“Motion granted.” His Honor nodded. “Anything else?”
I looked inside the bucket. One – no, two still in there. “I’ve got
two more. Sir.”
“Really?” Judge Grimm looked skeptical. “Perhaps this time you
should more definitively state your clam.”
Right. I tried to pull out another before its companion could clamp
down on my fingers. “How about this one, Judge?”
The prosecutor almost tripped as he peered over. “Move to dismiss.
That counterclam has no leg to stand on.”
He was right. Now that I looked closer, this particular counterclam
indeed had no legs at all. His Honor gave it a glance and then nodded.
I swallowed and took out the last one. It was a large shell, and
thankfully did not fight as I placed it on the counter.
“Objection,” said the prosecution. “That monstrosity is simply the
shell of a counterclam. It has no substance.”
I poked the shell with one finger, willing it to move. It didn’t.
“Quite right,” the judge said, observing the motionless shell. “All
clams must be timely. This one’s time has long since passed.”
He looked toward me. “If there are no more counterclams, we can
proceed to sentencing.” 1
Thorpe was an imposing attorney, with a deep, rumbling voice that
juries loved. His eyes might be cold, but his words imbued cadence
and warmth. They made one want to listen. But when Thorpe
boomed, “Judge, shouldn’t there be an evaluation of the evidence
first?” no one paid him the slightest attention.
This was perfectly understandable, for as soon as he uttered the
word “Judge,” an astounding thing happened. Judge Grimm himself
blinked out of existence, replaced in his seat by an equally sized, brown
rectangular block of—well, it was difficult to determine. Whatever the
thing was, it seemed to be bending from the top, nodding almost frantically as if trying to send a message by sheer force of will. I suddenly
remembered that I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. It was no wonder,
given the chocolate-y aroma that now filled the room.
Thorpe grasped it first. “Your Honor! I request a correction of the
court reporter’s transcription of the first word in my last statement,
The block of fudge—for that’s indeed what it was—nodded vigor-
ously. The court reporter spoke in a monotone. “Changing the F to a
J. Apologies for the inconvenience.”
Fudge Grimm blinked out of existence, replaced by a relieved (and
slightly soggy) Judge Grimm, his dark robe still the color of chocolate.
He wiped his brow and glared at the court reporter, who stared fixed-
ly at her keyboard.
The judge wisely chose not to remark. “Well, then, any evidence to
submit before sentencing?”
The prosecution fanned out a dozen sets of papers in his hands. I
recognized the font and placement of words on several of them, and
slid down slightly in my seat. How did they know? “I have them here,
your Honor,” he boomed proudly. “The defendant has engaged in
precisely twelve unauthorized acts of pun and imagination.”
I leaned over to Thorpe. “Hasn’t he heard of the First
He shrugged. “The Puntriot Act and government interest in the
safe and effective practice of law outweigh those concerns.” He stood
and addressed the judge. “Your Honor, there is no evidence that these
documents were written by the defendant.”
The prosecutor piped up. “Her name is on them.”
“Typed,” Thorpe retorted. “Anyone could have typed her name
on those papers.”
The judge nodded. “I’ll accept briefs on the sufficiency of that evi-
dence. If you have them ready—”
One of the prosecutor’s lackeys handed him a box, and he stood.
“If we could approach for a sidebar?”
Judge Grimm motioned both sides to come forward. They did, the
prosecutor carrying his box. For some reason, however, both attorneys
seemed uncommonly … eager.
Grimm’s hands reached toward the side of his bench as they
approached, only to resurface holding several glass bottles and empty
Thorpe rubbed his hands together. “Ah—the sidebar. It’s been a
while, your Honor.”
“Beyond a reasonable stout,” the prosecutor agreed.
As the attorneys shared a drink with the judge at the sidebar, I
decided to keep my counsel (mainly in order to retain my counsel).
Though he appeared to be retaining quite a bit more “proof” than he
was offering into evidence.
1. “Sentencing?” I whispered to Thorpe. “What
happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he hissed back.
“It’s your first offense. He’ll go easy on you.”
That didn’t mean I couldn’t fight it, even
with my meager first-year skills. “I never
received a complaint, so isn’t there a service
problem here? And shouldn’t they have gotten
a warrant to find whatever ‘flight of fancy’ I’m
being accused of?”
Thorpe frowned. “The Rules don’t apply
here. Haven’t you heard of the Puntriot Act?
Enacted for ‘Uniting and Strengthening
American Practice of Law by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
Obstruct Improper Use of Pun and
I couldn’t think of a thing to say, and
Thorpe nodded satisfactorily. “Good. Keep
quiet unless I say so. The last thing you want is
to be moved to Uncivil Litigation down the
hall. Or worse, the Federal Circus. Patent trolls
serve on the jury over there.” He sighed. “All
of this really should be on the bar exam.
Astounding, how little education law students
Judge Grimm was getting impatient. “Mr.
Thorpe, you can speak with your client later.”
Thorpe nodded. “Of course, your Honor. I
move to render this discussion with my client
as a footnote. It is a privileged exchange that
adds nothing of substance to the underlying
The judge thought for a moment, then
nodded. “Motion granted.” He turned to
the court reporter. “Please footnote this last
excerpt for the record. And,” he turned back
to Thorpe. “I expect we will hear no more
outbursts from your client.”
“Of course, your Honor,” Thorpe replied,
kicking my ankle under the table. I got the
2015 CREATIVE ARTS COMPE TI TION
The Thirteenth Story Wendy K. Akbar