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Virtual Paralegalism

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I Smell a Rat

I Smell a Rat

Mr. Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I will nip him in the bud.” ~ Boyle Roche (1736-1807), Irish politician

It’s not every day that I see two different paralegals featured in news stories involving millions of dollars – unfortunately not for assisting in jury trials resulting in significant verdicts. In one story, a thieving paralegal’s supervising attorney should have smelled a rat, and in the other story, a paralegal sued NBC (a long time ago) because he could not stomach the sight of real people eating dead rats, albeit ones pureed in a blender.
Nipping a Rat in the Bud

First, the Hamilton Spectator is reporting that Canadian paralegal Shellee Spinks entered guilty pleas to 16 criminal charges arising out of the theft of $2.6 million dollars “from unsuspecting clients, while masquerading as a bone fide lawyer.”

The details of Spinks’ misdeeds are rather horrendous, including leaving an elderly woman destitute after using a power of attorney to steal all of her assets, and cheating a deceased man’s sisters out of their entire (and substantial) inheritance.

Spinks attributes the thefts to gambling addiction – and lost most of the stolen funds gambling. It sounds like she ran amok in attorney Michael Puskas’ law firm trust account for a six-year period while assisting with clients’ real estate transactions, transferring almost a million dollars from that account to her personal account at the same bank. Could more careful review of his own trust account by Puskas (I love Roche’s hilarious mixed metaphor) have nipped this rat in the bud?
An Old Rats Tale

The Post Chronicle reported in a recent “Entertainment News” article that Ohio paralegal Austin Aitkin sued NBC, after seeing dead rats consumed by contestants on Fear Factor:

In a handwritten four-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Cleveland on Tuesday, paralegal Austin Aitken said, “To have the individuals on the show eat (yes) and drink dead rats was crazy and from a viewer’s point of view made me throw-up as well an another (sic sic) in the house at the same time.”

American poet Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I was never unusually squeamish; I could sometimes eat a fried rat with a good relish, if it was necessary.” Aitken is clearly much more squeamish than Thoreau, with or without the relish.

Even though this sensational rat tale showed up in a Google search as being posted a day ago, after a little further digging, the then part-time paralegal filed the lawsuit in 2005, when it was promptly dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Lesley Wells for being frivolous (although certainly not in an amusing sort of way). Judge Wells “warned him against appealing.”

A lot of offerings on television make my stomach lurch, including any of the Real Housewives reality shows. But I never thought of suing Bravo TV, finding it easier just to change the channel.

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Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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