Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Judgment Day

She was wonderful at first. Head over heels I was. You know the drill, me and her against the world. No money, not a care in the fucking world. We lived in a 3rd floor walk-up studio apartment in Evanston that couldn't have been more than 450 square feet, and I loved that little place.

Northwestern undergrad for her, and days of working on houses for me. At night, we'd sit on the roof and smoke dope while we talked about our plans for the future. That was the summer of 1980. Her parents hated me. I was stealing their baby.

Her dad, John, wrote me a letter that dripped with contempt. "Sorry I want what's best for my daughter. Sorry I have hopes and dreams. I thought maybe she'd become the first female Justice on the US Supreme Court. I don't know how to handle you two living together, but I'm really trying to understand."

Probably sent a Fuck-you letter to Sandra Day-O on the same Day-o.

When I say we had no money, I mean we had no money. As it turned out, she had money.

A tearful phone call from her mom, Lenore.

Trust fund.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars as soon as she turned 21. She was 18 at the time. I was 20.

They were already paying for NU, and Lenore wanted her to understand that anyplace she wanted to go, she could go. Harvard, Yale, Chicago. That was assuming she went on to grad school. John and Lenore were certain I wanted her to drop out and have babies or some fucking thing.

John was a Domer. ND Class of '59. Same year I was born. I think that always bothered him.

Lenore was a St. Mary's girl,...a Smick Chick. She wasn't as dazzled by South Bend as John was. John wanted all 5 of his kids to be Domers. I'd already stood in the way of that plan. I was the reason she'd stayed local. So we could live in our little box on the 3rd floor, and smoke dope on the roof. John hated me for that.

That winter, just as John and Lenore were getting ready to hop on a plane for the condo in Snowmass, we told them we wanted to talk. Would Saturday be good?

"Are you getting married?" asked John.

"We'd rather talk to you about it in person." said Mary.

And so we did.

The most uncomfortable conversation I've ever had. This was the same guy who'd had me followed by a PI. The same guy who'd done serious background checking on my family. The guy who'd badmouthed me to his friends, and who made sure that the badmouthing got back to me.

I was in fear for my life at one point. Powerful fucking guy, that John. Dripping with money, and dripping with contempt for me. Contacts up the ass too. Influence, he had it. Still does.

"Can we try to maintain a friendly relationship?" asked Lenore.
"Why start now?" asked me.
"Look, Mike, I don't have anything against you but..."said John.
"Of course you do."said me.

Very uncomfortable.

And Mary was on my side. She was by my side. She was my side.

And so on December 22, 1980, we had a nice 15 minute ceremony with Judge Harold Sullivan. John and Lenore were in Snowmass. My parents were in Ft. Myers. That's a different story. My parents weren't happy, but they weren't dripping with contempt. If I was happy, they were happy. They just thought we were too young.

They were probably right.

And then things improved. John and Lenore saw that I wasn't standing in Mary's way. She breezed through undergrad, after leaving NU for Loyola, and later on killed the LSAT.

Now I'm a swell guy.

Now I'm along for the trips to Snowmass.

Now I'm doing weekends with the bros-in-law in South Bend. They became Domers.

And then the damnedest thing happened.

Trust fund.

Should have been paid out when she was 21, but it was rewritten. Now it would sit there, growing, until she was 30.

All of it invested in bank stock. John's banks. He owned banks. Six of them. Originally purchased at $7 a share. Now worth about half a hunnert per. And growing. Millions.

Didn't care. It wasn't my money, and from what I could tell, Mary didn't think about it either. Except at dividend time. She started to look forward to those checks. Maybe a little too much.

We were still happy, but not like when we were first starting out. Us against the world. Now we had powerful friends, and influence.

Those were the law school years. Living in the Loop, in a nice high rise on Ohio St., close to the Rubloff Building where Mary went to Law School. We lived on the 29th floor of a 29 story building. The elevator buttons went from 1-28, and then there was that PH button.

I hated that button. Someone always made a penthouse remark when I'd push it. I assured them the apartment was the same as the one one floor below, but they always rolled their eyes. Whatever. It was close to school, and the reverse commute was nice. As the psychos were coming into the Loop in the morning, I was driving out to work on houses in the burbs.

John and Lenore were very happy with me. So were the bros-in-law, and the sis-in-law, Lenore Jr. They thought I was the greatest thing that had ever happened to their big sister.

But something else was happening to the big sister. She was becoming arrogant. Very arrogant. I'd never seen that kind of arrogance before. We were arguing about the silliest shit. I figured it was just because she was in school learning to argue for a living.

When she graduated, and killed the bar on the first try, she was sure she'd get bowled over by job offers.

She didn't.

One day John called me at work and asked me to stop by his bank.

"What's up?"

"You have to keep this between me and you. If Mary knew I was talking to you behind her back she'd kill me."

"How can I agree to that if I don't know what you're going to tell me? I don't keep anything from her."

"Look, I know Mary's going nuts over this job thing. I can help. I can call my friend Brian down at the State's Attorney's office, and she'll have a job by tomorrow."

"Well John, we...uh....appreciate any help we can get....I'm not sure why you called me."

"Fuck you Mike. Just say yes or no. Should I make the call?"

This is the same guy who was dripping with contempt for me 10 years ago? The guy who had big hopes for his daughter that I was fucking up? Now he wants me to make a career decision for his daughter without consulting her?


Next day, I walk in our penthouse apartment after working on houses, and she's waiting at the door for me. Bursting. Beaming. Happy.

And I pretended to be surprised.

A job with Richie Daley at the SA's office? Fuckin' terrific. I knew you could do it.

Two years later, she stayed out all night. Drinking with the other assistants at the Randolph Inn. That wasn't unusual. The not coming home part was unusual.

Up all night, with Freddie King. I got ta tell ya, poker's his thing.

By 4 AM, I was frantic.

By 6AM, I called John.

"Have you heard from Mary?"
"What? No! What's going on?"
"I don't know John. Dropped her off at work yesterday, she went out for drinks after. And she didn't come home."

At 7AM, she called me from her brother's house.

We need to talk. She's been unhappy lately. Needs some time to herself.

"What's his name?"
"There's nobody else. I would have told you if there was. I'm just not happy. I think maybe we should separate for a while."

A year later, a guy handed me some papers.

I'm now The Respondent.


I didn't want a divorce, but I didn't want to be married to someone who did. I had 29 things that I'd need before signing. Number 29 was that she'd stop using my last name.

That was the one thing she fought me over.

I held my ground. Maybe I'll get married again. I don't want 2 women out there with my last name. Fuck you. Go back to your boring old maiden name.

But everyone in the lawyer community knows me by this name. I have business cards. I'm in Sullivan's with this name. It's a great name, especially in Chicago.

I know. Fuck you. You can't have it.

After 10 months I signed the papers. Time to move on with life.

I was single again on June 13, 1990.

Two years later, she made headlines in the Rolando Cruz case. Now with Roland Burris at the AG's office. She'd quit her gig at the SA's office. Must have been that thing I said about her dad getting her the job with Richie. Hey sorry John, she needed to know that she'd be nothing without the $ and your influence. Arrogance needs to be knocked down.

The Cruz case. Using my last name. Fuck! Quit her job at the Attorney General's office rather than see to the execution of an innocent man.

Rolando Cruz? That's Larry Marshall's client. Larry was her Constitutional Law prof at NU. How in the fuck did she wind up with that appeal? She told me that Cruz was innocent back when she was at NU. Larry had told her that. She admired Larry very much, but still.....is this even possible? She took the case knowing ahead of time that she couldn't prosecute the defendant? What the fuck is going on here?

And she stayed in the news for years. Hero falls on sword. Places what's right ahead of her own career. George Ryan cited her when he cleared Death Row.

It was all a fix. She never planned on prosecuting Cruz. She took the case so she could quit her job. It was a career move alright. I knew what she was doing. She wanted to be a judge. She's going to run for the bench. I know it. She told me.

15 years later, there's a vacancy in the 1st District Appellate Court. Guy named Cahill croaked. 6 people filed the proper papers declaring themselves candidates. She was one of them. This time, under her new name.

She's been working at the Public Guardian's office for the last 17 years. She has no judicial experience. Not even traffic court. What she does have is money. Lots and lots of money. And her dad has influence. Lots and lots of influence. And money. He's swimming in money.

That's how she's able to pay for all these advertisements. The ones that remind people of how much integrity she has. She has so much integrity that she resigned her job over the wrongful prosecution of Rolando Cruz back in nineteen-ninety-fucking-two.

I called a guy from the Tribune back in 1997. He'd been singing her praises in his columns on wrongful convictions. Told him that while I agreed with his premise, the Cruz thing was all a fix. Prosecution for The Defense. Gaming the system. She's grandstanding. It's a political play. She wants to be a judge. Mark my words, some day she's going to use this thing as a platform.

And that day,... is today.

1 comment:

MichaelRyerson said...

Usually we take great pleasure in being able to predict the future. Other times, there is no pleasure in it.