Reasonable Doubt: The 3 a.m. phone call

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      3 a.m.

      Oh God. What is that... I woke up with a start. My heart pounding. An alarm. Not an alarm. My phone. The answering service. Ugh.

      “Hello? Laurel Dietz speaking.”

      “Ms. Dietz? This is the answering service. We have a Cst. Scrimshaw on the line for you. He has a Mack Neilson in custody.”

      “Uh. Okay. Put him through.”

      “Cst. Scrimshaw? Ms. Dietz is on the line.”


      “Hello Cst. Scrimshaw, this is Laurel Dietz. You have a Mr. Neilson in custody?”

      “Hmm... Yes. Let me put him through to you.”

      “No wait just a second. What has happened? Where are you calling from?”

      “We’ve just arrested him. We’ve just executed a search warrant at 721 Helsinki Drive. We’re arresting him for production and possession for the purposes of trafficking.”

      “Are you at the detachment?”

      “No. We’re putting him in the back of the squad car.”

      “Are you going to question him?”

      “I can’t say just now, ma’am. I don’t make those decisions.”

      “Okay, thank you. Let me talk to him.”

      • • •


      “Mack? Hi. It’s Laurel.”

      “Hi Laurel.”

      “How are you?”

      “I’m okay. Not great.”

      “Hmm… So, Mack. You know the drill right? Don’t say anything. There is nothing you can do or say that is going to make anything better. Do you hear me?”


      “We’re going to have to deal with this in the only way possible. Through the courts. You know by now there is no easy way out.”


      “What happened? No. Wait. Don’t answer that. We’ll sort through that later. They haven’t told me yet if they’re going to question you or if they’re going to release you. They’re going to take you back to the station and book you in. They’re going to take your fingerprints and photograph. If they ask you to sign a consent for them to do this—don’t. Don’t resist, but don’t agree. Do you understand?”


      “Okay, Mack. You know they’re going to try to guilt you into a confession. They’re going to try to tell you that it’s the only way you can make things right. To be a man. Don’t listen to them. This is not the time to man up. They’re going to try and get in your head and make you answer questions. They’ll ask you questions about your family, your life, your background. These questions are used to make you feel like they’re on your side. Whatever you do, don’t answer these questions. Don’t answer any questions.

      “You do not know what sort of information they’re trying to get from you. They’ll try all sorts of tactics to get it. They might only be seeking to get a voice sample from you. Stay silent.

      “They may make up evidence to convince you that they have an airtight case against you and the only way to save yourself is by confessing. Or they might tell you that you may as well explain yourself because you’re as good as convicted. Don’t believe any of this.

      “Whatever you do, do not speak.

      “They might put you in a cell with another person. For the love of all that is important to you, do not speak to this person. The only person you speak to from now on about anything relating to this is me. Be suspicious of everyone else.”

      • • •



      “Did you hear everything I said?”


      “Do you understand what I’m telling you?”


      “Okay. Do you have any questions?”

      “No. I got it, Laurel.”

      “Okay, is there someone I can call? We may need to arrange a surety or bail money.”

      “Call my brother, Joe. 555-987-0000. Call my girlfriend, Anna. 555-080-9898.”

      “And I can tell them you’re in custody?”


      “Okay, they’ll probably take you back to the Surrey RCMP station. I’m at Surrey in the morning. I’ll check in and see if you’re still there. Call me in the morning if they release you.

      Oh another thing. If they release you and give you back your cellphone, get rid of it.”


      “All right. Talk to you later.”

      • • •

      6 a.m.

      Shower. Coffee. Toast. Peanut butter. Suit. Heels? Packed. Driving shoes. Coat, scarf. Briefcase. Phone. Keys. Surrey.

      What do I have to do again? Oh right. Mack. I need to sort that out. Call his brother. Call his girlfriend. Better call the office and get them to scan me Mack’s info from his last file.

      What else? Right, the Jenkins bail hearing... What was that thing about his mother—it’ll be in the file. What else? Oh right. The appearances for Nguyen, Michaels, and Tucker. Not bad—if everything runs smoothly.

      • • •

      All of the characters in this article are fictionalized. Any likeness to real people is because most files tend to be the same after a while. To be continued next time.



      gratis translation

      Mar 1, 2013 at 1:56pm

      “We’re going to have to deal with this in the only way possible."

      " Through the courts." = $$

      "You know by now there is no easy way out.”=$$$$$$$


      Mar 2, 2013 at 6:37pm

      gratis translation...don't fool yourself. the police have two objectives and that is to arrest and gather evidence to assist in obtaining a conviction. they are not looking for Justice to be served. the system is adversarial and the side the police are on is well funded, with decades of experience and access to all manner of procedures and equipment that aren't available to the average citizen. Ms Dietz is absolutely correct when she counsels her client to zip it and ignore anything the police say. They are not your friends at that point. they only want to gather as much information as they can to convict you. whether you are guilty or not and once they feel that they have enough for a conviction they stop. The truth is not what matters, a conviction is.

      gratis translation

      Mar 3, 2013 at 1:13pm

      Coastguarder...fool myself? Couldn't agree more with you. Don't see how my well designed comment isn't saying the same as you. Mine is just more economical.

      "the system is adversarial and the side the police are on is well funded"=$$$$

      So by your own logic, the only chance against this system =$$$$$$$.

      What doesn't matter is zipping it, Ms Dietz's counsel, justice, truth, guilt, love, world peace, blah-de-blah: fairy tales. What matters is the $$$$$$ the defendant's wallet, a la OJ.

      Why do you suppose lawyers, bankers and legislators all wear the same uniforms?

      John-Albert Eadie

      Mar 3, 2013 at 8:17pm

      I've only gone through this once. Since I was innocent of what they put me in jail for, I told them everything, in the end, although the advice I received from free counsel made me pause. After going through a thorough debriefing of the thing that happened (which I might have been guilty of) I was freed in the morning. No problem. So I think the implication that the lawyer wants money is not wrong. And disagree about the Cops - yes they are nasty some of them, but I don't think in general they are against justice and for conviction purely. On the other hand if you ARE guilty probably keeping your mouth completely shut is wisest. There are stupid laws out there. e.g. Drugs.