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The Devil Made Him Do It

Nebraska state senator sues God: read all about it, here [1]. According to the report, the Deity “is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still.”

Let’s assume God can afford suitable counsel or will be able to find someone prepared to work pro bono for a “good cause”. This lawyer could take the brief even if concurrently working as a Devil’s Advocate, at least so long as there is no conflict. I think it is safe to assume God wouldn’t need to resort to the cab rank rule [2] (if it applies in Ontario). Under that rule some lawyer would be obliged to act for God, were there to be such an action in Ontario. Paraphrasing from Wikipedia: the cab rank rule declares the obligation of a barrister to accept any work in a field in which the barrister he professes himself or herself competent to practise, at a court at which the barrister normally appears, and at the barrister’s usual billing rate.

An Ontario lawyer consulted by God might tell God that God could consider moving to Ontario. In Ontario, God will be able to rely on existing precedent to dismiss any action brought against God on the basis that God is not a person who can be sued in Ontario courts.

God’s lawyer will cite Joly v Pelletier [1999] O.J. No. 1728 [QL], 1999 CarswellOnt 1587 (Ont. S.C.J.) (non-human clone, being neither a human being nor a corporation, does not a qualifying as person under Ontario Rules of Civil procedure defining who has status to sue as a plaintiff). The lawyer will point out that Joly is applicable to actions against non-human defendants, who are not corporations, because the definitions of “defendant” and “plaintiff” in the Ontario legislation (the Courts of Justice Act and the Rules of Civil Procedure) use the same wording. Each refer to a “person” who sues (plaintiff) or who is sued (defendant). So, by basic legal reasoning, “person” must have the same meaning in both definitions unless the wording makes it clear the meaning is different. It doesn’t.

Hence, God, who neither human nor a corporation, cannot be sued in Ontario. Q. E. D.

We’ll ignore the intriguing question of whether God could waive this formality and the equally intriguing question of whether God could claim to be a corporation sole. After all, God is the head of God’s church.

In any event, the lack of standing to be sued eliminates any concerns about the validity of an oath taken to oneself. Or, would God affirm?

Of course, this won’t answer the question about the standing of God in Nebraska. Does God have an actual presence there, so that God has attorned and the Nebraska courts have jurisdiction in personam? Informed persons will recall that it has been said that God is always about in the quad.

This is another reminder that the devil is in the details.