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Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

7,962 total


  • I have a court appointed lawyer who I am not satisfied with. Is there anyway I can change lawyers?

    I have a few traffic violations and got a court appointed lawyer who is not helping me out at all and I've been doing everything myself. He also doesn't show up for court dates so I feel like he is poorly representing me. Any advice?

    Matthew’s Answer

    You can move the court for a different attorney, but unless the attorney has breached some duty (which doesn't sound like the case), you probably won't get one. You are, of course, free to hire and pay an attorney to take over. Court appointed attorneys do not come with a client satisfaction guarantee, so long as they are doing the job in representing you, the extra....touchy, feely, hands on customer service, is something you need to pay for.

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  • Do I have a case for legal malpractice or other remedy if my attorney failed to renew a judgment ruled in my favor?

    … i engaged an attorney and was awarded a money judgment consequent to his efforts…ten years passed (Maryland) and i found that that attorney did not file to renew the judgment (thereby making it unavailable to collect upon?)…now it would seem tha...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Doubtful. Unless the attorney was somehow still engaged by you, the attorney would not have had a duty to remew the judgment. My guess is, representation ended years ago.

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  • Can I make a judgment public or go viral with it and not suffer consequences?

    I recently won a judgment against a business who closed down and opened under a new name to avoid paying me. I want to write an article and/or post the judgment and facts about what the owner and business did to me. Will I get into any trouble if ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Depends on what you say...but the better course of action is to go back to court and allege "alter ego" and attempt to have the judgment transferred to the new company.

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  • Can you ask for sanctions if your creditor has not filed satisfaction of judgment towards your debt?

    It's almost a year now since I've paid my creditor in full through garnishment and my public record shows that my case is still open.

    Matthew’s Answer

    The thing is, you can move the court to enter a satisfaction of judgment. Although, technically, the plaintiff should file a satisfaction of judgment, they rarely do. The recourse is for the defendant to file a motion requesting entry of satisfaction and then serve it on the plaintiff. Note, you need to supply some evidence that the judgment is satisfied with your motion. Odds are the plaintiff won't respond and the court will then enter the satisfaction.

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  • If the trustee sells my home, will I get some money based on the homestead exemption?

    I filed chapter 7 and it looks the trustee believes she can sell my home for a lot more than is protected under the homestead exemption. If she does, will I get paid up to the exemption amount of $21,500 in Georgia? How does this work? I know the ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Yes. As Mr. Hoyt points out, so long as the exemption is properly claim and assuming it applies, the debtor gets the amount of the homestead exemption. The order of payment goes like this. (1) Costs of Sale, (2) First Mortgage, (3) Any other valid and perfected liens against the property (e.g. HELOC, tax liens, etc), (4) debtor's homestead...etc.

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  • Is it ethical for an attorney to take personal property as payment for services?

    Personal property was being held by a friend for safe keeping. Attorney said that he had a court order from the Judge for that friend to turn over the property to him. He did not have a court order, only an affidavit signed by his client (who wa...

    Matthew’s Answer

    As Bruce pointed out, way too much to unpack and deal with on a forum like this. To the general question as to whether an attorney can accept something other than money as compensation for services, the answer is YES. The overarching rule for attorney fees is that the fee must be reasonable in light of the services rendered and value conferred by the attorney. No rule requires an attorney to only accept money as compensation.

    As to the rest, you need to pay an attorney on the ground who can review everything and figure it out.

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  • How can I get my money back from a Auto Dealer?

    I had a Trailblazer that I purchased from a Buy Here Pay Here Dealer and paid it off in 2016. I went back to this Dealership and seen a bigger vehicle that I liked so the Owner of the dealership said if I liked the vehicle he would let me take it ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    What, if any, paperwork were part of these deals? That is where you need to turn for your options. Unfortunately, used cars are sold AS IS unless you have something IN WRITING that offers some sort of warranty or guarantee. Lemon laws do not apply to the sale of used cars. I think your only recourse is to try to have the dealer fix the radiator of the "other" car as it seems like they agreed to do that and that is the car you are stuck with.

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  • When I signed an attorneys "contract" it said he gets 33 1/3 % if it settles and 40% if it goes to court .....

    And the fine print said he gets the 40% plus on basically anything else he can tack on even if he only files in court. He filed in court a year before the case settled and all the while assuring me it will never go to court, "they'll settle", he h...

    Matthew’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    First, we need to distinguish fees and costs. The attorney "fee" is the fee for the attorney's service. That is the 33 1/3% and 40% contingency fee. Then there are "costs." Costs are things like 3rd party expenses, court filing fees, copies, postage, etc. Assuming this attorney's fee agreement is set up like EVERY personal injury fee agreement...the client is obligated to pay the attorney fee and the costs. Now, in a contingency fee agreement, you are entitled to an accounting for the "costs." However, as a general matter, you do not get an accounting of attorney time. Unless the contingency fees is way out of whack for the work done, most contingency fees will be upheld (approved) because of the risk premium.

    As for fling with the court, that is pretty common but there are real reasons to do so. (1) The attorney may need to file the court complaint to prevent the statute of limitation from expiring. (2) Filing with court shows that you are serious about the claim, and (3) filing with the court usually gets an attorney on the other side with whom to negotiate as opposed to the insurance adjuster.

    Odds are, the fees and costs are legitimate. But, you can request an accounting of the costs if you have not already received it. Usually the attorney sends you a letter that breaks this down.

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  • What is a "Conditional Waiver of Release Upon Progress Payment"

    Our company provided a service and have not been paid. We were asked to sign a "Conditional Waiver of Release Upon Progress Payment" in order to get paid, which we did.

    Matthew’s Answer

    If you want to understand what a document is about, ready it. What do you really expect us to be able say about without seeing it or even knowing the context or background? As CJ points out, you have probably waived some right (probably a lien right and right to pursue further legal action) for whatever work you performed.

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  • Can I return a car to dealer before down payment is complete

    I got a car from a buy here pay here dealer. They have a payment plan for the down payment as well. So I have made some but not all down payment payments. I have had the car for about 1 1/2 months. I am very aggravated with the company that I am p...

    Matthew’s Answer

    As Adam says, I don't see that you would have any legal basis to return the car penalty free. You bought the car, you entered into a sales agreement for the car and an financing agreement for the money to purchase the car. The fact that the down payment is not complete does not mean you can still revoke those agreements. Sorry.

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