Chapter 13: Verdict
Mike let out a sigh as he eyed the lawyer in front of him. "Harvey, you can't," he mumbled then, "you'll ruin his career. You can't. I won't let you." Harvey shook his head, "Mike, he agreed. "I don't care," the younger man exclaimed then making Harvey push back his chair. "What the hell is wrong with you! We are all trying to safe you!"
The pup shook his head, letting himself lean back in his chair as he remained quiet now. Harvey just stared at the other man in the room, clenching his jaw until he sat down again. "We won't do that to just him. We'll do the same to me, to Louis, to Jessica even."
"Harvey," Mike spoke calmly this time, "it's not worth it. I did this." "Yes, you did," Harvey shot back slamming his hand on the table, "but so did I. We did this! But it's not just you or me, everyone can be send to jail. Donna, Rachel and everyone else. It's the only way."
"Can't we stick to the denial card?" Mike mumbled, "say I operated alone. No one knew," he suggested again. "Mike, we tried," Harvey sighed, "we did. We really did, but it's not going to play well in court. We can say Jessica didn't know, Louis, Rachel maybe. But they'll never believe I didn't know."
"And Donna?" Mike asked then, as he noticed how the older lawyer hadn't mentioned the redhead. "I'll try to keep her out of this as much as possible-" "But you're going to say you knew," Mike interrupted, causing Harvey to nod, "yes I am."
"They'd put you in front of the bar association. They could strip you of your license," Mike mumbled then, as if he needed to remind his boss of the possible consequences. "So be it, I don't care," Harvey answered. "You sure?" Mike asked again.
"Could you just stop!," Harvey exclaimed again, tired of hearing Mike fight him on this. "This is the plan, deal with it."
Rachel pressed her hands down on the blue cushions of the front row bench, holding her breath as she watched her husband walk to the stand. Donna's hands on her shoulders holding her in place, whispering an "everything will be alright." But the redhead was equally trying to keep her composure as she watched Harvey get out of one of the desk chairs in front of them. Her eyes following him every move as paced through the court room, while Mike stated his full name for the record. Confusion growing on not only both their faces, but anyone else from Pearson Specter Litt as Harvey sat down again, making way for Jessica.
Jessica let out a breath before she turned to face the younger man now sitting next to the judge. "Mr. Ross, do you have a degree from Harvard law?" being the first question she asked. Mike opened his mouth, ready to speak when the entire Lola case came to mind. "Mr. Ross?" Jessica repeated again.
"No. I do not," Mike answered then.
"Do you have a law degree from any other university Mr. Ross?" Jessica continued.
"No, I did not attend any law school," Mike answered.
"Mr. Ross, is it safe to say you never passed the bar?"
"No, I did," the blue eyed man told her.
"You never went to law school. Why take the bar?" Jessica asked, with a smile already knowing the answer.
"Someone bet me I couldn't pass the bar without going to law school. So I did, studied two months, took the test, passed the bar."
"Mr. Ross, why did you pretend to be a lawyer? Have you always wanted to pursue a career as attorney."
"Yes," Mike answered, "yes I have. Ever since my parents died in a car crash when I was eleven years old and I learned we could have gotten more compensation if we'd fought the case. And it was my dream to become a lawyer when I was in college, but mostly I just wanted to help people."
"Mr. Ross, if you really wanted to help people, why didn't you go to law school and become a real lawyer?" Jessica asked then, emphasizing the word 'real'.
"I couldn't," Mike shrugged.
"Mr. Ross, do you care to explain?" Jessica continued as she held up a piece of paper, "cause if I'm correct this is in fact an acceptance letter directed to you from Harvard Law."
"That's correct, I received an acceptance letter from Harvard Law, but my acceptance was withdrawn."
"Why was your acceptance withdrawn, Mr. Ross?
"In college a friend convinced me to sell the answers to a math test. Turned out I sold the test to the principals daughter, who then expelled me and notified Harvard, my scholarship got cancelled and I got knocked into a different life."
"Mr. Ross, did your employer Mr. Specter know you did not have a law degree before he hired you to become an associate at Pearson Hardman?" Jessica asked then, causing Donna to let out a breath; and this time it was Louis trying to calm Donna. He hadn't told her they were going to go down that route. Mike paused for a second, his eyes scanning the room and he saw the fear in Donna's. Making him swallow, but Jessica asked again, "did Harvey Specter know you did not have a law degree before hiring you?" And as soon as Mike mumbled a 'yes', a wave of 'oohs and aahs' travelled through the court room.
Donna buried her hands in her lap, her fingers now fidgeting with the edge of her dress as she watched Harvey take place on the stand. His eyes meeting hers for a second and he pursed his lips into a thin smile as she nodded at him. A small sign just between the two of them, just like the ritual they did about an hour ago.
"Mr. Specter," Jessica started now, "could you please explain how Mr. Ross managed to convince a Harvard educated lawyer to hire him while being aware of the lack of a law degree?"
"He told me he'd be the best lawyer I'd ever seen," Harvey recalled, a grin on his face.
"And you believed him? Just like that?" Jessica pushed.
"No," Harvey answered, "I challenged him and he beat me."
"A kid without a degree beat you and you hired him? What did you play, a game of horse?" Jessica mocked.
Harvey shook his head. "No he told me he consumed knowledge like no one I'd ever met, proceeding with saying he'd be able to quote me anything that was written in the Barbri Legal Handbook."
"So you challenged him?"
"Yes, and he beat me. He knew everything, that's when I knew he'd be better than any of those other candidates."
"Okay, " Jessica continued as she made the two man swap places again, the handbook in question in her hand. "Mr. Ross is it correct you can cite any page from this book?"
"That's correct," Mike nodded.
"Your honour," Jessica spoke to the judge, "I'd like to put my client to the test," she asked and the judge nodded, making her walk to the jury with the book in hand. She stopped in front of a middle aged woman with brown hair, placing the book in front of her. "Miss?" she asked for the name.
"Williams. Fiona Williams," the woman spoke.
"Miss Williams, could you please open the book on a page of your choosing and read any paragraph?"
The woman nodded opening the book in front of her as she scanned the page, before she spoke, "Civil liability associated with agency is based on several factors –"
"Including the deviation of the agent from his path, the reasonable inference of agency on behalf of the plaintiff and the nature of the damages themselves," Mike finished the sentence.
Jessica smiled as she saw the stunned faces of the jury, as she walked to grab the book again. "Now, anyone can study a book. But can you really do what a Harvard attorney can do, Mr. Ross," Jessica continued as she walked to the judge. "Your honour, would you mind asking him a question. Anything?"
The judge shook his head, but was actually quite impressed at the young man on his left. "Fine," he mumbled, "Mr. Ross pick a topic."
"Stock option backdating," Mike spoke.
"Although backdating options are legal, violations arise related to disclosures under IRC Section 409a."
"You forgot about the Sarbanes-Oxley," Mike interrupted the judge, causing him to shake his head and continue, "The statute of limitations renders Sarbanes-Oxley moot post 2007."
Mike let out a laugh, "Not if you can find actions to cover up the violation as established in the Sixth Circuit, May 2008."
"Miss Pearson," the judge continued after this example, "this has been fun and all but is there a point to be proven here?"
"Yes there is your honour," Jessica confirmed.
She walked around again stopping in front of Ms. Williams again, "putting the facts aside, do you believe Mr. Ross would make an excellent attorney?"
The woman nodded, "yes. I do believe Mr. Ross would make a great attorney."
"That's all well miss Pearson, but a licence is needed in order to practice as an attorney," Anita Gibbs interrupted then.
"My client is charged with 'conspiracy to commit fraud' charges, we also know that my client entered an agreement with Mr. Specter. And even though it is against the law to pretend to be a lawyer when you're not, I question if this really is a case of fraud?"
Anita Gibbs let out a laugh, "really Ms. Pearson. How is this not a case of fraud?"
"Fraud is the actual act of deceiving someone. In order to prove fraud, my clients actions must have involved the five following elements. A false statement of a material fact, knowledge on the part of the defendant that this statement is untrue. Intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim; justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement and injury to the alleged victim as a result," she cited as she paced through the room, "but did pretending to be a lawyer really result into injury to the alleged victims?"
Jessica carried the stack of papers in her hands, showing some of them. One after one she let them drop on the table behind her, until she finally mentioned the number. "189," she spoke, "Mr. Ross worked on 189 cases in the past two years and not a single one of those that are closed were lost. Your honour, could you answer the same when you were still an associate?"
"My track record is not up for discussion, Ms. Pearson. Please proceed."
The tall woman turned around again asking Harvey, Louis and even Jack Soloff the same questions when they were under oath. The amount of cases they worked on and how many they had lost; all having to answer that they hadn't won everything. Not even now as a partner of the firm.
Jessica pursed her lips together in a thin smile, "even I can't say I've won every single case in my life. But since each of us has far more years of practice, maybe it's best to compare my client with one of the other associates of Pearson Hardman at the time. I'd like to ask Mr. Harold Gunderson to take the stand."
"Mr. Gunderson, are you a Harvard alumni?"
"Yes, class of 2010," the young lawyer answered.
"Mr. Gunderson, did you work at Pearson Hardman at the time Mr. Ross joined the firm?" she asked.
"Yes, we worked in the pull pin of Pearson Hardman together."
"And how long had you been working at Pearson Hardman before Mr. Ross was hired?" she asked pointing towards Mike who was sitting next to Harvey.
"A year, Ms. Pearson."
"A year," Jessica repeated, "and on average, how many cases did you handle in your first year?"
"Uhm," the lawyer mumbled as he thought back to his time at the firm. "About seventy."
"Seventy, and how many of those cases did you lose?"
Harold swallowed. "Fifteen."
"Is it correct you once left of a zero off the Hopkins settlement, which cost the client $360.000?"
"That was supposed-"
"Did you or did you not, Mr. Gunderson?" Jessica asked again.
"I did," Harold mumbled, letting his head hang low.
"Mr. Gunderson is it also correct that you once filed a motion with the appeals court instead of the superior court, accidentally triggering a death penalty review?"
Harold shook his head, letting out a breath and wondering why he ever agreed to do this. "Yes, I did," he mumbled then.
Jessica proceeded with more arguments on how in the case of Michael James Ross vs. People there was no injury to the alleged victims. That in this case there was no actual intent to deceive or harm his clients. How Mr. Ross just wanted to help people in the way he knew best. How a license to practice law or a law degree isn't necessarily a guarantee for doing that, as the example with Harold Gunderson proved.
She pleaded how the results of the cases Mr. Ross worked on, whether the client was satisfied with the result of the lawsuits, should be weighed more than the fact Mr. Ross does not have a law degree. How Mr. Ross without any education had better results than any other lawyer of the same firm. She continued with her closing speech, pleading for a lowered sentence. A retribution or rehabilitation, not only for Mike, but for Harvey as well.
Jessica paced through the court room once more, her heart pounding in her chest. Especially since Harvey told her last minute to take over the case. To go down this path, to have faith in what he had planned and so she did. Even if it meant putting one of her own on the line.
Rachel just stared in the distance, the entire trial. All the arguments from both Jessica and the opposing counsel Anita Gibbs passing her by, like she was trapped inside one bad dream. A surreal dream in which she was unable to register anything that was going on. Avoiding Mike's eyes as much as possible, fearing a breakdown if she did meet his eyes.
Louis took notes during the entire trial, his own heart being torn once more as he saw the woman he once wanted to marry being on the other side of this case. And as much as he hated to admit it, he couldn't take how she had been responsible for, yes, hurting his family.
Harvey just listened to the entire trial, step by step he imagined what Jessica was supposed to say and she did. He wasn't sure if it would be enough, but it was all they could have done in the short time they were given. For once he didn't know if he would win, if they would win. The fear he felt inside he saw mirrored in the eyes of Donna as he took the stand himself.
She hadn't been able to keep her eyes off of him, her hands holding onto her purse, her dress, the blue bench. Just anything to keep her concentrated. Feeling her heart drop as Jessica took that unexpected turn, and now that they were waiting, she just held his hand. Her head on his shoulder as his thumb drew circles on the back of her hand. They didn't look at the other, they didn't speak. They just waited, waited for whatever was to come, simultaneously letting out a breath as they heard the door of the courtroom open again. Indicating the jury had returned.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?" the voice of the judge filled the room.
"We have your honour."
She held his hand, their fingers interlocked as he walked besides her. She just swallowed, holding her head high as her legs kept on moving. Making him follow her and his eyes only met hers every once in a while as she looked to her right. Both their eyes mirroring what they felt inside, a combination of being baffled and overwhelmed, maybe even disbelief.
But the intensity of those looks quickly decreased, making place for surprise and relief as their lips curled up, their hands holding onto the other even tighter as she closed the door behind him. Managing to turn him around, her eyes finally showing that sparkle he loved seeing that much as she kissed him. Her hands pressed against his cheeks, before she lowered them, loosening his tie.
"Donna," he mumbled, his hands holding her at her waist as he let out a sigh, his eyes taking in the room around them. A questioning look on his face. "I'm just keeping up with my promise," she whispered, her hands moving to the buttons of his dress shirt, a smile appearing on his lips as he now remembered the original conversation they had in the file room. "Donna," he whispered on her lips, "as exciting as this sounds, can we just go home, please?"
He moved up again, his hand pushing a strand of hair behind her ear as his lips savoured hers again. Her hips rolling against him as he slowly slid inside her. His name rolling of her tongue at the same time as he pushed again, his hands exploring every curve of her body as she still shivered at his touch, the way his fingers moved over her nipples. His lips softly sucking and biting her neck in the same rhythm as he moved inside her. How his hand moved lower, over her waist to her thighs, pulling her legs up as she wrapped them around him, feeling him entering deeper than ever before. Her nails pressing in his skin every time his movements made her arch her back. Her words, his name slowly turning into inaudible moans as he slowly increased the pace, her heart melting all over again as she recalled how he had told her he'd rather take her home and make love to her for the rest of the evening instead of a quick moment in the file room. And that was exactly what he was doing, making love to her.
Harvey lifted his lips from her collarbone, looking at her with such an affectionate smile she was sure she had never felt more loved. His eyes locked with hers, as pinned her hand above her head, their fingers interlocking more with every roll of their hips against each other. Their breaths becoming heavier and more unstable by the minute and he felt her body starting to tremble underneath him and he follows her in a state of ecstasy soon after. "I love you, Donna," he mumbled before kissing her again, his body now collapsing on top of her.
Donna just held him, as his head rest on her chest, her own lips pressed against his temple. "I was so scared," she whispered then for the first time really telling him how much this all had affected her. "Hey," he mumbled looking up to her again. "You have nothing to be scared about," he told her, "everything turned out the way it was supposed to be." But she shook her head, not really feeling that was the case. "Okay," he mumbled, "two months isn't completely cleared, but it's less then we all expected it to be. And truth to be told, the suspension and fine Jessica expects me to get isn't the worst either."
"I know," she whispered, letting her hand run over his cheek, "but what if it does turn into a trial after all? What if they go after you like Tanner did the other time," she whispered, "Harvey I…" but he kissed her again, already knowing what she was going to say. Already knowing how she felt and what he needed to do. "I'll. Make. Sure. You. Never. Have. To. Testify. Against. Me. Again," he mumbled in between kisses.
Maybe it wasn't the right moment, and maybe it was. It wasn't how she had pictured it or how he had pictured it, if the thought had ever crossed his mind. He'd always deny it, but with her it had and it did. Every single day, because with her it was different.
It most definitely wasn't a romantic proposal, and maybe to anyone else it would have been too soon. All they knew was it had been twelve years in the making and therefore not a day too early. They considered it to be exactly like them, happening in a way it wasn't supposed to go, but that didn't make their feelings or wishes any less true.
Donna just nodded and smiled. "I love you," she mumbled before kissing him again as she wrapped her arms around Harvey. Holding him close for the rest of the evening and every evening after that. Just like he promised that afternoon and how they just promised to do for the rest of their lives.
Thanks everyone for reading this fic, for reviewing and everything! It's what kept me writing, but this is the end of this story. I hope you all enjoyed it.
And if you made it till the end, maybe it's with tears from laughter because of 'the solution' I wrote, in that case I'm happy I made you laugh. Obviously I know nothing about law or how to fix this mess they've put Mike in, but I tried my best and this is what I came up with. So if it made no sense, please pretend the wedding cake at Mike and Rachel's wedding was actually a space cake and everything that happened after our favourite characters took a bite from the cake was just a bad dream. They all woke up the following morning, nothing happened and they all lived happily ever after. LOL
Either way, I'd love to know what you thought or how you think they're going to fix this mess. I'm honestly curious to see how they're going to handle this on the show. So excited for suits to return!