April 7th, 2011
While looking at the announcement for this weekend’s demonstration in San Francisco regarding the ever-rising dissatisfaction of the public with unknown ‘tinkering’ in genetics and the food supply, I read a notice sent to me by the New York State Attorney General’s office. An appeal to them was made when it became apparent to me that my case was languishing in the basement of the Civil Supreme Court of N.Y. as the completion of ‘paper’ discovery for our side was still lacking. After learning that formal paper discovery hadn’t officially begun with one of the major parties in the case until last summer (eight years after filing), a study of legal reference books indicated something had gone amiss with my expecations of a zealous and timely prosecution of my case.
A case will win or lose not just on its merits but also upon the manner in which lawyers choose to navigate the legal systems operating at each stage of the litigation. That makes any case, however justified, a gamble for all parties as time marches on. Eleven years have passed since my injuries from pesticide exposures and the case hasn’t yet reached the stage of trial ‘readiness’. The world is full of contradictions and complexities affecting decisions made by legal professionals in such matters and I lacked any clear understanding of these matters as they pertained to my own case.
I felt a consumer complaint to the Attorney General’s office was indicated since a Bar Association inquiry offered no real interpretation of the actions taken (and not taken) by my lawyer. The Bar explained that it is concerned only with ‘ethics’ and not the actual contract between litigants and their lawyers. Investigations of appropriate practice issues is mainly devoted to reviews of trials which may not have reached their expected outcomes. The process is far less invested in looking at legal cases which haven’t reached the trial stage.
The AG’s office said I should find another attorney for assistance.
In my series called “The Morality of Litigation“, the mass acceptance of legal cases without intent to actually try them appears endemic in the system. This institutionalization of sealed settlements versus actual court access is the reason we really can’t expect to alter systems currently in place. Science is disregarded until its bytes of wisdom are accepted by a court of law (e.g. climate change). Being ‘right’ about the need for advance notice of pesticide applications isn’t enough until Congress passes a law making it a necessary procedure. That is unlikely to happen until a lawsuit sets such a precedent.
Mine is unlikely to be among them. My attorney has informed me that he wishes to transfer my case to new counsel for a variety of reasons. Lacking a replacement, it is unlikely I can move forward. However, the loss of this action will not have happened based upon the merits of the case, but upon procedural issues peculiar to the legal industry. They are the gatekeepers we require to gain access to the justice system. My conclusion is that we all look at the legal industry as another form of corporate entity. Ongoing evaluation of any case in the system would appear to be the best guarantee of a positive outcome, whether that means continuing the litigation or ending it before the procedure itself becomes an albatross around the necks of both lawyers and their clients.