Tag: civil suit

If I can’t find an attorney, can it honestly be said I got a fair trial?

If I can’t find an attorney, can it honestly be said I got a fair trial?

If a person seeks legal representation in a court, and every attorney they tries to hire refuses to represent them, can he receive a “fair trial”?

That depends upon how you define a “fair trial”. Some people mistakenly believe that in the United States every litigant is guaranteed representation by an attorney in any lawsuit. This is not true. Defendants in criminal cases that involve the risk of substantial jail time are entitled to appointment of counsel, free of charge to the defendant, if the defendant so desires.

In some jurisdictions, a parent is entitled to appointed counsel if the state petitions to terminate that parents parental rights.

There is no right to appointed counsel in civil cases. so there is no right to appointed counsel in divorce actions or personal injury actions or other cases that do not involve serious, jailable criminal charges. So, if you were to claim you could not find any lawyer to represent me and to help me in my civil suit, you could not claim that your rights were somehow violated. It could thus be said that you received a fair trial, even if you were unable to find a lawyer to represent you at trial.

But if the case was a complex one, and one where a knowledge of the laws and/or regulations, as well as the procedural rules of court, makes the difference between winning or losing, having no attorney to represent you, that isn’t a fair fight. unfair, but not illegal. You have no legal recourse in those circumstances.

I have met people who have claimed that they cannot find an attorney to represent them in a particular civil action. More often than not, the reasons why are fairly clear: the person seeking representation can’t afford to pay the attorney and/or the person does not have a winning legal argument (either because that person is clearly in the wrong or because that person doesn’t have enough evidence to win or to win in the manner that person desires).

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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If losers pay winners’ attorney fees, why not hire the most expensive attorney?

If the losing side in a civil suit generally pays the winner’s attorney’s fees, why doesn’t everyone hire the most expensive attorneys?

First, because the U.S. generally does not follow the “loser pays” rule. Some states have such rules, and some cases have such a rule, but it’s not a universal rule in the U.S. (it should be, but I digress).

Second, because nobody knows in advance whether he/she is going to prevail in the law suit, so even if you were in a jurisdiction that followed a “loser pays” rule, that would not guarantee who the winner or loser of a particular law suit will be. So, hiring a very expensive lawyer “knowing” you’ll win the case and thus be awarded all of your attorneys’ fees is extremely irrational.

Third, the winner doesn’t necessarily get a judgment for all attorney’s fees incurred in prosecuting the case to completion, but only what the court deems to be “reasonably incurred” attorney’s fees. So, if you hired an attorney who charges twice as much as what the court deems reasonable, the judge would award you half of what you actually incurred, not the full amount.

Fourth, even if you were awarded most or all of the attorney’s fees you incurred, you’d still have to collect those fees from the losing party, which is often an expensive endeavor in its own right. Some people think that if you win a judgment against someone that the court hands you a coupon you can redeem for the money. Not so. And party against whom you obtained the judgment doesn’t have to just write you a check on the spot either. Worse, the loser could file for bankruptcy and just discharge the judgment debt.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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