Beware of paralegals!

pianoteacher
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Beware of paralegals!

by: pianoteacher on
Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:15 pm

Hi guys!
I just want to share my experience with the paralegal from Ontario Traffic Tickets Legal Services.
Three weeks before my trial day I called the company office in Ajax and spoke with one of their paralegals. I wanted to discuss with him my case and a fee he would charge to represent me. At the end I did not hire the guy. :roll:
On the court day he was in the room representing someone else.

At the time of the court recess he approached me to make an offer on behalf of the prosecutor to plea for a lesser charge. When I rejected the offer he returned to the prosecutor and they started whispering again. I overheard him providing to the prosecutor with some crucial details of my defense that I shared with him. :evil:

Now my case is postponed until February but I guess the prosecutor made some notes in my file.

Guys, beware of paralegals! They are not on your side. They are part of the system and look at you only as a source of income. 8)
They make a backroom deals with the prosecutors for the later reciprocation.


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by: goldom1234 on
Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:57 pm

This probably warrants a complaint to the law society regarding the paralegal's conduct. The prosecutor, who is an officer of the court, also acted improperly and should also be the subject of a complaint.

Next time, at the trial you should ask the judge prior to the trial for the paralegal and the presecutor to testity under oath about what happened. If you can elicit what you said happened, the charges should be dismissed due to presecutorial misconduct. Moreover, this may be a case of obstruction of justice under The Criminal Code and something that should and hopefully will be investigated by the police.


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:31 am

I don't think its fair to jump to conclusions and accusations like that without more details and an understanding of how things are commonly done. First off, did you retain the paralegal (after all, why were they negotiating on your case)? You state they were doing so on behalf of the prosecutor---are you sure that's what happened? Secondly, how critical was the information that was shared with the prosecutor? After all, in most meaningful negotiations, information about the case's weakness is shared with the prosecutor so as to potentially get the charge lowered----after all, the prosecutor needs a 'reasonable prospect of conviction' in order to proceed----by giving them such info, you really are trying to put the prosecutor on notice so that they can't later claim they didn't know of the flaw in their case!

A lot of issues arise from your post. For instance: did the paralegal have your consent to represent you (e.g. you retained them) or did they just interfere in your case without any direction from you? Secondly, was the information shared critical to your case or reasonably necessary to be disclosed in order to have a meaningful resolution meeting with the prosecutor? Keep in mind that resolution meetings are 'without prejudice' at law.

I therefore suggest that if you're concerned about whether the paralegal acted outside their authority then you should seriously consider retaining a lawyer to review the matter and deal with this discretely first. After all, if you simply follow the suggestions of goldom1234 without proving your allegations, you could face a significant defamation lawsuit. This way, if a lawyer agrees with your assessment of the paralegal's actions, THEN you consider reporting them to the Law Society, suing them, etc.

Finally, even if the paralegal's actions were inappropriate, keep in mind that you'll likely have a very difficult time recovering much----after all, your recoverable damages (if any) are likely quite small. Keep that all in mind so that you make an informed decision on whether this is all worth your time, money and aggravation.


pianoteacher
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by: pianoteacher on
Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:25 pm

goldom1234 wrote:This probably warrants a complaint to the law society regarding the paralegal's conduct. The prosecutor, who is an officer of the court, also acted improperly and should also be the subject of a complaint.

Next time, at the trial you should ask the judge prior to the trial for the paralegal and the presecutor to testity under oath about what happened. If you can elicit what you said happened, the charges should be dismissed due to presecutorial misconduct. Moreover, this may be a case of obstruction of justice under The Criminal Code and something that should and hopefully will be investigated by the police.
Hi goldom1234,
Thank you very much for your reply.
Unfortunately, I am an old and ill person and I do not have time and energy required to pursuit this issue at the law society. Also I do not have enough hard evidence to prove paralegal's wrong doing. The only purpose of my post was to warn others from unnecessary giving paralegals important information as I foolishly did unless one actually hire the paralegal to represent him or her in court.


pianoteacher
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by: pianoteacher on
Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:49 pm

highwaystar wrote:I don't think its fair to jump to conclusions and accusations like that without more details and an understanding of how things are commonly done. First off, did you retain the paralegal (after all, why were they negotiating on your case)? You state they were doing so on behalf of the prosecutor---are you sure that's what happened? Secondly, how critical was the information that was shared with the prosecutor? After all, in most meaningful negotiations, information about the case's weakness is shared with the prosecutor so as to potentially get the charge lowered----after all, the prosecutor needs a 'reasonable prospect of conviction' in order to proceed----by giving them such info, you really are trying to put the prosecutor on notice so that they can't later claim they didn't know of the flaw in their case!

A lot of issues arise from your post. For instance: did the paralegal have your consent to represent you (e.g. you retained them) or did they just interfere in your case without any direction from you? Secondly, was the information shared critical to your case or reasonably necessary to be disclosed in order to have a meaningful resolution meeting with the prosecutor? Keep in mind that resolution meetings are 'without prejudice' at law.

I therefore suggest that if you're concerned about whether the paralegal acted outside their authority then you should seriously consider retaining a lawyer to review the matter and deal with this discretely first. After all, if you simply follow the suggestions of goldom1234 without proving your allegations, you could face a significant defamation lawsuit. This way, if a lawyer agrees with your assessment of the paralegal's actions, THEN you consider reporting them to the Law Society, suing them, etc.

Finally, even if the paralegal's actions were inappropriate, keep in mind that you'll likely have a very difficult time recovering much----after all, your recoverable damages (if any) are likely quite small. Keep that all in mind so that you make an informed decision on whether this is all worth your time, money and aggravation.


Hi highwaystar,
Thank you very much for your reply.
I did not hire the guy and he did not have my consent to represent me. But three weeks before the trial date I called him to inquire about his fee. When we discussed the case I foolishly volunteered some important for the case information thinking he should be on my side. I mentioned to him that I am going to argue that I was charged under a wrong subsection of HTA. I believe (but I cannot prove it) he passed this information to the prosecutor. Crown now has time before the next court date to make changes to the ticket (I am not sure they actually can do it). Why the paralegal did it? I believe he hopes for getting some favor back from the prosecutor at some point of time. I am not going to pursuit this issue at law society. I just wanted to warn other people to be very cautious when they deal with some paralegals.


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:22 pm

As you didn't retain the paralegal nor likely instruct them to contact the prosecutor on your behalf, then you SHOULD file a complaint with the Law Society---the paralegal was acting outside of their authority. They should not have interfered with your case. While you likely won't get any compensation out of it, the paralegal should learn from their behaviour and hopefully the Law Society's involvement will protect the next person from such unsolicited intervention. As for your HTA charge, while it is doubtful the prosecutor will actually change the charge based on the information shared, if they do, then you certainly should raise your concerns on the record in court, call the paralegal as a witness AND let the Law Society know of your concerns (since it establishes the consequences of the paralegal's actions). While the paralegal likely meant well in trying to negotiate on your behalf free of charge, they should never lose cite of the fundamental concept of always making sure they have your authorization first!


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