I had a horrible experience in Court last week.
As is often the case, my case, the one which brought me to court, was not
the first case called. I sat through several hearings awaiting the call
of my case. What I watched made my skin crawl and blood curdle because
in case after case, pro se litigants (parties who don't have attorneys)
were getting shot down and cut up like fish in a barrel becoming sushi
and there was nothing I could do about it.
Attorneys are prohibited by State Bar Rules from offering their services,
person to person, to a party who has an active case. The initiative has
to come from the client. I could not whisper a word to these battered
and beaten people, though the words I would have whispered would have
saved them their hard earned money, access to their children and even
their freedom. The words I would have whispered if only I could? "Justice
I'll give you a case in point. A father had fallen behind on his child
support. He had already been before the Court in February with an arrearage
of over $2,000.00. His child support was over $1,000.00 each month. He
had been paying over $800.00 each month, not enough to pay all of his
child support. He couldn't pay the full freight because he had lost
his job and had to find another. His new job did not pay as well.
So now he was in court again on another Contempt, farther behind than he
was in January. The judge did quite well for this fellow, going as far,
or perhaps farther than he could go. The judge told this fellow to hire
a lawyer to get his child support modified. He calculated the child support
the fellow should be paying, based upon his new income. It fell from over
$1,000.00 to a little over $400.00. But the judge could not modify the
support without the proper request from the fellow to have it modified.
This fellow was going to jail for the want of an attorney.
"But Judge," he plead, "I can't afford an attorney.
I can't afford my child support." This fellow is right, when
he's thinking about the traditional soup to nuts approach. There he
can expect a minimum of $2,000.00 to perhaps $5,000.00 for a retainer
to hire counsel. But what he didn't know, and what I couldn't
tell him, was that the Justice Cafe' was right next door with attorneys
who only charge $75.00 an hour and work on an unbundled basis. They only
do the work absolutely necessary to move the client's case forward.
The client handles the rest.
This case was perfect for The Justice Cafe'. But the client wouldn't
know that unless he happened to search for it or unless some well informed,
kind friend made him aware. He couldn't afford $2,000.00. But he could
Unbundled services aren't for everyone. They're not for every case.
But there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who could use
a little legal help to get pointed in the right direction, to have all
their ducks in a row, to have just the necessary muscle in court to ensure
that justice prevails. There is where The Justice Cafe' fits perfectly.
The Justice Cafe' isn't the answer to everyone's prayers. But
it is the answer for many. Pass it on!