I have common sense, but Judge tells me to get a lawyer

QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,

I have common sense. I went to Court, after I did the documents myself for getting back my money someone conned me out of. The man came and said he didnt owe me at all. The next thing the Judge is telling me to get a lawyer. I got angry because I have sense to understand whats going on. Tell me why is everyone insisting I get an attorney.
Sarah Isaacs

RESPONSE: Dear Sarah,
There was once a popular saying that only a fool has himself for a client. You are not being called a fool, but common sense is simply not legal sense.
Good reasoning ability and a proper command of the English language are great for outlining any issue and request to the Court. To communicate effectively within the courtroom, however, an attorney-at-law is the best tool one can have especially in Jamaica.

Common Sense and trial

In your own case, a man is being dishonest and only through a trial can the truth be brought out.
Can you conduct such a trial would be my first question? The courtroom and its members are no joke despite today’s modern man knowing more about the law. An attorney, a trustworthy and properly qualified one that is is a superb tool. It’s more than common sense.
Here are a few reasons:
1. LANGUAGE: There is a legal language spoken in the courtroom easier understood by those who have studied and practised. Imagine learning a foreign language by the book, but as you know speaking it is an entirely different scenario.
2. PROCEDURES: There are certain procedures especially when it comes to civil law that must be followed or the case can be compromised. Civil court is largely based on rules which must be followed. When followed proper records are kept for example to back up the spoken word that only the Judge records at the lower level. Although there are persons who assist in keeping record in the higher courts, you will note that it is all by hand. The dignity of the court allows for openness and thus documents o be relied upon must be revealed before the case is tried as primary example.
3. MANNERISM: When in Rome you do as the Romans do, and so in Court one must understand the mannerisms of the courtroom. These mannerisms are often outlined by an attorney.
4: BASIC PROCEEDING REQUIREMENTS: There are basic requirements such as giving evidence, questioning, proposing arguments that must be dealt with according to the rules of the Court if not by the codified law. Without an attorney involved, one that is not previously exposed cannot meet these requirements efficiently.
Bear in mind that although the Judges make suggestions, their role is not to advise you as an attorney. Besides if a Judge stops every minute to instruct someone on what to do, this will in addition to being a conflict of interest, be a grounds for appeal simply because that Judge will be compromising his / her stand as a Judge somewhat.

Legal Wiz


The above does not constitute legal advice. Inhouse senior journalists research and discuss with specialists eg attorneys-at-law, as necessary before posting responses. In conclusion, names are changed at times by request.


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