It wasn’t too long ago that I knew the cheapest way to get anywhere from Ottawa to Toronto. I knew which transit companies had student fares, which had youth fares and the time every last bus or train left the city for Smiths Falls. Then I got a car and my commuting adventures changed. Traffic, construction and road closures aren’t nearly as fun as conversations by chance encounters while waiting for the train traffic to clear up. Slowly the schedules and prices of travel faded from my mind, until I was named as a defendant in a $75-million-dollar class-action lawsuit, along with an agency mandated to protect children. After this, and a series of unfortunate events that made me swear I would never drive the 401 again, I began to re-learn my options for commuting to court in Toronto. I was not going to be stuck in Trenton during an April ice storm, having to find a way home so I could collect the money needed for the repairs on my car, find a way back up, pay for the repairs, and then drive it back to my home in Smiths Falls, ever again.
So when I had court last Friday, I took the train. I’ve learned that if you buy your ticket on the Tuesday the week before you need to go, you can save almost 50 dollars. It’s about the same price as taking my car but I won’t have to hold my breath and pray to the great train gods for it to start. My bargain-basement self-representation won’t work for very much longer, not fairly anyways. The only thing regarding this case in Toronto, is the lawyers. I may have put forth a motion last week to address this. With the local office shop charging 10 cents/fax these days, something has to give. Quite a few motions were before the Judge last week but I am not allowed to write what they were yet.
I can, however, write about the experience. I had gone up to Toronto the week before to file my materials for the motion hearing. I’ve been to the court services building so many times, I am beginning to know the regulars. At first I thought they were all self-represented litigants. I thought it was pretty amazing to see the same faces every time I came. They dress like me, not lawyers and I was quickly accepted into their circle. Our shoes have holes and our bags are functional, not stylish in any way. They all work for lawyers, but you’ll never see them at the office. They have incredible insight into the law firms downtown. It’s like a little sub-culture of workers in the legal trade. I wonder if the lawyers know what types of conversations occur here. I find it fascinating, watching them trade off documents to whoever is closest to the front of the line. I ask about the firms I am dealing with and receive some useful information.
When I appear in court the following week, I remember what I learned about these lawyers while waiting in line at court services. When I approach the podium, I am nervous and shaky. I begin my submission sheepishly but that sentiment fades quickly as I read my prepared argument. There is just no way to accuse someone of completely undermining the justice system in a tone that is anything less than confident.