The request sent to the Attorney Grievance Commission by Ingham County Probate Judge Richard Garcia stemmed in part from what Garcia called apparent conflicts of interest in lawyer Catherine Jacobs' role as guardian for several people who were incapacitated.
Jacobs, according to the Loomis Law Firm website, is an attorney who specializes in estate planning, trusts and other probate court matters. She was a shareholder at the firm, but stepped back this year as part of a planned retirement.
Police reports, court documents and transcripts from several cases involving Jacobs outline her granddaughter's extended stay at the home of a woman with dementia for whom Jacobs is guardian and conservator; a criminal charge against Jacobs' daughter for allegedly embezzling from a longtime family friend who has dementia; Jacobs' decision to sign off on a major surgery even though her guardianship for the patient had lapsed; and an agreement with Sparrow Hospital that prompted Garcia to remove Jacobs from at least four cases for what he called a conflict of interest.
Jacobs and her lawyer Donald Campbell have asked Garcia to disqualify himself from at least one of her cases because of concerns the judge expressed to the grievance commission regarding Jacobs’ actions. Garcia denied the motion, according to transcripts. Jacobs has since filed another.
“(The motion) says that I should be disqualified, this judge should be disqualified because I’m actually prejudiced against Ms. Jacobs because I told her I couldn’t trust her on this case or any other,” Garcia said at the Aug. 31 hearing on the motion. “You also left out I said I don’t think you know what you’re doing.”
A receptionist at Loomis Law Firm declined comment when initially contacted by the State Journal. Communications firm Truscott Rossman later contacted the LSJ to field questions on behalf of the law firm, Jacobs and Jacobs’ lawyer.
Campbell said Jacobs, who handled nearly a dozen conservator and guardian cases in Ingham County last year, has a “pristine record” and follows rules governing conflicts of interest “to the ‘T’.”
“The rules do permit a lawyer who has explained the nature of a conflict to an affected client to obtain a waiver and continue,” Campbell said in an email. “Any discussions with her clients are, of course, confidential and cannot be shared. “
Loomis Law Firm’s President, Ted Rozeboom, released a short statement through Truscott Rossman:
"This is an unresolved matter that involves a confidential proceeding. It is inappropriate to comment until that process is complete.”
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Judge requests investigation of Lansing lawyer, removes her from cases