CHARLESTON – Unbeknownst to her clients, a Charleston attorney filed for bankruptcy as they lodged complaints with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of her lack of representation in their cases.

According to court records, the Golden Law Office, owned exclusively by Ellen Golden, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 29. Known as "liquidation" bankruptcy, Chapter 7 allows the debtor, either an individual, couple or business, to sell all non-exempt property via a court-appointed trustee to pay off creditors.

One stipulation of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that the debtor must receive approved credit counseling at his or her own expense.

According to its petition, filed with the assistance of Charleston attorney Marshall C. Spradling, Golden Law listed $3,301 in assets and $77,694 in liabilities. Of those liabilities, $14,703 were secured $400 were unsecured priority and $62,951 were unsecured non-priority claims.

All of the $400 in unsecured priority claims is owed to the city of Charleston for back B&O taxes.

Golden Law has apparently paid most of its bills through credit cards or charge accounts as two of its largest unsecured non-priority creditors are financial institutions. According to court records, Golden Law owes $14,900 to BB&T for one charge account, and $8,300 and $4,900 to Bank of America for two separate charge accounts.

Other noteworthy unsecured non-priority claimants include Ogden Directories of Altoona, Pa. and Yellow Book of King-of-Prussia, Pa.

Records show Golden Law owes them $7,310 and $2,350, respectively.

Furthermore, Golden Law owes $3,400 and $1,632,71 to Lexis/Nexis for past-due accounts. The latter account, records show, Lexis/Nexis via Buffalo attorney James B. Atkins attempted to collect via Kanawha Magistrate Court on Dec. 19.

However, that suit was dismissed on Feb. 20 due to the bankruptcy filing.

As far as assets, Golden Law lists $500 of cash on hand though one checking account at BB&T. Records show the account she set aside for clients contains $1.

Golden Law's remaining assets includes $2,000 in accounts receivable and $800 in assorted office furniture at its former location on 1207 Quarrier Street. None of Golden Law's assets are listed as exempt.

According to court records, Golden Law, which opened its doors on April 1, 2000 and closed on Dec. 31, 2007, provided Ellen Golden a cumulative $78,621 income for 2005 and 2006, all of which was earned in 2005. She lists her total income from her law practice in 2006 as $0.

No information is listed in Golden Law's petition as to what, if any, income Ellen Golden earned in 2007.

According to court records Golden Law's petition has not been discharged, and the last action in the case occurred on March 26.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the southern District of West Virginia, Case No. 08-bk-20055

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