Saturday, December 20, 2008

Allegations of Courtroom Abuse

* Baby Boomers watch out, the legal system of Judge's Attorney's and Guardian's want your money and they will do whatever they can to get your money. The Courtroom is nothing less than a Mockery of Justice, so prepare now so you do not become a victim. *

Judge Norman Gerstein took over a fraudulent guardianship case and continued to allow the elderly person to lose all of her assets. While the case was under investigation, Norman Gerstein allows large somes of money to be extorted from the then 74 year old, Yvonne Sarhan, the victim. After the investigators found that Yvonne Sarhan Constitutional Rights were violated and that this case should be dismissed, Norman Gerstein, delayed proper procedure and swept the fraudulent activity under the rug. Gerstein stated, He would have to check with the Florida Bar to see if this were a conflict of interest, he never came back with an answer, but dropped out of the case.

After a two year investigation we found that Judge Bruce Levy violated Yvonne Sarhan's Constitutional Rights of Due Process by allowing Enrique Zamora to represent Yvonne Sarhan when he was already representing the Emergency Temporary Guardian, Barbra Resier, an adverse party. Even after Yvonne Sarhan was ruled competent by Dr. Mario Sanchez Martinez and Dr. David Racher, Judge Bruce Levey stated, "She is not competent until I say she is competent, her rights are denied."

Full Article and Source:
Judge Norman Gerstein Allows Elderly People to be Abused and Exploited in his Courtroom

See also:
Federal Suit Dismissed

Plea for Justice

Family Court of Injustice

Many good fathers find themselves getting railroaded too many times in Family Court, this non-criminal venue. The court’s mission is to operate "in the best interest of the child." I would like to ask, can anyone in the Family Court show us how many families they save? I personally know of many families the courts have torn apart – the Family Court’s interest is with those who have benefited from troubled relations and children in need of a little guidance.

Darryl Brown now knows he is not an exception to the rule. Since November 2006, Brown has found himself locked in an un-winnable battle with his daughter’s mother, Arlanda Murray; the Department of Education (DOE); the New York City Corporation Council, which is the city’s Law Department; the Administration for Children Services (ACS); Lawyers for Children – a private organization funded by the state; and, Leake and Watts – a private institution in Yonkers New York being referred to as a "Residential Treatment Center," where he says his daughter is being held, beaten as punishment, and drugged for "treatment."

Here’s the irony of this story. Brown petitioned the Family Court complaining about how his daughter’s mother was treating her and filed for sole custody of the child. The mother in turn responded with her own set of tricks – making counter complaints and allegations as Brown witnessed the system turning on him. It is sad to say too many fathers have learned they do not have a friend in Family Court.

Full Article and Source:
The Family Court Of Injustice

Contact Winkfield for his consideration regarding covering your own story: (347) 632-2272 By mail: On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423;
Email: or
call (212) 481-7745.
Together we can get the justice everyone just talks about.

Whistleblower Settlement

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $148,000 settlement for an employee of the Department of Public Social Services who blew the whistle on in-home-care fraud and elder abuse.

The case involved Sandra Siedenburg, who worked as an In-Home Supportive Services social worker for more than six years an office of the DPSS.

In the process of working on files, Siedenburg noticed many instances of elder abuse, theft of government funds and fraud committed by IHSS providers and clients.

In one case, she reported that an IHSS worker beat up an elderly woman who had a disabled son in a vegetative state in her home. She also reported the case of an IHSS provider who stabbed the blind boyfriend she was caring for in his heart. And she reported six cases in which IHSS providers took care of "phantom" clients, using fake Social Security numbers and Social Security numbers of dead people.

Siedenburg: "Within my caseload, I actually have some IHSS providers who are currently serving prison sentences for assaulting my clients. Also, I am finding that there is a large population of providers who are allegedly using drugs while caring for clients."

Siedenburg reported the fraud and abuse to her superiors, but the county failed to conduct investigations. Later, officials retaliated against Siedenburg by threatening to investigate her, transferring her and removing her as a backup supervisor.

Whistle-blower settlement OK'd

See also:
Suit alleges retaliation for complaint

Friday, December 19, 2008

Judicial Hellholes

The American Tort Reform Foundation has released its Judicial Hellholes 2008/2009 report, naming some of the nation's "most unfair civil court jurisdictions."

Included in the report are perennial "Hellholes" West Virginia, South Florida and Cook County, Illinois; relative newcomers Clark County, Nevada, and Atlantic County, New Jersey; as well as Los Angeles County, California, and Alabama's Macon and Montgomery counties, both of which are returning to the unwanted spotlight after respective absences.

The report also cites several "Watch List" jurisdictions that are on the cusp -"they may yet fall into the Hellholes abyss or rise to the promise of Equal Justice Under Law."

Included in the Watch List are the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast of Texas; the once notorious Madison County, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis (the City of), and St. Louis and Jackson counties, Missouri.

Also noted less severely as "other areas to watch" were Orange County, California; St. Clair County, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and the states of Minnesota and Oklahoma.

American Tort Reform Association’s -
Annual list of America’s worst “Judicial Hellholes”

American Tort Reform Association’s -
Press Release

See also:
'Judicial Hellhole' Report Pushes Need for Balanced Civil Justice System

Estate Looting

The legal profession is not generally well regarded. A particularly heinous sub-culture surrounds the probate industry in which lawyers and select clients (wannabe heirs, disgruntled family members, etc.) use probate venues and/or estate planning instruments (wills, trusts, guardianships) to perpetrate Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) actions – or more simply put, to loot assets of the dead or disabled/incapacitated.

IRA actions found in high profile cases often parallel the looting acts perpetrated on estates of far less value. These high profile cases can establish precedents - both good and bad - that impact people at all levels of the economic spectrum. It´s important to understand these "infamous" cases as similar scenarios could play out in your life.

Full Article:
Estate Looting of the Rich and Famous (and How It Can Happen to You)

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture ( ). She also is producer of The Lynn Woolley Show, a Texas-based talk radio program. Lou Ann may be contacted at

See also:

Lawyer Suspended For One Year

Accused of misusing client funds, a local lawyer will not be able to practice law for a year.

The state Board of Bar Overseers’ suspension of Lawrence P. McLaughlin’s license stemmed from Mr. McLaughlin’s handling of a trust and his Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account.

The board said Mr. McLaughlin had represented the executor of an estate and was confirmed as trustee of a related trust. Mr. McLaughlin didn’t open an individual trust account for the trust as required and, in August 2005, the executor transferred the estate’s remaining funds to Mr. McLaughlin’s IOLTA account. The board said Mr. McLaughlin should have been holding at least $285,812 for the trust’s beneficiary.

The board noted that Mr. McLaughlin failed to keep a “chronological and accurate check register” for his IOLTA account. He also failed to maintain individual client ledgers, as well as copies of deposit tickets and checks with information identifying clients.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer’s license suspended for one year

Custody Battle: Arrest and Suspension

The North Carolina Medical Board suspended Dr. Werner Scott Haddon's license – after the doctor was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault and battery with intent to kill and one count each of kidnapping and burglary.

Dr. Haddon, a general surgeon, was arrested after he allegedly kidnapped his son, who was in the guardianship of his grandmother.

Dr. Haddon held his son hostage and became involved in a police standoff. After firing several shots at officers, the boy escaped, and Dr. Haddon continued to fire at police. He was taken into custody after police returned fire and shot him.

New York Suspends Licenses Of Three Doctors

See also:
Doctor shot while fleeing with his son -Boy escapes after police stun suspect

Amid struggle over child, surgeon had been labeled a high risk for violence

Tense drama included gun to boy’s head

Raleigh surgeon could lose license

Doctor Shot by Police After Authorities Say He Fired On Officers

Kidnap suspect out of hospital, appears in court

Notice of charges and allegations against Dr. Werner Scott Haddon

Order of summary suspension of license for Dr. Werner Scott Haddon

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Battle Over Judge's Will

A feud between the late Judge Earl Morgan’s descendants and a North Platte animal charity is being waged in Lincoln County Court.

In his will, the former Lincoln County District Judge left the bulk of his estimated $3.2 million estate to Paws-itive Partners Humane Society.

Morgan’s two remaining children – Bob Morgan and Dorothy Simants – are contesting the will and willing to wage battle in court to hold onto their father’s estate.

In a filing petition to set aside the informal probate of the will, they claim Morgan was “susceptible to the exercise of undue influence because of his advanced age and physical and mental condition” when he signed his final will May 5, 2006.

Morgan would have been 87-years-old then.

According to the petition filed by attorney George Vinton: “The execution of the will was procured by the exercise of undue influence by a representative of Paws-itive Partners Humane Society …” The petition also said that the disposition of Morgan’s assets was not his decision but that he was influenced. The petition asks that a judge deny probate.

The petition said that Morgan did not have sufficient mental capacity to understand the terms and provisions of his will and did not know the extent of his property and did not understand what would happen to the land according to the will.

The petition says Morgan’s will is “void and unenforceable” and should be ruled invalid.

The petition also seeks to remove long-time North Platte attorney Charles W. Baskins as the estate’s personal representative and replace him with Dorothy Simants, Morgan’s daughter.

Full Article and Source:
Legal battles loom over will of former judge

See also:
Family contests will after money left to animal group

DCF Violated State Laws

According to an internal report by the department’s general counsel obtained by the Times-Union, the Florida Department of Children and Families repeatedly violated state laws and its own procedures by not releasing records to lawyers for children in a Nassau County foster home abuse case.

The department also improperly destroyed and misplaced some records, failed to retrieve others from foster parents and illegally released confidential child-abuse reports without a court order to a lawyer representing department employees.

Those were the same records that department lawyers in Jacksonville told the children’s lawyers they couldn’t find, a situation the report called “inexplicable.”

The report says: “The facts and circumstances of this case reveal that record management procedures in the Northeast region are inadequate.”

Full Article and Source:
DCF shirked procedures in Nassau abuse case

See also:
DCF slapped over sloppy records -
Report criticizes agency in case of suspected foster children abuse

Court allows suit over alleged abuse

State Lost Track

According to his lawyer, Robley Carr Jr. was a victim of the state Department of Social and Health Services' (DSHS) mistakes. He was a victim not once, but twice. In 2003, state and federal authorities paid $5 million to settle claims that Robley and three siblings were horribly abused in foster care.

Now, the state has agreed to pay an additional $320,000 to settle a claim that it failed to protect Robley even after that.

He died at age 15.

"How did they lose track of him again?" asks Tim Tesh, the Seattle lawyer who filed both legal claims. "It's a hard question to answer."

The state said only this:

"All I can tell you is that DSHS regrets the unfortunate death of this young man. We believe the $320,000 award is a fair and just settlement."

Full Article and Source:
DSHS settles case of boy's death; lawyer asks how state lost track

See also:
Washington settles foster death claim for $320,000

Guardian May Be Ordered

The Clark County Guardianship Commissioner ordered that Sharoni Dagani, the wife of former Nevada Board of Education member Greg Dagani, be evaluated by doctors to determine whether a guardian should appointed for her personal welfare.

The 50-year-old husband Greg Dagani was called an “undue influence” by Scott Cantor, the lawyer for Sharoni Dagani’s mother, Joan Albstein. Sharoni Dagani, 21, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.

Dagani and her husband had been living in a filthy apartment but have not been updating their whereabouts with officials responsible for managing her personal trust fund and Social Security and Medicaid, according to testimony.

Outside court, Greg Dagani dismissed the allegations as “lies” and said he has never told his wife what to do. He said they are living comfortably in a three-bedroom house.

Source: Guardian might be ordered for ex-board of education member's wife

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Removing "Bully" Judge

A Luzerne County judge described as a bully has been removed from office.

Our second-hand study of the case suggests that Judge Ann H. Lokuta had abused her office to such an extent that the Court of Judicial Discipline's report is "scathing."

So - good. She is off the bench.

What is not good is that the case took more than four years to reach its conclusion. Four years is too long.

Full Article and Source:
Judge's removal OK, but it took too long

A county judge described as a bully on the bench was stripped of her office in the longest and most costly judicial ethics investigation in Pennsylvania history.

The Court of Judicial Discipline also banned Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Ann H. Lokuta from holding any state judicial office in the future.

Lokuta, who attended the hearing, said she would appeal to the state Supreme Court but declined further comment.

Full Article and Source:
'Bully' Judge Banned From Bench After Record-Setting Investigation

The Court of Judicial Discipline voted 6-1 on Tuesday to remove Lokuta from office based on its findings that her behavior on the bench brought disrepute to the office and prejudiced the administration of justice. Lokuta has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The key issue is whether Lokuta’s seat is truly “vacant” given the possibility that the decision could be overturned on appeal.

Full Article and Source:
Appeal could slow replacing Lokuta

See also:
Lokuta benched

State court bans Lokuta from bench

Ethics board, Sprague rip upstate judge

Luzerne judge vows to fight violations of judicial code

Pa. ethics panel: Judge's behavior 'scandalous'

Understanding Attorney Fees

Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on legal fees. While some are satisfied customers who are getting competent legal help at reasonable prices, many others believe legal fees are way too high and would rather leave a legal problem unresolved than pay for services they cannot afford. As a legal consumer, your best defense against paying more than you should is to educate yourself about legal fees before signing on the dotted line.

To learn more about lawyer fees and tips on how you can lower your legal costs, download HALT’s new guide Understanding Attorney Fees (pdf)

Visit HALT at

or write to HALT for a free copy at:
HALT—An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform
1612 K St NW Suite 510
Washington, DC 20006

Accused Abusers Not Charged

No criminal charges will be filed against several caregivers whose abuse of an elderly patient at the state-run Emily P. Bissell Hospital was captured on a surveillance camera.

Jason Miller, an attorney general spokesman: "The agency [Delaware Attorney General's Office] is declining to prosecute even though investigations by the hospital and the state's Division of Long Term Care Resident Protection substantiated the allegations."

Three employees were terminated and another two were suspended without pay. Four of the five employees also have been placed on the state's Adult Abuse Registry, a list of caregivers who have substantiated allegations of abuse.

The 75-year-old woman in question was in the Bissell Hospital with a fractured leg after a fall in January 2007. Disagreements between two different factions in her family regarding the level of care being given at Bissell led to a mandatory mediation in October resulting in the appointment of a public guardian.

The guardian requested she be moved to another facility.

Full Article and Source:
Bissell workers accused of abuse face no charges

See also:
Relatives Claim Retaliation

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Common Law Marriage Unrecognized

Joe John Sorce never thought it would end this way. In a hospital room with his longtime companion, Mary Clark, as she took her last breaths. He, holding her hand, unable to do anything about it.

The 63-year-old Sorce in recent weeks had fought to keep the woman he calls "my wife of 18 years" on life support at the hospital.

Before she died, a battle would wage over who would decide when Clark would be removed from life support and who would decide, Sorce or Clark's estranged children.

What ensued exemplifies the uneasy reality of end-of-life concerns: the legal, medical, ethical and moral issues that burst into the national consciousness during court battles.

Nevada doesn't honor what Sorce said was a common law marriage, doctors and nurses told Sorce he could play no role in medical decisions on her behalf. Instead, medical authorities twice consulted with the woman's estranged daughter on whether to take her off life support.

Marina Kolias was hired by Sorce in an attempt to get him named as Clark's guardian.

Judge Norheim granted a "temporary special limited guardianship" to Sorce following a hearing, allowing him access to Clark's medical providers. But he refused to give Sorce the authority to make any medical decisions on Clark's behalf.

Sorce said he received word in the late afternoon of Nov. 19 that hospital officials had again received permission from Clark's daughter to withdraw life support.

Clark died early on Nov. 20.

Full Article and Source:
Helpless as companion dies - State law allows estranged daughter to decide woman's fate

"My Dad Has Alzheimer's"

The daughter of Hollywood legend Peter Falk says her father is no longer competent to run his own life because he suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Catherine Falk filed legal papers in L.A. County Superior Court claiming her father "requires full-time custodial care for his health and safety."

In the docs, Catherine claims she is worried her father "can easily be deceived into transferring away property" and believes a conservatorship will protect Peter from "fraud or undue influence."

A hearing on the matter is set for next month.

Peter Falk's Daughter: My Dad Has Alzheimer's

Monday, December 15, 2008

Conservator Cheated Grandmother

Charges have been filed against a man accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his grandmother. Jervon Ware, the grandson, is her court-appointed conservator.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says Ware cheated his grandmother out of nearly $37,000. The money was taken over a period of about three years, from social security checks and Catholic Social Service pension checks.

Ware is accused of using the cash buy drugs and alcohol, and to support his girlfriend and her daughter. Pickell says he even purchased two cars using his grandmother's funds.

According to investigators, Ware even remortgaged her home twice to replace the money he was spending, allegedly right before audits were done as part of his court-appointed conservatorship.

Pickell: "The courts placed him in a very trusting position and he violated that trust."

Man accused of stealing from grandmother

See also:
Grandson charged in warrant with embezzling nearly $37,000 from his grandmother

Judge Defends Probate Court

Protecting People In The Court Of Last Resort
Probate Judges Must Exercise Diligence In Appointing Conservators To Run Others' Affairs

Paul J. Knierim is probate court administrator and judge of the Simsbury probate court.
See: Probate Investigation

"Conservatorship and the ability of the Connecticut probate system to handle this important area of the law have become controversial. But the important fact is that some of our most vulnerable citizens would be at great risk of harm without the appointment of a conservator. Although reports about extraordinary cases can help us learn ways to improve, Connecticut's probate courts do an excellent job of handling thousands of these highly personal family matters every year."

Full Article and Source:
Protecting People In The Court Of Last Resort

Do you agree? Or disagree? Be heard with a Letter to the Editor:

See also:

Plank Returns Home

After a hard fought probate court battle that fractured a family, 85-year-old Marilyn Plank returned home to Michigan where her former conservator said she is happy to be.

Her return came after Greenwich Probate Judge David Hopper denied a last minute "ex parte" emergency order for a stay filed by one of the daughters who originally brought Plank to Greenwich in 2007, Linda Higgins.

Court records show that Plank had been the object of a family legal battle after two of her daughters moved her from Michigan to Greenwich, leading to a contentious dispute in which the family was split over where she should reside permanently.

Some of Plank's seven children said she was moved to the Greens of Greenwich against her will and forced to stay, while another faction maintained she was moved to receive better medical care.

After a year, Hopper eventually ruled in favor of Richard Margenot's request to return Plank to an assisted living facility in Michigan. Margenot was appointed as Plank's independent conservator to represent her interests in court proceedings.

Full Article and Source:
Court battle resolved as elderly woman returns home

See also:
Probate Judge Frees Woman

Probate Investigation

Probate-Sanctioned Kidnapping