Archive for the Category »Family Law «

In an article I posted at my Family Law blog, California Family Law Paralegal, I discussed violence against attorneys, not only by their own clients, but by an opposing party.

The American Bar Association did a poll of attorneys in the mid-90′s and posted the results in an article titled “Lawyers in Harm’s Way.”  This poll revealed that that 60 percent of family lawyers had been threatened by opposing parties, and 17 percent had been threatened by their own clients.

As violence has continued to increase in our nation, I find it interesting that the American Bar Association has not updated this poll of attorneys regarding threats or actual violence towards them.  I am conducting my own poll and ask that you take a moment and answer it, so we as legal professionals can see for ourselves if threats of or actual violence towards attorneys (including paralegals and other staff members) is increasing.

 

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English: New Year's Day postcard mailed in 190...

English: New Year’s Day postcard mailed in 1909. It reads: “A New Year’s Resolution / Jan. 1st / Good Resolution / Each resolution that I make / My conscience surely troubles / Because I find they always break / As easy as Soap bubbles” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013 flew by so fast and I was so busy that I didn’t post anything for months.  Shame on me!  My New Year’s Resolution (I never make them, by the way) is to post more often and to post more articles for paralegals.  That is my goal, we will see if I can do it.

Perhaps someone will have to remind me to post or maybe as a paralegal I should calendar it and stop finding excuses for not posting!

Happy New Year and let’s make this year a better one than last year!

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In an article in the JD Journal a judge hearing the case regarding a McDonald’s in Dearborn has told an attorney to remove all references to the case from a Facebook page he created, according to The Detroit Free Press. The lawyer, Majed Moughni, has been barred from talking about a settlement reached last month with anyone who could be affected by it. The judge ordered that Moughni’s posts be replaced with copies of the settlement. He also has to forward the contact info and names of people who commented on the case or ‘Liked’ the post.

English: The mdonalds logo from the late 90s

English: The mdonalds logo from the late 90s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attorneys who settled the suit with McDonald’s asked the judge to make sure the site was monitored so as to prevent false statements from getting to the public. The settlement was for $700,000 and it was between McDonald’s and multiple groups from the Dearborn Muslim community.

Moughni did not like the settlement, saying it was a backroom deal. He received at least 1,300 people in support of his claims and filed a legal complaint on January 25.

The complaint from Moughni was dismissed by Judge MacDonald on Thursday, saying that he took part in “deliberative and abusive conduct.” She said that copies of the settlement have to be “prominently placed on the Facebook page wall.” He complied and has not posted anything new on the site since posting the settlement copies.

You can read more on this at JD Journal here or at the Detroit Free Press here.

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I can’t believe it is 2013 and another year has flown by.  This past year has been a busy one, personally and professionally.  So much so, that it has kept me from blogging as often as I would like.  I am going to change that, or at least give it my best ‘college try’ as they say, in this new year.

I became a  great grandmother to a beautiful girl in March 2012, Lexi Jo.  She brings laughter and happiness to all of our lives.  I am blessed to have her in my life and enjoy watching her grow each day. lexi (1)

My family is healthy now, with my youngest son finally getting the insulin pump for his type 1 diabetes.  Seems like we waited for this pump forever.  This has helped to maintain his sugar levels and has prevented his having to be in intensive care on a monthly basis.  I know he is happy about this and as his mother, I am thrilled that he no longer needs to be hospitalized frequently.

Professionally in 2012, the law office expanded by adding one more person to our cast of characters.  She is young, smart and is a fast learner.  She seems to be fitting in nicely with all of us.   Our receptionist was promoted to assist me and begin using her paralegal skills.  I know I am happy as can be with this change, and I know she is as well.  I look forward to teaching her all I know and watching her grow in her new position.  With these changes of course, come some challenges.  Figuring out what job duties change and for whom, is one of the biggest challenges.

I hope that all of my paralegal friends are doing well in this new year and that 2013 brings us all happiness, not only personally, but professionally too.  Happy New Year and I look forward to reconnecting with all of you and hopefully connecting with new paralegals as well!

 

 

 

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In a strange, yet interesting article posted in the ABAJournal this week, a former California lawyer who gave up his law license more than a decade ago is facing 13 felony charges, accused of assuming a licensed attorney’s identity and practicing under the other lawyer’s name, including making multiple court appearances for clients in San Mateo County Superior Court.

John Hedderman, 52, was released on $50,000 bail after being charged with practicing law without a license and multiple charges of burglary and identity theft, reports the San Mateo County Times.

According to the article, Hedderman was previously convicted on 12 felony counts after passing himself off as another lawyer in Orange County years ago, the newspaper says. Articles published in 2008 in the Orange County Registerand the OC Weekly provide additional details.

In this latest case, Hedderman is accused of taking on the identity of attorney Donald Welch, when representing a client, Ruben Bisceglia, in a criminal case, making three court appearances on his behalf.

The Daily Journal says that Hedderman worked as a paralegal in the law office of the real Donald Welch, a Southern California practitioner.

You just have to wonder how Hedderman thought he would be able to get away with this!

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I wanted to give a big thank you and shout out to Legaco Express for Paralegals for sharing one of my early posts, “No, I Can’t Give Legal Advice!”  You can find the repost here at Legaco Express.

I am always thrilled when someone in the paralegal field reposts one of my blogs, it is good to know that someone is out there reading my blog, other than family and friends of course.  Thanks Legaco Express for making me feel appreciated!

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Ouch!  That has to hurt!  Running for a judicial seat and then sanctioned and reported to the State Bar.  This just happened to attorney Judy Conard, who practices in Lake County, California.

The First Appellate Court found the appeal to be frivolous and not only sanctioned Ms. Conard $6,000, but issued $15,000 in sanctions against her client as well.

Last October, Theodore Parfet, who lives in Michigan, appealed an order that he pay the attorney fees for Amy Tucker, the Respondent in the Family Law case, incurred while she opposed his motions to modify child custody, visitation and child support, according to the decision, which can be read here.

Ms. Conard said they appealed the amount of attorneys’ fees, which at nearly $80,000 were in excess of what the interim fees were to be.  The three appellate justices found “the degree of objective frivolousness and delay is extremely high,” and that “pursuing a meritless appeal of an attorney fee award under the circumstances of this case flies in the face of the very purpose of the Family Code attorney fees statutes.”  Further, they found that Conard had a professional responsibility not to pursue a frivolous appeal just because her client instructed her to do so, the justices said Conard violated her duties by facilitating the appeal “and by advancing arguments which exceed the bounds of both common sense and sound advocacy.”

The justices also stated “We join other courts in recognizing that the respondent is not theonly party damaged by a frivolous appeal.” ‘Others with bona fide disputes, as well as the taxpayers, are prejudiced by the wasteful diversion of an appellate court’s limited resources.’  The handling of this appeal has imposed a burden on this court.”

 To add insult to injury, Ms. Conard and the court clerk were each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur.  Whether charges will be filed by the bar against Ms. Conard has yet to be seen.  The lesson here for attorneys?  Beware of filing an appeal just because your client wants you to, be sure that there is merit to the appeal, it could cost you, not only monetarily but professionally.
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In a recent article in Law.com’s Law Technology News section, Robert J. Ambroji discussed Social Media and Ethics for those of us in law.

Ethics and social media will be front and center at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting this month in its hometown, Chicago. The ABA’s House of Delegates — its governing body — will consider the recommendations of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which has proposed revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to address changes in technology.

The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, reminds us that the same old ethical rules apply to Social Media.

Do not betray client confidence when you tweet or blog, even if you think you are being discreet. as Illinois assistant public defender Kristine Ann Peshek found out when her license was suspended for 60 days when she blogged about her clients.  Peshek thought she was blogging anonymously but it was determined that she had provided enough specific information on her clients that they could be identified.

Do not give out legal advice, this could be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  For us paralegals, this could be practicing law without a license.

Do not solicit clients.  Targeting a specific person to be a client is not allowed, but participating in an online forum of any kind is permitted.

ABA Model Rule 7.2 says, “A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services.” Does this mean you cannot provide an endorsement of a colleague on sites such as LinkedIn or Avvo? Absolutely not, provided nothing of value is exchanged.  But can you promise to provide an endorsement if the other attorney promises to endorse you in return?  That quid pro quo could be seen as an exchange of value.

As Mr. Ambroji says in his article, it all comes down to common sense.  If you wouldn’t talk about your client’s case with strangers outside of your office, why would you post it online?  If you wouldn’t give out legal advice at your neighbor’s party, why would you do it online?

To read more of the article written by Mr. Ambroji, you can find it here.  I would love to hear my fellow paralegals thoughts on Ethics and Social Media too.

 

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It is Earth Day once again.  I try to practice Earth Day every day, not just today.  My oldest grandson insisted several years ago that I start recycling at home and taking care of the planet so that long after I was gone, (his words, not mine) that there was an earth for him and his family to live on.  I have a very small yard but I still manage to have a compost bucket and will for the first time get to use my own compost dirt in my container gardens this year.

I know, what does this have to do with being a paralegal?  Using green measures at the office is just as important as at home.  Most of us spend more time at the office than we do at home, I know I do, so why wouldn’t you do your part to help out?  One of the things I do at the office is to turn off the lights when they are not needed.  I don’t think we need lights on in rooms that are not occupied and I am forever going by a room and turning off the lights.  I even shut them off when I leave at the end of the day, there is no need to light an office that no one is going to be in for the night!  I don’t know about the state you live in, but California is energy poor and the price of using it keeps going up and up.

home made compost

home made compost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What will you do for Earth Day?  Do you practice saving the earth every day?  How important is the earth to you?

 

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Remember Bonnie Sweeten the paralegal who faked her and her daughter’s kidnapping? U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. ruled Wednesday that she had stolen over $1 million monetary loss which allows federal prosecutors to seek a sentence of 102 to 121 months.

Sweeten used a complex series of frauds to obtain the $1 million, starting in 2004, when she was working as a paralegal in Bucks County for now-disbarred lawyer Debbie Carlitz. About $640,000 was taken from law firm accounts, while an additional $280,000 was stolen from an elderly relative’s retirement account. Sweeten was arrested in 2009.

Her family claims that she is sorry and realizes she made a mistake and they have no idea why she did what she did.

It is sad when someone stoops to stealing from their employer and the employer’s clients and even worse when that person is a paralegal.

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Category: Family Law  2 Comments