Claudio shifted nervously in his chair, the red-headed lawyer he hired had just gotten there and she looked almost as nervous as he did. What was her name again? Oh yea, Barbara Gordan. His Dad had hired her while he was still holed up in his room because of…
Claudio shook his head of the thought and paid attention to the Judge that had just entered the courtroom.
“Good afternoon everyone. My name is Juliana Rowe and I will be the presiding judge over this court today. Let’s get started shall we?”
Behind the walls that separated the court area from the guests Cullen and Genevieve were having a frantic conversation.
“Can you believe that what they said is actually happening?! I thought they were always full of hot air like Mommy always said they were! But now we’re here!”
Cullen smiled nervously,
“Yea...it’s kind of weird, huh? I mean just right across from us could be the new people that I live with.”
The judge had heard the statements of the trial and everything that entailed it. The first one’s up to hold their case was Claudio and Barbara.
“Well Mr. Belle, let’s save your family!”
Claudio smiled nervously at her. She seemed like she was fresh out of college but his Dad swore she was the best around, so he trusted him.
Barbara looked at Judge Rowe with a serious look as she stood up,
“The first witness we’d like to call to the stand is Mason Belle.”
As Mason made his way to the witness stand and got settled in Barbara straightened out her dress and handed Judge Rowe a folder of documents.
“What I’ve just handed you Judge Rowe is a folder accounting for the families financial stability and all the current people presiding in the household, just to help you understand that this family is more than stable enough to handle these children.”
Judge Rowe fingered through the contents nonchalantly and motioned towards Barbara to begin asking questions. Barbara knitted her eyebrows together at the judge. Wasn’t she going to make a comment about what she saw? Did she even see anything with how fast she was flipping through the pages?
“Um...oh yes! Mr. Belle, as you know there are allegations against your family, mainly your son, saying they are inadequate to take care of Genevieve, Cullen, and Rose, your grandchildren. What do you think of this?”
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous! Our family has been established in Newcrest for six generations! We’ve always taken the utmost care in raising our children!”
“Ah I see! So you don’t think your son is a bad Father?”
“No I do not. He had a few bad moments but in the end he cares more about those kids than life itself.”
Barbara smiled and nodded her head to the judge,
“That will be all your honor.”
Just as Barbara had sat back down Vincento Monte stood up and swaggered towards Mason. Vincento was the best lawyer money could buy. From what Barbara had gathered he had kept murderers off of death row and celebrities out of jail. He was high profile and going up against the likes of him was like going up against a brick wall.
“Mason, may I call you Mason?”
“Mr. Belle will do just fine thank you.”
Mason saw the corner of Vincento’s mouth twitch,
“Well Mr. Belle. Shall we get started with your questioning? Or do you need a rest, I do know that you’re quite up there in age.”
Vincento turned on his heel and presented Judge Rowe with yet another stack of folders.
“Now unlike what the beautiful Ms. Gordan presented you, what I have here is a collection of pictures taken by the paparazzi and news magazines documenting Claudio Belle’s party boy lifestyle.”
Judge Rowe flipped through the pictures casually, every so often stopping at one to examine it.
“As you can see there are pictures of him at bars drinking heavily, and since they’re time stamped you can see he didn’t leave until almost three in the morning. In others you see him on stage performing with his band til the late hours of the night and then even more partying happened backstage! Now in my opinion that is enough all in itself to warrant at least some investigation into their family.”
Judge Rowe nodded her head and shut the folder,
“I’ll decide that when the time comes Mr. Monte. Now please continue with the witness or he may leave the stand.”
Vincento grinned a toothy grin and turned back towards Mason,
“Now Mr. Belle. After presenting this evidence to Judge Rowe. What do you have to say in your son's defense?”
“I’ve said that he had some mistakes under his belt but don’t we all? He’s not a bad Father, that I can swear.”
“Ah yes but swearing won’t get us any closer to the truth. So you do admit that these photos are of him and not doctored?”
“So you’re saying that your son does have a partying and drinking problem?”
“He used to but-!”
“Your honor. I rest my case. There isn’t much more to say here.”
As Vincento turned his heel and walked back to the table he smirked at Barbara. Did she really think she could beat him?
“Oh your Honor. I almost forgot to tell you that we have a witness of your own.”
“Oh? Well please bring them up.”
Vincento stared directly in Claudio’s eyes and smiled,
“We would like to call Cullen Belle to the stand.”
Barbara shot up from her chair while knocking it over in the process,
“Objection! The witness is much too young to testify on the stand!”
“I will allow it. He is the son of the defendant so he must be allowed to say something in his Father’s defense.”
As Cullen clambered into the witness stand Vincento patiently waited until he was sitting down to ask questions.
“Now Cullen, you already swore to tell the truth so I would like you to abide by that, alright?”
“Okay, so can you tell me what you think of your Dad?”
“Well...he’s okay I guess.”
“Why do you say ‘okay’?”
“He just isn’t really there for us. I mean he’s around more often now that Momma passed away...but he’s not really there, there, you know what I mean?”
“I think I do Cullen. So your Mom passed away? I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s okay...she died giving birth to my baby sister…”
“Well with a baby in the house that must mean your Dad is pretty busy, huh?”
Cullen shrugged his shoulders,
“Not really. Grandma usually takes care of Rose while Dad is in his room. He doesn’t leave it much since Momma died. The last time he was out for a long time was her funeral.”
“So would you say you felt like you were being taken care of by your Dad?”
Cullen looked down and fiddled with his hands. He could feel his Dad staring a hole into him and he couldn’t bare to look up.
“No...Grandma and Grandpa are taking care of us.”
Vincento turned to the judge and raised his hands,
“Yet again judge, there isn’t much more I can say here. The son of the defendant has already stated that he doesn’t believe he is being properly cared for by his Father.”
Barbara shot up from her seat and made her way towards the judge and the witness stand. She had no idea they were going to call Cullen to the witness stand. If she would have known that she would have called Genevieve up to counteract what Cullen just said.
“I’d like to cross examine your Honor.”
“Go on Mrs. Gordan.”
“Cullen do you love your family?”
Cullen glanced up at Barbara nervously,
“Of course I do…”
“Do you love your Father?”
“So why would you say your Dad isn’t taking care of you when you just lost your Mom, you’re not the only one hurting from that.”
“Yea but he should be taking care of us! That’s what parents do!”
“I understand that but what has your Dad done to make you think he’s a bad Dad?”
“He was never there for me! Then when he finally came home to take care of me, Momma, and Genevieve he was more focused on Momma! That’s not what a Dad does!”
Barbara nervously looked around the courtroom. The Bledstone’s all wore a smirk on their faces. They must have brainwashed this kid into thinking his Dad was some evil man that didn’t care about him. How was she supposed to compete with that?
“I...I don’t have any further questions your honor…”
As Cullen made his way back to his seat his legs felt like jello. He didn’t think it would be so hard to endure all those questions.
“What is wrong with you?!”
Cullen jumped back in his seat when Genevieve yelled at him,
“W-what do you mean!”
Genevieve rolled her eyes in anger and slammed her fists down,
“What do I mean?! You totally just gave up on Daddy up there! What do you think is gonna happen now, huh?!”
“I just thought-”
“Well you thought wrong Cullen! Now you’re gonna be taken away from us all! I hope you’re happy…”
After a 30 minute recess Judge Rowe made her way back to the stand and cleared her throat,
“After reviewing the substantial evidence that was presented to me by both parties I would like to say that this was a hard decision to make, but I feel like this is in the best interests of the children. So without further delay the verdict I put forth is that there will be joint custody over all of the children. They will spend most of their years with the Bledstone’s in Windenburg and their summers with their family in Newcrest.”
Claudio’s heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. All of his kids?! All of them would be taken from him?!
“Your honor please! If they paid you off to say that don’t take the money! You’re splitting up a family!”
Judge Rowe stood up in anger from her chair,
“How dare you make such an accusation!”
“I-I didn’t mean it your honor...but please, please let me at least keep Rose with me until she’s old enough to travel!”
Judge Rowe sat back down in her seat slowly and nodded her head,
“That seems fair enough. The courtroom is dismissed!”
As Claudio gathered up his family and stumbled out of the courtroom in a daze, Nathaniel glanced over at him.
“Oh don’t look so sad Claudio. We all knew this is how it would turn out.”
With those last words Nathaniel gave a menacing glare to Judge Rowe as she scurried out of the courtroom.