ONE Atlanta, Georgia Tuesday, May 6, the present, 10:35 a.m. Judge Rachel Cutler glanced over the top of her tortoiseshell glasses. The lawyer had said it again, and this time she wasn't going to let the comment drop. "Excuse me, counselor." "I said the defendant moves for a mistrial." "No. Before that. What did you say?" "I said, 'Yes, sir.' " "If you haven't noticed, I'm not a sir." "Quite correct, Your Honor. I apologize." "You've done that four times this morning. I made a note each time." The lawyer shrugged. "It seems such a trivial matter. Why would Your Honor take the time to note my simple slip of the tongue?" The impertinent bastard even smiled. She sat erect in her chair and glared down at him. But she immediately realized what T. Marcus Nettles was doing. So she said nothing. "My client is on trial for aggravated assault, Judge. Yet the court seems more concerned with how I address you than with the issue of police misconduct." She glanced over at the jury, then at the other counsel table. The Fulton County assistant district attorney sat impassive, apparently pleased that her opponent was digging his own grave. Obviously, the young lawyer didn't grasp what Nettles was attempting. But she did. "You're absolutely right, counselor. It is a trivial matter. Proceed." She sat back in her chair and noticed the momentary look of annoyance on Nettles's face. An expression that a hunter might give when his shot missed the mark. "What of my motion for mistrial?" Nettles asked. "Denied. Move on. Continue with your summation." Rachel watched the jury foreman as he stood and pronounced a guilty verdict. Deliberations had taken only twenty minutes. "Your Honor," Nettles said, coming to his feet. "I move for a presentence investigation prior to sentencing." "Denied." "I move that sentencing be delayed." "Denied." Nettles seemed to sense the mistake he'd made earlier. "I move for the court to recuse itself." "On what grounds?" "Bias." "To whom or what?" "To myself and my client." "Explain." "The court has shown prejudice." "How?" "With that display this morning about my inadvertent use of sir." "As I recall, counselor, I admitted it was a trivial matter." "Yes, you did. But our conversation occurred with the jury present, and the damage was done." "I don't recall an objection or a motion for mistrial concerning the conversation." Nettles said nothing. She looked over at the assistant DA. "What's the State's position?" "The State opposes the motion. The court has been fair." She almost smiled. At least the young lawyer knew the right answer. "Motion to recuse denied." She stared at the defendant, a young white male with scraggly hair and a pockmarked face. "The defendant shall rise." He did. "Barry King, you've been found guilty of the crime of aggravated assault. This court hereby remands you to the Department of Corrections for a period of twenty years. The bBerry, Steve is the author of 'The Amber Room', published 2007 under ISBN 9780345504388 and ISBN 0345504380.