For the past two years we have been tracking lawyers stealing from their clients and here is what we found....
40% of Lawyers Not Writing Fee Agreements
A sampling of over 1000 divorce clients found that less than 40% of licensed family law attorneys are providing fee agreements to their clients. When most folks hire a divorce attorney , it is the first time they have ever consulted with an attorney. It is up to the attorney, not the client, to walk them through a fee agreement. Fee agreements tell a client what they can expect. It lets a client know an hourly rate and other costs that can appear on a lawyer's bill. These agreements also indicate if you ever have disputes with your lawyer, if the lawyer carries malpractice insurance , or if you will be required to arbitrate your disputes, If a lawyer carries malpractice insurance, it greatly improves the odds you will get paid in a lawsuit if your lawyer doesn't follow the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Research shows these lawyers were the worst offenders when it comes to a basic fee agreement:
James McManis, one of the most prominent divorce, civil rights and First Amendment lawyers in California. He once agreed to help an employee of the Lunardi's grocery store chain in Silicon Valley. Turns out " helping" ,meant assigning an intern who had not yet passed the bar, and not issuing a fee agreement. Mr. McManis then had his intern try to get a back dated fee agreement signed and sent Catherine Bechtel to court on the day of a hearing, without her ever meeting with the client. McManis' firm then tried to bill $10,000 for one month worth of work, the entire amount of the father's lifetime savings. Fortunately the client knew the law and McManis quickly settled the case. Knowing there was no more money left to milk, his firm left the case and got the job done. Other clients were not so fortunately. McManis was sued by a former client Brad Newman, an attorney who claimed McManis, Walter Hammon and Donelle Morgan had engaged in unfair business practices during a divorce case where a private judge, Catherine Gallagher, was used. It is clear that when it comes to divorces, these lawyers are some of the dirtiest in the business. Failure to offer a fee agreement is just the beginning.
Christina Adames, once worked for an the Hales and Hales law firm. She and her bosses billed numerous clients without a fee agreement. This helped elevate her standing in the local community, where divorce lawyers. secretly bill and get court appointments that assure a judge will make sure they get paid.
Leah Amini, once told a client to pay attorney Valerie Houghton in cash so the money would not be discoverable. Ms. Houghton had no fee agreement and used other lawyers in Santa Clara County to pimp out her legal services.
Walter Hammon was so confident he had greased the right palms in the local DA's office after he was suspended from practicing law after his brother stole money from his trust account. No criminal prosecution for Mr. Hammon was ever undertaken by the local DA.
Constance Carpenter got $40,000 in fees paid under the table by the LDS church, no fee agreement necessary.
Jason Pintar lied to the Department of Child Support Services in a case where he had no fee agreement. When DCSS asked the young LDS lawyer to produce the Limited Scope Agreement, Pintar just ignored the request. DCSS got tired of asking and Pintar went on to continue taking money from members of the Mormon church. Under the table of course.
If ever a lawyer is only willing to represent you on a Limited Scope bias, you are going to get robbed. Limited Scope representation means your attorney isn't responsible for representing you in a general scope capacity. They will explain it to mean what ever they want it to be, They use these agreements to deflect formal State Bar investigations This is also a way for an attorney to hide the fact they are representing a client.
Annie Fortino, Laura Perry and Jason Pintar have mastered this practice in Santa Clara County. Rory Coetzee has taken over the scam in San Benito, Monterey and Santa Clara County.
Heather Lester, Katie Hooker and Dominic Porino take the top prize for scumbags in limited scope representations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Lawyers On Taxpayer Gravy Train
One of the biggest scams in family court occurs when a judge appoints a lawyer to represent children or to act as a private judge. In the later, when a family has no money, the local taxpayers pay the lawyer's bills. Parents ordered to pay these lawyers, in addition to their own, are told this is in the " best interest of the child". With regard to private judges, they are told it will be faster and cheaper to steer clear of family court. Few people understand the cost to families, or taxpayers, for these appointments.
In 2011 California's State Auditor took a look at this practice in Marin and Sacramento counties. The auditor found this practice front loaded with fraud and public corruption. To read these reports see the links: www.marincourt.org/data/audits/4.pdf
Despite the warnings, these appointments continue to be made across the state. Katherine Dorset, Debra Crawford, Heather Allan,
Local DAs Refuse to Prosecute Crooked Lawyers
For the past 10 years local DA's have refused to prosecute lawyers the state bar found guilty of stealing their client's funds. A recent example, was San Jose City Councilman Tam Nguyen who was disbarred for stealing money from his clients. John Mlnarik, was suspended from proacting law for a year, but connections to influential lawyers connected to the the corrupt law firm Hoge Fenton and local bar association kept these two criminal lawyers from being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County DA , Jeff Rosen. Mr. Rosen was recently named Northern California's first #DAKaren after he filed a phony Whistleblower complaint against a Public Defender.
Help from from coders and those working to apply Artificial Intelligence have found that every lawyer ever suspended or disbarred for stealing client money from their trust account, has been given a free pass by the local DA.
This may be about to change after the FBI took up an investigation involving Katherine Dorset, Debra Crawford, William Dresser, Sean Onderick, Hector Moreno, Bradford Baugh, Jason Pintar, Dmitry Stadlin, James Cox, Ed Mills, Walter Hammon, Lisa Herrick, Sharon Roper, Jessica Huey, Valerie Houghton, Nicole Ford, Elise Mitchell, Marilyn Moreno, Annie Fortino, Heather Allan and Rebekah Frye who allegedly obstructed justice and engaged in racketeering activity related to California's divorce cases where billions of dollars have reportedly been laundered and stolen from attorney trust accounts over the past 10 years. These lawyers have brought in billons for cops, judges, private judges, custody evaluators, and lawyers appointed as private judges or to represent children.
Private Judges, more commonly referred to as FAKE JUDGES, are reportedly responsible for billions being taken from families to fuel corrupt courts, supervised visitation businesses, which they have done with impunity for at least 10 years.
The FBI is working with influencers on social media, reporters and whistleblowers in order to bring more victims and witnesses forward. If you know someone whose divorce case appears on these lists, please have them contact the District Attorney or city attorney.
The following are cases published from the private judge list in Santa Clara County Superior Court.