Access Legal Documents Makes Family Law More Affordable in Arizona

The family court system in Arizona, as is true in most states, is confusing and difficult to navigate. An estimated 30,000 people in Maricopa County are unable to afford an attorney to guide them through their family law cases. Scottsdale Attorney Billie Tarascio has come up with a new approach to making family law affordable for thousands of people who could not previously afford to go to family law court. She explains her new approach in this report.

Billie Tarascio

Billie Tarascio

Tarascio’s program is called Access Legal Documents. She developed this software program to make family law paperwork available to the 80% of people who can’t afford to pay lawyers to generate paperwork. This process allows clients to produce the paperwork they need and save money to pay for a lawyer’s courtroom time to do things that clients can’t do for themselves.

Tarascio cited the case of a client who recently came to her with two problems: The client needed a divorce, and she also needed a modification on her previous marriage. The client was able to go to the Access Legal website and fill out a lot of paperwork that is normally filled out by lawyers. Then, “come back with, let’s say, $5,000 for a day of in-court representation.” That, opines Tarascio, is a win-win situation.

In the short term, Tarascio explains, a law firm will take a financial hit. But looking at the longer term and the 80% of unserved clients, the situation looks better. Tarascio says that the clients she is looking at need just about any family law service one can imagine. The best clients are those who are educated but who cannot afford the rather high cost of in-court representation. Poor people, Tarascio points out, can go to legal aid.

Tarascio notes that her service is similar in some ways to Legal Zoom, but that service is geared towards transactions, such as creating a business or registering a trademark. Access Legal is set up to help people in litigation. “Having a law firm back you up while you represent yourself is the best way to be a self-litigant.”

Tarascio says that there are a few other law firms around the country that are doing this sort of thing. She believes that this process can be applied to other areas of the law.

Billie Tarascio attended the University of San Diego Law School and the University of Oregon School of Law and graduated in 2005. She worked at several firms in Eugene including the Department of Justice, Family Law Division, the non-profit A Family for Every Child, and she clerked at the Lane County Juvenile Court under Justice Kip Leonard. Her legal focus is on education law, including special education within schools, family law, adoption, and mediation. Billie is a skilled practitioner, national speaker, law firm business consultant, and a Martindale-Hubbell honored attorney. She was granted the prestigious “Client Distinction” award based on her Communications Ability, Responsiveness, Quality of Service, and Value for Money. Less than 4% of attorneys nationwide have been accorded this honor of distinction. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Jersey Shore's "The Situation" Charged With Tax Fraud

Jersey Shore cast member Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino was indicted on tax fraud this week. Both Sorrentino and his brother/manager, Marc, allegedly filed false tax returns on close to $9 million in income from “promotional activities." The charges also allege the brothers deducted expensive clothes and cars as business expenses. In 2011, Sorrentino allegedly earned $2 million, but never filed a personal tax return. In total, the brothers are accused of failing to pay tax on nearly $9 million.

Currently, Sorrentino is out on $250,000 bail and is not allowed to leave New York or New Jersey without permission. The brothers' arraignment is set for October 6, 2014 in Newark Federal Court. Both could face jail time and heavy fines due to the seriousness of the charges.

Applebee’s Employees—Will a Class Action Be Permitted?

A number of present and former employees of Applebee’s restaurants in New York state have filed a class action under New York law. The case, Roach v. T.L. Cannon Corp., is before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for determination whether a class action will be certified. Scott Michelman discusses the case and the significance of the class action question.

Scott Michelman

Scott Michelman

Michelman explains that the employees in the lawsuit have been denied several rights to which they are entitled under NY law. One of these practices was to charge employees for rest break time whether the employees actually take the breaks. Another issue is so-called “spread time,” where an employee who works a ten-hour day is entitled to an additional hour of pay. The employees were denied the spread time hour.

This case involves only New York employees, Michelman says, covering 53 stores throughout the state.

The class action question relates to the district court’s refusal to certify a class because of the court’s understanding of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, decided by the Supreme Court in 2013. In Comcast, the Court refused to certify a class in an antitrust case because the measure of damages proposed by the plaintiffs was too complicated.

In the Roach case, the Comcast problem is not present. The measure of damages is not complicated, Michelman opines. The trial court’s decision, if it is allowed to stand, would be very damaging to class action cases in the future. The disagreement about class certification is the crux of the appeal.

Scott Michelman is an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group, in Washington, D.C. His career as a public interest litigator has spanned a broad range of social justice and civil rights issues, including access to the courts, consumers’ rights, discrimination and selective enforcement, freedom of speech and press, habeas corpus rights, immigrants' rights, judicial secrecy, police misconduct, political protest, post-September 11 abuse of executive power, religious freedom, the rights of medical marijuana patients, sentencing law, and unreasonable search and seizure. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.