Here is an exercise with a difference, it’s about Bad Lawyering; as it turned out, it was a simple exercise in critical thinking and common sense.
During the seventies, I was involved in a car accident that resulted in substantial damage to my vehicle, the other driver took responsibility for the accident and informed his Isurance company, and they agreed to pay a leading garage to fix the car.
The car was fixed, but when I was collecting the car, I refused to accept delivery until we had carried out a test run; Thank God I did, there were still mechanical damage as a result of the accident, that wasn’t fixed.
The mechanic asked me to sign the work order to fix the existing problem, stupid me! without hesitation signed the work order.
When the car was finally fixed, we took the car for a test run a second time, but the owner of the garage refused to release the car until I paid the bill. Unknown to me the garage had already presented the bill to the insurance company; but they refused to pay, citing the fact that they had agreed to a set amount for the repairs, and was not prepared to pay anymore, adding the garage had made the error and should take responsibility.
The argument went on for a few days and I desperately needed my car. I thought of what I thought was a clever solution, that turned out to be a grave error. There was no way for me to drive my car out of the garage without permission of the garage owner.
In order to secure the release of the car, I wrote a check for the second set of repairs, drove the car out of the garage; drove straight to the office and called the bank requesting that the check be canceled, they complied, but that was my second mistake.
The Garage continued to demand their money, and I continued to refuseto pay. One day I receive a summons to appear in court, to answer charges for a certain sum of money that I had refused to pay the garage.
The lawyer I wanted to represent me was a politician I knew for many years, but he was unable to take the case and recommended his brother, a lesser known lawyer.
The case lasted one day in court, and I lost; these were the judges words to me in handing down the results.
“Mr. Devonish you do not have to lose this case, talk to your lawyer when you leave this courtroom; when you signed the work order, you accepted responsibility for payment; further more I must warn you that paying with a bounce check is a criminal offense, not many people are aware of it.
I certainly was not, and the lesson was well learned, on many an occasions I had to warn customers who had paid my business with a bounce check; it resulted in speedy action.
As we were walking across the courtyard, This was the comment from my lawyer;
“Sorry you last the case, and I don’t know what the judge was talking about, you lost.”
That was the end of that.
A few days later the mechanic who asked me to sign the work order paid a visit to my place of business and apologized for asking me to sign the work order ,and promtly compensated me for the . monies I had to pay the garage.
” They will pay for it eventually’ and left.
A couple years later, while I was in Canada, I became close friends with a lawyer who represented a government department; after relaying the story; he said, “the judge was right”
This is the critical thinking exercise; What message was the judge sending to my lawyer?
What further action should my lawyer had taken to win my case?
I await your answers.