a little international judicial irony


 CanadaFlagG  Given our post on Saturday praising the assistance Canadian judges are allowed to give self-represented litigants, it is ironic that Monday’s Law Times of Canada had an op/ed piece in which an Ontario justice opines: “Self-represented litigants, and lawyers of lesser quality than Ms. Curtis [a lawyer critical of Family Court judges], often provide the court with inadequate and incomplete evidence. Poor submissions and advocacy can leave a judge with far too little grist for the decision-making mill.”  (Law Times, by Justice Robert Spence, ” ‘Harmful’ decisions often from poorly presented cases,” Oct. 23, 2006).  Justice Spence also added: “The court is not an investigative body. Accordingly, judges are forced to contend only with the evidence they receive and make the best decision possible, based on that evidence.”

Meanwhile, SelfHelpSupport.org pointed yesterday to a piece in the Wisconsin Law Journal Judges Directory that spotlights Madison (WI) municipal court judge Daniel P. Koval, and his efforts to better serve the self-represented.  The article notes that “Koval has spent a good deal of time off the bench, updating and/or creating forms, brochures and other documents that explain municipal court procedures: how to get a police report, for example, or an explanation of plea options.”  It ends with a telling quote and a plea:

“[Pro se litigants] make more work for Koval; yet he is sincerely determined that each and every one of them leaves his courtroom feeling satisfied that justice was served: ‘I want them to come away from the experience feeling that, while they might not agree with my ruling, at least they were given a fair shot to present their side of the story.’

“Attorneys, please assist him in that endeavor.”


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