Skip to content

Narrow screen resolution Wide screen resolution Auto adjust screen size Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color brick color green color
How to Steal a Unit from a Condo Owner the Perfect Crime Print E-mail
The following article is from our condo cousins south of the border. If this is not already  happening here in Canada, it may not be long before it does. Let us take our warning from unit Owners in the U.S. and begin to lobby our provincial governments for legislative and regulatory changes which will better protect us. As well, unit Owners who are experiencing any examples of this type of harrasment within their own Corporations here in  Canada should feel free to contact us here at CAFCOR at:              This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



AHRC


An Article
HOW TO STEAL A UNIT FROM A CONDO OWNER

THE PERFECT CRIME

May 05, 2005

By Margret Koch Chalupowski MD PHD (View author info)

Bevertly, Massachusetts -

It can be done! And, what's more, it can be done "legally." All it takes is a plausible victim, a condo association in dire financial trouble, an unscrupulous lawyer, an accommodating judge, and.... the law.

Last month, as a result of skillful application of the recipe described above, a District Court judge ordered a Beverly's Tuck Point couple to pay $19,180.65 in attorney's fees. The money is to satisfy a bill presented by an attorney hired by the Tuck Point condominium association to bring a lawsuit against the couple for failure to pay their condo fees.

The only problem is that the Tuck Point couple does not owe a dime in condo fees. To the contrary, the condo association owes the couple over $5,000.00 in wrongfully charged payments. The fact that the evidence of consistent monthly payments and overpayments was repeatedly provided to the court, to the judge and to the opposing party, does not really matter. The couple has to pay the 'ransom' of $19,180.65 or the lawyers representing the condominium trustees will start foreclosure proceedings and take over the unit. How can they do that? Well, that's the law. Or is it?

The Law

According to the encyclopedic definition, law is a set of rules governing the relationship between the members of a community and between the individual and the state. In the U.S. (as in England and the British Commonwealth) the law is based upon statutory law (laws enacted by legislative bodies, such as Congress)and common law (precedents of court decisions in similar cases) also called case law.

As far as statutory law is concerned, life in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is regulated by a set of rules contained in over 280 chapters of a document called The General Laws of Massachusetts. Chapter number 183A of this document sets forth the rules by which condominiums function. Out of the 22 sections Chapter 183A is divided into, section #6, the longest and the most elaborate one, provides a detailed procedure for dealing with unit owners failing to pay their condo fees. In a nutshell - the statute provides strict rules ensuring prompt collection of outstanding condo fees, and rightly so. Failure of unit owners to pay their condo fees in a timely manner would have a serious financial impact on the stability of a condominium association.

The legislators' position in this matter was reinforced by several judicial decisions, most importantly the ones entered in the landmark 1994 case, Blood v.Edgar's Inc. According to this ruling, a unit owner accused of being delinquent with condo fees (even if s/he questions the legality of the assessment) has to pay whatever is demanded, and only after having done so can s/he seek a remedy through a separate court action. Moreover, apart from the alleged outstanding condo fees, the condo owner has to pay all "reasonable" attorneys' fees incurred by the condominium association in the collection action.

The provision making the unit owners liable for attorneys' fees was introduced in March of 1992 by a long and comprehensive Amendment "C" tacked onto the otherwise short and lean Section 6 of Chapter 183A of the General Laws of Massachusetts. Amendment "C" has proved to be extremely useful in cases when a condominium board of trustees wishes to stretch the law a little and apply it to unit owners that are actually not delinquent with their condo fees.

Several recent judicial rulings, finding that an aggrieved unit owner cannot seek remedies under the Consumer Protection Statute (also known as Chapter 93A of M.G.L.) or under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, seem to confirm the general tendency. Condominium unit owners are becoming more and more vulnerable while at the same time their boards of trustees and their agents are fortifying their status of untouchables.

Presumably, neither Legislature (formulating statutory law) nor Judiciary
(creating case law) foresaw that simple safety measures designed to protect condominium associations from getting into financial trouble, would be used to harass and do away with unpopular unit owners. Neither had they envisioned that these well-intentioned pieces of legislation could turn into a deadly weapon in the hands of a resourceful lawyer.

The Lawyer

If you are a condominium owner and you think that a lawyer, or a law firm for that matter, hired by the board of trustees elected by you, is there to protect your interests, you are wrong. The lawyer, or the law firm, is there to protect the interest of the board of trustees. Formally, the lawyer's or law firm's client is the condominium association, i.e. all unit owners. In reality however, the condominium lawyers, while dealing with disputes between unit owners and the board of trustees, represent the trustees in opposition to the unit owners.

The Tuck Point Condominium Board of Trustees, after using sole practitioners or small local law firms, in early 2000, enlisted services of a large, prestigious law firm with headquarters located in the southern outskirts of Boston. As far as the condominium law is concerned the newly hired counsel, Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, P.C., (MEEB) was 'the Firm' in the industry.

According to their respectable, well-developed website, MEEB is a medium-sized, full service law firm maintaining a diverse practice with a special expertise in real estate-related litigation. The firm's clients include a number of New England's prominent real estate developers, commercial and residential landlords, construction companies, lenders, management companies, insurance carriers, and condominium associations.

The community association law seems to be the most important area of practice of the Firm, which currently represents over 1,600 owner organizations such as homeowners associations, cooperative corporations and most importantly - condominium boards. The sheer number of clients makes the Firm the most important player in this field in New England and one of the most renowned in the nation.

The partners of the Firm, who smile at us form the MEEB website containing their terse yet impressive resumes, have been concentrating in the area of community law for over 20 years. The website also points out that over the years, members of the Firm have been extremely active in legislation at the local, state and national levels. They proudly emphasize their instrumental role in drafting and implementing numerous legislative changes and amendments, as well as their active involvement in significant judicial rulings related to condominium law.

With all its expertise, prestige and exceptional armory, the Firm is always available when the condominium board of trustees is in trouble. And trouble it is.

The Trouble

It is beautiful here. The desirable waterfront Tuck Point Condominium,
surrounded by three picturesque marinas, enjoys breathtaking views of the
Beverly harbor, Memorial Bridge, and the islands of Massachusetts Bay. A
refreshing ocean breeze, which on hot summer nights feels quite Caribbean, ample parking, a swimming pool with amenities, shadowed-in patios and grills - all make for the lifestyle longed for by many. The prices at Tuck Point are high.

The smallest one-bedroom units have been recently selling for over quarter of a million dollars. The largest townhouses are slowly approaching the half-a-million-dollar mark. The scarce rentals (almost 90% of the units are owner-occupied) are always in demand. A total of 106 units located in 8 buildings are home to over 130 people, who, in general, love their Tuck Point and consider themselves lucky to live here. Yet, there is trouble in this North Shore piece of paradise.

As older generations of Beverly residents most likely remember, prior to 1982 the tiny Tuck Point peninsula was a site of a train terminal storing various chemicals. Between 1982 and 1984 the site was cleared, the environmental cleanup supposedly took place and the condominium complex was constructed. Twelve years later, in the summer of 1996, it became apparent that the environmental cleanup was not quite complete, as an oily sheen along the Tuck Point's seawall was noticed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. It was also
reported that on hot summer nights, the lucky Tuck Point residents trying to enjoy their half-a-million-dollar spectacular sunsets, instead of a balmy quasi-Caribbean breeze, had been inhaling a heavy scent of some mysterious chemicals.

An environmental problem like this obviously costs money. Since the trouble began in 1996, the environmental problem-related expenses of the Tuck Point Condominium Trust rapidly grew tenfold - from several thousands a year to tens of thousands. In 2003, the complex was faced with an "unanticipated $142,600.00 spending obligation," which was $123,600.00 over the budgeted $19,000.

In 2004, the environmental expenditures were supposed to be manageable within the operations budget. They are not. Out of the total "environmental funding requirement" of $211,000.00, the "unfunded spending obligation" is approximately $139,500.00. To meet this obligation, the Tuck Point trustees decided to charge the unit owners four additional monthly condo fee payments. So, on the top of
the already charged yearly 13th month special assessment, the unit owners will have to pay the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th monthly maintenance fee.

The problem will not be solved any time soon. According to the preliminary
estimates, the Tuck Point unit owners will bear the cost of an ongoing
environmental cleanup at least throughout the next three years, and by 2007 will have to come up with additional $400,000.00. They are upset, in fact dismayed, but don't say much. The financially secure raise their eyebrows, sigh and pay, and the less wealthy pay as well, just play less, travel less, worry more, and suffer in silence.

Tuck Point is a community of quiet, often reclusive, retirees and fast-paced, overworked professionals. Only some of the unit owners bother to analyze the annual budget of the trust, or to question e.g. why already over $300,000.00 was paid to an 'environmental specialist' who shortly after being paid was mysteriously fired to be replaced by yet another one. Questions of the sort sometimes do pop up during the annual meetings of the unit owners, which, by the way, never gather a quorum. This year, the owners who do intend to show up at the Jubilee Yacht Club for the upcoming September 7, 2004, meeting, wonder whether this one, as several previous yearly Tuck Point gatherings, will take place under a watchful eye of a policeman hired by the trustees.

It is not that the Tuck Point unit owners are unusually unruly or lack a
community spirit. There are many caring, community-oriented individuals here. They volunteer to plant flowers, help in landscaping and spring cleaning, sometimes even come up with brave grass-roots initiatives. In the summer of 1998 for example, a small group of Tuck Point unit owners, dissatisfied with the Board of Trustees' performance, actually got together and accomplished a small change, which seemed positive for a moment. By networking and canvassing the whole complex, they collected over 51% votes on a ballot seeking to increase the number of trustees to five from the existing three. The premise was that new elections would bring some fresh blood into the visibly entrenched Board.

What initially seemed to be a success, after a short 'honeymoon' period, turned out to be a spurious change without any significance. As before, and as it is the case with virtually any condominium complex in Massachusetts and throughout the country, the trustees cannot resist the temptation to use (and abuse) their absolute, unrestricted, in fact totalitarian, power given them by the Law and the condominium by-laws. When faced with an environmental problem, financial trouble, and dissatisfied unit owners asking too many questions, the Tuck Point trustees swiftly make use of their dictatorial power, and their prominent counsel, in a misguided effort to solve all the problems by killing two, or more, birds with one stone.

The 'Killing Solution'

The vast majority of the Tuck Point unit owners, aware of the jeopardy, prefer to keep a low profile and stay inconspicuous. It is not smart to criticize, or even question things, and risk to be perceived a "troublemaker." In fact, it is not even smart to be known to have any association with anybody already labeled a "troublemaker."

Troublemakers are no good. They want to know everything. They ask embarrassing questions during the annual meetings, advocate changes, improvements, demand safety and accountability, all in all, annoyingly disturb the cozy status quo of the 'old boys club.' Sometimes the boldest of the "troublemakers," disappointed that their advocacy for improvements and accountability and their rightful grievances are notoriously ignored, go as far as resorting to court actions.

This is what the aforementioned Tuck Point couple dared to do. After years of being ignored, and having had tried and exhausted any and all avenues of good will efforts, they did what they thought was a legitimate way to bring their legitimate concerns to the attention of the Condominium Board of Trustees.

On January 17, 2003, literally hours before the statue of limitations would have had expired, they filed a complaint with the Essex County Superior Court in Salem.

Their reasons to complain ranged from illegal structures in the common area of their garage (cited as a safety violation by the city building inspector, yet never removed), to a serious damage to the interior of their unit and valuable personal property caused by faulty maintenance of the common areas. They also wanted to know why in early 2000, shortly after they had submitted an insurance claim regarding the damage, a false allegation of unpaid condo fees was made by the board of trustees, and over $3,500.00 was transferred from their mortgager's escrow account into the condominium trust's account. The couple believed that these were simple, straightforward issues, and there was no reason why the board
of trustees, now facing court action, should not finally address them. Or so they thought.

However, on February 7, 2003, (three weeks after the couple filed their Superior Court action), the Tuck Point trustees and their lawyers, instead of providing a formal response to the complaint, came up with a 'better' idea. They devised a killing solution by which they hoped to get rid of the lawsuit, the troublemakers, and some other big problems at the same time.

As in early 2000, now again they falsely accused the couple of being delinquent with their condo fees and filed a lawsuit against them with the District Court in Salem. The trustees false claim was accompanied by a false affidavit signed under "pains and penalties of perjury" by the property management. This is where the Law (the aforementioned Amendment "C" of Chapter 183A of the Massachusetts General Laws
as well as the relevant case law) came in handy. The fact that the claim was false did not really matter, because, according to the Law, a unit owner accused of being delinquent with condo fees has no other option but to pay whatever is demanded. Only then can a unit owner try to get back the money through a separate court action.

If you are a condominium owner, you have to take this law seriously. Otherwise your trustees and their lawyers will put you into a litigation vortex - a vicious circle in which the harder you try to prove that you are innocent, the more money they make... on you, to be exact.

After spending long hours at several libraries, our couple learned the chilling truth that there was no way to win this uneven legal game short of paying the ransom and starting another law suit in order to recover the extorted money.

Therefore, despite the fact that they did not owe a dime in condo fees, (while still being owed over $3,500.00 unlawfully kept by the trustees), in August 2003, the couple paid, under protest, the alleged $1,718.00 expecting that paying the ransom would dismiss the frivolous District Court action against them. However by the time our couple figured out the rules of the game, the MEEB lawyers managed to accumulate more "billing hours." In October 2003, they filed for a summary judgement (a decision made by a judge without a trial) and asked the court to award them additional $3,000 in attorneys' fees. The MEEB lawyers were granted all their wishes as a result of a court hearing during which a young assertive lawyer representing the Firm knowingly made false statements in an open court.

The dismayed couple filed their notice of appeal and asked the judge to
reconsider his decision. In their pleadings they thoroughly documented (for the third time) the fact that they did not owe any condo fees, and that by now they were owed over $5,000.00 in payments wrongfully obtained by the condo trust.

Their pending appeal and motion for reconsideration regarding the District Court matter, together with signs indicating the possibility of a settlement of the Superior Court action, gave the couple a false sense of security. That is, until the young assertive lawyer from MEEB asked the court to dismiss the pending appeal and to order the sale of the couple's home in order to secure the payment of the MEEB's "attorneys' fees." On July 7, 2004, the couple learned that the judge refused to reconsider his previous order, dismissed their appeal and upheld the summary judgement making them liable for the legal fees demanded by
MEEB in the amount of $19,180.65.

So far, the MEEB's legal trick seemed to work perfectly. Apart from finding a 'legal' way to extort almost $21,000.00 (the recent $19,180.65 plus $1,718.00 in 2003), the MEEB lawyers satisfied numerous needs of their clients. They retaliated against the couple and gained leverage
in the Superior Court action by filing a frivolous District Court action. But most importantly, they created a neat way of solving the trust's financial problem by taking over (in fact stealing) the couple's unit currently worth over $250,000.00. In this context, getting rid of the "troublemakers" may be considered just an extra bonus. Perfect scheme. Or is it?

The Caveat

Considering the timing, the Law, and the proficiency of the Firm that has tuned to perfection the skill of using apparently legal ways to charge (in fact extort) excessive legal fees from unsuspecting condominium unit owners, the trick seemed to be flawless. However, this time, while devising this Machiavellian plan, the Tuck Point trustees and their lawyers got somewhat carried away.

The infamous "pay or else" or "your money or your house" trick (in Massachusetts also known as section "C" of Chapter 183A) always works in
cases where unfortunate condo owners do owe something, no matter how little, in their condo fees. Here, however, we are not talking about one of these heartbreaking headline-making cases from around the country, in which condo owners, the victims of abusive boards, lose their homes because they owe, say $120 or $200 in unpaid condo fees.

Here the unit owners: (A) did not owe anything; (B) were owed over 3,500.00 in wrongfully charged payments kept by the condo trust since early 2000; and (C) paid the $1,718.00 ransom to end the case.

So, why were the trustees still after them? Well, according to the statement made by one of the leading MEEB lawyers, the trustees simply "don't like" the couple. And they don't like them for a reason. The killing legal solution described above was applied here against the unit owners who happen to have been known to openly complain about the killing chemical solution lurking from under the paper-thin grounds of the Tuck Point condominium complex.

Our 'troublemakers' have been complaining for some time about the puzzling oily stains seeping up through their garage floor. They kept asking why Tuck Point had been the only entity in the immediate neighborhood ordered by the Massachusetts DEP to drill a number of wells to monitor the pollutant. They also insisted on knowing what the actual content of the 'chemical soup' was, since it has been reported to simply
'eat away' the stainless steel devices used to suck it up from under the ground.

In addition, they wondered aloud, whether cases of cancer-related deaths of residents of units located directly above the spot known to have the highest concentration of the mysterious pollutant, were simply an unfortunate coincidence, or were related to the environmental problem faced by the complex. On top of all this, they also wondered whether the hundreds of thousands of 'environmental' dollars already expended by the trust, were spent in the right way.

The couple's persistence in bringing up the above listed 'delicate' issues, combined with their bold step of filing the Superior Court action was too much for the board. A supposedly perfect "pay or else" trick that did not work in 2000, (the couple happen to have enough money to swallow the $3,500 shortage of their escrow account and the 50% increase of their monthly mortgage payments), had to be re-applied.

However, as professional con artists and circus conjurers know very well,
overdoing apparently failure-proof tricks may ruin the show. This old truth didn't seem to bother the prominent MEEB lawyers and their
'final-solution'-hungry clients, who, while applying their perfect prank,
overlooked one simple fact.

Chapter 183A of the General Laws of Massachusetts is only one out of over 280 chapters of the document regulating the life of the Bay State. The document (a copy of which is readily available on the Internet) consists of five main parts, divided into chapters and sections. While Chapter 183, dealing with condominium law, belongs to Part Two covering Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations, several chapters belonging to Part Four covering Crimes, Punishments and Proceedings in Criminal Cases, may be of interest to us in the context of this story. This is because the actions of the Tuck Point trustees and their agents happen to fit surprisingly well the definitions of various crimes specified in Part Two of the General Laws of Massachusetts.

For example, Chapter 265: Section 25, says that whoever maliciously threatens to accuse another of a crime or offence, or maliciously threatens an injury to the person or property of another, commits a crime of extortion.

The same Section also states that whoever unlawfully uses or threatens to use the power or authority vested in him with intent to extort money or any pecuniary advantage, also commits a crime of extortion. Section 43 of the same chapter, says that whoever willfully and maliciously engages in a pattern of conduct directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, is guilty of criminal harassment. Then there is Section 34 of Chapter 266, which says that whoever, with intent to defraud and by a false pretence, induces another to part with property of any kind, is guilty of larceny.

If this is not enough, Section 1 of Chapter 268 states that providing
false information in the course of a judicial proceeding constitutes a crime of perjury. And then, Section 2 of the same Chapter says that whoever is guilty of subordination of perjury, which is procuring another person to commit perjury, should be punished as for perjury.

And finally, there is Section 7 of Chapter 274, which specifies penalties for conspiracy. According to the Black's Law Dictionary, conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to jointly engage in an unlawful or criminal act, or an act that is lawful in itself but becomes unlawful by the combination of the actors. It is not even necessary for the act contemplated by the players to be a criminal offense. The very fact that the act agreed to results in a civil injury or wrong warrants a criminal prosecution. Interestingly, the fact that the same group of perpetrators did the same wrong to other condominium unit owners catapults the whole scheme into the entirely different (and much more exciting) realm of criminal law.

Because of the remarkable compatibility between the actions of the leading
players of the Tuck Point 'condo game' and the content of Chapter Four of The General Laws of Massachusetts (and some other state and federal statutes), the office of the Essex County District Attorney has been recently asked to examine the matter. The players of the condo game may be about to learn the hard way that their perfect trick was not that perfect, after all.

The Perfect Crime

A perfect crime is a crime executed so well that no evidence is left, therefore its solution is practically impossible. However, the best way to conceal a crime is to make it look as if there was no crime at all.

A classic example of a perfect crime brought to this extreme, comes from the biological warfare assault strategies, in which a sudden outbreak of an infectious disease is artificially induced but intentionally disguised to look like a natural one. Considering the number of known microbes, the frequency of naturally occurring infections and occasional epidemics, the task of tracking the artificially induced infection rearward to its ultimate source in an enemy's headquarters, may seem daunting, but it can be done.

So can the tracking of specific perfect crimes be done, although they are
disguised to look like legitimate litigation procedure. In the deluge of overwhelming numbers of spontaneously occurring disputes and lawsuits that recently have been reaching epidemic proportions, it is easy to
overlook the cases of lawsuits that have been artificially induced but
intentionally disguised to look like natural ones.

The above simple definition describes a pervasive, yet almost invisible, highly sophisticated type of white-collar crime, which has been tuned to perfection by some distinctive sub-groups of representatives of the legal profession.

This is not a kind of crude, overt, violent crime in which thugs in ski masks hold you up at gun point, and threaten to splash your blood all over your furniture, while plundering your house or your business. In this covert and advanced type of crime, the assailants use high-quality stationery instead of guns. They don't cover their faces. They wear the best dress suits and footwear money can buy. They don't bark out hostile orders telling you to surrender all your possessions. They have their secretaries write you hostile letters and file countless elaborate motions with the courts. They are soft-spoken, refined, and calculated. If you report such a covert crime to authorities, you will not see three police cruisers within seconds flashing their blue lights in front of your doorstep.

It will take years before anybody takes notice of your torment, if
ever. There is no criminal better able to disguise his crimes than an attorney with a criminal mindset.

The lawyers from MEEB, obviously, do not hold the exclusive rights to the
perfect trick they use notoriously, but they can be credited for producing a glaring example of the crime in question. They made us recognize the emerging epidemic of spurious lawyer-made litigation percolating within, and overshadowed by, the larger, national epidemic, labeled by the media "the litigation explosion." The MEEB lawyers actually helped to define, and brought to the public's attention this specific category of a calculated, skillfully camouflaged white-collar crime devised, like any crime, to generate riches for the perpetrators and torment for their victims.

Unfortunately for us, the public, condominium law is not the only area of law containing specific loopholes through which aggressive lawyers can dip their quick hands right into our pockets, our homes, and our lives. The opportunities contained in the gray area of probate and family law, are boundless, but this is another story.

Each year tens of thousands of Americans are being terrorized by money-hungry lawyers who are fabricating spurious lawsuits with the sole purpose of generating billions of dollars in "billing hours." By doing this they put people through the hell of unnecessary litigation, ruin their lives and careers, bankrupt their businesses, tear apart their families, steal their homes and life savings worked for by generations. Under the color of official right, they deceitfully play the legal system, and turn well-intended laws into deadly weapons.

All they need to get the scheme going are ill-motivated clients to be
used as 'puppet' plaintiffs - like the ones in the Tuck Point Condo story.
As opposed to a meteorological perfect storm, which happens once in a century, the perfect crime of a lawyer-induced litigation is so pervasive that our society has almost come to believe that this evil is inevitable and has to be tolerated like a natural disaster. Believing that not much can be done about it, the majority of affected people suffer in silence, feeling stupid and guilty that they let the twister suck them in. However, there is something that can be done about this problem.

Last year in California for example, the attorney general, alerted by politicians, filed a major lawsuit against a group of corrupt, predatory,
"shakedown" lawyers, who have been harassing local small businesses by
fabricating abusive, extortionate lawsuits. In May 2004 the Supreme Court of California ruled unanimously that lawyers could be sued for malicious
prosecution if they file and/or pursue a case after learning that it is not supported by probable cause. This is good news, but civil actions filed by state attorneys, and rulings of state courts may not be enough to stop the terror.

In October 1970, faced with the devastating social consequences of the rampant reign of organized crime and its ill affect on the nation's economy, the Congress of the United States passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

In its essence, RICO was aimed against the Mafia, but it can actually be used against any entity (individual, partnership, corporation, association, small business, government agency) engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity. Under the statute, "racketeering activity" includes numerous state and federal offences, among them - various forms of extortion and robbery.

A "pattern" may be comprised of any combination of two or more of the offences. Moreover, the offences must be related and amount to, or pose a threat of, continued criminal activity. So, it may be the case that the statute is already in place. Now it is only a matter of changing the first initial. Since a racketeer has been replaced in the scheme by a lawyer, instead of RICO, we may be about to learn the term "LICO" (which would stand for "Lawyer Influenced and Corrupt Organization"). LICO like RICO?

The newly defined almost perfect crime, for so many years practically invisible, has recently gotten too obvious to hide. It is all because the public is just getting too smart. In part, the Internet is to be blamed for the fact that ordinary people, once totally dependent on lawyers, have unrestricted access to information, and are able to share their problems and concerns with thousands of others victimized by those sworn to defend the public good and uphold the law.

Some ordinary people feel so empowered that they actually dare to show up in courts pro se, and present their cases without hiring a lawyer. This is what the Tuck Point couple did during the July 7, 2004, District Court hearing, after which the young overly assertive MEEB attorney, half their age, rude and arrogant, blasted out cynically, "If you want to play lawyer, go to law school! This case is closed!"

Well.... not quite yet ....

by, Dr Margret Koch Chalupowski MD PHD