IN COURT, lawyers hold sway. They do all the talking, while the rest of us watch them in action. But takes individual style to win a case. every lawyer has his own style. He adopts the style that best suits his case at any particular time. He may not use the same style in all the cases he handles.
He varies his style when there is need to do so. But whatever style a lawyer adopts, his goal is to win the case at hand. No lawyer takes up a case in order to lose. He goes into court with the mind to win, no matter how bad his case may be. Despite knowing that he has a bad case, a lawyer will stop at nothing to win.
Lawyers can be terrible when they know they have a bad case. Rather than tell their client that he has no chance in court, they will give the poor fellow the impression that all is well and that the case is as good as won. Do not get me wrong. There are times that a good lawyer can make a bad case look good and end up winning in court. If that happens, it is not that the case is bad as such, it is just that it requires the lawyer’s expertise to turn things round, if not in the court of first instance, then on appeal.
Good lawyers are rare to come by these days because it is difficult to sift the chaff from the wheat. Every lawyer believes that he is good even when he knows that he does not merit the certificate he is carrying. Donning the wig and gown is not all that makes a lawyer. As they say, the hood does not make the monk. But, once some lawyers are robed, they see themselves as all-knowing, an attribute that belongs solely to God. Inside the court, they turn themselves to something else. Everybody, including the judge, who is the high priest in the temple of justice, amounts to nothing before them.
For all they care, His Lordship can go to blazes. As long as they appear before him, they must do so on their own terms and in their own way, without recourse to the rules of court. Yet, they are in the temple of justice, where they should play their role as ministers with decorum, decency and civility. To them, the law must take a back seat for them to get their way. Their attitude is “what is the law where people like us is concerned?” They arrogate to themselves the power they do not have. They want to be the advocate and the judge at the same time contrary to the well known maxim that a man cannot be the judge in his own case.
This is not in defence of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman Justice Danladi Umar before some people misconstrue my stand; it is stating it as it is since Senate President Bukola Saraki’s case started before him. The defence, from all indications, seems not ready for the case. It may have its reasons (or is it strategy?) for taking that position, but it should do so with utmost respect for the court. And the court, as we all know, is the judge. There is danger in disrespecting a judge and a lawyer who disrespects a judge is not worth his wig and gown. No matter how big or famous a lawyer is, he cannot be bigger than a judge sitting in his own court. Let that lawyer be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a Queen’s Counsel (QC) all rolled into one, he must respect the judge, no matter how junior His Lordship may be to him at the Bar.
By respecting the judge, the lawyer is respecting the judicial institution which tie them together as ‘’learned men’’. After all, a judge is first a lawyer before being a judge. The way the Saraki trial is going is not good for the judiciary. Yes, judges and lawyers do disagree, but they do so with mutual respect; they disagree to agree and not disagree to disagree to disagree until everything becomes messy. The defence could have adopted a better strategy in withdrawing from the case last Thursday. Of course, there will always be better ways of doing things, but those options were not taken last week when the lawyers stormed out of court.
In law, there is a procedure for a lawyer’s withdrawal from a case. Where there is disagreement between a lawyer and his client, in most cases over money, the lawyer will come by way of a motion to withdraw his services. He will state his reasons for doing so and the judge, after listening to him, will grant his request and give the litigant time to look for another lawyer. But where a lawyer is dissatisfied with the court’s decision, he can excuse himself from the case without casting aspersion on the judge’s integrity as Saraki’s counsel did last week. It is not every time a judge rules in favour of a party and it is not every time the court also rules against a party. So, to expect a favourable ruling always will be asking for too much.
Lawyers know where to go when a ruling does not favour them. They go on appeal, without storming out of court, mocking, taunting and deriding the judge with such legalese as : ‘’I wish to withdraw from this case in view of what I call judicial rascality’’. Pray, who is the rascal here? The jury is still out on that.