Legal Info

Do it yourself Legal

Posted on April 8, 2010. Filed under: Legal Info |

We don’t typically suggest that you jump into the world of civil or criminal law and fend for yourself without representation from a trained and skilled lawyer. There are a lot of mistakes you can make that would cost you dearly. However, if you’re planning on some simpler legal steps of your own, there are a number of legal info and form web sites that we have used and found to be worthy of mention. Some sites can give you good ‘starter’ info or forms which should be reviewed with your legal counsel. Sometimes it’s cheaper to start with a form all set up rather than to have the lawyer start from scratch. We suggest calling your lawyer first and discussing this (before you pay).

Legal Zoom is a good source for many forms. They provide incorporation, wills, notes, etc to help the average Joe get his legal matters in order. We also like FindLegalForms.
One important caveat when using the latter web site: It’s best to know what specifically you need to use (form wise, that is) before you make your purchases. The prices are very affordable. But don’t purchase a lot of forms you won’t need.

Another great resource for forms is your local government. It’s amazing how many people pay their lawyer for a form which may already be available at the Court Clerk’s office or on their web site. Take a look at both locations before you pay a lawyer for a particular form.

Good luck!

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Lee Barret – a crook of an investigator?

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: It's My Money and I want it yesterday!, Judgment Recovery, Legal Info |

We’ve received word from one of our clients about a private investigator they used in Houston, TX. The investigator in question is Lee Barret. He works in Houston under the DBA of Houston Investigation (among other DBAs). Apparently, he’s into the habit of charging people for his investigative work then disappearing with the money. This one client explained her story in detail and we understand Mr Barret as a scam artist. If anyone reading this has encountered Mr Barret, we’d appreciate hearing more of his notoriety.

We did a brief search and discovered that he’s still operating under an expired (TX) PI license and he’s likely bilking money from other customers. He’s running an operation for Nanny Cams with his current wife (Rebecca Meadows) as well. Are there any complaints on this business as well? Let us know.

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Representing yourself in small claims court

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: Legal Info |

There are certain situations where it just doesn’t make sense to have an attorney go with you to court. An example: you lend a friend $250.00. You get a receipt for the loan and a written promise from your friend to pay the loan back in four months. Your friend refuses to pay the money back and your only recourse is to go to court. A lawyer will charge you one third to help you, if you can find a lawyer to handle this “small” matter. What can you do?

The Maryland District Court is designed to encourage an individual to represent himself in matters of “small” claims. This is done by simply filing the pleadings (forms you fill out to start a lawsuit) and relaxing the rules of evidence (the formal procedure of conduct in a court room).

A small claim is one where the amount in dispute is $5,000.00 or less. To file a small claim go to the District Court located nearest you and ask the Clerk for the small claims form. You will need to know your friend’s, now called the Defendant, correct name, address and zip code. You will be asked to write a short statement (so everyone knows exactly what you are suing for) and the amount of damages you seek (in this case $250.00).

The Defendant will be sent a copy of the lawsuit and a hearing date will be set within 60 days of the filing. At the hearing you will tell the judge, in your own words, why you are owed the money and the Defendant will be given a chance to give the reason why he has not paid. The Judge will make an immediate ruling and if you prevail order the Defendant to repay the money plus court costs.

The Clerks in the District can be very helpful in the filling out of the forms. And the judge is more patient in listening to this type of lawsuit.

Info provided by:

Steven J. Scheinin
Attorney at Law
305 W. Chesapeake Avenue
Suite 107
Towson, Maryland 21204

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Should property owners be entitled to more rights?

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: Assets, Legal Info |

Does it seem that the tables have been turned in the last several years so that people who rent apartments and houses have way more rights than those who own them? I raise this question because I have recently witnessed two separate scenarios, where it seemed that the property owners could have used more rights:

First of all, my brother called from California and told me about a foreclosed home he purchased. His goal was to rent the home out until the economy gets stronger, and then sell it. Well, things haven’t worked out as planned. Not yet, anyways.

The renter put down a deposit that allowed his family to move into the home. Then no further payments were ever made on the property. Ever. It’s now the fourth month, and my brother has yet to see another Abraham Lincoln penny from the renter. Keep in mind that my brother is still having to make mortgage payments – entirely out of his own pocket.

This wouldn’t seem like a big deal because one might imagine that the solution is plain and simple: Evict the renter and find a new renter. This is where it gets interesting: California State laws dictate that in order to evict a tenant, proper protocol has to be followed. This still sounds very simple and straightforward, but it isn’t. My brother-in-law has been following protocol for three months now, with no sign of progress.

Of course, State laws are in place to help people from being abused by their landlords. This is excellent. What about the landlords? Should they have more rights in the matter?

Another unrelated scenario involves another close family member – my father-in-law. He owns a rental home in the State of Washington and recently discovered that his tenant is growing five large marijuana plants in various places throughout the house. Upon this discovery, he called the cops and a police helicopter and three squadron cars showed up before he could blink twice!

What did the police do? Nothing, because the tenant pulled out a medical marijuana card. It turns out that Washington State law now allows possessors of these cards to grow up to fifteen marijuana plants in their homes – legally. On the surface, I would say “so what?” Well, growing marijuana in a home can cause major damage to the home itself. And some of it may be irreversible.

If property owners could say “I don’t want this to be done on my property, so please vacate”, then the situation would be easy to remedy. Interestingly, they can’t.

In light of the two above stories, do you believe that property owners could use more rights? I certainly don’t want to show disdain for the law, but I do want to create food for thought that maybe property owners should be entitled to more rights.

Provided by J. Ver Burg

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The way of Law

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Legal Info |

I just got off the phone with a client. One question was asked of me after a scenario was presented: “Can she sue him?” It amazes me that there are people suing others for just about any reason. ┬áThe courts have a general rule, I’ve heard: “You can sue for anything. Whether or not you win is a different story.”

Civil courts are overrun with frivolous lawsuits. It’d be nice if folks with the serious suits could get into court without the silly stuff impeding them.

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