Saturday, December 10, 2011

Probate Sharks: Editorial - There is Only One State in America That Can Call Itself the Champion of Political Corruption: Illinois

Seeing this article in the Chicago Tribune is almost a religious experience. Now if we can provide similar enjoyment for the other members of the political elite who laugh at us and work to destroy our democracy it would indeed be a happy holiday. Pay to play may just be a slogan to some, but it is real to the people who are victims of it i.e. the abused and financially exploited elderly and other disabled persons who have been denied their civil rights so that some court appointed criminal in guardian's clothing can pillage their estate.

Let's hope that Judge Zagel sends a strong message to the political elite - we live in America - the land that was founded on honesty, honor, and equality before the law. Maybe this holiday season, for the first time in a long time, we will reward our political elite with Justice and a taste of the democratic process.

Ken Ditkowsky,

Our mission is to expose and remedy corruption in the Probate Court of Cook County, Illinois. We assist, educate and enlighten families of the dead, the dying, the disabled and the aged to better understand their rights in order to protect themselves from the excesses of the Probate Court of Cook County. is dedicated to networking the human element of people to people. We join together in reforming the corrupt Cook County Probate Court system.

Sentencing Postponed for Deborah Thompson Because She Cannot Afford Restitution

The wife of Milton Supervisor Frank Thompson could face jail time if she does not satisfy the terms of her plea agreement by March, the case’s special prosecutor said Wednesday.

Deborah C. Thompson, 63, in August pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $30,000 from an elderly woman of whom she was the legal guardian over the course of a year and a half. Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said Deborah Thompson used the money to finance a gambling addiction and her lifestyle. Frank Thompson has been cleared of any wrongdoing in his wife’s misdeeds.

Deborah Thompson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted third-degree grand larceny in August to avoid jail time and was supposed to pay $29,259 in restitution to the victim by her sentencing date on Wednesday afternoon. That didn’t happen, however, and Judge Karen Drago issued Deborah Thompson an ultimatum before postponing the sentencing to March 13.

If Deborah Thompson does not pay at least $10,000 in restitution to the victim and have a plan to pay the remainder, pay $2,152 in back taxes and visit a state-licensed psychologist to evaluate her gambling addiction by that date, the plea agreement is off the table.

In addition, Sira said she will seek jail time on the original charge of third-degree grand larceny, a felony that carries a potential sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in state prison.

Full Article and Source:
Sentencing Postponed for Deborah Thompson, Who Pleaded Guilty to Bilking Elderly Woman, Because She Can't Afford Restitution

See Also:
Plea Deal in $30K Theft

Friday, December 9, 2011

At-Risk Adults Involved in Former-Sheriff Scandal

The ex-sheriff in the middle of a sex-for-meth scandal was charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor.

Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan has been charged with distribution of a controlled substance, attempt to influence a public servant, possession of methamphetamine, and prostitution.

Sources familiar with the case say that the ex-sheriff may also later be charged with assaulting and taking advantage of an at-risk adult. An at-risk adult is defined as anyone elderly or anyone who is physically or mentally disabled.

Records show Sullivan had lived with a 34-year-old man for whom he had power of attorney, William Hadley. Sullivan had access to Hadley's Social Security checks, which Hadley received for a disability.

Dillon Grilley, who lived with Hadley, called police on Sept. 20 to report that Sullivan was coming to the house regularly with drugs and trying to lure his roommates, who are recovering addicts, back into drugs.

"He had power of attorney for one of them and he was talking about (being) a guardian for all of them, which was a scary thought," Grilley said.

Full Article and Source:
Sullivan Hit With 4 Charges, Including Prostitution

The Slow Exodus From Nursing Homes

If you’ve helped an older relative move into a nursing home in the past year, you’ve likely heard a nurse or administrator pose The Question: “Do you want to talk to someone about the possibility of returning to the community?”

The resident will hear The Question again every three months, when her condition is reassessed. She’ll hear it if there’s a significant change in her condition. Whatever her health issues, whoever is paying the bill, Medicare regulations adopted in October 2010 mandate that she (or a family member or guardian, if she’s not mentally competent) be asked it.

A nursing home resident has always had the legal right to leave. In the past, though, “the question was asked, and nothing had to happen as a result of the answer,” said Barbara Edwards, director of disabled and elderly health programs for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Now, The Question has been reworded to make its point — you can go home again — more explicit. As important, a resident’s “yes” now triggers contact with an outside agency that will explain how going home might work.

All this can startle or irritate a new resident’s unwitting relatives. “For most family members, it’s taken a long time to convince a loved one to move into a nursing home,” said Lori Smetanka, director of the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, who’s been hearing an earful about the change.

Full Article and Source;
A Slow Exodus From Nursing Homes

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ways to Help the Elderly at Christmastime

Christmas is a season of giving. People often pick certain groups of individuals to help, such as the elderly. Here are eight ways you can help the elderly this Christmas season.

Volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is a national program that provides meals to home-bound senior citizens. During the Christmas season, they nee...d extra volunteers to cover for their regular volunteers. Go to for more information.

Take seniors Christmas shopping. Many senior citizens lack the ability to drive themselves to shopping. Your assistance with transportation can make a difference this Christmas for a senior citizen. You can dedicate as little as an hour to this and make a big difference in a senior citizen's life.

Help a senior citizen with Christmas cards. Offer to spend an afternoon with an elderly neighbor helping them to address and to mail their Christmas cards. You actually need not supply anything, though it may be helpful to supply some stamps.

Visit seniors at a senior center or nursing home. The Christmas holidays can a lonely time for people, especially for senior citizens. One of the quickest ways to brighten someone's day is to visit him or her. Many senior centers and nursing homes especially welcome visitors during the holiday season. School groups are particularly favored visitors. Be certain to contact your local senior center or nursing home well ahead of your visit so you can be sensitive of their scheduling needs.

Help prepare or serve a Christmas dinner for the elderly. Almost every major city's commission on aging will offer Christmas holiday meals for the elderly. Those dinners need volunteers to help prepare and to help serve meals. Your time commitment could be as little as two hours, and it may or may not be on the Christmas Day. This way, you still have time to enjoy your Christmas dinner.

Gather Christmas food boxes for the elderly. Local service organizations often organize food drives for the elderly during the Christmas season so that the elderly can fix a Christmas dinner for themselves. Check with your local food bank or service organization in your city to see if there are already formal food drives in existence in your city. If not, you can always organize your own through your community group or place of worship.

Make Christmas gift bags for the elderly. Often, the elderly do not have any family members to spend Christmas with or even to give them a gift. You can make a difference this Christmas by assembling a small gift bag for them with treats and maybe a few practical items such as warm socks. A little goes a long way.

Do a good deed. Finally, Christmas is a season of giving, and it doesn't need to be season-specific giving. Any kind of good deed you can do for an elderly person is in the spirit of the season. It can be as simple as looking in on your elderly neighbor or clearing their sidewalk of snow.

Facebook: The Forgotten Ones - Compassion for the Elderly

Power of Attorney Process Under Scrutiny in KS

Jim Snyder, speaker pro tem of the Silver Haired Legislature, acted as the power of attorney for his parents.

Despite calling it a positive personal experience, Snyder said he believes the current system leaves vulnerable adults open to abuse.

That is a view shared by some in the Kansas House of Representatives.

Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, spends a great deal of time on senior issues. He sits on an oversight committee for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services with Adult Protective Services and has been involved with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office with its abuse and neglect exploitation efforts.

“One of the biggest problems we see with abuse of the elderly is people who have been given power of attorney,” Bethell said. “That person, often one of the elder’s children, has a totally different attitude as to the elder’s estate and what it’s for.”

He said some look at it as an entitlement for themselves rather than something the elder put together for their own purpose.

Full Article and Source:
Power of Attorney Process Under Scrutiny

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

9 Judges Who Disgraced the Bench

Judges are leaders who are expected to exercise good judgment when presiding over cases. For the most part, judges have no problem using good judgment in and outside of court, but by no means are they perfect. These men and women do not have legal immunity, and when they break the law, they pay for it like every other citizen. Here are 9 judges who disgraced the bench:

1. Judge William Adams: Texas Judge William Adams disgraced the bench when a video was released of him viciously lashing his then-16-year-old daughter because she was illegally downloading from the Internet.

2. Clarence Thomas: Before Clarence Thomas was appointed to the High Court, he was accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant, Anita Hill.

3. Judge Samuel Kent: Texas Judge Samuel Kent disgraced the bench when he was indicted for allegedly sexually abusing his former case manager in 2008.

4. Judge James Heath: Judge James Heath found himself in deep water when he was arrested for drunk driving.

5. Mark Ciavarella: Mark Ciavarella, a Pennsylvania juvenile court judge, disgraced the bench when he got caught accepting money to send minors to juvenile prison.

6. George R. Korpita: New Jersey Judge George R. Korpita disgraced the bench when he was arrested for drunk driving and allegedly told the police officers to "get the Vaseline out and bend over."

7. Judge John Suddock: Superior Court Judge John Suddock violated judicial rules when he approached a state commissioner outside of court and discussed the case.

8. Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson: Gerald Garson is a former New York Supreme Court Justice who found himself in the hot seat when got caught accepting bribes to settle custody in a divorce case.

9. Judge Thomas Porteous: New Orleans Federal Judge Thomas Porteous disgraced the bench when he kept his relationship with a lawyer in a federal case a secret.

Full Article and Source:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Twelve Steps to Recovery of the Legal System

1. Admit you are a citizen of the United States of America and have power over the legal system.

2. Convince yourself that “we, the people” are a Power greater than the legal system and will restore it to sanity.

3. Make a decision to never turn complete control of your case over to an attorney and make sure they understand that.

4. Make a vigilante effort to keep an ethical and legal inventory of all actions of attorneys, judges and officers of the court and be prepared to call them out on the rug if they even suggest or witness an error.

5. Determine to God, yourself, and then to your attorney the exact strategy you want pursued in your legal action. Never listen to an attorney who says, “Just let me be the attorney”.

6. Be entirely ready to file a complaint against any attorney, judge or officer of the court with the appropriate governing body.

7. Persistently appeal the complaint since they are routinely denied by these governing bodies because they are made up of attorneys and judges who have broken the same rules and code of ethics and, because of that, “presumed correctness”, though errant, on the part of any attorney, judge or officer of the court.

8. Keep a list of all persons harmed, all co-conspirators, all rules and ethics broken, including your own attorney if HE doesn’t file a complaint on your behalf, and become willing and diligent in reporting them all to the appropriate governing body and make sure the appropriate discipline is followed through by the various governing bodies. Law is 90% logic. If it feels like something is wrong, it probably is; and DON’T trust any attorney. If you hear an attorney say, “I’ve got to work in this town”, they have just breached The Rules of Professional Conduct.

9. File direct complaints to any legislator who represents the jurisdiction in which your original complaint was levied, or to such people wherever possible, and don’t worry about an attorney telling you it will bring bias from the court, because that is grounds for a complaint and recusal. File a copy of your complaint directly to the attorney, judge or officer of the court and then file a motion for recusal in an effort to get an unbiased court.

10. Fire your attorney, file a complaint and file a legal malpractice suit with their bonding company, “omissions and errors”; because after three complaints, an attorney is out of luck getting malpractice insurance.

11. Seek through study and review to improve your conscious efforts and knowledge of the code of ethics, which are based on logic, with God’s help, and pray like hell that the powers that govern officers of the court do their job; if not, file a suit against the state because your public servant, be it the Court of the Judiciary, The Board of Professional Responsibility, The Senate Judiciary Committee, and all Legislators, failed in their duty to their oath and are not immune from legal action just because they passed some law proclaiming they are immune.

12. Having had a legal awakening as the result of these Steps, try to carry this message to other victims of an errant legal system, and to practice these principles in all your legal affairs.

The Twelve Steps to Recovery of the Legal System

Lawyer Who Got Bulk of $2M Estate Quits Bar

A lawyer facing disciplinary action over his handling of a $2 million estate resigned from the bar and waived his right to reapply to practice law in the state.

James Englis, 77, acknowledged in front of Judge Arthur Hiller in state Superior Court in Milford that his law practice is closed for good. But under the agreement reached between Englis and the Statewide Bar Grievance Committee, the lawyer admits no wrongdoing of any kind.

The action ends the disciplinary action pending against Englis, said Beth Baldwin, the assistant disciplinary officer of the state bar. There were four complaints against the Milford attorney, and a panel had earlier found that there was probable cause for a formal hearing.

The family of an 88-year-old deceased man, the bulk of whose $2 million estate went to Englis -- the lawyer who drafted his will -- accepted a settlement last month that increased their share of the estate from 30 percent to 50 percent. They had earlier rejected a 60-40 split in Englis' favor.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Who Got Bulk of $2M Estate Quits Bar

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Case That Never Ends

Loyd Cook

It’s a lawsuit that mirrors the famous battery commercial … it just keeps going and going and going.

After a three-hour-and-40-minute executive session, Kaufman County Commissioners took no action regarding a lawsuit that has been in the court system since the mid 1990s.

“Jo Ann Combs v. Kaufman County, et al” — involving a monetary figure of $143,168.95 in 2002 — has worked its way through different levels of the court system until finally landing in the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

Click Here to Read Latest Edition“What the executive session basically was, was that there will be a hearing on Jan. 3 in the Fifth Court of Appeals,” County Judge Bruce Wood said after the marathon session was opened up to the public. “The rest of the executive session was an update on the status of the appeal.”

Charles Kimbrough, who has been the county’s attorney through much of the process, gave the update during the closed session.

According to information in a Feb. 12, 2009 Kaufman Herald article:

• On Dec. 30, 2008, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed a decision reached June 2007 by visiting judge John Robert Adamson in the 86th District Court that dismissed a civil suit filed by Combs seeking financial reimbursement for services rendered as a court-appointed legal guardian for Wallace A. Darst, brother-in-law to former Kaufman County Judge Maxine Darst. The appellate court remanded the case for trial on its merits.

• On June 24, 1994, Joseph Darst, one of Wallace Darst’s sons, filed for guardianship of his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, according to court documents.

• On July 5, 1994, Darst’s other son and daughter filed to deny the material allegations in the application and to specifically contest their brother’s qualifications as a guardian.

The presiding judge of the county court at the time was Maxine Darst, who recused herself from the case. Attorneys then verbally agreed to let Judge Glen Ashworth, who at the time was serving in the 86th District Court, preside over the case. Ashworth appointed Combs as guardian of Wallace Darst’s estate as well as his ad-litem. Eight years later, Combs billed the county for services in the case.

And that’s where the dispute began.

Full Article and Source:
The Case That Never Ends

MA Law - Guardian v. Power of Attorney?

Posted in MA Elder Law Questions and Answers...

Question: Submitted by RyanT on Fri, 11/25/2011 - 08:30
I have a durable power of attorney for financial matters that I executed in Massachusetts several years ago. If I become incompetent and someone asks the court to appoint a guardian or conservator for me who will control, the guardian or the fellow I named in my power of attorney? I would like the power of attorney to remain in control if possible. Thank you.

Answer: Submitted by The Editor on Fri, 11/25/2011 - 12:59.
Assuming you will remain competent until January 2012, I'll answer this question with reference to the new Massachusetts probate code. The person appointed by the court as your guardian and/or conservator would control over the person named as your attorney in fact in your durable power of attorney. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B, Section 5-503(a) specifically states that the attorney in fact (the person named as your agent in the durable power of attorney) is accountable to the fiduciary named by the court, just as he would be accountable to the principal. The appointed guardian or conservator is also empowered to revoke or amend the power of attorney.

However, under the old MA law on this point, and under Section 5-503(b) of the new probate code, you can execute a new power of attorney that nominates your preferred guardian or conservator. In that way, your named attorney in fact may simply change titles in the event you require a guardian or conservator. Hope that helps.

Power of Attorney or Guardianship Controls Under MA Law?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Maine Probate Judge Sanctioned

A Washington County probate judge has been sanctioned by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for not dealing with cases fast enough.

Judge Lyman L. Holmes was ordered by justices on Thursday to provide a list of cases taken under advisement for more than 30 days to the executive director of the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability for every month until next August.

Probate judges are elected. They handle adoptions, wills, guardianships, estates and name changes.

Holmes has been the probate judge in Washington County for 22 years.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the sanction order says some people had to wait years for Holmes to make a decision in cases that should have taken months.

Holmes could not be reached for comment.

Washington County Probate Judge Sanctioned

Convicted TX Judge Resigns, Gets Probation

A state district judge convicted of felony bribery last week will serve 10 years of probation and resign from the bench under an agreement announced outside the jury’s presence.

Judge Suzanne Wooten acknowledged the jury’s guilty verdicts on six bribery counts and one each of money laundering, record tampering and engaging in organized criminal activity. She agreed Monday to waive her right to an appeal.

The Dallas Morning News reports ( ) that the 43-year-old was fined $10,000 and sentenced to more than 1,000 hours of community service.

Full Article and Source:
Convicted Judge Resigns Gets Probation