Judge Nelson affirms injunction of Bankruptcy Petition Preparer Ed Jonak

Ed Jonak

In a May 28, 2014 ruling, Minnesota Federal District Court Judge Susan Nelson denied the appeal of bankruptcy petition preparer Ed Jonak, who does business under a variety of aliases, including American Law Center, 3rd Millennium Systems, Inc., Action Plan RX, Affordable Court Services, American Lawworx, and Christian Discount Attorney Services. Bankruptcy Judge Gregory Kishel had essentially shut him down in a March 2013 court Order, pointing out:

Filing for bankruptcy is serious business, even for a consumer-debtor with modest assets and a debt structure that seems straightforward. The number of abstruse pre- and post-filing issues is now considerable. They are both functional in nature (e.g., the daunting length of the necessary forms; the heightened statutory obligation to be complete and accurate in answering every last bit of it; timely dealing with the trustee’s requirements and the demands of secured creditors) and legal (e.g., recognizing and properly scheduling and treating interests in intangible assets; electing a claim of exemptions between state and federal law, which is a crucial option for debtors of modest means).

All of this is best, most safely, and most predictably handled through representation by a licensed attorney. Members of the legal profession, and only they, are presumptively competent to protect a debtor’s interests under the onus of such complications. As an ultimate backstop, an attorney is subject to objective professional standards of conduct and performance, which protect the general interests of the public and the personal interests of clients. And as an officer of the court, an attorney is obligated to promote the courts’ need to orderly manage their dockets.

Jonak’s motion for a stay of the order pending appeal was denied last September. (On a related note, that order also permitted him to proceed with an appeal, even though he had blown the deadline). Notwithstanding these multiple injunctions, he has remained in business, modifying his business model to be a seller of legal service plans.

He was previously enjoined from acting as a bankruptcy petition preparer in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado; I’ve been told he was also given the boot in Wisconsin.

Despite the United States Trustee’s persistence trying to put him out of business with litigation that was commenced in 2010, he continues to solicit clients and operate his website, in apparent direct defiance of these multiple court orders. There is still a billboard on highway 10 between Anoka and Elk River, and he also advertises on bus benches. This person is not a lawyer, can’t give legal advice (but does), doesn’t carry legal malpractice insurance, and most importantly, he isn’t accountable to the Supreme Court disciplinary process. Yet they can’t seem to really shut him down. It would appear that the authorities can shut down a lawyer a lot quicker than they can shut down a charlatan illegally engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

A Star Tribune article from 2012 quoted him as saying “When you really start digging into it, you start seeing real clearly, ‘Who’s this guy hurting?’ I’ve never had to give a refund to anyone.” That’s like saying “I drove home drunk last night without incident, where’s the crime?”

The Better Business Bureau currently rates him an “F” with an alert and a summary of the ongoing litigation.

The website listed in the court decision is listed as “for sale” for $1795. He is currently doing business at affordablecourtresources dot com. And by the time they shut that one down, he’ll be two steps ahead again.