Wayne Laski

Fuck’em if they can’t take a Joke

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What is happening to freedom of speech in America?  The recent backlash against Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, and Bill Maher over jokes which may be offensive and inappropriate is frightening. The  attempts to intimidate and silence these comedians  is based on the same mentality used by those extremists who tried to silence Salman Rushdie, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Charlie Hebdo, as well as countless others.

Anyone  who finds a joke or any other comment offensive has every right to express their opinion. Where I part company is in the demand by these people for sanctions against these entertainers.

It may not be funny to me. It may be offensive and degrading.  They are just words and images.  They are  meant as jokes even if they miss the mark.  Look at the source.  I have been involved in the comedy business as a lawyer for over 30 years. Some comics are crass, ignorant, and not funny. I have rarely, if ever, seen  a comic who was malicious.  By and large most are trying to entertain and make people laugh. They try to find humour through observation and commentary on life  through a lens with their own unique perspective. It is not easy to put yourself out there.

Then there are a class of comics who stand out from the rest.  They are smart and  politically savvy. Part of their comic DNA  is based in their sense of social justice and their desire to affect awareness and positive change on pressing social and political issues.  They remind us of the realities and hypocrisies of the world around us.

As long as it is done in that spirit, whether or not it is funny or offensive, it is important that the right to express it is not impeded by intimidation from those who disagree. If that right and responsibility is not vigorously defended, and preserved it will be the first dagger in the heart of freedom.  Sorry,  that would be the second dagger in the heart of freedom. Donald Trump is the first.

 

 

Conservative Deja Vu

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The Conservative party has done it again. They have chosen a leader who is unknown  while  spurning the more politically attractive candidate. They did this in 1979 with Joe Clark. We all know how that turned out.

The Liberals did it twice with Dion and Ignatieff. We all know how that worked out.

Canada has generally been governed from the left-centre to the centre historically. The  choice  of a leader farther to the right may not have been the best direction.

Scheer has been described as Harper with a smile. His choice can only be good news for the Liberals.

It’s all about the Veep

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Will he be impeached and if so when? One of the most important factors in the impeachment of a president is the Vice President.  If Spiro Agnew  had remained Vice President, Richard Nixon would have never faced impeachment.

If you impeach the President, whoever is to step into his shoes, will highlight different agendas for Republicans and Democrats.

For the Democrats the answer is easy.  They don’t want Pence.  He is a real conservative  who would be harder than Trump to attack, and more dangerous to the social issues that are dear to their heart .

Wait till after the midterms when they may well win the House and Senate. Given the results of the last election those Democrats who stayed home will be highly motivated.

Given the relationship between Trump and Pence, it is not hard to imagine that investigations will find the VP tainted with the sins of the Trump campaign and administration.

If the Democrats are successful in impeaching both Trump and Pence, then the Speaker of The House, in this scenario a Democrat, would become President.

The Republicans have their own set of problems.  They would prefer Pence.  Their problem is the President is popular amongst Republicans. To force him out would alienate a lot of voters they need. Can they wait till the mid terms? Risky.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

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I am not a psychiatrist. Nor am I a psychologist. I have no formal training in the workings of the mind and their manifestations in the personalities they exhibit. I do have a lifetime of experience including the practice of law which gives me some perspective on people’s motivation and behaviour. You get to meet almost every kind of personality disorder and neuroses there is.

Is it just me?  Is it not clear to everyone that this President is nakedly exhibiting behavior that leads to the inescapable conclusion that he suffers from multiple character flaws and mental health issues? As a  pathological liar, Trump believes his own lies.  It is obvious to anyone, except his diehard supporters. Can the Congress not get 100 or even 1000 of the top of the mental health field who can  identify what’s wrong with this guy.

Prepare reports. Call eminent witnesses. Prove that Trump is mentally unfit for and dangerous to the office of the Presidency, the people of United States of America and the world. If that’s not grounds to remove a president I don’t know what is.

Kim Whaley Estate Lawyer Nightmare. Terrible Service, Predatory Billing

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My sister used undue influence on my dying father to steal his estate in 2012. Although a lawyer myself, I decided to retain counsel. Kimberly Whaley. Whaley Estate Litigation was recommended to me as being one of the best for Estate disputes. My experience was quite the contrary. I personally found her to be dishonest, unprofessional, aggressive towards me, and vindictive. This was in addition to her predatory billing.

During the initial call (I call it the sales call) Kim Whaley made several representations which she later backtracked on. Fortunately I had recorded the call. As a client I have every right to do so and there is no requirement that I advise the other party to the conversation. Ms. Whaley went ballistic when she found this out. She threatened to report me to the Law Society if I used them. The Law Society does not allow lawyers to record each other without being advised that they are being recorded. I was not dealing with Kim Whaley as a lawyer, I was dealing with her as a paying client.  I would advise any client to record their lawyer when they are making representations about their case. In any event I am lucky that I did so.

The things that were stressed in the initial conversation were the timing  of the drafting of the application(  two weeks) and getting to court (six weeks but maybe a bit more).  The importance of getting evidence or at least pinning down the story of my brother Brian and my father’s financial advisor Norman Yu. Neither of these were properly handled. This allowed  my brother and Norman Yu to make up stories later which were damaging to my case. I was also promised that Kim Whaley would make all court appearances. This never happened.

There are two things one initially  needs to prepare at this stage. One is the Application  and the other a detailed affidavit in support. When I retained Whaley I had almost finished drafting the affidavit.

Ms. Whaley represents that the estimated cost to prepare an application and get an order for directions is approximately $20,000.

Ms. Whaley charged me $35,000 and we had not yet proceeded to the order for directions. I was shocked in October 2012 when the bill doubled as a result of charges they allegedly forgot to put on the original bill. I was now being charged $10,000 per month on a case where the junior lawyer was churning the  account and accomplishing little. Because of her failure to meet the initial timetable, I was sued independently by my sister. This would not have happened had the application been drafted and served in accordance with her representations.  She had the audacity to charge me for the preparation of the statement of defence which would not have been needed had she done her job.

As a result of her failure to get us a court date in a reasonable time she was forced to bring an emergency motion for preservation of the assets. I specifically instructed her to ask that if any monies had been removed from the estate they be repatriated. I also instructed her to ask for costs.  She refused to follow instructions. As it turned out my sister had removed all of the funds and put them in her own name.

She drastically underestimated my sister’s counsel despite my warnings as to his lack of bona fides in providing disclosure. This caused delay and prejudiced my case.

Further adding insult to injury she tried to tie up all of the money from my father’s condominium which was not part of the estate. She tried to rely on a term in her retainer, which I did not agree with or sign, and which she claimed allowed her to secure a claim for her fees  against the this property

At most she had a right to claim the $35,000 that we were disputing. All of her correspondence to the real estate lawyer made it clear she was not to disperse any monies.  Despite numerous letters attempting to enforce that position, when she was finally called on it, she tried to deny it and suggest that I had misunderstood.

Her letters to me dealing with the fee dispute were threatening, aggressive and vindictive in tone.

She accomplished next to nothing, obscenely overcharged me, and abused me in her attempts to collect her account.

In my years  of practice I cannot remember a time that I ran into a lawyer who, in my opinion, so embodied all the worst  perceptions of the legal profession.

The above is the opinion and experience of the author as a litigant and a victim.

The Best Evidence

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It is often a difficult task  to determine the truth in a courtroom. Technology has played its part in making it a little easier.

The introduction of DNA evidence took a lot of guesswork out of the identification of one or another parties in the proceedings. Its use has advanced  justice  and prevented or corrected injustice.

Developments  in  the use of electronic media have changed the way we live.  One can no longer  have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The cell phone has made it possible and common to  video any incident.

The use of recorded conversations in litigation once carried the stigma of the government eavesdropping on criminals and foreign governments.  It generally required an order from a judge. A bias against the use of recordings, legally obtained still lives on in the minds of some judges.

I have had judges express negativity to this kind of evidence. The law in Canada requires only that one party to the communication consents. That means that any time you find yourself in a conversation you can record it without advising the other person.

What better evidence could you have of a conversation than a recording. One would think this would be embraced by fact finder’s as it makes their job so much easier.

Recorded conversations have come to my aid on many occasions when someone else has a “alternate perception” of the facts.  I most certainly record all calls with institutions and service people. It helps when they don’t live up to their promises and try to deny them.

We live in the 21st century. One must recognize that almost anything you say or do could be recorded. All you can do is live your life and hope that one day you do not wake up to find that something you regret is now trending on YouTube.

GO AHEAD. MORTGAGE MY FUTURE

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“We can’t mortgage our children’s future.” I have heard that from politicians and others for as long as I can remember. I have never understood this. I have a house. I have a mortgage. Without it I would not have a house. Without mortgaging the future, we won’t have one.

“We cannot live beyond our means.”  Another premise of those who hold this view.

I am puzzled by this. Government is not like a business or a person. Their purpose and modus opperendis are very different.

Education, Health Care, Environment,  Social Services, and Military  are expenditures are investments without a bottom line.  They are investments  in our future with  an outcome that can not be quantified in financial terms.

No one will ever get a notice of national foreclosure. “Everyone East of the Mississippi go to the Atlantic and those to the West go to the Pacific. You are being evicted.”

Our future was mortgaged by leaders like FDR and LBJ who lifted and enfranchised the economically and socially disadvantaged. If not for them and others like them, most Social Assistance , Medicare and  voting rights would still be just dreams. I am grateful that my future was mortgaged for a better today.