Here is a legal (and book summary) review of Suzanne Redfearn‘s Moment In Time. Overall, this book was excellent with some (very) minor issues. But, I deducted a star for all the legal stuff she got incorrect as well as the implausibility of the storyline. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Suzanne Redfearn‘s Moment In Time – Book Summary
Before I begin, I would emphasize that this book is more of a mystery or chick lit thriller rather than a legal thriller, but since it also contains a lot of legalities, I decided to post it on my blawg.
Also, this book review contains a lot of spoilers. So stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Ready? Here goes.
The book starts off with Mo and Chloe from Suzanne Redfearn‘s In An Instant. The author’s note at the end also states that all the major characters are reoccurring from various books of hers, which is great. We have a third girl, Hazel (not from a previous book), and the hero boyfriend, Kyle (also from In An Instant).
Mo is celebrating a big win. She recently got the attention from some big wig at CNN, and she has an interview the next day. But Chloe is Chloe and rescues some dog, so Mo and Chloe can’t go out. Instead, it’s Mo and Hazel. Some dude that Mo knows (Allen) shows up and spikes Mo’s drink with GHB because he has a seething hatred for Mo for rejecting him like eight years ago. But Mo gets a call from Kyle, who is deployed in Germany. So Hazel drinks Mo’s drink.
And Hazel goes missing for a little while.
Because Allen is a dirt bag raping scumbag who needs to spike women’s drinks in order to feel like a man. Oh, and his brother James is also a dirt bag covering up for Allen. They somehow happen to work at the same place.
After picking up Hazel, we go through a series of very unfortunate choices, all bordering on psychopathic but (in my opinion) what every woman secretly hopes she could do to a rapist man. I guess that makes me a psychopath.
First, Hazel decides not to talk to the police. Understandable.
Then, Mo runs into an asshole cop, who doesn’t care that a girl was drugged and raped. And he has his own psychopath issues against women to deal with. Chloe puts lax in his coffee, which sends him after Chloe. Mo then puts up an Instagram post about Allen being a rapist and goes to his office to threaten him. Except the next day, turns out that someone drugged him and he got beat up. Personally, I think that was karma right there. Something that rarely happens in these cases.
Also on the horizon is that Hazel went off the deep end, making up a batch of this GHB that she was drugged with. And she ends up taking a road trip to Oregon to do some crazy stuff. So Chloe and Hazel, being really good friends, go after her because they think she’s going to commit suicide. A very valid worry, if I might add.
Somewhere in Bend but before finding Hazel, Chloe meets Hunter. They also meet Paul and Hawk (what’s with all the nature names?). And another ex-con dude that I can’t remember the name of. Kyle shows up from Germany, being quite pissed that his girlfriend, whom he thinks was raped, is ignoring him. I personally think he’s a major douche, but the author is obviously in love with him. So is Mo.
Things get a little hairy because Chloe is relaying legal advice from her mother, Mo gets herself a loudmouth attorney that did absolutely nothing, Chloe falls in love with Hunter and goes after Hazel, Kyle ultimately ends up rescuing Hazel but then drops her off at her parents’ house, and we have another boneheaded mistake from Mo, who arranges to meet Allen in exchange for dropping the charges. Which, even in the world of 26 year olds, is incredibly stupid. How is meeting a rapist going to exonerate you with the police??? So of course she is attacked.
Throughout the entire book, we have mentions of Finn and Oz and the accident, which at first was fun, but then turned into the author being lazy with her characterization. It got old really fast.
Overall, though, and despite the legal errors (below), the book was a fast read. I was stuck inside of a reading rut, and I managed to knock this one out in a night. Definitely worth reading.
Suzanne Redfearn‘s Moment In Time – Legal Review
One of my biggest pet peeves is when an author makes stuff up. I mean, I know authors make stuff up. It’s a book of fiction. But, the solution, especially if it’s a legal solution, should be, well, legal. I’m going to write today about the difference between “Fruits of the Poisonous Tree” (which Ms. Redfearn got wrong) and an arrest warrant “Traverse and Quash.” But, before I begin, we have some minor legalities inside this book that are just annoying:
- GHB is illegal to manufacture (unless you are a licensed manufacturer), use (unless with a prescription), distribute (unless you are pharmacist), or administer (unless you are a doctor or nurse). That means that the absolute best charge against both Allen and Mo was making and using this stuff, which is a felony.
- You also can’t transport the stuff. So everyone also committed a felony by going to Oregon, which means it was also a federal crime (and/or an Oregon state crime).
- The DA charges people with the little stuff as well as the big stuff. So the manufacture, the possession, the transportation, and the administration of GHB would have also been charged.
- The author never resolved the murder. Just because Mo wasn’t the murderer doesn’t mean someone else wasn’t. Murders don’t just go off into nowhere. Ms. Redfearn should have mentioned what happened to the murder investigation.
- The reader also wasn’t given a satisfactory answer as to why Hazel went off the deep end and murdered someone. I mean, I get it. But it’s not her personality. So I didn’t find it very believable.
- The driver of the vehicle (the receptionist) would be charged as an accomplice to attempted rape, the possession and use of GHB, attempted murder, and kidnapping. An accomplice is sentenced as if that person committed the crime. So basically, she would have been put away for life.
- I’m not the biggest fan of the police, but I find it hard to believe that a cop would be soooo callous when a woman was raped. They have special units to take care of rape victims. And even if they don’t end up prosecuting someone, that doesn’t mean that they won’t investigate.
- You do NOT need the victim to cooperate to charge and prosecute a rapist. It makes the ADA’s life a whole lot easier. But rape victims can be difficult because of the lack of evidence or cooperation. The DA and the police have special victims advocates for a reason.
Fruits of the Poisonous Tree
The fruit of the poisonous tree is kind of a colloquial term that is batted around to generally mean that evidence that was illegally obtained is excluded. I’d venture to guess that the biggest way to get poisonous fruit is from a traffic stop. So that means if you got stopped for a broken taillight … and then you had cocaine sitting in plain sight on the passenger seat next to you … and then you find out that your taillight is not broken … that ultimately means that the cocaine is excluded as evidence, e.g. your cocaine possession charge is thrown out.
Here is an important concept. That traffic stop was illegal. That means that the police officer made a mistake of the law. In other words, he did something he wasn’t supposed to do, e.g. the tree. And anything resulting from that illegality, e.g. the fruit, is poisoned.
Traverse and Quash
The end result of a traverse and quash is much the same as the fruits of the poisonous tree. Basically, the arrest warrant results (the finding of the GHB inside the apartment) would be thrown out because of Allen’s false accusation. Many people might consider this to be the same, but there is a large difference.
One is legal, and the other is not.
A “traverse” or a “quash” (which are also not the same thing, even though sometimes they are treated as such) means that the warrant was legal, but the information contained in the warrant was wrong. In other words, the police did not do anything they weren’t supposed to do. In fact, they did everything that they were supposed to do.
And it also means that the judge must make the decision to throw out the warrant, not the prosecution. Of course, this is just a hearing (or maybe just an “in chambers discussion”). (Before we get all hyper technical … a judge usually has to make the fruit of the poisonous tree decision as well.)
But, there are also ways around a traverse and quash. That’s because the warrant itself wasn’t illegal. (There are ways around the poisonous tree as well. But they are slimmer. And everything in criminal trials hinges on very slim things.)
What does this mean? It means, simply, that Allen was drugged against his will. The GHB was matched (according to the book) to the murder in Oregon, which, by the way, Mo and Chloe were in Oregon at the time of the murder. That information is enough probable cause to make the arrest warrant stand, which of course means that both the murder charge and the assault charge would stand. Now, whether that means the prosecution wants to touch that with a ten foot pole … that I can’t say.
Maureen’s Legal Bottom Line
A timely book on the #MeToo issues, with highlights of Mo’s own movement. I did not care for the author’s blatant stereotyping of attorneys. We’re not all the same, nor are we all litigators. Also, if you are going to do a book about legal things, make sure an attorney actually critiques and reads your book because the charges against Mo would not have been dropped because of the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree. (They might have been dropped because she was an attempted rape victim.)
Before I end, this book was provided courtesy of NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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