XX. Family Defended
Warner completed the filings for the business harassment lawsuit against Clyde Bonner including his companies and his personal assets. Since he had used the influence with his company and his employees; it was only right to include the company in the suit as well.
Warner also filed injunctions to make sure that Clyde did not dispose of any his assets while under the jurisdiction of the court. Equally so, he wanted assurance that Clyde would not illegally place his assets in other names subject to him while under the jurisdiction of the court.
Public notices were given to the local newspaper. Local businesses that might be working with Clyde needed to be aware. Most businesses as a standard practice watch for special published notices to stay out of legal entanglements.
Sheriff Mickey Chadwick found the filing particularly to his liking. He decided that he would serve it himself. Ordinarily his deputies handled such matters, however, this one was special. It was Clyde Bonner.
Knowing Clyde, he got two of his deputies to go with him as back-up for the serving of the court documents. You never tell when Clyde would go off the reservation with his anger.
Arriving at the Bonner Feed Mill Company location on Highway 231, south of Lebanon; the Sheriff noticed that Clyde’s vehicles were parked in front of the office. That would most likely mean he was inside.
He and his deputies parked and entered the office. Murphy was sitting at his desk and was surprised to see the Sheriff enter the room.
“Good morning Sheriff. You are looking mighty professional this morning with your deputies. Looking for speeders?” Murphy never was one to pick the right words to address others and especially the Sheriff by making light of his duties.
But Sheriff Chadwick decided to let this pass and get on with the matter at hand. Sheriff Chadwick inquired rather curtly, “We are here to see Clyde. Is he in?”
“Yes,” responded Murphy. He shouted to Clyde, “Boss, you got visitors out here. I think you ought to come out.”
Clyde emerged from his office with a shocked look when he saw that it was the sheriff. He addressed the Sheriff cordially with a smile, “Good morning Mickey. What brings you out here so early in the morning?”
“I thought you guys would be finishing off doughnuts at the doughnut shop at this time of the day.” Clyde was equally lacking with his word selection, but more had more disgust in his.
Again, Sheriff Chadwick decided to let that pass as well. There is only so much of this you can take, before you strike back. But in this case, Sheriff Chadwick knew that he was going to have the last laugh when he served the lawsuit papers.
“You know, Clyde, we have many different duties that we perform in the capacity of our work and serving people with lawsuits is just one of them.” He handed the documents to Clyde.
Clyde looking a bit frustrated shouted, “Someone is suing me? What did I do overcharged someone on their grain bill? This is ridiculous! Let me see those papers.” Clyde took the papers and began tearing into the envelope containing the lawsuit filing.
“You have been dutifully served. You will now need to respond in accordance with the court orders at the duly appointed time, Clyde,” stated Sheriff Chadwick.
“Bet there won’t be a joke coming out of his mouth now,” he thought. Enjoying his work too much, he said, “Now having done my duty, I will leave you to yours. Do you have any questions?
Sheriff Chadwick was now looking for a confrontation and in a way baiting Clyde. Clyde just nodded and grunted as he stormed back into his office.
“With that, gentlemen, we will adjourn back to our office in Lebanon where we have doughnuts waiting,” Sheriff Chadwick laughed and motioned to his two deputies that they were leaving. Their work was done.
Looking at Murphy, Sheriff Chadwick finished, “We have speeders to catch. You be careful out there – you hear?” The sheriff and his deputies left the office.
Clyde opened the filing and reading the fine print determined that it was a business harassment suit being brought against him and all that he owned. Further that it was being brought by Junior Johnson and the New Age Bank.
“How could he do this? Who is does he think he is? Clyde was shouting questions but knowing there were no answers. He had the answers in front of him in the suit.
Murphy knew Clyde was about to blow and he said, “Boss, I got to go out and check the shop for delivery receipts for the deliveries today. If you need me I will be out on the yard.”
Murphy scurried to get out of the office before Clyde started throwing a tantrum and destroying everything in sight. He did not want to be near when that happened.
And true to the course, Murphy heard the shouting and the noise coming from the office as he closed the door to leave. “Be best to leave him to himself for awhile,” he thought.
“Now I have got to clean up his mess when he settles down. But I am not going back in there any time soon. – that for sure!” thought Murphy.
Clyde immediately picked up his phone and called Dan Wilkins at Tractor Supply in Nashville. “Dan, this is Clyde. Did you call the State Banking Commission like I asked?”
Dan replied, “Yes, I did and they were quite pleased to hear from me. How did it go? I understand they were coming down to investigate the bank.”
“Yeah, they came down alright,” said Clyde, “But now I am faced with a business harassment suit from the bank. Did you mention my name when you talked to them by any chance?”
“No, I just did like you said. I told them about the bank pushing Home ReSources tractor loans, and that I had heard from some of my loyal customers lately. I mentioned I had heard that the bank had lost 3 of its major accounts. Why, what’s up?” asked Dan.
“I don’t know all the particulars just yet as I have not talked to a lawyer, but they are trying to say I instigated this. That I set out to destroy the bank,” answered Clyde.
Clyde continued to question, “I was trying to find out how they made the connection with me that’s all. If it did not come from you then I will keep digging. My name has surfaced or should I say is so deep that they are coming after me now.”
“Keep me posted on what takes place,” stated Dan. “You know we will be highly interested in coming to Lebanon if we can get Home ReSources to drop those tractors.”
“Gotcha” came back Clyde, “I will.” Clyde hung up.
There was no need for the examiners to visit with Carl, David, or Ray. But I will double check with them tomorrow at the club during lunch,” thought Clyde.
He had a foursome planned with them at 1PM. They were going to meet for an early lunch before playing 9 holes.
Sheriff Chadwick called Warner and informed him that he had served Clyde with the lawsuit. Things seemingly had gone well for the moment.
“We all know that for Clyde, it is just a matter of time, however. His mind will begin to devise a plan of action and he will throw something at this to try to get it squelched it before it begins,” said Warner as he and Sheriff Chadwick concluded their conversation.
“Just tell Junior to keep his gun powder dry if you know what I mean. We are dealing with Clyde Bonner.” responded the sheriff.
“I will. Thank you, Sheriff, for your quick action,” replied Warner.
Warner hung up the phone and called Junior, “Junior, the papers have been served on Clyde so get ready for whatever he throws at you. You know he is not going to take this sitting down.”
He explained, “I suspect he will try to get it thrown out of court at first. That is when we are going to have to reveal that we have the tapes of the conversations with Carl, David, and Ray to back up your side of the claim. That in itself should justify the validity of suit and keep it active.”
“We are looking at about a month before it comes to trial and you know it’s going to trial. I do not look for him to try and settle this out of court at all.”
Continuing, “Also look for his attorneys to file a suit against you and the bank for defamation of character. It will be useless of course, but it could keep us fighting back and forth with motions for maybe another month before we get the actual suit on the docket.”
“I understand,” said Junior. “Can we get a gag order on this until it comes to trial to keep it out of the papers?”
“That’s not too common in civil trials here, but something we can certainly file a motion to do,” stated Warner. “He has a certain interest in keeping this quite as you do so he might go for it.”
“He knows what might come out of the woodwork if this thing goes public. Like-minded business men who have grievances against him might want to join in. Clyde does not want that.”
Continuing further, “You see so many of the sexual harassment trials for people where everybody tries to come forward. This is why he might keep it quite I’m sure since he has skeletons in his closet he does not want revealed.”
“OK, I will double my security force for the next month or so,” said Junior. “I want to make sure I don’t have to worry about June, Dad or Mom.”
“That might be a good idea – go 24/7 for sure. See that June has someone with her at all times,” warned Warner. “Try to get Joan covered as well.”
“I can. I was hoping I could keep some of this away from the family knowing everything that is going on,” replied Junior
He reasoned, “They will start worrying about me – you know how women are. Plus if we get to many people involved, we will defeat our purpose of keeping it out of the public eye.”
“Well, you be the judge of that,” implied Warner. “We are talking millions of dollars here and if you see one thing getting weird – call in the troops.”
“Will do, Warner,” said Junior. “Keep me posted.”
Clyde called his attorneys in Nashville and set up an appointment for that afternoon. According to his request, the lead attorney in Nashville, William Lucas, would assemble a group of high powered attorneys and aides to represent him.
Clyde wanted to not only get the suit thrown out of court, he wanted to destroy Junior. If it took an army of lawyers – he wanted an army of lawyers.
Clyde arrived at their office at 12:45 for the meeting at 1 PM. The receptionists recognized him as he walked in and directed him to a conference room.
She informed him that the lawyers were assembled in Mr. Lucas’ office. They would be joining him shortly.
At his request, she got him a bottle of water. She left the room and informed Mr. Lucas that Clyde was there.
Clyde took a sip of his water. “This would be much better if it was scotch,” he thought.
At that moment the lawyers entered with William Lucas leading the way. “Gentlemen, take a seat wherever you like.”
William, better known as Will, began, “Gentlemen, this is Mr. Clyde Bonner. We will be representing him in an unusual case in Lebanon involving business harassment.”
“Unusual in that this is something that you don’t ordinarily see in a small community like Lebanon,” he explained. “And second for the amount of dollars involved.”
He continued, “Mr. Bonner is one of our treasured clients. We have represented him several times over the years. We need to give him our full attention on this case as we have in the past.”
Opening the file he had in his hand, “Mr. Bonner faxed up the suit itself and I have shared copies with each of you. As you know, I briefed you on this suit before Mr. Bonner arrived.”
“To keep Mr. Bonner apprised of our actions; there are certain steps we want to take to get this ridiculous thing thrown out of court,” responded Will. “It should have never been filed on the basis of its merits.”
He warned, however, “But mark my words gentlemen, Jeff Warner is no man’s fool – he would not have filed this unless he felt there was some ethically unanticipated justification for it.”
“He has been around the block a time or two,” reminded Will. “This is not the first time and we have met with him. There have been several occasions mostly related with banking as is this suit.”
Will explains, “This case is in accordance with his practice as it deals with banking. And what the plaintiff, a Mr. Junior Johnson, feels Mr. Bonner is or has done to his bank in Lebanon.”
“It will be our job to disprove any and all claims that they might have. But first we want to get this thing thrown out of court,” countered Will.
He instructed, “So, Steven I want you and your team to move immediately to draw up a motion to have the case dismissed on its lack of merits. That is our first step.”
“Jim, we are going to assume that this could possibly be denied,” added Will, “and it is to that point that we want you to enter a motion to dismiss the suit. Your motion will be the basis for standing in the community.”
“After all, Mr. Bonner’s operation is located outside the city limits and if anything it should be in county court and not municipal court,” said Will. “We, of course, would like to see it out of court period.””
Will went further, “But as I understand it, Mr. Bonner does have an account with the bank as an investment he made during their embryonic stage of operation. It was through an agreement to use his dollars to meet the state requirements for the banking capital ratio.”
The legal question according to Will, “The plaintiffs maintain it was a stock purchase but we have no documentation to that effect other than some fictitious pieces of paper this Mr. Johnson has conjured up.”
“Dig up all you can for justification for that motion. Mr. Bonner have I accurately presented your case thus far?” Will asked Clyde.
Clyde replied, “I want his little idiot out of my hair and out of my life for good. He got a restraining order on me for attempting to get my money back and now he is accusing me of harassing his bank.”
He said angrily, “I want you guys to do whatever is necessary to take this man down. I mean down period.”
“Mr. Bonner, that is quite graphic. We want to serve your needs,” replied Will, “but we need to do this in a calming legal approach that will forever censor his activity regarding you period.”
Explaining, Will stated, “He might still be in the banking business when we get through with him if the community supports him, however, he will not even be able to look in your direction should you accidently come in contact with him in a restaurant. Would that describe what you want from us?”
Clyde beamed with a broad smile, “That is exactly what I want, Will. I don’t even want to smell him in the same room with me.”
“Good then gentlemen, let’s get to work and get this taken care of for our good friend from Lebanon,” said Will as he stood and shook hands with Clyde.
“I understand the standard retainer will be left with our receptionists as you leave and we will keep you informed of our hours as we proceed,” stated Will.
Will elaborated, “You will receive a copy of every motion we file in your behalf. We will keep you informed of every step.”
“I know that we can serve your needs. We all look forward to this being a forgotten chapter in your life,” exclaimed Will.
Clyde left the office thinking I have got a bunch of mean dogs going after this little scared rabbit in Lebanon and they are going to eat him up. Taking me to court will he? I’ll show him.”
Will turned to his team of lawyers as soon as Clyde was out the door. He held his finger to his lips warning the others not to speak or make a sound.
Assured that Clyde had left their suite, he burst out laughing. As he did the other lawyers started laughing with him.
“Gentlemen,” Will struggled between laughing, “This case has the characteristic of a treasure cove made in heaven for lawyers.”
“Before this is over, with the motions, and billing hours, we have a fish to fry for at least a million dollars,” calculated Will. “Strangely enough this man – wherever he got his money – has money out the goo-zoos.”
Will went further, “There is no reason for us not to serve his needs with every imaginary motion; meeting; and pile of paperwork we can muster in his behalf. Just keep up with your hours.”
Will continued with a smile on his face, “You heard his anger toward Mr. Johnson. We can use that to just keep the fountain flowing.”
“You and I both know that if this ever gets in a court room our golden goose will be cooked. So let’s keep it out of the courts and into our pockets with motions. We agreed?”
There was a hearty “Amen” by the group and they set out to their offices to fulfill the request made by their lead attorney. The time was hot and they needed to move more in their interests than in the interest of Clyde Bonner.
Clyde headed back to Lebanon thinking, “I have got him whipped now. He just did not know about my attorneys in Nashville.”
At noon the next day, Clyde met with Carl, David, and Ray at the club for lunch. They planned a quick lunch prior to their round of golf.
He did not want to make a lot to do about the lawsuit. Clyde just casually asked, “Any of you faced any repercussions from Junior over pulling out of the bank?”
Carl said, “Junior came and we discussed it, but nothing that could not be handled amicably. He wasn’t upset or anything.”
David said, “He just told me some of the things you had said to Carl and Ray to get them to pull out of the bank, and they did not match what you said to me. But I did not place too much credence on it as he did not seem too disturbed by it.
Clyde was surprised, “You mentioned things I said to you about Carl, and Ray that were different than I told you. Like what?”
“Well, you told me Junior was going crazy and doing strange things. That Carl and Ray were pulling out. I might want to consider it too – you remember what you told me, Clyde.”
Clyde had told so many different stories that he was having trouble remembering who he told what to. He stated, “Well, as all of you say, he is not concerned so I am sure we will get this straightened out before long.”
Clyde did not let on that he had his attorneys from Nashville working to resolve the case and to destroy Junior. The less they knew the better it would be.
Two weeks later, Clyde was accumulating several motions that the attorneys had filed in his behalf. Most of them were motions that he did not even have to go to court on as they were motions to be ruled on by the judge alone.
He realized that his legal fees were going to add up quickly. It would be worth it, however, to see Junior go down.
Clyde figured, “Not to mention that everybody else will see that Junior goes down as well. And they will know that it was me that caused it to happen.”
Clyde’s mind did tricks on him with his ego. He thought, “If anything comes up in the future that I want done and anyone gives me trouble, all I have to do is to mention Junior’s name.”
He reminisced, “Just like I mention the fire at the poultry farm. Not a bad investment of dollars and time. I doubled my return; I would say.”
Warner was equally getting pummeled with motions that were filling his office. He knew the strategy coming from William Lucas out of Nashville.
It was a legal law course 101 technique. Try to bury your opponent with motions and kill the suit through non-action and mass paperwork.
He also knew that the judge was getting hit as hard as they were with the motions, and that he would call for a halt of this nonsense in due time. In the meantime, most judges liked the back and forth legal process.
But depending on the court’s timetable this could takes months to work out just getting it on the court’s docket. The wrangling amounts to nothing in the real legal sense of the word.
Warner thought, “This has been assigned to Judge Benson’s court. We meet once a week to play cribbage and enjoy a beer or two. We like to think it increases our vocabulary, but usually the beer takes over and we laugh our way to the end of the game.”
Warner thought he might be able to mention, “I could lay a little hint at cutting short all this work Lucas is creating for us and get on with it. I will have to be careful though how I word it so as to not to appear at odds with a particular action regarding the case against Clyde.”
He thought, “Judge Benson is indeed a man of honor who has been on the bench for decades. He will see right through any lapse of decorum – and he will take it that way – I might make.”
Warner reasoned, “But he also is a wise old judge who will see what Lucas is doing. He will shut it down forthwith.”
Warner decided to file a speedy trial motion which is normally used as a defense motion in criminal cases. It would be interesting to see if it can be stretched as well to cover a civil suit if the opposing attorney is flooding the docket with motions of little importance.
He had his office draw up the motion and sent a junior attorney over to file it with the court. “A speedy trial motion will do two things,” he thought, “One the ultimate object is to get the case into court and two – to get the motion on top of the stack of motions previously filed.”
Using this legal strategy,” Warner thought, “you can get the judge to rule expeditiously one by one on the motions previously filed in one court setting, instead of waiting a week to a month on each motion. And in some cases, the judge will throw out all the motions period based on the speedy trial motion.”
“Judge Benson, how you are doing?” asked Warner as Judge Benson came into the parlor at the New Age Bank. They both liked the setting for the parlor and it was a quiet place to reflect on the day’s activities or just to spend time with friends.
Judge Benson replied, “Fine, Warner. How goes it with Lebanon’s famous Litigator of the Year?”
The award was ceremoniously given as a prank each year by the Kiwanis Club to the lawyer who finds himself in court ‘more’ than most. More – meaning the lawyer thought to find more reasons for legal actions real or conjured up actions as a nuisance more than most – thus the prank award.
Certainly Warner was not a laughing matter when it came to the law profession in Lebanon. It’s just that the business men of the Kiwanis Club like to kid around. Warner accepted the kidding in good fun and laughed with those who placed the mantle at his door.
Each year others would receive the honor for various reasons and find themselves the brunt of the joke by their fellow business men. For a year, the mantle would stick and others would greet you as Judge Benson did with Warner.
“It is going well,” responded Warner, “You ready to be taken again. You know the last time we played cribbage, I beat you quite handily.”
“Yeah, but as you say, that was last time,” replied Judge Benson, “This is now and you know you have never won two times in a row.”
Warner asked one of the attendants in the parlor to bring them two cups of coffee as they both sat down with the dice and game board. They flipped a coin calling heads or tails to see who goes first and the game was on.
Warner shook and threw the dice first. He began judging the fallen dice against the time clock to pull out the most words he could find.
While they worked the game clock after the dice fell – and in between each play – they would lean back and discuss the events of the day. The subject of politics or religion would come up.
It was their practice to solve all the world problems in one 2 – 2 ½ hour game. And they would – just no one ever called them to get their solutions.
This day was different. Judge Benson noted to Warner, “I noticed you filed a speedy trial motion on the Bonner case before me. You sure you want to do that. You never know how I will rule on all those motions.”
“It’s either that or be buried in paperwork from now till doomsday,” mused Warner. “William Lucas will tie up the judicial system from now on or until Clyde Bonner runs out of money or dies.”
Judge Benson murmured, “Yeah, I sort of figured that was what he was doing when I saw the enormous amount of paper that was being delivered to my office.”
He instructed, “Come to court next week prepared to move forward and we will see. These out of town law firms think they can come into our community and rule the roost. That’s all I can say at this point.”
“Thank you, Judge Benson,” exclaimed Warner, “I knew you would see through what they are doing. And as you have stated – enough said. It is your move.”
They continued to play without really caring who won. The fellowship was enough for good friends.
Warner took to heart what Judge Benson elaborated on, “He is going to stop these useless filings coming out of Nashville and force this case to trial.”
“For him to share that with me is no small favor,” reasoned Warner. “I have got to have Junior there.”
Warner kept Junior apprised of the actions taking place in court with the many motions. He assured him that this was only a ploy by the Nashville law firm. It would soon be brought to a halt by the Judge.
As much as Junior wanted to see the action come to court, he equally knew he was buying time to build his capital ratio for the State Banking Commission. “It was going to be a slow run with individual accounts unless he could get senior citizens to place their savings with him.”
“The younger labor force was great and they were active with their banking. It was just that savings were not foremost on their minds,” calculated Junior.
“For the younger crowd, it was work – get it – spend it. Seemed they never questioned tomorrow’s needs,” he considered.
Junior even brought in bank consultants to hold financial seminars to help them understand the importance of saving. But it was going to take time to bring them around.
He knew there might be a settlement should he win his case against Clyde, but then that was a big ‘if’ not yet determined.
He would just have to come up with programs to lead young people to see the value of savings. “Maybe if I offered incentives for savings such as for the first $1000 saved – receive a $100 dollar Savings Bond – that might get them,” thought Junior.
Junior knew that with the banks connections, he could invest the bank funds in secure stocks and bonds and with those returns pay for the bonus Savings Bonds. It would cost the bank practically nothing and encourage further savings by the younger crowd.
He put figures to the program and it panned out. He could start it right away and that will generate capital for the bank.
After all the young people would have to save up to a $1000 before they would be eligible to receive the Savings Bond and the bank would be raising the ratio from the savings up to and including the $1000 before an outlay of funds to purchase the bond.
Junior surprised himself with the idea, “And by that time, the stock and bond investments of the bank would cover that cost of the Savings Bond. The younger crowd would begin to see the importance of saving.”
Junior thought, “There are so many areas of banking that have not been explored or tried due to the ole line thinking that everything has to be done the same old way without any new innovations.
“I will get our demographics people to put this plan in a brochure and on-line. We will start promoting it full force with bill boards the first of next month.”
“Even if the bank has to kick in a small amount to cover the Savings Bonds, the promotion will be fantastic for drawing in new customers,” calculated Junior. “I will do it.”
While Junior was putting the finishing touches on his proposal for a Savings Bond promotion, Warner received notice they were going to trial the next week.
Warner showed up for court the following week. He brought with him two of his junior lawyers to help with the paper work. Junior had been informed to be there as well.
As he walked up to the court building, he saw two vans pull up to the front of the courthouse. 6 lawyers in their black suits and black ties got out with their brief cases.
The second van consisted of two men with carts to handle their paperwork. The carts were overflowing. These folks had come to play.
Warner did not see Clyde anywhere. He assumed he had been told that it was all procedural today and not necessary for him to be there.
Warner left little to be questioned on his confutation as he had asked for Junior to attend. When he entered the court room, he found Junior and Sam sitting near the front of the room.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” started Warner, “Everyone ready for court today?”
Sam jumped to his feet to greet Warner, “How are you doing, Warner? I have not seen you since we got back in town.”
“Doing fine, Sam,” responded Warner, “How was your trip? Not many people get to take an extended 6 month vacation. I thought you might have decided to just move to Italy.”
“We probably would have if Joan had her way,” said Sam. “But you know me, I am a homeboy. I have to come back to my country roots ever so often or I will die.”
“Junior, I saw an army of lawyers pull up outside for Clyde,” declared Warner, “Don’t let that throw you. They are just trying to soften the playing field with numbers. It won’t work.”
As Warner spoke – William Lucas and his team of lawyers came in followed by the men with the two carts of paper work. They looked all primed and ready to go.
“Good morning, Mr. Warner – it is Mr. Warner isn’t it?” asked Will, “I have not had the pleasures of meeting you in the court room in quite a while. You are looking fit and trim for your age and I say that admiringly.”
“Yeah, Mr. Lucas, you are still Mr. ‘smooth talking’ William Lucas,” responded Warner, “And I say that admiringly as well.”
They shook hands and Warner turned to Junior. “Mr. Lucas, this is Junior Johnson, the plaintiff in the case and his Dad, Sam Johnson,” Warner introduced Sam and Junior.
“And I have not seen your client in the court building this morning. Is he going to grace us with his appearance?” asked Warner.
“Warner … Warner, you know how these things go. Procedures, motions, filings – no need to bring the client in on these matters, don’t you agree?”
“I guess not,” replied Warner, “Since I have Mr. Johnson here with me. We will see.”
The 5 other attorneys representing Clyde had found chairs and took their place at their table. Clyde had his army.
Warner directed Junior to join him at the plaintiffs table. Strange, thought Junior, “How when you fate is placed in the hands of others, you find it friendless in your own mind. No one here but you in a courtroom at the credence of others.”
His mind drifted to the final courtroom experience everyone will face on Judgment Day. The difference there, however, you would have Jesus as your advocate to petition your case. “Wish that were the case right now for me instead of only judges and lawyers.”
As he started to sit down, he turned and found comfort seeing his Dad sitting right behind him. One he could always count on while on this earth was his Dad. Heaven – Jesus. Here – Dad.”
“All rise,” the court bailiff shouted. “The Municipal Court of Lebanon, Tennessee is now in session with the honorable Judge Jerry Benson presiding.”
Everyone stood as the judge entered the room and took his place behind the large bench representing the judgment seat of the court. “Be seated gentlemen,” instructed Judge Benson.
He asked, “Are all of the interested parties in attendance this morning? The plaintiff and the defendant?”
Warner stood, “Yes, your honor, Mr. Junior Johnson, the plaintiff is here.”
“My client is not in attendance, your honor,” answered Will, “Due to other responsibilities. We felt this was primarily procedural, and he did not need to be present.”
“I see, Mr. Lucas,” replied Judge Benson, “From the papers presented, you are the lead attorney for Mr. Clyde Bonner. You are the lead attorney I take it from your group sitting there?”
Before waiting an answer, Judge Benson began, “Gentlemen this is not a formal exercise for lawyers is it? I am assuming you are not attending class here with Mr. Lucas, are you?”
“No, your honor, these are lawyers from our firm who are here to help me with the paperwork before you and the court,” answered Will. “It is our honor to be in your court room.”
“Well, Mr. Lucas, when you come to my court room representing a client and especially in this case, the defendant, Mr. Clyde Bonner,” informed Judge Benson, “I expect to see your client in attendance. Is that clear?”
“Now, we do have certain procedural items to rule on first. I am going to give you that grace period to get your client here or you will be held in contempt. Am I clear, Mr. Lucas?”
“Yes, your honor, and I beg the forgiveness of the court for my short sightedness,” nodded Will. He turned to one of his lawyers and motioned for him to go get Clyde to the courthouse now.
“First, both parties have agreed that I will rule in this case on the evidence as presented to the court. There will not be a need for a jury,” reminded Judge Benson.
“Will both counsels so state for the record?” instructed Judge Benson. He waited for their response.
Warner stood, “The plaintiff so stipulates your honor. And it is our pleasure to do so.”
“As does the defendant, your honor,” added Will. “Our pleasure as well.”
“Now let’s get to the rulings on the motions before me,” began Judge Benson, “To the request for a speedy trial – I rule in the favor of the plaintiff.”
“As to the motion to dismiss due to the frivolity of the trial, I find the plaintiff briefs regarding the testimony of witnesses and depositions taken to be credible therefore – motion denied,” ruled Judge Benson. “We will proceed to trial.”
“As to the request for standing as to whether this case should be tried here or in another jurisdiction, it is understood that Mr. Clyde Bonner and Mr. Junior Johnson are both members of this community and it is further understood that the witnesses that will be presented here are equally members of the community therefore the motion for standing is denied,” again ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
“The motion for a change of venue to another jurisdiction of the same order based on the nature of the motion that I am the Judge and Jury the motion is mute – for the same reason – the motion is denied,” a smiling Judge Benson ruled.
Ruling on the throwing out the witness depositions, Judge Benson ruled, “As for the motion to throw out the witness depositions – the witnesses are local and will be present in court to verify their depositions and the tapes presented – denied.”
Looking up at the motions in the carts, “As to the two carts of material you have there with you and the copies you submitted to the court – I find the documents useless and without merit - denied.”
“Your honor,” shouted Will, “You are not giving acceptable credence for the benefit of my client in your rulings. When reviewed properly, you will find that each motion is justifiable on its own merits.”
“Mr. Lucas, that is double talk legal hogwash and you know it,” stated Judge Benson, “Those sub motions in your cart are right out of the law books and each one subjugates to the main topic and/or subject matter covered in each of the primary categories covered by my previous rulings which have been denied.”
He explained, “That makes said sub motions denied by the very nature of their application as it reflects to the primary motion. My clerks reviewed each of the documents and found them baseless and did not entreat a different ruling other than that given to the primary motion.”
“Had a different introduction of a new primary subject motion been filed, I would have ruled in that regard. Having received none – previous motions denied.”
He concluded, “As it stands, the primary motions are denied thus making the sub motions denied by the same ruling. The trial goes forth when your client comes to the courtroom.”
He finished, “If after we finish with these proceedings, you feel that your client has not received the benefit of the court and/or has been harmed in any way, you may appeal my decisions, but for now the trial goes forward today. Is that understood?”
“Yes, your honor,” relented Will. “We will have Mr. Bonner here forthwith.”
“Fine then, we will take a 30 minute recess for you to get your client here and then we will move forward. Court stands in recess for 30 minutes.”
“All rise,” shouted the court bailiff. Judge Benson left the room.
Will turned angrily to Warner and demanded, “Did you know this was going to happen? Is that why you had your client here today?”
“Why no, Mr. Lucas, I just try to go to court ready every time I am due in court,” answered Warner, “Evidently you try to second guess the judge.”
“I would like a meeting with you when Mr. Bonner gets here before we come back into court,” exclaimed Will.
“Call me on my cell,” stated Warner, “And let me know where you want to meet. You have my number.”
“I’ll call you,” Will stormed off with his army of lawyers and the two men with their carts. He did not confirm having the number but it was understood he did.
Warner sat back down with Junior. Sam came up from the gallery to join them.
“Junior, this might mean that they realize they are going to be in trouble presenting their defense. They might be willing to settle,” said Warner.
He added, “This does not always mean a dollar settlement, it can mean an apology from Clyde or restitution for what you think that you might have lost due to his actions but not necessarily the full amount of the suit.”
Sam spoke up, “Warner, you know Clyde is not going to go for that. He is going to be hot under the collar when he gets here and finds that every ruling has gone against him.”
He reasoned, “And to think that they are going to try to get him to do anything other than hurt Junior is just blowing in the wind. The meeting will be for naught.”
“I agree,” said Warner, “And with that we go to trial and make him eat his words. But I think it is only fair to give his attorneys a chance to see if they can get Clyde off his high horse and maybe try to settle. If they call for a meeting, let’s take it and see what happens.”
“Fine with me,” replied Junior, “But I agree with Dad. Clyde is going to come in here with guns blazing.”
“Well, I hope not literally,” exclaimed Warner. “That could be dangerous.”
Warner left with his junior lawyers and went into an adjacent room to conduct some urgent business. His office had called him about a matter that needed his attention.
Sam and Junior slipped down to the coffee concession in the court house. They got a cup of coffee.
Standing at one of the tables drinking their coffee, Junior asked, “What do you think Dad? Do we have a chance?”
“I don’t know, Junior. Some strange things went on up there that I am not familiar with. I know that on procedural rulings, the client does not have to be in court and the lawyers take care of that. Yet Warner had you here and the judge is making them bring Clyde here to conduct the trial.”
He continued his concern, “He also threw out everything those high powered lawyers from Nashville had done prior to getting here. Usually judges like to play court as much as the lawyers, but not this time? I just don’t know?”
“Woops, there goes the phone,” declared Junior as he answered it, “They are ready for us and Warner said that you could attend if you wanted, but not to say anything unless he called on you.”
He continued, “We are going to meet in the adjacent room where Warner and his lawyer went after the recess was called. I think Clyde is here.”
“Well, they sure got him here quick. He must have been around the corner and came right over,” said Sam.
Sam and Junior went back upstairs to the office adjacent to the court room. Warner, his lawyer, and the legal team from Nashville plus Clyde were waiting for them.
Will closed the door to the office and turned to address the group. “I think we all know each other. These are attorneys from our firm in Nashville and it is not necessary to introduce them at this time.”
“And I have two of my attorneys from my firm here as well,” stated Warner, “You all know Junior Johnson, the plaintiff, and this is his dad, Sam Johnson, who will be sitting in with us. He has a vested interest in these proceedings as well; however, he will not be participating.”
Turning to Will, Warner asked, “I see you located Mr. Bonner. And the reason you called this meeting, sir?”
“I think we are all adults here and can possibly settle this issue without taking it to trial,” began Will. “Mr. Clyde Bonner will admit that he might have crossed over the line in dealing with Junior about his investment in the bank.”
“He is willing to give Junior time to take the matter before the stock holders to get approval to buy back his stock for the original investment he made,” stated Will.
Junior flinched but said nothing. He thought, “What – this has nothing to do with me buying back the stock. It has to do with what he did in lying to my business accounts to get them to pull out of the bank.”
“Well, that is very generous of Mr. Bonner,” replied Warner, “But I did not hear you say anything about what he tried to do about shutting down the New Age Bank by lying to get the business clients to pull their accounts.”
“Then he actually lied to the State Banking Commission to get them to shut him down,” reminded Warner. “And you want us to just walk away?”
“Now, Mr. Warner lets don’t litigate it here,” Will was trying to keep control of the discussion, “The courtroom is the place for that.”
“You are right – the courtroom is the place for this,” answered Warner, “Thank you for your generous offer but the answer is no. We will see you in court.”
Warner stood up. Sam and Junior also stood as well.
“Junior, you won’t get away with this,” shouted Clyde. “I’ll see you in hell before you get a dime of my money.”
Warner gestured for them to leave the room and the three of them walked out. One of Clyde’s lawyers closed the door.
Sam said, “Even behind the closed door, you can still hear them trying to quiet Clyde down. He is going to be a bear in court. It will be a wonder if they don’t have to gag him to have the trial.”
“Well, I did not expect that we would hear anything we wanted to hear,” declared Warner, “And Clyde was true to himself – we didn’t.”
It was time to go into court again, so Junior took his seat with Warner at the plaintiff’s table. Sam sat behind him in the gallery. Clyde’s table was vacant as the lawyers and Clyde had not yet returned to the courtroom.
The Court Bailiff came in and shouted “All rise. Court is now in session with the honorable Judge Jerry Benson presiding.” Judge Benson entered the courtroom and sat behind the bench. Looking up, he was alarmed, “Be seated.”
“What have we lost the opposing counsel and his client now?” asked Judge Benson.
The doors to the court room burst open and Clyde with his 6 lawyers filed in to the defendant’s table. “I’m so glad you could join us, Mr. Lucas. Am I to assume that this is the late Mr. Clyde Bonner who is the defendant in this case?”
“Yes, your honor, and we are sorry for the delay,” answered Will. “The elevator was moving rather slowly this morning.”
“It will do that when you put an army of lawyers on it all at one time,” declared Judge Benson, “Let’s get down to business.”
A clamor came from the back of the courtroom as uniformed officers and men in suits began to file into the courtroom. Four officers came forward with four men in suits, while two officers remained at the door to guard it from anyone coming in or getting out.
“Your honor, if we may approach?” asked one of the men in suits. “We have a matter in this case to present.”
Will turned to Clyde with a question mark in his eye, “What’s going on Clyde? Are you part of this in any way? If you are, we are withdrawing from the case and you can find yourself another attorney.”
Clyde was as surprised as Will was, “I don’t know what this is all about. It has got to be another case that is not related to me.”
Judge Benson motioned with his hand for the man in charge to come forward. He also asked for the attending lead counsels to come forward.
“Judge Benson, I want to thank you for helping us to get Mr. Clyde Bonner in court. I am the lead FBI agent in this case and the men I have here with me this morning represent the Organized Crime Bureau of the FBI, the US Marshall’s office, the State Department of Justice and the IRS. Our officers right now, as we speak, have served search warrants on Mr. Bonner’ property and the Tractor Supply in Nashville.
We have taken Murphy Baker, Mr. Bonner’s right hand co-conspirator, into custody and my officers tell me he is cooperating with them fully and does not want an attorney to represent him.”
The agent continued, “He has already admitted that Mr. Bonner burned a chicken farm on highway 231 when a man was killed and we did not even ask him about that.”
“Plus he shown us the photos that Mr. Bonner used to blackmail Carl Estes with the Lumber mill outside of town. He further informed us concerning the blackmail attempt involving the internal affairs department of Home ReSources whom we will be working with in filing our charges.”
The FBI agent further informed the court, “We have taken Mr. Dan Wilkins with the Tractor Supply in Nashville into custody as well. He is cooperating fully and has admitted complicity in the theft of a tractor from Tractor Supply that he co-conspired with Mr. Clyde Bonner to steal and they both gained from the theft.”
Explaining, “He further admitted that he and Mr. Bonner were working a scheme with Tractor Supply to be rewarded monetarily each month based on a percentage of sales from the company.”
Finishing with the charges, “And we have his involvement in working with the State Banking Commission at Mr. Bonner request to have the New Age Bank shut down.”
Explaining, “We have Mr. Clyde Bonner on conspiracy to commit crimes relating to the RICO act including racketeering within the community of Lebanon and we are charging him with murder, bribery, blackmail, wire fraud, mail fraud, theft, and conspiracy to steal just for starters.”
The agent concluded, “Your getting him here made it easy for us to take him into custody. With your permission, your honor; we would like to do just that right now?”
“So granted,” stated Judge Benson. “Mr. Clyde Bonner please stand and place your hands at your back. These men are taking you into custody.”
“Mr. Clyde Bonner, you are being charged with RICO racketeering crimes. Since you have your attorneys present with you, I will read the charges and your attorneys will be given a copy of these charges. I will spell this out for you. Under the law, set out at 18 U.S.C. § 1961 and as currently amended it includes:
1) Any violation of state statutes against gambling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);
2) Any act of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, and many other offenses covered under the Federal criminal code (Title 18);
3) Embezzlement of union funds;
4) Bankruptcy fraud or securities fraud;
5) Drug trafficking; long-term and elaborate drug networks can also be prosecuted using the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute;
6) Criminal copyright infringement;
7) Money laundering and related offenses;
8) Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);
9) Acts of terrorism.
I am reading the entire law; however, some of these charges will not be filed as they do not apply. Your attorneys will get a revised copy representing just the charges we are filing against you.
The FBI agent took a card from inside his suit pocket and read Clyde his Miranda Rights “Mr. Clyde Bonner, you are being arrested on these and other charges. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you. Do you understand these provisions as administered to you today?”
Clyde looked solemn. He admitted, “Yes.”
The FBI agent instructed the officers to take him into custody. The handcuffs were placed on his hands behind his back.
As the officers, and the FBI along with the US Marshalls and the IRS left the room with Clyde, Will stood up and addressed the court. “Your honor, we were not aware of these circumstances and we beg the court to grant us the privilege to withdraw from the case.”
“No, we are here and we need to finish this civil case for Mr. Junior Johnson. He too was not aware of these circumstances.”
“In no way should he not be allowed relief under the civil statures of this case just because Mr. Clyde Bonner has been taken into custody for the very evidence before this court today.” stated Judge Benson.
“Sit down, Mr. Lucas. I am sure you have been compensated handsomely to represent Mr. Bonner. You will represent him,” instructed the judge.
“Now it is with the preponderance of the evidence presented by Mr. Junior Johnson today notwithstanding the evidence that will be gathered through the RICO Act regarding Mr. Clyde Bonner that I grant Mr. Junior Johnson his relief as requested in this business harassment suit and in the sum as requested in the filing. It is so ordered.”
“I will see opposing counsels in my chambers. Only the lead counsels. Court is adjourned,” added Judge Benson.
“All rise,” shouted the Court Bailiff. Judge Benson left the courtroom.
Will and Warner followed the judge into his chambers. “Gentlemen, have a seat. We have had an unusual occurrence here today. The FBI came to me a few weeks back and informed me they were looking into Clyde Bonner for RICO racketeering crimes.”
“It was obvious that he was involved in several activities outside the law. The biggest problem for him was that he was an amateur at it,” stated the judge.
He explained, “He not only did not cover his tracks, he did not even try to cover his tracks. When he had the man at Tractor Supply contact the State Banking Commission, the man gave his real name.”
Adding, “The case began to unfold from there as the Banking Commission got the FBI involved and they brought in the US Marshalls which excited the IRS.”
He continued, “They contacted the internal affairs with Home ReSources and got the same story. They are collecting that evidence against Mr. Bonner.”
“With this right hand co-conspirator spilling the beans and the man at Tractor Supply doing likewise for a plea deal, this is going to be a cut and dried case when it comes up – that is if it comes up,” summed up Judge Benson.
He exclaimed, “More than likely, it probably will be a long term plea deal coming up and Mr. Bonner will go away for the rest of his life. They see him as a small fish trying to play in a big crime pond. I just wanted you to know why I wanted Mr. Bonner in court today.”
He concluded, “It was so that the FBI could serve their warrants without interference from Mr. Bonner and as you can see, his not being there caused the men who worked with him to readily give him up.”
“I knew there had to be a reason,” said Will. “And the motions – they were part of the deal also?”
“Now, Will, you have been in my court before and you know I would have ruled on those motions just like I did regardless of what was going on. You were trying to bury this case in paperwork. Y’all get out of here before I hold somebody in contempt.”
Both Will and Warner shook hands and William said, “Until next time, Warner.” Warner laughed with Will as they left Judge Benson chambers.
Warner found Junior and Sam. “It’s over. I will submit the final documents for the court. The ruling is in your favor and the stock that Clyde owned or not owned – as the case may be – is now your stock which means you do not have to give up any of his invested funds. They now belong to the bank.”
“I have got to run. One of those phone calls I took earlier needs my attention. Junior, you will get my bill at the end of the month,” shouted Warner as he went quickly away.
“Well, Junior, that is great. Can you believe it?” declared Sam. “I knew Clyde was doing a lot of things that were under handed, but I never thought it would approach organized crime.
“I have got to call June. She will want to know that it is over and that the FBI has arrested Clyde Bonner,” an excited Junior reacted. “She will be excited that we don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
understand,” said Sam, “You don’t need to hear this from me right now, but
you need to be very careful who you get tangled up with in the future.
“Sometimes these things are so simple, but turn out so complex that you get caught before you know it and you are pulled under. Not this time, however, so be careful. Catch you later,” Sam replied.
They both left the courtroom together and departed their separate ways outside the courthouse. Sam to the club and Junior to the bank.