|New treatment for lawyers
Effective for all parties, even NDP
By Scott Upchuk, Crime Reporter
HALIFAX (NP) Reeves Matheson, ex - NDP member for Cape Breton, convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients, has been sentenced to two years' house arrest.
The sentence caused a stir among members of the public who felt that any lawyer convicted of stealing from his clients should at least do thirty days' jail time. Criticism of the sentence soon died down when the sentencing judge explained why he had given such a 'slap on the wrist' to Mr. Matheson: "lawyers have to be given special dispensation because they are the backbone of our society and if too many of them are behind bars, neither our legislatures nor businesses could function."
The judge also drew attention to Mr. Matheson's state of mental health while doing his crimes. "I am persuaded by his defence counsel's argument that Mr. Matheson was under the control of irresistible impulses."
Apparently the sentencing rules for lawyers have nothing to do with the party affiliation of the lawyer caught in acts of thievery. Although Mr. Matheson had represented the NDP in the N.S. Legislature, and the NDP platform advocates taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the party platform doesn't expressly permit NDP lawyers from taking their clients' money, rich or poor, and transferring it to their own bank accounts.
According to his lawyer, Mr. Matheson suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. For an explanation of this disorder, Dr. Sigmoid Froide, Chief of Psychiatry at Dalhousie Medical School of Legal Hyperactivism, said there is a standard treatment for lawyers suffering from ADHD and its clinical symptoms. "When in the presence of other people's money, these unfortunate souls have an irresistible urge to transfer it to their own bank accounts."
Dr. Froide explained that Ritalin, so effective with hyperactive kids, doesn't work with lawyers afflicted with this devastating disorder. The only treatment is to place a few hundred thousand dollars in $20 bills on the treatment table. If the lawyer makes any move to stuff the bills into his or her pocket or purse, the attending psychiatrist issues a stern warning: “You do that and you could face two years’ house arrest in any city of your choice.”
Dr. Froide said, "This usually quiets the agitated, hyperactive lawyer, at least until the next session. It is especially effective, if the lawyer before sentencing, expresses genuine regret for his or her actions."
It is understood that psychiatrists will continue to work with the justice system to produce sentences that temper justice with mercy for those who have to contend with irresistible impulses.
Scott Upchuk for The Notional Pest