Information and helpful advice when dealing with the family legal system


The information posted here has been gathered from various sources to help those having to face the legal system and to deal with some of the pitfalls found there.  Often justice is not served because many people entering the system for the first time are unaware of what is going to happen to them and what their rights are.  Seldom are these rights told to them by those in the legal profession.

We urge all readers to join a group in your community that deals in helping people affected by the legal system and to research information on the internet in order to educate yourself as much as possible before going to court.
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If you have to attend a court or any kind of hearing, one of your best things you can do to protect yourself is to have a court reporter present to take an official record.    Never, never appear before a hearing without a court reporter with you.   If the court will not provide one for you then hire your own certified reporter and take them with you to the hearing.  The judge should allow you to have your own court reporter present.

If you experience difficulty about having a court reporter at your hearing and if the judge or the lawyers give you a hard time, then refuse to participate unless it is put in writing that the court was refusing to allow you to have a court reporter.  Then politely tell the judge that you feel that justice is not being served and that by you challenging the authority of the judge in the court that you feel that your case will not get a fair hearing.  Then tell the judge that you want another judge hear the case, one that will permit a court reporter into the court.

Contact the Canada Court Watch Program and provide us with the particulars of the occurrence.  Judicial complaints should be made against any judge who will not agree to a court reporter present, especially if you have offered to pay the expense of hiring your own.

Note: The above advice was given by a well-known Certified Criminal Specialist lawyer who appeared as the guest speaker at a  public meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The lawyer stated that "The judges and lawyers may not like it, but insist upon it."  He stated that there is not a reputable court in this land that would refuse this reasonable request.

Under section 135 and 136 of the Ontario Courts of justice Act it is permissible for a person acting person, the solicitor, or even a member of the press to tape record in court.  The judge may try to prevent you so you should take a copy of the Courts of Justice Act with you into the court to show the judge. Although the Act says that the recording must be done in a manner prescribed by the judge, the judge cannot refuse to allow you to tape.  If the judge does refuse then this means that he/she is not really interested in giving you a fair and just hearing but more concerned about keeping information in the court behind closed doors.

Participants should always ask the court for permission to tape record their hearing but if it is refused by the judges then DEMAND YOUR RIGHTS!  If you have problems, file a judicial complaint and get the judge removed from your case.

If you still have difficulty, contact us and provide details of the incident and the names of all those involved.

If you are going to hire a lawyer, then check them out BEFORE you hire them.  Observe them in court before you give your retainer.  Call their office and find out when they will be appearing in court the next time to deal with a case that will have similar situation to your own then go to court and observe them.  If possible, try to approach the party your perspective lawyer may be opposing in the action and ask the other party what kind of experience they had when dealing with the lawyer you may be considering.

If the other party reports that that the lawyer you may be considering has used unethical practices and legal tricks to unfairly disadvantage a family member, chances are that the lawyer you may be considering won't hesitate to turn on you should you run into any kind of difficulty.  In the words of one well-known Toronto lawyer, "the only two people that can hurt you the most is their lawyer and your own lawyer."   Deal with lawyers who are not just competent in the law, but also who are ethical and play the game fairly.  Otherwise you may be your own lawyer's next victim.

The Canada Court Watch Program will be working with citizen groups in different areas to develop databases containing the names of  "community certified" lawyers.  If you have a complaint against a lawyer then refer to the complaints procedures listed with the Family Justice Review Committee outlined on this website.