Saturday, September 11, 2010

No Guardian for Huguette Clark!

A New York judge has rebuffed a request to appoint a guardian for a reclusive, 104-year-old heiress to a Montana copper fortune. Her relatives fear her lawyer and accountant are manipulating her for their benefit.

The judge's ruling Thursday says the relatives are relying on secondhand and speculative claims that Huguette Clark (hew-GET') is incapacitated and needs a guardian.

Full Article and Source:
NY Judge: No Guardian for Copper Heiress, 104

Your Honor?

Juli Alexander, Executive Director of Redress, Inc. candidly discusses the present condition of the American judicial system. Examples of life destroying decisions void of common sense, morality and law handed down by judges are cited.


Woman Pleads Guilty to Elder Exploitation

He made people laugh as a writer for such television series as "All in the Family," "Welcome Back Kotter," and "Chico and the Man." He died alone in his house in Hurley, a victim of elderly exploitation by a woman whom George Bloom's family said had convinced them that she was taking care of him.

On Aug. 18, Vallie Phillips, 67, pleaded guilty to two, third-degree felony charges of forgery and four, fourth-degree felony counts of forgery in connection with Bloom's exploitation. As part of a plea agreement, Phillips was ordered to pay restitution of $16,900 by Wednesday to Bloom's estate, which has been paid. She also was placed on five years probation, with a conditional discharge, meaning that after she completes her probation there will be no criminal record of a conviction.

"He was living in a home infested with mice," according to a statement that Bloom's family - his son, George Bloom III, and his daughters, Eva Bloom, Laura Bloom and Alison Bloom - prepared for the court. "He had little food, no running water and no heat and there were mice feces everywhere. The stench in his house was unbearable.

"This is a human tragedy," George Bloom III said. "The day he died, the only reason she (Phillips) cried, if she cried at all, was because she knew the money train was over. We just don't want this to happen to anyone else."

Full Article and Source:
Woman Pleads Guilty in Elder Exploitation Case

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ginger's Story

This is the story of my friend Ginger who is now under a guardianship because of a traumatic brain injury from which she has completely healed. We have tried so hard to get her guardianship terminated, but have been unsuccessful so far, but may be very close.

I read Tennessee codes regarding guardianships and conservatorships, and was also advised by a judge in another county to send a letter to the probate judge in Davidson County asking for the guardianship to be terminated. I did that and it was promptly ignored. I also sent a copy to Ginger's guardian and got no response. I expected that at the very least she would be courteous and call to discuss it, either with me, or Ginger, or both....I was wrong.

In May of this year, I decided I'd take Ginger to see her guardian. I thought, how could she not see with her own eyes, talk to Ginger, and decide, WOW! She's really healed, and appears to have no memory loss.

I thought the guardian would say...."How wonderful...let's terminate this thing!"

BUT, Ginger was told that "maybe you're acting, I don't know for sure".....and "the judge will only accept a report from a neuro-psychiatrist"....AND, the guardian wanted to send Ginger to a weight loss clinic!!!

This summer I was helped with another letter to the judge and guardian. All the t's were supposed to be crossed and all the i's dotted!!! We sent it, waited for a response.....and NONE came. Found out this court doesn't recognize anything other than petitions. But, couldn't the guardian have at least given a response??

Full Article and Source:
My Friend Ginger's Story

The Awakening

Life is strange. And the more I learn about life and what happens here, the stranger it gets.

[In]February, 2010 I read the Scene article – Court Ordered Hell – How an errant judge and a controlling sibling stripped Nashville rocker Danny Tate of his money, his livelihood and his legal rights. Initially, I couldn’t digest it; I had to read it two, three, four times. I’m STILL reading it. It tracks like a bad Mickey Spillane novel. It’s a horribly intriguing story, one that still leaves me gobsmacked; come on! How can that really happen? In the perfect and balanced world I’d held in my mind and heart, it couldn’t. But the ugly truth began to dawn: life is not what I thought it was. This kind if thing does happen, is happening, to people all over the country every single day.

I communicated with Kevin Montgomery, the friend who shared the article with me, and expressed my outrage.

“There’s a movement afoot for Danny. You need to be our boots on the ground in TN,” he told me. I was a bit knocked back on my heels. Who, me?! Kevin told me about the efforts to help this guy. He said he’d made me an admin on the Danny Tate FB group site.

“Okay,” I said. What have I gotten into?

“You and Danny need to meet.”

“Okay.” I was willing to meet; I was intensely curious. The concept of what had happened to this man haunted my thoughts, showed up in my dreams. How does this kind of thing happen? Who in their right mind would sanction any of this? The answer is, of course, that no ‘right mind’ would, but the Probate Courts are not about ‘right minds.’ At all.

Danny and I met the next week. He walked into the office, sat down, and began to share his story with me. I was overwhelmed by the things he was telling me. I interrupted often, asking questions. He was very patient with me, saying “That’s a great question, Cece.” He’d answer every question, and return to his story of what had transpired the past two-plus years. We talked for over two hours.

Through the next weeks and months we met and talked often. The more we met, the more the trust built, the more Danny shared with me.

At one point Danny told me, “I’m not the only one.” He shared the story of a woman who was being kept as a slave. She’d had a fall, went into a coma, was sent to rehab, and when she came out she discovered her car, house and belongings were gone, and she had been conserved. She’s now forced to work as a maid, house mother, cook, bookkeeper, and practical nurse … all while the courts have declared her “disabled.” And all without pay.

The woman’s name is Ginger.

I’ve since met and spent some quality time with Ginger. She and Danny have both become good friends of mine. They are so dear to me; I love them each so deeply, I cannot imagine life without them in it. It’s not a love based on pity; it’s a higher love … it’s a joining of tender hearts, and it brings tears to my eyes. It’s hard to believe that their horrific experiences are what brought us together, but I must. Because – on the surface - that in fact is what drew us. But it is not what will hold us together. Our faith, our values, and the moral imperative before us … these are what bind us. And, in spite of it all, the laughter we share.

I cannot know what I’ve discovered about the abuse of Danny and Ginger and untold others and not have it change the direction I’m going. So I will do what I can, as long as I can, to affect positive experiences and ultimate emancipation in the lives of those who have been wrongly conserved. If I am honest with myself, and I am, there is no other calling at this point. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

Full Article and Source:
The Awakening

Another Curious Nashville Conservatorship

A newly-launched blog, Ginger’s Story, tells of a Nashville woman who after overcoming prolonged and extreme battles with cancer, fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury only to recover and find herself under the control of a court-appointed conservator who now requires Ginger to live in a group home caring for other mental health patients. Though Ginger is reportedly ordered to perform functions comparable to that of other employees, she only receives a $150 per month allowance.

Ginger’s plight is of an involuntary nature and presumably being treated as a lifetime contract.

An interesting twist on this case comes as the court that approved Ginger’s conservatorship is the same Davidson County (TN) probate court - that of Judge Randy Kennedy - which has come under significant scrutiny due to its handling of the Danny Tate conservatorship.

Requests by Ginger and her supporters for a termination of the conservatorship have been largely ignored. If the conservator is charged with protecting her ward’s “best interest,” it’s hard to see how this arrangement benefits Ginger Franklin!

Much more can (and will) be said about this case. Meanwhile, we urge you to take a look at Ginger’s Story.

Full Article and Source:
Ginger's Story Tells of Another Nashville Curious Conservatorship

See Also:
NashvilleCriminals - Wasn't Slavery Abolished?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

TX: In Whose Best Interest?

The courtroom door swings open and a well-dressed woman who’s approaching 90 pokes her head inside and glances around. She smiles at a stranger and says, “Good morning,” revealing a German accent. Then she settles into one of the empty benches and waits for her hearing to begin. A handful of friends sit around her, talking quietly, killing time. The judge is running late on this hot August morning.

Before long, the woman with the sweet smile would be under oath, confused and crying, fielding questions from attorneys and the judge who will determine whether she’s competent enough to care for herself.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Mary would say again and again.

It’s true. Mary’s only offense was outliving two husbands and finding herself on the dusk side of life with sporadic episodes of dementia and no close relatives. Money isn’t a problem. She’s got plenty. On the other hand, money is a problem. Other people seem to want it more than she does.

Tarrant County’s probate court system has evolved over the past couple of decades in response to a growing number of elderly people outliving their health, loved ones, wits, and, in many cases, their money. This safety net has done wonders in improving people’s living conditions.

But as the system has grown, so have the complaints — not just locally but nationwide. Families are stepping forward to accuse the court system of needlessly taking control of elderly people and their money, isolating them from loved ones, and prematurely putting them in nursing homes and hospices — actions that sometimes seem to benefit the system players more than the elderly (“Rethinking Guardianship,” May 19, 2010). The old adage that you can’t fight city hall is even more apt when you’re taking on a judicial system. Several people interviewed for this story were so worried about the power of the courts to injure their lives and reputations that they asked for their full names to be withheld.

Full Article and Source:
In Whose Best Interest?

See Also:
Rethinking Guardianship

Did Marie Long Get a Fair Hearing?

An attorney fighting an 89-year-old widow's bid to get some of her money back agreed this week that private communications between a probate judge and select lawyers constituted misconduct. But that, he said, doesn't prove the judge was biased when she ruled that it was “reasonable” for those lawyers and their clients to collect nearly $800,000 from the old lady.

“I think everyone in the courtroom agrees, it shouldn't have happened,” said Corey Hill, referring to the improper e-mails, several of which were sent by his co-counsel Brenda Church. But he said in court Thursday that it's not enough that retired Commissioner Lindsay Ellis, through her former judicial assistant, was communicating with some attorneys while excluding Marie Long's lawyers.

“They have the burden of establishing prejudice and they failed to meet that burden,” Hill said. “The evidence supports the rulings that Ellis made and there's no basis, based upon these innocuous communications, to undo almost five years worth of litigation.”

Even, apparently, the part of the litigation that wasn't litigated – wherein Ellis returned to the case after her Jan. 15 retirement, possibly due to Church's private urging, and approved Church's $230,000 bill for 2009. Returned, even though the case had already been transferred to another judge. And ruled, without even holding a hearing into what those fees were for, or allowing the old lady's attorneys to object.

It's now up to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Budoff to decide whether Marie got a fair shake in probate, as she was being protected right into poverty.

Marie was worth $1.3 million when she entered probate in 2005 after a stroke. By last fall, she was dependant upon taxpayers for support.

Full Article and Source:
Did Marie Long Get a Fair Hearing?

See Also:
Marie Long - Protected into the Poorhouse?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Huguette Clark's Lawyer Fires Back!

The lawyer for reclusive heiress Huguette Clark has hit back at relatives who want him ousted - saying he asked her to keep family members away from her.

Wallace Bock made the claims in a legal response to a petition filed last week by three of Clark's kin asking for an independent guardian to oversee her vast fortune.

"Ms. Clark has always been a strong-willed individual with firm convictions about how her life should be led and who should be privy to her affairs," the 78-year-old attorney says in his filing.

Bock said the family's petition - which also asks for a restraining order barring him and Clark's accountant from contact with her - violates her wishes.

The legal document offers a glimpse into the shrouded life of the copper-fortune heiress who has lived in hospitals for 20 years, despite owning the biggest co-op on Fifth Avenue and sprawling estates in California and Connecticut.

Full Article and Source:
Huguette Clark's Lawyer Fires Back at Relatives Who Want Him Ousted

See Also:
Huguette Clark's Relatives Ask for Independent Guardian

TN: State Can't Make Suspended Judge Pay Substitutes

When a General Sessions Court judge from East Tennessee was suspended with pay for numerous ethical violations, prosecutors took the position that the judge was essentially getting a paid vacation.

An effort to force Cocke County General Sessions Judge John Bell to pay the salaries of the replacement judges who will have to sit on the bench for him in Newport during his 90-day suspension failed this week because the Tennessee Constitution protects judges from having their salaries reduced during their term.

The section of the constitution that prevents judicial pay cuts also forbids judges from collecting pay raises during their terms or any fees or perks from the office.

The laws were designed to protect judges from politicians, one former judge says.

"It's a protective type of constitutional provision that keeps the legislature from getting mad at the judges and tinkering with their salaries," said Jerry Scott, a former Criminal Court of Appeals judge who sat on the Court of the Judiciary. Scott said he remembered one judge who drew his salary while serving time in prison.

Full Article and Source:
State Can't Make Suspended Judge Pay Substitutes

IN: Forgery Charge Added Against Lawyer

Allen County prosecutors added additional charges to the criminal case against local lawyer Daniel E. Serban after investigators said he admitted misappropriating money from an estate account.

Charged with corrupt business influence and theft, Serban, now faces additional charges of forgery and theft.

In the original charges, Serban is accused of failing to distribute money paid into Serban Law Office’s Trust Account to the appropriate clients or to those entitled by court order to receive it.

But when he was arrested Thursday, Serban told officers some of the money he used to pay off the original client, after he was confronted, had been taken from money put into the trust account for an estate. He told investigators he forged the name of the estate’s personal representative on the check.

Full Article and Source:
Forgery Charge Added Against Local Lawyer

See Also:
Attorney Charged With Fund Thefts

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

11 Indicted in El Paso Public Corruption Case

Federal prosecutors have charged 11 people, including the mayor of a small West Texas town and the El Paso County district clerk, as part of a years-old federal public corruption case.

Socorro Mayor Willie Gandara Sr. and District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez were among those who turned themselves in at the El Paso FBI office Thursday morning, authorities said. Luther Jones, a former El Paso County judge, has also been indicted, although prosecutors have not made public the details of the case.

Federal investigators first made public a far-reaching public corruption investigation in 2006 when FBI agents raided the offices of a local charity. In 2007, agents also searched the offices of El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos and a pair of county commissioners.

Several people have pleaded guilty to various crimes as part of the case, including soliciting or taking bribes.

Court records show investigators have focused on current and public officials as well as lawyers.

Full Article and Source:
11 Indicted in El Paso Public Corruption Case

Election Commission Denies Challenge - Judge Remains on Ballot

The four-person Indiana Election Commission voted Thursday to deny a challenge against Allen Superior Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger, which means he remains on the fall ballot.

A group of citizens who filed the complaint said Indiana law governing the selection of Allen Superior Court judges prohibits people from running for election if they have had any Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission action.

The law is unique to Allen and Vanderburgh counties.

"I'm relieved. You never know what's going to happen," Scheibenberger said after the hearing. "This is going to fuel my vigor to go out and campaign to show who is the best candidate."

Scheibenberger has argued the law does not apply to him because he was disciplined as a judge, not as an attorney.

Scheibenberger to Remain on Ballot

Monday, September 6, 2010

Huguette Clark's Relatives Ask for Independent Guardian

Relatives for reclusive 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark today asked a Manhattan court to appoint an independent guardian for her in light of a criminal investigation into the handling of her $500 million estate by her lawyer and accountant, and a recent story in The Post revealing how her accountant tried to get her to sign new legal documents earlier this week at the hospital where she lives.

"The Clark family is extremely concerned by recent reports that raise troubling questions about Huguette Clark's advisors. The advisors in question are neither members of the Clark family nor were they retained at the behest of the family," the three relatives said in a statement."

"Based on the press reports and other information available to the family, it appears that the advisors are improperly controlling Ms. Clark's affairs and limiting access to Ms. Clark. The allegations raised in the press include payments to benefit one of the advisors, Wallace Bock, mismanagement of Ms. Clark's financial affairs resulting in imposition of liens against her property, and improper efforts to pressure Ms. Clark to sign legal documents."

The statement also said, "The family is further concerned that Irving Kamsler, with the blessing of Bock, has continued as a fiduciary to Ms. Clark notwithstanding his felony conviction on a charge of attempting to disseminate indecent materials to a minor, and purported to obtain Ms. Clark's consent to the continued representation based on false and incomplete disclosure."

"Therefore, this morning, three cousins, each representing a different branch of the descendants of William Andrews Clark, filed a petition for the appointment of an independent guardian to manage Ms. Clark's affairs.

Full Article and Source:
Relatives of 104-Year-Old Heiress Ask for Independent Guardian

See Also:
Huguette Clark (104 Year Old Heiress) Finances Under Probe

Huguette Clark's Family Asks Court to Bar Her Lawyer and Accountant

Relatives of a reclusive 104-year-old copper heiress yesterday asked a court to bar her lawyer and an accountant -- who are being criminally investigated for their actions -- from managing her $500 million fortune.

"The Clark family is extremely concerned by recent reports that raise troubling questions about Huguette Clark's advisers," two Clark nieces and a nephew said after filing a suit in Manhattan that cites Post stories detailing her handlers' curious conduct.

"It appears that the advisers" -- Clark lawyer Wallace Bock and her convicted-felon accountant Irving Kamsler -- "are improperly controlling Ms. Clark's affairs and limiting access to Ms. Clark," said the relatives, Carla Hall Friedman, Ian Devin and Karine McCall.

Their filing said that "unless a guardian is appointed, Ms. Clark is likely to suffer personal and financial harm because she remains at risk of abuse from . . . Bock and Kamsler."

Both men are under investigation by the Manhattan DA for their years of control of her finances, which includes their selling off a $23 million painting and a $6 million Stradivarius violin and allowing $2 million in tax liens to be placed on her real estate.

The relatives want Clark declared incapacitated and want one of them appointed as her personal guardian. They also are asking that Fiduciary Trust Company be named to oversee her property.

Full Article and Source:
104-Year-Old Heiress Huguette Clark Kin Make Legal Bid to Free Her From Duo's Clutches

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Conservatorship Battle Over Former Probate Judge Edward F. Casey

A trial that could ultimately decide control of a prominent retired judge's financial affairs has been scheduled for Sept. 20 in superior court.

Former Probate Court Judge Edward F. Casey and his caretaker, City Councilor Kimberly Allard, have been the subjects of a nasty legal battle since this spring, when state Rep. and former City Councilor Bill Bowles sought and obtained appointment as temporary conservator for the judge.

Bowles, who is seeking permanent conservatorship with the support of Casey's family, has alleged Allard took advantage of her friendship with the judge to obtain ownership of an Attleboro house purchased by the judge that was transferred into her name.

Bowles, in a separate lawsuit, is charging that Allard used undue influence over the judge. Allard declined comment on her case and said she is not directly involved in the conservatorship dispute.

Full Article and Source:
Trial Set for Control Over Judge's Assets

See Also:
Elderly Ex-Judge Objects to Choice of Conservator

Attorney Charged With Fund Thefts

A prominent local attorney and non-profit board member has been arrested and charged with corrupt business influence and theft amid allegations he took more than $100,000from his clients’ trust fund accounts.

Arrested Thursday, Daniel E. Serban, 53, is accused of failing to distribute money paid into Serban Law Office’s Trust Account to the appropriate clients or to those entitled by court order to receive it. According to court documents, the behavior continued from January 2006 until Tuesday.

Both charges are felonies, and if convicted, Serban could serve two or more years in prison.

Attorneys are required to keep escrow-type accounts where money either coming from or going to their clients will be kept. Those accounts are to be treated with extreme fiduciary care and attorneys have a strong ethical responsibility to protect that money, according to the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office.

Much of the money misappropriated, according to prosecutors, came from a civil case filed in 2003. In that case, Serban represented R. Bruce Dye in a dispute with former business partners over money.

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Charged With Fund Thefts

PA State Supreme Court Clarifies Responsibilities of Guardians to Seek Life-Preserving Treatment

The state Supreme Court has clarified the responsibilities of guardians to seek life-preserving treatment for people under their care.

The justices ruled unanimously last week that when an incompetent person is neither in a state of permanent unconsciousness nor in an "end-stage condition"—and has not designated a health care agent—he or she is entitled to medical help that will preserve his or her life.

The ruling came in the case of a severely retarded 53-year-old man whose parents wanted to take him off a ventilator after he developed complications from choking on a hairpin.

The man, identified in court as D.L.H. or as David, an "incapacitated person" under the state's Probates, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, has lived at the state Public Welfare Department's Ebensburg Center for most of his life.

Department spokesman Mike Race called the result "the outcome that we had wanted the court to take."

Full Article and Source:
Pa. High Court Rules on Disabled Medical Decisions