THE PRO BONO MYTH
The biggest problem litigants often have is Pro Se (representing oneself) discrimination. We often hear that people lose their homes and life savings from lawsuits. The illusion here is that one party in a lawsuit loses, and has to pay the other party. The fact is that people are financially devastated from attorney’s fees- not from the opposing parties. Without a lawyer, no matter how skilled you are at writing and research, you will be victimized by unavoidable bias and collusion. This is inevitable in a system that allows judges to serve in courts where they have already worked for decades.
We vote judges into office at the Common Pleas level without really knowing how they will perform. This is the level where your assets are most vulnerable and accessible to the courthouse opportunists. After being guaranteed a job for ten years, with “sovereign immunity” protecting them against liability for misconduct, judges more often than not, become at best arrogant, and at worst corrupt. Attorneys who come before them every day in Court are their friends and colleagues. If you cannot afford to hire one of these attorneys, you are out of luck. No better illustration of this was the “Kids for Cash” scandal at the Common Pleas level of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PRO BONO
At least not if you have ever paid taxes. After trying to find a pro bono (volunteer) lawyer, and contacting numerous “legal aid” societies, I found that help did not really exist- at least not if you had any assets to lose. Most of these “nonprofit” services provide about one hour per month of services for each client. I tried numerous organizations such as the Pennsylvania Bar, the Montgomery County Bar and the Legal Aid society. I was told that basically I needed a real lawyer, and therefore did not qualify for any free or pro bono services. Nor did I qualify for reduced fees. I was given no reason- no forms to fill out for eligibility—nothing.
These organizations only help you after you have nothing left to lose. Most only do such innocuous filings such as uncontested divorces, and filing for government entitlements for the indigent and welfare recipients. I started to research the insanity of this and was more than appalled by what I found and also just how our elected officials are failing at addressing these issues.
A prime example is a “nonprofit” organization called the “National Center for State Courts.” They reported in 2009 on their IRS Form 990 having received $11,184,843 - the majority of which was grants from taxpayer dollars. Not one citizen was helped by their organization- well at least not in this country. This organization paid $5,433,125 for “justice reform” in Europe (including Iceland and Greenland). They spent $2,646,885 in the Middle East and Africa, along with millions more sent to a total of seven countries outside the U.S totally $9,804,592.
They also list nine “independent contractors” of “justice reform” who received more than $100,000 each- with some very notable expenditures: over $241,000 was paid to some fellow named Phillippe Lamarche in Beirut; $608,180 to another “nonprofit” Amid east in Washington, DC and $226,482 for “contract services” to the Hay Group in Jakarta India. The Form 990 revealed this organization had over $32 million in revenue- mostly from federal, state and other government contracts. They then shelled out $15 million dollars in salaries and other compensations for the attorneys that work for them.
Perhaps the most well known attorney nonprofit is the American Bar Association. They are the blanket organization for all the Bar Associations across America. The Pennsylvania Bar Association had $8 Million in revenue in 2011, and are tax exempt. I was told to call them to find a lawyer. I found lots of lawyers there at $200 to $500 an hour. Or they will allow you to put their name on your house.
How many Americans go without legal representation each year? It would be difficult to estimate, because many families just give up. They lose their homes, they lose tuition saved to put their children through college, and they lose their retirement funds. Many people will be affected by a loss due to the legal system- a mechanical failure perpetuated by conflicts of interest of your elected officials- most of whom are attorneys.