Skip to main content
Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

7,962 total


  • Can an auto mechanic school program turn a student down for a bad driving record?

    My brother was told by the local Technical college that he could not sign up for the Auto Mechanic programs at the school because he had tickets that lead to his driver license being revoked. I also want to state that none of the tickets were from...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Nothing per se illegal about such a rule or requirement.

    See question 
  • Bankruptcy File

    I would like a copy of my bankruptcy file. How can I obtain it? I do not want to contact my lawyer. The case was discharged in 2013. Is there a way to get the file from the Court?

    Matthew’s Answer

    Depends what you are looking for. If you need a copy of any document filed with the court (e.g. your petition and schedules) that is easy enough...go to www.pacer.gov (but it does cost).

    See question 
  • Are there an "usual" limits on having trash that you can easily see from your dining room windows, in a small mountain community

    My mountain property is on a small cul de sac with 2 other homes. Both other residences have lots of trash, tools, scrap, antiques, at the end of the cul de sac, directly in view of my dining room windows. It looks awful, and I'm embarassed abou...

    Matthew’s Answer

    As James suggests, your first call is to the county. Even in relatively rural or remote areas, there are still regulations about trash and what can and cannot be stored on a person's property. Beyond that, the next level is some sort of nuisance claim. But, on the scale of actionable nuisances, "visual" nuisances are way down the list. Although unpleasant to look at, a visual nuisances doesn't affect the health and safety of your property nor does it really alter your quiet use and enjoyment of the property. I am not saying there is no claim, (I haven't seen the property), but the type of claim you have is a difficult one on which to prevail. In any event, call the county and find out if there is a department or person that may have some sort of jurisdiction over the issue.

    See question 
  • Is it legal for my lawyer to divulge information to the Assistant DA?

    I made the mistake of telling my lawyer that someone I knew was a close friend of the judge who was to preside over my case. He told the ADA who, in turn, asked for a new judge - one known for giving the maximum sentence to all who appear before h...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Your lawyer is also an officer of the court. If there is a potential conflict of interest (even if it is beneficial to the client) the lawyer is obligated to report it.

    See question 
  • Is my lawyer's behaviour legal malpractice?

    My lawyer told me angrily that he will not fight for my innocence and that the only option he is giving me is to plead guilty because he will not defend scum like me. Is this legal malpractice?

    Matthew’s Answer

    It is not malpractice yet. Malpractice requires a mistake to be made in the case in which the attorney represents you, and but for that mistake the case would have turned out differently. That doesn't seem to have happened, yet. What you may have is an ethical violation (which you would report to your state's attorney regulation counsel). As Anthony points out, context matters. We weren't there. First, is the attorney in question an attorney you hired (paid), a public defender, court appointed, etc. Second, although an attorney has a duty of loyalty, the attorney is not a slave to the client. In essence, if all the attorney is saying is that you should accept the plea deal or find a different attorney, that position, on the surface, is neither malpractice nor unethical. The attorney may not have a good bedside manner, but that doesn't mean the attorney is no giving you good counsel.

    See question 
  • I recd a check, from Chase for excess interest while on active duty under the SCRA. CC interest is not tax-deductible.

    The excess interest refund check I received from Chase had an accompanying letter, stating that I would receive a 1090 MISC and the same would be reported to the IRS. Credit card interest has not been deductible for individuals since the early 19...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Just because the money is reported on an IRS reporting form does NOT imply that the money is taxable income. The IRS requires reporting of all sorts of distributions and gains, but reporting does not mean the distribution is taxable income or a taxable gain to the recipient. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but get with a tax return preparer or CPA to review the specifics.

    See question 
  • Do I have a case if the owner is not willing to satisfy their end of the contract? Do I have to pay the money back?

    I entered into a scholarship to participate in a hair program to attend the school tuition free. I won the scholarship and the agreement was to attend the school Monday-Friday during the day and after I had completed the program that I would work ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    That is a tough situation and very much a legal grey area. It sounds like you may have inadvertently burned a bridge that is going to bite you. When employment is tied to a benefit (like a scholarship), the employee still needs to be a good employee, be qualified, and fit in. The owner probably has discretion not to hire you, but that doesn't mean you might not be entitled to some compensation if you can show the refusal to hire was in bad faith. Your options are (1) try to work out it, (2) pay the tuition or move on, (3) go speak to an attorney and pay that attorney some money to review the documents and advise you of your options. The type of attorney you would look to is an employment law attorney.

    See question 
  • How do you know if student loans are private?

    Would like to file chapter 7 bankruptcy and include student loans.

    Matthew’s Answer

    As Richard says, when it comes to bankruptcy, it doesn't matter if your loans are federal or private student loans, both are presumed non dischargeable. Now, to find out which is which, go to the National Student Loan Data System. That service will inventory your federal student loans (and thereby through the process of elimination you can figure out what loans are private).

    See question 
  • Unnamed co-owner in bankruptcy, sued for foreclosure...?

    Hi, My co-owner is currently in bankruptcy. He had not been paying for the property as agreed. I was the main name on the home and only I was sued for foreclosure. The property is in the co-owners bankruptcy. Do I just inform the court myself h...

    Matthew’s Answer

    They can still foreclose against you not withstanding the other owners bankruptcy.

    See question 
  • Would emails be considered original documents, and therefore part of my file?

    The retainer says that "original documents acquired by the law firm over the course of representing you will be returned". My former attorney is refusing to include the emails associated with my case as part of my file, he is saying that he alread...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Why don't you have copies of emails you sent. Emails are communication not documents; so if the agreement said documents, at least in my opinion, emails are not documents. Now that doesn't mean no emails are part of the client file. However, emails recieved by the client and sent to the client are aleady in your possession and therefore do not need to be cataloged and resent.

    See question