This Honorable Court

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December, 2022

“Son. Of. A. Bitch.” The words slipped out, though quietly. There was no-one else in my office. Screaming wouldn’t help, though God knows, I felt like giving it a try.

I’d expected to lose the Motion to Dismiss. There was no way – none – that the Department of Justice would be able to convince Judge Ritchie to dismiss the state’s criminal prosecution on constitutional grounds. Not when the law involved a prohibition on the use or prescription of puberty blockers or hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria in minors. He’d made his views about “transsexuals” – his term – abundantly clear during the motion hearing.

Probably just as well neither he, nor his staff, nor anyone from the State Attorney General’s Office had bothered to research my background. They wouldn’t have had to look very hard.

Despite the Judge’s retrograde views about trans people, the sheer vehemence of the opinion – the sneering condescension with which he treated both the constitutional arguments and, even worse, the poor souls who were being prosecuted, still managed to surprise and appall me. Prosecuted? Persecuted, was closer to the mark.

They weren’t my clients – not technically. I represent the federal government, and we had just appeared as intervenors in the case. Still, I felt like somehow I’d failed them.

I found myself staring at my ring, yet again. Not the beautiful diamond that my fiancé – my fiancé! – had given me just days before, but the smaller, simpler ring that I wore on the pinkie of my right hand. Plain silver, worked in a flowing, Celtic design.

Tina’s ring.

“Well, that purely sucked. You okay?” My boss, Lally Wissert, was leaning against the frame of my open door. Clearly, she’d already read the decision. I waved her in and she perched on one of the chairs in front of my desk.

“No. I mean, I was expecting the loss, like I told you. But . . . I didn’t expect to feel dirty after I read the ruling!”

“Dirty? Seriously? Don’t let a jackass like Ritchie get under your skin!”

I shook my head. “Sorry, I wasn’t clear. His views about transpeople aren’t going to affect how I view myself or anyone else. I’m way past all that. But . . . I’m an officer of the court. I’m part of this whole system, you know? And it’s my duty to somehow respect it. I read this . . . this!” I waved my hand disgustedly at the opinion staining my computer monitor.

“Turd? Dingleberry? Piece of crap?” Lally offered.

“Right. And I think, what am I even doing here?”

“Fighting for the angels, even when we’re in hell. Someone’s got to do it.”

“Yeah. I know.”

I guess I didn’t sound sincere enough; Lally was observing me closely. “You okay with this, Camryn? I know you don’t want to be ‘the trans lawyer’ in the Civil Rights Division. I just didn’t have anyone else I could throw at this one when it came through the door.”

I looked at Tina’s ring again. She’d kept it as a talisman through years that she’d been locked up in a mental institution for her “deviance.” It had been a way for her to keep faith with the woman she knew herself to be. After I’d helped her get the insurance she needed to finally obtain gender-affirming care, and after my old law firm had helped her get a settlement for some of the wildly illegal abuse she’d suffered, she gave me the ring before she left for a new life in Colombia. She said she didn’t need the reminder anymore.

I expect she had known that sometimes, I did.

“It’s an honor, Lally,” I said softly. I met her eyes and smiled. “Look, I don’t want to do trans cases exclusively, and I haven’t. But I have no problem taking them. No problem at all!”

“Good!” She rose and moved back to the door with her signature energy. But she looked back before disappearing and said, “losing sucks, pure and simple. Let’s kick some ass and win the next one.”

I was still brooding about the decision when my phone rang. The caller ID said “Sloan & Hardcastle,” the firm that represented the criminal defendants. I picked up. “Hey Shelby. You feel as shitty as I do?”

“No, Camryn, I do not feel ‘shitty.’ I feel furious! Ballistic! Burn-the-fucking-courthouse-to-the-ground mad!” Shelby O’Meara, the young partner who had argued the case before Judge Ritchie, was not the sort of person who hid her feelings well. She was funny, fierce and irreverent, and I’d enjoyed working with her tremendously. But I had never heard her in such a rage.

“I’m with you, woman,” I said fervently. “Hundred percent. Make that a thousand percent. How are your clients?”

“Doctor Cohen is stoic, as usual. I’d prepared him for it, I guess. But Debbie’s a wreck, and her Dad’s almost as bad. God damn it! Even if he didn’t rule in our favor, that bastard Ritchie could at least have pretended to act like a Judge!”

I had nothing to say to that. I was struggling hard to maintain any sense of propriety where Judge Ritchie was concerned. So I tried to steer the discussion to something practical. “I assume you’re going to take a shot at an interlocutory appeal, right?” Normally, decisions on motions to dismiss couldn’t be appealed until a final judgment had been entered on the case, but courts allow immediate – “interlocutory” — appeals in some circumstances.

“Since the Rules of Professional Conduct and the criminal law prevent me from just going downtown and pounding that asswipe ‘Judge’ into santorum, sure. Absolutely. I even think we’re likely to get it.” Shelby calmed down just enough to explain her reasoning, and I found myself nodding along. Her righteous anger hadn’t affected her always-razor-sharp mind in the slightest.

When she was finished laying out her strategy, she asked, “Will DOJ join the petition?”

“I’m sure we will, though I’ll obviously have to run that up the chain here. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even let me present the argument for the government, if the appeal goes forward.”

There was a moment’s silence on the line, then Shelby said, “That’d be a good idea, Camryn. Just so you know, though, I think maybe I’m going to ask someone else here to argue for the Defendants, if we get the chance.”

I was dumbfounded. Shelby knew the case backwards and forwards, and she was no shrinking violet. She loved being in court just as much as I did, and she was an extremely effective advocate. I said, tentatively, “Really?”

She laughed. “I’m not getting soft, believe me! But one of our senior partners is a retired justice on the state Supreme Court. Everyone respects the hell out of him. The dean of the state’s appellate bar. I want Debbie and Tom to know we are sending our very best.”

“You are the very best, Shelby!” I said with conviction.

“Thanks for that. But seriously . . . you’d need to meet him to understand. He was the face of the Court for fifteen years. No-one ever even thought about running against him in an election. If Roger Danforth stands up in Court to defend trans rights, that’ll send the kind of message little ol’ me can’t deliver.”

I thought about the attitudes I’d encountered since I came out of my egg nearly three years before. “Okay. Would someone like that be willing to do it?”

She chuckled. “Like I said, you’ll need to meet him. I’m not worried about it.”


January, 2023

“Good morning, Judge. Your nine o’clock has arrived; I put her in the Jacoby Conference Room.”

“Thank you, Trudy. Please ask Shelby to join us; I’ll be right down.” I hung up the phone and rose, but just as I was about to grab the file I stopped. Yes, I was a retired state Supreme Court justice, and the attorney I was going to meet was only five years out of law school. No matter. She worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and she represented the people of the United States of America. I would show appropriate respect.

I straightened my tie, retrieved my charcoal gray suit jacket, and put it on.

She was sitting with her back to the window, laptop open. When I entered, she rose smoothly and came around the end of the table, hand extended. “Justice Danforth! It’s an honor to meet you. I’m Camryn Campbell.”

I smiled and shook her outstretched hand. She was tall in heels, but I’d expected that. Her conservative navy blue suit suggested that she adhered to my own notions of courtesy and respect, however outdated they had become. “Ms. Campbell. It’s very good to meet you.”

“Please, call me Camryn,” she smiled and straightened. Her natural posture wasn’t quite ramrod straight . . . but it was pretty damned close. Her eyes were startlingly blue and almost unnervingly direct.

“If you can be persuaded to call me Roger,” I countered. “We’re colleagues on this one.”

She looked momentarily uncomfortable and blushed slightly, which made her look younger. “Your Honor . . . you may have retired from the bench, but I still can’t imagine calling you by your first name.”

I shook my head, despairing. “I can’t break anyone else of the habit, either,” I sighed. “At least my family still calls me Roger . . . when they’re feeling polite!”

Shelby chose that moment to walk in. “Hey, Camryn,” she said, smiling, then looked at me. “Couldn’t talk her into it, could you?”

I threw up my hands. “A retired judge is just an old fart with a law degree!”

“Exactly right, Judge,” my partner said, cheekily. “Which is why you can call me ‘Shelby,’ and you can call my distinguished colleague from DOJ ‘Camryn,’ and we’ll bend protocol and call you ‘Judge Danforth.’ ‘Justice’ sounds so pretentious.”

Ms. Campbell smiled and gave Shelby a conspiratorial wink.

Ms. Campbell is – by reputation, anyhow – an accomplished attorney, and Shelby O’Meara is a dynamo, a fighter’s fighter whose perfectionism and drive had more than earned the early decision bringing her into the partnership. But I had been a prodigy myself, in the distant mists of history, and I had shown attorneys and judges a generation or more my senior the same sort of deference.

I just had no idea, back when I was young and being oh-so-polite, how old and decrepit I was making them feel.

Well, life keeps shoving lessons at you, whether you want them or not. It was time to give in with good grace, so I did. “Let’s get started, then.”

I moved to the table and we all sat. “I’ve already said this to Shelby, Camryn, but I wanted you to know I think you both did an outstanding job on the motion to dismiss. The loss wasn’t any fault of yours; Clarence Darrow couldn’t have convinced Judge Ritchie. Not if it meant acknowledging that transgender people might have rights!”

I had been surprised when Shelby had come to ask me to argue the appeal, since I have no background in the field of transgender rights. It was just an abstraction to me. But that stopped being the case just as soon as I’d met our clients. Once I’d gotten to know Debbie and her dad, once I’d seen what the government was doing to them – the government of my state, damn it! – it became intensely personal for me. So Judge Ritchie’s dismissive opinion left my blood boiling.

I tamped down on my anger, though, since I didn’t want the meeting to devolve into an unproductive session of bitching and moaning. “I’m frankly surprised that he allowed an interlocutory appeal of the constitutional issues.”

Shelby shrugged. “You know my feeling, Judge – he wanted the state Supreme Court to have a chance to weigh in before the federal court does.”

“Maybe,” I responded. “Probably, even. And my former colleagues have no doubt fast-tracked the briefing and argument for the same reason. In any event, Camryn, I’m delighted that Lally Wissert prevailed on the rest of your management to let you argue the appeal for the government. You deserve it.”

I was very well acquainted with Camryn’s boss – a former clerk of mine who had gone on to clerk for a judge on the D.C. Circuit before joining DOJ. Her star had risen fast on raw talent and an enviable work ethic; now she was the deputy chief of the Civil Rights Division.

Camryn’s smile was crooked. “Thank you, sir. Though, to be honest, I think what you’re seeing is less a vote of confidence in my ability, and more a lack of confidence that your ‘former colleagues’ will be . . . ah . . . receptive to our arguments. No matter how well presented. I’m just taking one for the team.”

“Carefully phrased,” I acknowledged. “But I’m afraid your management is right. Best-case scenario, we’re looking at a six-one loss. The only one of the current justices I served with is Ellie Taft. She conservative – traditionally conservative – but her vote might conceivably be in play. That’s it, though.”

“We thought Justice Keller might at least consider the Equal Protection argument,” Camryn offered.

I shook my head emphatically. “Not a chance. I can see where you’re coming from, after his concurring opinion in Moody, but . . . no. Think about his limiting analysis in Mann from last term, and Striker three years ago.”

She inclined her head in acknowledgement. “We did think it was a long shot.”

“And, of course,” Shelby interjected, “two of the justices – including the chief – pretty much campaigned on upholding the law in the last election.”

Camryn nodded. “Naturally, we’ll move to recuse . . . and naturally, they’ll deny the motion.”

“Because no-one could possibly question their fairness and impartiality,” Shelby said, snidely.

I couldn’t really blame her sarcasm, even though it made me uncomfortable. I used to think judicial elections made some sense, if only as a check against my brethrens’ tendency to see themselves as philosopher kings. But these days? Yikes.

Again, I decided to try to move the discussion in a less emotional direction. “Well, it seems we’re in agreement that this round’s a loss, and we need to be focused on winning at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Right,” Camryn agreed. “Given the rulings we’re hoping to see from the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits in the Arkansas and Alabama cases, the issue of civil and criminal penalties for treating trans minors will end up there sooner rather than later. We want to use this case to increase our odds of winning there.”

Interesting. “What, in your view, is the best set up?”

She hit me with that direct gaze again. “Obviously, we need to make all of the arguments we hope to preserve for the high court. But, honestly . . . so long as we’ve got that base covered, the worse the state Supreme Court’s ruling looks, the better it might be.”

Shelby winced. “Ouch. I’m expecting ‘bad’ already; I hate to root for ‘worse.’”

“But Camryn’s right,” I responded, no happier about it than anyone else at the table. “I don’t put much faith in the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to protecting the transgender community, but states targeting a disfavored group so blatantly might – maybe – give just enough of the justices pause. Especially if the state Supreme Court’s opinion upholding the law is itself . . . . intemperate.”

“In that sense,” Camryn added, looking at Shelby apologetically, “it will only help us that Chief Justice Wilkins and Justice Taverner won’t recuse, despite their past advocacy for the law.”

Shelby nodded, her expression sour.

But I expected she’d like the other necessary part of the strategy even less. “I’m generally opposed to trying cases in the court of public opinion, but I assume Justice is in agreement that we’re going to need a strong PR campaign going in the background.”

This time, Camryn’s nod was emphatic. “Absolutely. We’re going to be playing whack-a-mole with these laws for years. States are going to keep coming up with clever ways to reach the result they want while adhering on paper to whatever guidelines the Supreme Court sets.” She shook her head, frustrated. “That won’t change until the political calculus changes – until the voters see, and reject, what’s being done in their name. We need to make a forceful case in public that these laws are unjust, that they unfairly discriminate, and that people – real flesh-and-blood people, like your clients – are being harmed. Badly harmed.”

There, I thought she’d hit the nail on the head. “There will be a lot of coverage of the oral argument,” I said carefully. “Local coverage, but also national. Cameras rolling on the courthouse steps kind of stuff. It’s . . . not the sort of thing that plays to a lawyer’s typical skill set.” I wasn’t quite sure how to phrase my concern politely. I’ve seen plenty of good courtroom lawyers make complete fools of themselves in front of television cameras.

But she smiled, understanding. “We’ve got people who will help prepare me for that. And . . . I’ve had some odd twists in my career, so I’m more used to public speaking and public relations than I used to be.”

That made me chuckle. “Shelby mentioned that. A podcast, right? Something about opera?”

“Exactly!” There was a twinkle in her blue eyes. “Not at all the same thing, but . . . it did improve my ability to communicate more naturally with non-lawyers in a public setting. It’s been a surprisingly big help to me.”

“I’m sorry to admit I didn’t catch any episodes, but I’m completely tone-deaf so it would have been wasted on me.” I paused, then changed gears. “There may be protests, too. Again.”

“Yes. Shelby and I dealt with some of that after the hearing before Judge Ritchie.” She shrugged. “Not much we can do about it.”

I put both hands on the conference room table, palms down. “Camryn. It will be worse at the Supreme Court. Depend on it. And . . . Shelby mentioned that no one picked up on the fact that you’re trans yourself. You can’t count on that this round. Someone’s going to check your bio, and you can bet that word will get out. You’ll have a target on your back as big as a bull elephant.”

“I understand. But just living here is becoming dangerous, for trans people. At the end of the day, I get to go home to a jurisdiction that doesn’t consider me a second-class citizen. They don’t.”

“True. But they aren’t standing on the courtroom steps, poking the bear.” This was something she and her superiors needed to take seriously.

“I read your biography, sir. You volunteered, didn’t you? Vietnam?” Camryn’s expression was difficult to read, and her voice was surprisingly soft.

I nodded, interested to see where she was going with this.

“My fiancé Rob served too.” She looked down at a ring – a truly impressive specimen – on her left hand. “Afghanistan. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t brave enough. Or selfless enough, or enough of a patriot. I probably wouldn’t have made much of a soldier.” She raised her eyes to meet mine again. “But I’m a better person now, and a better patriot. This is my fight.”

I held her determined gaze for a long moment, before nodding. “Okay, Ms. Campbell. I’ll be right there with you. But you tell Lally that her old boss says you could use some protection when you're down here. And remind her, in case she’s gone native and forgotten, that this is an open carry state!”

She smiled. “I’ll be sure to pass that along, sir.”

We got down to brass tacks, and had a good discussion of ways to ensure that both our briefs and our oral arguments would be mutually reinforcing while minimizing redundancy. When we wrapped up, we had a game plan and all of the necessary tasks were assigned.

Some hours after our meeting, I looked up to see Shelby in my doorway. “What did you think?” she asked.

“Not what I expected, though I can’t pinpoint why. Your descriptions were certainly accurate.”

She sat in one of the chairs in front of my desk. “Knows how to keep her cool, that’s for sure.”

I toyed with a pen. “That’s good. Several of the newer justices . . . they'll be brutal. Think it's some kind of a stick in their eye, that the feds sent a transwoman to argue in front of them.”

“Well . . . that’s pretty much exactly what DOJ is doing, isn’t it?” She gave me an appraising look.

I snorted. “It’s not like she isn’t qualified!”

“No argument. But so are scores of her colleagues. Like you said, they’re poking the bear. Deliberately.”

I set the pen down. “The bear, in this case, is pretty unlikely to take that well.”

“I think that’s what they’re counting on.”

I thought about Lilly Wissert as I had known her years before — driven, pragmatic, eyes always firmly fixed on her objective. Probably right. “I hope Lally saw fit to tell Camryn.”

“She’s a smart cookie.” Shelby smiled again, with a predatory gleam. “I think she’s counting on it, too.”


June, 2023

Two of our clients were accompanying Judge Danforth and me to court, everyone piled in one van. I had come to know them both well, this past year. Just regular folks dealing with an unusual circumstance as best they could, only to find themselves on the wrong side of anti-trans legislation rammed through a legislature eager to prove its conservative bona fides. Their safety was in my hands, and I felt the weight of that responsibility with every fiber of my being.

“How are you doing, Debbie?”

Truth is, she didn’t look so good, in the back of the van, shaking like a leaf. If it weren’t for her father by her side, his arm around her shoulders, she’d probably have fallen apart completely.

“O . . . okay, Shelby,” she stammered. “I’m just . . . you know . . . it’s too much!”

“It’s okay, honey,” her dad said, his voice horse with emotion. “I’m right here. I’ve got you.”

They didn’t need to be here, and I’d tried to convince them to stay home. Dr. Cohen hadn’t come, and he was as much a target as the Stevensons. But, while the fines and penalties would be very significant to him, it was personal for Debbie and Tom.

So they had both insisted. “They need to look us in the eye, Shelby,” Tom had said. “The judges. That horse’s ass AG. They need to understand . . . we’re people. Not toys for their frickin’ games. People.”

“Getting in and out will be the worst of it,” I assured Debbie. “The rest of it’s just legal arguments. You don’t have to do anything. Just be there.” I had told her this numerous times, but I couldn’t think what else to say. It was just legal argument, but the consequences of a loss – which, no doubt, today would be – were potentially devastating for the young transgirl, and her dad, and her doctor.

This is evil, I thought, for the hundredth time since I’d first met my clients. Evil! Damn them all to hell! Damn the legislature, AND the holier-than-thou Governor eyeing a Senate race, AND that sanctimonious prig of an Attorney General who hopes to take the Governor’s place when he does!

From the shotgun seat, the Judge turned around and looked back, gray eyes framed by the creases of age and compassion. “Debbie?” When he had her attention, he said, “We’re going to take care of you. Today will be bad, but the story doesn’t end here. They aren’t getting to you, except through us. Except through me.”

It made me so glad I had asked him to argue the appeal. Over the decades of his professional life, he had stood for integrity, compassion, and justice. When Roger Danforth spoke, with his chiseled face, his abundant white hair and his rich baritone, people took it to the bank.

Debbie visibly calmed.

We hit trouble more than a block from the courthouse. Protesters were overflowing the square outside the building and spilling over into the street. Someone had a bullhorn, and traffic came quickly to a standstill.

The Judge got on his phone. “George! How are you? . . . Yes, it’s bad. . . Uh huh. Right. . . Right. . . I need to get my clients in without being mobbed. Can you arrange the back entrance? . . . I expect so. . . . Give us ten minutes; we need to make a bit of a detour. . . . Thank you, George!”

He ended the call and looked at the driver. “We need to go to the back of the building, off of Church Street.”

“Might take a bit to get ourselves extracted, Judge,” the driver responded, apologetically.

“Yup. You’ve got ten minutes.”

“On it, boss.” The driver started making micro turns, which caused people in neighboring cars to get upset and honk their horns, adding to the chaos.

“Are we going to be safe?” Debbie’s voice was soft, intended only for her dad’s ears, but I heard it anyway, and it pierced my heart.

“They don’t get to you except through us,” I reminded her fiercely.

It took the full ten minutes, but we managed to arrive where we were supposed to be. The Judge had us all primed, and we stepped out in good order. We walked purposefully, but not quickly, to the back door, which was held open by an older man in a marshal’s uniform who gave the boss a big smile. “How are you, Judge?”

“Downright perky, George,” he responded cheerfully. “Let’s get inside, shall we?”

Once the door was closed, the Judge asked the marshal whether Camryn had arrived safely.

“Oh, yes, sir! She got here a bit earlier than that lot outside expected. There were only a couple on site, and, ah . . . she pretty much marched right over them, with that big paralegal of hers.”

“Excellent!” He looked at our clients. “I’m afraid you aren’t permitted in the attorneys’ cloakroom, but the Courtroom’s open now, so you can go and get a seat.”

“I’ll bring them in, Judge,” I offered. “Join you in a couple.”

He waved, and walked briskly towards the attorneys’ reserved area. I knew he was anxious to make sure Camryn was safe.

The bullhorn was very audible in the marble foyer, though it wasn’t possible to make out what the protester was saying. It sounded like he was leading some kind of call-and-response, but all I could hear was his sharp and garbled voice, and a growling, angry response. The sound of a mob.

The sound of evil.

I guided poor Debbie and Tom through the ornate wooden doors leading into the courtroom. As the doors closed behind us, the sounds of the mob faded. Mercifully.

We walked across the mosaic tile depicting the State’s Great Seal, and I got them seated on one of the benches. The type that wouldn’t be out of place in a Congregational Church. I snorted internally. Ought to add kneelers, like the Catholics, so people could watch the proceedings on their knees. That would give those bastards on the bench a frickin’ orgasm, wouldn’t it?

“Okay, guys. Our argument is first on the calendar. Just hold tight; it’ll be over before you know it.”

Tom reached up and gave my hand a squeeze. “Thanks, Shelby. I don’t know what we’d have done without you. Really!”

I wanted to cry . . . I wanted to scream. Better, I wanted to put on my sparring gloves and just beat the ever-living shit out of a long, long line of people. Recreational boxing is my favorite form of exercise, and my right fist can do a truly satisfying amount of damage. I looked at the broad dais where the justice’s high-backed seats were arranged in a shallow curve. Today, the Governor wouldn’t even be at the top of the list of people I wanted to maim. He might not even make it to the top five.

But I gave my clients a brave smile, assured them we would see them soon, and went to join the Judge.

When I entered the attorney’s cloakroom, he was engaged in an intense conversation with our opponents. Because this was such a high-profile case, the Attorney General intended to argue it himself.

So he can put it in his frickin’ campaign ads, I thought sourly.

The state AG had his Solicitor General with him, an absurdly young woman who looked freakishly camera-ready at all times, as well as Jim Stone, the AAG who had handled the case in front of Judge Ritchie. Stone wasn’t a bad guy, but he was defending an unjust law. In my book, that made him no different than the Solicitor General who defended the forcible detention of Japanese Americans in Korematsu.

He’s a tool.

Camryn was standing to the side. Despite her height, she looked almost petite next to a stocky, well-muscled man with a buzz cut in a dark gray suit, who must be the paralegal the marshal had mentioned.

Paralegal my ass! “Paramilitary” is more like it! That guy screams “security!”

“Howard,” the Judge was saying, “They’re worked up, they're armed, and they’re dangerous. I’m not saying you need to clear the plaza – though you did last year, for the BLM protest during the Carly S. hearing! – I’m just saying we need a more visible police presence.”

“It’s nothing like last year,” the AG said heatedly. “Citizens got a right to protest!”

“Uh huh,” the Judge responded in a dry tone, unconvinced by the AG’s facile distinction. “And my clients and I, and the Justice Department’s attorney, have a right to go to and from court safely.” The AG still looked mulish, so the Judge added, “Just talk to the Governor, would you? If something happens out there, he’s not going to be happy about it.”

The AG grudgingly said, “All right, Judge. I’ll talk to him.” He and his entourage moved to the other side of the room.

Camryn looked cooly professional in black-on-black, a well-tailored jacket and pencil skirt with a plain silk shell, her hair pinned up in an arrangement that was probably more complicated than it appeared to be, and a simple string of blue stones around her neck. She turned her matching blue eyes on me and smiled warmly. “Good morning, Shelby!”

“Ready to face the dragons?”

“Once the Judge is done with them, I’ll just be mopping up their remains. No problem!” She leaned in close and said, “Actually, I’m nervous as hell. Just pre-performance jitters.”

I shook my head. “Could have fooled me! Actually, you did.”

“My old boss used to say, ‘Never let ’em see you sweat!’” She smiled at the memory.

“Sound advice,” the Judge said, joining the conversation. “If it makes you feel better, the whole butterflies in the stomach thing does die down some after you’ve done a couple dozen of these things.”

“But it never goes away, does it?” she asked.

“Mine never has,” he said with a broad and infectious smile. “That’s how I know I’m still alive!”

“We’d probably better make our way in,” I said, glancing at the old-fashioned clock over the doors into the courtroom. Why put Roman numerals on a clock, for God’s sake? Are we scheduled to kick off at X o'clock?

“Right you are,” the Judge replied.

The Supreme Court’s chamber was no better or worse than any other courtroom I’d ever been in. Lots of wood paneling, dark with age. The railing – the “bar of the court” – separating the benches where the public sat and the inner area reserved for the justices, their staff, and the attorneys presenting arguments. The two long library tables where counsel would sit, a podium between them, separated from the dais by the high-fronted stations for the Court Reporter and the Clerk. The flags flanking the door behind the Chief Justice’s seat where the judges would enter. The usual portraits of long-dead justices, looking suitably learned and mildly constipated. It must have been the style.

Because this was the state Supreme Court, there was also an upper gallery for visitors, essentially a loft about twenty feet above ground level. It was filling up fast. The lower level, which had been reserved for litigants and the press for purposes of today’s hearing, was also getting a bit full.

Looking at the gathering crowd I thought, bitterly, Who wants to miss a bear baiting?

As soon as we entered the courtroom, Camryn made a bee-line to where Debbie and Tom were sitting. “Mr. Stevenson . . . Debbie. I’m Camryn Campbell from the Justice Department.” She shook their hands, then turned her startling eyes on Debbie. “I want you to understand, I’m here representing the people of the United States of America. That’s my job. So when I get up there today, I’m not just speaking for myself. Your government – your country – is with you today. Your fight is our fight. All of ours.”

Debbie’s eyes were huge. She whispered, “Is it true? You’re trans, too?” She looked around, afraid she might have been overheard.

Camryn reached out to lay a gentle hand, fingers immaculately manicured, on Debbie’s forearm. “Yes, I am.” Her voice was low and warm. Intimate. Then she smiled, looking suddenly defiant. “Openly, publicly, and proudly!” She gave Debbie’s arm a squeeze of reassurance and made her way through the swinging gate and over to the table on the left-hand side, her stride confident and purposeful.

Damn, girl! You got style!

The Judge and I gave our clients a final smile, then followed.

The AG and his team came in a few minutes later and set up at the right-hand table. The courtroom was less quiet than usual, with a continuous low buzz of sound coming from the upper gallery. But it was still a courtroom – an environment that tends to put a damper on people.

One can hope, anyway.

After a few minutes of waiting, a sharp rap came from the door behind the dais, and we all stood.

The bailiff sang out a redundant “All rise!” as the justices filed in and took their seats. Five men, two women, all lilly white. Their average age was probably over sixty. Not the best demographic for an argument about transgender rights.

Ironically, the silver-haired woman sitting to the left of the Chief Justice, 78-year-old Eleanor Lynch Taft, was probably the most open-minded of the lot, even though she was the eldest by several years.

The Chief Justice, a handsome man with just the right amount of silver at his temples, looked to his right and said, “Marshal, you may open court.”

“Oyez, Oyez.” It was the Judge’s friend George, mangling the old Norman French so that it sounded like an ironic cheer – Oh, yay! “The Supreme Court of the State is now open and in session in this place. Let all persons having business before this Court enter and be heard. God bless the State and this Honorable Court!”

“Be seated, everyone,” the Chief said. “The Clerk may call the first case.”

The clerk’s monotone followed. “Civil case number 22-164839, State ex rel. Howard Palmer, Attorney General, versus Thomas Stevenson et al.”

“Attorneys state their appearances,” the Chief commanded.

The Attorney General rose to his full height and squared his shoulders. It wasn’t quite as impressive as I expect he wished it were; he didn’t have enough height to hide his growing mass. But he had a powerful voice, and he put it to good use. “May it please the Court, Attorney General Howard Palmer for the State. With me are Solicitor General Stacy Ratchet and Assistant Attorney General James Stone.”

“Mr. Attorney General. Counsel. Welcome,” the Chief Judge acknowledged. He turned his attention to our table and gave a wintery smile. “Justice Danforth, it’s always good to see you here.”

I’ll just bet it is, I thought, keeping my features neutral.

The Judge rose, showing the AG how it’s done. He had the height, he was still trim, and his immaculately tailored midnight blue suit, snowy-white dress shirt and boldly-patterned tie in a perfect full windsor knot, all served to emphasize his natural gravitas. “Good morning, your Honor. Roger Danforth, Sloan and Hardcastle, for Defendant-Appellants Thomas and Debbie Stevenson and Dr. Jeffrey Cohen. I am joined at counsel table by my distinguished partner, Shelby O’Meara.”

“Welcome, Mrs. O’Meara – and, welcome back, Judge,” the Chief Justice responded. “You are splitting your time with the intervenor, correct?”

“Yes, your Honor. I will take fifteen minutes of our allotted time, reserving ten for the intervenor, with five minutes for rebuttal.”

“Very well. You may be seated.” The Chief Justice cast his eye on the last attorney standing, and his expression was downright frosty.

She didn’t wilt. “May it please the Court, Camryn Campbell, Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States of America, intervenor.”

“You are appearing pro hac vice, correct?” The Chief Justice’s question was precise, but the tone was cold.

“That’s correct, your Honor. The Court granted my pro hac application in January. Docket entry seven.”

“Mister Chief Justice? If I may inquire?” It was the aptly-named Justice Burleigh, beefy and pugnacious, seated second from the right.

The Chief waved his hand. “Of course.”

What the hell?

“Mr. Campbell,” the Justice said, stressing the male honorific. “Did you acquaint yourself with the rules of this Court, as you attested in your pro hac vice application?”

“It’s ‘Ms.’ your Honor,” Camryn said calmly. “And yes, I scrutinized the Court’s rules with great care.”

“May I direct your attention, counselor,” the Justice retorted, refusing to concede her preferred honorific, “to our rules concerning proper attire for attorneys appearing before the Court?”

“I am acquainted with them, your Honor,” she said gravely.

Was there a hint – just a hint – of a smile on her face? Had she seen this coming?

“Are you really?” Burleigh asked, sounding like he was poised to pounce.

“Yes, your honor. Actually, I bought this suit just for today’s argument; I thought the cut of my navy blue suit might be too informal to be considered ‘appropriate and conservative attire.’”

There was laughter from behind us, and the Chief Judge banged his gavel. “There will be order in this Courtroom!”

Justice Burleigh’s face darkened and he leaned forward, causing reverberation from his microphone. “On what planet is it ‘appropriate’ for a man to appear in court in a skirt, Mister Campbell?”

This time there were whistles and cheers from the upper gallery. The Chief Justice tapped his gavel, but said nothing.

“With respect, Justice Burleigh, the Court’s rules do not define appropriate attire, nor do they differentiate between clothing appropriate to men and women. And again, respectfully, it’s ‘Ms.’” Camryn’s tone remained courteous . . . but firm.

“No, it isn’t, Mister Campbell,” Burleigh shot back, his face florid with anger. “First, because ‘Miz’ is an abomination. Female attorneys in this Court are customarily addressed as ‘Mrs.’ if they are married, and ‘Miss’ if they are not. And second, I don’t care how you ‘identify,’ you can’t change what God decreed. You are no woman!”

The upper gallery positively cheered this speech, growing raucous.

“Order,” the Chief admonished mildly, once again tapping his gavel on the desk.

Camryn remained calm. “If I may suggest, your Honor, I had a case in Connecticut a few years ago, where the custom is to use ‘attorney’ as an honorific. It might provide a means for us to, perhaps, circumvent a debate on etiquette and address the merits of the dispute?”

“Does this look like a Connecticut courtroom, Mister Campbell?” Burleigh was practically sneering.

She looked around the courtroom carefully. “In all honesty, your Honor, one courtroom looks surprisingly like another.”

Chuckles from the floor earned some more gavel pounding, this time somewhat more robust.

“Don’t play games with me, young . . . .” Burleigh bit back what he had been about to say, which I’d swear was “woman.” “Are you in Connecticut?”

She looked at him directly, and her expression for once showed a measure of her feelings. But her words, and her tone, were completely proper. “No indeed, your Honor.”

“Then you will abide by the rules and customs of this Court! I will not address you by an honorific you are not entitled to, and you will appear here – if at all! – in clothing appropriate to your gender!”

The people in the gallery erupted. After a moment’s chaos, someone started chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” apparently failing to notice that the words were completely at odds with Burleigh’s whole point.

I shook my head. Even the haters have trouble thinking of Camryn Campbell as a guy.

“Order!!! There will be order!!!” The Chief Justice hammered the gavel in earnest.

“Lock her up!!! Lock her up!!!”

The Chief was visibly angry now, realizing that his control over the situation was rapidly deteriorating. “There will be order, or I will direct the Marshal to clear the courtroom!”

The crowd ignored him. They were standing, clapping, cheering, thrilled at their suddenly-realized power to simply shut things down. “Lock her up!! Lock her up!!!”

Camryn looked at the Chief Justice. Nominally the presiding officer. Pitching her voice to be heard over the clamor of the crowd, she asked, “Does the Court agree with Justice Burleigh’s request?”

Before the Chief could respond, Burleigh shouted, “I am a justice of this Court! I don’t make ‘requests!’”

“Lock her up! Lock her up!”

“Order!!! Order!!!” the Chief was shouting, trying to be heard by the out-of-control crowd. It did nothing to enhance his stature. He hammered the gavel so hard that the handle broke. The head spun off, falling down behind the Clerk’s desk with a hard clatter that pierced the cacophony that filled the chamber.

“Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!!!”

“Marshal, clear the courtroom!” the Chief barked, exasperated. “Get them out of here!”

George looked at his boss and shook his head. He couldn’t be heard over the crowd, but his one word response was clear nonetheless. “How?”

“Lock her up!!! Lock her up!!!”

The Chief Justice glared at George, then at the gallery. That didn’t help either, so he threw in the towel. Rising, he said, “The Court stands in recess. We will resume this argument tomorrow at noon.” He spun and stalked from the chamber.

The other justices rose to follow, and the bailiff shouted, “All rise!!!”

He was ignored.

The crowd in the upper chamber grew even louder. Someone threw a wadded paper. More began to follow, raining down on the main floor of the courtroom.

“Let’s get Tom and Debbie into the attorney’s lounge,” the Judge said. “Rules be damned!”

Camryn was still on her feet, unhurriedly putting her papers back into her leather attaché case. I shot her a look, then followed the Judge to help our poor clients.

“Lock her up!!! Lock her up!!!”

Tom and Debbie looked shaken to the core. Debbie was quivering, her face a mass of tears.

For the hundredth time, I thought, they should never have come. They should not have had to witness this.

“It’s okay,” the Judge told them. “It’s okay. Follow me, we’re going to a quieter place to regroup.”

I took Debbie’s elbow and led her to the door to the lawyers’ cloakroom, the Judge shepherding her numb-looking father.

The State's team was already inside. When the Solicitor General saw that we’d brought clients into the inner sanctum, she started to say something.

Her boss stopped her. “No,” he said sharply. He walked over to us and said to the Judge, “I’m sorry. That should never have happened.”

“You’re apologizing to the wrong person.” The Judge’s slate gray eyes were cold. “Anyway . . . what did you think would happen? All of you have been encouraging this! The Governor. The Chief Justice in his last campaign. You. And now Burleigh, making sure he doesn’t have a challenge from the right in next years’ election!”

“That’s not fair, Roger!” the AG replied heatedly.

I decided to add my two bits. “Talk to our clients about what's ‘fair.’ Go on. Look them in the eye and tell them this whole thing isn’t a goddamned political stunt, red meat for your base!”

The AG didn’t respond, his clenched jaw and tight lips betraying his fury.

“Howard,” the Judge said, “if that’s too much to ask, can you at least ensure our clients’ safety getting out of here? You are technically our State’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer.”

The AG jerked his head in reluctant assent, eyes blazing, and stalked off, his team following him out the door into the foyer. The noise of the crowd surged as the door opened, dropping once more as it closed behind Jim Stone.

Must be a damned thick door.

“Are you okay?” I asked Debbie. Stupid question. Of course she’s not okay!

Before she could respond, the door from the courtroom opened and Camryn walked in, her ‘paralegal’ and the sound of catcalls from the gallery following her. She looked around the room and, seeing we were alone, broke into a dazzling smile. “Well, that couldn’t possibly have gone any better, could it!”

The man with the gray suit and the buzz cut groaned. “Rob’s going to kill me.”

“Nonsense, Kyle,” she said, giving him a fond look. “He’d give you a medal, if he could, and if you didn’t have so many already.” She gave his shoulder a companionable squeeze. “He might very well kill me, but that’s another story.”

I smiled at her. “I wanted to ask you about your ‘paralegal.’”

The Judge’s eyes were twinkling. Tom and Debbie just looked confused.

“Sorry about that,” Camryn said. “This is Major Kyle Stewart, my fiancé's closest friend. When the Department decided it would send the wrong message if we had federal agents here, Kyle offered to come with me to provide some security. . . . Kyle, let me introduce Tom and Debbie Stevenson and their lawyers, retired Justice Roger Danforth and Shelby O’Meara.”

The Judge and the Major were sizing each other up. Something about them both . . . there was a similarity there. Or maybe a familiarity.

Finally, the Judge said, “Afghanistan?”

“Yes, sir,” Major Stewart replied easily.


“Yes, sir. Felt like old times, this morning. And not in a good way.”

“I’ll bet,” the Judge said dryly. “I’m assuming your assessment for getting out of here matches mine?”

“Be surprised if it didn’t,” he agreed. “Kind of a no-brainer. We’re safe here, so we stay put and wait for the cavalry to show up.”

The Judge nodded. “Yup. Well . . . we’ve got time, and I know for a fact there’s a deck of cards in here. Who likes poker?”

I could see that the Judge’s relaxed attitude was putting our clients at ease, making the morning’s terrors fade, at least a little. Playing along seemed like a good idea. I asked, “Dealer’s choice?”

“As you like it,” the Judge replied.

“I’m in,” said Camryn.

“I don’t know the rules,” Debbie said shyly.

“No worries, Debbie.” Camryn hit her with a terawatt smile. “Remember, I’m on your team.”

— The story will conclude with Chapter Four: Camryn’s View, which will be posted on Friday.

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But remember . . . .

Emma Anne Tate's picture

You are not alone, Dot. And we are not without our defenders!


Cami's Back!

Dee Sylvan's picture

Camryn has certainly come a long way from her introduction to us in Duets. From a shy unassuming lawyer trying to find 'his' way in a world that he was educated for, but hardly emotionally ready to face, to arguing for the United States in the Supreme Court, Cam's confidence inspires me like no other. Taking on a case that is almost certainly un-winnable is hardly a career enhancing move. Standing up to a bully is what many of us have had to do in our lives, even knowing we have been dealt the losing hand. But the spirit of our founding fathers (and mothers) resides in a heroine that we have come to love through the pen of Emma. At least you're only making us wait four days until Cam and the judge responds! I'm sure you've got some twists in store for us, my dear. I can't wait! :DD


Emotional maturity

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Thanks, Dee! One of the things that I really enjoyed in writing this piece was projecting what Cami would be like after she had completed her transition and moved on to a new job. I'm kind of liking how she turned out. :)


Moving On

Dee Sylvan's picture

I agree about Cami's progression. I think that's why we long for sequels, we closely identify with the protagonist of a story and would like to find out more about their life. But I think in most instances, leaving the future in the mind and imagination of the reader is best.

However, I closely relate Cami to one of my favorite people (wink, wink) and I love this additional glimpse into the mind and heart of our heroine. Kyle reminds me in a very good way of Jacob Harmon in A&F. :DD


Since I just found this and

Since I just found this and am not familiar with the character, mind pointing out the previous stories?

Hi Unicorn!

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I wrote this as a stand-alone story, so you don’t need to read anything else for it to make sense. But, Camryn Campbell does have an “origin story,” which starts with the novel Duets, and continues with the four-book series Aria. The former is available on Amazon kindle, as is the first of the four Aria books (The Holly and the Ivy). The other three books will be published in the coming months. Aria is also still available here at BCTS, though I do not know how much longer that will be the case. That decision is above my pay grade!


Not Sure It's Clear...

...but the version of Aria 1 here on the site now includes only "Part 1A", the first five chapters, taking the story through December 8. "Part 2A" picks up the action on December 31.

(Trouble is, as of today (11/19/23) there's no information there that the rest of Part 1 is missing; the version here even ends a bit misleadingly with "to be continued...." And if one uses the "printer-friendly version" option, the story will breeze right from there into Part 2A and onward.)


Thanks, Eric

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Okay, I understand it now. So, the site is leaving the first part of the first book of Aria (Holly) up as a teaser. Since books 2-4 haven’t been published yet, all of their chapters are still available on the site. I’ll fix what’s written at the end of Part 1-A.

As a reminder, proceeds from all sales of Duets and Aria on Amazon will benefit BCTS.


This was amazing…….

D. Eden's picture

And scary at the same time. All too real, and hopefully not a harbinger of what is to come - but Camryn was awesome!

And so is this story!

D. Eden

Dum Vivimus, Vivamus


Emma Anne Tate's picture

There is too much about this story that is real in a depressing way . . . but there are things that are real in a good way, too. Keep hope alive! I'm glad you are enjoying both the character and the story.


Nice to hear Camryn again

This was, as an Emma story, quite well done. I admit to knowing very little legalese so it seemed very real especially given today's political goings-on. Looking forward to the next episode. Thanks for the story.

>>> Kay

Thanks, Kay!

Emma Anne Tate's picture

The purely legal parts of this are pretty real; the legal theater probably less so. Though, the political cross-pressures that come from electing judges can produce some bad moments, for sure.


Holy S--t!

What a mess! It's probably too much to hope for, but maybe some semblance of justice here?

Glad to see Camryn again.

There is always hope

Emma Anne Tate's picture

But in a democracy, there really is no substitute for convincing a majority of people that the rights of minorities should be protected.

Thanks, Dreamweaver!


So That's What It's Like

joannebarbarella's picture

When a Justice System is allowed to become so corrupted that there is neither respect, common decency or plain manners from those in charge.

My heart goes out to Debbie, a young girl being abused by so-called experts who have a total disregard for her rights. Camryn at least knows how to stand up to the bullies, even though it must make her blood boil.

When you take away the rights of one section of your people, whether they are transsexual, homosexual, Jewish, Gypsies, Japanese or whatever other minority, democracy is dead. Bye-bye USA.

This story is told with Emma's usual flair and deserves a huge readership. It should be a mainstream bestseller by rights.


Andrea Lena's picture

"All people are equal But some people are more equal than others." Georgia Orwell, Tranimal Farm


To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L'Engle
Love, Andrea Lena

"If there is not liberty and justice for all . . .

Emma Anne Tate's picture

. . . there is no liberty or justice for any." Hubert H. Humphrey, October, 1965. Thank you for your comment, Joanne. That young people like Debbie are being used as pawns in a "culture war" is disgraceful. But hope abides. We're not finished yet!


I had the honor

Patricia Marie Allen's picture

I had the honor of shaking hands with Hubert Humphrey while he was Vice President. I was in the Job Corp at the time and was part of the delegation from the campus newspaper who went to Seattle to hear him speak.


Happiness is being all dressed up and HAVING some place to go.
Semper in femineo gerunt
Ich bin eine Mann


Patricia Marie Allen's picture

Heavy stuff. Once again, Emma, your talent and breadth of knowledge is on display. It is pretty ballsy for a trans lawyer to walk into the bears den, but Camryn is well prepared and was wise enough to bring along some stout help.

I hope that part of her outfit you didn't describe is Kevlar camisole. I'm willing to bet her "paralegal" is wearing his body armor.


Happiness is being all dressed up and HAVING some place to go.
Semper in femineo gerunt
Ich bin eine Mann

The Kevlar Cami!

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Now in your choice of blush, champagne or olive drab! Also, not a bad nickname for our heroine.

Thank you, Patricia. I now come in blush, too. :)


Love the build up...

RachelMnM's picture

And love Camryn is back! Looking forward to the next installment. Thank you for posting!


Rachel M. Moore...

Thanks, Rachel!

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I’m kind of glad to see Camryn back in action too.


Another Level

Sunflowerchan's picture

Whenever I settle down to read one of your wonderful stories, I expect one of two things, I expect to walk away laughing and smiling or I expect to walk away with a more profound, deeper understanding of the human condition. Today when I finally had time to sit down and read this story, I did not expect to cry, I did not expect my skin to crawl, I did not expect to spend a long time in quite refection. My dear, I count this as one of the finest pieces of transgender fiction I've ever had the privilage to read. I was glued to my seat the whole time, I was choking back tears. And all the while on a subconscious level I was confronting a very, and a very cruel beast, one that delights in the destruction of man and torrement we visit upon our fellows.

I can could help but see the correleation between the shouting of the mob, the disrespect that our herione was shown and gearing and snearing of the onlookers and the same kind of mob cruelity that plagued the south durning my mothers and fathers time. So thank you for that, thank you for not only writing a highly entertaining piece of fiction, but for holding up a mirror. This time it was a fun filled rollercoaster, but it was simply you, holding up a mirror and asking me to take a good hard look at my own refection. And to cast my writers mind into my long, most forgotten childhood and to more closely look at what I remember. And to maybe see if at any point I had caused harm to such people like Deebie and her father, directly or indirectly. And well as I always close my reviews, thank you for all you do, thank you for all the postivity your spread around the site and thank you for being you.


Emma Anne Tate's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful and reflective comment, Sunflower. However good and kind, however decent an honorable, a person might be, when they are swept up in a mob, they are consumed. It is like the rage of the many overwhelms the inhibitions of each individual. And I promise you, sis, the phenomenon was not confined to the South. It’s a part of your history, but it’s not a unique part. Forming mobs, shaping their anger like a specialist shapes explosives, is a skill. The Nazis were practically scientific about it (naturally), but some people are simply natural talents. It is a danger for every person — not just some bad people.


Would Not Recommend

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Yup. Most definitely “would not recommend” your state’s administrative of “Justice,” especially where the rights of transgender individuals are concerned. Or people of color. Or women. Or . . . well. You get the picture. But it’s what the people vote for, year after year, time after time.


When I moved here, the governor…

…had a gorgeous white beehive.

Today the governor does not but it’s amusing to consider; makes waiting to move more tolerable.

I Was Wrong…

I did not think that you could top Duets and Aria for Cami. I am glad to learn that I was mistaken! You have an amazing talent and I thank you for sharing it with us.

Not sure

Emma Anne Tate's picture

As a story, I still think Aria is me best work. But I’ll keep trying!

Thank you for your lovely comment. You are too kind.


An excellent start

To a legal snapshot. I can think of several red states where this could be possible. A trip to the US Supreme Court could be ghastly. Of course Emma only you know where we are headed. Well written and staged, I'm ready for a wild ride.



Emma Anne Tate's picture

The issues described in the case are real, as are the Arkansas and Alabama cases that Cami mentions in passing. Unless the Supreme Court decides to duck this one, the constitutional questions will go to the Supreme Court. To date, the Equal Protection arguments have been pretty successful. I wouldn’t say a win at the Supreme Court is out of the question. But I wouldn’t like to give odds.

Thanks, as always, for your kind words, Ron.


It's Only Recently

joannebarbarella's picture

That a Republican asked a transgender representative at a state senate hearing if she had a penis. I don't remember which state but the incident showed that Republicans such as him are no better than Nazis.


Emma Anne Tate's picture

Yup. I use a similar quote in the next chapter. See if you spot it. ;-)


If a discussion participant

If a discussion participant attacks an opposing person 1st (ad persona) and not the argument then s/he admits defeat and that s/he has no more (valid) arguments. (Irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent).
The next steps are usually aggressive negotiations, because obviously there are people and groups for which winning by any means is more important than abide by the rules. (Can't win the tour de France? Dope up to the gills. The balance states a massive loss? Cook the books. We lost the election? Storm the castle. Can't win an important court case? Bribe the judge, discredit the opponent or order an assassination. Ad nauseum.)

Thx for a nice story^^

Damn, I forgot this one:

Damn, I forgot this one: There are laws favoring and protecting minorities? Spend a few $millions to support political reps to destroy these laws, and buy enough media time to spread hate against these minorities so the masses don't look at US. Quite what the Nazis did. :-(

Ad hominem attacks

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I often think that ad hominem attacks in our present political and cultural moment are not primarily a means of winning arguments or scoring points. The cruelty is the point.


As interesting as (most) of yours

We have already discussed the exception.
But I must admit to confusion in your this, your newest, as I moved from from chapter 1 to chapter 2. Purely self-induced, but resulting from my initial inability to change gear to who was associated with the first-person narrator. My fault -- there is a lot of power in using 1st person in place of omniscent narrator!
I look forward to the round-off.
Your replies to other commenters have also been helpful.
Weirdly although I read BC postings quite happily I do not usually like Kindle, but your transfer of Duets (and Aria) to Amazon means I will have to put up with it. Fortunately you left 'Duets' first chapter on BC as a taster so I was able to confirm the pobability I was reading about at former character. Iyreminded how much I had enjoyed what was if my memory proves correct your first offering and means I am now going to have overcome my dislikeof Kindle as a medium, because I am finding a compellling nead to re-tead it (and Duet)!
Oh, I can't say how much I appreciated your much fuller (than most othe contributors) notes on your writings which I found after I had clicked your named entry (after I had already clicked to get there from BC's authors list).
Very best wishes

Thanks, Dave

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I really prefer writing in first person, because I tend to spend a lot of time in my main characters’ heads, and it seems to work better for that purpose. I hope it didn’t cause too much confusion!

I’m glad you like my author’s page. I try to update I reach time I post something new. Maybe I should put a link to it at the emend of each story.


First time one of your stories has made me angry.

You are, I think, looking into the future with this, but I'm afraid that this is only weeks or months from becoming reality. Tragic, but very, very probable.

I've been too afraid to revisit the States since 2016, and that is very sad but I'm afraid that it will continue to get worse - at least for now. It's getting worse here as well, Rishi Sunak sent a very unpleasant message at the party conference a couple of weeks ago and got an enthusiastic response. I'm sure they would like to bring back the lions and give them a diet of Transwomen instead of Christians.

What a happy world!

Well written as usual, I hope this one has a good outcome.


Sorry about that.

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I try to write positive stories. I figure people here have enough to deal with. But sometimes the state of the world complicates my best efforts. Still, there are some strong characters in this story fighting for the angels. Let’s see how they do.


Fighting for the angels..

Lucy Perkins's picture

Well, Cami was certainly doing that, but I think having Justice Danforth in the team is a real plus!
I was really looking forward to "a new Emma Tate story" and when I realised that it was another slice of Cami's tale, doubly so.
Like other commentators, this has moved me into darker places than even Aria did, with its shadow of COVID and death. A fantastic, moving and unsettling story. As a Brit, we are used to courts being treated with more respect, and the peanut gallery might all have ended up in the cells for "Contempt of Court". I also would like to think that a judge who treated a barrister with the explicit hatred and venom with which "Injustice Burleigh" treated Cami might find themselves out of a job too, but perhaps I am just being naive.
I do trust you Emma, to take us to a place of hope, but in this scenario, it is hard to see hope beating despair.
Bravo! Lucy

"Lately it occurs to me..
what a long strange trip its been."

The good fight

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Some fights are worth having, even when you know you will lose. And others are worth walking away from, even if you might win them. Recognizing the difference requires wisdom, experience, and empathy.

Courts are generally not so raucous in this country, but they are open to the public, and the public won’t police itself. Here, the Court did not take adequate precautions to have staff on hand to deal with a mob. And the Chief and Justice Burleigh compounded the problem by whipping up the mob with their coordinated attack on Camryn. Could it happen? I hope not, but people who rely on whipping up passions to win elections are often surprised that they can’t control the mob they summoned.

Anyhow, thank you for facing the darkness in the story, and for your thoughtful comments.



Got my blood boiling...

Iolanthe Portmanteaux's picture

An engaging story, as always, with your usual emotional "verve and swerve" (as a old friend liked to say), but oh Lord, when all hell broke loose, I was pretty upset. Of course it's "just a story" but a very American story, one that could easily happen anywhere in the US.

Well done. I can see I'll be springing for your books to get the background...

thanks and hugs,

- iolanthe

The rage is weird

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I mean, it’s awful of course, but it’s also just weird. There are so few trans people relative to the size of the population. The idea that we’re some kind of threat is ludicrous. (As opposed to what? Vigilantes with AR-15s?). It’s just like the fifteen minutes of hate in 1984. The object of the hate was irrelevant. All that mattered was that the “in” group set aside time each day to join together in hating whatever people they were told to hate.

I hope you do read the earlier stories sometime, Iolanthe. Cami’s come quite a ways from where she started . . . .