The Case of the Law School Murders Part 2
by Becky Bye
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a serial fiction piece by The Docket Committee. Each month a new writer will pick up where the other has left off, offering a new piece of the story.
fter spending several more hours at Don’s Club Tavern, sipping my bourbon and observing the happy, carefree bar flies chatter about some imminent debt ceiling crisis of which I was not aware, I deliberated further about the somber situation before me.
My thoughts soon turned to action. As I looked at the small clock hidden behind the rustic wooden bar in the dark room highlighted by fluorescent accented shelves, I noticed that it was only 2:30 p.m. That barely gave me enough time to visit both law schools in the area to obtain a list of the top 10 percent of the 3L class. I wanted to see potential targets if my initial theory—that a disgruntled and worried 3L was attempting to take out his or her competition—held true. I thought there had to be another answer, but that was three bourbons ago.
Because I was already so close to the University of Denver, I slapped some $20 bills on the table to cover my drinks, strode to my yellow Vespa parked outside (to ride incognito), and rode directly there. After parking, I ran into the intimidating, cavernous law school and found the registrar’s office.
A man in his late 20s with short dark hair tinged with some gray strays and who was wearing large glasses was working at the front desk. The nameplate on the desk indicated his name was Brian Harper. I tried to sweet talk Harper at first, asking him questions about the law school and what he does at the office. It turns out that Harper is a full-time 3L and works at the registrar’s office in the late afternoon every day to make some extra cash to begin paying off his student loans.
I changed from the small talk and abruptly asked him to see the list of students in the top 10 percent of the 3L class. I told him I was a police officer and that it was for an investigation while flashing my DPD badge.
Brian Harper’s cheery, talkative tone turned to pensive nervousness. He walked to his computer, frantically pressed some keys, and printed a list of approximately 25 people. As he handed over the list, he grew angry.
"I should be on that list," he said while looking down.
"What do you mean?"
He continued, "Well, the class has 255 students. I am number 26 in the class. I am technically in the top 10.2 percent, but the records automatically put me at 11 percent for my official class ranking since they round up. Because of 0.1 percent, I’m not allowed to say I’m in the ‘top 10 percent.’"
I noticed that his eyes were filled with tears of rage. He began cracking his knuckles, talking faster and louder. "The big firms in Denver only hire ‘top 10 percent’ students. Because of this stupid rule I have to put 11 percent on all my applications. Those firms won’t even look at me. And I need to work there—I need the money. I really need the money."
This was getting interesting. I wrote down Brian Harper’s name and some of what he told me on my small notepad.
I also added: "Suspect Number One."
I asked Harper, "Have you accessed this top 10 percent list before?"
He shrugged. "Sometimes," but quickly added, "for reasons related to my job in this office only. I have no other reason to access this list." He then added, "Is there anything else you would like? I have some other things to do before I leave for the day."
"No. Thank you for your help."
As I walked to my Vespa, I had a feeling that my time was better spent looking into Brian Harper than driving to the University of Colorado Law School for their top 10 percent list.
I made a phone call to my partner, Nancy Dixon. When she picked up, I was about to tell her about Harper, but she started talking first. "Sunday, you know that triple murder of law students? Well, I have the perfect suspect for you—a long-time social activist trying to destroy the legal profession, one law student at a time."
I guess Suspect Number One might have some others to join him. D
Read the third part of the fiction series in the November issue of The Docket. Missed the first part? Read it at denbar.org/docket.