Saturday, May 24, 2008

Macomb County Probate

An audit report about Macomb County Probate Court produced a scathing memo of the court that blames the judges for ongoing problems and has resulted in the suspension of the court administrator and an investigation into a guardianship and conservator company.

Carl Gromek, director of the State Court Administrative Office, wrote a May 16 three-page memo to the Supreme Court justices two days after The Whall Group of Auburn Hills issued its 113-page audit report.

Gromek blames many of the problems on the inability of the two judges -- Judge George and Judge Pamela Gilbert O'Sullivan -- to get along, and has resulted in low morale among the more than 40 employees at the Mount Clemens courthouse.

"The court has become dysfunctional"

"Staff morale has been destroyed by the acrimony and lack of communication between Judge George and Judge O'Sullivan"

"The acrimony between Judge George and Judge O'Sullivan eliminates any hope of these two judges correcting the problems that continue in the MCPC"

Gromek points out that O'Sullivan, when she was chief judge, and Administrator Donald Housey failed to implement recommendations made by the Whall Group in 2006 following a 2005 audit report.

"Many of the same conditions found in 2005 persist, and some conditions appear to have gotten worse"

"O'Sullivan demonstrated poor oversight of the Probate Court"

"George demonstrated poor oversight in appointing ADDMS Guardianship Services"

Because of the audit report, ADDMS will be suspended from handling any more cases, and its workload of 85 pending cases are being handed over to a group of 10 attorneys, who will work mostly pro bono. Attorney John Chase Jr. was named as a "special fiduciary" to oversee the group's handling of the cases and investigating any wrongdoing.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Lambasted

The head of the State Court Administrative Office has recommended the removal of Macomb County Chief Probate Judge Kathryn George as chief judge, in the wake of an audit that found "flagrant violations of both law and practice" and "outrageous conduct committed against the individuals that need protection the most" in conservator appointments by the judge.

Macomb Probate Court policy calls for the court's two judges to appoint guardians and conservators from a list of approved agencies on a rotating basis. But a Detroit News report in November found that George sent far more cases to Shelby Township-based ADDMS Guardianship Services than to the other agencies in the past two years.

"The responsibility for the problems with appointments lies with both judges"

The audit found that ADDMS charged exorbitant fees for its services and made questionable sales of the property owned by people for whom the firm was caring.

Full Article and Source:
Official: Remove chief judge

A Grandchild's Fight

My Grandma was stolen from me when I was 11 years old.
I am now 15 and want to speak out about what the conservator and guardian in Tucson Arizona did to my family.
My whole family lived together and we were very happy. Janice Bernardini came in and separated my Mom and Dad. My Dad was sick and needed Mom to take care of him. He died because they did not care. He was only 43 and was supposed to meet my kids someday. Now I am the man of my family and I will not let them take anymore from me.
I love my Grandma and want her back. I am not allowed to call her or visit her without “permission” or supervision. My Mom and Grandma were best friends and they won’t ever let them talk again

My Grandma has money and they like to use it. They threw my Mom, sister and me on the street with no place to go. They spent over 1million dollars to ruin my Mom. We had to leave Arizona just so Mom could raise us in peace. Mom is not allowed to talk about what they did to our family. They made her sign a paper promising not to speak. Judge Clark Munger called my Mom a bad mother. HE WAS WRONG. He may have hurt my family but he will be stopped. I will get my Grandma free so she can watch me and my sister make Dad proud.
I love you Grandma  and I will never stop fighting for you!

Friday, May 23, 2008

No Right To Seize

A state appeals court has said authorities had no right to seize more than 440 children in a raid on the FLDS ranch last month.

The state took 464 children into custody in April, but the ruling directly applied to the children of 48 sect mothers represented by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, said Cynthia Martinez of the agency. About 200 parents are involved in the polygamy case.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered "legally and factually insufficient" grounds for the "extreme" measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Source: Court: Texas wrongly seized sect children
Court: CPS failed to provide evidence

See also: Judge Bars CPS

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.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Legal Abuse Syndrome

“Victims are created in two ways: by violence or by deceit. Either type of assault immediately renders the victim hostage to the perpetrator.”

Professional Ethics Violations and Abuse of the Legal Process are a growing problem in our nation and our courts of law.

Legal Abuse Syndrome is a psycho legal trauma (a form of post traumatic stress disorder), which often develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. Abuse of power and authority and a profound lack of accountability in our courts have become rampant.

According to Karin Huffer, author of Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome:

1) if you feel deeply disillusioned and oppressed as a result of your experience with the legal system.

2) if you have been frustrated in your effort to obtain justice.

3) if you feel your dreams and plans for your life were torn from you by a system that supposedly was there to protect your rights and property.

4) if you fear that the system will defeat you at every turn and there is nothing you can do about it.

5) if you feel you have been victimized several times over by the perpetrators, by lawyers, judges, bailiffs and other court personnel. As a consequence, you may suffer from tension and anxiety and have recurring nightmares, and you may also feel emotionally and physically exhausted, numb, disconnected and vulnerable.

See also:
HOLDING COURT — A Sick and Twisted System

Warning: Protracted Litigation Can be Hazardous to Your Health

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Waiting for Justice

In 2005, I was granted temporary conservatorship of my Mother and was then able to fire the "agency" and people who, despite my efforts to protect my Mom, had exercised extensive and undue influence over her.

It took over a year to get these characters removed, a year during which they generously helped themselves to her money, household and personal belongings - even her lift chair and electric scooter. During their tenure, they tried very hard to isolate Mom from me. I found checks bearing signatures in no way resembling my Mom’s although a good effort was made to imitate it. Her bank even reported large withdrawals from her account to APS. Despite ongoing reports of my worries and concerns to the appropriate agencies and attorneys, no action was taken or further investigation initiated.

Finally, facts and documents, coupled with a transcript of conversations with one honest caregiver, enabled me to return to court in May 2005 and win the temporary guardianship, which allowed me to hire respectable and reliable caregivers. Mom’s attorney then asserted I could not be Mom’s permanent conservator because I was a direct beneficiary of the trust: a conflict of interest. So, I employed a private dementia- and elder-care management company, and the owner was later appointed as Mom’s conservator of both person and estate in January 2006.

All progressed smoothly for a time. Then, the incredible LVN who was Mom’s care manager resigned and the situation started to deteriorate fast. The conservator makes decisions with limited or no consultation with our family. One of the most damaging was changing Mom’s caregiver routine from three 8-hour shifts to one live-in, purportedly because Mom was "running out of money" - a specious claim. Mom’s social interactions were dramatically reduced, she became progressively withdrawn and depressed, and the caregiver -- a most compassionate and competent woman – became exhausted resulting from the extent of care my Mom needed because she is completely non-ambulatory. It took almost two months to rectify this desperate situation.

Other incidents exacerbated our suspicions: late bill payments, facility care insurance policy allowed to lapse, a life insurance invoice 30-days past due. However, because the conservator changed the billing addresses to the conservator’s office, it is impossible to determine how current the bills may or may not be. The conservator also removed Mom’s medications from her home and stores and dispenses them from the conservator’s office.

Recently, the conservator hired a safe cracker to break into Mom’s jewelry safe and remove it all without notification to the family, let alone having a witness from the family present or asking for the combination. The incident seriously agitated my already-frail mother.

To date, and contrary to requirements mandated by the passage of the Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Reform Act of 2006, the conservator has yet to provide a copy of her first annual accounting to the family, despite repeated requests. The inventory and appraisal is incomplete.

Mom is now under hospice care. Now, more than ever, it is not the time for anyone to be adding more upset and drama to her life or ours. Mom deserves the best and I am doing my utmost to ensure that she has it, all the while praying that somehow, someway, there will be accountability and justice will prevail.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Granny Snatching - Another Side

It's called "Granny Snatching" and elderly advocates say it happens often, where hospitals are named guardians of an elderly against the families wishes.

This video highlights the case of Mollie Orshansky who is a victim of granny snatching and who's niece, Jane Pollack, took her back:

Granny Snatching Case Probed

Pollack removed Orshansky from George Washington University Hospital without advance notice. At the time, hospital officials had gone to court to get control of Orshansky's affairs, recommending that the mentally incapacitated woman be placed in a nursing home.

Orshansky's amassed an estate worth $2 million. From roots in a poor neighborhood, she became a ranking official of the Johnson administration, where she created the concept of a poverty line.

Orshansky - who's helped so many in public service -- had planned that if she couldn't help herself, she wanted to be with relatives in New York, her family says.

A Washington judge ordered the senior citizen be brought back to the capital. However, a Court of Appeals issued a tough-talking order of its own that put the judge on the defense.

For months, Washington Judge Kaye K. Christian had ordered that she be brought back there. The judge appointed attorney, Harry Jordan -- who billed Orshansky $42,000 in fees. A Washington Court of Appeals decision finds "critical errors " in the case. In addition, a second court-appointed attorney, Tanya Castro, failed to even speak with Orshansky, and a valid health care proxy giving Orshansky's niece control was cancelled.
Elderly Woman's Wishes Finally Fulfilled After Court Battle

More here:

Written statement of Jane M. Pollack before the United States Special Committee on Aging

Written statement of Michael S. Kutzin (Attorney) before the United States Special Committee on Aging

According to the state of Colorado, “Granny Snatching” occurs when greedy guardians exploit elder or disabled family members by moving them to a state with laxer rules.

Source: Granny Snatchers Go Home

See also:
Granny Snatching