Trial and Tribulations, Part Two

This is the conclusion of Joanne Cordova's story. For part one, see www. westword.com.

"She had a much more muscular build, and she had more of a buttocks. But I'm not..."

Chambers interrupted. "So you wear the same pants as her?"
"I wouldn't be able to fit into anything that would fit her around the waist."

"Because she was smaller than you?"
"That's correct."
Chambers asked her about the clothes and watches Riggan had purchased for her. "So he got items for you that were worth several hundred dollars, accurate?"

"Pretty close."
"And that was something he did for you not in exchange for sexual favors? Just did it?"

Cordova nodded to the jury. "That's correct."
"In fact," Chambers said, turning his back on her to face the jury, "if he had wanted to purchase sexual favors from you, he could have done it for a much cheaper price, correct?"

The attack caught her off-guard. "I wouldn't say a much cheaper price by the amount of time I spent with him. However, I didn't look at that as such when I got in his van. I looked at the crack cocaine."

"Right," Chambers said. "You wanted the crack cocaine?"
Cordova agreed, wondering where this was leading.
"Ms. Cordova, I don't mean to be indelicate here..." Chambers said. "Since you were working as a prostitute, what did you charge for your services?"

"A hundred dollars per half-hour of my time," she said, trying to smile. She couldn't face the jury but felt their eyes watching her.

"That's pretty pricey, correct?" Chambers asked. "More than other people were charging?"

"I'm not familiar...I'm not accustomed to asking other women what their prices are," she answered.

Chambers didn't let up. "You were certainly familiar with other prostitutes working in the area?" he asked.

"I don't know what they charged."
"You were familiar with their habits?"
"I was familiar with a lot of their habits because I lived with them. But, I mean..."

By now, the exchange was so fast-paced that the lawyer and witness were talking on top of each other. Judge Plaut held up his hand. "If each of you would allow each other to finish your statement, I think it would be easier on the reporter."

"Okay," Chambers continued. "Anita Paley, you were familiar with her habits?"

"A lot of her habits, just from being around her."
"So if Bob had simply wanted sex, he could have got it for less than the amount of goods that he gave you?"

Joanne felt the lawyer was mocking her, and that made her angry. "As I stated before, no," she retorted. "Actually, I don't believe he would have been able to get it for less than the amount of the goods he gave me simply because of the amount of time I spent with him, several days multiplied..."

Chambers jumped in. "That wasn't my question. Please just answer my question."

Cordova willed herself to calm down. "No, he would not."
"How much time do you continually spend with a john?" Chambers asked. "Do you typically spend five days with a john?"

"No," she answered. "Typically I haven't..."
Again Chambers didn't let her finish. "Typically very short? Half an hour or an hour, right?"

"There's no typical. It's just, you know..." He made her sound so cheap and dirty; she groped for a way to explain. "I mean, I can remember charging $500 for a night..."

"You can remember charging 20 bucks for fifteen minutes, too, right?" he asked sarcastically, making a half-smile for the jury's benefit.

That hurt. "No, I cannot."
At last Chambers changed the subject. "You're familiar with the effects of crack cocaine?"

"Yes, I am."
"Tell the jury how you smoke crack cocaine. How is it ingested?"
"Crack cocaine is put on either a metal pipe, glass pipe or aluminum pipe with some type of screen which may be a Chore Boy or Brillo," she explained as if talking about a science experiment. "It's then melted. It's ingested into the lungs, absorbed by the cilia of the lungs, goes to the bloodstream, then to the brain, and you get high."

"And what's the effect?" Chambers asked.
"Its effect," she said, turning to the jury, "is that it releases dopamine, which is an endorphin, into your brain so that you get that good feeling immediately."

Jaws dropped at Cordova's clinical, studied response. At the prosecution table, Burkhalter and Lauck smiled; they knew Cordova was no dummy. Even Chambers took a moment to recover. "And when you come down from your high, what's the effect?"

"I've never had physical withdrawals."
"There's a craving for more cocaine, though?"
"There's absolutely a craving for crack. That's the market's intention."
"And there is frequently, when you're using crack, intense paranoia?"
"That's one of the psychoses of cocaine usage."
"And that's something you've experienced?"

"I have experienced paranoia on occasion," Cordova agreed. "I've been using it long enough to differentiate between paranoia and reality at this point."

Now Chambers jumped into Cordova's criminal history, and they were soon in another heated exchange.

"Would it be fair to say that crack cocaine has had a dramatic impact on your life?" Chambers asked.

"Absolutely," Cordova said, this time without smiling. "Without a doubt."
"The felony convictions is one aspect?"
Cordova nodded. "Anything having to do with anything criminal is absolutely one effect..."

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