Skip to main content
Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

6,949 total

  • Is it worth suing my college

    With holding financial aid threatening un enrolling.

    Matthew’s Answer

    Without knowing even some of the facts or situation, no one can say.

    As a practical matter, it usually uneconomical to sue a post secondary school. The cost to sue the school is way more than any recovery you will actually receive if you win (and winning is 50/50 in the best of cases). Generally, it takes about $10,000 to get the case off the ground and past the initial motion to dismiss, and if you are successful there, you still have 70% of the case left to go.

    See question 
  • I am homosexual and my new pastor says that I have to turn straight to stay in my church. Can force me to it to be able to stay?

    I have gone to the same church for 11 years. I have never had a problem in my church even if I am openly gay and dress quite feminine. We have a new pastor since a year and he has tried to talk me into becoming straight since day one. Clearly, he ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    I agree with Ms. Humphrey, churches can discriminate in this way. So, there is likely no legal action that can be taken. You might want to run it by the Colorado office of the ACLU see if they want to make a case, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

    Let's separate the issues. There is the pastor and there is the church. There is NO legal theory upon which to sue the pastor because you can't sue people over what they believe. The pastor has a constitutional right to be homophobic. That Kentucky clerk was not being prosecuted for what she believed, she was being prosecuted for violating a court order. The issue becomes, in carrying out his duties in the "church," does that create a legal claim against the church. Probably not because we are dealing with a church entity and not a business nor government entity.

    See question 
  • Should I get a lawyer for a rear end accident ticket of following to closely?

    I was driving on a highway that often has traffic going from 50 MPH to stopping out of no where. I was driving down the road 5 car lengths or more and didn't notice traffic had slowed I slammed on my brakes about 3 car lengths back and still rear ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    You rear end someone in a car, that is per se liability, there are no, what I refer to as, external defenses. External meaning facts like weather, faulty brake lights on the hit vehicle, events that are seemingly beyond the driver's controls, etc. About the only defense is the driver's capacity (you being the driver). If you were temporarily incapacitated (like, you had a stroke while driving, or if you were rear ended and that caused you to rear end the car in front of you), that may be a defense.

    Depending on your record and the severity of the accident, an attorney may be able to get the ticket reduced, but thrown out, very unlikely.

    See question 
  • Is It A Conflict Of Interest Or Ethical Issue For A Law Firm To Hire A Former Legal Opponent As A New Lawyer To The Firm?

    Can a law firm hire a new attorney applicant that only a few years prior was a Pro Se Plaintiff that was opposing the law firm's client? The new attorney applicant actually represented himself over the course of 4 years in federal court against t...

    Matthew’s Answer

    No conflict, and who are you in the scenario who cares? Or, as I suspect, you are a student and this question is some sort of assignment.

    See question 
  • I had to give a deposition in a suit against my employer (I am not the one suing). the attorney questioning me

    was getting agitated at my responses and called me a racial slur. The depo was stopped and I was asked to leave the room for about 30 minutes. I came back in and continued the depo to completion. When I received a copy of the depo to sign I not...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Probably nothing, although unprofessional, raicial slurs are not inherently illegal, Also, attorneys are, generally, protected by a litigation privilege. Meaning, that things said in a court proceeding (depositions are, technically a court proceeding) cannot be punished.

    See question 
  • What is the appropriate charge an attorney charges per

    email sent to them? What if they don't respond to you regarding the current matter at hand will these emails hold up in having to pay?

    Matthew’s Answer

    ANYTHING that occupies the attorney's time is billed. So, things like reading emails, responding to emails, phone calls, reading letters, writing letters, reviewing a phone message from a is ALL billable. Especially if the contact is initiated by the client. Here is what actually happens.
    1. Client sends email to attorney.
    2. Attorney reads the email.
    3. The attorney opens the file to review the situation.
    4. The attorney decides what action, if any is needed
    5. If the email can be responded to quickly, the attorney will probably respond. (I use the 5 sentence rule, if I can respond in 5 sentences or less, I will do so).
    6. If the email cannot be responded to quickly or would require a phone call to resolve, the attorney schedules time to address the issue.
    7. The attorney "should" acknowledge receipt of the email if he/she will respond later.
    8. Then the attorney bills for the above time.
    9. When the attorney does respond to the email or take the necessary action, that time will be billed including file review, research, and anything else that is needed to adequately respond.

    Typically, attorneys will bill on 0.1 hour increments (translation, 6 minute increments). Beyond that, what and how an attorney charges for emails is not standardized. I personally think that charging a minimum of 0.25 hours for any email is excessive. For me, if the client email is routine and and I can respond in 5 sentences or less with minimal file review, I charge 0.1. Beyond that, I will charge either 0.2 or 0.3 for email exchanges with clients. If I would bill 0.4 or more for an email, I will route that to a phone call because if I will need to spend that amount of time, 24 minutes or more, writing a response, it will be easier to explain and address ALL questions

    See question 
  • Help.. Creditor in violation of discharge injunction!!! Bankruptcy discharged in 2013..BK discharge listed creditor notified!!

    I filed pro se' Chapter 7 -discharged. 12/2014..Creditor notified via Bk court via first class mail 12/2013.. (Showing listed on BK they were notified) I moved to charlotte from VA in 2012..Been employed at NC company since 2012 where my wages ar...

    Matthew’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You will need to contact a local bankruptcy attorney who can review the specifics of the situation and your case. At the very least, it would help us to know the nature of the debt. The 2 most likely possibilities are either (1) the creditor is violating the discharge or (2) the debt was a non-dischargeable debt.

    Use the "find a lawyer" section of this website and start calling local bankruptcy attorneys.

    See question 
  • Is my attorney required to provide copies of emails sent to opposing counsel?

    My attorney sent me an itemized bill recently inlcuding charges for emails and phone calls. When I asked her what they were in reference to, she sent the langauge that was supposedly in the body of the email, but did not forward the actual email....

    Matthew’s Answer

    Do you ask your dentist to show you the receipt for what the dentist paid for the material that goes into your cavity filling?

    An attorney would get into a lot of trouble if they billed you for things that didn't happen. So, it is very unlikely you are being billed for emails that didn't get sent because it is not worth it to the attorney (to any attorney) to do over the the $60 to $120 that is billed for emails.

    As Anthony points out, I am sure your are a nice enough person and if you need an attorney that means you are going through a difficult and stressful time. I appreciate the uncertainty that you are feeling. Understand, you pay for the attorney's time. If you want the attorney to spend time giving you recaps and editing emails to send to you, you are going to pay for that time as well (that will double your cost), assuming you can find an attorney that will even entertain providing that level of service. If your hesitating on paying for the regular work the attorney does, why would the attorney continue to dump time in a case and spend unnecessary time. If you keep on this tack, you are going to find yourself without an attorney and no other attorney will take the case or if they do, they likewise will bow out once you start making these demands.

    What many lay people don't understand is that they are not in control of the case or their attorney. One way to think about it is that the client controls the "macro" level, but the attorney controls the micro level. The attorney handles the day to day and the tactics. The client, essentially, only outlines the goals. The client has virtually no say in the micro management of the case, how the case gets done. The attorney simply keeps the client informed along the way and certain decisions must be made by the client (e.g. settlement).

    Have a discussion with your attorney about the bill and try to come to some common ground as to expectations on keeping you up to date.

    See question 
  • Rental lease contract, can the landlord change the price after you have signed it?

    It was time to renew my lease the new draft was given to me I signed it and when I went to turn it in the landlord said the price was a mistake and they raised the rent. Do I have any recourse?

    Matthew’s Answer

    Since they told you about the mistake at the time you turned it in, that is going to hold up. I doubt you have any recourse.

    See question 
  • How to get a lawyer vonvicted for.collusion?

    An attorney committed collusion with the presiding judge. How can I get him convicted so I can collect treble damages and he can face criminal penalties and disbarment? And how will this affect him when we return to court?

    Matthew’s Answer

    Only the police and district attorney can charge and prosecute criminal allegations. So, if you think a crime has been committed, you report it to the police and/or district attorney. Since you don't provide any details as to what you are alleging occurred, no way to say whether a crime was actually committed, whether you have a civil claim, nor whether an ethics violation occurred. So, I suppose your starting point will be the District Attorney.

    See question