Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pima County Guardianships

Elderly too easily can be stripped of civil liberties, assets

In providing psychiatric care to geriatric patients, there are serious and frequent lapses in ethical practice with regard to guardianships and capacity determinations in Pima County.

"I often am befuddled by the tenacity and utter lack of ethical objectivity demonstrated by attorneys and the mental health professionals who provide so-called "expert opinion" in many of these cases."

All too often the outcome is determined long before any clinical evaluation is performed - and not surprisingly favors the party employing the attorney.

It is truly frightening just how easy it is for many of our elderly citizens to be stripped of their civil liberties and placed in restrictive and coercive custodianships that seize and control their assets and limit their recourse to appeal.

"I have witnessed outright denial and direct contradictions between the facts of these cases and the brief and predictable summary statements that the person is determined to be demented and therefore "incompetent" in general."

The proverbial metaphor of a fox in the hen house does not quite capture the greed and dispassionate disregard for human suffering that ensues.

"It seems readily apparent to me that there is an inherit conflict of interest in being both attorney and public fiduciary in these instances. After all, what better way to siphon away the wealth of their "clients" than to charge attorney's fees for every service rendered to their involuntary "clients" while at the same time control any access they might have to counsel or appeal."

Unfortunately, the standard that is almost universally applied is limited to a single neuropsychological evaluation that is performed by a psychologist with no real-world knowledge of the patient. The psychologist is hired by the attorney as an "expert witness" and is thereby biased to provide the desired opinion - "not competent."

The unsuspecting senior is usually caught off guard and often traumatized by the experience. Many perfectly fit and sane individuals have been trapped by this design.

"I am deeply troubled by far too many experiences with less than ethical attorneys, fiduciaries and mental health professionals in this business - a lucrative business that has the potential to corrupt even the best of intentions."

Full Article and Source:

James C. Van Doren, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist in Tucson.


Anonymous said...

This Physician has made an exceptionally accurate assesment of the working of a bad guardian/conservatorship. Pima County has an overwhelmingly large amount of corruption in the process. One of the reasons it is rampant in Tucson is that the cost of living is high which leaves a large population of wealth in the senior community. As a state that prides itself on being an excellent place to retire, one would think that particular attention would be paid to the probate court. Politically, the spotlight is coming to Pima County. The only presiding probate judge is Clark Munger. His brother, John Munger, is a lobbiest for John McCain. I wrote a letter to John McCain 2 yeas ago and asked him if he could assist in rescuing Jean and Forest Blackwell from these exploitive monsters. The response I received was that he had no intention of looking into it. I subsequently turned that letter over to a major news organization who is very interested in it. If McCain wins, I will leave the country to protect my future and that of the people I love.

Anonymous said...

What I read, here, is very serious and sounds like fraud and a long list of criminal activities and blatant corruption to me.

When? What will it take?for the federal government to wake up and take some responsibility?

The FEDS need to seize and remove all of the probate case files going back decades, if necessary, for a thorough audit and review, investigation and prosecution of all individuals who are involved in illegal and unethical activities in the guardianship racket.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Van Doren has addressed one of the most frequently used sneaky tricks of the Guardianship racket-Divide and Conquer! First, they find a disfunctional family (not difficult considering 90% or more ARE disfuctional), next they take control and drain the Estate. The "ward" loses their rights and the family is kept from their loved one under the guise of protection. The ward is carted off to a nursing home and drugged (aka KILLED).

What the good Doctor doesn't mention clearly or doesn't know about is that the Probate judge is often working in concert with the guardians and attorneys. They all make money and the good ole boy network thrives because even when you can prove that the judge, attorney or guardian acted inappropriately or in direct disregard of the law or advance directives, they cover each other's backsides. And it's all in secret because the records are sealed or the Public has no access to the records!

YOUR tax dollars are spent on the destruction of your own family!

It can't be just coincidence that the counties with the highest number of NASGA members are ones where, as anonymous from comment 1 points out, are ones in which the cost of living is high and the senior population has a great measure of wealth invested - usually in their homes which is one of the first things to be sold off.

Guardianship is Racketeering in it's cruelest form.

Anonymous said...

The judges, lawyers, and guardians that are all in cahoots should be thrown in the slammer.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that Forest Blackwell died at the age of 43 in an abusive guardianship. He will never get to see his two children grow up because of the games these people played. The only justice his children will see is the release of his mother from her abusive guardianship. She is isolated and lonely and needs to be reunited with her grandchildren. They have gone through over 2 million dollar in the last 5 years to keep her locked up in a little shabby 2 bedroom house. Her family grieves for her daily and our hearts ache to know she buried her only child and we cannot comfort her. Justice will be had. Janice Bernardini will be stopped from her abuse. She is a perfect example of everything that can go wrong in a GC proceeding. She even siezed Forests body from the Coroner and exerted her standing over the wishes of his children. She made them "store" him for 2 weeks as she tried to stop a funeral from taking place. His children will always remember what she did. They are 16 and 12 and incredibly bright. This war will be waged on until it is complete and no other family suffers the travesties we have endured.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased this doctor is standing up and shouting his concerns about what's really going on with guardianships.

I bet he doesn't even know the whole picture though? But, he knows enough to speak up and for that I must commend him.

Elaine Renoire said...

My sympathies to the family of both Forest and Jean Blackwell with hopes that articles such as this one, shines a bright light that will free Jean from bondage and bring her home to her loving family.