Lawyerless contractors

Let's assume you've decided to roll the dice and take your fake lien to court. You need a lawyer to start the ball rolling in Supreme Court, but after that you can probably handle it on your own. That's just as well, because you probably won't want to pay for a lawyer to deal with this for the next two or three years. The homeowner doesn't really have a choice - he needs a lawyer because his house is on the line. As the contractor, you just need to show up once in a while, and hand over copies of your paperwork - emails, invoices, etc. You're a lousy contractor so you probably have time on your hands to attend the one-hour free legal clinics at the court house for one-on-one meetings with a lawyer to guide you through the legal hurdles.

But this is where a new problem may show up. When the contractor stands up alone in front of a judge and puts on his "aw shucks, just folks" act, things change for the homeowner. Rules pretty much go out the window, missed deadlines are likely to be forgiven, and the contractor's requests for delays - and there will be many - are usually granted. At least up to a point. The rationale is that just because a crook is broke - or the court believes him to be broke - doesn't mean that he shouldn't be entitled to his day - or years - in court. The court will lean over backwards to cut him a lot of slack, especially because he's self-represented. The emotional and financial harm to  the homeowner is not given much consideration in this process. Homeowners who go up against a crooked, self-represented contractor are effectively penalized for having legal representation.

It's no wonder that homeowners victimized by crooked contractors and their fraudulent liens are comforted by the tricoteuses. The homeowner may never literally have the contractor's head, but he can have the next best thing, sort of. See "After the Ordeal by Trial is over," below.
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