Friday, June 6, 2014

Engaging in the Unauthorized Practice of Law in Indiana - Part VII The Factual Allegations: Advertising that I am an Attorney

On 13 May 2014 G. Michael Witte, Attorney No. 1949-15 filed a Verified Petition to Enjoin the Unauthorized Practice of Law against yours truly. In this series of postings I will present to you some information about Mr. Witte, why Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David denied my motion to reinstate a felony charge against myself, what Indiana judge recently said I am smarter than most attorneys, and why attorney Vanessa Lopez Aguilera complained. More significantly though I will demonstrate how Mr. Witte and his ilk are attempting to harm children and deprive parents of opportunities to amicably and efficiently resolve their child custody disputes consistent with the policies of the State of Indiana.

Response to Petition to Enjoin the Unauthorized Practice of Law

State of Indiana
Stuart Showalter

In charging an act of wrongdoing it is a principle of law that the alleged facts support the conclusion. In common parlance this is the reasons for the charge. It may be more formally known as the factual basis or in criminal law – probable cause. In this and some upcoming postings I respond to the particular factual allegations as put forth by Mr. Witte in his Verified Petition. Today I move on to the vaguely veiled general accusations that I am engaging in the unauthorized practice of law which in this first part relates to advertising as an attorney. Each numbered paragraph corresponds directly to the allegations in the Verified Petition.

Paragraphs 5 - 12 Advertising as an Attorney

5] True
6] The link shown is to a page on my website. I have attached a copy of this page, as of 03 June 2014, hereto as Exhibit A.
7] This paragraph ends with “and be just a phone call away . . . .” What Witte omits by text and context is the remainder of the sentence “. . . even in the middle of the night, when your emotions or anxiety overwhelms you.” which relates to the purpose of providing emotional or spiritual support of life coaching. I have tightened the language on this page in an attempt to remove possible interpretation by readers that I may be acting in place of an attorney.
8] This paragraph is directed to attorneys who wish to direct me in assisting them and specifically contradicts Witte's allegations in ¶¶33-36.
9] Similar to ¶8 this paragraph is directed to parents represented by attorneys and is intended to convey the importance of the long-term parent-child relationship. While attorneys may speak in “legaleze” which their clients may not understand I either translate to layman's terms or let the attorney know that the client appears bewildered. This specifically contradicts Witte's allegations in ¶¶33-36.
10] This paragraph refers to a section of the website that was not placed under my “services” as it was far from complete, should have had privacy settings limiting it to “administrators” only and when complete will be directed primarily toward assisting attorneys not experienced with appeals or helping them or their clients find competent appellate counsel. The privacy settings on this page were changed on 15 May 2014 to remove this page from public view. The page Client Portal was also open to public viewing although it should have been accessible only to current clients and has been changed.
11] This paragraph contains a portion of the page referenced in paragraph 10. Specifically, it notes Mr. Showalter's “appellate team” which includes himself, a clerk that can assist with formatting, house counsel, and outside attorneys who specialize in appeals. This paragraph describes work to be done by attorneys or under the direction of attorneys and specifically contradicts Witte's allegations in ¶¶33-36.
12] This is an otiose statement as it does not support Witte's allegations in ¶¶33-36. I could just have easily said that I can perform most of the acts necessary to build a space shuttle – tightening screws, connecting wires, applying glue, welding, etc -- while leaving the most complex actions to those specifically trained for them.

In short what Witte has alleged in this section relating to advertising is that I am promoting that I am an attorney. Yet nowhere on my website do I indicate that I am an attorney. Quite to the contrary I specifically state on my client contract:
By signing this agreement, I, _______________________, acknowledge that I have been advised by and am aware that Stuart Showalter and his associates are not attorneys, mental health professionals, physicians, financial planners or securities dealers and are not providing specific advice as a substitute for that provided by those professionals unless those professionals specifically acknowledge their discipline.

Just as Witte alleged in regards to Jennifer Bonesteel and her phantom client, that when I say I am “not” something that I must be that, he makes the same logical fallacy here. His conclusions that I am engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by assisting parents to manage their lifestyle while going through a custody proceeding or helping them find an attorney is misplaced. Very few attorneys would agree that their practice is to try to find an attorney for clients who come to them for assistance. Using Witte logic it would be like a Wal-Mart greeter directing you to go to Target when you ask where something is located.

Keeping in mind that the Indiana Supreme Court has yet to choose to define the practice of law in its rules we are left to determine this on our own based upon the reasonable person standard. Thus, it becomes would a reasonable person conclude that helping settle a person's anxiety, preparing them physically and mentally for court appearances, improving their parental behaviours, and helping to find legal counsel if needed would constitute engaging in the practice of an attorney for which lay people should be barred.

Upcoming segments in this series will include
VIII - The Factual Allegations: Suppositions
IX - Interview with the Complainant: Attorney Vanessa Lopez Aguilera
X - The Charges
XI - Who has recommended me and my Conclusions
XII - The Response Filed

If you would like to contribute any information about this matter or participate in the Response then please contact me.

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©2008, 2014 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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