Updated at 5:24 p.m., Sunday, June 17, 2007
Maui paralegal gets jail for falsifying papers
By TRAVIS KAYA, Maui NewsWAILUKU, Maui Kitty Atchley, a Wailuku paralegal convicted on charges that she falsified legal documents in a 2005 divorce case, was sentenced Thursday to 720 hours in jail and one year on probation.
Atchley, 54, was found guilty in April on two misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification to authorities in a jury trial in 2nd Circuit Court. She was acquitted of a felony charge of unauthorized practice of law.
"She chose to lie to the court," said Deputy Attorney General Mark Miyahira. "I don't believe she's an evil person, but she is an arrogant person."
Atchley was accused of filing doctored documents with Family Court on behalf of Kathleen Marten-Naidenko in a 2005 divorce case. Atchley testified that Marten-Naidenko instructed her to file the forms for an uncontested divorce and that she believed the woman was in an abusive and harmful relationship.
Despite Marten-Naidenko's later orders to stop the divorce proceedings, Atchley continued to file documents with the court without the woman's approval.
According to defense attorney Chris Dunn, Atchley was motivated to file the false document because she believed that Marten-Naidenko was in danger, despite the woman's orders to stop the divorce.
"She truly believed a person in need came to her and that person was in danger," he said.
In sentencing Atchley, Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza agreed to follow an agreement between prosecutors and Atchley on two other cases alleging felony unauthorized practice of law.
The agreement allowed Atchley to be sentenced to jail and probation on the misdemeanors. If she follows the conditions of her probation, the court will waive the additional charges of unauthorized practice of law.
In addition to court fees and a $1,000 fine, Atchley was ordered to work only under the supervision of a licensed attorney with active status should she continue her occupation as a paralegal.
"I don't think you'd be standing in front of me if you were under the supervision of an attorney with active status," Cardoza said.
Atchley began her jail sentence Thursday afternoon, and was ordered to report to the Maui Community Correctional Center every weekend for 10 weeks to fulfill the term.
According to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Atchley was convicted on similar charges in 2002 for which a 90-day jail term was waived after she fulfilled the conditions of her year on probation.
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