The old lady can speak barely above a whisper but it seems her voice has been heard at the Arizona Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, in her State of the Judiciary speech last week, announced a plan to review how the state's Probate Court is operating and whether vulnerable people are being adequately protected.
In an interview this week, Berch told me the idea has been percolating for a year but that the stories of 88-year-old Marie Long and others have raised additional questions.
"I live in the real world," she said. "I've read your columns. They cause concern, and I just think that any system, it's a good idea to take a look at all of your processes and make sure things are working the way they're supposed to work."
Arizona was one of the first states to begin licensing fiduciaries in 1994 after a scandal involving an attorney and fiduciary who looted the estates of 24 elderly people they were appointed by the court to protect. It's been 16 years since those regulations were adopted and David Byers, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, says that some courts may have slipped in enforcing safeguards that were put into place.
"Exactly what you're describing was the culture then," he said.
That culture involves a cozy group of fiduciaries and attorneys who work together on case after case and depend upon each other for contracts, making them unlikely to challenge each other's legal bills. The result is that they who are appointed to help vulnerable people also manage to help themselves to a sizable pile of cash unless a judge stops it.
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