The lawyer representing independent Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt in an ongoing hit-and-run trial says anyone who tries to represent themselves in court is a "fool" – including his own client too, apparently.
Fildebrandt, a former Wildrose finance critic turned potential United Conservative Party leadership candidate turned disgraced independent MLA, had initially declined the help of a lawyer, opting instead to represent himself in court even though he has absolutely no background practicing law.
After trying to wing it through the first half of the trial, Fildebrandt abandoned his libertarian dream team and showed up to court this week with a lawyer.
Asked about the independent MLA's DIY legal strategy, Calgary-based lawyer Dale Fedorchuk offered a blunt one-line response in a media scrum, reportedly telling journalists gathered at an Edmonton courthouse that "a person who represents himself has a fool for a client."
Fildebrandt represented himself in February when evidence was first heard in court. His lawyer Dale Fedorchuck says it's a disadvantage.— Clare Clancy (@clareclancy) September 6, 2017
Fildebrandt's troubles with the law began in June 2016, after the MLA's neighbour alleges he backed his truck into her parked van and sped away.
On Wednesday, Fildebrandt told the court: "I did not do it."
The rookie MLA's attempts to clear his good name got off to a rocky start when he chose to act as his own counsel when the trial started in February. Fildebrandt spent the day in court declaring himself the victim of a political smear, he grilled his neighbour in cross-examination before calling for an adjournment so he could gather 22 "relatively important" witnesses to clear his good name.
Unfortunately none of Fildebrandt's 22 former Wildrose caucus mates showed up to testify on his behalf when the trial resumed this week, although his lawyer suggested witnesses were not necessary because the rookie MLA successfully "covered the bases" on his own.
Just how confident is he?
Pretty confident, it seems.
On Wednesday, Fildebrandt attempted to steer the discussion away from the alleged crime and onto the topic of his impeccable driving skills, repeatedly stressing he's "extremely proficient at driving trucks" and "extremely good at parking" – both "in and out."
"I'm extremely good at parking in and out." Fildebrandt.— Raffy Boudjikanian (@CBCRaffy) September 6, 2017
"I'm extremely proficient at driving trucks," he said. https://t.co/Dx1Otf6xon— Carrie Tait (@CarrieTait) September 6, 2017
Fildebrandt's defence also told the court that it makes no sense for a politician to commit this kind of crime – that's something an "average person" might do, not Fildebrandt.
Defence: would not have made sense for a public figure to commit hit & run. "Average person" like himself could get away w/ it, not client.— Raffy Boudjikanian (@CBCRaffy) September 6, 2017
They also explored the possibility Fildebrandt is actually the real victim – the victim of being famous.
Defence: Witness may have confused other person for Fildebrandt--given he's a public figure frequently on TV/in media, etc.— Raffy Boudjikanian (@CBCRaffy) September 6, 2017
In the end, justice for Fildebrandt will have to wait for another day.
The commissioner informed the court he will not be delivering his decision until December 18 – meaning Fildebrandt's legal headaches will continue for about another three months.
Weird line of the day: "Fildebrandt then sighed and hit his leg with his cellphone." https://t.co/6qZnyGsTlB— Peter Scowen (@scowen13) September 6, 2017