Top News

Letter: A make-work project for lawyers

The editorial (“Inquiry tally”) in the weekend edition of The Telegram, Dec. 16 focused on the full final costs in Justice Leo Barry’s final report of the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy.

Did the almost $3 million cost of his inquiry – $2,919,196.42 to be exact – take into account the $100 fine paid by a principal and recalcitrant witness who was judged to be in civil contempt at her trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court for refusing to testify at the inquiry? Wouldn’t her fine, albeit a mere pittance, be remitted to the Newfoundland Exchequer Account and thus reduce the final tally by a like amount?

A reader of the editorial would learn the bill for lawyers alone was over $2.3 million.

What would poor Donny Dunphy have done with such a fabulous pot of money? Hired a lawyer and spent his days quixotically tilting at the class-conscious bureaucrats employed by workers’ comp? Fixed up his old house so it could meet the exactingly high standards set by the esthetically demanding RNC’s Joe Smyth?

One thing is for sure. With over $2.3 million (yes, two million, 300-thousand dollars) in the arse pocket of his faded, torn blue jeans, he wouldn’t be thought of as a loser by either the sane or the lunatic.

Instead of an at home visit from the stern, long limb of The Law on an Easter Sunday afternoon, likely he would be receiving a telephone call on a weekday and invited to the nearest police detachment for a chat. You know, to build a rapport. Come as you are. Lawyer optional or, perhaps, BYOB&S.

It is a sad commentary on the society that has grown up here that a man can be worth more dead than alive.

Perhaps an enterprising reporter or blogger might do some digging and sifting (to remove the fly spit from the pepper) and match every penny of that “over $2.3 million for lawyers alone” to each individual lawyer.

Over $2.3 million for lawyers alone. How many were there at the inquiry? Twelve? Fifteen? Twenty of ’em in the entire pitful? Surely, the cost in fees per hour from Sept. 23, 2016 to June 27, 2017 (only 39 days of hearings were held) must constitute a Super-Sized Sunshine List for moneys drawn from the public chest!

Unlike the informative sunshine list of a while back compiled by James McLeod, late of The Telegram, the editorial provided no listing of lawyers’ names and amounts accruing to the same. Pity that.

Perhaps an enterprising reporter or blogger might do some digging and sifting (to remove the fly spit from the pepper) and match every penny of that “over $2.3 million for lawyers alone” to each individual lawyer.

Lawyers, especially those at government-funded public inquiries, always remind me of that timeless piece of verse composed by the celebrated poet Anon (perhaps it is wise, at times, to be anonymous): A lawyer struck and killed a snake on a dunghill close by his own stable. The Devil, watching the vicious, savage attack, roared and shook with laughter for it reminded him of Cain and his brother Abel.

 

Tom Careen

Placentia

 

Recent Stories