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Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

6,944 total


  • Is it legal for a college to hold your transcripts after graduation due to unpaid parking tickets?

    I graduated from my school about three months ago, and I feel like they are holding my transcripts hostage because I apparently have some unpaid parking tickets (in which I don't have physical copies of). I asked my mentor if I had any holds befor...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Yes, it is legal...........................

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  • Can student workers at a University unionize for better wages?

    I'm a student employee at a University in Maryland. I do a very hard job and I'm not paid enough. The people who run my University make hundreds of thousands of dollars according to the Baltimore Sun state-employee salary database. Meanwhile, I'm ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    This is more an employment law question than an education law question, so I am changing the practice area.

    Your enrollment at the school and job at the school are separate, so that will not likely be a problem, but given the transient nature of student employees, I think it would be impractical to have a union.

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  • Can I ask my attorney to cap my billed case costs to $500 for law suit without filing?

    Can I ask that there is a cancellation option with X fee if after 6 or 8 months if X amount of dollars isnt settled upon? I know that isnt ideal but every contract I have seen seems to protect the attorney and give them the right to terminate, but...

    Matthew’s Answer

    You can ask, but no attoreny will agree to that because the length of time a case takes to resolve is not within the attorney's control. You can fire your attorney at any time, but no one is going to agree that doing so will have no consequences (e.g. the attorney being entitled to compensation for the work performed).

    Nor can you "cap" costs because an attorney is duty bound to act in your best interests. You can, and it is somewhat common in fee agreements, that if a particular cost will exceed $x amount, the attorney needs to get client approval (but, the provision is a token jesture because if the client says no, the attorney then terminates representation).

    As stated, unless you have some leverage, the bulk of the terms in attorney retainer agreements are non negotiable. Dont be so full of yourself to think your case is a make or break case for an attorney or law firm. If a prospective client tries to negotiate the terms of my fee agreement, i simply dedline to represent them at that point because that is a big red flag that they will be a problem client.

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  • I fired my attorney. Can she refuse to return my client file and retainer refund until after her motion to withdraw hearing?

    I have reported my divorce attorney to the Bar for misconduct involving a serious conflict of interest issue. I fired her last week. She has filed a motion to withdraw with the court and a hearing is scheduled. She is refusing to return my client ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    The attorney cannot hold the file. She doesn't have to drop everything and give it to you immediately (5 to 10 business days is typical). As for the retainer, the attorney must provide you an accounting of the retainer and fees earned, but your expectation that there is any remaining retainer to refund may be woefully optimistic. However, if there is unearned retainer, she CAN hold onto that until after the withdrawal hearing. Until the withdrawal hearing, she is still leagally your attorney and may still perform work and spend time on your case in the interim and you would be obligated to pay for that time and expense.

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  • Is it ethical for a sitting judge to contact multiple plaintiff in foreclosure action if plaintiff doesnt show up & reschedule?

    Plaintiff did not show up for foreclosure hearing, instead of judge dismissing he contacted multiple parties from the plaintiffs firm and re-scheduled the hearing.

    Matthew’s Answer

    It is up to the judge to proceed or not proceed. As already stated, not enough information or context to say, but there isn't much you can do about it. Judges can pretty much run thier courtroom and calendar how they see fit.

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  • How do I find employment records from a business that was bought by another company

    A trucking company in Denver Colorado, Spirit Express Trucking was bought in about 2009 by R&L Carriers. I was an employee of Spirit Express. I need too find my records for prof of employment for another company. R&L say they do not have those r...

    Matthew’s Answer

    There may be a custodian of records for the old compay.

    You should talk to the company hiring you and explain the dilemma and see if they have any suggestions.

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  • Can I just write "expert witnesses" on my family court witness list? I don't want to give away who is coming in.

    I'm in a custody battle with my wife and close to take custody of our children. I have found some top notch experts who can tear apart her allegations of child sexual abuse and am flying them in to custody hearing. My wife is pro se and doesn't ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Yes, you have to disclose, see Thomas's answer. All evidence and witesses you intend to produce or call at a hearing or trial must be disclosed well in advance. This is the difference between real law an T.V. law; in real law, there are no surprise, or gotcha moments. If you do not do so, the judge will disallow the testimony.

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  • Lost money

    Alamada County Calif. sent me a check in 2002 for $820.00 never recevied it. When I called to claim it I was told it was void. Can I fight this? Government code section 29800-29808

    Matthew’s Answer

    No you can't. The code provides for 6 months. Even if there was an issue, there is no legal theory upon which to claim funds for something that old.

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  • Can a credit reporting agency report a payment 30 days past due when the payment is made on the 30th day?

    Only one agency is reporting it as being made 30 days past due. The others only if the payment is made after day 30.

    Matthew’s Answer

    It is the creditor, not the CRA that reports the information. In the grand scheme of things, 1 late payment will hardly be a blip on your credit. As for the legal point, the issue is when the payment is "received" AND "processed." You can try disputing the entry with the credit reporting agency (which you must do before you can do anything else). If that doesn't resolve the issue, then I would probably drop it as it is not worth the time and effort it will take beyond a basic dispute.

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  • Do I have to hire a lawyer to start an LLC? If not is it wise to go about it with little legal experience?

    I am looking into selling my woodworking items on e-commerce websites + it's own website sometime down the line.

    Matthew’s Answer

    I wouldn't say you "need" a lawyer. The issue with LLC's is more a tax question than anything else. At a minimum, speak to a tax advisor on whether an LLC has any advantages for your situation. Having an LLC or a corporation, unless you really need it or if it carries with it some financial advantage, is a pain in the butt (a hassle) to maintain. If this woodworking business is really a side business, you may not need one.

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