Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.

The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.

Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Georgia and Japan.

Chapter 126

April 7, 1932, the first day of the murder trial, dawned with soft breezes pushing puffs of cotton clouds over Honolulu Harbor’s silky blue waters. Four blocks inland, Taka signed in at the courtroom he had gotten to know so well from last year’s rape trial. He had arrived early, even though this first day would deal only with jury selection. He took his same seat in the press box, second row, at the end. It came with a polished mahogany post that obstructed his view. He had to move his head either right or left to see any of the court action. But he was the kid reporter and he knew his place.

With Makino’s law career suggestion still fresh in his mind, Taka shifted his perspective. He put himself in the shoes of the combatants, the dueling attorneys, refereed by another attorney, the judge. As Taka watched the judge chastise Darrow and Kelley for their delay tactics in finding sympathetic jurors, he wondered if a Japanese lawyer would ever sit on the bench in Hawai‘i. Sure, there had been Japanese attorneys in Hawai‘i for decades. But in big cases like a murder trial, even with Japanese defendants, the lead attorneys, the prosecutors and the judges were always haole, as were the key police witnesses. Haole justice ruled.

Taka speculated as to what he would do in Darrow’s place. In his mind, there was only one issue: How would the great Darrow convince 12 jurors that despite Tommy Massie’s confession that he pulled the trigger, extenuating circumstances demanded a verdict of not guilty? An honor killing? That sounded too biblical for Taka’s Buddhist ears. It’s one thing to demand such in newspaper editorials or around a bar . . . but 12 men of varying backgrounds sitting in a jury room? That seemed a stretch to Taka. Temporary insanity? Taka had done his research. Recent insanity pleas to stateside juries had not gone well. Very risky. Still, it would be Darrow tugging on the jury’s emotions.

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