys, stepping forward. “Me and these other fellers buy our papers off him. We’re the Halloran Club. I’m president. My name’s Iky Morris. We know all about Vance. This Kelly was a bum. Vance never shot him. He wouldn’t kill a dog.”

“So you’re the Halloran Club?” smiled the old man. “What does the club do?”

“It’s a social organization. Vance takes us for walks on Sunday afternoons and sometimes on picnics in summer.”

“He got it up before he was married,” explained Mrs. Halloran.

“If there’s anything we can do to help, just call on us.”

Mr. Tutt patted the boy’s head.

“I certainly will, Mr. President! He needs every friend he’s got. I’m glad he has such a lot of good ones!”

“Tell me the truth, Vance,” said the old lawyer, as he sat opposite his unprepossessing client in the counsel room of the Tombs. “It’s your only chance. Did you shoot Michael Kelly?”

Halloran tried to avoid the old man’s glance. His chin shook. He was obviously gutted by fear.

“I swear to God, I didn’t!” he stammered. “I hadn’t seen him for weeks, so help me! I’d just gone out for a walk. I had to be home early, because it was our wedding anniversary and we was goin’ to have a bit of a celebration. All of a sudden I heard a shot at me elbow. Then I saw people runnin’ and Kelly lyin’ on the sidewalk. There’s an alley there and, naturally, I sort of dodged back into it. Next thing the cops had me. One of them found a gun. He asked was it mine; I said no. It wasn’t either! I swear I didn’t have no gun! Then they took me to headquarters, and from there to here. Some guy must have shot him from the alley and made a get-away. That’s the truth–if anyone will believe it!”

“Was the gun yours?”

“I told you it wasn’t!”

“Do you own one?”

Halloran hesitated. “No-o. Not now. Last year, with all them gangsters around, I did get a permit from Judge Fitzpatrick to carry one.”

“What became of it?”

“I toted it awhile, but it was too heavy and I left it in the flat. One night we came home late and found the door unlatched. A sneak thief had cleaned out the place and taken Nora’s pocketbook, with six dollars in it, and a bracelet. Next day I missed the gun. It’s a tough break all right!”

Mr. Tutt’s eyes probed Halloran’s. “Did you tell your wife you had a revolver?”

“I didn’t want to frighten her.”

“So you didn’t mention the loss of it either?”

Halloran shook his head.

“Looks bad for me, don’t it, counselor?”

Mr. Tutt regarded him thoughtfully.

“If you didn’t shoot Mike Kelly, you’re in the toughest jam I’ve ever heard of,” he said.

Ten minutes later, Mr. Tutt entered O’Brion’s office. “Good afternoon,” he said, politely removing his stovepipe hat. “I’ve come to talk to you about the Halloran case.”

“Then you’re wasting your time! This bird has got to go to the bat, prontissimo!”

“But why the hurry? A little delay might be advantageous, even to the prosecution. You might prove that the defendant owned the pistol.”

“He could have used it even if he didn’t own it,” retorted the assistant district attorney.

“True, but it would vastly strengthen your case to show that he did. On the other hand, it would seem only fair to give us a chance to prove that he didn’t.”

O’Brion leaned back.

“This fellow is guilty as hell,” he declared. “You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. The electrodes are on him already. There’s no sense fooling around about the pistol.”

“But, Mr. O’Brion,” protested the old man, “this is a case of circumstantial evidence. Facts apparently inconsequential may prove to have great significance. Do give me reasonable time. You have no excuse for railroading this defendant.”

“There’s the most excellent excuse that for the protection of society all murderers ought to be convicted as soon as possible.”

“Not to mention the additional–and less worthy–one that you want to even up the score between us,” commented Mr. Tutt bitterly. “I know that you suggested my assignment to this case. And I know the reason why.”

The prosecutor grinned. “You do me a grave injustice.” He scrunched out his cigarette. “No! Forget it. The sooner he goes to the chair the better.”

“But aren’t you willing to give me a chance for this man’s life? Think of what it means to his wife and child.”

“Don’t appeal to my better nature, because I haven’t any,” replied O’Brion sarcastically.

“I’m glad you appreciate the fact.” Mr. Tutt’s lips quivered. “All right! Go ahead. There are more ways than one to fight a case–as you may learn, to your surprise. Good day, sir.”

The old lawyer clapped on his hat, turned and walked out.

“Jumping Jehoshaphat!” he muttered as he paused outside to light a stogie. “If I do find a way to defend this case, I’ll be more surprised than he is!”

That O’Brion was sincere in his belief in Halloran’s guilt Mr. Tutt did not for an instant doubt. The difficulty was that he was so firmly convinced of it that he would have regarded any counter opinion on the part of a jury as a gross miscarriage of justice. He was one of those now fortunately rare prosecutors who allow their prejudices to overcome their scruples. He not only disliked but distrusted Mr. Tutt, who felt the same way, even more strongly, about him. The old lawyer did not object to a hard fight; some of his best friends had been on the district attorney’s staff. If an honest prosecutor occasionally overstepped the mark, he was ready to forgive him. But Mr. Tutt knew that once the legal steam roller had started, it would crush Halloran flat. And in this instance, in spite of his most urgent appeals for delay, it did start with the ordering of a special jury and the trial being set within the fortnight.

“Fat chance we’ve got!” growled Bonnie Doon, as he and the old man bucked the crowd at the door of the courtroom on the day of the trial... “What’s the row here, Captain Gallagher?”

“All these boys are afther tryin’ to get in. I tell ’em they’re too young. ’Tis agin the rules!”

Mr. Tutt pushed forward.

“Let me look at ’em!... Hello, Iky!... They’re Okay, Gallagher–friends of mine.”

“All right, if you say so, sor.”

He opened the door and the Halloran Club surged through in full force.

O’Brion, lounging inside the rail, instantly spied them.

“What are all those boys doing in here?” he demanded. “Put ’em out.”

“I should greatly appreciate your allowing them to remain,” pleaded Mr. Tutt. “They’re friends of the defendant.”

“This isn’t a ball game,” returned the prosecutor... “Throw ’em out, Gallagher.”

While the officer obediently herded the Halloran Club into the corridor, Mr. Tutt muttered an order to Bonnie Doon; then, as his henchman hurried out, he made his way inside the enclosure and took his seat at the counsel table. Shortly thereafter there was another uproar outside; the door opened and the Halloran Club filed in again. O’Brion jumped up.

“I told you to keep those boys out! I intend to have my orders obeyed!”

Gallagher exhibited a bundle of paper slips.

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