What do disbarred lawyers do

Sycamore Row - Sycamore Row

Sycamore Row is a novel by John Grisham. It is a direct sequel to his first novel, A Time to Kill, and again features Jake Brigance as the main character. It was released on October 22, 2013. The novel reached number one on the US bestseller list.


The title refers to a row of sycamore trees in the country near the fictional town of Clanton, in fictional Ford County, Mississippi. The trees play an important role in the plot of the book, although the full meaning does not become apparent until the end of the novel. It is believed that these sycamore maples are ancient and planted by Native Americans before the arrival of European settlers and their stolen, enslaved Africans in what would become the state of Mississippi.

The story begins three years after the sensational events of the Carl Lee Hailey trial (A Time to Kill). An employee of the wealthy hermit Seth Hubbard is instructed to meet his boss at one of these sycamore maples one early Sunday afternoon. The clerk found that Mr. Hubbard hung himself from the tree because his terminal lung cancer had become too painful. The body is accompanied by very specific burial and burial instructions.

Jake Brigance, Carl Lee's former attorney, had gained much fame after the Hailey Trial, as well as the respect of the black community and many whites, but he has little to no money to show for it. During the Hailey Trial, the Ku Klux Klan tried to intimidate Jake by burning his house. Jake hasn't seen any of the burned house insurance money tied up in a lawsuit with his own insurance company.

Jake receives a letter from Hubbard shortly before he committed suicide that contains a new holographic will that waives a will he filed the previous year in which he leaves all his property to his daughter and son and grandchildren. In this New Testament, Hubbard states that his children will receive nothing. Instead, five percent will be given to the local church and another five percent to his long-missing brother Ancil Hubbard. The remaining ninety percent should be given to his black housekeeper Letitia "Lettie" Lang. Further instructions provide that the will cannot be submitted for probate examination until after Hubbard's funeral, so that his children, who rarely visited him during his battle with cancer, can put on a show without knowing that they will end up with nothing.

Hubbard notes that his children will surely challenge the new will because they are greedy and that Jake must do everything possible to ensure that the new will is enforced. He says he chose Jake because of the admirable work Jake did during the Hailey Trial.

Jake soon discovers that Hubbard made more than $ 20 million in a lumbering business, a fortune no other person in Ford County made. As the executor publishes this sum, the entire city of Clanton turns its attention to the case.

Hubbard's children attempt to challenge their father's new will by claiming he was incapable when they filed it and sparked a hotly contested court battle with many twists. Jake's first concern is to prevent the process from becoming a racial problem between blacks and whites. Since Ford County has a white majority, the jury would almost certainly have a white majority as well. Ford County's whites, on the other hand, are far from biased, as evidenced by the fact that voters overwhelmingly elected a black sheriff for two consecutive terms. Jake believes that if the racial problem is mitigated, the jury could decide for Lettie on the merits of the case, that is, Hubbard made his own money and had the right to leave it to anyone he wanted and knew what he did when change his will.

First, Jake must get rid of a stirring black Memphis attorney who goes to Clanton and meddles in the case while engaging in a series of provocative acts that risk the chances of winning the case. Then Lettie's husband, with whom she has a bad relationship, kills two teenagers while driving drunk, creating great passions against the Lang family and reducing their chance of a fair trial. As a measure of damage control, Jake persuades Lettie to file for divorce immediately (which was on her mind anyway).

The process is finally starting and going well. Jake sets up his case, and Lettie's own testimony makes a good impression on the jury, and Jake manages to get the testimony of Hubbard's children and their claim to have been close to their father and deeply care for them during his illness discredit. However, the opposing attorney manages to elicit a surprising witness, whose testimony appears to show that Lettie had tried to influence a former sick employer to keep her money in a will, which aroused the suspicion, systematically, of the weakness of older sick people Taking advantage of people. Another surprising witness, a former black employee with whom Hubbard had sexual relations, comes forward, suggesting Lettie also slept with Hubbard.

The trial appears to be lost for Jake, and even the two black jurors have serious doubts about Lettie's credibility. At the last moment, the process is changed again by a sensational dismissal of Hubbard's long-lost brother Ancil. Ancil, who had a very traumatic childhood, had left Ford County and joined the US Navy at the age of 17 swearing never to return. Since then he had led an adventurous and often criminal life around the world under various suspected names until he eventually settled in Juneau, Alaska as a bartender. Disbarred Lucien, Jake's friend and ex-partner, is an alcoholic, but when he's still sober he goes to Alaska and manages to get Ancil's testimony. Ancil explains why Seth left the money to his housekeeper and the significance of the sycamore maple on which he was hung.

In the 1920s, Lettie's grandfather, Sylvester, whom she never knew, owned a sizeable piece of land. Its landowner was a rarity for a black man in the segregationist Deep South and was greatly disapproved of by racist whites in general, and by his neighbor Cleon Hubbard in particular. who made a claim on Sylvester's land. Hubbard, an abusive man who was often violent towards his wife and two sons, Seth and Ancil, tried to go to court. However, Sylvester had an unassailable title for the land, which was registered by the family during the reconstruction period when federal troops present in the south after the civil war protected black rights.

After failing in court, Hubbard resorted to the alternative method available to whites in the deep south at the time; H. The Lynch Act. Sylvester was falsely accused of "speaking rudely to white women" which, along with resentment at being a black landowner, was enough to mobilize a lynching mob. Several men pulled New Year's Eve out of his house and hung him on a sycamore. His sons Ancil and Seth, who did not share their father's prejudices and sometimes played with the black children, secretly watched this scene with great horror. Cleon Hubbard then intimidated Esther, Lettie's grandmother, who had just seen her husband murdered with impunity, and forced her to sign the family's property for a dime - with the promise that she could continue to live on the property. The promise was immediately broken, however, and Cleon and the sheriff then evicted the entire extended family and set fire to their homes and small chapel, completely exterminating the small black community known as "Sycamore Row". Esther and her five-year-old daughter (who was to become Lettie's mother) had to flee with practically no property. An older child, with whom the Hubbard boys sometimes played, drowned in a river during the final eviction.

Years later, Seth Hubbard used the property his father bought as collateral for a mortgage to build his lumber yard. Knowing that his success was due in part to this mortgage and wanting to make up for the injustice caused by his father, he decided to give Lettie most of his capital and, in a final act, clung to the same tree as Lettie's grandfather stood hung.

After hearing Ancil Hubbard's testimony, the jury unanimously confirms the will and rejects claims against its validity by Hubbard's children. However, an appeal seems very likely, which could take years and consume a large portion of the estate in the form of legal fees. In addition, the judge's decision to have the jury hear Ancil Hubbard's testimony could be challenged on procedural grounds (it was a recorded testimony and the opposing attorney was unable to interrogate him). Judge Reuben Atlee therefore suggests that the parties settle the case under reasonable conditions. As the judge suggests, after Ancil Hubbard and the local church received their promised share, $ 5 million would be given to a fund belonging to members of Lettie's family, all of whom are part of the terrible legacy of the 1930 lynching and evictions , enables a university education. Such a fund would also help Lettie rid her back of numerous relatives who had emerged since news of her getting rich.Jake would be in charge of this fund and give him a permanent job but also a lot of headaches. The remaining $ 6 million would be split equally between Lettie and Seth Hubbard's children.

The compromise is acceptable to all. Lettie is content to take back the land that belonged to her grandfather and build a beautiful house on it for herself, her children and grandchildren, and she doesn't mind if Seth Hubbard's children get at least some of his money. In the final scene, Ancil Hubbard comes from Alaska and has an emotional meeting with Lettie and other protagonists under the sycamore. She asks him to leave the past behind and look to a better future.


According to USA Today, "Jake Brigance returns to the courtroom in a dramatic showdown as Ford County is again confronted with its tortured history."