Manikas Law March 2019

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March 2019

Worthwhile Work How One Person Nearly Ruined Multiple Lives Criminal & Traffic Defense | Immigration | Personal Injury

It’s amazing how your life can change in an instant, especially when you put your trust in people who are secretly deceitful. I’m often reminded of a client who nearly had the life she built for herself wiped away with one knock on her door. This client immigrated to the U.S. from South America, and by the time I met her, she had been a legal citizen for two years. One day, federal agents showed up at her house claiming they had a warrant for her arrest because her fingerprints had been matched to an immigration application filed under a false name. Dumbfounded, my client insisted she was innocent and knew nothing about these false filings. When I joined the case in defense of this client, I could tell it was an overly emotional case. These cases weigh on me more than ones that involve people who admit they are guilty. When people are truly innocent, it can be a tough case for anyone to process. Then again, I’m never going to be the lawyer that lies to make their client happy; I’m not here to tell them what they want to hear. By explaining the process and reality of each situation, I hope to relieve their anxiety. My job is to tell them the truth, and sometimes the truth is harsh. Other times, the truth is freeing. And the truth was that this client was completely innocent. We discovered that other people were being charged with the same crimes as my client, and all these people — my client included — had gone to a non-attorney document- preparer during their immigration process. This preparer had been indicted for fraud, and we were able to surmise that he used

paperwork from my client and others to file false applications and tax returns. Despite this discovery, the prosecutor lost sight of the fact that my client was a victim of fraud and insisted on pressing forward with the case against my client. This reaction from the prosecutor didn’t surprise me. Prosecutors get jaded in their quest for “justice,” and they can often lose sight of their real job. When I was a prosecutor, I was always conscious of this phenomenon. I even had a judge tell me that he respected me because I saw people instead of crimes in the courtroom. He said, “You don’t look at everyone charged as a bad person. You see them as possibly innocent or good people.” Unfortunately, this prosecutor saw my client as someone who was trying to use our American justice and immigration system for

their benefit, rather than someone who had been lied to by an “expert” who was claiming to help them. Unfortunately, this level of deceit isn’t uncommon in immigration law circles. Notaries and preparers take advantage of immigrants because they know the immigrants are too afraid to do anything about it, which ultimately bogs down the legal process for both parties. Thankfully, we were able to get the charges against my client dropped, and while the event was traumatic, our hard work paid off. She is free to continue living her American dream. I’m grateful to have been the person to show her that while some people in life may try to take advantage of you, there are others who are willing to help. It’s hard work, but it’s worthwhile.

-Kyle Manikas

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