Chapter 10: The Judicial Branch Civics
Chapter 10: The Judicial Branch
When Do You Need A Lawyer?
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m going to sue you!” or “I ought to sue
him for what he did?” For every time you have heard those threats how many times have they been
carried out? For that matter, how many people who threaten to sue realize that the act of suing does
not necessarily mean collecting? It’s up to a judge and perhaps a jury to decide whether a sued person
has to pay any damages.
However, the threat of being sued,
arrested, taken to court, or sent to jail is always
present in modern society. Fortunately, many
people go through life without ever having to
appear in court. Quite a few even manage to
avoid hiring a lawyer. Other people spend vast
amounts of time and money consulting lawyers.
Most of these individuals have never
deliberately broken a law and aren’t even
involved in court cases. They simply depend
upon lawyers for advice and help as a part of
their everyday business.
For most of us, it is hard to decide when we need a lawyer’s advice. It has been said that all a
lawyer has for sale is her time. This is true in that lawyers make their living by spending time helping
others solve their legal difficulties, or avoid having legal problems. Therefore, lawyers have to charge
for their services. If they represent you in court, you expect to pay for their services. When attorneys
file legal papers for you or examine documents, you are charged a fee. Even when you talk to a
lawyer in her office, you probably will get a bill.
Lawyers’ bills often are a surprise to people who infrequently need legal services. Many
people give quite serious thought to attorneys’ fees and therefore don’t make appointments to see
lawyers. Others don’t call attorneys simply because they don’t realize when they need them. Of all
questions concerning a person’s relationship with the law this may well be the most important.
When does a person need the help of an attorney, and when would a lawyer’s fee be a needless
expense? It is almost as important to know when a lawyer is not needed and when one is.
Chapter 10: The Judicial Branch Civics
Read the scenarios that follow. Determine the reasons why a lawyer might or might not be necessary in each situation.
Keep in mind the expense of consulting a lawyer. Also, consider the possible problems that might arise if you yourself
tried to handle something that really needed a lawyer.
1. The doorbell rings one evening and when you answer the door, a man hands you a legal-looking
piece of paper called a summons. It tells you to appear before the court to answer charges
brought against you by a man with whom you have done business.
2. You have decided to buy a new car. In order to finance it, you have to sign an agreement to
make monthly payments to repay the loan, interest on the loan, and insurance. The payments are
to continue for thirty-six months.
3. An insurance salesman has talked you into buying an insurance policy that will pay your family
$50,000 if you die or get killed. You will have to make payments until you are sixty-five (if you
live that long).
4. When you were in a store, you picked up an item and left the store without paying for it. A store
detective followed you onto the sidewalk and arrested you for shoplifting.
5. Your father and mother have decided to write a will so that there will be no question about
which children get what in the event either parent dies.
6. Another driver ran the stop sign and you hit him. Fortunately, you were not injured. The other
driver wasn’t so lucky. He suffered a broken back and internal injuries. His doctor says the man
probably will never be able to walk again. The injured man says you could have avoided the
accident if you had tried.
7. You and your spouse have found exactly the house you want. It is within your price range, in the
part of town you like best, and in great condition even though it is twenty years old. You are
ready to make an offer through the real estate agent.
8. Jane and Lois have decided to open a gift shop and have invited you to join them as a partner.
They are full of good ideas and so are you. A good location is available. A number of supply
houses are ready to fill the shelves with gifts for the three of you to sell.
9. In the afternoon mail you got a form from the county court telling you of the possibility that you
might be called to serve on a jury. The form has to be filled out and returned to the court. A
note at the bottom of the form warns you that you are subject to criminal action if you don’t fill
out the form accurately and honestly.
10. It is income tax time again. No matter how many times you read the tax form instructions, they
just don’t make sense. A friend mentions that you can go to prison if you don’t fill out your tax