Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ciavarella Found GUILTY!

Former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. has been found guilty of 12 of 39 counts of corruption filed against him, a federal jury in Scranton announced today.

The 12 men and women, who deliberated for an estimated 12.5 hours, returned to U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Edwin M. Kosik’s courtroom to announce their findings, which included decisions that Ciavarella was guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, honest services mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy and a host of tax fraud charges. Ciavarella was cleared of extortion, bribery and honest services wire fraud charges, however.

In the indictment, Ciavarella was charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, four counts of honest services wire fraud, four counts of honest services mail fraud, 10 counts of corrupt receipt of bribe/reward for official action concerning programs receiving federal funds, money laundering conspiracy, five counts of money laundering, eight counts of extortion under color of official right, conspiracy to defraud the United States and four counts of subscribing and filing a materially false tax return.

Ciavarella admitted during testimony on Tuesday that he was, in fact, guilty of filing false tax returns for tax years 2003, 2005 and 2006 as alleged by prosecutors. Prosecutors also argued during trial that Ciavarella filed a false return for tax year 2004, but Ciavarella is disputing that charge.

He fought the majority of the charges by arguing that the kickback alleged by prosecutors was no more than a finder’s fee paid by Mericle as a thank you for putting him in touch with Powell. He fought the extortion claims by attempting to insulate himself from the actions of fellow former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael T. Conahan and claiming that any money paid by Powell was for the use of a condominium owned by a company controlled by the former judges’ wives.

Conahan, who faced an equally damning indictment and opted to plead guilty to one racketeering charge in relation to the alleged crimes, was a name that arose often during the trial. He was, however, conspicuously absent in person.

Neither side called him as a witness.

Full Article and Source:
Ciavarella Guilty of Racketeering

Priest Scrutinized in Property Transaction

Rev. Thaddeus Dzieszko took ownership of an elderly parishioner's home, with help from a law firm that is being probed for similar transactions.

By her bedside, Waleria Krzemien kept a photograph of her trusted pastor, the Rev. Thaddeus Dzieszko of St. Constance Roman Catholic Church on Chicago's Northwest Side.

Now authorities are examining the circumstances under which "Father Ted" became trustee of the 93-year-old parishioner's home after delivering Communion to her there.

Dzieszko told the Tribune the property transaction was completely innocent, and he has not been accused of wrongdoing in any public court proceeding.

But Sunday, Dzieszko agreed to step aside from his parish responsibilities, pending the outcome of the investigation. Dzieszko's decision came after the Tribune interviewed him several times recently about the disputed trust.

Full Article and Source:
Priest Scrutinized in Property Transaction

Illinois Law Firm Probed Over Estate Dealings

The law firm of Przybylo and Kubiatowski faces two additional cases where the Cook County public guardian alleged that the firm drew up legal documents putting the assets of disabled elderly women in the hands of caretakers who may have exploited them financially. The firm vigorously defends its professional conduct.

Case 1: Anna Polachanin
A wheelchair-bound 94-year-old widow with no children or living relatives, former railroad company clerk Anna Polachanin in 2008 hired an in-house caretaker: Iryna "Irene" Bochko, a Ukrainian-born 25-year-old who had worked as a dental assistant and bartender.

Bochko took Polachanin to firm partner Stephen Kubiatowski, who prepared legal documents giving Bochko power of attorney for Polachanin, according to the public guardian. Bochko and a second Ukrainian woman then drained Polachanin's bank accounts of at least $300,000, according to court records. The women transferred an estimated $265,000 to unknown sources in Ukraine, court records show.

Convicted of financial exploitation of the elderly, Bochko is serving a four-year prison sentence.

On Polachanin's behalf, Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris filed a claim against Kubiatowski and recovered a confidential settlement, interviews show.

Case 2: Sylvia Maciejewski
Once a Marshall Field's draperies department supervisor, Sylvia Maciejewski turned to the law firm to help her prepare estate documents.

In 2007, the law firm helped Maciejewski make changes to her estate, giving broad powers to manage her finances to two neighbors who are St. Constance Church lay ministers.

By then, Maciejewski was 91 years old and beginning to suffer from dementia, court records and interviews show. According to the public guardian, the neighbors opened at least six separate accounts at three banks starting in 2007 and transferred about $196,000 of Maciejewski's funds through those accounts. By June 2010, Maciejewski's cash assets had dropped to $20,000, the public guardian wrote in court papers.

The neighbors have not been charged with any crime, although the matter is being examined by county prosecutors, according to government officials.

Full Article and Source:
Law Firm Probed Over Estate Dealings

Friday, February 18, 2011

Press Release: Disney Grandson Speaks Out for Reform

Phone (602) 531-8938
Fax (623) 505-1383
Press Release
February 17, 2011
Contact: Kim Owens
(602) 689-9449

Grandson of Walt Disney seeks probate relief from Arizona State Legislature

February 17, 2011-Phoenix, ARIZONA – Speaking in support of an effort to reform the Arizona Probate Courts, Bradford Disney Lund testified today before the House Judiciary Committee of the Arizona State Legislature in favor of HB2424. Lund, 40, the grandson of Walt Disney has been embroiled in an Arizona probate court action that he has fought for over a year. Saying that “the last 16 months have been like Never-Never Land in a nightmare that never ends,” he was among several who spoke in support of the bill. When asked by committee chair Rep. Eddie Farnsworth-R-22, what the cost of his legal defense has been, Mr. Lund testified he has spent in excess of $1 million.

Mr. Lund related the awareness of a need for reform was made very real when he found himself required to defend his rights after an estranged aunt, the sister of Lund’s deceased mother, filed an order with the court to appoint a guardian to oversee Lund’s affairs and has attempted to have him declared incapacitated. He explained, “I hadn’t seen my aunt in over 7 years when she filed this action. Such a malicious use of the courts is just one of the reasons why I feel it is so important for this bill to pass.”

The bill passed the committee with 8 members voting for it and only Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, voting present. Opposition to the bill by the Arizona Supreme Court was voiced by their lobbyist citing an objection to the legislature involving itself in the courts. In conclusion, Farnsworth spoke to the courts objections saying, “We do not make laws for the people who do the right thing but for those that don’t. There are bad actors in this process and we need to protect the people from the abuses we have heard today.”

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Knaperek Consulting, LLC is a government affairs firm specializing in issue advocacy and campaign services.

Press Release: Competing Reform Bills Face Off in Legislature This Week

Phone (602) 531-8938
Fax (623) 505-1383
Press Release
February 15, 2011
Contact: Kim Owens
(602) 689-9449

The courts versus the people in Probate Reform

February 15, 2011-Phoenix, ARIZONA – In another round of highly charged legislative hearings, this week the Arizona Senate and House will face off to determine which chamber will prevail in the effort to reform the probate system that has been the subject of such controversy for over a year. The Senate bill is supported by the courts, fiduciaries, and attorneys. The House bill was developed after private citizens banded together and demanded reform.

Wednesday morning, Feb. 16, the Senate will hear SB1499; it aims to provide disclosures to the process and adds guidelines. Opponents of the bill speak to the lack of accountability or recourse for wrongdoing, the removal of the family in the process and care of their loved ones, and increased layers of bureaucracy and confusion. Sponsored by Sen. Adam Driggs,R - LD-11, the bill is expected to draw criticism from those who have experienced the current probate system. A provision in the bill to exclude the family from notice of changes to the ward’s care is especially disturbing.

“The current probate laws not only have stripped wards of their Constitutional Rights but the courts are now filled with activist judges and lawyers bullying people out of their Constitutional Rights, this bill does nothing to remedy that injustice,” said an angry Denis Ball whose mother died while in the care of a court ordered fiduciary. After caring for his elderly mother for years, a family dispute placed her in probate court where he was prevented from visiting his mother for months prior to her death.

The House version of probate reform, HB2424, sponsored by Rep. David Smith, R-LD7, will be heard in House Judiciary on Thursday morning starting at 8 AM. It would make changes not provided for in the Senate bill. Establishing a Probate Advisory Committee made up of citizens, it would offer recourse for those who feel unfairly affected by the actions of the court and issues direct regulatory provisions. Authorizing wards to request a change of guardian, custodian, or trustee annually would prevent the majority of complaints currently in the forefront of the probate debate and insures the rights of families to visit. Civil liabilities and training for judges are among other primary points in the House bill.

Jayme Mason, who became active in the effort toward probate reform after her grandfather’s estate was placed under the jurisdiction of the courts had this to say about the bill, “We cannot leave so much up to the discretion of the Probate Judges and Commissioners. As it is, they are making decisions based on their own personal opinion and agenda rather than according to the procedures, guidelines, rules, and laws already implemented by the state of AZ, not to mention the Oath they supposedly stand for.”’

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Knaperek Consulting, LLC is a government affairs firm specializing in issue advocacy and campaign services.

Bill to Increase Oversight of Guardians and Conservators Passes in Nebraska

Oversight of guardians and conservators of adults would increase with a bill passed Wednesday on a 49-0 vote of the Legislature.

If signed by Gov. Dave Heineman, it would go into effect Jan. 1.

The bill (LB157), introduced by Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash, came from a task force of senators, judges, attorneys and law enforcement created by Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican last year after a case in Omaha highlighted what can happen when a guardian does not act in good faith.
The measure would put more information in the hands of judges so they can make more informed decisions about who's going to serve, and how a guardian or conservator will serve a vulnerable person.

It lays out conditions for information at the time of appointment of a guardian and then ongoing reporting requirements, including these.

* A requirement for criminal history checks.

* A bond, which can be waived by the court or handled in other ways, on the ward's assets if they exceed $10,000.

* Letters of guardianship filed with the register of deeds in every county in which the ward owns property or interest in property.

* An inventory of the ward's assets filed within 30 days of appointment of a guardian to the court, interested persons and bonding companies, if required, and then annual inventories after that.

* Permission of the court to move the ward's place of residence outside the state.

* Authorization of the court to refer guardianship and conservatorship cases to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution.

* A procedure for an interested person to submit an affidavit to the court about concerns regarding a guardian, at the time of appointment or after.

Article Source:
Nebraska Lawmakers Pass Guardianship Bill

Mickey Rooney Conservatorship

Actor Mickey Rooney has been granted court protection from his stepson and his stepson's wife after alleged abuse.

According to court documents filed Monday, the couple is accused of draining Mr. Rooney financially, verbally abusing him, and denying him basic necessities, including food.

At an emergency hearing Monday morning, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz appointed a temporary conservator for Mr. Rooney and his estate. Judge Goetz also signed a temporary restraining order against Mr. Rooney's stepson, Chris Aber and his wife Christina ordering them to stay away from Mr. Rooney.


Full Article and Source:
Mickey Rooney Accuses Stepson of Abuse

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New York: Judicial Bad Behavior

One judge who was driving drunk led the police on a half-mile chase, and when he was pulled over, asked for “professional courtesy.”

Another said “good boy” when a man who wanted to file a lawsuit made an insulting comment about Jews.

A third repeatedly jailed people without any trial and talked at length from the bench about how the decoration on a woman’s T-shirt made him think of a male sex organ. “I’m bringing down the house,” said the judge, Gilbert L. Abramson of Family Court in Saratoga County, evidently delighted with his own humor.

Those are a few of the cases that were handled over the last year by a secretive state agency, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, that is at the center of a new dispute about the state’s judicial-discipline system. Last week, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association called for major changes in the commission’s structure and operations after a Manhattan lawyers’ group criticized the panel as unfair to judges.

The state bar association’s position is expected to set off a campaign in Albany to change the system in ways that could make it more difficult to remove judges, for example by allowing them to question investigators’ witnesses before a hearing. The proposal would also break the commission into two separate agencies, one to prosecute judges and another to rule on the charges. It is also likely to prompt the first detailed review in decades of the way the state handles the roughly 1,800 complaints made against judges every year.

The complaints filed with the 11-member commission vary from nuisance accusations by people who lost cases to sobering claims about judges’ fixing cases and ignoring constitutional rights, the agency’s reports show. Because of the power wielded by the state’s 3,500 full- and part-time judges, any system of policing them would be delicate.

In an interview this week, the chairman of the commission, Thomas A. Klonick, criticized as “unfortunate and kind of distressing” the way the Manhattan lawyers’ group, the New York County Lawyers’ Association, had reached its conclusions that the system was unfair to judges. “I believe they don’t understand the process of how the commission works,” said Mr. Klonick, a lawyer and part-time town judge in Perinton, N.Y., near Rochester.

The president of the Manhattan lawyers’ association, James B. Kobak Jr., said his group had consulted people widely, but “beyond that I really don’t care to respond.”

But the comments of Mr. Klonick, a Republican appointed to the commission by the state’s chief judge, showed that the effort to change the state’s judicial-discipline system is likely to meet resistance as the debate begins in Albany.

Full Article and Source:
Sex Joke and Other Judicial Bad Behavior

Judge Them in Open Court

Some New York judges seem to believe they don't get a fair shake from the agency that polices their actions on the bench. There is one way to find out for sure:

The Legislature should open Commission on Judicial Conduct proceedings to view. All its hearings should be public once the panel has found grounds to vote charges against a judge.

The commission supports openness, as does every court-watching organization in the state. Only the judges balk at lifting the secrecy that bars the panel from releasing any information except a final order of discipline.

Despite this protection, judges complained that the commission has too much power to act against them. They got the ear of the New York County Lawyers Association, which in turn got the attention of the state bar association.

Ever friendly to its judicial brethren, the association is asking Albany to give judges consideration beyond the wildest dreams of due process.

Its proposals include requiring the commission to give judges early notice of probes, as well as almost full access to the work of investigators. The group also calls for limits on the panel's power to expand probes and for taxpayers to bankroll expenses judges incur in defending themselves.

These are not worth a moment's thought. But opening the process to sunlight after the commission has filed charges - a step ignored by the association - would enhance confidence that judges and the public alike are being treated justly.

Judge Them in Open Court: Legislature Should Open Commission on Judicial Conduct Proceedings to View

Nevada Judges the Judges

2010 Report: A biennial survey of local attorneys rating judges; Supreme Court justices

A total of 796 respondents completed online evaluation ballots and were qualified to be included in the statistical calculations and results in this biennial survey conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The survey has been published every other year since 1992 as a public service.

Source:Facebook: HALT

Read the Supreme Court Report

Clark County District Court Criminal/Cival Division

Clark County District Court Family Division

Clark County Justice Courts

Municipal Courts

Survey Questionnaire

2008 Report

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clearing the Fog in Nursing Homes

The woman, who was in her 90s, had lived for several years at the Ecumen Sunrise nursing home in Two Harbors, Minn., where the staff had grown accustomed to her grimaces and wordless cries. She took a potent cocktail of three psychotropic drugs: Ativan for anxiety and the antipsychotic Risperdal to calm her, plus an antidepressant. In all the time she’d lived at Sunrise, she hadn’t spoken. It wasn’t clear whether she could recognize her children when they came to visit.

The Two Harbors home happened to be where Ecumen, which operates 16 nonprofit Minnesota nursing homes, was preparing an experiment to see if behavioral rather than pharmacological approaches could help wean residents off antipsychotic medications. They called it the Awakenings program.

Full Article and Source:
Clearing the Fog in Nursing Homes

Al Barnes Passes Before Verdict

The bitter court case over the medical care of Al Barnes ended Monday morning when the 85-year-old Scandia man died in his bed at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

His wife, Lana Barnes, awoke to a ringing phone at her farmhouse and just knew. She waited a ring, then picked up and heard the voice of Dr. Abel Tello: "I want to offer my condolences. ... "

He is the same physician who a month earlier filed a court petition to take away her authority over her husband's care.

"I lost a great companion," Lana Barnes said through tears Monday afternoon. "I can tell you that much."

Barnes died while still receiving mechanical help to breathe and eat. Officials at Methodist and Barnes' court-appointed emergency guardian had anticipated a court order Monday that would have allowed them to remove life support, but Barnes died before any such order was issued.

Full Article and Source:
For Al Barnes, Death Arrives Before Long-Fought Verdict

Investigations Uncovers Tasings at MN State Hospitals

A two-month investigation has prompted swift action by the Department of Human Services.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS uncovered 38 reported tasings in more than a dozen state hospitals between 2006 and 2010.

The investigation found the state has violated federal guidelines when police are called in to handle unruly patients at Community Behavioral Health Hospitals. Federal guidelines call for potential severe injuries to patient or hospital staff or the commission of a crime before police are called into the hospital.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found that only eight of the 38 tasing incidents resulted in a criminal charge or citation. The Minnesota Department of Human Services told us it is reviewing our information and will conduct its own investigation to make sure proper procedures were followed. And, DHS also told us it will start to form an expert panel to review when police force is needed in a hospital setting.

The federal government also told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it is reviewing what we found in our investigation and will determine whether it also should conduct its own inquiry.

Source and Video:
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigation Uncovers Tasings in State Hospitals

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jerry Eckwood, Another Contested Guardianship

Growing up in Arkansas I was well aware of the legend of Jerry Eckwood. We were in the same graduating class (though two different towns), both on the Arkansas All-State Football team, but Jerry Eckwood was the most sought after player in the country and rightfully so. He went on to play in the NFL. So, it was sad to read the front page story in the Tennessean in regards to a conservatorship he has been placed under by Judge Randy Kennedy. Mr. Eckwood contests the conservatorship, but we’ve learned contesting is a costly and futile effort in Davidson County’s 7th Circuit Court. And, unfortunately, any conservatorship in this court is questionable based on Judge Kennedy’s involvement. When a judge’s reputation for taking care of lawyer’s first, ward’s last, the red flag to look closely at the record immediately rises.


NFL's Hard Knocks Haunt Former Player Via Conservatorship

A thick neck and broad shoulders support his barrel of a chest.

His voice is guttural, commanding.

If it wasn't for a limp from a bad back, Jerry Eckwood almost looks like he could suit up and again step onto an NFL football field. Even at 56.

In Judge Randy Kennedy's Davidson County courtroom Thursday, there were questions about whether Eckwood could handle the simple stuff: a debit card, grocery shopping, living alone. Or, does the judge need to appoint someone to help him care for himself.

Worries about Eckwood's mind surfaced after a representative from the NFL Player Care Foundation came to Tennessee in 2010 to see Eckwood. The foundation helps former players get benefits due them. After the visits, the foundation asked the court to appoint a conservator to manage Eckwood's finances, medical affairs and living arrangements.

Eckwood was kicked out of a Green Hills assisted living center in November, after he struck a staff member, court records state. A similar facility in Antioch also didn't work out.

He's been living at a similar-type center in Franklin, but longs for more independence and is contesting the conservatorship.

Full Article and Source:
NFL's Hard Knocks Haunt Franklin Man

Red Flags in the Jerry Eckwood Guardianship

Red flags shot up all over the Jerry Eckwood case file.

First, Christina Norris is attorney for the Petitioner. Ms. Norris is a campaign contributor to Judge Kennedy’s unopposed “re-election”. In a study of Judge Kennedy’s rulings, no campaign contributor has EVER been ruled against.

Second, Paul Gonterak, appointed Guardian Ad Litem, is a campaign contributor to Judge Kennedy’s unopposed “re-election”. It’s obvious from his report that he is cooperating with Ms. Norris and the Probate racket.

We spoke with Jerry Eckwood on the telephone several times. He’s got a great memory for someone diagnosed with dementia. He is contesting the conservatorship. Contesting a conservatorship is another great way for Kennedy to clean out your account.

Judge Kennedy often announces from the bench in open court that “there are more conservatorships in this court than any other court in the state”. I’m not sure he should be bragging about this, but seems to constantly be ruling as if he’s protected. And maybe he is, but not from public scrutiny.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Senator Mark Kirk Named to Senate Special Committee on Aging

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced he has been appointed to four U.S. Senate committees that deal with issues ranging from federal expenditures to the elderly.

Special Committee on Aging: With the Baby Boom population now hitting retirement age, the Special Committee on Aging studies issues, conducts oversight and investigates reports of fraud and abuse. The Committee also reviews Medicare’s performance, pension coverage and employment opportunities for older Americans. It also has conducted oversight of major programs such as Social Security. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates more than 1.5 million Illinois residents—or 12 percent of the state’s population—are over the age of 65. By 2020, the agency estimates the over-65 population will grow to 31 percent of the state’s population.

Press Release of Senator Kirk: Kirk Named ot Committees on Appropriations, Banking, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (Help), and Aging

Sen. Al Franken's Staff Meets With Elders on Issues Facing Seniors

In January the staff from Senator Al Franken's (D-MN) office came to the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) to ask Native American elders about the problems they face in their senior years and gather information that will be used in the Senate this upcoming year to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, an act passed in 1965 in response to a lack of community-based social services for older Americans.

Senator Franken serves on the Senate Special Committee on Aging as well as the Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Full Areticle and Source:
Franken's Staff Meets with Elders on Issues Facing Seniors

Hawaii: Assisted Suicide Bill Fails

After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor's terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night.

The Senate Health Committee heard more than 4 1/2 hours of often-emotional public testimony before voting 4-0 to hold the bill in committee.

"After considering the large body of testimony presented to us, I have determined that community sentiment here today has been overwhelmingly opposed to moving this measure forward in its present form," said Sen. Josh Green, committee chairman. "There is truly compelling testimony on both sides of this matter — for and against — but from my perspective, for an issue of this magnitude, I believe we need to have more agreement as a community.

"So for now we need to find other ways to support those dealing with end-of-life decisions, with the greatest possible compassion and respect."

Senate Bill 803 would have allowed a terminally ill, competent adult to receive medication to end life. The bill specifically prohibits mercy killings, lethal injections and active euthanasia, and requires patients to receive informed consent.

Full Article and Source:
Assisted Suicide Bill Stalls

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Al Katz, Part Five: The State of State Elder Abuse

This is the fifth chapter in the epic saga of an elderly man whose property was taken, he was legally confined (imprisoned), and abused by the state of Florida's public guardianship and court systems. It is a story that is not unusual.

Many of you do not think about any state, let alone Florida, abusing our elders. Some look to government as the be all and end all to care for us when we grow old and to protect us in our waning years. That is a dangerous and in some cases deadly belief.

Government in the case of Al Katz was the abuser.

I believe that the role of government in a person’s life must be limited. Personal freedoms and property rights are to be protected at all cost. In the case of Al both of these sacred duties of government were violated to perhaps the point of criminality on the part of some individuals. Al’s freedom and property were taken by the State of Florida, in some cases questionably, for the aggrandizement of the state, not the individual or family. What is shocking is officers of the court and judges had full knowledge of this “taking” and either did nothing about it or by their actions facilitated it.

How did this happen, you may ask?

It is quite simple – Florida had an opportunity to gain control over Al, the man, and his property. Florida refused to relinquish control of either back to the family, even though there was a daughter willing to care for her father and manage his estate for the betterment of his heirs. Rather than giving Al back to his family at the earliest opportunity, as required by Florida statutes, government did everything in its power to keep him and his property. Only after a prolonged legal fight was Al, the man, finally released to his daughter. The guardianship is still in the state’s hands, seven months after Al passed away.

Full Article and Source:
Al Katz: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor,Part 5

See Also:
Beverly Newman's Baker Act Presentation to the Florida Delegation, January 2011

Concurrent House Resolution 323 (2010) Recognizing Need for Holocaust Survivors to Avoid Institution

Al Katz,Part Four: Final Legal Solution

First Week of 'Kids-for-Cash" Trial Concluded

With former Judge Michael T. Conahan's personal tax preparer about to answer questions about returns in 2006, U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik told prosecutors they would stop at 2005 for the day.

After about two hours of financial testimony, Kosik said he understands the attorney's jobs, but "I don't hesitate in commenting that you have been punishing us all day."

He adjourned court for the weekend at 4 p.m., cautioning jurors to avoid any media reports or other conversations about the trial.

Testimony is expected to resume at 8:45 a.m. in the federal courthouse in Scranton [tomorrow]. It is unclear who the prosecution intends to call next. Potential witnesses who have not appeared during the first four days of the trial include former probation officer Sandra M. Brulo, former court administrator William T. Sharkey and people familiar with the juvenile court practices.

Conahan is not expected to to testify, as a source says prosecutors decided they see him as "too big a liability."

Full Article and Source:
Trial Update: First Week of Testimony Concluded

KY: HB 52 Introduced to Bar Financial Gain from Elder Abuse

A bill to prevent someone who abuses an elderly person from inheriting his or her assets passed a House committee unanimously Thursday and appears headed for easy approval by the full House.

The quick committee action drew praise from advocates for the elderly, including those with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It gives people some dignity, even in death,” said Ellen Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s Association in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. “People with Alzheimer’s are especially vulnerable.”

The bill’s goal is to close a loophole in current law, Rep. Joni Jenkins, the Shively Democrat who is sponsoring House Bill 52, told the House Health and Welfare Committee.

A law known as the “slayer statute” already bars a person convicted of killing someone from inheriting from the victim. But as things stand now, people convicted of abusing, neglecting or financially exploiting an elderly person still can benefit financially after the victim’s death.

“There have been some really tragic cases,” Jenkins said. “This bill would remedy that.”

Under HB 52, if no other heirs can be located, the estate would go into a trust fund for elder protection.

Full Article and Source:
Panel Backs Bill to Bar Financial Gain from Elder Abuse