Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Loose cannon fires away: Mary Rain blind to her own flaws as a prosecutor, public servant


As district attorney, Mary E. Rain has become an embarrassment and impediment to the criminal justice system in St. Lawrence County.

She refuses to accept instruction from anyone on points of law, even from individuals who are as well versed — if not more so — in the law as she is. Her quest for personal vindication has blinded her to the need for professionalism and respect as someone who holds a public trust.

In a ruling issued Thursday, County Judge Jerome J. Richards enumerated numerous mistakes that Ms. Rain committed in obtaining a grand jury indictment against Oral N. Hillary in the 2011 death of Garrett J. Phillips. But instead of accepting the chance to correct the criticisms by empaneling a new grand jury to consider a proper indictment of Mr. Hillary, Ms. Rain appealed the decision and castigated Judge Richards by claiming the judge has a personal bias against her and has sabotaged her work since July.

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Loose cannon fires away: Mary Rain blind to her own flaws as a prosecutor, public servant

Brain Cancer Will Likely Kill Me, But There’s No Way I’ll Kill Myself

Like Brittany Maynard, I have extremely aggressive brain cancer. But I’m not downing any kill pills.

Kara Tippetts and family
I’m not surprised that an Oct. 6, 2014 article by Nicole Weisensee Egan—titled “Terminally Ill 29-Year Old Woman: Why I’m Choosing to Die on My Own Terms” featuring a well-produced video found on People.com—has gone viral.

The video, which features interviews of Brittany Maynard and her family members, is very emotional. Maynard, who was diagnosed this past spring, suffers from a stage-four gliobastoma multiforme brain tumor. She has a very aggressive form of brain cancer, and it is difficult to control its growth. In her video story, she describes how she was diagnosed and relates her understanding that the glioblastoma will eventually kill her. She then relates her fear that this scenario will be “out of her control.”

As I watched the video, I wanted to hug Brittany and shed tears right along with her because I, too, know those fears. I was also diagnosed this past spring with a stage-four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor.

I can identify with Maynard and her spunky, adventurous spirit. She describes her love of travel. In my profession with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s mercy outreach, I’ve led medical mission teams and worked on relief projects in 11 countries, loving every minute of it. I have seen the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick. I have seen suffering that would make anyone’s stomach turn.

The Hardest Part Is Not Knowing When

Now I face my own prognosis of future suffering. Some days are joyful. Some days the diagnosis feels like a huge weight in my backpack.
 
The hardest part of a terminal diagnosis is not knowing the timeline. I speak candidly with my physicians and pray that they can keep my tumor under control with the latest therapies to extend my life, one more year, month, day. Someday, I hope my tumor qualifies to be studied in one of the many clinical trials for brain cancer. I’d like to think my situation was part of a cure for someone else.

My doctors have applauded my decision to step down from my physically and emotionally demanding job to spend precious time with my family. I have a husband and three daughters who I hope will always remember me as a strong, thoughtful (but bull-headed) woman, carrying Christ’s mercy and compassion for others in my soul with rich joy and meaning.

Suicide Is Not the Answer to Brain Cancer

And here is where my comparison with Brittany Maynard ends. Maynard chose to move her family to Oregon earlier this year to have legal access to physician-assisted suicide and to receive a prescription for drugs that she has stated she will use to take her life two days following her husband’s birthday, on Nov. 1, 2014. It’s interesting that Maynard steadfastly refuses to refer to her decision as an act of suicide, even though she will, quite literally, take her own life.

Many people who choose assisted-suicide have expressed that they are uncomfortable with the term. Assisted suicide, which means helping someone take his or her own life, has been redefined into the more euphemistic “aid in dying” or sometimes “death with dignity” campaign which has been spearheaded by the well-funded special-interest group Compassion and Choices (previously known as The Hemlock Society).

However well-intentioned, this is one area where the old adage that “Hard cases make bad law” comes into play. To make good policy decisions about assisted suicide for our society, we need to follow the rabbit trail all the way down the hole to see where it leads. Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, warned that “assisted suicide is not progressive, in fact, it puts many vulnerable people at risk, and we have already seen examples of that where it is legal.” Folks concerned about the rights of people with disabilities are worried about this.

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Brain Cancer Will Likely Kill Me, But There’s No Way I’ll Kill Myself

Boxer Leon Spinks to Undergo Additional Surgery

Boxing legend Leon Spinks is set to undergo a third surgery after he was hospitalised earlier this month (Oct14) for undisclosed reasons. It has emerged the 61-year-old Olympic gold medal winner, who famously beat Muhammad Ali in 1978, is being treated for abdominal issues after accidentally swallowing a chicken bone, which became trapped in his intestines, according to TMZ.com. He is reportedly conscious and recovering, but has to have another surgery.

Meanwhile, Spinks' attorney has dismissed claims from his ex-wife, Betty, alleging she has power of attorney and guardianship over him to make medical decisions. He tells TMZ.com, "(His current wife) Brenda and Leon have a power of attorney agreement. Betty's power of attorney was expressly revoked by Leon."

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Boxer Leon Spinks to Undergo Additional Surgery

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guardianship bill of rights developed


Ohio Attorney General’s information
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, State Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) unveiled legislation to establish a ward’s bill of rights for those Ohioans who are under the care of a guardianship as well as introduced a new, user-friendly Guardianship Guide prepared by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Mike DeWine
“People placed in guardianships are especially vulnerable, and there is a great need for volunteers, family members, and attorneys to act on their behalf,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “My office created this guide to reduce confusion surrounding guardianships, so that individuals are better equipped to serve as guardians or protect relatives under guardianship.”

Copies of the Guardianship Guide are being mailed to Probate Courts across the state as well as to advocacy groups like the Ohio Area Agencies on Aging and Disability Rights Ohio.

The Guide was prepared by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office with input from: Disability Rights Ohio; the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities; the Ohio Department of Aging; Representative Dorothy Pelanda; Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, and Julia Nack of the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

Representative Pelanda has introduced House Bill 624 that seeks to enact section 2111.01 of the Ohio Revised Code to provide a ward’s bill of rights and to require that a guardian receive the Ohio Guardianship Guide prepared by the Ohio Attorney General.  The rights of the ward are listed on pages 12-14 in the Guide.

Senator Jones has introduced a companion bill, Senate Bill 365.

“This legislation and the Guide are meant to encourage best-practices and to raise awareness of the unique issues presented in caring for our juvenile and our elderly wards,” said Representative Pelanda.

“The recent allegations regarding widespread abuse in the guardianship system are serious and disturbing,” said Senator Jones. “This legislation is an important first step to ensure our most vulnerable Ohioan’s are treated with respect and dignity. I am grateful for the leadership of Attorney General DeWine and Representative Pelanda.”

For individuals who are not able to take care of their basic needs, finances, or medical issues, Ohio law gives probate courts the responsibility of assigning guardianship when less restrictive options are not feasible.   Currently in Ohio there are 65,000 people who are under the care of a guardian, and that number is expected to rise as the Baby Boom generation ages.

The Guide can be downloaded from the Ohio Attorney General’s website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship bill of rights developed

Elder Abuse: Study Finds Agencies Recruit Dangerous Caregivers


Be careful who you entrust to care for your parents. New research from Northwestern Medicine suggests that many nursing agencies recruit people with no experience to provide in-home care for seniors off Craigslist.

The study, published Friday in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, found that many agencies nationwide fail to conduct criminal background checks or drug testing for new hires and don't require any real experience or training, which may lead to elder abuse.

"People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency," lead study author Lee Lindquist, M.D., said in a statement. "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired."

Of the 180 agencies researchers surveyed in the study, 55 percent conducted a federal criminal background check and only one-third of those agencies interviewed administered drug tests.

"Considering that seniors often take pain medications, including narcotics, this is risky," Lindquist said. "Some of the paid caregivers may be illicit drug users and could easily use or steal the seniors' drugs to support their own habits."

Lindquist, a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, recalled a particular situation in which she witnessed dangerous caregiving first-hand. The caregiver of a 103-year-old patient was frequently mixing up her own medications with the patient's, giving her medicines to the elderly patient by mistake because she was illiterate.

"Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk" for elder albuse, Lindquist said.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse: Study Finds Agencies Recruit Dangerous Caregivers

Springfield man charged with exploiting the elderly


A Springfield man has been charged with 15 counts of financial exploitation of the elderly for what court documents call scams — such as saying he was selling magazines to benefit the military.

Tim W. Hughes, 25, is accused of scamming elderly people in door-to-door solicitations between October 2013 and January 2014, according to Greene County court documents. Most of the charges are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Hughes represented himself as a student or fundraiser who was raising money for school trips, sports or the military overseas, according to court documents. He allegedly got 16 people to write him checks.

Police interviewed him four times, starting in January, but he continued his scams until August, according to court records.

Full Article & Source:
Springfield man charged with exploiting the elderly

Monday, October 20, 2014

Inspector sees state action as retaliation


A state worker who inspects assisted-living facilities said his bosses placed him on paid administrative leave Tuesday in retaliation for speaking to the Globe and other media about the Patrick administration’s failure to investigate serious incidents at assisted-living centers.

Peter Antonellis, a compliance officer at the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, said he was handed a letter saying he is being investigated for multiple instances of “potentially inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.” He said he was asked to gather his personal belongings and leave the office.
Antonellis, 64, said that when he asked supervisors what conduct had triggered the action, he was not given details.

“What really makes my blood boil is my colleagues and I have been complaining for the last six years about this program and not once has the department gathered us in a room to address our complaints,” Antonellis said.

A Globe story last month quoted Antonellis about his concerns regarding the agency’s oversight of assisted-living facilities. He said that the office has just two ombudsmen to handle thousands of complaints that pour in each year involving assisted-living residences and that the agency did not have the staff to regulate the apartment-like facilities for older adults.

Full Article & Source:

39 Texas Lawyers Disciplined



Disciplinary Actions — September & October  2014 State Bar list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)

General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at www.txboda.org. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.

HOUSTON AREA DISCIPLINE

DISBARMENT
On April 9, 2014, Don D. Becker [#02012888], 60, of Houston, was disbarred. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in two separate matters Becker neglected the legal matters entrusted to him, failed to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters, failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, and upon termination of representation, failed to refund advance payments of fee that had not been earned. Becker also failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel responses or other information as required by the rules and failed to comply with section 13.01 of the rules relating to the notification of his cessation of practice. Becker violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), 8.04(a)(8), and 8.04(a)(10). He was ordered to pay $6,500.00 in restitution and $1,640.00 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses. Becker did not file an appeal.

SUSPENSIONS
On May 9, 2014, Joseph Campbell Schultz [#24041886], 37, of Bellaire, accepted a two-year partially probated suspension effective June 1, 2014, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that, among four different matters, Schultz neglected a legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters, failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, failed to keep funds belonging to third parties in a trust account, and failed to promptly deliver to third parties funds that they were entitled to receive. Schultz violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $2,475 in attorneys’ fees and $536.66 in direct expenses.

On June 6, 2014, Jeffrey Scott Barry [#24036193], 40, of Houston, accepted a two-year partially pro-bated suspension effective June 13, 2014, with the first year actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing his client, Barry neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the case and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, and failed to explain the legal matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit his client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. Upon termination of representation, Barry failed to refund advance payments of fee that had not been earned and also violated a prior disciplinary judgment. Barry violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(7). He was ordered to pay $3,150 in restitution, $250 in attorneys’ fees, and $70 in direct expenses.

On June 4, 2014, Timothy Wayne Weltin [#24008260], 48, of Houston, agreed to an 18-month fully probated suspension effective June 1, 2014. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing his client, Weltin neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of his legal matter and failed to comply with reasonable requests for information, failed to hold funds belonging to his client that were in Weltin’s possession separate from his own property, and failed to promptly deliver to his client funds that the client was entitled to receive. Weltin violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees.

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39 Texas Lawyers Disciplined

The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. ~ Frederick Buechner

*Please make the call and volunteer to visit the lonely and forgotten elderly. They need our love so desperately.

     The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

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The Forgotten Ones:  Compassion for the Elderly