19.10.05 The other day I hear that a lawyer I know has been referred to as a dump truck. It seems pretty likely to me that the speaker has some misunderstandings as to what “dump truck” means. Soooo, let’s talk about it a bit. I’m good with some street slang. Some of it has some worthwhile meaning to it. “Bad action” for example has some excellent depth. Today though, we’re talking about “dump truck”. So what’s a dump truck?
“my lawyer told me that the case is pretty strong against me, and he thinks a guilty plea is a good move, what a dump truck”. Nope. You’re missing it. Not understanding dump truck at all. This is called good legal advice. You should listen closely to what your lawyer is saying. Is the case against you a strong one? Think now, don’t rely on some story that a 5 year old wouldn’t believe, take a moment to really look at the case against you. Ask your lawyer what’s strong about it. If he or she can tell you, it’s probably a good idea to listen to it.
“my lawyer told me that I’ve been such a jerk that they’re not willing to work for me anymore. What a dump truck”. Nope, still missing it. Dumping you as a client is a smart move for the lawyer, because if you’re being a jerk now, it’s not likely to get better. By the time your lawyer says this, it’s pretty clear to them that you’re incapable of hearing, accepting or understanding good legal advise anyway.
“legal aid said that the lawyer I wanted won’t take my case. What a dump truck”. Yeahhhhhhh, still missing it. If the lawyer you wanted won’t take the case there’s likely good reason for it. It may be because you’re a complete jackass, but not necessarily. Instead, your lawyer may already be too busy, or have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is way too long a story to explain to someone who says something like this, so I won’t bother. I will say that when the lawyer you wanted says they have a conflict of interest, they’re doing you a favour. You should learn to accept things gracefully.
“I know a lawyer who almost never takes a case to trial. No one I know has had a trial with this lawyer, and when I ask this lawyer if they ever run trials they have different explanations, but at the end of the conversation it seems like there’s never any trials going on for this lawyer, . … what a dump truck” Bingo! You’ve got it! A dump truck is a lawyer who never, or extremely rarely, takes a case to trial. When talking about a criminal lawyer, if I’m not seeing 6+trials per year, then I’m seeing a guy or woman who’s gotten afraid of the trial track, or never got comfortable there in the first place. If they’re afraid to run a trial, the crown gets a feel for that too, and that lawyer loses the ability to effectively negotiate. If the crown does not think that the lawyer is willing and ABLE to really test their witnesses, or the evidence, they have no reason to be concerned about what kind of shi&&y case they have to wobble forward. A lawyer who has lost the willingness to take things to trial has lost half their arsenal. It’s a bit like the big kid at school who’s afraid to fight. Once the sharks get the smell for that…. it doesn’t go well.
While I’m here, lets talk about trials on criminal files. On private files, where the client is actually paying the freight, the client gets the idea pretty quick of how much money a trial is worth. Just because it’s thick money does not mean that the lawyer is willing to run the trial. Ask around, and ask the lawyer. “Have you run any trials this year?” if asked respectfully, is not unreasonable if you’re getting the idea that trial was never on the table. On legal aid a lawyer gets a lot less. That said, lawyers on a legal aid file make more money running trials than pleading out. It’s usually more in the financial interest for the lawyer to run the trial than not to. But trials are hard, incredibly focused, and time consuming to prepare for. Trials involve some very personal effort, and they can be too much for some people, who should not be practicing criminal law. It’s okay to to ask, but ask carefully. The question is pretty close to saying “are you afraid to fight” and you might get a pretty strong response. That said, if you’re asking…. well.. something is not right, and you should get that sorted out with your lawyer before progressing much further.