Legal Wit — Self-Taught Self-Dentistry: Bad Idea

Legal Wit — Self-Taught Self-Dentistry: Bad Idea

If there was ever a case indicative of the need for counsel, this is one case where that need is extreme.

[The plaintiff] is well educated, including a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration. Moreover, he struck me as a very intelligent gentleman who was well read and who had carefully researched the legal principles in his briefs. Additionally, throughout, he showed excellent decorum and appropriate respect for both myself and the institution of the Court.

Sheer intelligence, however, is not sufficient to be able to argue a case of this complexity. I tried to explain this at numerous times preparatory to the hearings, using the example of someone of intelligence being unable, without specific education and training, to fly a Boeing 747 aeroplane. In this vein, I urged [the plaintiff] to retain counsel to argue his applications. He indicated that he could not afford counsel, or that he could not find counsel who would act for him, and, accordingly, he was going to continue to be self represented. I suggested on several occasions that it would be folly to do so because he did not know the law and would have difficulty connecting the law to the facts - that is, establishing a linkage, nexus or connection between them - to obtain a just remedy. Indeed, that became evident as the very problem.

This discussion reminded me of the rather indelicate way in which Master Funduk described the defendant in Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Supreme Green Ltd., 1998 ABQB 253 (Alta. Master) at para. 18: 
If Mr. Powell was to himself remove his inflamed appendicle [sic] he can do so but he will botch the job. If he wants to drill and fill his aching tooth he can do so but will botch the job. If he wants to act for himself in this lawsuit he can do so but he will botch the job. He has.

In the case at bar, with no disrespect to [the plaintiff], I could add the Boeing 747 example and the result would be the same.

Hamilton v. Alberta (Human Rights & Citizenship Commission) |  (WestlawNext Canada)
2002 CarswellAlta 1530 |  (Westlaw Canada)
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
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