Saturday, February 28, 2009

Memoriam: Clarence M. Landis

Clarence M. Landis CARDIFF -- Clarence M. Landis died Wednesday, February 18, 2009, after a fall at Pacific Place in Vista. Originally from Pennsylvania, Clarence lived with his wife and family in San Diego for 30 years. He served in the Army in WWII. He worked for Canteen Corporation for 40 years, beginning as a route driver and ultimately as Corporate Vice President and then owning the distributorship in San Diego before retiring. Clarence was a founding member and former President of Nice Guys, a local charitable organization that helps families in need. Clarence was married to his late wife, Dorothy Landis for 45 years. He had four children, Shirley (deceased), Gordon (deceased); and is survived by two daughters, Joan Landis (Encinitas), and Nancy Landis (Escondido). He also has a niece, Carole Baver (Encinitas); and a sister, Margaret Freeman (Lancaster, Pa). Memorial Contributions: National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse: organization that fights elder abuse by Public Guardian Conservatorship, which Clarence became a victim of, losing a large portion of his estate and freedom prior to his death.Or to Nice Guys.

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Clarence M. Landis - Obit

Ad Hoc Committee - Crimes By Judges

Saint Paul Minnesota
February 27, 2009

Minnesota Legislators to Discipline Judges

In response to dozens of petitions by the citizens of the state of Minnesota, an Ad Hoc committee has been scheduled to hear the evidence of the corruption within the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

Spearheaded by minority whip Rep. Dan Severson, the bipartisan joint committee will convene on March 13th, 2009 at the State Office Building at 9:00AM in room 300N.

The ad hoc committee was formed because the chairs of the senate and house committees that oversee matters of the judiciary have refused to hear the citizen petitions concerning corruption in the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

The evidence to be presented to the ad hoc committee is massive and includes transcripts being altered, bribery, extortion, denial of access to the Grand Jury and numerous state and federal felonies by certain district and appellate court judges. Bills of impeachment against many judges will be brought.

Never before in the history of the state of Minnesota, and perhaps the nation, have the legislative committees charged with overseeing the matters in the judiciary refused to listen to the evidence of crimes being committed by judges.

Article Six Section Nine of the Minnesota Constitution clearly directs it is the intent of the people for the Legislature to discipline the Judicial Branch. The courageous legislators that have agreed to participate in the Ad Hoc committee number over a dozen and more are joining as citizens from across the state meet with their legislators and encourage participation.

Additionally, a press conference will be held the week of March 9th, 2009 to discuss the introduction of judicial reform bills and the agenda for the Ad Hoc committee.

Rep. Dan Severson at 651-296-7808
Nancy Lazaryan at

See also:
Dan Severson Ad...r 2-19-2009.pdf (87.4 KB, download)

Gast Charged with Perjury

Register Of Actions
Case No. 27-CR-08-57579
State of Minnesota vs SHEILA KAY MARTINEK GAST
Case Type:
Crim/Traf Mandatory
Date Filed:
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown
Party Information

Lead Attorneys


State of Minnesota


Charge Information



State of Minnesota - Register of Actions

See also:
Sheila Gast - Case Files

Friday, February 27, 2009

Probate Reformer Dies

If Gov. Rell and the General Assembly succeed at finally reforming our probate courts this year, some thanks must go to John Peters, a West Hartford lawyer who helped expose the Dan Gross tragedy.

A South Dakota native with a long legal career, Peters said he had an idea that might help free Daniel Gross through filing a longshot habeas corpus petition with Superior Court. The idea, Peters told me, was to get Gross in front a real judge.

The brash move resulted in Judge Joseph Gormley ordering Gross freed after living nearly a year in court-imposed imprisonment in a nursing home.

"A terrible miscarriage of justice has happened here,'' Gormley told the courtroom. Without Peters, Dan Gross might never have emerged from the nursing home where he was held against his will.

Peters' son said that his father died Tuesday of heart failure. He was 77.

Full Article and Source:
John Peters, probate reformer, dies at 77

Judge Charged With Theft

An attorney who served as municipal judge resigned after being arrested on charges of stealing about $80,000 from a client, police said.

Police Chief Ashley Wellborn: Attorney Bob Seale of Livingston was charged with theft last week after an audit revealed money missing from the account of a person for whom he was serving as legal guardian.

Seale confirmed in a phone interview that he had resigned his position as municipal judge in Livingston and nearby York, both located in Sumter County near the Mississippi line, but he declined comment on the charges.

Full Article and Source:
Judge quits after $80K theft arrest

More information:
West Alabama city judge quits after arrest on theft charge involving about $80,000

Judge resigns after theft charge

Thursday, February 26, 2009

International Court Battle

When David Goldman’s wife, Bruna, and their 4-year-old son, Sean, boarded a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport in June 2004, Mr. Goldman was planning to join them a week later in Rio de Janeiro. Several days later, Ms. Goldman called and said she wanted a divorce. She was staying in Brazil, her native country, and so was the boy, she announced.

With that call, the Goldman family was sent into a high-profile international abduction and custody case that continues in American and Brazilian courts and has now reached the highest levels of the Obama administration.

As the legal battle unfolded, Ms. Goldman was granted a divorce in Brazil and married her lawyer, João Paulo Lins e Silva, a son of a family lawyer in Rio. In August 2008, with the case pending in Supreme Federal Court, she died during the birth of the couple’s daughter.

Days later, Mr. Goldman flew to Brazil to take custody of his son, but a Family Court judge granted guardianship and custody of Sean to Mr. Lins e Silva, to “fully guarantee” Sean’s “personal and emotional development.” The court also denied Mr. Goldman’s request to visit his son.

The case has become a sore point in the relationship between the United States and Brazil and may be on the agenda when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Celso Amorim, the Brazilian foreign minister, meet in advance of a scheduled meeting next month between President Obama and the Brazilian president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, former and current State Department officials said.

Full Article and Source:
Court Battle Over a Child Strains Ties in 2 Nations

See also:

Ten Days to Produce Documents

A judge warned a metro-east attorney accused of taking money from a disabled adult under his care that he will be arrested if he doesn't produce financial documents within 10 days.

John F. Pawloski had been ordered to bring to court delinquent financial documents for three cases -- the guardianship case in which he is accused of taking $6,300 of his ward's money and two estate cases. Pawloski lawyer, Van-Lear Eckert, said doing so "might incriminate him in some future criminal proceedings."

Pawloski has not been charged criminally in the cases.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney accused of taking money from disabled adult must show documents or be arrested

See also:
John Pawloski Case

Judge Sides With Ward

A Family Court judge sided with a 21-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who wants to remove a limited guardianship over her Social Security.

Court-appointed guardians and a lawyer for her mother had argued that Sharona Dagani actually needed more guardianship supervision, not less, because of reckless and immature behavior shown by Dagani and her husband, Greg Dagani.

Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim indicated that he was uncomfortable with his decision, saying the case of Sharona Dagani “worries me” and “keeps me up at night.”

Norheim also said he felt legally bound by new psychiatric evaluations by Drs. Gregory Brown and Jill Margolis declaring Sharona Dagani to be mentally competent.

Because Sharona Dagani was not cooperating with her limited guardianship, the judge said it made little sense to continue the court protections.

Scott Cantor, the lawyer for Sharona Dagani’s mother said outside of court that he would contest the recommendation to remove the guardianship, which still must go before a district judge for review.

Full Article and Source:
Wife of ex-Board of Education member wins round in guardianship fight

See also:
Battle to Control Money

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bedpan Death Conviction

The owner of a nursing home has been found guilty of felony abuse and neglect in connection to charges stemming from an incident on Christmas day in 2005. As reported by Andrews Publications, Richard Gerhardt, a 76-year-old resident at the nursing home, who was recovering from a broken hip, was placed on a bed pan and left there for 24 hours. According to reports, the bedpan became embedded in his skin, causing an open wound that became infected and resulted in his death 5 days later.

The nursing home faces a possible $5000 fine and/or exclusion from federally funded health care programs. The case is noted to be rare, and may be the first of its type to lead to a conviction.

Elizabeth Staley, director of the New Mexico attorney general Elder Abuse and Medicaid Fraud Division: “Nursing home and care facilities are paid to provide round the clock care to those who cannot care for themselves… Protecting this population is of paramount importance to the New Mexico attorney general and similar violations will be prosecuted vigorously.”

Nursing Home Owner Convicted in Bedpan Death

High Rate of Confirmed Abuse

The San Antonio State School, home to nearly 300 vulnerable residents with mental disabilities, had the highest rate of confirmed abuse and neglect cases in Texas last year, with investigators confirming 27 cases for every 100 residents.

That’s more than twice as high as the statewide rate of 12 cases for every 100 residents who live in the state’s troubled facilities for people with mental retardation.

A review of public records shows:

*State investigators verified 77 cases of abuse and neglect at the San Antonio school in 2008, which propelled the facility to the highest per-capita rate of all 13 state schools in the past three years, according to numbers released by the Department of Family and Protective Services, which investigates abuse and neglect at the schools.

*Confirmed cases of neglect were the most frequent type of incident at San Antonio State School last year. Such cases can be as dangerous as physical abuse. Among the victims was a 44-year-old man with mental disabilities who was strictly prohibited from eating solid foods. Unsupervised for an hour, he choked to death while trying to eat a sandwich, records show.

*Cases of neglect more than doubled in San Antonio in the past two years as the facility struggled to adequately staff the school, much like other Texas state schools.

*In the entire state school system, investigators confirmed more than 570 allegations of abuse and neglect in 2008. That’s the highest total in the past five years. Beth Mitchell, managing attorney for Advocacy Inc., a federally funded agency that protects the legal rights of the disabled, called the San Antonio numbers “atrocious.”

Jeff Garrison-Tate, president of Community Now!, a statewide group that wants to move people with disabilities into community-based care: "That tells you how messed up our system of accountability is."

Full Article and Source:
Neglect, abuse at S.A. State School

Trial Date Set

A new trial date has been set for the man accused of swindling millions of dollars for socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor.

Anthony Marshall's trial is expected to begin March 2nd.

He's accused of bilking millions of dollars and mistreating his mother.

Full Article and Source:
Trial date set for Brooke Astor's son

See also:
Jury Selection Scheduled

Marshall's Criminal Trial

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Introductions to the Problem

Dear Senator Laird,
Thank you for introducing legislation (SB240) to address the problem of elder abuse and neglect. I would like to interest you in sponsoring additional legislation in this area to address the needs described below.
Thank you for giving this your thoughtful consideration.

Tom Fields
Mentor, Ohio

A simple introduction to the problem is provided by the following three brief points (with an emphasis on the first point)

----- Point #1 (The Problem) -----
Under normal circumstances, witnessing the signature of a document is little more than a formality. But under some circumstances, such as when someone signs a Will while morphine is being dripped into their veins under a Do Not Resuscitate order, witnessing a document needs to be much more than a formality. Unfortunately, it isn't, and that is one of the outstanding problems which lawmakers have failed to realistically address.

----- Point #2 (A Recommendation) -----
This problem is addressed by a recommendation that was proposed by the American Medical Association and is included on pages 5 and 6 of the Ohio Physicians Elder Abuse Prevention Project Report. Much of this report, including the important pages mentioned here, is copied online, beginning with the report's front cover at

----- Point #3 (Another Recommendation) -----
This problem was also addressed at the White House Conference on Aging by a complementary proposal that is copied online at

Irene Massiello, author of Paradise Costs offers another simple introduction

If a senior citizen cannot explain the need and ramifications of any document whether it is a legal contract, a do not resuscitate order, a will, a power of attorney, a check, a bank transfer, stock sale, etc., the person that accepts the change may be an abuser or exploiter. A senior citizen who simply says, "yes," and agrees, stating they understand the document and/or the situation is NOT be considered to understand the situation or agreement unless they can explain what the paperwork, financial transaction, healthcare decision, etc., means, the reason for it, why it's needed in the way of actual effects now or the eventual outcome on their life. COACHING to obtain an answer from anyone in any form may be elder abuse.

These simple introductions are closely related. One way Irene's important point could be effectively addressed is to begin by identifying the various circumstances under which existing law presumes such a document is not valid. This provides the basis needed to identify seniors who are at risk of being exploited. For example, it is my understanding that the law presumes that such documents are invalid when signed by someone in my father's condition at the time he was exploited (just hours before he died and while morphine was being dripped into his veins under a Do Not Resuscitate order). In order to reliably address such circumstances, the law needs to differentiate them from other situations at the time they arise, long before they are brought before the court in what essentially amounts to a challenge of this presumption. In other words, such infirmities and vulnerabilities must be dealt with by demanding stricter safeguards at the time the important document is signed. What needs to be included in these stricter safeguards, who should be responsible for implementing them, and how should they be implemented? A requirement for the infirm individual to explain, without coaching, the need and ramifications of the document they sign, as Irene addresses, is certainly needed. But to whom should this explanation be given, how should it be solicited, and how should it be recorded? Should it be solicited by the beneficiary, the beneficiary's representative, or someone trying to do the beneficiary a favor, as Dr. Sonneborn testified regarding his connection to what took place at my father's bedside? Specific considerations of this kind need to be developed, a fact which seems to have been recognized two decades ago by those authorities who contributed to the American Medical Association recommendation that is linked above.

In summary, we need our laws to
(1) expressly identify/enumerate/list situations which give rise to a presumption of incapacity, negligence or wrongdoing, and then
(2) provide safeguards like those recommended above when these situations arise, long before they are brought before the court in what essentially amounts to a challenge of this presumption.

Tougher Penalty for Elder Abuse

See also:
Irving Lincoln Fields

John Pawloski Case

State regulators have accused a metro-east lawyer of wrongdoing in his role as a public guardian, including the unauthorized use of $6,300 of a disabled adult ward's money on himself.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission claims in their complaint filed in November that when he allegedly took the money, John F. Pawloski was acting as a public guardian, an appointment made in each county by the governor to serve as guardian of minors or disabled adults when no family member or other person is interested.

A spokesman said that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich never appointed Pawloski as public guardian. Illinois secretary of state records show St. Clair County hasn't had an appointed public guardian since 2004. The case in which Pawloski is accused and listed as public guardian was filed in 2007.

Pawloski, who has handled at least 10 disabled adult guardianship and estate cases in St. Clair County since 2004, also is accused by the ARDC of not communicating with a client about her deceased brother's estate case and of not cooperating with an investigation of his actions.

Full Article and Source:
Metro-east attorney accused of using disabled ward's money on himself

Battle to Control Money

In the hallways of Family Court, women with outstretched arms have prayed over a 21-year-old woman who is in a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy.

Friends from the Thai Presbyterian Church have supported Sharona Dagani as she has fought to gain greater control over her $2 million trust fund and for more independence as an adult.

Her mother and estate guardians, however, worry that Dagani is too immature and susceptible to the influence of others, especially to Dagani’s husband, Greg Dagani, who was known as Greg Nance when he was a member of the Nevada Board of Education.

Greg Dagani said his relationship with Sharona is like a “dream come true” because he is 50 years old but has attracted a young wife with cover-girl model looks. The couple would like to conceive a child.

But the lawyer for Sharona Dagani’s mother has argued that Sharona needs a court-appointed guardian to look after her welfare, because her husband is an “undue influence.” Sharona is especially vulnerable because she has the emotional maturity of a 14-year-old, according to court filings.

Full Article and Source:
21-Year-old Battles To Control Money

See also:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tougher Penalty for Elder Abuse

When it comes to punishment for abuse and neglect resulting in death, West Virginia law makes a distinction between children and the elderly, and Sen. Bill Laird thinks that is wrong.

Moving to erase the disparity, Laird offered a bill that would impose the same penalties on anyone abusing or neglecting an incapacitated adult to the point of death.

That means instead of going to prison for two to 10 years, the guilty would be looking at a stretch of 10 to 40 years under SB240.

In short, his legislation would subject anyone allegedly violating the enhanced law to a charge of second-degree murder if the abuse or neglect resulted in death.

In some instances, the safety and welfare of incapacitated adults is left in the hands of caregivers. While relatives quickly come to mind, the former sheriff noted anyone who assumes the responsibility for the care of an elderly person, such as acting in a fiduciary capacity, would be covered.

Neglect covers such omissions as denying the incapacitated food, water and other necessities of life — issues they cannot provide on their own.

Laird : “The premise of this bill is that incapacitated elderly persons are just as much vulnerable to abuse and neglect issues as would be certainly our children.”

Full Article and Source:
Laird offers bill to stiffen penalties for elder abuse, neglect

Motion to Remove Advocates

An attempt by the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program to remove child advocates from criminal cases in Collier County was denied after a judge said it not only would leave children without representation, but could result in charges against sex-offenders and child abusers being dropped.

Guardians ad litem (GAL) are volunteers whose job is to explain to a child victim or witness, in simple language, the legal proceedings, and to advise a judge of the minor’s ability to understand and cooperate and assist the child and family in coping with the emotional effects of the crime. The program wants to be discharged from all criminal cases in which there is no companion case in dependency court involving the state Department of Children and Families, which works on behalf of children removed from their homes in cases of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

The ad Litem program had cited state funding cuts.

According to the state program’s annual report, its 2007-2008 budget was cut 4 percent, while its 2008-09 budget was slashed an additional 3.2 percent — resulting in a more than $2.5 million decrease that forced it to cut staff, institute a hiring freeze and reduce the number of children represented. The report says its ability to represent the roughly 30,344 children is further hindered because 4 percent of the existing year’s appropriation is being withheld. As a result, more than 5,100 children statewide have no advocate in dependency cases.

Full Article and Source:
Judge denies motion to remove child advocates

Family Will Seek Guardianship

The family of a woman who was mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee says her twin brother plans to go to court to seek guardianship of the victim and her daughter.

Steve Nash: "That's the way my sister would want it." Charla Nash remains under sedation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where she is being evaluated by teams of physicians.

Charla Nash's twin, Michael, needs the legal designation to make decisions on behalf of Charla and her 17-year-old daughter, Briana, who is staying with family friends in Connecticut.

Charla Nash was transferred from Stamford Hospital in Connecticut to Ohio with massive injuries to her face and hands from the Feb. 16 attack by Travis, a chimpanzee owned by her friend, 70-year-old Sandra Herold of Stamford.

Herold, who owned the 14-year-old chimp for nearly all his life, has said she fed Travis the finest foods, including steak, lobster, cheesecake and wine. Travis combed her hair and they slept in the same bed.

Herold asked Charla Nash to come to her home the day of the attack to help lure Travis back into her house. Herold has speculated that the chimp was trying to protect her and attacked Nash because she had changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get Travis' attention.

When Travis attacked, Herold stabbed him with a butcher knife and struck him with a shovel in unsuccessful attempts to move him away. Police, who shot and killed the chimp, said it appeared Nash's face was ripped away in the 12-minute attack. Four teams of surgeons operated on Nash for more than seven hours to stabilize her before she was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic.

Full Article and Source:
Family to seek guardianship of chimp attack victim

More information:
Chimp attack victim weak, brother says

Twin Of Chimp's Victim Seeks Guardianship

Judge Center

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly recently launched a Web site called "Judge Center" which allows attorneys to register online and post comments about each judge, good or bad, as well as rank them numerically in a number of categories from "poor" to "excellent."

While local judges have mixed reaction to the site, local attorneys believe any feedback for judges is a good thing.

Currently, the Massachusetts court system gathers evaluations on judges from lawyers, court staff and citizens for each county every two to three years. Though the results are shared with the judges, the evaluations are not made public.

Lawyers who want to post on the site must register and provide their names, firm, phone number, address and e-mail. Mass Lawyer Weekly then cross-checks the information to verify the lawyer's identity but keeps the comments of the lawyers anonymous.

Full Article and Source:
Web site gives lawyers a chance to judge the judges

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Sweeping Legacy

In Turners Falls, nearly 100 miles west of where she spent decades confined in Boston psychiatric facilities, Ruby Rogers died quietly in a nursing home, a relatively anonymous end for a woman whose name is routinely invoked during court hearings involving the mentally ill.

Ms. Rogers, who spent her last years at the Farren Care Center, left a sweeping legacy that established key rights for the mentally ill in the Commonwealth. With Rogers v. Okin, the landmark case that bore her name, she also helped determine the course other states took to help certain psychiatric patients participate in decisions about their treatment. Courts and lawmakers elsewhere examined the precedent that Ms. Rogers and six others set with the lawsuit they filed in 1975.

As a result of that case, the mentally ill in Massachusetts must give informed consent before doctors and nurses administer medication. A doctor who believes a patient isn't competent to grant permission must schedule what is known as a "Rogers hearing." If the patient is found to be legally incompetent, a judge - through what is called "substituted judgment" - decides whether the patient would want to accept the prescribed treatment.

Full Article and Source:
Ruby Rogers; helped win key rights for mentally ill

See also:
Ruby Rogers Center

Lawsuit Against Facility

Elderberry Square, an assisted living facility is the subject of a second lawsuit alleging severe neglect and abuse.

The $1,000,000 lawsuit was filed in Lane County Circuit Court against Elderberry Square, brought by the wife and guardian of an 80-year old man, who at the time of his admission to the facility was suffering from advanced dementia.

This suit alleges he was left alone and unsupervised, resulting in repeated falls, one of which resulted in a broken wrist. In addition, the man’s wife, on numerous visits to Elderberry, found her husband unattended and soiled with his own waste matter.

All of this occurred in the little more than two-month period following his admission to Elderberry.

“Our position is that you don’t get a second chance, let alone a third, when it comes to protecting vulnerable senior citizens,” said attorney Kelly Clark, which filed the lawsuit.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Assisted Living Facility Hit With Second Lawsuit

State of the Child Conference

Gangs, childhood obesity and child abuse laws are several of the topics expected to be addressed at the 2009 State of the Child Conference.

The March 6 event, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mount Olive College, is a collection of 13 workshops intended to arm parents, educators and mentors with the information needed to hone their child care skills.

Colleen Kosinski, district administrator for the Guardian ad Litum program: "This is a conference put on by a community group who recognizes the need for training for folks working with children who are involved with the school system, the court system and through the abuse and neglect system. We just felt like there was a need for training, and since training dollars are kind of short, we put this conference together each year."

Kosinski said the conference is open to the general public, adding it's a valuable resource for parents who have a child with attention deficit disorder and professionals working with gang issues.

Full Article and Source:
State of the Child Conference slated

Opposite Opinions

Columbo can care for himself.

That's the word from the lawyer appointed by an L.A. judge to evaluate whether Peter Falk needed to be placed under a conservatorship controlled by his daughter, who has claimed the 81-year-old TV legend suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is unable to manage his personal and financial affairs.

In documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Clark R. Byam stated that he had met with Falk and described the four-time Emmy winner as having been "well dressed, clean and composed" during the visit. Byam said he didn't see any justification for Falk's daughter, Catherine, to assume custodial care over him.

Byam's report noted that a probate investigator also assigned to examine Falk's well-being recommended just the opposite—that he does in fact need a guardian to look after his affairs, hence the conservatorship.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer: Ailing Peter Falk Doesn't Need Daughter Butting In

See also:
War Over Falk

"My Dad Has Alzheimer's"