Legally Speaking CFAX Sep 12 2019
Automatically Transcribed on September 12, 2019 – MULLIGAN DEFENCE LAWYERS
Adam Stirling [00:00:00] We are reminiscing all day here at CFAX 1070, 60 years of broadcasting through much of my tenure at the station. One of the voices of reason upon whom we count to guide us through what can seem like a very confusing world which is legal reporting and legal reporting issues is Michael Mulligan. It’s Legally Speaking from Mulligan Defence Lawyers joining us at our ground floor studio. Did you get some cake Michael?
Michael Mulligan[00:00:24] We got cake. I’ve got the coffee. I’m on cup number two and I’m eyeing up that cake is looking pretty good.
Adam Stirling [00:00:30] I know they’ve got it too close to me really, it’s not fair I keep on like reaching for it subconsciously but I’m working on it. How are you doing?
Michael Mulligan [00:00:37]I’m doing pretty good. You know just thinking about dressing up. I’m just happy I don’t have to put on the tabs and robe showing up here right.
Adam Stirling [00:00:43] Yeah.
Michael Mulligan [00:00:43]Well today I’m kind of the odd man out. I’ve got the the no tie. So, I’m you know, trying to take it down a notch here in terms of dressing sophistication.
Adam Stirling [00:00:52] I’m wearing a very very distinguished embroidered paisley tie today to go with my with my grey suit because I actually do dress, actually I guess most people don’t know that. Normally I’m just a T-shirt and jeans guy. Like when we’re doing our stuff in the studio but if we’re going to have the bright lights on or the television cameras around, which they have been today, I like to dress up just a little bit so we were going to look back at some of the stories that stuck out to you over the years. How do you even start to do a task? I almost felt bad asking you that. I’m like what the poor guy’s going to do research on 4000 stories so he can do a half hour segment this week. How do you, how did you go about that task?
Michael Mulligan [00:01:27]Well I got to say this. One of the things which I think is great about, my reasons I enjoy doing this segment every week, is that the CFAX is just a great format that gives you an opportunity to say more than about 10 words about an often-complex legal topic.
Adam Stirling [00:01:43] Yeah like 100-page judgment.
[00:01:45]Ya, that is the thing if you take a hundred page judgment and somebody has tried to sum it up in a tweet or even sometimes in a TV broadcast, where you know, the comments managed to get edited down to about 11 words, sometimes I think the outcome or sort of the apparent outcome to people can look rather unreasonable and one of the things which I think is really useful, and I really enjoy about getting to do this on CFAX every week, is that you’re able to spend, you know five minutes, perhaps even describing what that hundred page judgment is about. And I think that’s useful. Otherwise I think people are sometimes left with the impression that we’re all off at the courthouse coming up with some, what might appear to be unreasonable outcomes, when there’s a little bit of explanation, you may or may not agree with it, but most of them, in my experience at least seem you know intelligible and reasonable even if you might might have come to a different conclusion yourself.
Adam Stirling [00:02:40] I completely agree with you. I know as a layperson and with no legal education or legal training myself being able to sit down with you every week and go into some of the more intricate elements of how these decisions are formed. For me it has actually increased my confidence in the legal system because, well I suppose to put things simply, that if you give a finding divorced of the reasons for how that finding came to be it might not look reasonable without reason. That sort of makes sense and the reasons take time that’s why these judgments are a hundred pages and that’s why legal proceedings take as long as they take you’re not going to sit there, you’re like all right, it’s one o’clock now we got to deliver a sentence by five, let’s say let’s get this started who’s doing deposition, like it just that’s how the media works though is every day we start. All right here’s what’s going on right now. You don’t have a product on air at 5:00 at 6:00 for television or with radio it’s usually as soon as possible. And so those two worlds work in such a different manner that I’m glad that we’re able to to find that sort of middle ground every week. So thank you for for taking part.
Michael Mulligan [00:03:37]I’d like to say it so it’s a pleasure every week. I genuinely enjoy doing it. It also causes you as a lawyer to take the time to sit there and you know the day before read overall the new Court of Appeal decisions and Supreme Court decisions from the last week. And there’s never any shortage of things happening and never really any shortage of things happening that I think have a real impact on people and that they need to know about. Though the modern world has become extremely complicated. There’s no shortage of laws and decisions that are affecting virtually every aspect of somebody’s life now. And I think it’s worth knowing right. I mean you, not too many people are going to have the time to sit down and read you know what the Court of Appeal happens to have said over the past week. But oftentimes those are meaningful things they’re going to have a real impact on your day to day life. So, I think it’s a useful exercise and I genuinely enjoy doing it.
Adam Stirling [00:04:29] Let’s take our first break because the time does fly when we were having fun and we go through some of your favourites for the many stories that you’ve discussed with us over the years. Michael Mulligan from Mulligan Defence Lawyers, Legally Speaking as we continue our special 60-year anniversary broadcast.
Adam Stirling [00:04:43] Stay with us.
Unknown [00:04:44] COMMERCIAL BREAK
Adam Stirling [00:08:35] Michael Mulligan for Mulligan Defence Lawyers as we continue Legally Speaking here on CFAX 1070. So, having had a chance to review any number of the hundreds and hundreds of stories that you have helped us understand over the years what are some of the ones that stand out for you?
Michael Mulligan [00:08:51]Well I’m going to say before we get to the stories with all the discussion about the help CFAX provided during the blizzard of 96 and the A.M. stereo caused me to reflect upon what I was doing in 1996 after the blizzard, which included trying to return a rented VHS tape by a…. Listeners will recall a couple of days after the snow the top layer kind of melted and then froze into like an ice like crust.
Adam Stirling [00:09:17] Yeah.
Michael Mulligan [00:09:17]And I have a distinct memory of trying to, with a VHS tape in my pocket, going on all fours across the crust to make it to this video store to return this tape and avoid the late fee. And about a block from my house crashing through the top but icy crust and then realizing that somewhere in the last block the VHS tape had fallen out of my pocket having to go back and retrieve it. So, you know those are the days are good A.M. Stereo and happy not to be you know worrying about those blockbuster return fees any longer.
Adam Stirling [00:09:46] Yeah I was talking earlier in the show I was actually delivering Times Colonist newspapers when the blizzard of 96 started, I had a little paper, lived out in Sooke and I still remember that day when the snow guy I think was three or four feet deep and I’m out there and I’m looking for the paper bundle that the truck normally drops off. And I honestly didn’t know if the truck had dropped them off that day and I didn’t want to just leave them there in case I was being derelict in my duties. But on the other hand, I wasn’t sure how long to look for the papers because they might actually not be there. So, I am on all fours looking through the snow. I’ve got a pole and I’m poking through it. It was. It was this very special time for all of us. Did you end up getting any late fees with that?
Michael Mulligan [00:10:24]I think they may have agreed to some slight reduction on the late fee.
Adam Stirling [00:10:28] We’re on the air right now, sir excuse me, I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding. Well what’s up.
Unknown [00:10:32] I didn’t say anything.
Adam Stirling [00:10:34] Yeah. All right. All right. Thanks Pal. We were given Michael a hard time on the air, Yes, he’s teasing Michael Mulligan.
Michael Mulligan [00:10:46]You say on the legal world one of the things that has been sort of an ongoing theme we’ve talked about now for a few years has been the issues surrounding legal aid and funding in the province.
Adam Stirling [00:10:56] Absolutely.
Michael Mulligan [00:10:56]I think that’s a particularly important issue and one which you know typically takes more than a headline to understand right.
Adam Stirling [00:11:03] Before we started doing our segments Michael, I honestly thought that if a person found themselves the subject of criminal proceedings that person could just say: I don’t have the money pay for my lawyer regardless of how much money they may have.
Michael Mulligan [00:11:14]Yes.
Adam Stirling [00:11:15] And I was totally wrong.
Michael Mulligan [00:11:16]And I think that’s a common belief right. And I think people have that belief with respect to other areas of the law as well. Like for example family law matters. I think people often think well if I ever wound up in some spot right needed child support or something, I was really going haywire. There would be some safety net there to help me.
Adam Stirling [00:11:34] Yes.
Michael Mulligan [00:11:34]And it’s only once they wind up in that spot or a family member winds up in that spot that they realize that that’s not the case. You know this is something I’ve been talking about now for probably 20 years and British Columbia, this is the thing which I think takes the sort of you know one-minute explanation, British Columbia is unique. We have a special tax that you pay if you go and hire a lawyer to do anything, you do your will or help with your real estate transaction, whatever it might be. You say, you pay a special 7% special PST tax that only applies to lawyer’s accounts. You don’t pay that if you’re you know hiring an architect or hiring an accountant or something else to do work for you. When that was introduced it was introduced by the NDP when they were back in power over 20 years ago and they said this is a special tax and it’s going to be used to pay for legal aid for poor people that can’t afford counsel. Very quickly that tax started collecting more money than they were giving to the legal aid system. And when they were in opposition the Liberals dumped all over them saying isn’t this wrong this is money being collected to help the poor. You know you’ve got to provide that to the intended purpose.
Adam Stirling [00:12:39] Indeed.
Michael Mulligan [00:12:40]But then when the Liberals got in, they wound up dramatically cutting the legal aid system. They cancelled virtually all family legal aid, so very little is available to anyone. They closed all of the legal aid offices across the province and fired all of the lawyers who did things like poverty law, helping people that needed you know to get social assistance or help with medical equipment that sort of thing. All of them were let go and they kept the tax and that system is sort of carried on now.
Adam Stirling [00:13:09] Yes.
Michael Mulligan[00:13:10] For the last 20 years with this tax now collecting about three times the amount of money they provide to the Legal Services Society. And that’s one of the things which I think when most people learn a little that hey, I’m paying a special tax is supposed to fund this particular, very important service, yet, that service isn’t being provided. I think that’s one of the things people find really pretty remarkable, but they only run into it, and this is I think perhaps why governments over the years have gotten away with underfunding it, because people don’t realize and never expect they’re going to wind up as a single mom trying to get child support or they never think they’re going to be charged with some criminal offence and be unable to hire a lawyer to help them with it. That’s not a voting group. You know the future single mothers of British Columbia doesn’t exist. And so, for so many years we’ve had this continued, I think, sort of unacceptable state of affairs where there is totally inadequate help for people. Yet the government continues to collect this large amount of money and just not provide it for that purpose. So that’s one of the I think ongoing themes we’ve talked about and hopefully people become aware of it and think, hey gee whiz I might wind up as somebody who needs help down the road and you know it’s not fair to that this money be collected and the important service not be provided.
Adam Stirling [00:14:25] I was shocked when you were informing us as to how the legal aid system actually works and how much money is involved and if you start a case on legal aid if that person, even if they do get money they can never actually accept any funds and also the very unsubstantial very small sums involved in the workloads that many defence lawyers find themselves with. I was oblivious to nearly all of that Michael. So, thank you for educating me on that because it really has changed my position on the matter that you’ve just discussed: access to justice and legal aid. I now count myself among the many in the core saying that we need to do more and maintain access to our justice system because if we don’t then what’s the point of it existing in the first place.
Michael Mulligan [00:15:04]Yeah. I mean my view of it is you know that, the provision of access to justice is right at the core of government’s responsibility. If you want to live in a sort of a just society one of the requirements there is that people have access to resolve some very important issues, right. You would think, most people would agree, that if you’re going to have a criminal trial for example it should be a fair trial. And to have a fair trial you need a few things, you need a judge, you need to have a prosecutor, and you need to have defence counsel. You would never say well you know we’ve just run out of money to pay judges so we’re going to carry on without them or we’ve sorry the budget just doesn’t cover the cost of hiring a prosecutor so we’ll just sort of see what happens and allow the witnesses to wonder in on their own. Nobody would think that was acceptable. But somehow we’ve come to a system where we think it’s somehow acceptable that you would have people showing up on very important things like you know trying to get support for their child or trying to see their child, you know if their spouse is going to move away take the child somewhere else, somehow we think it’s acceptable that people be left in that spot and not be provided the help they need to have a fair trial. So that’s I think one of the, thinking back, one of the important themes and one of the things I think people really do need to know about.
Adam Stirling [00:16:20] And also the phenomenon that I was largely unaware of of self-representation for when a person finds themselves, I’m able to retain counsel or doesn’t have the money, and how that can cause, not only substantial hardship on the parties involved, but also a huge amount of wasted time and money in our justice system. Try to remember, we’ve done I think three or four different segments on mistrials or similar mistakes that were made because someone was representing themselves, also a problem that needs to be addressed.
Michael Mulligan [00:16:45]Yeah. And any day of the week if you go up to the courthouse like some of us do and sort of see what’s going on, you’ll see outside of, for example, family remand court, you’ll have these line-ups of people with no counsel, trying to speak to a lawyer in the hallway to get some sort of brief advice before they go in and deal with some matter that’s very important to their life for their children. And you’ll see it as well in criminal remand court with people showing up with no help at all. And one of the other things that’s happened is because it’s so underfunded the threshold to get any help at all is so low. For example, if you have a minimum wage job and you work full time…
Adam Stirling [00:17:24] Yes.
Michael Mulligan [00:17:25]You are considered too rich to get any legal assistance at all. You are completely on your own and somebody who is working at a minimum wage job has no realistic hope of being able to hire a lawyer to help them with some serious and complex matter. And that’s simply not fair. And when we have a system that collects all of this money that is supposed to pay for that. That’s really pretty intolerable state of affairs and you would hope that at some point the government makes a decision based on principle rather than you know what is the voting potential of future single mothers or you know what is the political calculation of providing fair trials to people charged with criminal offences. It’s genuinely something that requires a decision of principle, rather than a decision based on some political calculation of how many additional votes will we get if we allow people to have a lawyer to help them with their child support for example.
Adam Stirling [00:18:20] Well I think I speak for many in our audience Michael when I say I am very thankful and very appreciative of what you have been able to do in terms of educating us about how the legal system works about how these decisions are arrived at. I know it is gone a long way in both bolstering my confidence in how the justice system works as well as making me aware of areas such as legal aid funding, that in my view and I know you share this as well, need to be done better so hopefully the powers that be are always listening and we will continue to see at the very least progressive moves in the right direction.
Michael Mulligan [00:18:50]Yeah, I am hopeful as well right at least there’s some discussion about that particular topic at the moment.
Adam Stirling [00:18:55] Yeah.
Michael Mulligan [00:18:56]The other theme which we’ve talked about as you’ve just alluded to is how occasionally we get things wrong. Right, occasionally we convict people that we’re innocent and this sort of thing.
Adam Stirling [00:19:05] Yes.
Michael Mulligan [00:19:06]But I should also say this, broadly speaking, we are just so fortunate to have the justice system that we have. In a from us from a world perspective we’re among the best possible places. And well there are certainly things like legal aid funding, or you know the occasional mistakes that are made. We are just very lucky to have the system we do have. And one of the things I think is so valuable as I’ve said is taking the time to be able to discuss how decisions are arrived at.
Adam Stirling [00:19:35] Yeah.
Michael Mulligan [00:19:36]And you know if all you have is sort of a headline outcome with no explanation. I think that can have the effect of undermining confidence in things somebody says well what on earth was that decision about there’s no explanation what happened there. And usually although not always you know once there is time to sort of explain what it is and how a judge arrived at a decision. Usually I think people are going to have some greater confidence in the outcome.
Adam Stirling [00:20:00] Well I know I have. So, thank you for the knowledge and insight you share with us every week. We’ll see you next week.
Michael Mulligan [00:20:05]Sounds great.