Monday, October 25, 2010

Semper Fidelis

I would like to first start off this blog by saying thank you to all my family, friends and those human beings who don't even know me for their support throughout this year I am honored and blessed in the same breath to have such an incredible amount of support and I am truly grateful to everyone. I have received so many emails and telephone calls from Paralegals and Attorneys through out the United States for support so thank you. I want to say that it has been over one year ago that I first learned I was going to be the subject of an UPL investigation by the Office of Attorney Regulation (OARC) here in Colorado. I want to ensure everyone that I am fine and that this last year has been a great one for me. I closed Martin Paralegal Services LLC in January 2010 because I was not about to be exposed and exploited by OARC and become a money making machine for them.

I want to make it clear that I have never in 26yrs as a paralegal ever taken advantage of anyone or been charged with a crime or been accused of representing myself to anyone as an attorney, I have never had a formal or informal complaint filed against me by any consumers. I have helped Pro Se Litigants my entire career because that's what I was trained to do. This entire investigation of me was started by an immigration attorney by the name of Bryan Large here in Colorado you can read about my Federal Constitutional Law Challenge Suit case at http://dockets.justia.com/docket/colorado/codce/1:2009cv02792/116517/. I will also post all of my motions for your view. I am not sure where OARC is at in the investigation process of me, I had a deposition back in May 2010 and have not heard from them since and since it has been over one year I find it pointless that I am still having to wait and see what they intend to do with my case since it was remanded back to them. OARC has been on a fishing expedition with my case since this so called investigation of me violating UPL.

OARC is an Administrative Body appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court, and is being run by a bunch of Clowns. I want everyone to know that I have learned alot this past year as a human being one of the best lessons that I learned is from an excerpt of the book by Linda Kennedy Attorney at Law called the Holodeck Law, Litigation Vortex http://www.ejfi.org/Courts/Courts-5.htm this is a well written explanation of law and how nothing is as it appears. I have also had the opportunity to research other UPL cases throughout the United States and what I have found out is that UPL cases are mostly initiated by Attorneys who feel threatened. The monopoly on the Legal Services Industry and Pro Se Litigants will only get worse before it gets better because attorneys are now accepting jobs as paralegals even though they have no formal training but that's what a Law Degree does for you today. I will always be a paralegal I earned it through the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in 1984, I am a former U.S. Marine and will not allow the State, Federal courts to violate my Constitutional Rights. So at this point this will be my very last blog, because I have moved on with my life. I will never stop helping Pro Se Litigants because they are victimized by the court process so anyone that contacts me for help and is a Pro Se Litigant I will help them, I will not ever again advertise myself as a paralegal because I am a threat to the monopoly of judges, attorneys and the courts who don't care about Pro Se Litigants and their Constitutional Rights to represent themselves. Semper Fidelis is a term that defines the U.S. Marine Corps, it means "Always Faithful. Once a U.S. Marine, Always a U.S. Marine. Peace and many blessings Efrem B. Martin

Saturday, October 31, 2009

U.S. MARINE WHO FOUGHT FOR DEMOCRACY ABROAD, FIGHTS TO SURVIVE LEGAL SUPPRESSION IN THE U.S.

By Deirdre Glascoe
Staff Writer for The National Association of Pro Se Litigants, Inc. (www.napsl.org)


Efrem Martin was trained as a paralegal by one of the finest educators in the world, The United States Marines! After serving his country with distinction, and with 25 years experience as a paralegal under his belt, Mr. Martin is now in the cross-hairs of the Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel. The Counsel, funded by attorneys, is asserting that Mr. Martin can't practice his trade on U.S. soil. This is because of a legal monopoly that exists in the U.S., a system of oppression that can only be maintained by the public’s ignorance of the law. Mr. Martin is a financial threat to that system of oppression, so the fat cats have their claws out.

As a basis to shut down his business, and impose other penalties including possibly criminal, the Attorney Regulation Counsel is evaluating Mr. Martin by a State law known as the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). UPL is a deficient and discriminatory law that fails to clearly delineate those tasks which attorneys may perform and those task that paralegals, legal secretaries and legal word processors may perform in a solo practice. But more troubling, particularly to members of the National Association of Pro Se Litigants, Inc., is that the Attorney Regulation Counsel, The Colorado Bar Association and paralegal associations like Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association and Colorado Freelance Paralegal Network (CPFN) take the position that Citizens in Colorado, representing themselves are not entitled to purchase legal information and other ancillary services directly from a paralegal. This according to the Colorado Bar Association is a privilege that only licensed attorneys may receive.

According to the CPFN website, “For those not familiar with the legal world, paralegals - even freelancers - are not permitted to provide their skills directly to the public. They are allowed to do so only under the supervision of a licensed attorney.” Well, for anyone familiar with the laws of slavery, the practice of depriving slaves of the right to read and write, so that they may remain ignorant and oppressed sounds chillingly similar.

UPL statues purport to protect the public interest; but since many attorneys wreak their incompetence and lack of ethics upon the public everyday, yet never face sanctions, critics have come to believe that unauthorized practice of law statutes are just guises put in place to help Lawyers maintain their monopoly on the public’s access to justice.

Critics say that our legal system is not the honest upright system it purports to be, but instead is premised on the concept of pay-to-play and quid-pro-quo. Clients who can grease the palms of attorneys and judges get justice; everyone else is left by the wayside.

The critics’ positions are substantiated by a variety of legal community embarrassments; most recently the indictment of Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. Both of these “Honorable” judges were indicted for crimes that were previously described by the media as selling kids for cash.

Independent Paralegal Services, like Mr. Martin’s help that portion of the public left on the wayside (the majority of the people); and services like his are critical to our society if we are to live up to our constitutional creed of Liberty and Justice, for all. To date, that creed has been molested by the legal community at large.

Not only do we need Mr. Martin and solo paralegals like him; but the competition and much needed service that he injects into the marketplace is as American as apple pie – its called capitalism. Capitalism and its cousin Competition have always been good for America.

You can help Mr. Martin by writing a letter asking that actions against Mr. Martin be dismissed. Address your letter to:

John S. Gleason
Regulation Counsel
Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
1560 Broadway, Suite 1800
Denver, Colorado 80202
Telephone: (303) 866-6400 or 1-877-888-1370

I'd much rather see the Office of Attorney Regulation, regulate skyrocketing attorney fees, rather than harass honest hard working citizens like Mr. Martin.

Ms. Glascoe may be reached at info@thejusticegame.net

Monday, October 26, 2009

Helping Pro Se Litigants Help Themselves by Maryland Legal Assistance Network

Helping Pro Se Litigants to Help Themselves

This outline is designed to provide a brief overview of the trends in pro se litigation and the responses by the courts and the legal community, particularly in the area of technology. It is complemented by material on two websites.
www.unbundledlaw.com www.peoples-law.org
Maryland Legal Assistance Network/MLSC
Ayne H. Crawley acrawley@mdjustice.org 410-576-9494

Trends in Pro Se Litigation
It is the common experience of most court system in the United States that there has been a rising tide of pro se litigants flooding a justice system designed, in large part, for the traditional full representation model. Virtually all aspects of the system, from the rules to the training of judges and court staff to the physical layout of the courthouses themselves, have been oriented to cases in which knowledgeable attorneys represent the parties. The Conference of State Court Administrators recently characterized this trend as “ unprecedented and showing no signs of abating.”

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL PICTURE ON PRO SE LITIGATION?

(National Center on State Courts study of 16 large urban trial courts in 1991-1992 – Domestic Relations cases)

• 71% of cases had at least one unrepresented party. In 18% both parties were pro se litigants. (Both parties had
counsel in only 28% of cases.)
• The percentage of cases where both parties were pro se ranged from �� 1% in Dayton, OH to 47% in Oakland, CA
• The percentage of cases where both parties were represented ranged from 12% in Washington, DC to 47% in Des Moines, Iowa
(A California study of family matters from 1991 to 1995 found the following)
• One party appeared pro se in 2/3 of all domestic relations cases and in 40% of all child custody cases.
• California reports in 2001 that over 50% of the filings in custody and visitation are by pro se litigants. Urban courts report that approximately 80% of the new divorce filings are filed pro se.
A 1998 study by the Boston Bar Association found that 66% of the cases in Probate and Family Court in Boston involved at least 1 pro se party.
(Pro se litigation study on tort and general civil litigation in 45 urban trial courts reported in the Justice Statistics – Special report April 1995)
• Average of 3% of all tort cases had at least one pro se party
• In Chicago 30% (in 1994 and 25% in 1995) of all new general civil actions field for less than $10,000 of damages were filed pro se. Landlord tenant actions were filed pro se 28% of the time. In Maricopa County in Arizona the incidence of pro se litigants doubled in the period between 1980 (24% of cases had 1 pro se litigant) and 1985 (where the rate had reached 47%). By 1990, 88% of the cases involved at least one pro se litigant and no lawyers were involved in more than half of the divorces.

WHO GOES PRO SE?

(ABA Study of Family Law Pro Se, Maricopa County, AZ, 1993)
• Tend to have lower income ($50,000 or less in income substantially increases chances of pro se), but 20% said they could afford a lawyer
• Younger in age
• Higher Education (Most have some college)
• No children
• No real estate or personal property
• Married less than 10 years

WHY DO PEOPLE CHOOSE PRO SE?

(Data from the 1996 report of the Pro Se project operated by the University Of Maryland Law School)
• 57% said they could not afford a lawyer
• 18% said they did not wish to spend the money to hire a lawyer
• 21% said they believed that their case was simple and therefore they did not need an attorney
A 1998 ABA-commissioned study found some public beliefs that may influence the choice:
• 78% believe “It takes too long for the courts to do the job.”
• 77% believe “It costs too much to go to court.”
The 1994 ABA Study of Legal Needs found that:
• Predominate reasons for low-income households to not seeking legal help were:
• “it would not help”
• “costs too much”
• Predominate reasons for moderate-income households to not seeking legal help were:
• “”not really a problem”
• “can handle it on my own”
• “a lawyer cannot help”

Research in California indicates that pro per (pro se) representation is not solely due to financial limitations. And that “…a significant portion of the family law pro pers in California are not poor or poorly educated.” (Reported in the National Center on State Courts study of 16 large urban trial courts in 1991-1992 – Domestic Relations cases)
Attitudes toward Self-help and Control Over Problem-Solving - The consumer movement of the 1970’s appears to have been influential in creating a norm for empowering people to resolve their own problems. There is also widespread knowledge that an attorney is not required in order to go to court. In the American Bar Association’s Perceptions study, while only 26% were highly knowledgeable about the justice system, 88% of the respondents identified the following statement as inaccurate: “If you go to court, you are required to have a lawyer.”
The American Judicature Society report, Meeting the Challenge of Pro Se Litigation, identified anti-lawyer sentiment as well as the growth of do-it-yourself materials as key factors in the upward trend of pro se litigation.

There is also a perceived linkage between value and cost with the public identifying some areas as simple enough for self-representation. Do People Go Pro Se Because They Cannot Find a Lawyer? 69% agree with the statement that “It would be easy to get a lawyer if I need one.” (59% of those with income under $35,000) (ABA Legal Needs Study)
Attitudes toward Lawyers (ABA Legal Needs Study)
• 50% disagree that lawyers “try to help make a divorce simpler and less painful.” (21% were neutral)
• Interestingly there is more distrust that lawyers can “make a divorce simpler and less painful” among those with incomes above $75,000 (82%) than among those with income under $35,000 (63%).
• 45% believe that “Lawyers are more concerned with their own self promotion than their client’s best interest.”
(22% were neutral)
• 51% believe that “we would be better off with fewer lawyers”
• Overall, those with more experience with lawyers were more positive towards lawyers and the justice system.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Screw Up Your Case in Five Easy Lessons

Most judges loathe pro se litigants. Sometimes this is legitimate. Pro se litigants make the judge's job harder because they usually don't know the rules or the legal culture. This means the case frequently takes more of their time than one with two knowledgeable lawyers involved. Also, pro se litigants are sometimes harder to control. After all, if a judge is getting mad and ready to throw the book at a lawyer, the lawyer may think about the next 15 cases that he is going to have before the same judge and bite his tongue a bit. The pro se litigant, who hopes he will never have to see this judge again, may go on blundering into a buzz saw without knowing any better.

The other reason judges hate pro se litigants, however, is that there are certain patterns which individuals who represent themselves tend to repeat over and over and over again, most of which make cases much more difficult.

If you really want to mess up your case, try one of the following:

Perry Mason Wannabes
Say you have always wished you had gone to law school. Perhaps you were a Perry Mason or Divorce Court junkie when you were a kid, and the real reason you want to limit legal services and represent yourself is so that you can play lawyer. DON'T. This isn't about giving rein to your ego or fantasy life. If you do, you are certain to be unsuccessful in court and embarrassed for making a fool of yourself. Remember, you are a litigant who is representing himself. Don't try to be an attorney, or they will make mincemeat of you. Besides, after you have done it a few times, the joys of arguing in court are highly overrated,


Whine
Nothing will brand you more quickly as a difficult litigant and make the judge stop listening than if you want to use your day in court to cash in on all the "brown stamps" you have been collecting on your spouse through 15 years of marriage. If you are going to handle your own court appearances, find out in advance what is legally relevant and what is not, and limit yourself to the former. It may feel great to complain to an audience about the miserable failings of your spouse, but if you do, you will lose not only the audience but, most likely, your case.

Also, if you tick one judge off by your behavior, and then get transferred to another judge, don't assume there isn't carry over. The courthouse is a workplace much as any other. Once a case or litigant is labeled a "problem" that may well carry from court to court via the grapevine. You may well find the next judge even less sympathetic than the first.

One of the best uses you can make of your consulting attorney is as a sounding board, and let her coach you as to what is or is not useful for the judge to hear.

Also, do what the lawyers do. Watch the judge and look for signals. If the judge is losing patience with you or telling you to change the subject, change the subject. You will never score points with the judge by disregarding her instructions.


Expect the Courts to Make Up for Your Inexperience
Some courts will loosen the rules a little for pro se litigants (to the disgust of Opposing counsel, I might add). However, don't expect much. Judges are sworn to be evenhanded and fair to both sides. They may intervene if your opposing counsel is running you ragged with esoterica, but they won't (read: can't) do your work for you, and you should not expect it. Most of them will make a point of being absolutely impartial and won't cut you any slack whatsoever. Therefore, do your homework and expect that you will be held to the standard of any other litigant, represented or not.


Turn In Sloppy or Illegible Paperwork or Don't Serve Opposing Counsel With a Copy
This is guaranteed to make a judge nuts. I have already said that legal drafting is tricky. It needs to be clear and legible and the opposing side (whether represented or not) must be provided with a copy of whatever you file with the court. Rules vary from state to state and even county to county, but most of them require that documents be filed and served several days before any court appearance. Find out the rules, including the local variations, and adhere to them. Just because you are not a lawyer does not mean that a judge is not going to apply the rules and expect you to play by them. The worst of all possible results is that your paperwork is thrown out and you lose the case because you forgot to serve the other side or because it is so sloppy the judge can't read it.

This is particularly important when it comes to drafting orders. You have no idea how disastrous a badly-drafted order is when you later attempt to enforce it, and just because you think you know what it means doesn't guarantee that the judge will interpret it that way. It may also surprise you to learn that many experienced attorneys do lousy paperwork. Imagine how much harder it is to fill out the form properly if you have never seen it before.

Similarly, when a pro se litigant pulls out a shoebox full of receipts instead of properly prepared exhibits, any judge is going to inwardly groan. Be organized and do it right if you are going to do it at all.


Argue With the Judge
They HATE this. In some courts, it can get you held in contempt. Be courteous and professional. Plan on spending a lot of time hanging around the courthouse (without the kids, of course) if your case is being litigated. Educate yourself on the court procedures which apply to your case and, if possible, watch the judge who will be hearing it. You will learn a great deal about how he runs his courtroom and which arguments he responds to most favorably.

A particularly ineffective pro se trait is to raise your voice louder and louder as you repeat the arguments the judge has already rejected. Don't do it.

Finally, be realistic about what relief the court can and cannot grant. Many people are incredibly naive on this point and expect all sorts of things that the courts simply aren't equipped to deliver. Find out what is realistic and what is not and concentrate on the former. Above all, remember that if you are losing, you will never change the judge's opinion by arguing with him.

The following article was published by: ParentingPlan.net

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pro Se Litigants in Family Court

Why are there so many Pro Se Litigants in Family Court? More and more people are representing themselves in court, throughout the United States Family Court cases have seen an increase of Pro Se Litigants of almost 60% representing themselves without an attorney. In California it is estimated that almost 80% of all divorces are now none contested. It appears this increase of Pro Se Litigants is the results of many factors:

1) An increase of having access to information on the Internet.

2) Legal forms online or at the court house are more available to Pro Se Litigants.

3) Continued increase of attorneys fees and not being able to afford an attorney.


Pro Se Litigants face a number of problems and disadvantages in Family Court, one disadvantage is our legal system is not designed to accommodate Pro Se Litigants without attorneys. A large number of low income Pro Se Litigants are confused about the law, court courtesy, limited or no literacy of court procedures and language barriers are just a few of the problems Pro Se Litigants face in Family Court.

Making legal services more affordable to all consumers I believe would close the gap between those who are represented by attorneys and those who are forced to become Pro Se Litigants. An example of affordable legal services is when an attorney is "Unbundling" their legal services for all and this would reduce the total costs of representation. Pro Se Litigants will always represent themselves in court, the issue is the increasing number of Pro Se Litigants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Expunge Criminal Records - An Expert Guide by James Calvin

Expungement of criminal records is the process of clearing an individual's records of a crime committed. There are several other terms used to describe the expungement of criminal records. Often, it is used in correlation with sealing, destruction, or return to the subject of individual criminal records kept by government agencies.

Expungement of Criminal Records - An Overview
To expunge criminal records is to involve a trade-off between competing interests. An individual would like to pursue employment, housing, or other major life activities without the stigma of an arrest record or a record of conviction. On the other hand, society has an interest in maintaining criminal records histories for purposes of future crime investigations and in order to make hiring, rental, and other decisions about individuals. Statutes and cases reflect the tension between these interests.

There are ways for you to expunge your criminal records. In reality, by statute and by inherent judicial authority, criminal records may be expunged.

What is Expungement of Criminal Records?
Expungement of criminal records can mean to seal or destroy these records, or return it to the subjects of the records. The exact remedy in a given situation depends on statutory provisions or the court's interpretation of its inherent power.

How Criminal Records are Expunged

Although states generally differ in how they expunge records, by most statutes, arrest records held by law enforcement must be returned to an arrested individual if proceedings are determined in the individual's favor before specified stages of the criminal justice process. This means that the individual has the right to have his criminal records of arrest expunged if no further evidence is found incriminating his involvement in the crime in question and if no other criminal justice action is pursued.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do I Really Need An Attorney to Prepare my Non-contested Legal Documents

As I write this Blog I have to ask myself how many people pay for unnecessary attorney fees on Non-contested matters in court? To all Pro Se Litigants who are choosing to represent themselves in court my Blog is for you and it is up to you to make that call. The following article puts the Legal Services Industry in perspective when it comes to the abundance of overcharging everyday people attorneys fees.

According to the US Census Bureau, the legal services industry in the United States generated approximately $184 billion in revenue in 2002. This figure includes revenue generated from law-firms, solo practitioners, title and abstract companies and various other organizations that provide assorted legal services. Also, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the legal services industry grew at an approximate annual rate of 6.75% it is contented that this industry is likely to grow at 6% per year for the next decade, 2006-2015.

Today, more people are choosing to represent themselves as Pro Se litigants in court and are not paying the traditional high cost of hiring an attorney to prepare simple Do It Your Self legal documents. People are saving hundreds even thousands of dollars by handling their legal issues themselves and for many consumers, having their simple legal documents prepared by a paralegal is a needed service at a cost which is much less than the cost of traditional legal fees. While the demand for Self Help, Pro Se is reaching an all-time high, an overwhelming number of people do not know where to go to get help.

"The paralegal profession is projected to grow much faster than average (27% or more) compared with other occupations through 2014. A growing number of experienced paralegals are expected to establish their own businesses". Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition Paralegals and Legal Assistants

I have been an independent certified paralegal for 25 years. I have seen it all and heard it all from attorneys about why people who have Non-contested matters still need an attorney to represent them in court. I am not writing this Blog to undermine attorneys or the legal profession, I am just stating my opinion. I have been a professional in the legal services industry and have seen many good things as well as not so many good things when it comes to people needing help with basic Non-contested legal documents that they needed help with to be filed in a court. A person that chooses to represent themselves in a Non-contested court matter has a Constitutional right to do so and they are more than likely doing so because they do not have a full understanding of the law or in most cases they just cannot afford an attorney to represent them in court. I believe that if everyday people where educated on the options they have they would continue to make the right decision regarding being represented by an attorney on Non-contested matters in court or have a Paralegal prepare their Non-contested legal documents for a much lower price then traditional attorney fees.

I have heard the argument from attorneys that Legal Document Preparation Companies are in the business of "Unauthorized Practice of Law" (UPL) because they continue to mis-represent people by saying they are attorneys. In my opinion an attorney should never be threatened by any Legal Document Preparation Company and in fact if attorneys where to use Legal Document Preparation Companies to their advantage, I believe that most people not needing representation in court would consult an attorney first before going to the option of a Paralegal or Legal Document Preparation Company. Paralegals and Legal Document Preparation Companies provide a service that everyday people on Non-contested matters can afford and want to have quality preparation of Non-contested legal documents. I do not believe the hype of attorneys trying to shut down and go after Paralegals and Legal Document Preparation Companies for the "Unauthorized Practice of Law" (UPL). In all fairness to Paralegals and Legal Document Preparation Companies you have bad seeds and mis-representation in all areas of the Legal Services Industry but to try and shut down a legal services provider that offers services which people can afford and is helping people who probably would not be able to get help from an attorney is a very, I mean very bad ideal and the Supreme Court has spoken regarding this issues:

WHAT DO THE COURTS SAY ABOUT PARALEGALS?

In 1989, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision awarding fees for paralegal time at market rates. Source: Missouri v. Jenkins, 491 U.S. Ct. 2463, 2471, n. 10 (9).

"Justice Brennan stated: Encouraging the use of lower cost paralegals rather than attorneys whenever possible "encourages cost-effective delivery of legal services..."

In Harris Trust & Svgs. Bank v. American Nat’l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 230 Ill.App.3d 591, 595 (1st Dist. 1992), the court considered facts such as the skills and qualifications of the legal professionals, the nature of the case, the novelty and difficulty of the issues involved, the degree of responsibility required, and the usual and customary charges for similar services. It stands to reason that the court would consider a “certified” paralegal as having the skills and qualifications necessary to warrant the awarding of paralegal fees.

In re: Opinion 24 of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 128 N.J. 114 (1992). "We conclude that given the appropriate instructions and supervision, paralegals, whether employees or independent contractors, are valuable and necessary members in the effective and efficient practice of law.


Paralegals are filling the void that a lot of attorneys have created because of this unequal balance of working for the best interest of people verses charging unfair attorney fees to people who cannot afford to pay for an attorney. I have always believed that regardless of Economics everyone has the right to have access to quality legal services when representing themselves in court and money should never become a barrier between people representing themselves in court. I will make sure that those who cannot afford an attorney for basic legal document preparation have an option to have their legal documents prepared in a fair, timely, professional and quality manner. If you are a Pro Se Litigant and have decided to represent yourself in court on a Non-Contested court matter, than by all means its your right. I will say this, for attorneys who are going to read this Blog, please do not try and tell me that I am practicing "Unauthorized Practice of Law"(UPL), I have been a paralegal for too long and I have an obligation to all Pro Se Litigants who need legal services at a price they can afford.