Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Spirit of American Slavery Lives On in Probate Court

Marcia DiZenzo was only 46 years old when she says she fell ill and was admitted to a hospital in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. That was some four years ago and DiZenzo was never returned to her rented condo near the beach.

Instead, she says she walked out as a ward of the state of Florida under the command of a professional guardian.

“I didn’t have health insurance at the time and somebody filed an emergency guardianship petition with the local court while I was hospitalized,” said DiZenzo who moved to Florida from Connecticut for the sunny climate.

DiZenzo is among the 58% of Americans who became wards of the state based on a probate court order of emergency temporary guardianship, according to the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), an advocacy organization in Florida.

“Probate courts in America have a sordid history,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of the AAAPG in Miami. “They were the primary mechanism for dealing with legal issues in the slave trade until slavery was abolished in 1865. These equity courts committed and continue to commit egregious abuse against the most vulnerable in society.”

When slavery was legal in the U.S., bounty hunters would travel across state lines to reclaim runaway slaves while slave masters thought nothing of heartlessly alienating children from their parents by selling them off to other slave owners. Although DiZenzo is of Italian-American and not African-American descent, she says her family experienced something different but very similar.

“My dad was successful in relocating me back to South Port, Connecticut but the guardian followed us and threatened to charge him with kidnapping if I was not extradited back to Florida,” said DiZenzo of her 86 year old father who has since passed away.

Hiring a personal attorney to fend off an emergency temporary guardianship requires a considerable amount of money, which DiZenzo didn't access fast enough while she was sick.

"When I called the bank to inquire about my bank account, customer service refused to disclose any information," she said.

That’s because once under guardianship an individual becomes a ward of the state and loses all rights, even financial ones.

“A guardian has the power to help themselves to the assets of wards without any oversight," Sugar told Newsmax Finance. "The guardian’s power is total and cannot easily be challenged. They are lord and master over that person's life, assets and existence and in some cases guardians buy and sell wards to one another.” (Continue Reading)

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The Spirit of American Slavery Lives On in Probate Court

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