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Last Lawyer Standing

Published on July 2016 | Categories: Books, Mystery, Thriller & Crime, Thrillers & Crime, Legal | Downloads: 36 | Comments: 0
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Defense attorney Kevin Corvelli fled from New York to Hawaii after the sensational death of one of his clients three years ago. Now, in the wake of another client’s death—a client Kevin had fallen in love with—Kevin would run again if only he could pull himself free from a couple of high-profile, high-risk cases. The FBI is investigating the poisoning of a young woman who happened to be Governor Wade Omphrey’s mistress. The governor was off the island at the time, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t order the hit or that he doesn’t need a hotshot lawyer like Corvelli defending him.Then the DEA raids a local meth lab and Turi Ahina is picked up in the sweep. A career criminal, Ahina has set Corvelli up with plenty of client referrals, but Corvelli owes him for much more than that ever since Ahina saved his life. Now Ahina’s only way out is to turn in the big man, and he can’t just tell the FBI who it is—they already know that. He needs to find him and set a trap, a trap that won’t succeed without Corvelli’s help. The plan is simple, as foolproof and dangerous as a suicide attempt.As the stakes rise, Corvelli gets drawn in deeper and deeper until the only way he can escape is to stick it out to the end in Douglas Corleone’s most compelling legal mystery yet.

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Content

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this
novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

last lawyer standing. Copyright © 2012 by Douglas Corleone. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America. For information address St. Martin’s Press,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.10010.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Corleone, Douglas.
Last lawyer standing / Douglas Corleone. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-312-55228-2 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-250-01487-0 (e-book)
1. Defense (Criminal procedure)—Fiction. 2. Hawaii—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3603.0763L37 2012
813'.6—dc23
2012014697
First Edition: August 2012
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CHAPTER 1

My shadow stretched diagonally across the federal courthouse
steps on Ala Moana Boulevard in downtown Honolulu, just an
ordinary man in an ordinary suit with a Panama Jack resting on
his head. Just another lawyer on his way to court for just another criminal case. Only that’s not how it felt. Something palpable lingered in the ether, something akin to the tension I
experienced sitting next to a client surrounded by off-white
cinder blocks in a cramped, stifling interrogation room in the
bowels of a police department’s headquarters. I checked my
watch to make certain I wasn’t due for another few Percocet to
relieve the pain in my abdomen where I’d been stabbed with a
stiletto not six months ago. But, no, not yet; it wasn’t time. The
day itself, an ugly young Monday, shrieked in my ear, cautioned
me to blow off SoSo’s sentencing, to turn around and head the
hell home, to turn off the phones, and pretend this morning
never existed.
I didn’t listen.

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Instead I bounded up the steps, briefcase in hand, passed
through the glass doors, through the metal detector after dumping my keys and a few coins into a small gray bucket, and
checked my cell phone with a bored court officer, who warned
me twice to make sure the ringer was turned off.
“I don’t wanna listen to that goddamn thing playing ‘Funky
Cold Medina’ for the next three hours, Counselor. Got it?”
“Got it.” I took the ticket he offered as a receipt then made
for the elevator bank at the end of the hall.
When I stepped through the ten-foot-tall, mahogany double
doors into Justice Harlan Platz’s empty courtroom, my partner,
Jake Harper, already seated at the defense table, turned in his
chair and greeted me with a slow nod.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked him, tossing
my briefcase onto the table, slightly shuddering at the exaggerated echo of the thud.
“Wouldn’t miss SoSo’s sentencing for anything, son.”
“It’s routine. Both sides are resting on the papers. Platz is
going to give him twenty years and we’re done.”
“I’ve yet to see a routine appearance in front of Harlan Platz,”
Jake said. “Never mind a routine anything involving SoSo.”
Forty-five minutes later, four priggish US Marshals led our
client Solosolo Sinaloa through a side door into the courtroom.
SoSo, shackled at the wrists and ankles, towered over each of
them, his muscular bulk preventing any of the four from accompanying him side-by-side up the aisle. The single-piece, orange jumpsuit befit the Samoan so well, I couldn’t imagine he
ever wore anything else. Then again, I’d never seen him wear
anything else. And unless in twenty years SoSo returned to

la st law yer sta n d in g

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Honolulu to shake my hand or slice my throat, chances were I
never would.
“Howya doin’,” SoSo greeted me, as two of the Marshals
stepped away from the table. The other two took positions
behind the prisoner.
“Comme ci, comme ça,” I said, but SoSo was apparently in no
mood for levity. On the upside, my French earned a light chuckle
from Jake.
Jake and I represented SoSo pursuant to the Criminal Justice
Act, which was to say that the federal government rewarded
our firm a paltry seventy-five bucks per hour to play advocate to
the most menacing, callous monsters federal law enforcement
could capture and charge. Although I’d adamantly opposed joining the CJA panel, Jake insisted on it. With a mere two dozen
murders on the island each year, it’s rare to hit on a state case
with any teeth. But the feds never fail to scrounge up a few supervillains per annum, providing the dose of excitement Jake
seems to need to thrive.
Of course, I lacked standing to argue. I’m the one who got
the old man addicted in the first place.
Or was it the other way around?
Another twenty minutes passed before the Honorable Harlan Platz rose to the bench. Platz looked as though he chose his
skin off a rack this morning, then dotted it with liver spots before stepping into the long, flowing black robe that made him
look like Death itself. Approximately sixteen white hairs loitered on a scalp that would’ve made Mikhail Gorbachev cringe
with disgust. When the founding fathers drafted Article Three
of the US Constitution, providing that federal judges serve for

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life, they couldn’t possibly have foreseen the likes of Harlan
Platz. Then again, maybe Platz knew one of the founding fathers personally.
“I have reviewed the Government’s sentencing memorandum,” Platz rasped from his perch, “as well as the Defendant’s.
I must say, Mr. Corvelli, you receive an A for creativity. I had to
reread the Federal Sentencing Guidelines twice because I did
not quite believe some of the provisions you cited even existed.
Yet, there they were in black and white. Although, I think you
will concede, Counselor, that it is somewhat of a stretch to contend that Mr. Sinaloa accepted responsibility for his crime by
nodding his head after the jury foreman read off the verdict of
guilty.”
I had little to work with. We were appointed SoSo’s counsel
only after trial, for the sole purpose of preparing a sentencing
memorandum on his behalf. About a year ago, SoSo beat a man
to death outside a strip club in Honolulu’s red-light district, following a “Miller Lite: Tastes Great/Less Filling” debate. Or
something like that. The victim, Marc Dalton, was a US immigration officer, which landed the case in federal court. At a postverdict visit at the Federal Detention Center, SoSo handed a
sample of what he’d given Dalton to his trial attorney, Clyde
Harris. Harris begged off the case and the CJA panel appointed
yours truly.
“Mr. Boyd,” Platz said to the assistant US attorney, “do you
have anything you wish to add to the Government’s sentencing memorandum?”
AUSA William F. Boyd was a typical government lawyer,
complete with the personality of a houseplant and all the style
of a toaster.

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“I have nothing further, Your Honor,” Boyd said in a mechanical voice. “The Government’s memorandum speaks for
itself.”
“Mr. Corvelli,” Platz said, “have you anything else to say?”
“No, Your Honor,” I replied.
Then Justice Platz began hacking, a hideous, loose cough
that echoed through the gallery like a ricocheting bullet from
a .44. Platz’s sagging facial skin flapped violently, his liver spots
dancing in unison.
Platz’s clerk, a round kid just out of law school, came to the
judge’s rescue with a clean hanky and a gentle, oddly affectionate pat on the back.
“I am sorry,” Platz said once he regained his composure.
“Let us move on. Mr. Sinaloa, have you anything to say before
I sentence you?”
The correct answer, of course, was No. Or at most, No, Judge,
maybe No, Your Honor. I’d gone over the straightforward federal
sentencing procedure with SoSo at least a half dozen times.
Since it was no longer mandatory for judges to strictly follow
the rigid provisions of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and
since Harlan Platz was known to be a fairly liberal judge, both
sides anticipated a prison term of twenty years in a maximumsecurity facility. Not bad for killing a federal agent with your
bare hands outside a strip club at four in the morning. Especially considering SoSo was only twenty-six years old.
This hearing was a mere formality. Justice Platz had already read our memorandum; nothing added today could aid
us in any imaginable way. Anything said could only do us
harm, could only lengthen SoSo’s prison sentence. Thus, I had
instructed SoSo—had done everything but hold a gun to his

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head—to simply reply in the negative when asked whether he
had anything to say. “No,” I had told him. “Just say no. No. No.
No. No. No.”
“Yes,” SoSo said to Justice Platz.
Shit.
“Your Honor,” I interrupted, “SoSo—I mean, Mr. Sinaloa—
has nothing further to add at this time.”
Platz coughed into the elbow of his robe and looked at my
client for the first time. “Is that right, Mr. Sinaloa? Or do you
have something you would care to say to this Court before I
sentence you?”
“Yes,” SoSo said again.
“See, Mr. Corvelli?” Platz said with what might have passed
for a smile in a casket. “Another county heard from.”
“Your Honor—,” I tried again.
“Proceed, Mr. Sinaloa. It is your right. What say you?”
SoSo’s face remained perfectly stoic as he addressed Justice
Platz. “I say you the oldest, ugliest motherfucker I ever seen in
my life.”
A nauseating silence hung over the courtroom like tear gas.
The houseplant standing at the Government table glanced over
at me, the slightest attempt at a smirk playing on his lips. But
quiet the courtroom remained for at least the next three minutes. Then the Honorable Harlan Platz slapped his gavel with
all the savagery a two-hundred-year-old man could muster. If
looks could kill, the Marshals would’ve been wheeling SoSo out
of the courtroom on a stretcher, a white sheet draped over his
face.
“Very well,” Platz finally said with a calmness that betrayed
his face. “Mr. Sinaloa, the Court hereby sentences you to

la st law yer sta n d in g

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imprisonment at a federal penitentiary of maximum security
for a period of thirty-five years.”
All four Marshals instantly convened behind my client to
recuff him and take him away.
“But, Judge!” SoSo pleaded, the stoicism suddenly melting
from his body like crushed ice on hot sand. “Judge, I can’t do
that much time.”
Platz waved a skeletal hand in the air, and the Marshals immediately halted their movements.
“Oh, I see,” Platz said. “You cannot do that much time; is
that so, Mr. Sinaloa?”
“No, sir, Judge,” SoSo replied, relief already washing over
his mammoth frame. “I can’t do no thirty-five years. I can’t do
that much time.”
“Very well, then, Mr. Sinaloa.” The corners of Platz’s mouth
turned up as though on strings as he glared at my client and
stated flatly, “In that case, do as much as you can.”

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