“So why did you wait so long to get a lawyer?” Jacob Rosenstein said without taking his eyes away from his laptop. He had a slight New York accent and seemed to be in his mid-sixties. He was bald on top. The hair clinging to the sides of his head was silver. He squinted over the top of his glasses which hung with all their might to the tip of his nose.
Rosenstein Associates LLC was in the penthouse of a high-rise in the heart of downtown. Coming off the elevator Tuck had been greeted by a secretary in an expensive dress behind an expensive desk. He was therefore surprised to see Jacob wearing an old red sweaty t-shirt and khaki shorts. The office had an amazing view. From the wall of glass windows, Tucker could see all of Baltimore. All the other walls were covered in important-looking books. Jacob sat behind a large mahogany, L-shaped desk which was cluttered with books, random manila files, and scribbled-on legal pads. A file with Tuck’s name on it was open in front of Jacob. The shiny laptop was to Jacob’s left.
“I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” Tuck replied. The truth was Tuck had left a message at legal aid four months back and then forgot about it until two weeks ago. Then, Tuck had procrastinated some more. Finally, after his wife Maddy had yelled at him to get it done, Tuck googled “traffic lawyer Baltimore.” Google delivered a picture of Jacob Rosenstein leaning on a beautiful convertible Mercedes. The words “#1 Traffic Violation Lawyer in Baltimore City” were in bold at the top of the page.
“Ahhh! Here it is.” Jacob said as if he had just found his keys. “Oh. These charges are a complete mess.” He shook his head and started to laugh. Without looking he snatched one of the legal pads from his desk and started scribbling notes.
Suddenly the scribbling stopped and Jacob spun in his large black leather swivel chair to face Tuck. “So what happened?” he asked with a smirk.
With uncertainty Tuck replied, “Well. I’m not completely sure. At some point I got a ticket that I paid late. I don’t…”
“Three years ago you were pulled over in Glen Burnie for driving without registration.”
“Oh. Um. Yeah? I guess that makes sense. I remember that ticket. We were headed out to see my brother-in-law. He lives in Arundel Mills, which isn’t that far, but feels like forever with three kids in the car. And in the chaos of getting the kids out of the house, I left my registration on the table. It had just come in the mail. I remember opening it but then not putting it in the car where I usually keep it because the kids were…”
Jacob rolled his eyes and made an impatient circular motion with his hand.
“Oh. Sorry. I forgot to pay it because we were moving. Well, we had to short sell our house and were moving into a new house about five minutes away…”
Jacob spun to face his computer again. “And you didn’t pay it for over a year, in which time the court sent you a summons, which you missed because they don’t forward that kind of mail, then when you didn’t show up to the court date you didn’t know about, they suspended your license. And when you paid the ticket a little later they took your money but left your license suspended.” He smiled and paused for Tuck to take back over.
“Then five months ago I was driving down Northern Parkway and this cop pulled up next to my car, looked at me, and then got behind me and pulled me over.”
“They have scanners in their cars that scan your license plate and show all your dirty secrets on a little screen.” Jacob looked from his computer and grinned.
“So I got a ticket for driving with a suspended license. I went to pay it the next day. My court date is in two weeks. Can you help me?”
Jacob looked at Tuck, sizing him up. “How many kids do you have?”
“Three. The oldest is five.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a pastor. I also volunteer a lot at my kids’ school.”
“What kind of church?”
“You do know that what they’ve charged you with carries a $7,000 fine and up to three years in jail?”
“Yes, sir,” Tuck replied helplessly.
Jacob sat for a moment, staring at the ceiling. A pit started to form in Tuck’s stomach. Tuck was sure Jacob was going to tell him jail was unavoidable. He didn’t know how going to jail would change things. Would his church fire him? If he was sent to jail would he have a criminal record? The unknown was scary.
After what felt like an eternity to Tuck, Jacob burst into action. “Let me make a phone call,” he said snatching up the phone. “Yeah, Jenny. Get me State Prosecutor Sarah Collins.” Jacob cupped the phone and spun back to Tuck from his computer. “I’m going to fix this and maybe you won’t even have to pay me.” Just as quick he was staring back at his computer and barking into the phone, “Hey Sarah! Baby! How you do’in’? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So listen. I’ve got the highly esteemed, Pastor, Reverend Tucker Cabot, father of three, community organizer, and all around amazing public servant sitting here in my office. He is soon to be up for sainthood. Are you looking him up yet? Well, let me talk while you find the file. Listen, I’m not going to mention that your cop mischarged him. I’m not going to bring up that the paper work is a complete disaster. I’m not even going to discuss with you the motion for postponement I’m getting ready to file because I can’t make it to court that day. You got it yet? I’ll wait for you, Babe. Take your time.”
Jacob paused for less than a second. A wave of relief washed over Tuck. He knew he has selected the right guy. He was in the presence of greatness, watching a true master at work.
“Good, good, good. So anyway. I’m not going to discuss any of that with you. Instead I’m going to appeal to your decency as a human being, to your moral and spiritual fiber, to everything that is holy and just in the world, and simply give you the chance just to dismiss this thing and let the good pastor off the hook. Did I mention he is a Southern Baptist? You’re from South Carolina, right? Did you grow up Southern Baptist? Yep. Yep. Yep. So what do you say? Dismiss and he promises to never again leave his registration sitting on his kitchen table. He also promises not to move. And if you ever send him a summons again he will wait patiently by the mailbox until it arrives. Let’s you and I just dismiss this thing and let the good Reverend Cabot off the hook just this one time. What do ya say?”
He paused long enough to flash Tuck a smile and then he jumped right back into his ranting. “Listen, Sarah Baby. Does he even have to show up? I mean come ooooonnnn this is just…okay, okay. He’ll be there. Yes. I promise his holiness will be there and you can discuss all things Southern Baptist with him to your heart’s content. I won’t be there, but he’ll be there. So listen, this was fantastic. I’ll see you in four days in Courtroom Five. Bring your A-game because I’m going to crush you. Bye, Babe.” Jacob hung up the phone in triumph and spun around to Tucker.
“Wow,” Tuck said. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome.” Jacob started scribbling on his pad again. “Here the deal. I’m not going to charge you, but I’m Jewish so when I head upstairs if this Jesus guy turns out to be Messiah then I expect you to put in a good word for me.”
“That’s not really how it works,” Tuck said with a smile.
“Whatever. The way I practice law, I need all the help I can get. It was great to meet you. Now get out of here so I don’t have to start charging you.”
Tuck reached over Jacob’s desk, shook Jacob’s hand, thanked him again, and left.
“You remember the deal,” Jacob called down the hall with a chuckle as Tuck got into the elevator. “I saved your butt. You get me through the gates.”