The Voice of Reason: Honest lawyers in a dishonest system

The Voice of Reason: Honest lawyers in a dishonest system

By Tony Lamia

The following is an excerpt from my book:

First, we must realize that those who profit from the injustices inherent in the present system, even if they are honest, do not want the proposed changes. As a matter of fact, they will resist any change that threatens their power, wealth, and status with every means at their disposal, fair (by those who are honest) or foul. Politicians and government employees have no reason to support such changes (those proposed in my book), because many of the perks and powers they enjoy would be taken away. Likewise, lawyers will fight the changes tooth and nail, because they profit from the current legal procedures at the expense of their clients.

Behind closed doors, however, many lawyers agree with my proposed changes. Being a licensed attorney makes me a member of the “fraternity,” so to speak; thus, they tell me what they do not admit publicly or to other individuals. Again, that is human nature in action—acknowledging the voice of conscience that tells us what is right, but resisting it in practice because to do otherwise threatens our career, our power, our acceptance by our peers, etc.

I have had many conversations with lawyers in which I asked them how they could sleep at night knowing that motions are made for the primary purpose of dragging out a case. “Surely,” I point out, “opposing counsel knows that the attorneys on both sides are making a bundle, and meanwhile their clients are going broke.”

One attorney friend of mine replied in all sincerity, “Tony, the system allows the other side to present as many motions as they can think of, so long as they address the issues before the court and are based on any arguable reason. I can’t change the system.”

“Well, can’t all motions be brought at one time?” I asked. (My objection to the trial courts’ procedures is one of the primary reasons that I prefer the real estate business.)

“No,” my attorney friend answered. “The judges will not make decisions on several motions at a time. The truth is, they get confused too easily. You have to try to limit every court appearance to one issue at a time.

“So,” I reply, “what if a motion is based on misrepresentations of the facts by the lawyer? Can’t you present evidence to prove he’s lying?”

“No, Tony. You know that no evidence is admissible in motions,” he answered impatiently. “Why do you ask such fundamental questions?”

“But can’t anything be done about the lies?” I asked incredulously.

“Well, I can tell the judge my version of the facts, and why I believe opposing counsel is misrepresenting them,” my friend said.

“So, the judge makes decisions without even knowing who is properly representing the facts, because no evidence can be presented!” I replied. “Is that right?”

“That’s right,” my friend answered.

“Even if it results in taking away the rights of your client?” I asked. “It happens all the time,” he answered sadly. “Sometimes I don’t sleep well.”

So, the moral of this story is that even if a lawyer is honest and tries to the best of his ability to protect your rights, he is bound by the legal procedures set up by the lawyers and for the lawyers. More to the point, after you have lost all your legal rights, the only thing your lawyer can do is shrug his shoulders and blame it on the system.

Tony L. Lamia is the author of “Blame It On The System.”

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