For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Kriss Bivens Cloyd
Date: July 29, 2014
Settlement Reached with Company Alleged to Have Practiced Law Without a License
(Boise) – Ramon Martinez, owner of Alianza Hispana Multiservice, a business operating in both Nampa and Jerome, has entered into a settlement to resolve the Attorney General's investigation for violations of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today. The subject of the investigation was the unauthorized practice of law.
The settlement prohibits Alianza Hispana Multiservice, and its owner, Ramon Martinez, from using any business practice or model that involves the practice of law by individuals who are not Idaho licensed attorneys.
"Often, people end up paying thousands of dollars to these non attorneys out of desperation or misunderstanding of the non attorney's ability to practice law in Idaho. Unfortunately, most often their legal situation worsens and the cost of correcting the original issue balloons as a result of using these non attorneys," Attorney General Wasden said.
Different legal systems and titles for legal professions in their country of origin is a common source of confusion for many immigrants. The prime example is the confusion between a "notario publico" and a notary public. In many countries, a "notario publico" is an important legal position held by a lawyer who has authority to adjudicate legal rights in some circumstances. In the United States, a notary generally is a state-commissioned official with narrow authority to witness certain legal documents. There is no requirement to be a lawyer, and there is no authority to adjudicate legal rights. The confusion between these different roles provides an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of immigrants unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system and the English language.
Alianza Hispana has agreed to reimburse the Attorney General's Office for its investigative costs. If the business or its owner fails to comply with the settlement, it is subject to a $10,000 civil penalty.
The practice of law is not limited to representing a person in court. It also includes preparing legal instruments such as contracts and wills and providing legal advice—whether or not there is an actual case in court. The Attorney General recommends that consumers speak with a licensed attorney if they have questions about their legal rights or options. Consumers may contact the appropriate state licensing agency to ensure an attorney is licensed in the state where they need assistance. In Idaho, that agency is the Idaho State Bar, which is available at www.isb.idaho.gov or at (208) 334-4500.
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