Friday, April 16, 2010

All in the family

Conservative bobble-heads Helena Geurgis and her loverly husband Rahim Jaffer have both chosen to use a lawyer who has the same high regard for the truth and the facts as they do. I am at this time unwilling to enter into some sort of anti-lawyer screed. I do not like everything that lawyers do, but they are an important part of the justice system and I don't think that is as obvious or as trite as it sounds. There are too many folks out there who confuse lawyers with the clients they represent. "Some lawyer represented a murder? Obviously he supports murder as a pass-time" some people seem to think, and this is just wrong. I don't like murders getting off, or criminals of any kind, but there has to be proof that the accused have committed a crime, and the accused as a right to be defended. As Doctor Gonzo says in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "Even a goddamn werewolf is entitled to legal counsel..." Of course I prefer the Atticus Finch model from To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my favourite books), but Dr Gonzo cuts right through to the heart of the matter in a way that Atticus never would.

Decades back when I was in high school I went to hear a local lawyer speak about the Canadian justice system. He told us about how trials as shown on television or in movies were not even close to how it really was. Another point he wanted to get across was the difference between lawyers in Canada and the United States. He said that in Canada lawyers wanted to get to the truth of the matter, while lawyers in the US wanted to win for their clients. I remember thinking at the time, what a load of butt-junk, and my opinion has not changed much in that regard over the years. Lawyers are people and people like to win. It's hard-wired in (no, I am not identifying with the Intelligent Design nimrods by using the phrase "hard-wired in". Intelligent designers are dorks and I just happen to like the phrase.) Lawyers are doing a job and that job is defending their clients best interests and I think this is where it gets a bit slippery, to wit: what are the clients best interests? This is also where I finally get back on track with Helena, Rahim and their lawyer, 'Big' Howard Rubel.

This particular story began September 11, 2009 when after an evening of high-powered business schmoozing, Rahim decided that those silly old drunk-driving laws didn't apply to him. He hopped into his ironically named Ford Escape and laid rubber for his trip home. A member of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) radared Rahim flying at 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone (apparently speed limits are rather silly too, or maybe they just shouldn't apply to top flight, happenin' business dudes like Rahim) and he was pulled over. The officer noticed the smell of booze and when Rahim claimed to have had only two beers in the previous hour the officer whipped out the approved road-side breath-test device (I assume the Alcotest 7410 GLC, the breath-tester of choice among members of the OPP, unless I am very much mistaken) which Rahim blew, and failed. (A quick breath-tester primer: The road-side device is calibrated to show whether a person would pass, fail, or receive a warning, depending on the amount of liquor detected on the suspects breath. With a "fail" the officer can then make a demand for the suspect to give a formal breath sample at the police station. This second test is considered the "real" test. Here endeth the lesson.) Oh, and as Rahim was being bustled into the police car a small amount of cocaine was found in his jacket.

He was taken back to the station for the "real" breath test, and he was given the opportunity to contact a lawyer. Unfortunately nobody was returning calls at that particular time of the night (two of the lawyers he called were in Calgary, a couple of time-zones away) so the officer suggested that he call the free legal aid 1-800 number. The advice he got there was to take the test,and while he was doing that both lawyers from Calgary called back. Unfortunately the police didn't want to interrupt the breath tests and didn't allow Rahim to speak to the lawyers right away.

Then for some reason after the breath test the officers decided to give Rahim a strip-search. There is no apparent reason for this to have happened as Rahim was going to be released, had no previous record, and was cooperating. When he finally did walk out of the station his drivers licence had been suspended and he was facing criminal charges for speeding, drunk driving and possession of a controlled substance. All federal charges and all bad news.

Several months of bargaining commenced then and on March 9, 2010 all charges were dropped and Rahim plead guilty to a provincial charge of careless driving. So no criminal record, a $500 fine, a $500 donation to a charity and 6-demerit points on his driving licence. That'll teach him!Even the judge was shaking his head at this one, drunk, with drugs and speeding and he gets away with it. And then, as if to rub salt in the wounds, Rahim's lawyer ambles up to the press and babbles, "He was never in possession of any illegal substance and never drove while impaired at all and I think the withdrawal of those charges vindicates that position."

So the OPP made it all up? Is that what I'm hearing you say, Howard? Good one there buddy, that is stereotypical lawyer behaviour, isn't it? Essentially you have told Rahim that it isn't his fault, society is to blame and so rather than taking responsibility for his own actions he gets to smirk and pretend that he is sorry with the ultra-smarmy, "I know I should have been more careful and I took full responsibility for my careless driving." (Italics mine because it was such a dickhead thing for him to say.) Yeah, it's too bad he didn't take full responsibility for the booze, the coke and the speeding, and here's hoping that next time he doesn't kill someone. It's too bad that Rahim and Howard didn't have the smarts to just keep their mouths shut, and yes it's too bad the OPP detachment didn't allow him to speak to his lawyer right away, and it's too bad they strip-searched him. But I really don't see how helping Rahim get away with breaking the law is in any way in Rahim's best interests.

Rahim's wife, MP Helena Guergis would most likely disagree with me, and not merely because Rahim is her husband. When she was tossed out of caucus last week and had her name given to the Federal Ethics Board as well as the RCMP, well let's just say that Helena is no shrinking violet. She know she had to lawyer up and she know that her husbands lawyer was willing to play fast ans loose with the facts, the statement he made to the press regarding Rahim's "innocence" vindicating that position.

Well Howard has only two settings: Attack mode and Blitzkrieg so he was on it like bigot on a Tea-partier. "She has made it clear from the outset that she will respond to these allegations, and she wants to respond to these allegations," thundered "Git 'em off" Howard. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to respond to allegations if they have not yet been disclosed to her." Good point, Howard, absolutely true, except for the part where you say she hadn't been told what the allegations were. You see the Prime Minister's Office says that they told Helena what the allegations were when she was told she wasn't going to be in Caucus anymore, and in this case I think I actually believe the PMO because as I said earlier, Helena ain't no shrinking violet and I'm sure that she would have at least asked why she was being tossed. Seems to me that this is the sort of thing her lawyer would know about her.

So this saga is still in the early days and I'm willing to bet that there is lots of dirt still to come, which is good for me, but maybe not so good for Helena and Rahim. On the other hand there is really nowhere for them to go but up.

Anyway... Humouroceros

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