Saturday, November 6, 2010

HALT Releases New Citizen's Guide

HALT has just released its latest Citizens Legal Guide Is Your Lawyer's Bill Too High? How to Avoid (and Resolve) Fee Disputes. This easy-to-understand guide, the newest addition to HALT's library of free self-help publications, explains how lawyers typically charge for their services and how billing practices can sometimes go awry.

While some fee disputes are the result of a lawyer padding his or her bill, many are actually misunderstandings or simple bad math. Fee disputes can be triggered by internal law firm practices that are unfair to clients, such as overstaffing, uncompensated staff turnover, unnecessary research, and redundant expert witnesses and consultants. They can also reflect lax financial controls for expenses, overhead costs, travel, and entertainment. There may even be issues caused by outright fraud - for example, when a lawyer charges for more hours than were actu­ally worked. If you receive a legal bill that seems too high, you need to question it.

HALT Releases New Citizen's Legal Guide

Read Is Your Lawyer's Bill Too High

Efficacy of Denver Probate Court Discussed

At 9 o'clock on a weekday morning, the doors to Denver probate court offices are locked.

So are the offices of the judge, her clerk and the magistrate who helps the judge manage about 2,500 yearly cases ranging from disputed estates and trusts to guardian appointments and mental-illness commitments.

To cope with a shrinking staff, the Denver court has limited public access to five hours a day. A note on the judge's door informs everyone of a two-hour window on "Mondays only" to call the court and schedule a hearing.

Like courts across Colorado, Judge C. Jean Stewart's court has been obliged to function with fewer people and less money.

But in interviews, former employees allege this court also suffers from a failure to require key staff members to actually work a full week in court. Critics of the judge also say she can be capricious and biased on the bench.

"What I found so difficult to grasp, this was a court of law, it was hard for me to understand how people could work from home. Their presence was required," said Caroline Cammack, a Denver probate court employee who was fired last year in a dispute over her job duties and who has sued the court. "Some days there was almost no one in the court."

Guardians are appointed to assist people who can no longer make decisions about their own health, and conservators manage money for incapacitated people.

In 2006, a state audit found 57 percent of guardians and conservators were not filing reports required by law about people they were appointed to protect, and Colorado courts inadequately reviewed reports that were filed. This year The Post reported that many guardians in Denver continued to file no reports, that some abuses went undetected for years and that the roster of wards protected by the court included dead people.

Probate courts judge emotional cases, appointing guardians and conservators for people who have lost the ability to make decisions for themselves, hearing petitions to commit people with mental illnesses, and settling family feuds over wills and estates.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers, Others Take Sides of Efficacy of Denver Probate Court

Friday, November 5, 2010

Former Luzerne Co. Judge Michael Toole Pleads Guilty

A former northeastern Pennsylvania judge has admitted accepting use of a New Jersey beach house in return for helping an attorney win an arbitration matter.

Former Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole pleaded guilty Tuesday to corrupt receipt of reward for official action in federal court in Scranton.

Toole had previously pleaded guilty to honest services fraud, but that charge was replaced after a Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated case changed the requirements for that charge.

The former judge had also pleaded guilty to filing a false income tax return. That charge was unaffected.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Conaboy said a preliminary review by the probation department recommended a sentence of 27 to 33 months for Toole.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 2.

Ex-Pa. Judge Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charge

Waiting for Home

Richard Prangley was unjustly institutionalized for fifteen years. Yet he managed to become not only a productive citizen but also an effective advocate for the developmentally disabled.

In Waiting for Home, journalist John Schneider chronicles the compelling true story of Richard Prangley. Born prematurely, Richard exhibited delayed development and hyperactivity as a small child. His parents struggled to raise him along with their other 10 children, and they turned to the medical authorities for help.

Based on the diagnoses of two psychiatrists, Richard at age 6 was committed to the Coldwater State Home and Training School, an institution for physically and mentally disabled children. He was labeled retarded and his schooling and work experience were limited to manual labor.

When he was finally released at age 21, Prangley struggled with socialization as he learned to live on his own.

His life today, however, stands in sharp contrast to his early years. Through faith, hope, determination, and a constant yearning for independence, Prangley is self-supporting and works in the Office Services Division of the Michigan Department of Community Health. He is an effective advocate for the developmentally disabled and has been instrumental in creating a successful stand for the rights of the handicapped as a lobbyist in such places as the Michigan State Capitol and the White House.


Court Rejects Michael Jackson's Father's Appeal

A California appeals court rejected a bid by Michael Jackson's father to challenge the administration of his son's lucrative estate.

A three-justice panel of the California Second District Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed a probate judge's ruling that Joe Jackson didn't have standing to intervene in his son's estate.

A copy of the opinion was not immediately available.

Despite being excluded from his son's 2002 will, Joe Jackson had been seeking to have some control over financial affairs.

Court Rejects Michael Jacson's Father's Appeal

Thursday, November 4, 2010



It took a petition for a writ of mandamus to get at the "record" of what Nashville Judge Randy Kennedy described as a "hearing" on 10/23/07 in the unlawful conservatorship of NASGA member Danny Tate. You’ve seen a lot of detail about the case from different sources, but today we’re looking back at the unlawfulness which occurred early on in these proceedings and pointing out certain suspect matters.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to figure out from the court docket what was wrong, but here are a few clues:

The secret gathering in a courtroom on 10/23/07 was not a “hearing”; it was an ambush! There was no due process notice given to the victim, respondent Danny Tate. Isn't that what the law is all about - notice? You have to be present, be represented, and be given your rights? Not in Randy Kennedy’s court! We can find no authorization in the TN statutes for the ex-parte granting of full and total control of Danny’s rights and property. In fact, we find quite the opposite: Judge Kennedy was prohibited by law from holding any kind of proceeding just four days after a petition filing without prior notice.

Here it is, loud and clear - TN Code 34-1-108:
"If the petition alleges the minor or disabled person is faced with a life threatening situation, the court may schedule the hearing in less than seven (7) days from the date of service on the respondent; provided, that actual notice of the hearing is given to the closest relative and the respondent."

Judge Kennedy had discretion to act quickly, but he acted ultra vires - in excess of his lawful authority - and engaged in constitutional deprivation of rights at the get-go!

Actually, the record is barren of any written notice to anyone present in the courtroom on 10/23/07, so how do you suppose that little gathering came about? Telephonic notice? Tsk-tsk-tsk! That would constitute wire fraud! Why are we surprised? We see other evidence of that as the investigation proceeds. But right now we’re only looking at the official record to see what it shows - or omits.

Here's a chronology of events, with some telling detail -
First entry on the Davidson County Circuit Court docket, No. 07P1654:
10/19/07 Petition for conservatorship

There was no customary certificate of service on the petition filed 10/19/07. That evidences the intent to ambush Danny, because normally, a clerk should not accept a document for filing without proof of service on the other side. The petition contained nothing more than conclusory statements by Danny’s brother David. It asked the court to set a hearing date and provide for service on Danny and his relatives for a conservatorship - not a temporary conservatorship - which appears to be the name of the game as relates to the unauthorized and unlawful partial proceeding on 10/23/07. Interestingly, also, is the fact that in the petition Housch actually asked for and got his choice of examining physician, who turned out to not be qualified in the subject specialty. That's why we call these lawyers and doctors who repeatedly appear before Judge Kennedy - and other judges - "Tag Teams."

Another problem with the petition: Have you ever seen legal documents where the last page of the sworn fact statement ends in the middle? The half-page formatting is typical of shyster lawyers who can, at will, alter the entire document after its creation by substituting any page - the fact statement, the signature page, even the service certification page. The last page of the fact statement is half blank, and is followed by another half page with Housch's signature and address. Then follows David’s oath, also on a separate half page, totally separate from the fact statement.

The second entry on the court docket - 10/23/07 Clerk's N-PersService - does not mean that Danny Tate was served on that date; it means only that the clerk issued a form of notice of personal service regarding the petition with a future “hearing” date, and released it for service upon Danny by an appropriate person. The law required Danny to be served in person, and the relatives by mail. Docket items 3 through 6 merely indicate the issuance by the clerk of the notices by certified mail upon the four relatives – no one was served with any papers on 10/23/07 or prior thereto.

The following 10/23/07 entries, 7 through 13, do not describe any proceeding (as in “hearing”) having been held, but the docket entries show judicial activity - which would normally follow a proper hearing - occurring that day, as we now know, ex parte :

*Order appointing Guardian ad Litem;
*Order setting hearing on petition for appointment of conservator;
*Order directing medical examination;
*Oath of David E. Tate;
*PetitionOrder Appt TATE,David E TemporaryConservator
*Letter Recorded TempCons
(That means “Letters” – usually recorded in a formal ledger evidencing creation of a conservatorship.)

Although the docket makes no reference to any hearing, you can watch Judge Kennedy on the YouTube videos of 10/23/07, doing his thing and calling what he was doing that day a "hearing":
10/23/07 Pt 1 and 2

Hearings are held for the purpose of determining the facts, with all parties present and sworn, in order for the judge or jury (no one told Danny he had the right to a jury) to come to a determination so that an adjudication can issue. So how does a judge adjudicate from a piece of paper, without people on the stand, testifying under oath?

What occurred in Kennedy’s courtroom on 10/23/07 was completely unlawful because it violated Danny’s federal and state rights.

Danny was finally served on 11/2/07 with a notice of a hearing, returnable 11/14/07. The docket shows a return on service, but there is no such proof in the court file, at least not one in compliance with court rules, but no one seemed to care or advise Danny of that failure. Actually, a judge should not proceed without first ascertaining his jurisdiction.

Why was a second “hearing” needed after the unauthorized and unlawful grabfest on 10/23/07 when the orders were issued, “Letters” recorded, DANNY'S ASSETS WERE ALREADY SEIZED AND CONVERTED and brother David was already in place as the "temporary" conservator?

It was the wrapup – the various elements required for a proper conservatorship which were not included the first time around, such as medical evidence, if you can call a report from a child psychologist appropriate in a purported “life-or-death” substance abuse case. When you watch the videos, you may hear Judge Kennedy addressing the need to see to the permanency of the conservatorship. But that never happened, because it took a real lawyer to come into the picture and file an emergency appeal on Judge Kennedy's failure and refusal to issue a final appealable order permitting Danny to end the unlawful conservatorship.

On 11/14/07 Danny’s rights were violated again: Judge Kennedy refused to grant Danny an adjournment to obtain counsel of his choice. Failure to grant an extension in order to obtain counsel is a constitutional deprivation. That event also triggered a violation of civil rights: Danny was removed in handcuffs and hospitalized!

But there's more: Attorney Paul Housch, the petition drafter, was retained by David with $25,000 of Danny’s money. How did he get that money? Prior to the filing of the conservatorship petition, Brother David had used fraudulently obtained and subsequently altered (forged) powers of attorney to seize and take control of Danny’s assets.

Most significant, with all the great detail in the petition, is the failure to make known the existence and use of the pre-existing powers of attorney – a critical issue which should have been addressed. This failure is known in the law as fraud by omission.

In a conventional proceeding, the need for conservatorship would have been challenged, if such documents were legitimately in place - or the powers would have been challenged. In this unconventional proceeding, there were problems: Danny had no prior notice; he no longer had any money with which to retain counsel, and he had no proper legal representation back then, as he does now (the "Tag Team" - court-appointed lawyers - were not there to help him).

Examination of several other attorneys’ billings in the case evidence their knowledge of problems regarding the powers of attorney, and that is undoubtedly where the idea came up to move into conservatorship.

We later learned that that very questionable half-page formatting style was also employed in constructing David’s several – yes, several - powers of attorney used by him to gain control over Danny’s assets prior to his filing for conservatorship. You can see these fraudulent and forged powers of attorney all laid out with comparisons and explanatory comments by Investigative Consultant Ira B. Robins at Mr. Robins submitted his affidavit with numerous supporting exhibits to the FBI for investigation. NASGA has joined in calling for action by the FBI.

There’s much more to the story. See:

See also: The Protection Racket - You Can Steal More With a Pen Than a Gun!

The “temporary” conservatorship lasted almost three years until thousands of Facebook friends got Danny freed, but he was wiped out financially. Now he needs to get his money back.

Question: Why would David need a conservatorship if he had power of attorney?

Answer: To get at Danny’s Vanguard royalties account, which he couldn’t do with the facially defective powers of attorney.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ex Parte Hearing - Judge Randy Kennedy

This is Part 1 in the "Emergency" Ex Parte hearing that Judge Randy Kennedy held without setting the hearing and full well knowing that Danny Tate had never been served notice. The only people that had any knowledge of this hearing were Judge Kennedy, campaign contributors Paul Housch, Robert Stratton and David Tate. The entire hearing lasted 19 minutes. That's all it took to strip Danny Tate of all constitutional rights including the right to vote, the right to marry, the right to sign his name. It even included the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Danny Tate had no idea these proceedings were taking place. And his brother David Tate had paid Paul Housch $25K retainer of Danny Tate's money to pursue this action. Though Judge Kennedy stated in one breath that these conservatorships never achieve their goal, in the next breath he states he would not hesitate signing this order. Nothing but fraudulent hearsay allegations were presented to the court without any supporting documentation. Attorney Paul Housch knowingly defrauds the court. He's never met Danny Tate. Everything that was presented was fraudulent allegations made by his brother, yet that is all it took.

Listen as Paul Housch claims Danny Tate is smoking $36K/mo. in "crack cocaine". Fraud, but he got paid $25K to lie. Judge Kennedy required NO EVIDENCE.

Robert Stratton, another campaign contributor to Judge Kennedy's unopposed "election", was called and appointed to act as guardian ad litem, yet all they talk about is Mr. Stratton "packing heat". David Tate had represented his brother as a dangerous man. Yet there is no criminal record, no police reports, no 911 calls, no emergency room visits, NOTHING to substantiate this claim.

Yet, it has taken three years and the entire cash estate (over 1 million dollars) of Danny Tate to fight this ongoing legal battle and the entire bill was taxed to Danny Tate who was never served notice that this kangaroo court was in session and his life was being taken prisoner. It's an atrocity.

Part 2 of the Ex Parte hearing in which Judge Randy Kennedy stripped Danny Tate of all Constitutional rights including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", without Tate being served notice of this hearing, without Tate being present, all based on fraudulent allegations made by David Tate through his attorney Paul Housch. If this could happen to Danny Tate, it could happen to anyone. Three years later, Danny Tate is bankrupt. How can this be called "conserving".

YouTube: Impeach Randy Kennedy

Judicial Discipline: "A Biased and Ineffective System"

You could call it "the black wall."

Like the well-known code called "the blue wall" that prevents police officers from ratting on one another, Tennessee's system to discipline judges is set up to protect those who clad themselves in dark robes and pound gavels. It is not set up to protect those who go before them seeking justice.

There were 344 complaints filed against Tennessee justices in 2009. Only one resulted in public reprimand. That's akin to the system shrugging it off with a "my bad."

It looks like Tennessee lawmakers are about to attempt deep reform, and that's excellent.

Judges in Tennessee are allegedly disciplined if they violate the Judicial Canon of Ethics by the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary. It is made up of 16 people, 10 of whom are appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court judges. Judges pick the people who will judge them. Three members are selected by the Tennessee Bar Association. Lawyers asked to discipline the judge in whose courts they practice. The remaining three are political appointments.

It's a biased and ineffective system. The Court of the Judiciary dismisses more than 90 percent of the complaints filed against judges. Until a letter goes out reprimanding a judge — and that's about all that ever happens — the entire process is kept completely secret. Even if a judge gets a letter, it can prove meaningless. That's the case with Davidson County General Sessions Judge Gloria Dumas, nailed for her persistent tardiness.

Even though another judge certified she'd cleaned up her act for 90 days, Tennessean reporter Brandon Gee went to court to check. Turns out she was repeatedly late, allowing a courtroom full of people — many forced to take time off work — to sit and wait on her. The judge monitoring her never physically went to see if she was on the bench.

That's on the mild side. Imagine a truly rogue judge who has a genuine conflict of interest and shouldn't hear your case but won't step down. If you are brave enough to file a complaint, it will probably be dismissed. You're unlikely to ever know what happened.

Even in the rare case when the court of judiciary suspends a judge, the judge still gets full pay. Oh, please don't throw me in the briar patch.

Full Article and Source:
Gail Kerr: Special Court Aims to Protect, Not Discipline, Judges

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CA: Audit Hits Fresno County Public Guardian

A company hired to manage the affairs of elderly and mentally ill clients in Fresno County may have overbilled for its services -- and the county agency responsible for oversight failed to see the problems, a county audit has found.

The county's audit committee, which includes Supervisor Judy Case and several top county administrators, decided Thursday to forward the report to the District Attorney's Office for possible criminal investigation.

Committee members didn't say who they want investigated, but the discussion of potential criminal activity centered on a vendor, Anjaleoni Enterprises of Clovis. County officials are concerned about more than $1 million in bills the company submitted in the last fiscal year, including some for items it purchased from relatives of Anjaleoni's owner. Auditors didn't estimate how many of the bills might have been improper.

The Fresno County Public Guardian office is responsible for about 260 elderly and mentally ill people who can't take care of themselves. Money from their estates is put into an account managed by the county, which relies on vendors to provide care for the clients, including making purchases for them.

Full Article and Source:
Audit Hits Fresno County Public Guardian

See Also:
Questions Surround Madera Public Guardian

CA: Former Nurse Pleads No Contest to Elder Abuse

In a plea deal, Marlene Delp, a former nurse at the Terraces of Roseville, pleaded no contest to two felony charges of elder abuse and drug possession.

The plea comes on the heels of a proposed class action lawsuit filed last week, alleging the company didn’t investigate related complaints against Delp.

The “lax policies” of Westmont Living, which runs the Terraces, “made it easy for Delp to steal resident pain medications,” Sacramento attorney Mark A. Redmond said in a release. As a member of Attorneys Against Abuse of Elders, he filed the case on behalf of multiple current and former Terraces residents.

Full Article and Source:
Nurse Pleads No Contest to Elder Abuse, Possession

Delp, 63, faces three years formal probation and 8-12 months in the Placer County jail.

Monday, November 1, 2010

TX: Family Who Lost Custody of Disabled Daughter in Secret Hearing Cries Foul

"I don't think these judges have any feeling for anything."

Full Article and Source:
Arlington Couple Who Lost Custody of Disabled Daughter in Secret Hearing Cries Foul

See Also:
Father - I do Call it Gestapo Justice

Boarding House License Revoked by State

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs revoked a 19-bed boarding home's license and removed its residents because the licensee's son, who was indicted for stealing $75,000 from a 79-year-old resident of the home in 1995, still had some control of the boarding home's operations, the department said.

Lisa Ryan, public information officer for the department, said the license for Mrs. L's Rest Home also was revoked because the home amassed $10,500 in fines for various infractions, including not throwing out expired foods and not adequately monitoring the boarders' medications.

Officials removed 17 boarders. The other two boarders were hospitalized at the time the boarding home was being cleared out. Ryan said the department can't disclose clients' replacement housing locations.

Mrs. L's was cited by the state for not protecting its clients from "financial exploitation" in connection with allowing the son, Mark Lefcovich, to work there, Ryan said. It also was charged with having inadequate staffing and fire code monitoring, among other infractions, she said.

Full Article and Source:
Madison Boarding House License Revoked by State

Sunday, October 31, 2010

TN: Senate Committee Completed Review of Judicial Discipline Process

Lawmakers are poised to consider sweeping changes to the Court of the Judiciary, the 16-member body that investigates and disciplines Tennessee judges.

Members of a state Senate committee appointed to study the Court of the Judiciary want more of the disciplinary panel's work made public.

Of 344 complaints leveled against Tennessee judges last year, only one resulted in a public reprimand, according to the court's most recent annual report. Most of the Court of the Judiciary's work is conducted in private.

Some lawmakers also want the Tennessee Supreme Court stripped of its authority to appoint 10 of the Court of the Judiciary's members. Three other members are appointed by the Tennessee Bar Association, and the remaining three are chosen by the governor, speaker of the House and speaker of the Senate.

The Senate committee completed its review Thursday. Legislation is expected to be submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee when the General Assembly meets in 2011.
Tennessee is not alone in handling judicial complaints privately. Thirty-three other states keep complaints against judges private unless formal charges are filed after an investigation, according to the American Judicature Society.

Oregon is the only state that makes judicial complaints and investigations public from start to finish.

Full Article and Source:
TN Lawmakers Consider Making Discipline of Judges Public

See Also:
TN: Judicial Dicipline Walks Tight Line

UnCivil Committment

Danny Tate was led away in handcuffs and committed to the lockdown unit at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital the first time he ever set foot in Randy Kennedy’s court. No crime, no proof of danger to himself or anyone else, no evidence of an emergency, no “clear and convincing evidence”, an “expert witness”, Dr. William Kenner, who is a child psychiatrist and unqualified to testify, yet his completely deficient medical report led to the involuntary commitment. It defied reason by observers. It defied sanity.

Though Tate requested an attorney, Kennedy denied this request and ordered the “trial by surprise” to proceed. It was a rigged court, a booby trap. The law was ignored which is often the case in the 7th Circuit Court. Due process was trampled upon. It was the condensed version of Kafka meets “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

It makes any reasonable person wonder how many wards are out there, locked away, far away, stripped of all rights, with no chance of ever escaping the conservatorship prison and never to be heard from again. Judge Kennedy regularly announces “there are more conservatorships in this court than any other court in the state”. No doubt, this could easily be true considering the ease that an unsuspecting individual can be thrown into this hell hole in this court. It’s madness turned inside out.

Impeach Randy Kennedy's Blog - UnCivil Committment

Victim Allegedly Joins Scammers

They preyed on the elderly -- often by trolling obituaries for new widows or widowers -- and enticed them into believing they'd won a lottery but needed to pay the tax on their winnings to claim them.

Thomas Murphy, 68, a retired principal, teacher and coach from Henderson, Minn., started as a victim. Then, police say, he joined the scam in a failed attempt to try to recoup his losses.

Authorities allege that Murphy, a widower with two master's degrees and no criminal record, eventually helped bilk elderly strangers out of more than $800,000. He worked at it for more than a year, and when police came to arrest him, he had $10,000 in his freezer, according to case documents.

Bill White, a special agent with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said Murphy's own victimization is thin justification for what he is alleged to have done.

"You're a criminal now. You're not a schmuck," White said. "Just because you feel like you're a victim, you can't victimize other people."

Full Article and Source:
Once a Victim, Retiree Allegedly Joins Scammers to Bilk Others