Mercury

Canadian Publisher Persecuted for Cartoons

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If you liked how Ezra Levant defended himself against the Canadian Human Rights Commission bureaucrat earlier this year, you'll love how he went after a higher up member of that organization in this Human Rights And Free Speech Panel. The video linked below runs well over an hour, but I found it worth it. You can listen to Ezra's opening statement to get an idea of the flavor of the event if you don't want to watch the whole thing. Ezra was brilliant and pulled no punches, as you might expect. This event took place about a month ago (May 24th).

I could detect no flaw in his position. He was intellectually right on and morally righteous!

We need more Ezra Levants!

http://www.cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=tem...amp;clipID=1593

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As it worked for Howard Roark (and Hank Rearden - don't forget the courtroom scene from Atlas Shrugged), it worked in real life: Canadian Human Rights Commission Blinks.

Yep, A is A. :wacko:

If you intended that to mean that all it takes to stop government thugs is to righteously speak out against them then you are badly mistaken. Sometimes they can be embarrassed into backing off if the victim's statement receives adequate media coverage and he makes extraordinary efforts to be heard, and if there is public debate over a controversial proposal the power lusters can sometimes be seen crawling back into the woodwork like rats when the lights come on. But more often the bureacurats already have so much power that it doesn't matter what you say any more than talking back to an ordinary thug in a back alley will stop him. That is especially true when an individual is singled out for persecution and most people aren't affected. It is naively dangerous to think that just being right and saying so is enough to stop brute force from rats on a political vendetta with the authority to exercise it.

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As it worked for Howard Roark (and Hank Rearden - don't forget the courtroom scene from Atlas Shrugged), it worked in real life: Canadian Human Rights Commission Blinks.

Yep, A is A. :wacko:

If you intended that to mean that all it takes to stop government thugs is to righteously speak out against them then you are badly mistaken. Sometimes they can be embarrassed into backing off if the victim's statement receives adequate media coverage and he makes extraordinary efforts to be heard, and if there is public debate over a controversial proposal the power lusters can sometimes be seen crawling back into the woodwork like rats when the lights come on. But more often the bureacurats already have so much power that it doesn't matter what you say any more than talking back to an ordinary thug in a back alley will stop him. That is especially true when an individual is singled out for persecution and most people aren't affected. It is naively dangerous to think that just being right and saying so is enough to stop brute force from rats on a political vendetta with the authority to exercise it.

You've read more into my words than I conveyed or intended. I certainly don't believe it's as simple as just "speak[ing] out."

If there's anyone on this board who's seen and felt the force of arbitrary power, it's me. Raised in a backward culture and immigrant to the West, I have only just begun to experience a proper sense of freedom in a wealthy welfare state. I have had my rights violated by government in ways only a few could imagine - and not just by, or in, the country of my birth. I am acutely aware of the considerable background work that is required for a Rearden or Levant to succeed. In many crucial ways, without divulging too much, it is my story.

Levant himself is still suffering the effects of his persecution by the HRCs. He's spent over a hundred thousand dollars and relies on donations to sustain his fight.

But, this is not a reason to allow the evil to overcome one's sense-of-life, and mine has been severely tested in the last year. You have to take stock of the whole of your life: you were born in America, and even if the locusts come after you, you can still move somewhere else and rebuild, no matter how impossible such a course seems now. You can at least take pleasure in mocking the locusts and attacking those who support them.

There is also the extreme option: to make oneself a test case. Being a test case means breaking the law at the right time, with full certainty of one's righteousness. This is an approach that requires a certain psychology, such as Levant's. It also requires an extraordinary resourcefulness and the ability to communicate effectively.

There is yet another option, which involves plain force against one's enemies. I don't think it is proper to discuss such a thing with anyone; but, if one is truly pushed to the wall, such action is not without historical precedent. One must, however, get away with it. I don't know if we are yet at that stage, but it sure does feel that way sometimes.

I am neither anarchist nor libertarian, but I don't believe in an afterlife. Justice is right here on earth.

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As it worked for Howard Roark (and Hank Rearden - don't forget the courtroom scene from Atlas Shrugged), it worked in real life: Canadian Human Rights Commission Blinks.

Yep, A is A. :wacko:

If you intended that to mean that all it takes to stop government thugs is to righteously speak out against them then you are badly mistaken. Sometimes they can be embarrassed into backing off if the victim's statement receives adequate media coverage and he makes extraordinary efforts to be heard, and if there is public debate over a controversial proposal the power lusters can sometimes be seen crawling back into the woodwork like rats when the lights come on. But more often the bureacurats already have so much power that it doesn't matter what you say any more than talking back to an ordinary thug in a back alley will stop him. That is especially true when an individual is singled out for persecution and most people aren't affected. It is naively danger oous to think that just being right and saying so is enough to stop brute force from rats on a political vendetta with the authority to exercise it.

You've read more into my words than I conveyed or intended. I certainly don't believe it's as simple as just "speak[ing] out."

No, it isn't. Even intelligence diligently applied to articulate the right points with great effort to disseminate them isn't enough against raw power.

If there's anyone on this board who's seen and felt the force of arbitrary power, it's me. Raised in a backward culture and immigrant to the West, I have only just begun to experience a proper sense of freedom in a wealthy welfare state. I have had my rights violated by government in ways only a few could imagine - and not just by, or in, the country of my birth. I am acutely aware of the considerable background work that is required for a Rearden or Levant to succeed. In many crucial ways, without divulging too much, it is my story.

Given your background (the circumstances of which I didn't want to discuss here) I wondered why you would say such a thing, and still do.

Levant himself is still suffering the effects of his persecution by the HRCs. He's spent over a hundred thousand dollars and relies on donations to sustain his fight.

He's "lucky" the officials backed down in the end. If he's getting donations they may try to tax him for the "income".

But, this is not a reason to allow the evil to overcome one's sense-of-life, and mine has been severely tested in the last year. You have to take stock of the whole of your life: you were born in America, and even if the locusts come after you, you can still move somewhere else and rebuild, no matter how impossible such a course seems now. You can at least take pleasure in mocking the locusts and attacking those who support them.

I take no pleasure in mocking them and don't. They are disgusting. I prefer to not even have to think about them, let alone devote one second to them that could otherwise be spent pursuing my own values. But I have no choice. I was born here, but this isn't the America I was born into and taught to expect. Maintaining a sense of life ("only down to a certain point") isn't the same as objectively assessing an injustice, regarding it for what it is, and being legitimately frightened.

There is also the extreme option: to make oneself a test case. Being a test case means breaking the law at the right time, with full certainty of one's righteousness. This is an approach that requires a certain psychology, such as Levant's. It also requires an extraordinary resourcefulness and the ability to communicate effectively.

One often doesn't have the option to deliberately become a test case or not. You can do everything to try to follow the law and still come under assault by arbitrary power. The other side of the Rearden case was the Ferris acknowledgement that they deliberately make everyone guilty of something because innocent people are harder to control. Against that kind of power there is usually no judicial recourse in a "test case", which requires a legal system with integrity, nor do most people have the resources to even try. The bureaucrats count on that. For example it takes over a $1 million for a Supreme Court case, the Court accepts less than 1% of cases to be heard, you first have to go through the entire lower court system exhausting your appeal rights in a byzantine system designed to protect the authorities, and the system is so corrupt you can't have any confidence that the Supreme Court will decide in your favor even when you are obviously right. Too much depends on corrupted judges and financial limitations for most people to even try to go through the courts.

There is yet another option, which involves plain force against one's enemies. I don't think it is proper to discuss such a thing with anyone; but, if one is truly pushed to the wall, such action is not without historical precedent. One must, however, get away with it. I don't know if we are yet at that stage, but it sure does feel that way sometimes.

I am neither anarchist nor libertarian, but I don't believe in an afterlife. Justice is right here on earth.

I agree with you, and in many situations we are at that stage and know what they deserve -- I am hearing more and more from ordinary, peaceable people casually and sincerely musing things like "I'm beginning to see why people threaten violence." I am amazed that we haven't seen it yet. I suppose it's largely because ordinary, decent people don't have a clue about how to go about lashing back at a distant bureaucrats against such overwhelming physical odds, don't want to live that way, and know they will only be hurt and lose more no matter what happens, while gaining nothing and getting nothing back. I don't doubt that it will start to happen, but don't know how or when or who will do it. I suppose such things aren't usually planned and someone just snaps. When it does happen, we are all in much more danger because the authorities will use it as an excuse to lash out against their enemies who have spoken out against them. Hilary Clinton's attempt to blame the Timothy McVeigh bombing on Rush Limbaugh was an ominous warning of that mentality. Being innocent in this country is no longer enough in the face of persecution by government bureaucrats.

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If you liked how Ezra Levant defended himself against the Canadian Human Rights Commission bureaucrat earlier this year, you'll love how he went after a higher up member of that organization in this Human Rights And Free Speech Panel.

Very nice. He seemed to have trouble staying on-topic a bit at the beginning - to the point that he got called on it - but other than that he was damned impressive.

Thanks for the video link. Turns out he's got a blog, too: http://ezralevant.com/

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I donated $4 to his struggle a while ago, and he recently wrote me back:

(you can donate at www.ezralevant.com at the top right)

Dear Ifat,

I know a lot of time has passed since you generously donated to my legal defence fund, but I wanted to take a moment, now that I have a chance to catch my breath, to let you know how grateful I am for your contribution.

I've really been running at full speed for six months -- fending off two human rights commission complaints (one was dropped, but the other continues), and a bunch of nuisance suits from lawyers in the human rights industry. (The fact that we had a little baby right in the middle of everything has been the biggest reason I've been so busy!) I've also tried to fight back hard in the court of public opinion, stirring up opposition to the kind of censorship that has trapped me.

Please forgive me for my delay in writing to you -- I'm sorry.

I don't know if you saw it on my blog, but I attended a few days of Mark Steyn's show trial in Vancouver last month. As you know, he and Maclean's magazine were charged with illegal "discrimination" for publishing an excerpt of his book, "America Alone". It's the same law I've been charged under for publishing the Danish cartoons. I was charged in spring of 2006, but I still haven't had my trial, so it was interesting to see what Mark's looked like.

Frankly, it was an embarrassment. I cringed, not only as a lawyer, but as a citizen. I couldn't believe the kangaroo court antics of the prosecution. They really brought our legal system into disrepute. The tribunal actually spent an hour arguing over whether or not a particular joke made by Mark Steyn was funny. As the Vancouver Sun wrote, the human rights tribunal "murdered their own reputation". That's true. But they don't care. As long as they have the power to censor political ideas they disagree with, they'll keep doing it. I was so proud of Maclean's for fighting back. I promise to, as well.

Because it's not just about my case, or Mark Steyn's. It's about weeding out these un-Canadian laws altogether, and protecting freedom of speech.

Your contribution has been essential to me. Maclean's magazine is part of a large company that was able to send in Canada's best lawyers to fight on Mark Steyn's behalf. But without your donation, I'm afraid I would have been crushed under the legal onslaught a long time ago. Between the human rights complaints and the nuisance suits, I'm receiving bills of $5,000 to $10,000 a month from my lawyers. The human rights commission is clearly trying to break me -- I have received several "plea bargain" offers, where if I just "admit" that I'm wrong, and pay a fine, it will all go away. That would certainly be cheaper and quicker. But there is no way I could live with myself if I did that. If anything, that would only embolden them.

My goal is simple: I want to stop these commissions dead in their tracks.

Thanks for letting me give you an update. And, once again, please accept my sincere apologies for being delinquent in sending you a thank-you note. I have been meaning to do so for a while, and I'm sorry I left the impression that I took your support for granted.

Yours gratefully,

Ezra Levant

P.S. I promise I'll keep fighting as hard and as smart as I can.

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It's unfortunate that there are apparently no lawyers in Canada who feel strongly enough about the issues to offer their services to him pro bono.

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It's unfortunate that there are apparently no lawyers in Canada who feel strongly enough about the issues to offer their services to him pro bono.

But the financial support he's getting to make up for that is heartening.

To say nothing of the other kinds of support as well... I know I'm months late finding out about this story, but I'm thinking of blogging this. Even though it's not taking place in America, I think writing about this on the Fourth of July would be very appropriate.

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It's unfortunate that there are apparently no lawyers in Canada who feel strongly enough about the issues to offer their services to him pro bono.

But the financial support he's getting to make up for that is heartening.[...]

Even though unjust circumstances, I do not find it unfortunate that there is no relief from the reality of paying for legal services rendered. If those who are similarly "tried" by unqualified tribunals are also unable to pay their legal fees and so do not defend their rights, they have chosen their priorities by choosing not to raise funds for their defense. What does this have to do with the fair compensation of legal counsel for services rendered, irrespective of the personal views of counsel about the injustice? Given the scope and precedential value of the legal issues involved, to volunteer one's services as a legal representative here would simply magnify the original injustices rather than alleviate them.

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It's unfortunate that there are apparently no lawyers in Canada who feel strongly enough about the issues to offer their services to him pro bono.

But the financial support he's getting to make up for that is heartening.

To say nothing of the other kinds of support as well... I know I'm months late finding out about this story, but I'm thinking of blogging this. Even though it's not taking place in America, I think writing about this on the Fourth of July would be very appropriate.

So go do it. I would like to see a good factual summary.

Don't worry about it being in Canada. Americans need to know that these things are going on right across the border. Puncture the general myth that Canada is a normal, civilized country with no controversy and where big government "works".

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Heh. Mine is an entertainment blog, not a political or journalistic one. This will be more about calling attention to Ezra's own work than an in depth analysis by yours truly. Also I'm way late to the party, as according to Ezra's own blog this was all over the blogosphere months ago. So this is hardly going to be a case of me enlightening the masses.

Still, it's worth speaking out on. And the timing just seems right...

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What does this have to do with the fair compensation of legal counsel for services rendered, irrespective of the personal views of counsel about the injustice? Given the scope and precedential value of the legal issues involved, to volunteer one's services as a legal representative here would simply magnify the original injustices rather than alleviate them.

But Ezra Levant and those donating to help him are doing so because they agree that it's an important political battle, at least to Canadians: a fundamental attack on freedom of speech, which Ayn Rand identifies as one of the key elements of dictatorship. It would not be a selfless act for a Canadian attorney to donate some of his time to such a cause, if he can afford to do so and if he understands that he wouldn't just be helping Levant but himself and the whole future of the country, just as it is not selfless for somebody to donate $4 or $25, etc., if they can afford it and if they feel strongly about the issue, which is still money that each person could have used for something else. ARI just received a $1,000,001 donation, which is probably not a sacrifice for the person who made it, but still a very non-trivial sum offered because (presumably) the donor values the promotion of Objectivism.

I suppose one question is whether it's a fundamental qualitative difference between many people donating a small affordable sum vs. the significant hours it would take for one man and his need to make a living. The main difference I can see is that many people can donate small sums non-sacrificially, but not many can donate days or weeks of unpaid professional time without it being economically sacrificial. I am still surprised that in an entire country, there are not for example retired attorneys who feel strongly enough about the issue to help Levant, exactly because it's precedential and critically tied to liberty.

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So go do it. I would like to see a good factual summary.

I followed through on my threat to post something. It's not exactly deathless prose, but it serves to call attention to the matter.

For those interested, it's here: http://dungeon-games.com/blog/?p=98

Your summary is very informative. I wonder, though, if the optimistic ending isn't premature -- isn't he still having a lot of problems?

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[...] I am still surprised that in an entire country, there are not for example retired attorneys who feel strongly enough about the issue to help Levant, exactly because it's precedential and critically tied to liberty.

If convenience within one's financial context is the deciding factor of seeking a trade under unjust circumstances, and the unjust circumstances ("circumstances" being a moving target under non-objective law) by themselves make it a trade of fair value (the value being the act of upholding particular values), then I don't see how that's a proper application of personal values held by a lawyer, between the lawyer and his client.

Rearden says to Dagny:

I am supposed to deliver to Taggart Transcontinental, on February fifteenth, sixty thousand tons of rail, which is to give you three hundred miles of track. You will receive - for the same sum of money - eighty thousand tons of rail, which will give you five hundred miles of track. You know what material is cheaper and lighter than steel. Your rail will not be steel, it will be Rearden Metal.[…]

The use of a proper assessment to determine a trade of fair value in the exchange of service for monetary compensation is critically tied to voluntary trade, and that is what is critically tied to liberty between the lawyer and his client.

I suppose one question is whether it's a fundamental qualitative difference between many people donating a small affordable sum vs. the significant hours it would take for one man and his need to make a living. The main difference I can see is that many people can donate small sums non-sacrificially, but not many can donate days or weeks of unpaid professional time without it being economically sacrificial.

Unless you are aware of the specifics of professional liability insurance available for pro bono legal services under the different bar associations in Canada, I don't think this is a correct identification of the difference between monetary (earned objective value) contributions and the volunteering of professional time and knowledge (the specifics of which are non-quantifiable if not through an earned objective value).

It is not professional to provide the professional services involved in Levant's defense (both civil and administrative law) and counterclaim on a pro bono basis. This is because a claim against you could arise on a personal level (especially the case here since monetary compensation was sought in one of the claims commenced against Levant) because your services by professional definition would have to result an open-ended arrangement. That is how many claims against professionals arise - through the provision of pro bono services where the standard of value of professional service inevitably differs between lawyer and client. Without end date or limit to scope of the types of legal services to be rendered since there is no objective means of determining professional fair value, your professional work turns into a preferential rendering of services.

Without an objective means of compensation as an expression of agreed-upon fair value, how would one decide whether to take on a morally-worthy case or not? Should one render pro bono services because a case is precedential, or because a morally-worthy case is not risky but is highly complex? Should one render pro bono services on certain legal aspects, but not others, and do the compensated aspects change depending on whether it is a precedential case or because it is highly complex? For the client whose file is precedential and morally worth defending, should one should obtain a greater proportion of compensation than a file that is morally worth defending and complex? Since the particulars of pro bono services will naturally differ from client to client how would such an uneven payment of fees be fair for clients generally if they are all provided not differing levels of professionalism, but different types of services?

It was not my intention to belabour this particular aspect, but it is an important one.

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[...] I am still surprised that in an entire country, there are not for example retired attorneys who feel strongly enough about the issue to help Levant, exactly because it's precedential and critically tied to liberty.

If convenience within one's financial context is the deciding factor of seeking a trade under unjust circumstances, and the unjust circumstances ("circumstances" being a moving target under non-objective law) by themselves make it a trade of fair value (the value being the act of upholding particular values), then I don't see how that's a proper application of personal values held by a lawyer, between the lawyer and his client.

Rearden says to Dagny:

I am supposed to deliver to Taggart Transcontinental, on February fifteenth, sixty thousand tons of rail, which is to give you three hundred miles of track. You will receive - for the same sum of money - eighty thousand tons of rail, which will give you five hundred miles of track. You know what material is cheaper and lighter than steel. Your rail will not be steel, it will be Rearden Metal.[…]

The use of a proper assessment to determine a trade of fair value in the exchange of service for monetary compensation is critically tied to voluntary trade, and that is what is critically tied to liberty between the lawyer and his client.

I suppose one question is whether it's a fundamental qualitative difference between many people donating a small affordable sum vs. the significant hours it would take for one man and his need to make a living. The main difference I can see is that many people can donate small sums non-sacrificially, but not many can donate days or weeks of unpaid professional time without it being economically sacrificial.

Unless you are aware of the specifics of professional liability insurance available for pro bono legal services under the different bar associations in Canada, I don't think this is a correct identification of the difference between monetary (earned objective value) contributions and the volunteering of professional time and knowledge (the specifics of which are non-quantifiable if not through an earned objective value).

It is not professional to provide the professional services involved in Levant's defense (both civil and administrative law) and counterclaim on a pro bono basis. This is because a claim against you could arise on a personal level (especially the case here since monetary compensation was sought in one of the claims commenced against Levant) because your services by professional definition would have to result an open-ended arrangement. That is how many claims against professionals arise - through the provision of pro bono services where the standard of value of professional service inevitably differs between lawyer and client. Without end date or limit to scope of the types of legal services to be rendered since there is no objective means of determining professional fair value, your professional work turns into a preferential rendering of services.

Without an objective means of compensation as an expression of agreed-upon fair value, how would one decide whether to take on a morally-worthy case or not? Should one render pro bono services because a case is precedential, or because a morally-worthy case is not risky but is highly complex? Should one render pro bono services on certain legal aspects, but not others, and do the compensated aspects change depending on whether it is a precedential case or because it is highly complex? For the client whose file is precedential and morally worth defending, should one should obtain a greater proportion of compensation than a file that is morally worth defending and complex? Since the particulars of pro bono services will naturally differ from client to client how would such an uneven payment of fees be fair for clients generally if they are all provided not differing levels of professionalism, but different types of services?

It was not my intention to belabour this particular aspect, but it is an important one.

Perhaps it is just me, but I find your writing style difficult to follow. What is so complicated about doing some work free of charge, if it is for a cause you think is worthy?

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Perhaps it is just me, but I find your writing style difficult to follow. What is so complicated about doing some work free of charge, if it is for a cause you think is worthy?

Nothing. Neither Phil nor anyone else has argued that lawyers do not provide a service for which they should be paid. That does not preclude the voluntary assistance to a virtuous person in pursuit of an important cause of justice when one can afford it. One cannot donate anything if one has nothing of value to donate, and a good lawyer with a good mind and relevant expertise can be in a unique position to leverage his skills to provide targeted assistance in situations like the freedom of speech case in this thread.

Cases in which victims of injustice require assistance to fight off government bureaucrats imposing policies that are a threat to all of us happen all the time, and so-called "public interest" legal organizations with special expertise are sometimes able to help. Good examples are the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Institute for Justice (famous for its work in the Kelo and other eminent domain cases). Attornies working for such organizations are generally paid, if not as much as they could be in strictly commercial work; they choose to do it because they are highly motivated by the causes that they defend and realize that many injustices are imposed on people who do not have the resources to defend themselves (such as Suzette Kelo). These organizations are legally recognized as tax-exempt provided they engage in precedent-setting cases affecting public policy. They often work with a local attorney hired directly by the victim, providing expert advice, legal analysis and briefs as the case moves through the court system in a sequence of appeals to higher courts.

We can all be glad that this arrangement is possible at least for some victims because it helps good people who would otherwise be destroyed by government and are unable to defend themselves through no fault of their own at the same time it attempts to reign in unjust public policy that would become precedents used against all of us.

This has nothing to do with the "pro-bono" work by lawyers done on behalf of indigent clients whether they deserve it or not but which is claimed to be virtuous only by its nature as sacrificial charity.

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But Arnold, if you reversed that, the question would be---What is _wrong_ (not complicated) about asking someone to do some work for you for nothing?

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The use of a proper assessment to determine a trade of fair value in the exchange of service for monetary compensation is critically tied to voluntary trade, and that is what is critically tied to liberty between the lawyer and his client.

But in the case of a lawyer donating his time, there is no longer monetary compensation. As I see it, there is a trade happening but of a different sort: his professional expertise in exchange for the value of fighting an evil that poses a dire threat to his own future. To take a couple of analogies, if a man runs a successful restaurant, should he charge his parents for their wedding anniversary dinner? (Let's say he cares for his parents and is on good terms.) It's true that his restaurant is his livelihood and that it is good and proper for people to normally pay for the value of eating there, but how does that contradict giving away the meal, and does he really need to quantify the expense? (I'm actually taking this example from reality, and even a Canadian one, from an episode of Made to Order, about a very high end restaurant in Toronto.)

Or take the example of a volunteer soldier fighting for (in his view) liberty. Even though he is paid, he knows that his life is far more at risk than other equal paying jobs. He must be motivated by more than the direct material compensation. (And if he stops believing that the fight is just, he'll no longer want to stay in the armed forces regardless of the pay.)

Suppose a lawyer were under personal attack by the HRC, rather than Levant? He can't pay himself and he's not going to get compensated by the HRC, but he's surely going to fight in self-defense (assuming he's similar to Levant) and in defense of his future liberty. Defending a Levant is sort of a proxy for his own fight, if he grasps that he and everybody else in the country is actually a target too.

Philosophically I think it boils down to a spiritual trade that involves material elements; one trades a certain material value (money or professional time) in exchange for a spiritual value such as pleasing loved ones (e.g. the restaurant owner) or fighting for liberty. In the lawyer's case, the basic unit of value directly involved is time, as opposed to some monetary value derived from that time.

If a Canadian lawyer could face unusual personal liability because of his time donation, that would certainly be something to factor into his decision, but not necessarily sufficient to stop him either.

Without an objective means of compensation as an expression of agreed-upon fair value, how would one decide whether to take on a morally-worthy case or not? Should one render pro bono services because a case is precedential, or because a morally-worthy case is not risky but is highly complex? Should one render pro bono services on certain legal aspects, but not others, and do the compensated aspects change depending on whether it is a precedential case or because it is highly complex? For the client whose file is precedential and morally worth defending, should one should obtain a greater proportion of compensation than a file that is morally worth defending and complex? Since the particulars of pro bono services will naturally differ from client to client how would such an uneven payment of fees be fair for clients generally if they are all provided not differing levels of professionalism, but different types of services?

I think the general answer is that it depends on the lawyer's personal hierarchy of values, and (again) not all values are material. Perhaps he's interested enough to offer 80 hours of his time but no more; or periodic expert advice on a certain aspect of the law; or as determined as Levant himself and willing to go to any distance to defeat the enemy and then have a drink to their success on the day the HRC is buried.

Unless there's some law regarding equal-payment, I don't see why a lawyer would have any particular obligation, other than general consistency, to charge the same amount for all clients; in very rare cases it could be zero, it could be a very high rate if the particular market will bear it. It would be an issue of personal integrity to do well on any accepted case, but I think it's natural for somebody to "go the extra mile" when there are deep ties to personal values involved (e.g. the restaurant owner may not routinely put fresh flowers on dining tables but he does for his parents' wedding anniversary.)

Finally, a lawyer could well take his usual payment from donations to a cause, but choose to donate extra time if there are not enough donations; or choose to charge at a lower rate. I don't see that it's a fundamentally different situation than the one described above.

Also, I think ewv's prior post makes good, relevant points.

I hope all of this answers you adequately but I suspect this is not the end of the discussion. :wacko:

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But Arnold, if you reversed that, the question would be---What is _wrong_ (not complicated) about asking someone to do some work for you for nothing?

To this point I don't think anyone has suggested that the client ask for free services, just that someone might choose to provide them.

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The use of a proper assessment to determine a trade of fair value in the exchange of service for monetary compensation is critically tied to voluntary trade, and that is what is critically tied to liberty between the lawyer and his client.

But in the case of a lawyer donating his time, there is no longer monetary compensation. As I see it, there is a trade happening but of a different sort: his professional expertise in exchange for the value of fighting an evil that poses a dire threat to his own future. To take a couple of analogies, [...]

The analogies you provide are not relevant, especially that of a counsel fighting for his values in which he himself is named as a defendant or a party to the action. There is no longer monetary compensation involved in your scenario because there is no proper assessment of what constitutes a voluntary trade. You mention people trying harder because they feel strongly about certain relevant values. A lawyer cannot obtain the value of fighting a senseless evil, and in doing so fighting for his own values, without an existent case. A lawyer's (or anyone's) particular variant of the same values will naturally differ from any other person because everybody's personal circumstances is different. A lawyer who fights for his own values which particulars have similar surface properties or similar roots as his client's will not necessarily do what is best for the client when it comes to advocating for the particulars of his client's case. There is no voluntary trade when a lawyer is fighting the particulars of what he wants, and not his client - that's a screwed up favour. There are professions where you are paid to do a very particular job that you don't agree with wholly because instructions come from the advised client, not from you. That is the case even when you advise the client something and the client tells you to do something else.

Philosophically I think it boils down to a spiritual trade that involves material elements; one trades a certain material value (money or professional time) in exchange for a spiritual value such as pleasing loved ones (e.g. the restaurant owner) or fighting for liberty. In the lawyer's case, the basic unit of value directly involved is time, as opposed to some monetary value derived from that time.

Time to do what? How do you quantify the expertise and advocacy provided within a specific time duration (you gave the example of 80 hours but on more) in such a way that counsel and client agree for longer the span of a conversation? It's not unfortunate that a pro bono arrangement has not been made between Levant and a lawyer, it's realistic.

Without an objective means of compensation as an expression of agreed-upon fair value, how would one decide whether to take on a morally-worthy case or not?

Unless there's some law regarding equal-payment, I don't see why a lawyer would have any particular obligation, other than general consistency, to charge the same amount for all clients; in very rare cases it could be zero, it could be a very high rate if the particular market will bear it.

Lawyers and clients sign retainer agreements, and no doubt people do lawyer shopping for the best hourly rates for the best professional services possible. Say two cases involve a particular restriction of the right to free speech. One is precedential, one is not precedential but complex. A lawyer does the precedential case pro bono, but not the complex one, which he does by reduced hourly rate that he and the client agree upon. The individual victimized in the complex case is not more meritorious of free services under unjust circumstances than the individual with the precedential case, nor vice versa. It is not better or beneficial because it is free. There are no other factors in access to justice than the client's ability to pay an agreed upon rate, such as other personal circumstances (a parent who requires expensive cancer treatment, how attractive the client is) that should factor into that decision. These personal circumstances involve the lawyer's personal hierarchy of values in determining whether he represents someone pro bono or not, when there is not an objective, quantifiable means of marking his time.

Also, I think ewv's prior post makes good, relevant points.

I responded to your initial post about pro bono services precisely because offering reduced rates for a cause you strongly believe in is not what ewv has referred to. Reduced rates are not what you posted about. You are no doubt aware of the meaning of the words pro bono.

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Corrections:

Time to do what? How do you quantify the expertise and advocacy provided within a specific time duration (you gave the example of 80 hours or more)

I responded to your initial post about pro bono services precisely because offering reduced rates for a cause you strongly believe in is what ewv has referred to, but reduced rates are not what you posted about. You are no doubt aware of the meaning of the words pro bono.

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Also, I think ewv's prior post makes good, relevant points.

I responded to your initial post about pro bono services precisely because offering reduced rates for a cause you strongly believe in is not what ewv has referred to. Reduced rates are not what you posted about. You are no doubt aware of the meaning of the words pro bono.

Legal foundations like PLF and IJ do not charge for their work. They raise money through tax decuctible donations to fund their whole operation. Individual lawyers also take on cases at reduced rates or at no charge for causes they choose to pursue under the same moral principle.

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But Arnold, if you reversed that, the question would be---What is _wrong_ (not complicated) about asking someone to do some work for you for nothing?

To this point I don't think anyone has suggested that the client ask for free services, just that someone might choose to provide them.

There is no harm in asking for a reduction or waiver of charges in a cause that may be important to the lawyer and which the victim cannot otherwise afford to fight. The choice is still the attorney's and requesting help is not the same thing as begging for sacrifice as a moral duty. Lawyers interested in taking on such work may never find out what cases are available if no one goes out of his way to tell them.

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Legal foundations like PLF and IJ do not charge for their work. They raise money through tax decuctible donations to fund their whole operation. Individual lawyers also take on cases at reduced rates or at no charge for causes they choose to pursue under the same moral principle.

Yes, I know how PLF and IJ work, and you summarized what they do in your earlier post, but referred only to the reduced rates at which counsel are paid. I referred to your post for that reason, not because PLF and IJ do not do pro bono work. I will leave my posts as they stand since we're now merely repeating our posts.

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