Monday, April 24, 2017

Complaint Details FBI Investigation Timeline

Here is how the FBI investigation of Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland unfolded, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court:

Jan. 25, 2017: FBI opens a federal criminal investigation into Moreland

Jan. 26, 2017: FBI interviews Natalie Amos, who said she began a sexual relationship with the judge in April 2016

Feb. 1, 2017: FBI attempts to interview Moreland. He declines and refers FBI agents to his attorney.

Feb. 3, 2017: Moreland resigns from General Sessions Drug Treatment Court and Cherished H.E.A.R.T.S program.

Feb. 15, 2017: Federal grand jury issues its first subpoena.

Mar. 1, 2017: Moreland meets Confidential Source 1 (CS1) at his sister’s house, asking that he enlist a mutual friend (CS2) to offer money to Natalie Amos to sign an affidavit recounting her allegations. Moreland also asks if CS1 knows an officer who might plant drugs on Amos to discredit her.

Mar. 2, 2017: Moreland tells CS1 he is concerned his phone are being monitored, discusses getting a “burner phone.”

Mar. 3, 2017: CS1 purchases a “burner phone” for Moreland in the name of "Raul Rodriguez."

Mar. 6, 2017: CS2 offers Amos money to sign an affidavit recanting her allegations. Amos reports the offer to the FBI.

Mar. 9, 2017: Moreland sends CS1 a photo of a large pile of cash to show the money was ready.

Mar. 10, 2017: FBI confronts CS1. In hopes of leniency, he places a recorded call to Moreland. The judge urges CS1 to go out with CS2 and Amos in an attempt to get the affidavit signed.

Mar. 11, 2017: Working with the FBI, CS1 meets with Moreland. The judge gives $5,100 to CS1, along with an affidavit for Amos to sign. He advises CS1 to get Amos “liquored up real good before you bring it up.”

Mar. 11, 2017: Moreland provides CS1 with an additional $1,000 for Amos.

Mar. 16, 2017: CS1 tells Moreland he has a law enforcement officer who can assist in planting drugs on Amos and initiating a traffic stop.


Related stories and documents:


Full Article & Source:
Complaint Details FBI Investigation Timeline

Drug court founded by Judge Moreland criticized

WSMV Channel 4

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
If someone you care about has a problem with drugs and breaks the law, you'd want them to get help and a second chance.

But some are becoming skeptical about Davidson County’s General Sessions Drug Court, which, until recently, was run by Judge Casey Moreland.

Judge Michael Mondelli told Channel 4 he has lost confidence in drug court.

On Feb. 10, Mondelli sent an email to the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s office saying he has not approving any cases where a referral to drug court is involved.

The Channel 4 I-Team’s Nancy Amons recently went to sit in on a session of drug court, without a camera. Within a few minutes, drug court officials told all the defendants in the courtroom they could go home.

“These are trying times,” Nan Casey told the defendants before dismissing everyone from the courtroom.

Full Article & Source:
Drug court founded by Judge Moreland criticized

I-Team explores connection between Judge Moreland and halfway houses

WSMV Channel 4

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The Channel 4 I-Team has learned that a member of the Davidson County General Sessions Drug Court treatment team also runs eight halfway houses where judges send defendants for court-ordered treatment.

The halfway houses are owned by a non-profit, which on paper, is exceeding its projected budget thanks in part to rent paid by clients sent by the court.

The eight halfway houses are on Harrington Avenue in Madison.

Most houses have eight residents each. The clients are primarily people with drug or alcohol charges who were sent there by a judge.

Before Judge Casey Moreland stepped aside from his duties as general sessions’ drug court judge, this is where some of the people he sentenced ended up.

The houses are owned or operated by a non-profit called Recovery Community, Inc. Lyn Noland is the executive director.

Full Article & Source:
I-Team explores connection between Judge Moreland and halfway houses

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tonight on T. S. Radio: Updates: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki & Mike Volpe then, Sharmian Worely


5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

HOUR 1: Federal Marshals involved in a divorce case?
Join us this evening as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and nationally known reporter and journalist, Mike Volpe, as they discuss the curious interference of federal marshals in the Rucki divorce case.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is just one example of the notoriously infamous Dakota County, Minnesota legal system which appears to be joined at the hip with local law enforcement for purposes of harassing and intimidating some individuals unfortunate enough to come in contact with either of them. The Rucki case is just one example of money and connections overriding the law.

At issue this evening is, the interference of federal marshals in a domestic divorce case. Federal marshals are claimed to be an administrative officer of a U.S. judicial district who performs duties similar to those of a sheriff. So how were their services secured against Sandra when the divorce is not a federal issue?

“The duties of the U.S. Marshals Service include protecting the federal judiciary, apprehending federal fugitives, managing and selling seized assets acquired by criminals through illegal activities, housing and transporting federal prisoners and operating the Witness Security Program.”

HOUR 2: What Would You Do?

Sharmian Worely will be updating us on the attempt to compromise her legal standing by the courts. Sharmian has been in a monumental battle for the protection of her mother from a known predator guardian/attorney. Tune in to hear the latest updates in this story which highlights the egregious abuse of the system by a known predator who has made it clear that she controls the system and the courts no matter whom it harms. Sharmian is refusing to back down in her efforts to protect her mother from the abuse of the system even as they attempt to use the system to compromise her efforts.

Sharmian lost her Mom AKA Record promoter for Sharmians Records label, Wanda Worley in Detroit Michigan, to guardianship fraud. After accidentally uncovering her mother’s location while searching public records, Sharmian felt the need to do a welfare check on her mother. To her surprise, her mother was expecting her after being assured by the predatory guardian that a visit would be allowed. Of course Sharmian had never been informed that a visit could happen. It was simply a cruel joke being played on her mother; the guardian knowing that Sharmian would never be notified of the potential for a visit. Sharmian did take her mother from the facility that day without interference of the staff who were also under the impression that the visit had been approved.

Once in the safety of her home with her mother, a few strange things started happening…….strange enough that Sharmian and her mother hid for five hours in a closet until the danger passed. This is a story about how Sharmian and her mother came out of the closet and are doing everything they can to expose the trafficking, kidnapping and cruel treatment of the elderly in America.

Sharmian was also a featured guest on F.A.C.E.U.S. with Robin and LuLu on March 1, 2017

LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later

Trial date set as twin challenges disabled brother’s husband for guardianship

RIVERSIDE – Ryan Morris – the 23-year-old disabled man at the center of a novel and bitter battle between his identical twin brother and his husband – was not in court again Tuesday even as a judge set a February trial date to decide who should be entrusted as Morris’ legal guardian.

Right now, the legal guardian job falls to Morris’ husband, Sean Spicer, 41, of Romoland. But Morris’ biological family is seeking to change that relationship and take over legal responsibility for Morris.

As part of their argument, the family offered into evidence a video clip of the couple’s 2014 wedding. The grooms wore matching tuxedos, with white roses in their lapels, but as the official asked Morris to repeat his vows Morris appeared confused and “did not even understand that he was getting married to another man almost twice his age, thinking he was at a baptism,” according to Morris’ twin, Ronald Moore, in a court filing. Moore and others in his family asked again for the Riverside Public Guardian to be appointed as Morris’ temporary guardian – or “conservator,” in California parlance – while the broader custody battle wends its way through the justice system.

Judge Daniel A. Ottolia made no decision on that question, as both sides are in mediation in hopes of forging an acceptable compromise. They’re to wrap up talks in May and report back to the court June 9.

The case raises questions that go beyond whether identical twins should be raised together or apart, or even how much power the state can wield over families. Can a man with cognitive disabilities so serious that he can’t think abstractly, manage money or care for himself, give informed consent to a marriage and intimate relationship? And does the equation change if that disabled person marries someone of normal intelligence, who then becomes empowered to make the most fundamental life decisions?

Morris suffers from a long list of maladies requiring powerful medications. He has the intellectual capacity of a kindergartner. He can’t think abstractly, manage money or make his own medical decisions, according to court documents.

Morris’ identical twin brother, Moore, of San Clemente, and two aunts seeking to oust Spicer as conservator, have “grave concerns” that Spicer “may be sexually abusing and controlling” Ryan, causing irreparable harm, they said in court filings.

Spicer has said that he and Morris love each other and that he’s taking good care of Morris. A publicly-appointed attorney said Morris doesn’t want a change in conservators, and fears his biological family is trying to break up his marriage.

The fate of the identical twins has been in court before. The brothers were swept into state custody shortly after their birth in 1994; their mother had a history of mental illness and had not received prenatal care. Ronald was healthy; Ryan was not. Their grandmother sought custody of both boys, but got only Ronald. Ryan was kept in foster care because of his many special needs, which social workers said were beyond his grandmother’s ability to address.

Foster mother Michelle Morris decided to adopt Ryan, and despite the biological family’s vehement protests, the state approved the adoption in 2002. Michelle Morris cut off communication with the biological family soon after. Ryan Morris’ biological family was stunned, in 2015, to learn that Morris was married, despite having the intellectual capacity of a kindergartner.

Last month, Judge Thomas Cahraman noted that the unusual case involves complex issues of psychology and sociology, and is fraught with strong emotion. The saga was captured in “Twins Divided,” a three-part series by the Southern California News Group. Readers reacted passionately.

Part 1: Twins, divided: Is one man happily married or a victim of sexual abuse?
Part 2: Twins, divided: Confusion, concern and ‘I do’
Part 3: Twins, divided: Brothers will see each other in court

“None of us know how the Ryan Morris case will turn out but it appears to me that once again, a system designed to protect the most innocent and vulnerable citizens of our society has failed,” said Jerry Villanueva, a retired investigator with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

“I am terribly sad for the family of Ryan and Ronald, sad for the twins, and angry at those who did so much harm to a family, and to brothers, for years,” said Pat Colin of Orange. “Ryan clearly did not, and does not, have the capacity to enter into a marriage contract, or any other contract, on his own. I pray he gets the help he will need for the rest of his life, with his brother leading the way looking out for him.”

Full Article & Source: 
Trial date set as twin challenges disabled brother’s husband for guardianship

Part 1: Twins, divided: Is one man happily married or a victim of sexual abuse?

Ryan Morris & Grandmother
Ryan Morris and Ronald Moore began life as one.

Identical twins start as a single embryo that collapses in on itself, creating two balls of cells where once there was one. They grow into two genetically identical human beings.

Twenty-three years later, Ryan and Ronald could scarcely be more different.

Consigned to separate childhoods by the state of California shortly after their birth, their disparate lives stand in stark contrast to their identical genes.

Ronald drives a pickup, works as a client-relations and facility manager for an imaging company and practices mixed martial arts. He enjoys making art in different mediums and says family is No. 1.

Ryan suffers from a long list of maladies requiring powerful medications. He has the intellectual capacity of a kindergartener. He can’t make his own medical decisions and requires a legal guardian to protect him.

Ryan also is married to that guardian, Sean Spicer. He is a truck driver 18 years Ryan’s senior.

Despite their differences, one piece of twin lore seems to hold true for Ryan and Ronald. After long separations, reunited twins often report a profound and intense intimacy that one researcher described as being as close to “the coordinated, harmonious relations for which we all strive” as two human beings are likely to get.

When Ryan and Ronald finally saw one another at a Temecula courthouse after more than a dozen years apart, they threw their arms around one another in a powerful embrace captured in family photos and video. Onlookers wept as the twins clung to one another, rocking slowly from side to side. In court, Ryan refused to let go of Ronald’s hand.

“All I know, and have ever known, is that I love my identical twin brother and want so much to see him,” Ronald would later argue in a petition to Riverside Superior Court, seeking to be appointed one of Ryan’s legal guardians.

“I want to hug him, talk to him, play with him, and let him know that he matters to me and the rest of the family. I want a stable relationship with my twin brother, and to be involved and active in his life, as a brother and friend.”

It’s a battle Ronald and his biological family have been waging for nearly two decades – one that has made headlines in years past and is scheduled for a hearing this week that could force a pivotal legal decision in a case that raises uncomfortable questions.

Those questions go beyond whether identical twins should be raised together or apart, or even how much power the state can wield over families.

Can a man with cognitive disabilities so serious that he can’t think abstractly, manage money or care for himself, give informed consent to a marriage and intimate relationship?

And does the equation change if that disabled person marries someone of normal intelligence, who then becomes his court-appointed caretaker, empowered to make the most fundamental life decisions?

Disability-rights advocates approached such questions cautiously. Relationships between the cognitively disabled and those of regular intelligence are rare, but activists have fought to secure the rights of disabled people to marry and fully express their sexuality. The goal has been to give individuals more freedom, not less.

“People with developmental disabilities – particularly intellectual disabilities – have been marginalized,” said Katie Hornberger, director of Clients’ Rights Advocacy for the nonprofit Disability Rights California. “People treat them as giant children. If they have the intellectual capacity of a 5-year-old, well, that’s how they scored on a test.

“But there’s a lot of knowledge that comes from existing in this world,” Hornberger said. “I need help to ride a city bus, but my clients with intellectual disabilities do that every day of their lives. Who’s smarter?

“The right to control marriage and sexual contact are just such fundamental human rights,” she added. “They should not be proscribed.”

Robert D. Dinerstein, director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., said a person under a full conservatorship can consent to a marriage or a sexual relationship, but court tests might be necessary.

The decision is contextual and requires examining a number of factors, including whether the person has “a sufficient understanding, perhaps with the support of others, of the relationship he or she is about to enter,” Dinerstein said. Also important is determining whether he or she can weigh the pros and cons of the choice involved, and “somewhat more controversially whether he or she can appreciate the nature of the decision (and its broader implications).”

And, of course, one would want to make sure that no one was coercing the person to engage in the relationship against the person’s will, Dinerstein said.

Something in the balance of power between Ryan and his husband profoundly disturbs his twin brother, sister, aunts and grandmother. They have “grave concerns,” voiced in court filings, that Ryan’s husband “may be sexually abusing and controlling” him, causing irreparable harm.

Spicer, Ryan’s husband and legal conservator, said that’s untrue. He’s doing his best to take good care of Ryan, he told the court, and Ryan wants him to remain as conservator. “Does he get a say in this matter?” the husband asked.

Indeed, Ryan does have a say, a Riverside County judge said. But the judge ordered the Public Guardian’s office to investigate the situation nonetheless, and explain why a neutral party, such as the Public Guardian’s office itself, shouldn’t step in as Ryan’s guardian.

The unusual case has complex legal and emotional crosscurrents, and those officially charged with assessing Ryan’s well-being have come to opposite conclusions.

The publicly funded attorney appointed to represent Ryan says Ryan is happy living with his husband, and favors the status quo. Under no circumstances does Ryan want his family members as conservators, because he believes they are trying to break up his marriage and are engaged in “heavy-handed harassment against his chosen life partner,” Ryan’s attorney argued in court documents.

The state investigator who recently conducted the judge’s court-ordered review questioned Ryan’s comprehension of his wedding, and gave a positive review to Ryan’s biological family, concluding it could offer “a genuinely viable alternative” to naming the state as Ryan’s legal guardian.

Indeed, every person and every agency that has ever had influence over Ryan’s life – government social workers, the court system, his biological family, the foster mother who adopted him and now Ryan’s husband – insist that they only want what’s best for Ryan, and are striving to give him the freedom he deserves.

But they have very different ideas about what that means.

TWO BIRTHDAYS

Ronald and Ryan were born three months early at Huntington Beach Hospital, as tiny and frail as baby birds. Ronald, the healthy twin, came late in the evening on Jan. 9, 1994; Ryan followed 2½ hours later, after midnight on Jan. 10.

The infants were swept immediately into county custody. Their mother had a history of mental illness and had not received prenatal care, according to a social worker’s report at the time. Grandmother Tamara Mukai Mazzei said she sat vigil most every night for six months as the babies struggled in intensive care, heading to work at a San Clemente beauty salon the next day, bleary-eyed. Mukai Mazzei had been in similar circumstances before: She was raising her troubled daughter’s two older children, and intended to take the boys as soon as they were strong enough to come home.

Mukai Mazzei, an intense Italian immigrant with startling green eyes and shimmering red hair, thought it was only logical that the twins grow up with their big sisters, Jamie and Krystal, and all the aunts and uncles and cousins in their big, extended family.

When the twins were about 16 months old, Mukai Mazzei got half her wish. Ronald was healthy enough to come home. Ryan wasn’t.

Ryan had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, asthma and other maladies, according to court records.

 His motor skills and speech were impaired. He was prone to seizures. He required care 24/7, much more specialized care than Mukai Mazzei could give, officials told her. Mukai Mazzei told social workers that she’d be happy to learn whatever skills were necessary. But Ryan was placed in one specialized foster home after another for the first few years of his life – care that cost the county some $5,000 per month. At the time, the state would only provide such financial support to foster care and institutional programs, not to families of patients.

Mukai Mazzei, Ronald and the sisters visited Ryan weekly and often took him home for overnight visits. Ronald’s bedroom was yellow, brimming with books and toys, and optimistically furnished with two beds – one for each twin. “We used to play, go to the beach, sing songs and watch the trains pass in San Clemente,” sister Jamie Moore said in court documents. “I always remembered how Ryan loved the train … he would smile, point and say, ‘CHOO CHOO!’”

The bond between the brothers was obvious, Jamie said. “Sometimes they would just go on and on, mimicking each other and laughing, that they forgot anyone else was even there.”

Family members never gave up hope they’d bring Ryan home for good. Then, as the twins approached their fourth birthday, Ryan was transferred to a foster home in the Tustin foothills that catered to severely disabled children. Most could not walk or speak. Mukai Mazzei worried Ryan would become isolated and lonely, living with children so much more disabled than he.

“Who will he play with?” Mukai Mazzei wondered.

‘IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE’

The Tustin foster home was run by Michelle Morris, who’d worked in the past for Los Angeles County as an adoption social worker. She’d also written “If I Should Die Before I Wake,” a disturbing 1982 novel about father-daughter incest. It was based on a friend’s experience, she said, and she hoped to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

The book evolved into an off-Broadway play, and Morris became a regular at benefits for abused children, she told the Register more than a decade ago. At a Costa Mesa home for medically fragile children, she met a lanky 7-year-old with cerebral palsy who stole her heart. Learning to love the child taught Morris a great deal: “If you’re a religious person … you feel closer to God,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1992. “These children call out the best in us.”

Morris declined to be interviewed for this story. But in a 2004 interview with the Register, she said that as disabled children in foster care grow up, they’re often moved to different homes. “You need a home all your life, not just when you’re little and cute,” she said.

Morris and her husband, Larry Kerin, formed the Lifeplan Children’s Services nonprofit in the 1990s and opened the Michelle Morris Family Home for disabled children. She was licensed by the state to care for six severely disabled children. The beds filled up quickly.

“Clean, good condition,” concluded the first annual review conducted by the Orange County Regional Center, a quasi-governmental organization that contracts with the state to provide services for the disabled. “Pass with flying colors. Additional staff are on board to provide services above and beyond the call of duty. Good job!”

Some parents who placed disabled children in Morris and Kerin’s home praised the couple as a godsend, saying they finally had peace of mind that their children were being well cared-for.

But there were complaints, too, ranging from neglect and lack of supervision to improper record-keeping, according to state records. In 1997 – the year that Ryan arrived – state investigators said Morris’ husband left a 9-year-old, nonverbal child at a Social Services office in frustration after the state failed to pay for the child’s care for two consecutive months. Kerin apologized, according to state records, but regulators declared his presence “a threat to the health and safety” of the children.

He was forbidden to enter Morris’ foster home. No charges were filed, and he was later granted permission to return.

ADOPTED

Ryan’s grandmother and Morris quickly clashed. Mukai Mazzei feared Ryan wasn’t getting enough positive role models in a home with such severely disabled children. She felt Morris was motivated by the $5,000 a month she received for his care, and that Morris overstated Ryan’s problems to get more money, according to court documents filed in 2000 by Mukai Mazzei as part of the custody fight over Ryan.

Morris argued that Mukai Mazzei was in denial about Ryan’s disabilities and didn’t supervise him adequately when he spent nights at Mukai Mazzei’s house. Morris also alleged that Mukai Mazzei didn’t follow Ryan’s medical regimen correctly and that he would return to Morris’ foster home with scrapes and bruises. Visits with his siblings overstimulated him and made him prone to dangerous seizures, Morris said in court documents.

Mukai Mazzei said that scrapes and bruises happen when children are finally free to run and play, but officials concluded that she was in denial about the severity of Ryan’s disabilities. The biological family’s visits with Ryan were curtailed. When Ryan was 5, Morris declared her intention to adopt him, prompting an all-out war over the little boy with the wire-rim glasses.

“There are so many children out there that need a loving home, why are you going to steal a child from a family that wants him, especially a twin?” asked the twins’ aunt, Monica Mukai.

Generally, the law awards custody to family members, but not when a child has been in long-term foster care. Then, the burden is on the biological family to prove that the foster placement – the stable thing in his life – is harmful.

In Juvenile Court, county social workers again sided with Morris. Grandmother Mukai didn’t have an adequate understanding of Ryan’s special needs and couldn’t provide the level of one-on-one, 24-hour supervision that Morris could, a social worker’s report said. Ryan also had forged a strong bond with Morris and made great developmental strides in her care, Morris’ attorney argued – progress that would be jeopardized if Ryan went to his biological family.

“They said I did it for the money,” Morris told the Register at the time. “That’s a joke. I did it because we love him.”

The adoption was finalized in 2002. Ryan’s biological family had visitation rights as long as it was in Ryan’s best interest.

Morris concluded it wasn’t, claiming Ryan’s biological relatives were trying to turn him against his adoptive family. Communication ceased.

“I was not even allowed to say goodbye,” Mukai Mazzei said. “To him, Grandma just disappeared.”

The twins were 8 that first Christmas after the adoption, when Ronald wrote a letter to Ryan that was turned away by Morris, according to the grandmother. Two smiling stick figures stood tall on a hill.

“I miss you,” the letter said. “I would like to see you again. I love you. We are brothers forever and ever.”

Ronald did not see Ryan again until 2015, after their 22nd birthday. Ronald would be surprised to learn he had a brother-in-law.

Full Article & Source:
Part 1: Twins, divided: Is one man happily married or a victim of sexual abuse?

Part 2: Twins, divided: Confusion, concern and ‘I do’

The wedding was held near Murrieta, in the majestic backyard of Michelle Morris’ home.

Video shows two grooms in matching gray tuxedos with white roses on their lapels. They clasped hands beneath a white gazebo festooned with white bunting on that warm fall afternoon in 2014.

“With this ring, I take you as my husband, for as long as we both shall live,” said Sean Spicer, in response to prompts from officiator Susan Bird-Santo, one of Ryan Morris’ legal guardians at the time.

The other groom, Ryan, who state evaluators have concluded has the intellectual capacity of a kindergartener, mumbled and made noises, then stared silently at his hand as Spicer slipped a ring on his finger. Bird-Santo then asked Ryan to repeat the wedding vows.

Ryan hesitated. “I’ve never done this before,” he said in a thick, quiet voice.

“Well, I know,” Bird-Santo said. “Hopefully it’s the last time you’ll do it. … Do you want to just put the ring on Sean’s finger? Are you promising to be his husband forever and love him no matter what?

Until you’re not alive anymore, until you die and even after that probably? Yeah?”

There was some confusion.

“Baptize in the name of Jesus,” Ryan said.

“It’s not a baptism,” Spicer said. “It’s a wedding.”

There was laughter, and Bird-Santo coached Ryan again.

“If you want to take Sean as your husband for the rest of your life, you need to give a symbol so he’ll know that, and he’ll remember it, like you have this ring on your hand,” she said. “So, now you put that ring on his hand.”

Ryan concentrated, trying his best, but the ring wouldn’t slip over Spicer’s knuckle. “It’s hard to get on – push it on there,” Bird-Santo said.

Finally, the ring slid onto Spicer’s finger.

Ryan Morris, 20, and Sean Spicer, 38, were married.

SEPARATION

Ryan’s identical twin brother, Ronald Moore, and their biological family, did not know the wedding took place until four months later.

They had been kept at a distance by Ryan’s adoptive mother for most of Ryan’s life. Ronald only saw the wedding video after the fact. Ryan’s apparent confusion – which Spicer later said was just Ryan joking around – alarmed his blood relatives, and the video later would become a cornerstone of their challenge to oust Ryan’s legal guardian.

Their battle to be part of Ryan’s life had been long and bitter. The twins were taken from their troubled parents shortly after birth in 1994. Ronald — who is not mentally or physically challenged — was allowed to go home with his grandmother, but officials kept Ryan in specialized foster care homes, despite his biological family’s objections. Such homes could better deal with Ryan’s many disabilities, officials said.

When Ryan was an infant, the payment for his day-to-day care – a state-funded stipend of $5,000 a month – could, by law, go to a licensed foster home but not to his relatives. By the time those restrictions were lifted, about six years later, state officials said Ryan had formed a bond with his foster mother and would be harmed if that bond was broken. His grandmother fought for custody, but in 2002 Ryan’s foster mother, Michelle Morris, legally adopted the boy.

Morris cut off contact soon after, saying in court filings and Register interviews at the time that Ryan’s blood relatives didn’t accept his disabilities and were trying to undermine his adoptive family.

His sisters and brother and aunts and grandmother sent Ryan Christmas presents, birthday presents, letters declaring their love and sorrow – but the offerings were never accepted and turned away, his grandmother said.

Until a hearing in a Temecula court, in 2015, the identical twins hadn’t seen each other since they were 8 years old.

PAPER WINDOW

For many years, Ryan’s biological family could only glimpse into his life by reading the public files kept on Morris’ foster home. They watched from afar, and worried.

Between 1998 and 2003, while Ryan was living with Morris, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department received five calls involving reports of possible child abuse, rape, sex crimes and lewd conduct at Morris’ home, then in the Tustin foothills, according to call logs. State records showed that in May 2001, a male staff member was allegedly found naked in bed with a female child.

The Sheriff’s Department investigated the allegations, but made no arrests, officials said.

During the same time frame, the Orange County Regional Center – the quasi-public agency that funds services for the disabled with public dollars – also voiced serious concerns about “the quality of care and health and safety of the consumers residing at the Michelle Morris Home,” according to documents provided to the Register.

Morris denied there were any serious problems. She also fought back, suing the center and accusing officials there of slander, defamation and violations of child-abuse reporting laws. Officials wrongly accused Morris of suffering from “Munchhausen-By-Proxy” – a behavior disorder where caretakers exaggerate children’s health problems to gain attention and sympathy – and of subjecting children to unnecessary or inappropriate medical treatment, among other things, Morris’ suit said.

Lawyers for the Regional Center called her suit “convoluted.” But the agency’s insurer ultimately agreed to settle the case and pay Morris $750,000, with no admission of wrongdoing, rather than face a jury trial where disabled children could take the stand. At the time, Morris’ comment was simple: “We are being persecuted.”

Morris also clashed with the Tustin Unified School District, accusing employees there of harassment and abuse in court paperwork. She staged sit-ins, claimed the district “baby-sits” children with special needs, and subsequently opened a state-funded school in her home run by her husband, Larry Kerin.

The state revoked the school’s license three years later. Kerin was “not found fully competent or credible,” administrative law judge Jaime René Román wrote in 2007. Kerin was manipulative, blamed others for the school’s deficiencies and did not shy from threats of litigation to compel others’ actions, Román wrote.

Morris and Kerin had passionate defenders.

Hogan Hilling, an author and father’s rights advocate in Orange who placed his severely disabled son in their care, called them saints and said he would trust them with his life. An administrative law judge overseeing the placement of a teen accused of physical violence and sexually molesting children praised Morris for exemplary service to the disabled.

Ryan’s blood family fumed. Adopting disabled children had become part of the business model for Morris, they argued, claiming that each time Morris adopted one of her foster-care children she opened an additional foster bed as a source of new revenue. That process, they said, essentially doubled her payments from the state, as she received adoption assistance for her legal children in addition to foster-care payments for her foster children.

At its height, Morris had 10 children in her home, with payments of some $50,000 per month for their care, records show.

Morris at that time told the Register she was sick of the harassment in Orange County. She moved her foster home to Murrieta in Riverside County in 2007.

Ryan’s biological family was crushed.

“My only hope is God,” his grandmother Tamara Mukai Mazzei said that year. “I question him. ‘How can this happen?’

“But I should not start questioning God.”

‘MY BOYFRIEND’

The new $1.57-million, 7,000-square-foot Murrieta house was twice as big as the one in Tustin and sat on more than four acres of scrubby hills. Ryan shared a room with his adoptive brother. There he grew from an awkward ’tween to a young man.

In San Clemente, surrounded by a bustling extended family, Ryan’s identical twin, Ronald, also grew up, missing his brother. “Mentally, emotionally and spiritually – his absence affects me,” Ronald said by email. “Not having contact with him and getting the opportunity to know him affects me. It’s a constant enigma – it’s emotionally walking in the dark.”

Did Ryan feel Ronald’s absence as acutely – or at all? Those were among the questions haunting his biological family.

While Ronald was learning to drive, practicing martial arts and graduating from high school in San Clemente, Ryan was becoming a regular at the Corona house of Morris’ brother, Gregory Morris. It was there that Ryan, then 17, met Sean Spicer, who was 35.

Spicer was the ex-boyfriend of a man who rented a room from Gregory Morris. Spicer installed and serviced automatic doors for a Riverside firm, and stopped by Morris’ place when he had jobs nearby. His email address invoked a Bible verse that speaks to appreciating what you have: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” A graduate of Riverside’s Ramona High School, Spicer seemed to acquaintances to be warm and self-deprecating, joking about taking college classes and computer courses he didn’t understand.
Ryan was soon smitten.

The relationship was Ryan’s idea, not his, Spicer said in a sworn deposition taken as part of the legal guardian battle.

“I was actually one of the last people to find out. … I told Ryan, ‘Not until you’re 18, kid.’ Those were my specific words. My thought there was, first of all, let’s keep this legal; 17 (and) 35 is illegal on so many levels.”

Ryan, however, was impatient, constantly asking, “‘How many days until I turn 18? That’s when I can have my boyfriend,’” Spicer said.

Two important things happened in early 2012.

While the state’s legal responsibility for young Ryan ended when Morris became his legal mother, the state returned to the picture when he turned 18. When disabled children become disabled adults deemed unable to make major decisions about such things as finance and health care, the court appoints conservators to make those decisions for them. In Ryan’s case, Michelle Morris, his mother, and her brother Gregory, stepped into the role of “co-conservators,” and were granted all the powers a parent has over a child: where Ryan would live, what medical treatments he would receive, and whether he could have intimate relationships. His biological family wasn’t notified about conservatorship proceedings, according to court records.

After Ryan reached legal adulthood, Michelle and Gregory Morris allowed Ryan and Spicer to start dating. Spicer was Ryan’s first and only boyfriend, Spicer said at his deposition, and it was Ryan who decided they should get married.

“I only agreed to it after several times of meetings with his teachers and everybody to make sure that – teachers, therapists, parents – to make sure that he understood exactly what we were getting into,” Spicer said.

Asked if he believed Ryan had the capacity to consent to marriage even though his cognitive skills are akin to a kindergartener’s, Spicer said, “Yes, because Ryan knows who he loves.”

An investigator from the Riverside County Public Guardian’s office, however, wasn’t so sure Ryan knew what he was getting into.

Full Article & Source:
Part 2: Twins, divided: Confusion, concern and ‘I do’

Part 3: Twins, divided: Brothers will see each other in court

Ronald Moore & Ryan Morris
Tamara Mukai Mazzei knew she wasn’t welcome at Michelle Morris’ home, but she trudged up the steep driveway nonetheless.

In her arms were gifts for her grandson, Ryan Morris. He was turning 21 and Mukai Mazzei brought a new winter jacket and several slick new shirts. As she walked the drive that day, in 2015, Mukai Mazzei hadn’t been allowed to see Ryan for nearly 13 years, but she still knew which sizes he wore: After all, she had raised Ryan’s identical twin brother, Ronald, since he was a baby.

Mukai Mazzei had fought bitterly for the right to raise Ryan as well, but the state separated the identical twins and allowed Morris, a foster care provider and former social worker, to adopt Ryan.

Through years of court battles, Morris painted Mukai Mazzei as a bit off, saying she refused to acknowledge her grandson’s disabilities, wanted to take him off his medications, didn’t watch him properly.

All untrue, said Mukai Mazzei. She still can’t fathom how the state could take Ryan away, how Morris could refuse to let Ryan’s biological family see him, talk to him or even give him a birthday present for 13 years.

Mukai Mazzei had never been this close to Morris’ Murrieta house, a sprawling 7,000-square foot building on more than 4 hilly acres. It’s Morris’ home and her business, where she operates a state-licensed foster care facility for disabled children. She is licensed to care for five foster children, and she is legally the parent of five adopted disabled children of her own.

Morris’ husband, Larry Kerin, came to the door, Mukai Mazzei said.

She demanded to see Ryan.

Kerin told her to leave, or he’d call the police, she said.

Words were exchanged, but it ended the way her efforts to connect with Ryan usually did: Mukai Mazzei left in tears, still clutching the gifts she hoped to give her grandson.

Through her attorney, Morris declined to comment for this story, citing “multiple and complex” privacy concerns and pending litigation. In court documents and past interviews with the Register, Morris said she eliminated visits with Ryan’s biological relatives because the encounters left him agitated and prone to dangerous seizures.

AN OPENING

After Mukai Mazzei’s abortive visit to Morris’ home, the biological family began researching Ryan’s status now that he was a legal adult. They learned California law provides court-appointed conservatorships, or legal guardianships, to protect disabled adults. Those guardianships are reviewed every two years by a judge.

Michelle Morris and her brother Gregory were appointed Ryan’s conservators when he turned 18.

Morris later asked the court to remove her brother and replace him with a long-time caregiver in her home, Susan Bird-Santo. Ryan’s biological family decided to challenge Ryan’s conservatorship in court in 2015. When they approached Gregory Morris, hoping to secure a statement for their case, they learned Ryan was married and living with his husband, Sean Spicer, in a double-wide mobile home in Romoland, in Riverside County between Perris and Menifee.

News of the marriage stunned Ryan’s biological relatives. Court-ordered assessments of Ryan described him as having the intellectual capacity of a kindergartener and the verbal abilities of a 4-year-old. He was unable to think abstractly, manage money or give informed medical consent. He struggled to keep track of the day, date, season or year, and understand where he was, or why he was there. He was also “substantially unable” to resist fraud or undue influence, the assessments said
.
And yet he was legally married.

Ryan’s biological relatives reached out to Spicer and welcomed him to the family. Spicer received them warmly, and said he was open to having them in Ryan’s life.

But that decision belonged to Ryan’s conservators, Michelle Morris and Bird-Santo.

IN-LAWS

Spicer’s own relationship with Morris was complicated. She was both his employer and, legally, his mother-in-law.

Spicer met Ryan years earlier, through Morris’ brother Gregory, and they started dating after Ryan’s 18th birthday, according to court documents. At times, Morris forbade them from seeing one another. But she also hired Spicer in the summer of 2014 to help care for the disabled residents in her home, Spicer said in a deposition for the conservator battle. She approved of their union, and hosted their wedding in her yard, Spicer said.

But just months into the marriage, Morris accused Spicer of being emotionally unstable, Spicer said in the deposition. Tensions increased when Ronald Moore, Ryan’s identical twin, filed a legal petition in March 2015 seeking to oust Morris and Bird-Santo as Ryan’s legal guardians, and appoint Spicer instead. Morris objected, arguing that conservatorship was not the proper role for a spouse, Spicer said in the deposition.

Ryan confronted Morris, saying he wanted Spicer to be his conservator, according to Spicer.

In July 2015, Ryan for the first time attended a court hearing on his conservatorship at the Temecula courthouse. Ryan’s biological family descended en masse: They hadn’t seen Ryan, now 21, since he was 8.

In court, the judge asked Ryan what he wanted. Ryan said he wanted Spicer as his conservator, and to visit his twin brother. Ryan could visit with whomever he wished, the judge said.

Afterward, his biological relatives poured into the courtyard, weeping, laughing and swarming around Ryan. “I was waiting for this day for so long, bello,” Maukai Mazzei said, stroking Ryan’s cheek. “We didn’t even see a picture of you.”

Morris and Bird-Santo resigned as conservators in the fall of 2015 and were replaced by Spicer. Ryan’s biological relatives felt he was finally free, and they were eager to rekindle a relationship with him.

LOST TIME

Initially, Spicer wanted Ryan’s biological family to be part of their lives. They “all seem like kind, loving people that care about Ryan and myself,” Spicer wrote in an email that became an exhibit at his deposition. “They are supportive of our marriage and are happy that he has found someone to spend forever with.”

The family visited Ryan and Spicer in Romoland. Ryan and Spicer made overnight trips to visit the family in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. They traded frequent phone calls. Ryan took to chanting his brother’s name over and over, according to the deposition.

Ryan’s relatives soon grew concerned. Ryan struggled with basic self-care tasks, such as buttoning his shirt and brushing his teeth. He had bouts of violence and didn’t seem to grasp social boundaries, sometimes touching people inappropriately, according to court paperwork. Ryan said he had been sexually abused as a child, Spicer said at his deposition, allegedly involving a man working the night shift in Morris’ home. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated the allegations, but no arrests were made.

The biological family wanted to do more for Ryan, including paying for specialized therapy and training. They worried about Spicer’s emphasis on gaining Ryan’s compliance by withholding electronics or visits with his relatives when he acted out. They argued that Ryan is allowed to see who he wants, without needing permission from Spicer or Spicer’s parents, who lived together in the Romoland mobile home.

Spicer countered that Ryan’s biological relatives had become domineering and difficult.

A NEW SPLIT

“Sean is breaking down here,” Spicer’s mother, Theresa Spicer, said in recorded voice messages left for Ryan’s aunt in December 2015, entered as exhibits at Spicer’s deposition. “He feels you’re giving him absolutely no control over Ryan’s life…. If Sean divorces Ryan, he’s taking him back to Michelle. And if he does that, you’re never going to see him again, you know that.”

Ryan was treated well, she said. When he misbehaved, he was simply grounded for a couple days, “like you would with a normal kid.”

Visits and communication essentially ceased. Last March, Ryan’s brother, Ronald, filed a new court petition, this time seeking to remove Spicer as conservator.

Ryan did not have the capacity to enter into a marriage, the petition argues, “as demonstrated by their wedding video, which clearly shows that Ryan was coaxed into marrying the Conservator and did not understand what was happening at the wedding ceremony, thinking instead that it was a baptism.”

Based on this “obvious lack of informed consent,” as well as the fact that Spicer was nearly two decades older, the petition says, Ryan’s family “has grave concerns that the Conservator may be sexually abusing and controlling him.”

“Do you believe this is a matter of mutual understanding, adult love?” Spicer was asked at his deposition.

“Yes,” Spicer said.

“Although his cognition is significantly less than a 22-year-old, you don’t see it as a matter of sexual opportunism?”

“No,” Spicer said. “Ryan is the one that initiates sexual contact. Ryan knows what he wants in that regard.”

Ryan’s court-appointed attorney said that Ryan objects to his family members being appointed as his conservators, and is angry and resentful over the litigation. He believes his family’s efforts “are designed to break up his marriage…against his express wishes, and serves as heavy-handed harassment against his life partner,” Ryan’s attorney said in court papers.

Spicer did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story, and Ryan’s attorney declined to make him available for comment.

Spicer entered a new line of work in 2016: long-distance trucking. He was on the road for weeks at a stretch – about 25 days of every 30 – and Ryan went with him, according to the deposition.

His biological family worried Ryan was no longer receiving regular education or therapy services, instead spending long days and nights inside a big rig cab. Was that what he wanted?

Spicer argued Ryan was better off, getting to see America, rather than attending repetitive and dull work programs for the disabled.

But the conflict took its toll: Fearing big legal bills, Spicer resigned as Ryan’s conservator in August, then rescinded that resignation days later, according to court documents.

NEUTRAL EYES

The arguments have piled up for months in the conservatorship battle in Riverside County probate court. A judge ordered the Riverside Public Guardian’s office – the county agency charged with handling the affairs of people who can’t care for themselves – to evaluate Ryan’s situation and report back on whether the state should take over as his conservator.

Investigator Barbara J. Burkhart visited with Ryan and Spicer at the Romoland mobile home. A lock and chain secured the front gate, and she was greeted by several barking dogs. “Initial impression of the property was that it was cluttered with junk and neglected,” Burkhart wrote in a report reviewed by the Register. “The home had minor housekeeping concerns, but overall unremarkable.”

Ryan was alert to his name and partial birthdate, Burkhart wrote, but had difficulty holding his head upright, recalling his address, knowing the date. He rocked back and forth and had “severe difficulty” answering complex questions requiring critical thinking, the report said. He said he liked where he lived, and did not like court hearings. Sean Spicer’s parents, Theresa and Frank Spicer, appeared to have genuine concern for Ryan, “but their knowledge of the needs of persons with intellectual disabilities appears limited. Mrs. Spicer also stated that since Ryan hit her, she no longer will do things for him.”

The Spicers said that Ryan’s aunt, Monica Mukai, wanted to gain conservatorship because she doesn’t feel Ryan is gay, wants to break up the marriage and take Ryan off his medications.

Burkhart asked who was involved in the marriage decision. Spicer said marriage was Ryan’s idea, and was approved by his mother Morris, and by Ryan’s therapist.

Burkhart tried three times to schedule a follow-up visit with Ryan to ask more questions. Her calls were not returned, the report says.

Then Burkhart visited with the relatives seeking to become Ryan’s conservators: twin Ronald and his two aunts. They met at aunt Monica Mukai’s cottage on San Juan Capistrano’s historic Los Rios Street. “The tree-lined street is filled with boutique shops and restaurants,” Burkhart wrote. “The area was bustling with community activities and tourists. The home was clean, nicely decorated with antiques and furnishings.”

The family expressed concern for Ryan’s overall health and welfare, but “at no time whatsoever did they express a desire to break up the marriage of Ryan and Sean Spicer, nor did they desire to discontinue Ryan’s medications.”

The family felt that Spicer, at first, appeared to have Ryan’s best interest at heart, but their concerns over Spicer’s mental stability grew. They felt Spicer became upset when he saw Ryan enjoying his family so much, Burkhart wrote. Ronald said he desperately wants to spend time with Ryan, and feels he can provide him with opportunities and the quality of life he deserves, her report says.

Then the family played the two-minute clip of Ryan and Spicer’s wedding video. “(I)t was evident that Ryan Morris had no comprehension of the marriage ceremony and what he was really getting himself into,” Burkhart wrote.

Ryan lacks the ability to manage his person and estate or resist fraud and undue influence, and “it was a concern that Ryan Morris contracted into a marriage of which he did not have the capacity, nor awareness of his contract,” Burkhart wrote. Ryan spent weeks at a time on a long-distance truck driver schedule, was not enrolled in school, provided “optimum healthcare services,” or activities compelling him to academic growth, she added.

“His family members are requesting an opportunity to provide the stability and resources which they feel Ryan needs and deserves. Family members Ronald Moore, Monica Mukai and Olivia Mukai-Lechner appear to be a genuinely viable alternative” to naming the Riverside County Public Guardian as Ryan’s conservator, Burkhart concluded.

This week, the tangled, emotional odyssey over what’s best for Ryan, and who should be trusted to ensure his welfare, reaches key legal juncture.

After a year of preliminary proceedings, a trial on the biological family’s petition to have blood relatives named as Ryan’s conservators is scheduled to begin Thursday, March 16. A newly assigned judge, Thomas Cahraman, will hear evidence in Department 8 of Riverside Superior Court and decide whether to preserve the status quo of Ryan’s guardianship or change it – for at least the next two years, until the next court review.

The family will ask the judge to appoint the Public Guardian as Ryan’s conservator while the case is heard. They want an outside set of eyes looking at Ryan’s welfare, they said.

Regardless of the outcome, Ryan’s grandmother, Mukai Mazzei, said she’ll never stop trying to bring Ryan back into her family.

“We have lost too much time.”

Full Article & Source:
Part 3: Twins, divided: Brothers will see each other in court

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Disabled woman denied food, water, and healthcare in a nursing home

ANNANDALE, Virginia, April 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A disabled Virginia woman who was being starved at a nursing home there is now getting food and water, but her family and attorneys are sounding the alarm because she is still at risk and not receiving adequate care.

Yolanda Bell, sister of Anastasia Adams, contacted Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) on behalf of Adams.

Adams was denied treatment for a blood clot and had her guardianship filched away before she was then clandestinely taken to an undisclosed facility. After several questionable injuries in a short time there, Adams was moved back to the hospital and put into hospice care, where she had been denied nutrition. Treatment is still being withheld.

“The family is Catholic and Anastasia has communicated that she wants to live,” said LLDF Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “Anastasia does not have a terminal disease — the hospital is simply refusing to treat her and instead wants to put her to death.” 

Snyder told LifeSiteNews that Adams is now receiving food and water, though only because more people were beginning to take note of the case. But in lieu of needed treatment, she’s only getting palliative care.

“This woman has family who loves her and wants to care for her,” said Snyder. “But they (hospital officials) have her on a death track.”

Adams was wheelchair bound after suffering a brain injury over 10 years ago, but she was able to speak and interact with family. Bell was the legal durable and healthcare power of attorney for over 12 years while Adams was in a nursing home. 

Several months ago, Adams developed a large blood clot while in INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital, Snyder explained. The hospital refused to treat her and ordered that Adams be discharged. 

When Bell refused to move her sister out of INOVA, the hospital took her to court and had its own guardians appointed to oversee Adams’ care. 

Snyder told LifeSiteNews, “The hospital said, ‘Instead of treating her, we’re just going to take you to court.’”

“It’s horrible,” she continued. “They don’t like her questioning their protocol. She just wanted her sister treated and released and home.” 

The guardians sent Adams to a nursing home without notifying the family, forcing Bell to have to track her down hours later because the nursing staff had been advised not to disclose any information. While in the nursing home, Adams suffered four injuries in two weeks, including a broken hip.

“To have two complete strangers come and just take her is just outrageous,” Snyder said. “They just dumped her in the facility.”

Bell has established a Change.org petition and Facebook page, where she’s telling her sister’s story. The petition is addressed to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and others. The objective is to prevent hospitals from seeking guardianship as a means to override patient rights.

“I am heartbroken beyond words,” Bell posted on Easter Sunday. “I fear for my sister’s life every minute of every day.”

“To have strangers come in and forcibly tear you from your loved ones, to abduct your person, because that is exactly what this is — an abduction — is terrifying for a person with a brain injury and other such patients,” Bell wrote in the petition. “It is terrifying for an incapacitated person who has relied heavily on and whose life, happiness and well-being has depended on a family member.”

She told of how she has watched her sister “whimper and cry out in fear since guardianship of her was awarded to Inova Fairfax Hospital appointed guardians.”

“I have had to watch the expression of fear on her face while being told lawyers would now be her guardians and that I no longer had control over where she lived, who would be caring for her, what medications she could or could not be given, or treatments she would or would receive,” Bell stated.

When Adams was transferred back to INOVA in March because of the broken hip, the guardians refused to authorize any treatment, said Snyder. Instead, they put her in hospice care at a Golden LivingCenter nursing facility in Annandale.

Snyder told LifeSiteNews that as a result of the court action before LLDF involvement, not only has the hospital seized power over Adams’ treatment decisions, Bell is not permitted to visit her sister. 

“Yolanda lost all contact,” Snyder stated.

"I miss my sister terribly,” said Bell. “I can only imagine what she is going through. She must think I have abandoned her. I have trouble sleeping. I close my eyes and see her being beaten and abused. I hear her crying out in pain begging me to help her." 

Adams now has a fever, Snyder told LifeSiteNews, but treatment is still being refused.

“Even though they’re not starving her, they’re just waiting for her to die,” said Snyder.

LLDF has release two videos, one taken prior to her being admitted to the hospital and the second taken at the nursing facility on April 8 showing Adams’ shocking decline.

LLDF is currently assisting the family in securing an attorney to recover Adams’ guardianship back to another sibling. 

“Tragically, we are seeing an exponential increase in cases where patients are intentionally starved to death because someone has determined that their lives no longer have value,” Snyder stated. 

“Anastasia was targeted for death simply because she is disabled. But she can speak, feel pain, and fully understands what is happening to her. She is being tortured to death by healthcare professionals who have it in their capacity to provide care and treatment.”

Full Article & Source:
Disabled woman denied food, water, and healthcare in a nursing home

Assisted Suicide Activist Pushing to Euthanize Mentally Ill Patients

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is NOT about terminal illness. The issue is about normalizing killing as a response to human suffering.
Sure, the initial sales pitch would restrict doctor-administered or prescribed death to the dying. But that’s just to get people comfortable with the concept. Once a society accepts the principle, logic quickly takes it to a broad euthanasia license.

Canada is a prime example. Before the Supreme Court imposed a national euthanasia right on the country, the debate was all about terminal illness. But now that euthanasia is the law throughout the country, the push is on to allow doctors to kill the mentally ill who ask to die.

The Globe and Mail’s pro-euthanasia health columnist, André Picard André Picard uses the suicide of a mentally ill person to push that agenda. From, “The Mentally Ill Must Be Part of the Assisted Suicide Debate:”
We should not discriminate or deny people rights because it makes us queasy or because of our prejudices. This case reminds us just how severe mental illness can be.
“Non-existence is better than this,” Mr. Maier-Clayton said. “Once there’s no quality of life, life is akin to a meaningless existence.”
Opponents of assisted death argue that those who suffer from mental illness cannot make rational decisions, that they need to be protected from themselves.
But we’re not talking about granting assisted death to someone who is delusional, or suffering from psychosis or someone who is depressed and treatable. The suffering has to be persistent and painful, though not necessarily imminently lethal.
I would hasten to add, as defined by the suicidal person and regardless of ameliorating treatments that could be administered. But anyone who is suicidal believes his or her suffering is unbearable. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to die.

This ever-broadening death license is only logical. If killing is indeed an acceptable answer to suffering, how can it be strictly limited to people diagnosed with a terminal illness? After all, many people suffer far more severely and for a far longer time than the imminently dying.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and now Canada, demonstrate that over time, it won’t be.

Meanwhile, California has a regulation requiring state mental hospitals to cooperate with assisted suicide for their involuntarily committed patients with terminal illnesses–despite supposed protections in the law for those with mental conditions that could affect their decisions.

Meant to be compassionate, assisted suicide is actually abandonment most foul. Compassion means to “suffer with.” Euthanasia is about eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer.

Or, to put it another way, euthanasia endorses suicide. It’s not choice, it is the end of all choices.

In any event, this is the debate we should be having. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my take, surely as we in the USA should debate the issue with intellectual integrity and honesty.

But we won’t because pro-euthanasia forces know they would lose. The obfuscating claim that assisted suicide will only be about the terminally ill for whom nothing else but death can eliminate suffering is just the spoonful of honey to help the hemlock go down.

LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Secondhand Smoke.

Full Article & Source:
Assisted Suicide Activist Pushing to Euthanize Mentally Ill Patients

Gov. LePage says he'll veto "death with dignity" legislation

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican Gov. Paul LePage says he'll veto legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe medication that a patient may self-administer to hasten death.

The Legislature's health and human services committee on Wednesday is set to decide whether to recommend bills sponsored by Republican Sen. Roger Katz and Democratic Rep. Jennifer Parker.

The Maine Medical Association is not yet taking a position on the legislation because its members are divided.

Opponents say the bills would spur elder abuse and exploitation.

Supporters say the legislation protects against such abuse and that medications cannot treat all pain.

So-called assisted suicide is legal in Washington D.C. and six states, including Vermont.

The nonprofit Death with Dignity Political Fund says 25 states are considering similar bills this year.

Full Article & Source:
Gov. LePage says he'll veto "death with dignity" legislation

Friday, April 21, 2017

Alienation in Family Law

When it comes to families, the quality of the relationships between relatives can mean the difference between happy and unhappy ones. When it comes to family law, preserving relationships and addressing the people who would try to damage them is one of the law's most important functions. When alienation is present, it causes a rift within a family that can result in lasting pain and anguish. Whether the alienation occurs between spouses or between parents and children, laws exist to help families repair the damage caused to broken relationships.

Alienation of Affection


In 2010, a jury in North Carolina awarded a woman $9 million in a lawsuit filed against the woman she claimed stole her husband. In seven states, -- Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah -- a spouse can sue in civil court for what is called alienation of affection. Alienation of affection is the intentional act of discouraging a person from maintaining their marital relationship or willfully diverting a person's love, affection and attention away from his or her spouse. Cases of this kind are frequently brought against mistresses and paramours after a marriage ends in divorce. To succeed in an alienation case against an extramarital lover, spouses must prove that they were happily married, that the other spouse's affection was alienated from them, and that the alienation was caused by the actions of the third party.

Parental Alienation


Similar in nature to alienation of affection, parental alienation occurs when divorced or separated parents take steps to damage the relationship between their child and the other parent. This damage can be caused through words or actions that present a negative image of the other parent, which the child accepts to be true. Examples of behavior that could be considered parental alienation include telling the child that the other parent has no interest in visitation with the child, when actually the other parent is working or ill; calling the other parent names in front of the child; telling the child that the other parent is responsible for breaking up the family; and making the child choose between parents.

Child Custody


In child custody cases where parental alienation is alleged, the negative behavior of the parent causing the alienation can have an impact on the court's custody decision. Family courts consider what is in the best interests of the children. Under Ohio family law rules, for example, the court evaluates the ability of each parent to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact between the child and the other parent.

Parental Alienation Syndrome


When a parent continually engages in behavior that undermines his child's relationship with the other parent, it can have a significant impact on the child's psychological health. The effect of ongoing criticism of the other parent can lead to the development of Parental Alienation Syndrome in the child. The syndrome exists when a child exhibits certain characteristics including a lack of interest in visitation or communication with the other parent. According to the American Bar Association, this syndrome occurs in as many as 60 percent of divorce cases. By cooperating with each other and insulating the children from the conflict between the parents, adults can do what is in the best interest of the child and prevent the onset of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Full Article & Source:
Alienation in Family Law

Arkansas judge pleads guilty in DWI case; panel to decide discipline

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is determining how to discipline Circuit Judge William Pearson after he pleaded guilty Monday in Johnson County to charges of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.

What punishment the commission decides to give Pearson will determine if or how soon he can return to the bench as a judge in Arkansas' 5th Judicial Circuit, which is comprised of Franklin, Johnson and Pope counties.

Executive Director David Sachar said Tuesday the commission will act quickly to determine how to sanction Pearson for violating ethical canons by breaking state law. The commission could admonish, reprimand or censure him or pass on a recommendation to the Arkansas Supreme Court for some other action, Sachar said.

On a petition from the commission, the Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Pearson with pay from the bench.

Circuit court records show Pearson, 57, entered guilty pleas to the two misdemeanor charges before special Circuit Judge John Langston. As part of a negotiated plea, charges of misdemeanor fleeing and refusal to submit to a breath test, a violation, were dismissed.

The sentencing order said Langston suspended imposition of a sentence for six months and ordered Pearson to pay $1,020 in fines, fees and court costs. Pearson also was ordered to pay $1,829.24 restitution to the Arkansas State Police for damage caused to a state police car the night Pearson was arrested, according to his Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig.

As part of his sentence on the reckless driving charge, Pearson was ordered to serve five days in jail. Rosenzweig said Pearson will serve one of the five days working in the Johnson County jail on a day when the state police run a sobriety checkpoint.

Pearson will serve the other four days giving speeches to young people about the dangers of drinking and driving, Rosenzweig said. He said it would mirror a statement Pearson made to Langston before he entered his pleas.

"I make no excuses for my actions," Pearson said in the prepared statement. "I never considered myself above the law then or now. I simply should have known better not to drink and drive intoxicated. The shame and embarrassment is mine."

Pearson, 57, has served since 2008 as a judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit. The Supreme Court issued a suspension order Jan. 26, almost a week after Pearson was arrested Jan. 20.

State police records state Pearson was driving north on Crawford Street south of Clarksville in Johnson County and went through the state police sobriety checkpoint without stopping about 9:30 p.m. Jan. 20.

Pearson said in his statement to police that he thought the gathering of patrol cars on the side of the road with their strobe lights flashing was for a traffic stop or an accident. Rosenzweig said Pearson's intoxication contributed to his misinterpreting the reason for the police presence.

Troopers gave chase with their lights and sirens on while Pearson continued driving north into Clarksville. At one point, he turned into a parking lot. A trooper followed him and pushed against the back of Pearson's pickup in an attempt to stop it as the truck continued. The pickup finally came to a stop against the front of the trooper's car.

A trooper wrote in a report that Pearson was so drunk he slumped to the ground as troopers got him out of the pickup. Later at the Johnson County sheriff's office, Pearson became sick, lost bladder control and was uncooperative during the fingerprinting process. He was too drunk to take a test for his blood alcohol level, according to the report.

In his statement, Pearson apologized to 5th Judicial Circuit Judges Gordon McCain, Dennis Sutterfield and Ken Coker and other special judges who took over his caseload after he was suspended.

He also apologized to residents of the circuit's three counties for his "isolated lapse of judgment," to his staff, his family and to the judges in the state and the bar association.

"I regret my actions of January 20 and look forward to redemption and making amends for this and assure all that this will never ever happen again," he concluded.

Full Article & Source:
Arkansas judge pleads guilty in DWI case; panel to decide discipline

70-year-old Fairview woman charged with exploiting elderly or disabled person


A 70-year-old Fairview woman is charged with exploiting an elderly or disabled person.

Patsy Jean Steele, 70, of Charlotte Highway in Fairview was arrested on Saturday and charged.


This charge involves two separate offenses: exploitation of a disabled or elder adult through a position of trust or business relationship, and exploitation of a disabled or elder adult lacking capacity. Steel was charged with the former.

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70-year-old Fairview woman charged with exploiting elderly or disabled person

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Michigan Owner of Sixteen Adult Foster Care Homes Indicted on Additional Charges Including Obstructing the IRS and Failing to File Tax Returns

PRESS RELEASE:  A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan returned a superseding indictment today, charging a Grand Blanc, Michigan owner of adult foster care homes with additional tax crimes including obstructing the internal revenue laws and failing to file tax returns, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Jeremiah Cheff was indicted in October 2016 on 60 counts of failing to collect, account for and pay over employment taxes. According to the superseding indictment, Jeremiah Cheff controlled the financial and business operations of 16 foster care homes that cared for individuals with mental illnesses and developmental and physical disabilities, including Hunter’s Home, Nico’s Place, Harmony Manor, Hilltop Estates and Deerwood Manor. It is alleged that from September 2010 through September 2014, Cheff withheld payroll taxes from employees’ paychecks, failed to timely file employment tax returns and failed to pay over the funds withheld to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The new charges allege that Cheff corruptly endeavored to obstruct the internal revenue laws and failed to timely file his 2013 through 2015 individual returns. According to the indictment, after the IRS informed Cheff it intended to file a lien to collect unpaid employment taxes, Cheff sent an $80,000 fake financial instrument to the IRS and falsely claimed to a revenue officer that he had paid the taxes due. Cheff also allegedly spent money from his businesses for personal benefit instead of paying it to the IRS, falsely classified his employees as independent contractors, provided false information to his return preparer and filed false 2013 through 2015 partnership returns for Hunter’s Home.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Cheff faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the 60 employment tax counts, three years in prison for obstructing the IRS and one year in prison for each of the failure to file counts. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Jeffrey McLellan and Carl F. Brooker IV of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case. Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan for its substantial assistance.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

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Michigan Owner of Sixteen Adult Foster Care Homes Indicted on Additional Charges Including Obstructing the IRS and Failing to File Tax Returns

Britney Spears under conservatorship of father 10 years after mental health battle

Britney Spears
Pop star Britney Spears is still under the conservatorship of her father, almost 10 years after she battled mental health issues.

According to US law, a conservatorship is a guardian appointed by a judge to manage the financial and/or daily affairs of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age. Jamie Spears continues to control the Piece Of Me singer's fortune but the musician is said to be "very happy" with the court's decision, say reports.

In 2008, Spears, 35, was placed under a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold and a judge subsequently permitted her father to manage her finances.

A source told the New York Post's Page Six: "Britney just keeps working and working, and everybody around her gets paid. It's astonishing how hard she works, how well behaved she is now, but she still cannot make decisions about her own finances or personal life without the approval of her conservators," before adding: "[Britney] is in the best place she's ever been."

Previous reports claimed all of Spears' monetary transactions are noted in court documents in order to protect her fortune and Jamie is allegedly paid a $130,000 (£103,000) yearly salary. Earlier in April, it was announced that the Make Me hitmaker will bring her popular Las Vegas residency to an end in December after a four-year run.

Fans should not mourn the Piece Of Me residency just yet as an insider suggests Spears could return to Sin City one day, stating: "It's definitely not the end of her onstage. She will be back. As long as they play it smart, there's money to be made. Yes, she's still under the conservatorship, but she's happy because everything is taken care of for her. She's in a Britney bubble. She's healthy, she just celebrated another year of sobriety, and she's dating a handsome guy, model and personal trainer Sam Ashgari."
Britney Spears to end Las Vegas residency
A friend of Britney Spears suggests the singer may return to Las Vegas after closing the Piece Of Me residency in DecemberGetty
One other alleged friend of Spears described the pop star as a "walking zombie", claiming she is simply a money-making machine for those in her inner-circle. However, the pop star's rep slams these claims, arguing: "This is not accurate. She is great... has shows in Asia and Tel Aviv coming up and is very happy."

Spears briefly addressed the conservatorship during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016 and explained how she took control of creative decisions for her latest album Glory because other areas of her life are spearheaded by others. The Toxic singer told Ross: "Okay, so I have this conservatorship. I've been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me, so I wanted [Glory] to be my baby and I've been really strategic about it."

Once returning from her current holiday in Hawaii, Spears will resume her Las Vegas residency at The Axis at Planet Hollywood on 3 May.

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Britney Spears under conservatorship of father 10 years after mental health battle

Legislation to Protect Elderly and Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Being Considered

Nashville, TN – Two major bills to protect elderly and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation are moving through House Committees.  House Bill 304 will be heard in the House Government Operations Committee this week, and House Bill 1064 is the House Calendar and Rules Committee.
 
This legislation gives securities officials and financial institutions the tools they need to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of those age 65 and older and vulnerable adults with diminished capacity.

Tennessee State Representative Curtis Johnson
Tennessee State Representative Curtis Johnson

The legislation comes from the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Task Force, which worked with Tennessee’s financial community to recommend the changes.

Approximately one in five seniors has been a victim of financial exploitation at a cost of approximately $2.9 billion annually.

Moreover, these numbers are likely low as it is also estimated that only one out of every 44 instances of financial abuse is actually reported.

Called the Senior Financial Protection and Securities Modernization Act, House Bill 304
  • Provides a pathway for voluntary reporting by giving civil and administrative immunity to broker-dealers, investment advisers, agents, representatives and other qualified individuals for reporting the suspected abuse or exploitation;
  • Allows those individuals to delay disbursements from an account for up to 15 days if financial abuse or exploitation is suspected (that delay could be extended to up to 25 days upon request by the commissioner and by court order);
  • Grants the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance authority to create additional guidelines by rule for delayed-disbursement when fraudulent activities are suspected;
  • Authorizes notification to third parties previously designated by the elderly or vulnerable adult regarding any suspected fraudulent transactions; and,
  • Gives the Commissioner authority, under the state’s Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, to double current civil penalties to up to $10,000 to $20,000 per violation against offenders who victimize a vulnerable or senior adult.
  • It has been estimated that 41.4 percent of the offenses of financial exploitation were committed by a family member and another 13.3 percent of victims were described by law enforcement as having close relationships with the perpetrator.
Likewise, House Bill 1064 adds tools and greater flexibility as to how financial institutions can best protect their customers when they have reason to suspect financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults is occurring or being attempted.

The legislation:
  • Provides new authority for financial institutions to delay or refuse to conduct transactions which permit the disbursement of funds from the account of an elderly customer or vulnerable adult when exploitation is suspected; 
  • Permits, but doesn’t require, the financial institution to establish a list of persons the customer would like to have contacted if the institution suspects the customer is a victim of financial exploitation or theft; 
  • Allows financial institutions to refuse to accept an authorized power of attorney if they believe the person is conducting financial exploitation; and, 
  • Requires the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions to consult with financial service providers, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, and the Department of Human Services to develop a public education campaign to alert the public to the dangers of vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. 
The proposals build on a new law passed by the General Assembly last year, which set up Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigative Teams (VAPIT) in each judicial district in Tennessee to foster cooperation and information sharing between different government agencies whose purpose is to protect elderly and vulnerable adults.

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Legislation to Protect Elderly and Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Being Considered