f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 6, 2003

Tracking Down the Source of Wacky Debtor Legalisms

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:52 am

Don’t you hate it when a writer complains about all the dangerous stuff out there on the internet, but doesn’t provide even one link to substantiate the claim?  Well, I do, and I was too wound up for sleeping at about 4 AM today, when I encountered the ABA Journal articleSay What? Web’s Loopy Lingo: Debtors Hop on the Internet for Bogus Legalisms and Wacky Wording (by Margaret Graham Tebo, Oct. 6, 2003).  So, I did some of reporter Tebo’s homework through the sophisticated research technique of sticking her “whacky” phrases into my Google task bar window, in the hope of finding the sources of alleged UPL.


It looks like I found a few places for bar counsel and other deputies in the unauthorized practice police to start foraging.  Indeed, I might have scrounged up some work for the Texas UPL posse, which embarrassed itself by going after self-help software in Nolo v. Texas [check out our Unauthorized Practice Resources page]


According to the Journal article, lawyers for creditors, including Austin attorney Manuel H. Newburger, have been facing a myriad of strange new defenses.

  • Debtors were responding to collection attempts with letters—crammed with legalese—claiming that under UCC Art. 1, the debtors were their own creditors, and the debts were therefore invalid.
  • “Other debtors claimed they had copyrighted their names and refused permission for the creditor to use the names on court filings, collection letters or other documents.”
  • Still other debtors — dubbed the “comma people” — claimed that documents were invalid if a comma was placed after their name, while many used similar out-of context legal phrases, like “notice to the principal is notice to the agent,” or “implied contract by waiver of tort.”
  • Another subset of debtors claimed that they owed no debt because the original loan was not made in gold or silver, the only legitimate legal tender; and
  • Probably the most aggravating group, retaliated by placing commercial liens on the lawyers and employees of the creditors (including the IRS)

Attorney Newburger advocates taking a hardline.   According to the Journal, he says creditor attorneys should demand to know where the debtor got the forms and pseudo-legal language:

“Someone’s out there committing the unauthorized practice of law, and the way to stop this nonsense is to pursue the perpetrators.”

For me, it seems a bit incongruous that lawyers for creditors are complaining about documents “crammed with legalese.”   Nonetheless, frivolous claims are just as unacceptable when brought by pro-se consumers as when brought by corporate counsel or tort lawyers.   Furthermore, if the debtors are in fact acting in good faith after being coached or instructed by non-lawyers, UPL investigations may indeed be in order.

With that in mind, I suggest bar counsel or association “consumer protection” committees take a look at:

1) The Verified Actual and Constructive Notice of one “Jon Carl; Munson II,” and his Affidavit for Post Judgment Relief, filed in Montgomery County, Maryland, which contain frequent use of the phrase “Notice to the Principal is Notice to the Agent (citing Exodus 20:15, 16), and claim that the original loan is invalid because not made in gold.

2) A constitutional challenge  to the legality of child support, in California, by Charles Lindsay; Cheney Jr., SuiJuris-At Law. 

3) The article SLAVES, WHINERS, EVADERS, REDNECKS, MEN & WOMEN, by Don Smith, which gives advice about dealing with debt collectors of all types, including the IRS.  Its introduction states that “Don Smith is editor of AntiShyster [and] is a legal practitioner who sometimes uses a letterhead which states ‘Unauthorized Practice of Law’.”

4) AntiShyster Magazine, and its policy statement on Legal Advice:

The ONLY legal advice that Suspicions and/or AntiShyster news magazines and web sites offer is this:

Any attempt to learn to cope with our modern judicial system must be tempered with the sure and certain knowledge that modern “law” is always a crapshoot. That is, nothing – not even brown paper bags filled with hundred dollar bills and handed to the judge – will absolutely guarantee your victory in a judicial trial or administrative hearing. The most you can ever hope for is to improve the probability that you may win.

Therefore, do not depend on the articles, links or advertisements within Suspicions or  AntiShyster news magazines or web sites to illustrate anything more than the opinions or experiences of others trying to escape, survive, improve, attack, or even make sense of “the best judicial system in the world”.  

But don’t be discouraged; there’s not another precisely accurate publication on law in the entire U.S.A. – except the Bible.

5) The article Commercial Liens: A Most Potent Weapon, edited by Terra Libra staff.

Some of these legal theories may be familiar to the followers of our esteemed Instapundit, who might be able to point the UPL authorities to a few other likely suspects (even if it means revealing a source). 

P.S. to Mom:  I wanted to show off my new expertise on the Rules of Pig Scrambles, but it just never came up for this posting.  Please don’t worry about my having another sleepless night weblogging.  I would have been awake anyway, and maybe those UPL zealots will go check out the debtor wackos, and leave the serious self-help and alternative legal services providers alone.  I regret that I have but one night to give for my consumers. 

And Throw Away the Key?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:00 am

My cyber colleague Carolyn Elefant over at MyShingle reported Sunday morning about a Louisiana judge who issued a bench warrant for an attorney who failed to appear at a hearing.  The lawyer spent an hour in lockup and had to post a $20,000 bond.   The story is described in the Lafeyette Daily Advertiser (Oct. 4, 2003).


Said attorney — surprise!! — blames it on miscommunication and scheduling confusion.   Carolyn wonders if the judge was just having a bad day or “is there more to this story that would justify what appears to be an overly harsh response to a missed court appearance?”


I’m gonna give the attorney the benefit of the doubt (knowing neither the facts nor the reputation of the characters involved).  However, there better be, and almost always is, “more to the story” when a judge dishes out this kind of treatment to a distinguished member of the bar. 


One does not have to spend much time around criminal or family courts to know there are a number of attorneys in every community who chronically fail to appear at court due to “scheduling difficulties”, “communication breakdowns”, and unreliable underlings.  These attorneys cause great disruption and added expense for the courts, the litigants, and opposing counsel.  If more judges would motivate more attorneys to get their acts together, everyone would be much obliged.  The real question is why there aren’t a lot more attorneys enjoying the accommodations at the county jail.

Powered by WordPress