THE CASE OF THE KENTUCKY BAR VERSUS DELLA TARPINIAN
Document preparation service under investigation
Reporter: Andy Schroeder
Owensboro, KY February 12 -- If you've ever offered to help someone prepare a legal document, you may have unwittingly broken the law. That's just what Kentucky officials say a document preparing service is doing. So they've charge the companies owner with practicing law with out a license.
Its another busy day at Della Tarpinian's fledgling business in Owensboro. Like most days, she'll spend her time on the phone, making copies... and fighting criminal charges. City officials accuse Tarpinian of practicing law without a license. Della flatly denies the charge. "I feel like its an abuse of power here and I don't know what will happen in court."
Della's line of work sounds simple enough. "My business is for people who do not want or can not afford an attorney."
She helps people prepare wills, deeds and uncontested divorces. "They're blank forms and people come in, fill in a questionnaire. I fill in the info and give them to people to take to courts."
But if Della helps coach customers on what to fill in a particular blank, that breaks the law. So she takes precautions to avoid just such an event. "As a matter of fact I have people sign a piece of paper saying they know I'm not an attorney and I don't give legal advice."
That disclaimer is straight forward and was signed by an undercover investigator from the Kentucky State Police. That investigator later filed a criminal complaint against Della for giving legal advice. It's the latest in what Della sees as a witch hunt. She says since her business takes money out of the pockets of local attorney's, they won't rest until she closes up shop. "I've done everything the Kentucky Bar Association has asked me to. Everything."
The KBA says they didn't find evidence of Della breaking the law. But they say there's a fine line between filling out paper work and giving advice. Della will face a Daviess County judge next week.
Della Tarpinian's line of work is not unusual. Similar legal document services exist in almost every state in the US.
11 March 2002
In all professions there are some who are an embarrassment to the profession, and an insult to those they are entrusted to represent. Right now the focus is on some of those people who practice law -- lawyers.
If public opinion is an indicator, now is not a good time for the ones in Daviess County who are undermining a much needed service in the area to maintain the monopoly they so enjoy. Like my daughter, Della Tarpinian, who owns Legal Doc's, I am not an attorney either, so I don't, won't and wouldn't give legal advice. It's bad enough having to take it.
There are some people in all walks of life, simply put, who are a pain to the mainstream. Like the bushwhackers, horse thieves, and highwaymen of the Old Wild West. They plundered the frontier taking whatever they wanted and it mattered not who they took it from. It's no different today, except back then they sported a six-shooter and hid behind a bandana. Now they sport a cloak of respectability and hide behind a highfalutin lawyer.
The sentiment then, as now, I'm sure, is that they are a bunch of low-down, no good scoundrels who should be tarred and feathered and hauled out of town on a rail. How about putting some wooden stocks and park them in the town square and let the town folk vent their ire with some rotten tomatoes from the garden, and eggs from the hen house.
18 March 2002
I want to say that I am not anti-attorney. There are times when people need an attorney and I believe by all means they should have one. I also believe that attorneys like all professions should be held accountable for their actions. There are many good attorneys here in Owensboro but there are some (who by the way will not come forward) who are sneaking and hiding in the shadows. They have constantly harassed me and are secretly trying to close down my business. I have met with the Kentucky Bar Association on many occasions and they saw no evidence of misconduct. I have asked repeatedly who it is that has a concern with my business and they will not come forward. I can only wonder why that is. If they have a legitimate concern, why will they not come forward? Like I said these attorneys should be held responsible for their actions.
I have a petition in my office for people who would like to sign it and bring a much needed change in the legal profession, the right to choose how one has their legal documents prepared.
I also thank the residents of Daviess County and the surrounding areas for their overwhelming support.
Owner, Legal Docs