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October 8, 2012

Out of work with no prospects

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: , — admin @ 6:23 am

Out of work with no prospects

It has been a strange and unfortunate couple of years for 50+ year old Lee Richan. Laid off from a lucrative job when the economy suddenly tanked, he found himself out of work with no prospects of being hired due to his age. Trying all possible avenues to secure a job, he finally turned to the bedrock of the American tradition – hard work and ingenuity to start a business capable of supporting him and his family. After scrimping, working countless hours, and inventing, he became a notary and produced a business capable of providing support services in court cases at far lower costs than is currently available. In addition to notaries being lower cost, Lee used technology to provide far superior recordings in cases to reduce error, time, and other problems inherent in litigation. “My goal,” Lee stated, “was to provide a way for everyone hit hard by the economy to be able to afford access to justice, or, if they were out of work like me, to have a business model they could turn to in providing for themselves.” Lee rolled out his company, AVLawDepot, and was able to achieve all of these goals.

Operating without a license

Things suddenly took a surprising turn, however, when the Utah government issued a citation and ordered Lee to cease and desist from operating his business. The government claimed that Lee was operating his business without a license, yet there was no license available for the type of work he did. “I honestly thought that sitting down with the appropriate officials would clear up any misunderstandings that were present,” Lee said, “but doing so only added to my confusion because the government could produce no solid grounds to prosecute me but they continued to do so.” Lee was being forced into bankruptcy by the Utah government as he had to hire an attorney to defend himself and turn his attention and time from his business to defending frivolous claims pressed by the Attorney General’s office. In two key meetings, first Lee showed state law declaring the notary commission was paramount to a court reporter. In a second key meeting the prosecuting Department was handed a printout of their own rules that specifically authorized Lee to do his work, and without a license. The Department’s only response was “[We] hate it when you use our rules against us.” Yet, nothing changed and the prosecution continued.

Digging deeper, Lee soon discovered that national interests were attempting to shut him down. While Lee had found a successful business model, he had accidentally ventured into the middle of a nationwide dispute taking place that is driven by a group behind the scenes of most litigation – the court reporters. The court reporters have sensed that their profession and skills become obsolete when technology enters the courtroom, and they have turned like vicious lions to destroy any attempt to better the judicial system by employing technology. Never mind that technology speeds up the process and the notary significantly lowers costs, the court reporters seem to say, we are intent on keeping the judicial system dependent upon our ability to manually record everything that takes place in a court proceeding. At $140 to $280 per hour paid to the court reporters, that’s quite a dependency.

Amazingly, Lee soon discovered that court reporter associations from across the nation were pumping money to Utah to help put him out of business. These associations were not using normal means of competition though. Rather, they used the Utah government to prosecute Lee and then to push bills in the legislature to change licensure requirements so that Lee could no longer operate his business. “It’s one thing to face honest competition in business,” Lee stated, “but it’s completely different to try and defend against attacks taking place through backrooms in government offices.”

While Lee recognizes that he is a small player in providing these services, he is concerned about the larger implications across the nation. “The courts are actively trying to improve justice, access to justice, and the overall judicial system,” Lee states, “and the court reporters are actively opposing this progress.” The court reporters seek a monopoly on providing recording services by requiring a license to make a recording. “In addition to stifling justice, these court reporters are stopping the free market from functioning, purposely driving up government expenses, and abusing governmental powers to ensure that their pocketbooks remain padded.” “It’s simply atrocious,” Lee says, “and the thing that scares me the most is that they care this much about a little guy like me. When national interests turn and let their sword fall on a one man operation in Utah, I just can’t imagine the havoc they’re wreaking throughout the rest of the nation.”

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