How Divorce Lawyers Pad Their Bills- Jim McManis and Bradford Baugh Tied for Top Crooks in Divorce Cases
Jim McManis of McManis Faulkner jokes with his associates and colleagues in Santa Clara County's family law cases that he is a " Billing Machine". Not so funny if you have to pay that machine to get a divorce.
McManis and lawyers who spin off his firm, including Donelle Morgan , are some of the most predatory legal billers in the state. Morgan, who left McManis' firm and now is a partner with Tidalgo, Sukhodrev and Azzolinio demands a $50,000 retainer from her new clients, and that is kept until the case is complete, then she demands another $50,000 which she uses to begin billing.
Hector Moreno and his sister Marillyn Moreno are also known to excessively bill clients embroiled in divorce or custody matters, but the worst in Santa Clara County is Bradford Baugh, an unethical lawyer known for his improper relationships with family court judges.
The lawyers in Silicon Valley have engaged in Antitrust like activity for decades, ignored by the Bar , and that has served to harm people tangled up in the emotional issues surrounding their property , income and children , limited options.
Bradford Baugh's conduct is so flagrant that his cases have clogged the Sixth District Court of Appeals more than any other family law attorney. A current appeal was filed by the former wife of Sean Connery's step son, and that appeal shows that Judge Mary Ann Grilli awarded Mr. Baugh $100,000 in attorney fees as sanctions, after Mr. Baugh submitted blank bills to obtain that award.
Baugh was known for his over 20 year affair with Grilli, where in the final years of Judge Grilli's career, as she struggled with her family , drug addiction and dementia, Baugh would routinely provide her cash, and slip into chambers with the help of court reporter Stephanie Estes and clerk Jaretta Reser. In chambers Baugh would draft orders, which Grilli would sign. It has been alleged Baugh and Grilli had sex in chambers and regularly attended speaking events for Valerie Houghton's : Voice of the Child, as Houghon, formerly of the Hoge Fenton law firm, carried on her own affair with Judge James Towery.
The quid pro quo of attorney bills has gone to the Santa Clara County Bar Association in the form of "donations" that are used to fund Judge awards and social events where judges and lawyers openly socialize and speak freely of cases in a manner contrary to law and that serves to violate public trust in the legal system.
Hoge Fenton is another law firm that over billed clients, and where clients alleged that James Towery, a former partner, had no financial acumen to handle their civil and family law cases.
In 2003 California's State Bar Issued a warning , in an effort to protect consumers , teaching anyone hiring a lawyer how to check their legal bills.. Jim Mc Manis was known to be one of the highest billing law firms in the state when that warning was issued. Mc Manis was also known to bill clients without a fee agreement and to pad bills with phantom workers and costs that seemed to run on a 24 hour clock.
In one case Jim McManis personally offered to help a Lunardi's store manager with his divorce, the man had no more than $10,000 in pension and life savings . McManis assigned an unlicensed attorney to the case, billed $10,000 in the first month and never got a fee agreement. McManis then demanded a retro active fee agreement, which the man refused. McManis rapidly settled the case and billed nothing, clearly knowing he had violated the law and professional rules of conduct,
Despite the Bar's stern warning, and in part because of James Towery's former employment at the Bar, law firms in Santa Clara County have been stealing from clients in divorce cases for decades. And the criminal activity contained in divorce cases is now seeping into Contra Costa, Sacramento, Marin , Napa , Alameda and Solano counties.
Here is how lawyers like Jim Mc Manis and Bradford Baugh steal by padding their bills:
Overcharging for copies that are never made
Phantom Work that can not be confirmed
Double or Triple Billing - Multiple Clients for The Same Physical Time
Billing for Transcripts that the Client Actually Paid
Charging Fees that Were Not Incurred
Using "Consultants" and "Experts " who are not paid amounts showing on bills
Setting multiple hearings before the same judge on the same day and billing for all at the same rate.
Every county has a Bradford Baugh. An ignorant client trusts and relies on their lawyer and has no ability to confirm bills, or compare bills with other clients. Judges routinely rubber stamp these bills in divorce cases for one favored lawyer and awards under FC271 sanctions or FC2030 are awarded at a rate in Silicon Valley that is not seen in other counties, or civil or criminal matters.
A five year audit of Mr. Baugh's bills show that he has made millions on fraudulent bills, which judges have allowed to be paid, often charged to the other side.
Got a question about your lawyer's bill? Send a copy to Email : JohnQPublic@gmail.com