A Painful Duty
Forty Years at the Criminal Bar


By C.D. Evans QC

A Memoir

In his memoir, Evans reveals insights into the practice and the characters of the Criminal Bar, with special tributes to the no-nonsense judges of the early days.

Excerpt: The Criminal Lawyer as Pariah

The principled barrister who practices on the criminal side is the loneliest person in the courtroom. Those of us who choose to practice at the criminal defense bar accept that condition because for the most part we are solitary loners. There is little standing between the average accused and a life behind iron bars other than the skill and the knowledge and experience of his or her mouthpiece, the so called “criminal lawyer.” Right-thinking members of the community at large – including other lawyers – understandably are diffident about associating with “criminal lawyers,” and generally disparage their calling with down-turned mouths. That is to some extent understandable: it is difficult for laypersons to esteem those who habitually defend thugs, notwithstanding the high-sounding admonitions of the Charter of Rights, otherwise known as “The Criminals’ Code.” It is only when the same urburgers personally encounter the rigors of the law, brought cruelly to bear upon themselves or someone close to them, that they queue up at the senior defence lawyers’ chambers, wringing anxious hands, happy to pay the tariff, which is generally fixed by “what the traffic will bear.” The thought, however, of token public funds finding their way into a criminal lawyer’s pocket, even for serious services faithfully rendered, is always anathema. The criminal bar is the Wolf at the Door; he/she is inimical to polite society … unless and until conditionally needed.

"With the mirthful flourish of his pen, and top gallant sails flying, C.D. Evans guides us through myriad shoals of madness, mayhem, and folly encountered over four decades at the Criminal Bar. Chock full of character and characters, this is a classic of the first water.— Richard C. C. Peck, QC, FACTL, Peck & Co., Barristers, Vancouver Co-Chair, Federation of Law Societies’ National Criminal Law Program

Burn this book! It is far too provocative and seditious to circulate freely amongst the masses. But before you burn it, read it and laugh until your eyes water and your belly hurts. — Cameron Gunn, Crown Prosecutor, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and author of Ben & Me: From Temperance to Humility.

Durvile & UpRoute Books gratefully acknowledges funding from Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and Alberta Government through the Alberta Media Fund.


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