Reflections From Self Representation – Part 2


By Matt Paul

November 11, 2018

In the last segment I discussed legal aid, duty council and the three essential options in criminal court. The standard option when faced with criminal charges is to hire a lawyer. This can be done through legal aid or by paying a lawyer out of your own pocket. If you earn less than 22,270 per year you may qualify for a legal aid certificate that you can present to an attorney which means they will be able to get paid by the legal aid fund for the work they do for your case. Many of the public defenders are funded solely by legal aid cases because the people that are in the criminal justice system are generally not able to afford the services of a lawyer themselves. Just like many of the people they serve, these lawyers are on a form of welfare except they get to drive home from their court appearances, spend a week or two on vacation in a warm destination and own their principal residence. The only guarantee for the people they represent is that if they do manage to gain a semblance of freedom from the lawyers effort they will no doubt be back in the system in one way or another in no time on another poverty related behavioral crime.

The lawyers who work legal aid cases are either simply the most wonderful charitable human beings trying to lessen the suffering of those they represent or they are the least competent and most desperate in their field. They are not competent professionals for more lucrative forms of real estate, corporate, trademark, intellectual property or one of the other law specializations and prey on the weakness of the people they represent, often merely selling deals conjured up with the crown attorney. The real eager legal aid lawyers also enjoy the disparity in the social classes, lording their apparent knowledge, expertise and favour with the crown over the vassals they represent that the system provides. They often talk pre hearing with the police and court staff about a recent hockey game or concert event, luxuries that the people they represent would not be able to take part in. Like any human being, regardless of social status, these lawyers are ripe with the same ethical compasses of those that they represent and are not immune to controversy, however their station and remuneration afford them the ability to maintain the covertness of their vices and sins. The poor in this country are afforded no luxury.

The next class of lawyer is the for profit criminal lawyer. Now granted most lawyers do take a fair case load of legal aid cases however there are lawyers who serve a privileged defendant and offer a rigorous defense so as money can buy. You do not see these lawyers as often in court on a daily basis, they are selective in their cases and confine themselves to noteworthy defendants and more high profile likely to be in the media cases. These lawyers are motivated by money, however they also have a mind for politics, media reputation and notoriety. You won’t likely meet these people slumming in the local court house but if you did something or are accused of something that made the news they may find you and can be had for a fee.

There are three classes of lawyers as I outlined, those that work for legal aid, those that mix it up and those that strive to be above it all. Most lawyers in the defense realms if they are legal aid or a mix see a promotion as working for the attorney general as a crown or assistant crown. In order to get that promotion they need to establish a record of being good with the crown, to do that they need to trade a few convictions over the years to gain favour. It is hard to serve two masters and trust me your legal aid certificate or the $10,000 is not worth the $100,000 to $250,000 that her majesty pays. I hope that trade is not you.

Faced with that reality of trading people on a daily basis you might decide to opt out. That’s what I did and in the next article coming soon I will talk about what representing myself involved and if it is realistic for you.

The author is not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. It is a literal representation of the facts as they appeared to the writer from personal experience.

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