Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kidnap Suspect Cleared

Rhonda Tavey befriended a family after the Alphonse family relocated to Houston from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Rhonda Tavey was accused of fleeing with the Alphonse children, ages 3 to 8, on July 11. She claimed their mother was abusing them. An Amber Alert was issued for the children and Tavey was arrested the next day. The children were found unharmed.

Tavey was charged with five counts of kidnapping but has since been cleared of charges that she kidnapped five children she cared for since Hurricane Katrina.

Tavey claimed their parents have a history of drug abuse and a pattern of physically abusing and neglecting the children.

Tavey filed a petition asking to be appointed the children's sole conservator. She contended that she should get custody because the children have lived with her for most of the last year.

Woman Cleared Of 5 Kidnapping Charges

A Harris County grand jury declined to indict Tavey on five charges of kidnapping, finding there was not enough evidence to support her prosecution.

Tavey claimed the siblings would be in danger if allowed to return to New Orleans with their mother. But Child Protective Services found no evidence to support her charges of abuse and neglect. The agency returned the children to Alphonse.

Tavey has since dismissed a court petition seeking custody of the children, but expressed disappointment in the CPS decision.

Full Article and Source:
Woman who took Katrina evacuee's kids no-billed

See also:
Kidnap Suspect Files For Custody Of Children

Woman Accused Of Abducting 5 Released

Mother, Children Reunited After Kidnapping Suspects Arrest

No kidnapping charges for Houston woman

Award Winning Newspaper

The Wisconsin State Journal has won four awards in the Inland Press Association's 2008 national newspaper competition.

State Journal reporter Dean Mosiman won Inland's community leadership award for the seven-day series "Elder Abuse: A Silent Shame" which detailed the failure of the state's institutions to ensure the well-being of older citizens. Assistant city editor Steve Verburg edited the series, which also showcased the work of multimedia and graphics editor Laura Sparks, news artists Jason Klein and Brent Bollenbach, and photographers Joseph W. Jackson III and John Maniaci.

The awards will be presented on Oct. 27 in Chicago at the association's annual meeting.

Full Article and Source:
State Journal takes four Inland Press awards

Perpetrator Kathleen Simane and guardian abuse victim Helen Fabis are featured in the Elder Abuse: A Silent Shame series.

Kathleen Simane, a court-appointed guardian, used her position to steal more than $75,000 from her dying great-aunt, Helen Fabis of Edgerton. Simane, of St. Paul, Minn., who spent money on a car and breast augmentation, was caught and sentenced to two years in prison, extended supervision and $78,289 in restitution to the Fabis estate. Elder Abuse: A Silent Shame: Day 4: Easy targets

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fight Against Closed Courtrooms

Courts District judges bar public from proceedings

A sign on District Judge Dwayne Steidley’s courtroom confirms that the public isn’t welcome:

"ONLY DEFENDANTS are allowed in the court room, Family and friends must stay in the hallway.”

David Starkey asks: "Why does he not want people in there?" and has started a website, Rogers County Grand Jury that addresses what he claims - One Reason They Close The Courtroom: Constitutional Violation!

Special Judge Erin Oquin has to approve any party other than attorneys before entering.

Apparently in Oklahoma, closing courts are legal in limited circumstances. Both the Oklahoma Constitution and the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantee defendants the right to an open trial. Oklahoma law requires that a defendant’s plea must take place within open court. But, in a 1986 case, the U.S. Supreme Court said a judge may close a courtroom only under "limited circumstances.”

In Oklahoma, exceptions to that requirement include adoption, juvenile, mental health and guardianship proceedings.

Joey Senat, past president of Freedom of Information Oklahoma and an associate professor of journalism at Oklahoma State University said: "the Rogers County practice is so outrageous as to be impossible to believe.”

Man fights for right to open courtrooms

See also:
Some state judges forget courts belong to public

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Terminated Funding

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed 100 percent of state funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, at the same time as cuts were made to other programs for the elderly.

He used the line item veto to cut the ombudsman program out of the budget. That means a loss of almost $20,000 for the Mother Lode Ombudsman program, which covers Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador and Mariposa counties.

Additional cuts of $12,000 above the 10 percent were made to supportive services, such as CHORE, homemaker, personal care, transportation and information and assistance.

Clay Kempf, president of the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said: "This comes on top of a 10-percent cut in county Adult Protective Services, These combined cuts collapse the safety net for patients in a nursing home and, ironically, come at a time when baby boomers are aging and reports of elder abuse and neglect are on the rise."

Full Article and Source:
State budget cuts senior programs

See also:
State Budget Stripped

Postponing Protection for Seniors

Court Work Overload

Guardianship Legislation

New Law Supporting Relative Guardianship

President Bush signed the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act into law.

The bill is widely viewed throughout the child-welfare community as a remarkable achievement by a Congress often incapacitated by partisanship.

James Brown, president of the Child Welfare League of America, said: "This is a historic moment for foster children and families," calling it the most significant foster-care legislation since 1980.

Among its major provisions, it will:

* Provide more financial incentives for adopting children out of foster care, especially older youths and those with special needs. One example: federal adoption assistance for special-needs children will no longer be limited to those who come from low-income families.

* Allow use of federal funds to assist children who leave foster care to live as legal guardians of relatives — a step which will help an estimated 15,000 children. In the past, such "kinship care" — which experts view as preferable to foster care — was generally not eligible for federal aid.

* Allow direct federal foster care funding to tribal governments, so more American Indian and Alaskan Native children can receive services while remaining in their own communities. Previously, the tribes had to go through state agencies to seek this funding.

* Allow states to provide federally subsidized foster care services to young people up to age 21, instead of 18.

* Require child-welfare agencies to make "reasonable efforts" to keep siblings together when they enter foster care, and work harder to ensure that foster children receive a stable education and proper health care.

Full Article and Source:
New law meant to improve stability for foster care

More on H.R. 6893:
Measure helps children move out of foster care

CWLA Cheers President Bush for Signing Child Welfare Legislation

See also:
New Legislation Passed

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recall Against Judge

"Judge Peter “Chainsaw” McBrien won’t allow SN&R to photograph him, so we’re forced to run this rather unflattering illustration yet again." Illustration by Christopher Hayes, Sacramento News and Review

The grounds for the proposed recall are as follows:

Judge McBrien is a disgrace to the American judiciary system and an extreme danger to children, petitioners and respondents.

McBrien destroyed a young boy by awarding the father custody after multiple investigations substantiated he had sexually abused the boy.

McBrien awarded custody to an abusive mother ignoring medical evidence and graphic pictures showing serious physical abuse to her young daughter.

McBrien destroyed trees on public property to improve the view from his home. Charged with a felony, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

After receiving a public reprimand from the Commission on Judicial Performance, he was promoted to the position of family court presiding judge.

McBrien has now embarrassed his profession by abandoning a trial in mid-session. McBrien issued a judgment destroying the respondent’s real estate holdings and financial stability.

Respondent filed an appeal. McBrien obtained, in secrecy, a copy of the court transcripts, altered them and had the respondent’s career destroyed.

McBrien has broken at least two California Code of Judicial Ethics canons: A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge’s Activities and a Judge Shall Perform the Duties of Judicial Office Impartially and Diligently.

When will McBrien’s evil terrorism be stopped?

Please contact us at or call (916) 583-1718 if you would like to gather signatures or sign the hard copy recall petition.

If you are a REGISTERED SACRAMENTO VOTER, please click here to print the petition form to recall Judge McBrien. Then sign your full name, and print your address where you are registered to vote. Please also get your REGISTERED SACRAMENTO VOTER friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and others to sign the petition, complete the declaration at the end, and mail the form back to us at: Recall Committee, P.O. Box 993, Fair Oaks, CA 95628-0993.


See also:

Local judge under investigation - Alleged misconduct of Judge Peter J. McBrien is subject of Judicial Performance Commission inquiry

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elder Abuse or Slavery

Murray Feingold is old enough to retire. He has been a Postal worker for over forty years. He holds a full time position earning approximately $50,000 a year, in addition to working extensive overtime.

Murray was happy for all those years until he was introduced to the judicial system in 2000. The landlord of the building he had been living in for the prior ten years refused to make what Murray considered necessary repairs, so Murray resorted to self help and withheld a portion of the rent. The apartment that Murray was living in was rent controlled, so it is easy to understand why the landlord decided to start eviction proceedings.

Instead of eviction, Murray was placed under guardianship by Hon. Anthony Cutrona Justice of the Supreme Court in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY in March of 2001 in order to protect him.

This is when, Murray says his life turned into a nightmare. When a guardian is appointed for a person, all their civil rights are lost. Murray could no longer control his own money. The court ordered that all of Murrays salary, including all overtime pay must be sent to the guardian, a company ironically called Self Help Community Services, Inc. Each week, the guardian returns a total of $325 which he and his wife are expected to live on.

A recent copy of payments made by the guardian on behalf of Murray were impossible to decipher. Many of Murrays over due bills to places like cable and cell phone companies, as well as one credit card bill, were in arrears. Some were accumulating interest almost equalling the minimum amounts being paid by the guardian. There was no indication of the amount of fees taken out by the guardianship company as compensation for their services. For the forty years prior to having a guardian, Murray claims, he had no problems paying all his bills, including car payments.

Murray is in dire need of dental work. He is missing a few of his bottom teeth. Murray claims that he had been having dental work done but when the bill became five hundred dollars, the guardian would no longer pay it.

He is more concerned with his loss of hearing which is having a negative effect at his job. He says that his co-workers find it annoying because they have to constantly repeat instructions because Murray cant hear them when they speak. Sometimes people mistake his loudness for aggressiveness. According to Murray, he had a hearing test done last week and he is totally deaf in his right ear and partially deaf in his left. He said that he had ordered three hearing aids from a company called Hearing Aid Express using a personal check, but the guardian cancelled them.

It is hard to believe that a guardian of a person would not immediately address the issues which are negatively effecting the health and well-being of someone under their watch.

Murray has made his problem known to many agencies in New York, has contacted and emailed the first lady, Oprah Winfrey, etc. and has been told that they can not help him. Murray says he has written to Judge Cutrona asking for a hearing in order to get rid of this guardianship so often that recently the Judge wrote back accusing Murray of harassing him.

Question. Why doesn't Murray just retire and quit his job? Answer: The guardian will get his pension.

Being a victim of a guardianship is like being caught in quicksand. You don't realize what you have gotten yourself into, and it is near impossible to get out.