Clients, Competence & Perjury

The schedules are signed under penalty of perjury.  Just for certainty, let me say it again:  your client signs the schedules under penalty of perjury.

My partner reported a scene from a 341 meeting she attended while I was on vacation: the  case ahead of ours sported  a schedule J that was blank, while the debtor had a $4,000 month income.  Questioned by the trustee, debtor’s counsel replied that the debtor lived with his parents and had no expenses.  Oh, said the trustee, then he has $4000 a month in disposable income he could use to pay his creditors?

Then the sputtering and backtracking started. Well, no…he pays….  You can imagine the rest of the scene.

I wince when clients are asked to sign the B-22 under penalty of perjury, since which of them can possibly know what it’s about and whether it’s right?  Hell, I’m not sure that we know for sure was is “right” about lots of  the means test.  But that’s different than the day to day expenses of living.  The debtor is going to have a hard time explaining away his statement under penalty of perjury that he has no living expenses.  And a harder time paying 100% of his after tax income to creditors.

In the end, it will come back to inadequate representation.  The lawyer for this poor debtor will rightfully take the hit for this debacle.  The lawyer, who undoubtedly thinks bankruptcy is just about filling out forms, will get no referrals from his publically exposed client.  Our profession suffers.

I’m so glad you’re here, working through what it takes to be a top notch consumer bankruptcy lawyer.