AG sues paralegal selling fake court order

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state judge has ordered a Knoxville paralegal to turn over his files and even the contents of his Facebook profile after the state attorney general accused him of ripping off legal customers.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against paralegal Jonathan Trotter, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/29E18U8 ). The lawsuit alleges Trotter began advertising his legal services on Facebook after he completed a 17-week paralegal certificate program at the University of Tennessee in 2013.

Assistant Tennessee Attorney General Nate Casey says one woman paid Trotter $800 to help gain custody of her grandson. Trotter gave the woman a court order signed by a judge granting her custody. Casey said the order was a fake and Trotter had forged a judge’s signature.

The attorney general filed the lawsuit under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. No criminal charges have been filed, but the allegations have been referred to the Knox County district attorney general.

Trotter has not responded to the lawsuit.

Certified paralegals can perform some legal services, such as preparing court documents. But they cannot practice law, including setting fees, representing clients in and out of court and giving legal advice.

“(Trotter) was not supervised by an attorney and did not have an attorney review the legal documents he prepared for consumers,” the lawsuit stated. “As a result, (Trotter) has provided consumers with erroneous, deficient and ineffective legal advice and documents, and consumers have suffered substantial injury due to (his) unlawful conduct.”

In issuing the order, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Bill Ailor wrote “an injunction is necessary to protect consumers and legitimate business enterprises from defendant’s unfair and deceptive business model.”