A Phoenix law firm that collected more than $230,000 from an elderly widow last year quietly pushed for a former probate commissioner to come out of retirement and rule on its request for approval of those fees.
Two months later, retired Commissioner Lindsay Ellis rubber stamped the firm's 2009 bills to Marie Long's trust, calling them “reasonable, necessary and appropriate.” This, without even holding a hearing — or giving the elderly lady's attorneys a chance to lodge detailed objections to the bills that helped put her in the poorhouse.
An attorney for Brenda Church, the trustee's lawyer who sent two of the three e-mails, downplayed her private communications
to the court as a scheduling issue, adding that Ellis had already announced that she would keep the case after her retirement.
But lawyers for Marie dispute that and say the e-mails are further evidence that the elderly widow never had a shot at a fair hearing. Marie was worth $1.3 million when she entered probate in 2005 after suffering a stroke. By last year, she was dependant on taxpayers for support.
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Why Did a Retired Probate Commissioner Hang on to the Marie Long Case?