Friday, October 29, 2010

Have You Heard the One About the Lawyer...

There has been a lot of talk in these here parts about a corruption trial in our province of British Columbia. Two bureaucrats were investigated for corruption and were found guilty. As part of the plea bargain they only had to pay back the money they accepted and they didn't have to pay their legal fees. A lot of letters to the editor in our paper have expressed outrage that the $6 million in legal fees will have to be paid by the taxpayers.

You know what bugs me. It bugs me that it took seven years and $12 million dollars in legal fees to get to the point that you could get these guys to take a plea bargain. If it takes that much time and money to prove they are guilty you have to question if it is worth the fight. Why not just fire the guys and move on. The real crime here is a legal system that can milk the taxpayers for $18 million between the prosecution and the defence. If these lawyers are so good at their jobs that they deserve this kind of compensation then they should be able to prove their case in less than seven years.

Our province has recently changed the way it deals with drinking and driving. Instead of trying to prosecute drivers with breaking the law of drinking and driving, fines and impounding cars are the new way to penalize people caught with a high blood alcohol content. The driving force for this change is the time and cost involved in prosecuting such drivers. In this case the lawyers priced themselves out of the job. Maybe the government is on to something and should see where else they can do an end run around our over-priced justice system.

My, that's way too serious waters for Little Jackie Showers to be treading in. By the way, I know this one lawyer, Sue L. Her rates are very reasonable.


  1. Hey! that's me ... but seriously, it's not like "the lawyers" have much to do with legislation and policy. you make us sound like a shadowy cabal.

    and don't get me started on the new drinking and driving stuff. it destroys habeus corpus - a foundation of our legal system. now instead of an accused person having the right to face the charged against him or her in court, a person is given a ticket in essence by a cop and the matter is over. everyone should be worried about this.

    smarter lawyers than I am will undoubtedly challenge this in time. for now, I am appalled.

    Sue "reasonable rates" Loney

  2. I agree that the new system for drunk driving is open to abuse and unfairness on the part of the police. My point is not that this system is better, but that the lawyers have made the legal system too complex and expensive, so government has had to do an end run around it to get the results it needs. Namely, reducing the amount of drunk driving.

    Lawyers may not be a cabal, but I have to think that lawyers and judges have somehow managed to make the court system more and more complex and difficult. Cases take longer and longer and lawyers use more and more strategies to delay and prolong the work. They may be playing within the rules, but they have helped to create these rules and are stretching them like nobodies business.

    $18 million dollars and seven years for one trial? Does that seem reasonable? I say no and I wonder how we got to the point that this is the accepted practice of the legal system?

  3. Interestingly enough, Jack, today I got the regular newletter from the Victoria Bar Association. There seems to be a general consensus that the Basi/Virk legal fees were all out of proportion to the work done. The suggestion is being tossed around to lobby the Law Society to bring in a mechanism to review bills in complicated criminal matters to ensure that the taxpayers aren't getting hosed. As a profession, we aren't all on board with what happened, I can promise you that.

    Further, as I often point out to people, the "system" is created by government. Government creates the system through legislation. Judges must operate within that system, they are not free to do whatever they like, and are unable to defend themselves when subjected to public criticism.

    The Basi/Virk case was exceptional and by no means an example of how the system functions regularly. In July, new Supreme Court Rules were implemented to try and steamline litigation.

    I can't comment much on criminal procedure, as that is not my area of practice. However, I sit on a committee of local lawyers and judges devoted to improving efficiency in family court, and we all take that very seriously.

    If on the other hand the cheap-o provincial government would loosen the purse strings and appoint more judges all over the province, perhaps our system could function in a timely fashion. I would LOVE for my clients to have their issues resolved in a timely fashion. Most of us have no interest in making things more difficult.

    Sue "we aren't all so bad" Loney