Someone said that our courts are often like a stand-up comedy act only you can get in for free.
It appeared in the Globe & Mail of May 24, 1997 – page A20 – Sport’s section – for you people that think I made it up.
Former hockey czar Alan Eagleson was previously ordered by Mr. Justice Joseph O’Brien to pay Boston Bruin Mike Gillis last December about $87,000 in damages after the RCMP charged Eielson with eight counts of fraud and theft. Eagleson was also charged in connection with the alleged resale of rink-board advertising and #200,000 in commissions to companies operated by colleague, Arthur Harnett.
The good news is that the judge awarded Gillis an additional $30,000 in punitive damages. At issue were allegations by Gillis that Eagleson had improperly charged him $41,250 (U.S.) in connection with a $275,000 (U.S. also) for a disability insurance claim after a broken leg in 1984 ended his hockey career.
But the really good news is that Gillis’ lawyer Paul Scott got $446,889.78! Scott said that he expects to receive – with interest factored in – $570,000 for his seven-week trial from Eagleson.
Those readers who are good at math can figure that Scott won $570,000 to $107,000.
Obviously the judge didn’t think much of Eagleson’s testimony. In a scathing judgement – he described Eagleson as “a personable, articulate, glib witness” whose evidence in critical areas he had rejected in favour of Gillis’s.
The judge also rejected as vexatious Eagleson’s counter-claim which he had raised to $244,038 (U.S.) from $100,000 (U.S.) near the end of the trial. Eagleson should not use Judge O’Brien as a reference.
Who in this court case was in danger of being ruined? Scott – the lawyer – or Gillis – the hockey player? Who was in danger of getting ulcers – sitting in the courtroom for seven weeks? Who had to fight boredom, tedium and judge’s long lunch hours? If you guessed Gillis – you were right. Whatever happened to criminal lawyers settling for 50 to 60 per cent of the court winnings? In this case – the lawyer expects to get over a half a million dollars (Canadian) and the plaintiff – a lousy $107,000 (Canadian). A judge is almost always a former lawyer – who else would cry buckets over the plight of a lawyer?
A new twist
I want to spirit you to a courtroom in two years’ time. Mr. Justice Sam Throttlethroat is presiding. Appearing before him is Linda Gibbons who had been sentenced to another five years in jai for trespassing in front of a Toronto abortuary after just getting out of jail.
Throttlethroat is reading his decision regarding the appeal of her sentence.
“..The Attorney General of Ontario I find to be in total contempt of our judicial system. The court finds the Attorney General’s department deliberately failed to prosecute Miss Gibbons for breaking the injunction. The Attorney General used a trite and totally unseemly tactic of charging Ms Gibbons with simple trespass. Trespass does not call for five years in jail!
“I also accuse the Crown of deliberately delaying court proceedings over the past three months – hoping Ms Gibbons would crack under the stain and would finally open her mouth and say something in her defence.
“Solitary confinement has not broken her spirit. Constant moves from prison to prison has not quenched her thirst for justice and her determination to save unborn babies. Linda Gibbons has fought the good battle. She is to be commended. I call on Ms Wanda Whitewater, her legal counsel, to come forward.
“Ms. Wastewater, for your untiring efforts on behalf of Ms Gibbons – I am dismissing the case against Linda Gibbons and I am awarding you legal costs against the Attorney Genera of Ontario of one million dollars!…
And as for Miss Gibbons – I’m awarding her … $30,000