BREAKING NEWS: Judge Says Corporation May Not Proceed Pro Se; Orders Bowdoin’s Paid Attorneys To Advise Him On Procedural Matters And File Formal Notice Of Intent

UPDATED 12:51 A.M. EDT (March 27, U.S.A.) As first reported on this Blog, ASD President Andy Bowdoin’s paid attorneys never formally withdrew from the federal forfeiture case — not even after Bowdoin said he had fired them and was proceeding as his own attorney.

Now Judge Rosemary Collyer has issued an order to the attorneys to advise Bowdoin on critical legal matters and file notice with the court to make their intentions a matter of record.

“No later than April 9, 2009, current counsel for Claimants, Mr. Fayad and Mr. Goodman, shall file with the Court a notice indicating (a) whether they intend to continue their representation of the Claimants, including Mr. Bowdoin; or (b) whether they will seek to withdraw from the case;

“[I]f counsel seek to withdraw from the case, they shall file a motion to withdraw no later than April 9, 2009, and they shall indicate whether they have explained to Mr. Bowdoin that while he may represent himself in this matter, the corporations may not proceed pro se,” Collyer ordered.

One way to view the order is as a warning to Bowdoin that he may be straying into legal territory that does not serve his interests.

Collyer noted that different rules are in place, depending on whether an individual or a corporation was involved in litigation.

Two of the three parties filing claims to seized proceeds — AdSurfDaily Inc. and Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises Inc. — are corporate entities.

“[A] corporation cannot proceed pro se,” Collyer wrote, providing a case-law citation: Bristol Petroleum Corp. v. Harris, 901 F.2d 165, 166 n.1 (D.C. Cir. 1990).

Making the matter even more complex is that prosecutors alleged in a separate forfeiture complaint filed in December that Bowdoin/Harris was set up to permit Bowdoin and his wife to hide assets.

“Thomas [Andy] and Faye Bowdoin created Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises, Inc., and used it to purchase real properties and other assets, believing that using this structure would help to conceal from the government their expenditures and assets they purchased,” prosecutors said in December.

Collyer hinted at potentially difficult legal challenges ahead for Bowdoin. Indeed, personal and corporate claims were made to some assets — and Bowdoin will not be permitted to proceed pro se on corporate claims.

“Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises, Inc. submitted a verified claim to the real 1 property in Quincy, Florida; ASD submitted a claim to the funds held in the Bank of America accounts; and Mr. Bowdoin also submitted a claim to the funds held in the Bank of America accounts, declaring that the accounts were opened in his name but were owned by ASD and were treated as corporate assets,” Collyer wrote.

These are complex legal issues, ones that challenge even top attorneys and legal scholars. Rarely are such issues associated with pro se litigants. In effect, Collyer has ordered Michael Fayad and Jonathan Goodman to instruct Bowdoin on critical points of law before leaving the case.

Earlier this month, Bowdoin filed a pro se motion in which he acknowledged ASD was operating illegally — something the government has said all along — but insisted the government denied him “fair notice” that ASD was behaving illegally.

Prosecutors very well may view Bowdoin’s pro se public filing as a signed confession — and it’s possible that the filing itself could be used if a criminal prosecution of Bowdoin evolves.

While Fayad and Goodman formally were acting as Bowdoin’s paid attorneys, they filed notice with the court that Bowdoin would not testify at a Sept. 30-Oct. 1 evidentiary hearing under his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

But Bowdoin appears to have done exactly that — while also potentially incriminating others — in pro se pleadings his paid counsel had nothing to do with.

Some of the legal notions in pro se pleadings are difficult — if not close to impossible — for prosecutors and judges to reconcile. Courts and prosecutors sometimes have to construe meanings because the motions are vague or impossibly off-point.

Read Judge Collyer’s Order.

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3 Responses to “BREAKING NEWS: Judge Says Corporation May Not Proceed Pro Se; Orders Bowdoin’s Paid Attorneys To Advise Him On Procedural Matters And File Formal Notice Of Intent”

  1. Patrick:

    You have to understand that in Andy’s eyes, he is ASD. That is why he had all the money in his name and ASD’s DBA bank accounts. To him there is no difference. The only problem is that doesn’t hold true in the legal world.

    Gee, you would have thought that Karl Dahlstrom, the legal genius of Pro Advocate Group, would have known this when he was advising Andy of his legal rights. Maybe Andy can request his money back as he was scammed? Wait, I just realized he can’t because the government has to tell Karl he is operating illegally first so he can correct it.

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  2. ….BUT WAIT!!! Even then, Ruth sez that even if the government were to tell Karl they think he’s operating illegally, in reality he IS operating legally until he is tried and convicted of a crime, and he appeals process has worked its way up through the Supreme Court…..

    Lynn Edgington: Maybe Andy can request his money back as he was scammed? Wait, I just realized he can’t because the government has to tell Karl he is operating illegally first so he can correct it.

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  3. with most pro se lititgants, it’s hard to tell who the bigger fool is, the client or the lawyer

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