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Re: California Plan Stamping

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ANY ONE could sue a non-licensed individual for
offering engineering services since in effect

From what I understand about civil law, anyone can sue anyone. The problem
is, can you afford to? To sue you have to put your money where your mouth is, be willing to lose it and realize you can be countersued.

Regardless of that, if you practice engineering without a license (as I
understand things in most if not all jurisdictions), then you are
participating in a criminal activity that would be under criminal court
jurisdiction.

I believe its only a civil offense. You would have to commit serious purgery or some other crime before it can be considered a criminal activity, and then not having a license can be considered an aggravating circumstance. A hugh aggravating circumstance. By the way, its not that hard to commit purgery, even if you have a license. If you provide expert testimony before, say, a planning board and lie to them, they can have you prosecuted for purgery. Whether it was an intentional lie or a happenstance lie is irrelevant. If you seal drawings or other documents that you know are misleading that are needed for getting a permit, you've probably also committed purgery. The reason why this is serious is that in a democracy, most boards are ideally made up of ordinary citizens, not experts. Consequently, when they have to make a decision that involves matters they don't quite fully understand, they have to rely on expert advice. If the advise turns out to be bad and then things go wrong ....

If you drive without a license, who comes after you? ...   A prosecutor or
the AG's office...NOT the entity that issues the license (i.e. in Michigan the Sec of State).

In some states, the regulatory entity comes after you with their own lawyers. Others have the option or are required by statute to have their state AG do that job, even though its a civil matter. Its just a matter of state (usually legislative) policy. As to which way is more cost effective to the taxpayer, its hard to say.

And FWIW, in Michigan at least, it is not an attorney on retainer at PE
Board meetings, I believe it is a lawyer from the AG's office.

Again, that varies from state to state, In New Jersey, the local town and county boards (Town Councils, Board of Education, Board of Health, Planning Board, etc.) hire their own lawyers for routine legal tasks, and look to them for advise on possible prosecution. The state boards, like the PE Boards, probably do the same thing. (By the way, in New Jersey, almost all government boards, including local ones, are considered creatures of the state, not the county or town. Those I mention above are definitely state creatures.) It sounds like Michigan chose to have their state AG office provide that service.

In other words, as I understand things it is the responsibility of the AG's
office to be "legal counsel" to all state entities.

But if a PE Board disagrees with the AG on a matter, doesn't that policy effectively make them powerless? AGs are not always right, they are humans also. And they are probably not as familiar with the relevant statutes, case law and industry practice as those lawyers who work directly for such boards. Consequently, I see a conflict of interest if state statutes allow only AG lawyers to provide such service. But that's Michigan's problem, they have to deal with that policy's side effects.

I'm not saying New Jersey's policy doesn't generate conflicts of interest problems, it creates a different kind of problem. There are many times where a law firm is hired becomes of their political connections instead of their ability, and it makes for good soap opera fodder when it hits the local papers.



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