Saturday, October 23, 2010

Editorial: Impeachment Clearly Called for in Probate Case

Shame on the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct for only censuring Probate Judge Bryan Meccariello when the Josephine Smoron property disinheritence case clearly calls for impeachment [editorial, Oct. 4, "The Least He Could Do"].

Mr. Meccaraiello said he feels vindicated because he wasn't charged with corruption but was instead simply forced not to run for re-election. Is the legal understanding of the definition of corruption different from the layman's term? Corruption being the impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle.

If disinheriting a person of money or property or altering a will isn't corruption or morally wrong, then what is?

Is "disinherit" the new legalese for stealing? What good is a will if even the judge doesn't adhere to it? What good is a watchdog council if it only watches out for its own? There have been only two censures in 35 years. That speaks for itself.

How do you disregard the will of an old woman who wanted nothing but for her farm to go to Sam Manzo, Ms. Smoron's longtime caretaker?

If the legal system works, this property will go to Mr. Manzo, its rightful owner. He says he wants to keep it as a farm. Let him do with it as he wishes, or let the General Assembly step in and do the right thing. Our probate system also needs to be censured.

Marie Tuccitto, Southington

Impeachment Clearly Called for in Probate Case

See Also:
Editorial: Impeach This Judge

Women Receive Supreme Court Award

A case of an Omaha woman convicted of cheating people she was appointed to protect out of hundreds of thousands of dollars helped trigger an award-winning program in Platte County Court.

Chief Justice Mike Heavican of the Nebraska Supreme Court this week recognized Chief Magistrate Darla Schiefelbein and Records Clerk Kathleen Hein for their work in revamping the court’s process for managing the county’s conservator system.

The two Columbus women received the Outstanding Customer Service Award during the Supreme Court’s employee recognition reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Lincoln.

There are nearly 1,000 employees in the judicial system in court and probation offices statewide.

The award honored Schiefelbein and Hein for implementing an “effective and creative program” that improved customer service to the court’s customers.

The problems with Douglas County’s conservatorship system that surfaced earlier this year were a catalyst for bolstering the local system, said Schiefelbein, who heads the Platte County Court’s office staff.

“We did need to tighten the reins,” Schiefelbein said of the local process that ramped up scrutiny of the system. “We’re looking out for the protected person, that’s our responsibility.”

Full Article and Source:
Local Women Receive Supreme Court Court Award

Friday, October 22, 2010

Orange Co. CA Will Spend $45,000 to Review Public Guardian

The county plans to spend $45,000 to investigate allegations that one of its agencies is unnecessarily taking control over people’s estates to pad its own coffers, including taking aim at the $15 million estate of Charles "Mask" Lewis Jr., the co-founder of Tapout, a mixed-martial arts clothing line.

Public Administrator/Public Guardian John S. Williams and his agency, which oversees $38 million in estates and the lives and deaths of more than 1,000 people every year, is the target of the county’s review.

Criticized in two Orange County grand jury reports in 2009, the Public Administrator/Public Guardian’s Office was back in the spotlight in August when then-Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer, thought by many to be in line to become the next district attorney, was fired after he began looking into allegations a conservatorship case was being mishandled by the agency.Supervisor Pat Bates, who last year allowed Williams a little breathing room to correct the critiques of his office, has now asked for a county review of how the once little-known county agency liquidates the assets of large estates.

Williams, who blames the complaints on disgruntled employees who were either fired or not promoted, then upped the ante, asking for a complete review of his office’s policies and procedures.

The review, being done by Tim Kay, a local attorney with expertise in conservatorship issues, is under way, but the board of supervisors will consider his contract at Tuesday’s meeting.

Kay's report, which will be confidential, will be handed over to Orange County Chief Executive Officer Mauk by Oct. 29 with any necessary revisions, according to the proposed contract.

Full Article and Source:
$45,000 to Review Public Guardian, Tapout Sale

See Also:
Orange Co. California: Investigator Will Review Public Guardian

Indiana May Seek Background Checks for Nursing Facility Workers

Early next year, Indiana lawmakers will consider a proposal to require workers in nursing homes to undergo background checks, in an effort to provide better protection for vulnerable elderly residents.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he will also propose that the legislature make additional changes in state law to provide whistleblowers with legal protections. More broadly, Zoeller has asked an oversight panel that reviews licensing agencies to focus its scrutiny on the Indiana Health Facility Administrator (HFA) Board, the body that has disciplinary power over nursing home administrators.

Full Article and Source:
Indiana May Seek Background Checks for Nursing Home Workers

See Also:
Nursing Home 101: Being an Effective Advocate

Luzene Co, PA: Lawyer Could Get Suspended

A city attorney who vowed months ago to file a wide-ranging lawsuit against Luzerne County Children and Youth is facing the loss of his legal license for one year based on a recommendation of a disciplinary panel.

The disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court issued a report that recommends the suspension of attorney James Hayward based on his mishandling of a bankruptcy case and the alleged “dishonesty” he exhibited in replying to allegations raised in the initial complaint.

The recommendation, which was forwarded to the Supreme Court on Sept. 27, seeks a stiffer sanction than was suggested by a hearing committee made up of attorneys who heard the original complaint against Hayward.

That committee suggested Hayward be publicly censured and placed on probation for one year. The committee’s report was not binding on the disciplinary board, however, which makes its own findings and recommendations. The final determination on what, if any sanction, will be decided by the Supreme Court.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Who Criticized Children’s Agency Could be Suspended

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Confined in a Nursing Home Against Her Will, Isolated From Daughter and Grandson

My mother, Margaret (Margo) Freebairn, is one of an untold number of Americans who has been drugged and kidnapped from her home, and confined in a nursing home against her will. Her bank account has been drained by geriatric care counselors, attorneys, judges, court-appointed guardians, conservators, nursing homes and nursing home doctors. In May 2010, her home and all of her earthly possessions were sold. All the while, Margo has pleaded to be reunited with her family and to return home.

Margo is 87, and as she would be the first person to tell you, she does have a poor memory. She was attending classes in art, history, politics, and philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis when she became concerned about her memory deficits. She began attending cognitive aging seminars, enrolled herself in two memory and aging studies, and invited her two daughters and a number of her nieces to become informed participants in her aging process. This was to be an open and constructive exchange of information and ideas. At this point a corrupt and predatory system, aided and abetted by a few of her family members, began moving behind the scenes in a series of covert activities to derail her life, devour her resources, and bar her from contact with anyone who has any objections to this, I am very afraid, for the rest of her life.

I am her daughter, Mollie Freebairn, her chosen Health Care and Durable Power of Attorney, who has not been allowed to see or speak with my mother for the last nine months. I have managed to get calls though to her on three occasions; the last time was May 9, 2010, Mother's Day. Margo related to me in desperate tones of her deep unhappiness at being confined at the nursing home, and her dearest wish to go home. She pleaded with me to call her more often, and to please visit her, which compelled me to explain to her that there is nothing I long for more, but I would be arrested for attempting to visit my mother. Her guardians claim that I am the cause for my mother’s unhappiness at being confined in a nursing home, and that she is happy when barred from seeing me. They do not allow her to have contact with most of her other family and friends either, for some reason. Among the most disturbing aspects of this situation is the fact that no one who is not personally profiting from controlling my mother’s life, is allowed to see her or ascertain how she really is!

As decreed at the hearing on February 5, 2010, Margo’s guardianship is held jointly by two of her nieces.

Margo named me as her sole Power of Attorney in 2009. This fact was dismissed without acknowledgement at the February 5, 2010 hearing, which lasted only a few minutes, and where little of substance was discussed. Commissioner Patrick Connaghan threatened to appoint a stranger as Margo’s guardian if I did not agree to his appointment of my two cousins. I therefore agreed, also in view of the fact that my sister and the guardians agreed to try allowing Margo to return home with the 24 hour a day affordable, loving, in-home caregivers.

Despite their own assertions that Mom would be happiest at home, and the Missouri law that the guardian must allow the protectee to live in the least restrictive environment, both guardians, Diane Smith, and my sister have since simply refused to meet with the caregivers or allow Margo to try returning to her home. They have refused to allow me or my son to visit or call my mother.

Anyone In America Can Fall Prey To Guardian Abuse

Most people do not realize, as I have only through this ordeal discovered, that anyone can petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship of an elderly or disabled person, which can lead to the complete and permanent loss of their freedom, possessions, and rights. The point of no return in today’s corrupt legal system is when the petition for guardianship is submitted. In Missouri Law for example, Chapter 475.060 states:

“Any person may file a petition for the appointment of himself or some other qualified person as guardian of a minor or guardian of an incapacitated person..."

At this point, the court assumes total control over the person’s estate, living arrangements, and medical care. All costs incurred by the court-appointed attorney, guardian, conservator, geriatric care manager, and nursing home are charged against the person’s estate. This can swiftly drain their life savings and lead to the necessity to sell the person’s home and all of their belongings. Family members trying to free their loved one and save their home are on their own to cover the attorney fees. My experience is that it is almost impossible to find an elder law attorney who is not part of the corrupt system. Attorneys practicing elder law converse freely with the judges and opposing attorneys, and sabotage their client and their efforts to free their loved one at every turn. Twice I have been abandoned and/or betrayed by my previous attorneys. Under these circumstances both the Commissioner and opposing attorneys refused to communicate with me pro se in any manner.

My request to you is to please help to call attention to and bring an end to this predatory abuse of untold numbers of elders and disabled persons rights, before they consume any more of our beloved ones.

Thank you,
Mollie Freebairn

NASGA - Margo Freebairn, Missouri Victim

TX: Judge Indicted on Bribery Charges

State District Judge Suzanne Wooten and three other people have been indicted on six counts of bribery and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity.

The charges stem from the judge's 2008 campaign and allege that David and Stacy Cary gave money to Wooten's campaign manager, James Spencer, in exchange for a favorable decision in court, according to

Wooten's attorney, Peter Schulte, told DallasNews that the accusations are part of a "political vendetta" and are "completely ridiculous."

A spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General's office said they aren't commenting on the case at this time.

Judge Indicted on Bribery Charge

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Holly Peffer Argues Her Own Case For Her Mother's Return

The matter at hand stems from a battle over who should be guardian of Rita Denmark.

Holly Peffer presented exhibits and arguments, at a hearing in the McKean County Court House small court room Friday [10/8/10], and pleaded for a ruling that would get her mother, Rita Denmark, out of a Florida nursing home and back to Bradford to live, in effect ending her brother’s guardianship over their mother.

Attorney Ronald Langella, appearing for his client Etta Getty (who did not attend), lodged a continuing objection to most of what Peffer was presenting to the extent it relied on facts not presented before White’s eqarlier ruling, and later declared that the judge lacks the authority to confer with a Florida judge concerning a procedural puzzle at the heart of the case. Getty is a Florida guardian appointed by a Florida court.

For his part, Senior Visiting Judge H. William White listened closely, patiently allowed for the difficulties faced by a party proceeding pro se (serving as her own attorney). His interest in the case and the legal issues it raises was evident throughout the hearing.

The judge said he would examine the items being presented for consideration, and would take into consideration those that he properly could, so as to decide “whether I was wrong.”

At one point White mused about some the murky points considering how a court in Florida had come to accept jurisdiction and why it had handled things as it did. He suggested that it would be practical for the judges to communicate, “me picking up the phone and conferring with the Florida judge.”

Peffer’s pleadings have argued that fraud was committed in order to get the matter out of McKean County and under the jurisdiction of a Florida Court; that because there had been a guardianship action commenced in McKean County, the Florida Court should not have agreed to hear a petition for guardianship in Florida. Besides, Peffer said, the Florida court assumed or was told Mrs. Denmark was domiciled there, when instead she had been taken there in a ploy to derail the McKean County guardianship petition.

Peffer also had harsh words for Bradford attorney Mark Hollenbeck, claiming he had been engaged to represent her mother’s interests but had worked against those interests.

Judge White stated that it is a very serious thing to suggest that an attorney has failed to carry out his duty toward his client, because “the courts, our system, we depend on being able to know that attorneys represent their clients faithfully.”

Full Article and Source:
Martha Knight, ERA Correspondent: Peffer Argues Own Case for Mother's Return

Peffer Case Summary

In the summer of 2007 Rita Denmark, a widow living with one of her Bradford daughters, was a fit 76-year-old who walked miles every day. She had cross-country skied in the winter. Her memory was not what it used to be, so she had given another local daughter, Holly Peffer, durable power of attorney responsibility, and Peffer managed her finances and bills in consultation with her mom.

An Office of Aging social worker recommended that a guardianship be arranged. The Orphan’s Court of the McKean County court system would be the court to grant that.

Accordingly Peffer set about getting guardianship in place by filing the appropriate petition in Orphan’s Court.

Even as the procedure was getting underway, two other adult children stepped in. The other Bradford daughter with whom she had been living took Mrs. Denmark to Florida to visit her son.

Early in that visit Mrs. Denmark was taken to see an attorney who had been lined up by the son she was visiting. She signed an affidavit which indicated that she had moved to Florida.

In more recent actions in McKean County Orphan’s Court, Peffer has maintained that Mrs. Denmark was tricked into her part in the proceedings, and had no intention of moving to Florida—only meaning to visit a son she had had little recent contact with. Peffer is convinced her mother was tricked into saying she was a Florida resident.

She considers the guardianship proceedings in Florida to have been based on a fraud on the court there, and the representations in McKean County Orphan’s Court to have been fraudulent as well, all intended to support the contention that the Florida court had jurisdiction in the matter.

Peffer says jurisdiction should have remained in McKean County, and the decision of the Florida court should be declared a nullity or should be overturned somehow.

As for Mrs. Denmark, she has been appointed a “professional guardian” who has worked with the two Florida attorneys. They placed Mrs. Denmark in an assisted living facility (or possibly a nursing home). Also, the attorneys and guardian got court approval of a no contact/no visitation order which keeps Peffer from having access to her mother.

“My mother is being criminally confined behind the locked and secured doors of a Florida elder care facility,” Peffer wrote to U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, based in Pittsburgh, in September. “She is being held against her will and she wishes to return home to Pennsylvania. There is substantial, clear and convincing evidence that my mother is a lifelong domiciliary and resident of Pennsylvania.”

The Florida guardian, Jetta Getty, assisted by others, came to Bradford and took custody of Mrs. Denmark’s valuables, antiques, car and jewels. Previously they had obtained Peffer’s assistance in packing up some of the items, and transferring over $240,000 in Mrs. Denmark’s funds from Hamlin Bank to a Florida bank.

Peffer says she cooperated with Getty because Getty told her this would be the most efficient way to get things in order so that Mrs. Denmark could some home.

Was there fraud upon either or both courts? How could that be determined? Peffer, representing herself, maintained that there was fraud, and offered case law to support such a conclusion.

Peffer’s hopes for her mother’s return are pinned to the judge’s decision. But there are others interested in the outcome as well: activists who are seeking changes in how guardianship of adults is handled, across the United States.

Full Article and Source:
Martha Knight, ERA Correspondent: Guardianship of Adults Can be Tricky and Contentious, Local Family Fights

NASGA Members Support Holly Peffer at Hearing

Among those who attended last Friday’s hearing in McKean County Orphan’s Court, and paid close attention to what Senior Visiting Judge H. William White said and did, were several members of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA).

Although they did not participate in the hearing, they did sit in the small court room where it was held, and handed out large pin-back buttons to anyone who wanted one. During a break in proceedings they huddled with the litigant who was present, Holly Peffer, who is seeking to have a Florida guardianship over her mother, Rita Denmark, dissolved, and the elderly widow returned to Bradford where she had lived nearly all her life.

On their website and in their literature, NASGA describes sequences of events and procedures used to gain total control over the wards placed in the care of guardians, and includes unethical attorneys and corrupt judges among the players in a system gone awry, as they see things.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianship Abuse Group Following Rita Denmark Case

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Website: So Sorry Mom

Mom died August 29th @ 11:20pm in the Year 2010: Don't be "sorry" my mom is gone...maybe there is a G-d for He finally woke up and took her, He could have had her live until age 97 as did two of her sisters. They were never going to allow me to be a welcomed visitor in that horrible facility, with all the rules they put upon us. I'm just very very sad that for the love of money, which led to negative thoughts which bread into sins of hatered and jealousy, the brothers choose to 'allow it all', which lead to complete and total abuse of a parent whom only always lived and gave her entire being, heart and soul, for her family.


Orange Co. California: Investigator Will Review Public Guardian

The county will hire an outside investigator to review the embattled Public Administrator/Public Guardian’s Office after accusations of mismanagement in the office responsible for managing $38 million in assets and the lives or deaths of 1,000 people each year.

Assistant county executive officer Rob Richardson confirmed the county is looking into hiring a retired judge or law firm to look into the policies and procedures governing the office, but the decision of who that will be or how much it will cost the county has not been made.

The review will target cases involving estates and conservatorships to make sure they are being handled within the law, said Stephen Dunivent, the deputy county executive officer overseeing the review. Also in the county’s cross hairs are property auction firms hired by the office and the process used to select those firms. The review is expected to be done by early November, Dunivent said.Public Administrator/Public Guardian John S. Williams has hired his own personal attorney, Phil Greer, to represent him as an individual. Greer is not being paid by the county, Richardson confirmed.

The Public Administrator/Public Guardian Office was thrown back into the public spotlight in August after then-assistant district attorney Todd Spitzer, thought to be the heir apparent to the district attorney, was fired after he began looking into allegations that a case was being mishandled by the agency.

Full Article and Source:
Investigator Will Review Public Guardian

Monday, October 18, 2010

Impeach Randy Kennedy's Blog

The purpose:
This site has been established to shine the light of accountability on Judge Randy Kennedy, 7th Circuit Court, Davidson County, Tennessee. This is Nashville’s probate court and we believe crimes are perpetrated on the citizens of Davidson County systematically by this court, it’s officers and certain practicing attorneys. This is legalized organized crime sanctioned by its mob boss Judge Randy Kennedy.

On this site, we will prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that this court systematically commits crimes, under color of law, to enrich its officers and an elite group of practicing attorneys.

How the probate racket works:
Pay close attention, because this next line should wake you up and give you pause. At some point, all the money of our country (and the rest of the world for that matter) will eventually makes its way through a probate court. When a person dies, this is the court who will officiate over who gets what, if any. Imagine, THE ENTIRE WEALTH OF THE WORLD, individual by individual, county-by-county, is eventually funneled through this room. THE ENTIRE WEALTH OF THE WORLD!!!

How the probate racket works, part II:
Though the law has been written to protect and conserve, rarely is that intent followed, especially when you have a cooperative judge sanctioning the proceedings in order to “take care of his colleagues”; and his colleagues, who are probate attorneys trained in the art of liquidating estates, do just that. It’s an utter hypocrisy of jurisprudence, but one that is practiced without oversight. I’ve heard it referred to as “the dark hole of the legal world”.

How the probate racket works, part III:
Remember, in the probate court there is no jury, no oversight, no accountability outside the court. Also, the probate court is a court of “liquidation”, not “preservation”, but are ordained with the duty to liquidate AND preserve. Adversarial lawyers are both being paid from the estate, so no one is inclined to get off the gravy train.

How the probate racket works, part IV:
Conservatorships, meant to conserve, are adjudicated in a court that is set up to liquidate and divide. A law meant to preserve the assets, as well as the person, of the “disabled” has been abused and morphed into a instrument that is used to loot and dispose.


Judge Re-Opens Case With Ties to Abraham Lincoln

A probate judge in Coventry has reopened the 55-year-old estate of a relative of Gideon Welles to determine if rare artifacts, including handwritten notes by President Abraham Lincoln, were illegally sold and not included as part of the estate.

For the past five months, the Welles and the Brainards, descendents of Gideon Welles who served as Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War, have been appearing before Probate Judge James K. Kelley arguing about what happened to what could be priceless items — from as many as 713 handwritten notes by Lincoln to Gideon Welles to a rare Spencer carbine rifle that Lincoln gave to Welles after firing it once himself. The rifle was said to be the 16th ever made.

The Welleses and another side of the family, the Smiths, are accusing some of the Brainards of secretly selling off artifacts without telling anyone in the family or sharing the profits.

In his six-page ruling released this week, Kelley found that the original estate of Ruth Trost Welles, who died in 1955, was never properly inventoried and that evidence shows that non-inventoried property belonging to Gideon Welles was sold and not properly distributed to the heirs.

Kelley has appointed Willimantic attorney Kevin Connors as the new administrator of the estate, charged with determining what existed, what happened to it, who owns it now and how much money should be part of the estate.

Even the Welles' attorney, Michael Kopsick, acknowledges that Connors will have a difficult job separating truth from fiction.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Re-opens Case With Ties to Abraham Lincoln

Read the Probate Judge's Decision

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Legal Abuse Syndrome

Karin Huffer has discovered why many people leave a courtroom frustrated and sick. Karin Huffer explores the foundation of Legal Abuse Syndrome and has proven that a constant negative result from any courtroom experience produces Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in litigants. Before you go to any court, understand that Justice is not a part of the equation and prepare yourself for the possibilities of being in a situation that is based in judge and attorney created rules rather than common sense.


See Also:

Ohio: Two Corruption Defendents Ask for New Lawyers

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Bridget McCafferty, who was indicted last month for lying to the FBI, has requested a new attorney.

Attorney Henry Hilow represented McCafferty during her arraignment last month, at which time she pleaded not guilty, and at a subsequent pre-trial hearing. Now she and Hilow have asked that he be replaced by J. Michael Murray.

U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley has yet to rule on the motion, which does not explain why the switch is being sought. Murray did not return messages left at his office.

Hilow said during the pre-trial conference in front of O'Malley that McCafferty may ask that her case be severed from her five co-defendants, which include County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. All six are scheduled for trial on Sept. 12, 2011.

Also seeking a new lawyer is Michael Gabor, another of the people scheduled for trial in September.

Full Article and Source:
Two Defendents in Cuyahoga County Corruption Probe Seek New Lawyers

ND: Case Against Former Stockbroker to go to Trial

A judge has ruled there is enough evidence to go to trial with prosecutors’ charges that former Grand Forks and Grafton, N.D., stockbroker Ross Haugen ripped off elderly investors in Walsh County.

North Dakota District Judge Laurie Fontaine’s order finding probable cause in two cases against Haugen argued before her last month was filed in state district court in Grafton.

Haugen is charged with seven counts of selling unregistered securities, seven counts of acting as an unregistered broker/dealer and/or agent, eight counts of fraudulent practices and six counts of theft of property involving elderly investors in Walsh County sales in 2006 and 2007. He’s also charged in a separate case with three counts of conspiracy to commit theft of property, or an alternative charge of fraudulent practices, in which two other men also are charged.

All but one of the counts against Haugen are Class B felonies, each with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Full Article and Source:
Case Against Former GF, Grafton Stockbroker to go to Trial