A.G. suing Derby woman over legal work

The Kansas Attorney General's Office has filed a lawsuit against a Derby woman, claiming she gives legal advice even though she is not a lawyer.

Joan Heffington runs the Association for Honest Attorneys and has a Web site.

Assistant Attorney General Tai Vokins filed suit against Heffington and her association last week in Sedgwick County District Court.

"I think it's funny you should ask about that," Heffington said. "After all the lawsuits I file, you never call about those. But one is filed against me and you call."

Those lawsuits are the reason for the action by the Attorney General's Office.

Vokins claims in his petition that Heffington has helped laypeople file lawsuits and complaints in federal court against the Kansas district court and state agencies, and that she has sent demand letters to private businesses.

The lawsuit contends that Heffington practices law without a license.

"All of the cases I have checked in the law library, the only people who have been found guilty are people who used to be lawyers, lost their licenses and continued to practice law," Heffington said. "I have never had a law license."

On the Web site, Heffington's nonprofit association lists herself, disbarred Wichita attorney Cortland Berry and "God" as the association's board members. She describes having degrees in criminal justice from Wichita State and working as a former traffic investigator and home builder.

Vokins contends Heffington advertises that she helps people file lawsuits, violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

"I haven't violated any consumers," Heffington said. "We help consumers."

Heffington has three weeks from the filing of the suit to respond in court.

The state is asking that Heffington be fined $10,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act, which Vokins said would amount to more than $75,000.