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feb 14 cover for SW

COMMAND INFLUENCE

A courtroom thriller. A court martial case I defended and won at Fort Benning, Georgia while I was in the US Army JAG in the early sixties. To read two full chapters free, go to www.ldsledge.com, my author page.

Prologue

     The trial was about to start. The courtroom was filled with the sort who go to hangings, hungry for blood. The circumstances of this case were just what the bottom feeders love. The military didn’t like its adjudications exposed to the light of day, but there was standing room only; the crowd buzzing and speculating upon the atrocious charges against Sergeant Nolan. Scattered in the crowd were a  half dozen reporters who feed on this kind of sorry business, and they all wanted to see Nolan swing. They were there with cameras and pads…They looked like sharp eyed hunting dogs, ready to leap baying from their kennels on the scent of some fabulous excrement.”

     Riggs McCall, lead attorney for the defendant and my co-counsel, looked like a coiled rattler. I was shocked at his transformation when he walked into the courtroom. He seemed taller, and deadly. I had never seen him like that, but I, too, had undergone changes since we’d met just five months before. It could easily have been years, or a lifetime.

     The counsel table faced a panel of officers sitting in padded swivel chairs behind a long table. In the middle was a full bird colonel, flanked by two light colonels, who in turn were flanked on each side by majors, who were flanked by captains at each end. Their expressions were as hard as stone.

     To the left, the Law Officer, the senior ranking officer who acted as the judge over the proceedings sat behind a high enclosure.

     Lambrusco, the  prosecuting attorney, supported by his two assistants, like jackels hunched over a kill, had staked out the favorable position near the law officer and the witness box.

     I was irrevocably deep in this whole mess, and it was anybody’s guess what the next two or three days would bring. My whole future was entangled with Riggs and this trial. My carefully planned rise to political power, perhaps a bid for the presidency itself, even my father’s banking business relationship with the Defense Department was in danger of crumbling if the trial didn’t go well. Going well, to them mean a conviction. And I was helping defend this poor bastard. How did I get into this mess?