Blame the lawyers…again

“Public discussion about something that is before the courts is never recommended and for good reason.” http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/33238-halifax-councillors-stay-silent-occupy-ns-eviction

 What a disappointment the city’s behavior in the ONS matter has been. There is nothing “before the courts” unless an action, application or motion has been filed (physically, not metaphorically or a “threat” of a Charter challenge) in a court. Unless the media has missed something, there is nothing “before the courts” at the moment. Criminal charges against individuals for resisting arrest or obstructing justice are no reason to silence open debate in a city council meeting. 

A lawyer advising a client not to discuss something publicly is just that: legal advice. Lawyers are not judges or decision-makers. They don’t dictate what clients do, their job is only to advise. The client takes that advice and instructs or acts. The client (in this case, city council) must take ownership of its decisions, not defer to its lawyers as having the final say. To blame the lawyer, use the legal department as a scapegoat, or put the legal department in the role of decision-maker on what is/isn’t discussed openly is unfair and undemocratic.