Karen Farrell speaks with Mark Eddelbuttel, local Cundletown Solicitor, about the law, politics and good old lawyer jokes.
In 1999, Solicitor Mark Eddelbuttel opened Eddelbuttel Law – a law practice based in the historical Cundletown Court of Petty Sessions.
Eddelbuttel Law provides services across many areas of Law, ranging from Criminal Law to Family Law to Debt Recovery and Estates.
The location for Eddelbuttel Law is certainly apt, as the renovated building was formerly both a Police Station (two original holding cells still remain) and in 1863, the Small Claims Court – oh, the angst, the trials and tribulations the building’s walls have borne witness to!
While solicitors are often the brunt of numerous one-liners and jokes, they are also often one of the first people to call in the case of a divorce, death or criminal matter.
I asked Mark if he thinks great lawyers are deserving of colossal payments rendered for their services, to which Mark openly replied, “A neurosurgeon can remove a brain tumour, and the patient will pay whatever it costs. I’ll do the same operation for half the price, but the patient will never play the piano again. ‘Great’ lawyers deserve every cent.”
What makes a good lawyer great – is it gauged by how many cases are won?
It certainly doesn’t hurt, but that concept in itself means that someone has lost. Even the great lawyers suffer losses in the courtroom now and again. The facts are still the facts, regardless of the lawyer. The real skill is in avoiding a case in the first place and to know when to walk away from a stoush, or when to press on. There are always three sides to any argument: yours, theirs, and a mixture of them both.
How do you deal with a client who gives you unrealistic expectations?
I tell them that they have unrealistic expectations. I ask them how much they are prepared to spend – from their own pocket – to pursue a case that is unlikely to succeed. Spending your own money, as distinct to someone else’s, is a huge de-motivator.
It is alleged there was political interference by the Bush administration in the case of one-time Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks. What is your opinion on this?
David Hicks would have confessed to the assassination of JFK to get out of there, and who’d blame him. Things get murky because of where he was nabbed during very tense times. It’s unlikely he would have faced the same fate had he been apprehended heading down to the shops for a pie.
Why do child molesters have rights?
For no reason other than that we live in a civilised society and we embrace the Rule of Law. Everyone is entitled to be innocent until proven guilty. It’s that simple.
Americans are renowned for instigating lawsuits over everything, such as suing a fast food company for being obese. It’s almost like you’re a chump if you don’t sue in America … Is Australia becoming a nation of litigants?
No, the American legal system provides for ‘punitive’ damages, designed to punish defendants for when they have really messed up. In Australia, we can only sue for our actual loss. There are over 300 million people in the US, not all of them litigious. We just hear about the cases that sell newspapers.
Speaking of selling newspapers, could the high-profile case of Casey Anthony be considered a trial-by-media?
I have great confidence in the courts. One can’t determine innocence or guilt by reading the paper or watching the television, because the actual evidence is what really matters. Unless you were in the court and heard all the evidence and watched the looks on people’s faces, any thoughts on the subject of a person’s guilt or innocence are just plain wrong.
In relation to criminal cases, are you often asked if you’ve defended someone whom you knew was guilty – and have you done this?
If someone tells me that they are guilty and instruct me to plead not guilty, it’s time to get another lawyer. My job is not to pass judgment; my job is to act as my client’s mouthpiece and put that client’s strongest case forward. If another version is ultimately preferred and provided the court has not slipped up in preferring that version, then that is the end of the argument.
You’ve got a good sense of humour, Mark. Get ahead of the rest and tell us a good lawyer joke.
How about something I observed with my own eyes: the Magistrate asked the gent standing in front of him if he was the defendant and the reply was, “Nah, I’m the bloke who done it. That bloke over there is the defendant,” pointing to his lawyer, who had his head in his hands.