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Woman sues Crown Point defense attorney over fees

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Court battles aren't yet over for a Schererville woman sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in May to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

From a federal prison in Connecticut, Sun Cha Thompson is suing her Crown Point criminal defense attorney, Tony Zirkle, on claims that he overcharged her about $53,000. She is now representing herself and doesn't speak, read, or write English, according to her suit filed July 11.

In her handwritten filings, Thomas claims Zirkle overcharged her because she doesn't speak, read, or write English and didn't understand his billing structure. She also accuses him of refusing to provide a translator. Her filings note that she agreed to pay $16,875, but Zirkle charged $70,420 for the work he and a paralegal did in her defense.

Thompson was one of nine people charged last year with running four illegal spas in Highland and Dyer, the rest of whom have resolved their cases by pleading guilty or getting the charges dropped. She is disputing characterizations from prosecutors that she was a ringleader in the organization; she claims she was only an "investor" and did not participate in the activities. She's hoping to have her sentence reduced to 18 months and to get credit for 12 months already served, according to her handwritten complaint.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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