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The Northern District of California recovered $346,983,000.30 in civil and criminal cases during fiscal year 2011, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Of that amount, $309,685,106.50 was collected in criminal actions and $37,297,893.80 was collected in civil actions, Haag’s office reported.

Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $6.5 billion in criminal and civil actions during fiscal year 2011, surpassing $6 billion for the second consecutive year.

The $6.5 billion represents more than three times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices for fiscal year 2011.

“During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” U.S. Attorney Haag said. “The hard work of the attorneys and staff has helped return millions of dollars to the U.S. treasury and victims of crimes, while ensuring that the criminals who wrongfully took the funds were put behind bars.”

To read more about the monies collected, see the article with the Lake County News, here.

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Category: Court Info, Legal News  Tags: , , ,  Comments off

A lawsuit was filed last August charging Deutch with engaging in “a heartless scheme that swindled people with tax problems,” according to then-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.  “She promises to significantly reduce their IRS tax debts, but instead preys on their vulnerability, taking large up-front payments but providing little or no help in lowering their tax bills.”  Ads claim Deutch’s success rate in dealing with the IRS is as high as 99 percent, but the percentage of clients whose tax bills Deutch actually reduces is a mere 10 percent.

California’s new Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, filed an application in Superior Court asking that Deutch, an attorney, be held in contempt, charging that she has repeatedly violated the court’s orders.

“Deutch is an officer of this Court and a member of the Bar, which only serves to magnify the seriousness of Deutch’s violations of the Court’s orders. If anyone can be expected to respect and follow this Court’s orders, it should be those licensed to practice as attorneys before the Court. The harm caused by Deutch’s contempt is worthy of the most severe sanction,” Harris said in her court filing.

It seems immediately after Deutch had been ordered to “take reasonable steps to preserve every document” that might have a bearing in the case said Harris, “the very next day after the [court issued the order], Deutch conducted a purge of law firm documents that resulted in the shredding of nearly 2,000 pounds of the firm’s documents, or about 200,000 pages.”  Harris is asking the court to fine Deutch $1,000 and imprison her for five days for “each and every separate contempt” — $1,000 and five days in jail for each of the millions of pages of documents destroyed and each refund not issued.

Deutch also ignored a preliminary injunction that requires her to return all unearned fees to clients within 60 days and admitted that she has over $400,000 in refund requests that are older than 60 days, Harris said.

 

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The Ohio attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit against Andrea L. West and George W. West, accusing them of misrepresenting themselves as paralegals, or as I like to call them, Paralegal Posers.  About a half-dozen people have filed complaints about the Wests or their business, but the number of victims and money collected by the couple is not known, said Kim Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

Operating as Estate Planning Paralegal Services, the couple collected as much as $5,000 from some people without performing any services, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to order restitution, impose civil penalties and enjoin the Wests from continuing to operate the program.  The Wests now live in Truth or Consequences, N.M.  Does anyone else get the irony of where they reside now or is it just me?

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A Paralegal and former state Sen. in Montana, Jerry O’Neill, has prevailed in a recent court case that the attorney general had filed against him for his advertising as “deceptive as a matter of law.”

it seems the Montana Attorney General’s Office filed charges in June 2007 alleging that O’Neil violated the state’s Unfair Trade and Consumer Protection Act, seeking summary judgment in the case. This week the ruling denied the Attorney General’s summary judgment motion and supported O’Neill’s arguments.

O’Neill offers low cost preparation of documents for divorce and step-parent adoptions in Montana with attorney review supervision. O’Neill has since changed his advertising to make sure the public knows that there is an attorney reviewing his paperwork before his clients see the completed results. The Attorney General is seeking steep penalties against him: a $10,000 fine for each alleged violation; forfeiture of all fees received through the alleged unauthorized practice of law; forfeiture of his business phone number and a permanent injunction banning him from advertising or doing any legal work that only licensed lawyers can perform; and a $10,000 penalty for any future violations.

O’Neil said he is countersuing the state for “interfering in my business,” a pursuit he claims is motivated by resistance to any threat to the state’s lawyer “monopoly.”

I will update you as more information is received on this case. In California, as Paralegals we cannot complete paperwork on behalf of ‘clients’ without an attorney’s review and approval, unless we are a Legal Document Assistant, known as LDA. An LDA is not the same as a Paralegal. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code §6401(b) a Paralegal does not have to register as a Legal Document Assistant while acting on behalf of a member of the State Bar. A Paralegal, acting independently of an attorney, must register as a Legal Document Assistant if performing services to the general public.

As an LDA, you are regulated by Business and Professions Code Section 6400 et seq. You must register as an LDA in every county you will be performing services as an LDA. Once registered and upon preparing documents, you must provide the following per Section 6408 of the Business and Professions Code:

Your name, business address, telephone number, registration number, and county of registration shall appear on any solicitation or advertisement, and on any appropriate papers or documents prepared or used by the registrant, including, but not limited to, contracts, letterhead, business cards, correspondence, documents, forms, claims, petitions, checks, receipts, money orders, and pleadings.

It is unclear in the information available at this time, if LDAs are recognized in Montana or if a Paralegal must work under the supervision of an attorney. If any of you know the answer to this, please let me know.

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