Client Privilege

May 18, 2015:

Scott brings a troubled mutant to Nelson & Murdock. Both pose some challenging questions.

Hell's Kitchen - New York City

Hells Kitchen used to be a working class neighborhood composed primarily
of Irish Americans. These days that is no longer so. The ongoing
gentrification of the island has been causing this area to become slowly
more upscale as well. Today, luxury apartment buildings near the river are
not uncommon sights and the shopping is getting steadily more trendy, though
the traditional ethnic restaurants are still in place for the most part. The
district also is the home of the 2001 Fire Fighters Memorial.

Characters

NPCs: Karen and Charlie Adams

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"You sure this is the place?" Scott Summers looks toward his passenger, a twenty something wrapped up tightly in a hoodie and blue jeans. She has a somewhat sickly look to her, feverish and twitchy.

"Yeah," replies the girl, pausing a moment to wipe her nose. "Some of my friends in M-Town said they were the right guys for it. I think. I guess? I don't know, I've… never used a lawyer. I don't know if… what if I get in trouble?"

"There's a thing called 'client privilege'. I may have that wrong, but it's like doctor patient confidentiality. Don't worry, Charlie, you can tell them whatever you want." Scott turns off the car, steps out, feeds the meter then opens the door for her. "Come on."

Moments later, Scott is rapping on the door to Nelson & Murdock, Attorneys at Law.

*

It's not the fanciest of buildings and it's not the fanciest of offices. It's utilitarian, at best, and the office itself isn't very plush at all. In fact, it's still fairly sparse, as if the legal team of Nelson & Murock are getting by on the barest essentials. They obviously aren't spending what money that's coming in on decor and fancy furniture to show how well-off they are. It's Earnest…much like the legal team.

At the knock on the door, a female voice calls, "Come in!" and the woman behind the 'reception desk' stands to greet the visitors. "Hi there! How can I help you?"

There isn't much more to the office than the 'reception area' which has most of the office equipment, two small offices, and a slightly larger 'conference room' which has a Costco Special folding table and a few folding chairs about it.

Definitely sparse.

*

Scott opens the door and steps in, motioning for the young woman to follow. The woman seems impossibly hesitant about this, but an encouraging nod from Scott draws enough strength to bring her through the door.

"Hello," says Scott to the receptionist. "I'm sorry, we don't have an appointment. I'm Scott Summers; this is Charlie Adams. Are… either Mr. Nelson or Mr. Murdock available?"

Charlie chews at her lip and wrings her hands, before remembering that her hoodie is up. She reaches up to draw it back, letting it flop down over her back. No makeup, pins to keep her hair straight. She looks like a downright mess.

*

"That's all right, come on in. Can I get you two some water or coffee?" They might have some coffee…if someone remembered to pick up the K-cups. "I'm Karen," she offers her hand to both of them and then gestures them into the 'conference room'. "I think Foggy…uhm…Mr. Nelson is at court, but M…ister Murdock is in." Unless he slipped out, like he's wont to do. "I'll go check."

But she waits to see if she's getting them water or coffee.

*

"Coffee," Charlie is quick to say.

"Water would be fine, thank you."

Charlie promptly finds a place to sit, hunched over and begins fidgeting with her hands. Scott looks over and soon joins her, an expression of concern behind his ruby glasses. "It's alright, kiddo. You told me you want to help. This is the right call."

"It's so… boring. Drab. Like they don't even work here."

"Well, I wouldn't want to drag you into some fancy boardroom. I dunno, that could be a good sign. Let's just play it out and see what happens, okay?"

*

Karen soon returns with a 'Columbia University Law School' mug of coffee and a bottled water. "Did you want sugar or milk or something with the coffee?" is asked as she sets the drinks down on the table. There's a brief pause to get an answer before she heads back to her desk.

Shortly after that, she briefly speaks to the lawyer who is stepping out of his office and making his way towards the 'conference room'.

Just inside the doorway and before he gets to the table, he pauses and offers a hand as well as, "Hi, I'm Matt Murdock…I'm sorry it's nto a better looking room. I keep on asking Karen to get some flowers or something, but my partner just ends up sneezing." His shaded glasses, however, remain on.

*

"No, black is fine, thanks." For the moment, Charlie just holds the mug, as if it were warming her.

When the lawyer arrives, Scott stands to greet him with a firm handshake. "Hi, Mr. Murdock. I'm Scott Summers. This is my friend, Charlie Adams."

Charlie looks up, studying Murdock hesitantly.

"I… well. I'm just here to support her, really, but -"

"Do I have client privilege?" Charlie blurts out.

*

Karen slips in behind Matt with her laptop in hand and briefly murmurs, "To your left," before she takes a seat at the other end of the table and sets the computer up to take notes.

Matt offers a firm handshake in return before he starts to offer, "Nice to meet both of you." The blurted out question cuts him off and he moves to take the empty seat to his left. Seems there won't be too many pleasantries exchanged, which is just fine. "Of course you do, Charlie. May I ask what happened?"

*

Scott remains behind as the others enter, choosing to enter last. He takes a seat next to Charlie, offering an apologetic expression to both Matt and Karen for her rudeness.

"Okay," Charlie says, still holding the mug of coffee between her hands. "I…"

Scott opens his bottle of water, filling the suddenly empty silence that lingers after Charlie's words trail off. Eventually, he breaks the silence. "It's okay, Charlie. You can -"

"I'm a recovering smooth addict, and I used to be a hooker, but I want to help. If they're gonna do clinical trials, I want to help. I'll be a guinea pig, I will, but I want help. I want to help, and I want help."

Well, that's one way to make an introduction.

*

Matt Murdock doesn't seem too concerned at the rudess and Karen offers a bit of a smile back to Scott at his apologetic glance. Lacing his fingers before him on the table, Matt just listens, "Well, congratulations on your recovery, Charlie. I think it's great that you want to help others as well…but I'm not entirely sure what you're asking of me." Matt turns his head some towards Scott as if he could clarify. He's not seeing why they came to a law office.

*

A long sigh is released, and Scott looks toward Matt with lips pressed into a thin line. "Maybe I can offer some clarification?" He looks toward Charlie.

"Sure. Yeah, that's fine."

Looking back toward Matt and Karen, Scott folds his hands together. "Not long ago, Charlie came to the X-Men Red building, uptown, after the news reported that the drug trafficking rings had been shut down. She's concerned that, without a treatment for the drug, it's going to make recovery for her and other addicts extremely difficult. Right?" He glances toward the girl.

"Yeah," she answers. "I've been to a couple of clinics… n… nothing is working. I've tried using heroin and it's… just not the same. It's worse. I mean, it gets worse if I shoot up."

"I've been speaking with a couple of friends who are physicians, and they tell me that, basically, if a treatment is to be developed, eventually it will require human trials," Scott adds.

"And I want to help," she says. "I mean, for the human trials."

"I understand that something like this would have to go through complicated legal proceedings, am I right?" asks Scott.

*

Matt Murdock sort of turns his head between the two speakers as Karen furiously types everything. Her computer may also be recording the conversation as well. "Well, I mean…I don't have first-hand experience, but withdrawal from anything isn't an easy process, even if there -is- some sort of treatment available. I think I understand, though."

Karen keeps her head down as she types.

"Usually, from what I've read, these sorts of drugs go through development and animal trials before they are confident enough to seek out permission to use them for human trials. Now, with the epidemic being what it was, I would imagine that some of this might be sped up a little since there is such a dire, immediate need."

*

"Which is why I think it's good to get started, right away," Scott says. "Every minute counts."

Charlie nods her head in rapid fire, before finally taking a drink of her coffee. "Mmm, that's good, Miss Karen. Thank you."

Furrowing his brow, Scott asks, "I have some concerns though? For one, she's admitted that she used to be involved in prostitution. And, even coming to the table for clinical trials would be a confession to her use of a Schedule I narcotic. Do you think, is it possible that, since she began using it before it was classified as an illegal substance, that there might be some leeway there? I'd hate for her to spend the next… I don't know, months or years in prison simply because she's trying to help."

"I don't want to go to jail," Charlie echoes in agreement. "Mr. Murdock, this is a really big problem for mutants like me and Scott. The urges just aren't going away. Some of the people I know have been doing… bad things. Stealing people's money, making threats. I see fights every day on my block. These guys keep beating the hell out of each other 'cause they got nothing better to do, and they're in pain. I don't know how far they'd go for a fix."

Scott presses his lips together, working them into a worried frown. Client privilege could theoretically pass along to him, but he's hesitant to reveal how deeply his involvement in all of this really is.

*

Karen smiles at Charlie, "Thanks," it's just a Keurig machine, but she's not above taking compliments.

As Scott and Charlie voice their concerns and elaborate a little more, Matt's expression grows more serious. "Well, here's the thing," he finally starts. "First, are you currently prostituting, Charlie? I'm not going to judge you in any way, but this is important to answer one of your concerns. Secondly, since these trials would be for treatment of this particular drug withdrawal, they -will- need people who have used the drug. I would imagine that it might be a requirement, actually."

There's another pause, "Now, something like this might be set up through some sort of treatment facility or specialized clinic although it's probably too early to say. Since this was known to be a street drug, it may be more readily accessible."

Another thought actually causes him to frown, however. "But…and I'm offering this not as any sort of opinion or judgement, but this -is- my job. They might not get to the part where they are ready for human trials. Mutant relations have been iffy at best."

*

"No, I'm not," answers Charlie. "Haven't been ever since… well. It's been a while."

When Matt mentions mutant relations, Scott leans back a bit and lets out a long sigh. "This is going to strain them further," he says. "For better or worse. But, Mr. Murdock, this whole epidemic was being propagated by a terrorist organization. SHIELD has taken control of entire shipments of exgenta-diacetylmorphine during their operation in Houston. They're going to do something with it. The question is what? Who is going to represent the good people, the victims? When this drug first hit the streets, it wasn't illegal to possess it. A lot of people had no idea it was a derivative of street heroin. A lot of people were tricked. Who's going to have their back?"

He doesn't explain how he knows this information. Not quite yet.

*

"Do you have proof of that, Mr. Summers? Hard proof?" Matt leans forward a little with that. "And do you have proof that SHIELD has taken these shipments and is actively doing something with what they've confiscated? Being as they're a Government-sanctioned entity, it's not going to be easy, but if you have evidence of all of this…the thing is, I don't know that we can force someone to make a treatment faster than they already might be." There is that little problem.

"As for it not being labeled as an illegal drug, that's good…although no one is going to be arrested for being a 'former user'. That's not how this works."

But the other question bears a pause. "Mr. Summers, are you looking to sue the terrorist organization or SHIELD for damages?"

*

Both Charlie and Scott seem visibly relieved when Matt informs them that nobody is going to be arrested for being a former user. Scott is a smart fellow, but law is not his specialty. Mathematics, geometry to be specific; history, social studies, yes, but law? Hardly.

Charlie, of course, seems far more relieved. She's not actively working the streets, nor is she using, and her relief shows. She sits up straighter, drinks from her coffee with a bit more vigor, and seems less shrunken and defeated.

The excitement is palpable, but after a few moments, it dies down. The questions Matt poses to Scott are fairly severe; not that the attorney would have any idea of just how much so.

"That they've taken the shipments? Yes." He leans forward, lips drawn into a thin line. "Because I was there when the Director of SHIELD made the call, and I stand behind him."

Charlie squints her eyes and looks over to Scott, awestruck.

"I'm not SHIELD," he asides to the young woman, reassuring her. "If you think suing HYDRA is worth anyone's time, then yes. As for suing SHIELD, or the Federal Government? I hope it doesn't come to that."

He knows that further explanation is going to be required, so he reached up to touch the side of his glasses. "I'm not sure about you, Mr. Murdock, but the reason why I cannot remove these glasses is because they are holding a very dangerous form of concussive energy at bay. The glasses protect you, me, everyone from that. I am… asking for your confidence on this matter. As much as Miss Adams is asking the same."

Well, this could be a terrible mistake, but… he's going to go out on a limb, because someone needs to do it.

*

There's a long pause after Scott finishes speaking about his glasses and the concussive force behind them. Even Karen sort of freezes and looks between Scott and Matt, as if unsure of what to say.

Matt actually manages something of a small smile, "Mr. Summers, I'm blind. I didn't know you were wearing glasses," possibly the truth there, "Nor am I against the reason why you say you have to wear glasses or why Charlie here turned to Smooth. I have nothing against the mutant population…that would be rather hypocritical of me, wouldn't it? To disparage others for their differences?"

Karen actually relaxes and starts back in on her note-taking.

"I guess what I'm not sure of is why exactly you came to me. Is it to help get Charlie into a trial for something that will help with the withdrawal? I'm not sure I have the networks for that, but I would be happy to provide a character reference for her…a lot of people are impressed with legal stationery."

He then cants his head some, "Is it to seek reparations against those who distributed Smooth in the first place? That could be difficult, but we could certainly file against those who distributed it on the streets and may be in custody. I'm not sure what you'd get out of it except we might be able to insure they stay in prison and don't get freed because 'Smooth wasn't an illegal drug'. Along those lines, if it's to be an advocate for those who were users and are trying to find their lives again, I can certainly try. But they would need to come to me and they would need to promise that if I am to advocate to them, there will be no drug use, no intentional breaking of laws…I'm not going to advocate for people who don't want it. But if they want help and if they need legal assistance, my door is open to them."

*

Relieved that no further explanation is required, Scott takes a drink from his bottle of water. He's said enough; if Murdock is clever enough, he'll be able to read the subtext, if he hasn't already.

"Well, blindness and being a walking weapon is seen differently by many people," he admits. "But, I appreciate your stance."

A gesture is given. "I only came to you because Charlie wanted you. Guess something you've done earned you a reputation. The attorneys of DaCosta Inc may be able to handle these heavier hits, I guess, if need be?" He shakes his head. "If anything, I want you to know just how deep this could go. Call it a professional courtesy."

"I think we should seek reparations," Charlie interjects. She looks to Scott, who looks to Matt and Karen, before looking back to Charlie again.

"I think we should," she repeats. "Against the dealers, and to advocate for people who got suckered into using this shit because they were told it was a cure."

*

"We can handle the heavy hits, Mr. Summers, don't get me wrong. But unless you have evidence against this HYDRA, it may be difficult to issue a Summons. If you want to get the DaCosta lawyers on that, be my guest." Even Karen breathes out a little sigh of relief at that.

"However," and Matt turns towards Charlie, "We can certainly make a case against the dealers. But what I said stands. Those who come to us need to want to reform their lives. We'll represent them but they're going to have to sign a contract that states that they are doing their best to stay clean and on the right side of the law. If you think you can find others, like yourself, who want this, feel free to direct them here."

*

"I do have evidence," Scott answers truthfully. "Whether or not it's admissible? Well. That may be another story. You see, it was acquired by a team of hackers. And it was given to SHIELD, and the X-Men, and the Justice League: Avengers." He chuckles slightly. "I guess you could call it Organized Vigilante Crime? Either way, SHIELD acted on this evidence, which is what brought down HYDRA's drug trafficking network. So, in a way, their actions have legitimized this evidence. Whether or not that's admissible? I guess that's up to you. A great deal of it was leaked to the internet… I guess the hackers wanted to deal these terrorists a pretty big slap to the face."

Now, when the question is posed to Charlie, she glances toward Scott with a grin. "Get the document ready. I'll sign it. And…" She lifts her coffee toward the lawyer and his assistant, toasting a bit, though its worth noting her hand is trembling. Withdrawal symptoms are a real pain. "You, uh, might want to hire some help."

Scott looks from Charlie to Murdock and Karen, lifting his eyebrows a bit. He didn't expect that one.

*

"That's an interesting question, Mr. Summers. I'd have to see the evidence, I guess…it may be admissable, it may not. By virtue of it being given to a Government Agencey…that could change things. Vigilante justice isn't always legal justice."

There's a pause there before Matt nods to Charlie, "Leave a way for us to reach you and we'll get it ready in the next day." He can't help but crack a slight smile at the comment to hire some help, "I think we're all right. We'll figure out a way to make the interview process and everything as smooth as possible."

Foggy is either going to love him or hate him for this. Probably hate him since there might not be much money coming in with this case.

*

"You're right," Scott agrees. "It certainly isn't." Vigilante justice is one of those touchy things.

Charlie reaches into her hoodie, pulling out a scrap piece of paper. "Uh, do you have an ink pen? Oh." She smiles and grabs one up, then promptly scrawls down four phone numbers. "That's me, but it's like, never on. That one's Uncle Jeremiah, that one's Miss Bessie. And, uh… that one's Pastor Benjamin. But… don't call him, unless you absolutely have to."

Then, almost as an after thought, she writes down a fifth number, one she stares at for a long time. "That one's Rex. He… used to be my pimp. But he's a friend now, and he—"

The girl gringes, and the pen clatters to the desk. She leans down, covering up her face with her arms and begins to weep. Scott sighs and puts an arm on her shoulder, but Karen at least would be able to notice the changes. Charlie's shoulders are broadening beneath the baggy hoodie, and her weeping deepens.

"Charlie's x-gene modifies her sexual gender," explains Scott quietly, sadly. "With the withdrawal she… he can't control it anymore."

Soon enough, those cries are certainly coming from that of a man, his hands no longer slender but thick and hairy.

*

Karen's making a note of everything and looks over as the phone numbers are pointed out. "Got it," she starts but then pauses as Charlie begins to lose it. She looks up sharply as Scott explains what's going on but after a moment, she gets up from her seat and crouches down beside Charlie's chair to rest a light hand on, now, his knee.

"I'm sorry that Charlie got upset…" although Matt's not entirely sure what could have triggered it. However, it's about now that he managed to remember why the heartbeat sounded so familiar. However, the past is in the past and this one is now looking for help. "Is there anything we can do to help right now? A cold drink or…" he trails off for a moment before reaching out to goto place a hand on the now-man's arm, "Hey. It's ok. No one's judging you here. It is what it is and you are what you are and it doesn't matter to me or Karen or anyone."

It's true, at least.

*

"This is why I started taking that, that shit." Charlie's hands curl into fists, but he holds back any outburst, instead sniffling back his crying and finally lifting his face. It's almost as if they were looking at the former female's twin brother. "I'll do anything to help."

"Charlie, I think you should let me take you back to X-Red. They'll make a room for you there."

Charlie looks to Scott and nods his agreement.

Scott looks back to Karen and Matt, smiling his appreciation. "Just send the papers there. We - they have a Notary Public on site."

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