Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alberta Judge Takes Aim at Abusive Self-Represented Litigants

Alberta’s Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke recently delivered a very lengthy decision (Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571) that took aim at the problem caused by a certain type of self-represented litigant.

The judge described this litigant as an OPCA (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument) litigant. OPCA litigants. often conspiracy theorists of one sort or another,  fall into a number of categories:
  • De-taxers
  • Freemen or freemen-on-the-land who focus on anti-government theories, with libertarian and right-wing overtones
  • Sovereign men or sovereign citizens who focus on state oppression and violence
  • Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International, a "pot" church
  • Moorish Law adherents in which black Muslims who self-identify as “Moors” are governed by their own laws, not the state
Judge Rooke offers a number of solutions on how to deal with the tactics of these vexatious and disruptive litigants who often argue that they are exempt from the law for different reasons.

Margaret Waddell has more in the Canadian Lawyer in the article Finally, some plain talk about a pervasive problem:
"His reasons begin by confirming: 'One of the purposes of these Reasons is, through this litigant, to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community, as a part of a process to eradicate the growing abuse that these litigants direct towards the justice and legal system we otherwise enjoy in Alberta and across Canada."

" '[T]hey also are intended to assist others, who have been taken in/duped by gurus, to realize that these practices are entirely ineffective; to empower opposing parties and their counsel to take action; and as a warning to gurus that the Court will not tolerate their misconduct'. "
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants (November 1, 2010): "This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes the article 'Judges grapple with unrepresented litigants' that quotes Judge François Rolland, chief justice of Quebec’s Superior Court, on the growing and disturbing trend towards self-represented litigants (...)"
  • Dealing With Self-Represented Litigants (August 22, 2011): "In the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly, John Schofield discusses the challenges lawyers face when the opposing party is a possibly vulnerable and angry self-represented litigant ..."
  • University of Windsor Law Prof Finds Self-Represented Litigants Going Through "Real Trauma" (June 6, 2012): "University of Windsor law professor Julie Macfarlane is interviewing hundreds of self-represented litigants in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. about their experiences in the family and civil court systems. As part of her research so far, she has discovered that up to 80 per cent of people in family court and 60 per cent in civil cases represent themselves (...) Macfarlane found people who represent themselves 'suffer real trauma' in doing so. She said the process 'overwhelms them'. Many people report feeling as if they were treated as second-class citizens and not taken seriously (...)"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:33 pm

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