Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Rule of Law

About a year ago, we had a client that owed money to the IRS. They filed bankruptcy and planned on repaying the IRS debt along with much of the rest of their debts. However, the IRS did not file a claim in the bankruptcy by the deadline. (They must if they want to receive money from the bankruptcy trustee.) A trial was held to determine if the IRS could still receive their money despite not filing on time. In court, on the record, the Judge ruled that the IRS had failed to file their claim on time and the law said they could not therefore receive funds from the Trustee. He further stated that his boss, the appellate court, held the same position. But he thought that was unfair to the IRS and ruled in their favor. Our client of course could appeal, but they are afterall, bankrupt and the cost to appeal was beyond them. However, they had planned on repaying the IRS, so there were no 'new' costs associated with the loss.

A couple of weeks ago, at trial, a Judge at the Circuit Court level said to the opposing counsel, "those sections don't apply in this case counsel...give me something to work with..." She eventually ruled against our clients and claimed that a wrongful act that did not cause a partnership dissolution was cause for denying our clients the right to join in the winding up of the affairs of the partnership. Again, it is very appealable and almost certain to be overturned. But after 5 years with no payment from them to us, three trials and hundreds of hours of work, they are practically at the poverty line and we don't handle appeals.

A conversation with a court clerk about illegal immigration turned ugly, I was called a racist because I called illegal immigrants criminals.

A non-citizen, here for almost 30 years, will be deported after serving time for confessing that he did in fact raise funds and support terrorist organizations after spending 5 years complaining that he not only did not raise funds or support terrorists, but that he was the victim of racism and bigotry.

Another non-citizen, here on a student visa, has been arrested and will likely be deported for calling for the assassination of the President and others. Many are coming to his defense saying he didn't mean for it to really happen.

A potential client came in today to talk finances, but a quick check of the court docket found a recent traffic ticket....for inattentive driving. Nothing else, just talking on the phone while driving on the Interstate. $175 fine. It didn't help his finances....

Getting justice requires money. I know, it is not supposed to be that way but attorneys every day represent clients that have not, can not, many never, pay for their services. A former client came in today to ask for a payment plan for fees they did not pay last year. $25 a month for 6.5 years, no interest.

A bankruptcy Trustee will receive $24k in fees for paying $6k in debts, and last year, the same trustee received $17k in fees to pay $7k in debts. Just two recent cases. He has been cited by the court for taking excessive fees in the past.

The law is a wonderful thing. It is however, used and abused daily. After the last couple of years of working for an attorney I can tell you without a doubt, the law favors one side...the side with the money.

Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the other forms. I would suggest that our legal system is the worst, except for all the other legal systems.

No comments: