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Legal Humour Blog

 

August 2013

In Lawyers We Trust

Aug 7, 2013 10:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

The Ontario Bar Association has started a public campaign to reverse the image of sever distrust lawyers are facing. A poll found that only 44% of the public trusted lawyers.  We lawyers scored less trust than plumbers. And we just beat out auto mechanics and taxi drivers.

I get the feeling it would not be a great idea for a lawyer's website to read, " See us about your divorce. While you wait, let us do your oil change.  We also give you the best deals to the airport.”  

It is all about image and optics. Abraham Lincoln once said, “When I prepare a speech, I spend one third of the time planning to say what I want to say and two thirds planning to address what people wish to hear.”

For example the public does not like it when we represent notorious criminals.   A most common comment I get is, "How can you represent someone just know is guilty?"

Bearing this in mind, to improve our image,the criminal lawyer should respond, " You have a point madam  I am going to the jail this afternoon and I shall advise my client to plead guilty."

The lawyer should be carefull not to add, " Now how about that oil change?"

There are also major concerns the public has about legal fees.  Image again is crucial.  If it would help I would rebrand immediately and call my firm," Mother Teresa- Barristers and solicitors."

We already do some pro bono or free work here and there, more than most professional athletes who get paid much more than most lawyers even when they lose.

The Toronto Maple Leafs players earn many times over per player than the average lawyer. They have not won a Stanley cup in almost half a century and have made the playoffs only once in the last 9 years or so.

Do we ever hear a survey that concludes that the public does not trust hockey players? How many people do you know who would rather watch plumbers at work?

Why are lawyers more mistrusted?  Maybe it is the way we communicate. Unlike hockey players, we have our own language, legalese. Perhaps this annoys the lay people.  We use terms like examination for discovery , pleadings and those dreaded Latin words and phrases like , Factum, res ipse loquitor and habeus corpus. The public probably believes we charge more for using theses words .  Maybe they have a point. After all I have never heardthe Great one, Wayne Gretsky interviewed and he talked about taking a swing with his stickum and slapping the puckum into the netta.  And when he got a hat trick, I never heard him say he scored 3 goali.

Perhaps lawyers can learn something from the athletes.  Win or lose, keep it simple. Don't try to show off.

The OBA  survey certainly is a wake up call to the legal profession.  I suggest we do our best to improve our  collective image.  We should watch our billing practices, communicate better, and perhaps keep a modest profile about our notorious clients.  I am not sure what it will take but in the meantime  it seems we can move up to the next tier of trust by offering to unclog someone' sink.

 I practice civil lititgation, emphasis on personal injury, and family law and divorce.  My clients have been trusting me for 39 years.  Please visit www.striglaw.com , a trusted site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 2013


Loonies for Loonies

Jul 29, 2013 10:02 PM
Marcel Strigberger

The late Robert McCorkill of St. John New Brunswick died, leaving an estate worth over $250,000 to some violent neo-Nazi group in West Virginia. These guys in fact inspired the 1995 Oklahoma bombing.

This did not sit well with the deceased’s sister who obtained an injunction pending a decision on the validity of the will, as her lawyer says the bequest offends public policy.

What kind of man was this McCorkill?  I guess if Adolph Hitler were around, McCorkill might very well have mentioned the Fuhrer in his will.  What would that look like?  Would the lawyer summon all beneficiaries  to hear the will read?

Lawyer:

“Ladies and gentlemen. Please listen to my reading of the Will. And you sir, with the little moustache. I ask that you put down your right hand. If you must go to the washroom, you need not raise your hand. It’s the second door town the hall to your right.  And stop shouting.
I shall now read the Will...

...And finally,  to my hero, Adolph Hitler, I leave one half of the residue of my estate together with Larry, my daschund.  Any questions?”

Hitler:

“What? Only one half? No way Heinrich. I only want a piece of the estate as long as it is a 100% piece. If I do not get it, I shall invade New Brunswick tonight and dangle the mayor of St. John upside down and naked over the Reversing Falls. We shall demagnetize Magnetic Hill.  And I shall appoint Larry as ruler of Moncton. Nein!”

I am sure with this injunction ruling and the resistance the proof of the Will is getting, the late Mr McCorkill would not be too happy. Well, to him I say, wherever you are, keep rolling in it.

      I enjoy practising civil litigation and family law. Though my practice is never dull, it does not get this exciting.  Please visit www.striglaw.com .

 

 

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The Druid Temple v. Jock the Mover

Jul 22, 2013 9:45 PM
Marcel Strigberger

For centuries people have wondered about the mystery of how the stones at Stonehenge England arrived there. There are several dozen huge stones arranged in a circular pattern with some rocks resting horizontally high atop the other rocks, each piece weighing several tons. Experts claim that the stones originate from Wales. I recently visited Stonehenge. I was no further enlightened.

It seems however that some light may now be shed on the mystery as construction workers digging near the courthouse in nearby Salisbury have come across some court records which reveal a legal action that took place centuries ago. The story will show that times have not changed.

The following narrative is taken from the judgment of the trial judge:

Flintsone J.: The plaintiff, the Druid Orthodox Temple, brings this action against the defendant Jock the Mover. It seems that the plaintiff hired the mover to move its temple from Wales a couple of hundred miles south to a site near Salisbury. The plaintiff claims that many of the rocks were not delivered, some were returned damaged and the temple was not properly set up.

A month or so before the move a sales representative of the mover, one Ehrlick, visited the Druids to price the move. He dealt with one Bork, the Temple's ritual slaughterer and accountant.

The two struck a deal to move the entire temple rock by rock and reset it up at Stonehenge.

The move was to start the following week and take three days. Ehrlick's testimony however was that he specifically advised Bork that the mover was also moving a second nearby temple shortly and that it would move the two simultaneously "as there's no sense travelling all that distance for just one temple".

Unfortunately the move was plagued by misfortune from the word go.

On November 26 the Druids waited patiently for Jock's team of movers to arrive. To their chagrin what came were three drunken men in a broken flatbed wagon. They circled the temple once and left, indicating they would be back after lunch. The move was not started completed until the following July.

While the movers were unloading an altercation erupted. The man in charge, one Leon, requested payment before completion of the set up, indicating that terms of payment were C.O.D. Bork refused to pay at that point and the movers left, retaining with them a number of rocks as security, pursuant to the Moving and Warehousing of Places of Worship Act.

The Druids claim that many rocks are still missing or damaged and they sue for 100,000 Crowns.

The mover argues that it is not at fault, saying that on route its vehicles were ambushed by a bunch of outlaws while passing through Sherwood Forest. The bandits made off with the driver's purse, his wagon and about twenty-five eight-ton rocks. They also snatched his pet beagle Pokey.

The Sheriff of Nottingham eventually recovered a couple of the rocks from the homes of the poor. The Sheriff charged them with possession of stolen property. The accused apparently alleged that they picked the rocks up at a local flea market.

The Druids also claim that the temple is now ruined. Bork points to a sketch of rocks arranged in a circle and says, "Where is the roof?"

The structure indeed appears roofless. Ehrlick denies that the temple ever had a roof. He points to the bill of lading which lists what was being moved and he says that there is no mention of a roof.

Bork on the other hand insists that there was a cover, "as you can hardly light up a sacrifice when it rains if there is no roof."

The mover says that if there was a roof, then maybe the outlaws pocketed it. His lawyer points to a clause in the contract that absolves the mover from "unlawful acts of the King's enemies."

I did not spot this clause initially but I now see it with the aid of my magnifying glass. Bork denies ever seeing the clause at all. Furthermore he claims he doesn't read Latin. I don't accept the mover's argument that Latin is similar to Druidese. I can't believe that for any Druid "Latin is a piece of cake".

There will be judgement for the plaintiff.

I trust this helps explain the mystery of Stonehenge. But nobody knows what ever became of Pokey.

When I am not busy watching temples being moved, I practice family personal injury and insurance law. Please visit www.striglaw.com.  I am bilingual (English and French, not Druidese.)

 

 

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Jul 5, 2013 6:06 PM
Marcel Strigberger

       In St. John N.B. the outcome in a criminal trial involving twin brothers could not be determined on DNA evidence as in case of twins, the DNA is identical for each twin.  The jury did convict both brothers on burglary related charges as it had other evidence to go by.  However given the importance of DNA evidence in securing  criminal convictions, I think a change in the law is due as there is unfairness in exempting twins from the scourges of DNA evidence.

       Firstly I believe the rest of us have a strong Charter of Rights argument.  Section 15(1) of the Charter reads:

    “15.       (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination...”  

      Where is the equality? Why should twins get off in the face of solid DNA evidence, while the majority of good single birth criminals are subject having saliva, hair or other body substances buy them a conviction?

      I have 2 more suggestions

      The first is, convict either one of them. It doesn’t matter which. Given their cemented relationship, each should feel the pain of the other, something like Alexander Dumas’ Corsican Brothers. Conversely if Brent is convicted for Brad’s crime, though incarcerated, he would no doubt feel the freedom Brad would enjoy. On second thought, in that case, I am not happy with this scenario. Why should the guy in jail feel good?

      The other suggestion is, hang them both.  After all, they are the ones who caused this confusion.  And considering that their DNA is identical, if one has bad DNA, so does the other.  

      Speaking of hair, a certified aesthetician in Ross Township, Pennsylvania was fired by the owner of the European Wax Centre for not allowing co-workers to perform a Brazilian wax on her.  She is now suing for damages, alleging there was something illegal about the owner insisting she restructure her private area.  I suppose the owner sees it more like an employee at Tim Horton’s going out for lunch and returning with a double double from Starbucks.  

      I don’t know how this case will turn out but  the owner is counterclaiming for the tickets he had to refund to 250 spectators.  

      I practice personal injury and family law. Please visit www.striglaw.com. There is only one of me.

 

 

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Comedy of Errors and Errors of Comedy

Jul 1, 2013 9:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

The past few days have seen a couple of oddball court decisions surface.

Firstly is the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling staying the charges against Nicole Doucet of Nova Scotia after she tried to hire a hitman to put her husband away.  The "hitman" was actually an undercover RCMP officer whom she offered $25,000.00.  No, hold it. The Mountie was the second hitman she hired. Hitman #1 one took her $25k and absconded with the cash.

My concern now is that this decision will enable hitmen to come out of the closet to ply their trade. It will not be too long before hitmen start attending family law continuing legal education conferences and setting up display booths. Most sponsors dole out giveaways like pens, memory sticks and keychains. What will these guys hand out? Silencers?

I can already see the company's banner:

 "Divorce case taking too long? Give us a call.  Free estimates.  Visit us at www.werubout.com."   

There will likely be a fish bowl on the desk: “Put your business card in and win a free contract.”

Quare whether they will provide a list of satisfied clients.

The SCC does not realize the Pandora's box it has opened.

The other bizarre decision was by the B.C. Supreme Court which upheld a $15,000.00 judgment of the BC Human Rights Tribunal against comedian Guy Earle, for uttering anti Lesbian slurs in the course of his act, at a lady in the audience who allegedly heckled him.  The HR Tribunal accepted the complainant's evidence that she suffered a post traumatic stress disorder consequent to her attendance that night at the comedy club.

I have not read the details but, hey, I spent 6 years doing standup.  Sitting in the front row and heckling the comedian may just attract an unwanted response from the comic. And she even spilled a glass of water on Earle.

This being a comedy club I would have thought the comedian is immune from any civil liability claim. Throughout the centuries the court jester was always safe to do his schtick without fear of incurring the king's wrath.  While I do not at all condone improper slurs, a stand up comic's ultimate punishment for a lousy set is the audience's reaction with a deafening silence.  To borrow a theme from the late Prime Minister Trudeau, the state has no business in the nation's Yuk Yuks's.

And what about the damages? How did this PTSD display itself? I can only imagine:

She wakes up in sweats after having recurrent nightmares of being chased by a rubber chicken. She has this inexplicable urge to hit people in the face with cream pies.  She emits primal screams whenever she hears the names, Larry, Moe or Curly?

The B.C. Supreme Court has opened a Pandora's box. Caveat comedian.

Let me conclude by giving some advice to Nicole Doucet. Next time she hires a hitman, she should not give him the full contract price up front.  She should just give him a deposit. Ten % sounds reasonable.      


Please visit my website, www.striglaw.com for more info about my personal injury and family law practice.  I am an equal opportunity lawyer and humourist.

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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

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