Tuesday, 22 February 2011

NST: The Rise of the Loyar Buruk

More on the heartless self serving proposal to hike the lawyer fees by the Bar Council, a witty article from the NST:

The rise of the 'Loyar Burok' Azmi Anshar NST 22 Feb 2011

THE 400 per cent probable spike in lawyers' fees, as quantified and deadpanned by the Bar Council, might unwittingly give a new meaning to the expression "self-defence". And the inevitable rise of the "Loyar Burok".

Let us for a moment give this prospective fee spike, cut-throat even in this age of excess, the benefit of the doubt. Let us be magnanimous in allowing the Bar Council to grumble about court KPIs that force the paring down of their members' massive but lucrative court appearances but yet justify the outrageous hike to their already stiff fees.

There is only one logical recourse: to the offender, accused and the defence who simply cannot afford the killer fees even when rates are slightly less than stratospheric now, stand up and strike out on your own.

If the fees break new exorbitant records for what would-be offenders and the accused in criminal cases or the defence in civil cases can afford to pay, then people from the downside of the legal system would have no choice but to put up their own spirited, none Bar Council-approved defence, scary, uncertain and doomed as it seems.

Because of lawyers' craving to maintain the high margins in money-spinning court appearances, has the time arrived to jettison trial lawyers? Perhaps. Pursue the pragmatic alternative of being a "Loyar Burok". Be your own trial lawyer.

But first, get out of the armchair default mode (all of us are strident armchair critics, lawyers, doctors ... and football managers) and start assuming that you can address the Yang Ariffs and My Lords as easily as you scream daylight robbery when you are compelled to pay through your teeth for essential consumer amenities.

With lawyers bent on outpricing themselves, you have to start thinking that you are qualified enough to defend yourselves, just like you're capable enough to treat yourself with on-the-shelf medication from years of experience and some guide from Web MD, rather than pay 20 times more for a clinical prescription that dispenses the same old diagnosis, prognosis and pills for your common ailment.

You've watched many episodes of Judge John Deed, Crown Court, Ally McBeal, The Practice, L. A. Law, Perry Mason and Matlock to understand fundamental court manoeuvres and trial lawyer court craft.

You've also watched plenty of Crime Scene Investigation (Las Vegas, Miami and New York) to understand core forensics that the prosecution or the plaintiff will spring on you to corner your guilt or liability, but with adequate knowledge, you could squeeze yourself out of the jam by arguing the "reasonable doubt" angle.

But, of course, before you debutants make your first court appearance defending against that theft, rape, corruption or murder rap, or the sedition, libel or slander and civil suits, be sure to read up on the book "Be Your Own Trial Lawyer for Dummies".

If this indispensable book is unavailable now, it will be by the time the Bar Council officially endorses its members to charge the new fees, authored by the same people who made a killing selling workbooks for schoolchildren.

Very soon, a whole new paralegal industry will emerge, unless some unknown lawyer unaccustomed to seeing his or her name in the press is willing to undercut the high-charging fee.

Pay special attention on the noun "objection" which you will likely utter unfailingly with the confidence of Lionel Messi dribbling past four defenders any time the prosecution or the plaintiff's lawyer lobs a ruse to make you look worse than the terrible novice that you really are.

Of course, personally defending yourself in court, while provided for under the Constitution and society's common sense, means the burdensome chore of reading up on the relevant statutes, case studies and precedents, and court practices that can lighten your legal fix.

Thank goodness for websites like Free Legal Advice to help you prepare witness prep, court briefs, submissions, argument points and examination and cross-examination tactics and strategies.

Look out for do-gooders like some human rights non-governmental organisation, like Suaram, who may or may not provide you solid legal advice and may even throw in a proper lawyer to help you prepare but make sure you understand elementary legal jargon the prosecution or plaintiff's lawyer spins at you to unsettle or throw you out of your game.

Finally, as part of your prep to act and speak like a trial lawyer, you need to learn how to rattle, rant and speak with indignant fervour the verbal arguments.

Perhaps you could study and learn from some iconic trial lawyers of our time performing in court, especially those apt to seek adjournments after adjournments to make sure they can personally argue in each case, even if it is an impossible 93 cases long in a single day.

Also, look out for the advantages in being your own trial lawyer: a judge is likely to allow extra leverage and leeway to make up for your derisory amateurism that they normally don't to seasoned trial lawyers. Just be sure to smoothen the vowels and pronunciations when you exclaim "if it pleases the court/Yang Ariff".

If there's one thing most judges get annoyed more than usual, it is having to cut down smart alec trial lawyers who condescendingly think that they have a better legal mind than the presider they stand before. Use this as an edge.

Make sure you act humbly before the judge, never interrupt or correct him or her in the hope they admire your David vs Goliath position and rule for you, at least during procedural technicalities.

In any case, judges are apt to be more lenient and sympathetic to your clumsy court craft though they will never stand for idiocy. Use this to your advantage but always remind yourself that your personal initiative and commitment is always your best legal weapon.

However, accept the consequences that despite all the trouble you took to educate yourself and self-motivate your way to putting up a decent trial defence, you could still be found guilty and imprisoned for five to 20 years, or handed a life sentence, thrown to the gallows, or forced to settle humongous damages that will bankrupt you for life.

The only sentiment that you can gloat from this act of genuine self-preserving independence is that you didn't have to give a single ringgit to the insatiable lawyer who would have forced your family to sell prized heirlooms and properties, or make second mortgages to afford their fees ... and still lose the case.

Read more in the NST here.

The loaded sarcasm is intended I think. 

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