Saturday, January 26, 2013

IN: End of Life Case Spotlights Difficult Decisions

Last week, following directives in a living will that Paul G. Smith, a retired attorney and former Hamilton County, Ind., court magistrate, signed nearly a decade ago, doctors at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis removed him from a ventilator that helped ease his labored breathing.

The living will restricts actions medical providers can take to keep him alive and hands decisions about artificially supplied nutrients and fluids to daughter Judith Sly. A feeding tube that once provided nourishment also was disconnected, though hospital staff occasionally moisten Smith's lips with a damp sponge.

Those moves infuriate daughter Susan Rissman, exacerbating a long-standing family divide that has only deepened since Smith, whose condition deteriorated rapidly, was hospitalized in December with dehydration.

Even though Smith's attorney tried unsuccessfully in November to name Rissman her father's legal guardian, Sly has authority over his care and legal affairs. And her decisions, according to court records, appear to be backed by another sister and a brother.

Rissman has been her father's primary caregiver for the past several years and is against stopping an active treatment regimen for him. She thinks any decision should be left up to Smith because he is able to talk and answer questions.

It is a sad and controversial end for Smith who is at the middle of a family's fight over control of his care and, ultimately, a significant estate that includes investments and a home valued at $241,000.
But the saga underscores broader issues: The importance of keeping health care plans up-to-date, medical ethics and the gut-wrenching dynamics of end-of-life decisions.

"It's a nice little messy case," said Daniel Callahan, president emeritus of the Hastings Center, a research center in Garrison, N.Y., that focuses on topics such as end-of-life care.

Family conflict is not unusual, Callahan and other experts say, because cases are seldom easy to sort out and often feature a tangle of competing forces.

Full Article and Source:
Ind: End of Life Case Spotlights Difficult Decisions

NY: 2 Lawyers Are Disbarred by Second Department

Two attorneys have been disbarred by the Appellate Division, Second Department, in separate matters. One lawyer resigned in the face of a pending grievance committee probe while the other was faulted for his "flagrant noncooperation with the grievance committee."

In the case of Colvin C. Goddard of Far Rockaway, the committee served an April 2011 petition with four charges of professional misconduct—three having to do with failure to cooperate with the committee's probe and a fourth alleging conversion of guardianship funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary. He was suspended in September 2011. Goddard failed to appear at a hearing before a special referee. His attorney did, but neither called witnesses nor presented evidence.

In the second case, the panel noted that of Thomas J. Bailey of Hicksville is now the subject of a probe of allegations including neglect of legal matters, failure to keep clients reasonably apprised and misappropriation of client funds.
Full Article and Source:
2 Lawyers are Disbarred by Second Department

See Also:
Matter of Colvin C. Goddard, admitted as Colvin Cleon Goddard, a suspended attorney, D36774

CA: Ex Lawyer Ricardo A. Torres Pays Restitution, Placed on Probation

Disbarred Los Angeles attorney Ricardo A. Torres II has been placed on probation for stealing from clients, a district attorney spokesperson said yesterday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli sentenced Torres Friday to five years’ probation, the conditions of which include 300 hours of community service. Torres pled guilty to one count of embezzlement, in violation of Penal Code Sec. 506, in September.

State Bar spokesperson told the MetNews that Torres last month paid over $97,000 in restitution to the State Bar for funds paid out by the Client Security Fund to Lawrence and Rachel Prijoles, plus interest. Torres, whose proffered resignation from the State Bar was rejected by the Supreme Court, agreed in 2011 to be disbarred and to pay restitution to the Prijoleses or the fund.

According to the disbarment stipulation, the Prijoleses were involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in San Diego County in 2005, winning a verdict for more than $500,000 in compensatory damages. The driver then agreed to pay $125,000 to settle the punitive damages part of the claim.

Torres received checks totaling nearly $650,000 from the driver and the driver’s. Of that, nearly $560,000 was disbursed to Torres, his co-counsel, expert witnesses, and the clients.

None of the medical providers were paid, and Torres admitted misappropriating the remaining $89,000 in settlement funds.

The Client Security Fund has also paid $27,100 on four other applications filed against Torres, the State Bar spokesperson said'

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Lawyer Torres Pays Restitution, Placed on Probation

Friday, January 25, 2013

Couple who scammed veterans are headed to prison

The elderly Houston couple responsible for the largest scam ever uncovered in a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' program meant to protect vulnerable veterans will be going to federal prison for 46 months after conspiring to carry out a $2.3 million ripoff of 49 disabled military men.

Houston lawyer Joe B. Phillips, 73, stood in federal court Wednesday to receive an identical punishment to that of his legal assistant and wife of four decades, Dorothy, who has claimed a casino gambling addiction first compelled her to siphon funds from veterans' bank accounts years before a VA audit finally detected the losses.

"I did not personally do it myself, but I accept responsibility because it happened in my office. It happened on my watch," Phillips told the court.

He asked to serve out his sentence in a cell near his 72-year-old spouse.

Government prosecutors unsuccessfully urged U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal to give a longer sentence to Joe Phillips, who was legally responsible for safeguarding disabled veterans' funds as a VA-approved fiduciary and as a guardian appointed by Texas probate judges. They pointed out that on Phillips' watch, 46 different fraudulent bank accounts were concocted to conceal long-term and ongoing thefts from veterans' accounts.

Full Article & Source:
Couple who scammed veterans are headed to prison

Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

The presence of dementia is believed to double every 20 years due to the world’s aging population, making it important to identify the factors that lead to cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. A new study shows that hearing loss appears to be associated with accelerated cognitive decline.

The study enrolled 1,984 older adults with an average age of 77 in an observational study that began in 1997-1998. A total of 1,162 patients with baseline hearing loss had annual rates of decline in test scores that measured global and executive function that were 41% and 32% greater than those among individuals with normal hearing.

Compared to patients with normal hearing, individuals with hearing loss at baseline had a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment.

"Our results demonstrate that hearing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older adults. The magnitude of these associations is clinically significant, with individuals having hearing loss demonstrating a 30 percent to 40 percent accelerated rate of cognitive decline and a 24 percent increased risk for incident cognitive impairment during a six-year period compared with individuals having normal hearing,” Frank Lin, MD, PhD, at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, and authors were quoted as saying.

"In conclusion, our results suggest that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in older adults. Further research is needed to investigate what the mechanistic basis of this observed association is and whether such pathways would be amendable to hearing rehabilitative interventions," Dr. Lin and authors concluded.
Full Article and Source:
Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

Ex-Lakewood broker gets 5 years for theft from an elderly client

A former Lakewood stockbroker who federal prosecutors called “arrogant and shameless” was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison for bilking an elderly client out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Michael D. Montgomery, 44, also must pay yet-to-be-determined restitution to the estate of the man he defrauded. That man died in 2006 at age 90.

Prosecutors said Montgomery, who now calls Colorado home, served as the man’s financial adviser and then became trustee of the man’s revocable living trust. He used his positions to make loans to himself from the man’s accounts, many of which he failed to repay.

They also said he billed the estate for hours he never worked.

Prosecutors said Montgomery purloined $1.2 million from the man and his estate. His defense attorney, Emily Gause of Seattle, claims the loss was less than $900,000.

He pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud and filing a false tax return for failing to report the income.

Prosecutors said Montgomery used the stolen money to finance a high-flying lifestyle in Aspen, Colo., where he trained to be an elite triathlete. The victim’s heirs were left with nearly nothing.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Lakewood broker gets 5 years for theft from an elderly client

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lawless America: Rosanna Miller

YouTube: Lawless America: Rosanna Miller

After Criticism, DSM Committee Changes Course

Experts behind the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders didn’t back down on major changes to the definition of autism, but appear to have made an about-face when it comes to intellectual disability.

Initial plans to revise the diagnosis of “mental retardation” in the forthcoming fifth edition of the psychiatric manual called for the condition to be renamed “intellectual developmental disorder.” Critics blasted the proposal because it was inconsistent with the more commonly accepted term “intellectual disability” which has already been adopted in many federal and state laws.

Now it appears that the American Psychiatric Association heard the complaints. In newly-released documents, officials from the psychiatrists’ group stopped short of revealing the final text for the manual, but now say the version slated for publication in May will replace “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.” The move is an effort to align with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education and other groups, the psychiatric association said.

The new term with be appended with a notation about “intellectual developmental disorder” in order to be congruent with language expected in an upcoming revision of the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, a guide to diseases and disorders published by the World Health Organization.

Full Article and Source:
After Criticism, DSM Committee Changes Course

MO: Police: Man Exploited Elderly Man With Dementia

A St. Peters man is behind bars, accused of scamming an elderly woman out of thousands of dollars. Jeremy McClellan, 38, is charged with financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled.
Full Article and Source:
Police: Man Exploited Elderly Woman With Dementia

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TN: Complaints Lead to Suggested Changes in Conservatorship Law

The Tennessee Bar Association has approved a series of recommended changes in the state law governing conservatorships including first time procedures to place a person in a conservatorship on an emergency basis without notice.

The recommendations, approved over the weekend by the association’s board of governors, will be forwarded to legislative leaders within the next few weeks, said Allan F. Ramsaur, executive director of the association.

In addition to establishing the emergency placement process, the 16 recommended changes in the law clarify the role of court appointed attorneys, known as “guardian ad litems,” assigned to investigate the need for a conservatorship and report back to the court with a recommendation.

The Tennessee Bar Association has approved a series of recommended changes in the state law governing conservatorships including first time procedures to place a person in a conservatorship on an emergency basis without notice.

The recommendations, approved over the weekend by the association’s board of governors, will be forwarded to legislative leaders within the next few weeks, said Allan F. Ramsaur, executive director of the association.

In addition to establishing the emergency placement process, the 16 recommended changes in the law clarify the role of court appointed attorneys, known as “guardian ad litems,” assigned to investigate the need for a conservatorship and report back to the court with a recommendation.

The proposal would require that the person being placed in the conservatorship be given notice within 48 hours and that a hearing be held within five days. The emergency appointment would be for a maximum of 60 days.

“The existing law does not have enough specificity,” [Jacson Attorney Pamela] Wright said, adding that the changes would give more protections to those being placed in a conservatorship.
Among those changes, she said, was to make it easier for a person placed in a conservatorship to appeal and get separate legal representation..

Other changes proposed include a requirement that the order creating a conservatorship include the specific rights that are being taken away and also any rights that are being retained. Another change would require that a conservator file more frequent financial reports, including one at the end of the first six months of the conservatorship.

Last year the General Assembly approved two changes in the conservatorship law. One requires that a proposed conservator disclose whether he or she has a criminal record. The other requires the proposed conservator to disclose his or her relationship with the person being conserved.

Tinnon, who now lives in public housing a few blocks from the house that was auctioned off to pay bills while she was in a conservatorship, said she was not aware of the recommendations but had one question.

“If they change it (the law) when will I get my stuff back?” she asked.

Full Article and Source:
Complaints Lead to Susgested Changes in Conservatorship Law

TN Bar Association Recommends Changes in Conservatorship Laws

Ginger Franklin gets a hug from longtime friend Mary Ann Watson.

Franklin was released from her court-ordered conservatorship in 2010 after fighting it and proving she was capable of managing her own affairs -- but not before she lost her home and was on the hook for legal and other fees that ate up all but $2,000 of her assets.

Bar Association Recommends Changes in Consrvatorship Laws

See Also:
Judge Adds Safeguards After Franklin Case

Conservatorship is Meant to Protect, But in Tennessee, it Sometimes Destroys

Just two years ago, 80-year-old Jewell Tinnon was living comfortably in the Edgehill house she and her late husband had bought and paid for years earlier.

But all that was before a petition was filed, without her knowledge, in Davidson County Probate Court to protect and conserve her life, health and assets.

Tinnon, who now lives in public housing a few blocks from the house that was auctioned off to pay bills while she was in a conservatorship, said she was not aware of the recommendations but had one question.

“If they change it (the law) when will I get my stuff back?” she asked.

Conservatorship is Meant to Protect, But in Tennessee It Sometimes Destroys

Complaints Lead to Suggested Changes in Conservatorship Law

Lawless America: Don Acree

Source: YouTube: Lawless America: Don Acree

TN: Danny Tate, In Court-Ordered Hell

It was [over ]five years ago  that David E. Tate, Petitioner, along with notorious attorney Paul T. Housch, entered “Judge” Randy Kennedy’s court to conduct an “emergency” Ex Parte hearing “petitioning” the court for a conservatorship over brother John Daniel “Danny” Tate. With nothing but grossly perjured hearsay testimony, Kennedy “glad to do it” entered orders of conservatorship, administered the fiduciary oath to David E. Tate and ordered Danny Tate’s Vanguard account seized.

No evidence whatsoever was presented:
1. No medical evidence
2. No financial evidence
3. No crime(s)
4. No 911 reports
5. No complaints from the neighbors

Five Year "Anniversary" of Court-Ordered Hell

See Also:
Danny Tate's Home Auctioned Off to His Former Lawyer!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Fight for Life

An ongoing legal case in New York's Southern Tier is reminiscent of the Terri Schiavo case.

Family Life's Bob Price speaks with Bobby Schindler, Executive Director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, about the legal battle over Gary Harvey's medical care.

Family Life Network: News: A Fight for Life

LISTEN to Bob Price's interview with Bobby Schindler

See Also:
Terri Schiavo's Brother, Bobby Schindler, Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

The Dictators of Non-Compassion:  Gary Harvey Case and the Unexpected Twist

Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo's Death but Inspired Too

Register correspondent Brian O’Neel recently sat down for an interview with  [Terri Schiavo's]brother, Bobby Schindler Jr., who subsequently founded the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network to honor her memory. The organization helps medically dependent persons with disabilities and incapacitated individuals who face potentially facing life-threatening situations.

It’s now 20 years down the road since your father and Michael fought. What is your state of mind right now? Where are you, in terms of your perspective?
I struggle with this daily because it changes for me every day. From the time Terri collapsed to this moment, it has been a constant rollercoaster ride of emotions.

I guess the easy answer is: I’m committed to doing whatever I can so people will understand this issue. For the death merchants, so to speak, Terri’s death signaled the end. For me, it was the beginning. I’m not going to stop until everybody knows the truth about what they did to Terri, how she was barbarically and inhumanely killed, and how others are being killed just like her. That’s my mindset.

Euthanasia is such a widely misunderstood issue. So much of our society accepts this way of “caring,” which means directly killing people who are being sustained by basic and ordinary care, food and water.

Understand: Terri wasn’t on life support. She was receiving what the Church describes as basic and ordinary care, food and water. She had a feeding tube. She could’ve quite possibly lived a normal life span if she’d continued to receive food and water.

Furthermore, people don’t realize other individuals with brain injuries are being killed every day because the laws now consider feeding tubes artificial life support. It enables medical professionals and families to take it away from individuals if they choose.

The majority of calls we get are from families who are up against health-care professionals who are trying to take away food and water.

What’s the worst case that you’re familiar with, outside of your sister’s?
There are probably a few. There’s a case in New York. A county there has taken guardianship over a woman’s husband, Gary Harvey. The county is completely mistreating this woman, Sara, and what they’re doing to her husband is just unconscionable.

In Arizona, a man named  Jesse Ramirez, a war vet, got into a car accident. Doctors told his wife to remove the feeding tube. The parents went to court and got an injunction. A few months later, the guy walked out of the rehab center and was speaking with reporters.

Full Article and Source:
Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo's Death, but Inspired Too

See Also:
Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

Terri Schiavo's Brother, Bobby Schindler, Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

The Dictators of Non-Compassion:  Gary Harvey Case and the Unexpected Twist

The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

"Animals help patients keep their mind off their problems," says Jean S. Uehl, the director of nurses. "The love the patients get from the animals is unconditional." One particular stroke patient was withdrawn and rarely smiled, until she began to play with the resident cat. The patient and the cat became closely bonded to each other, and when the cat had kittens, "they became like the patient’s babies," according to Uehl.

The kittens played and slept on a tray on the resident’s wheelchair and slept in a chair near her bed whenever they could. The kittens brought the resident out of her shell and she began to talk and smile. "The kittens in particular get all the residents’ attention," says Uehl. "Everyone always wants to know where they’re at and what they’re doing." When there are kittens in the building, a number of residents stay busy all day, following them, playing with them, and keeping an eye on them. ~ From

Consider taking your pet to visit residents at a nursing home or an elderly neighbor. They do NOT have to be registered therapy animals. Call your l ocal nursing homes and ask about their policies. Usually only updated shots are required for your pet. Don't have a pet? Go hold a residents hand instead. ♥

Facebook - The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly

Monday, January 21, 2013

Petition: Urge CA Sen. Noreen Evans to CAP California Probate Fees

In 2006 the State of California enacted the Fiduciaries Act, which was meant to protect consumers from financial fraud, and abuse, by California Fiduciaries. A Fiduciaries Bureau was opened and Fiduciaries had to register, take classes, and become licensed by the Fiduciaries Bureau, a Division of the Calif. Dept. of Consumer Affairs. However, since 2006, Private Fiduciaries in California have been conducting a "Feeding Frenzy" with regards to fees charged to their elderly client's estates, assets, etc., see Calif. 6th Cir. Court of Appeals recent decision. Furthermore, Norine Boehmer, president of the Professional Fiduciary Association of California is against the reduction of fees for fiduciary's whom belong to her for profit organization.

Therefore, to to protect the consumer from further financial abuse by California licensed Private Fiduciaries, we urge State Senator Noreen Evans to submit legislation placing a cap on all licensed fiduciary fees in the State of California.

SIGN Petition: Urge Calif. Sen. Noreen Evans to CAP California Probate Fees

Fiduciary Watch: California Judges Claim They are Over Disciplined

California Judges want the Commission on Judicial Performance to leave them alone. How arrogant can California Judges be to think that they should not be monitored?

Tension between California’s jurists and the Commission on Judicial Performance? That’s nothing new. Fits of judicial pique against the watchdog panel have spiked and ebbed ever since state voters created it in 1960.

But 52 years later, frustration — one justice described it as “palpable anger” — with the 11-member commission has grown to such a high level that there’s now open, albeit cryptic, talk by two judges associations of forcing changes upon the disciplinary agency.

“There seems to be a scope or mission creep to their work,” said California Judges Accociation then President David Rubin, a San Diego trial court judge. “There seem to be significant instances of over discipline. And there seem at times to be issues of discipline for errors of law over real substantive violations of canons of ethics.”

The CJP appears to offer one of the few topics where the CJA and the Alliance of California Judges share similar views. Alliance Director Thomas Hollenhorst, a justice on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, echoed Rubin’s critiques and added what he said is judges’ growing resentment over a pointed tone in both the commission’s advisory letters and disciplinary proceedings.

“What you’re hearing from judges is a concern over what appears to be an attempt to sort of rub judges’ noses in offenses,” said Hollenhorst, who teaches judicial ethics and has served as a special master for the commission.

Commissioners and CJP Director Victoria Henley say they’re perplexed by the claims of over disciplining. They note that the numbers of admonishments, advisory letters and even ousters ordered each year by the CJP have changed little over the past decade. And with five judges and lawyers serving on the panel, they add, there’s significant empathy for what it takes to run a courtroom today.

“Everyone is very aware of the personal effect discipline has on judges,” said seven-year commissioner Judith McConnell, the administrative presiding justice of the Fourth District. “The commissioners take their job very seriously.”

Full Article and Source:
Fiduciary Watch:  California Judges Claim They are Over Disciplined

Latvia Abolishes Plenary Guardianship

[T]he Latvian parliament adopted a new law which abolishes plenary guardianship. This means that the 2,334 people in Latvia who are currently prohibited from taking any decisions about their lives, will have to be reviewed, and it is MDAC’s hope that many of them will have restrictions lifted so that they can make their own decisions.

Latvia becomes the second country in Europe to take this step following the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, the first being the  Czeck Republic.

The new law abolishes full deprivation of legal capacity. It introduces a new initiative of partial guardianship which is a joint decision between the adult and guardian (where either one can exercise a veto), temporary guardianship for up to 2 years without restricting legal capacity and advanced directives. The new law introduces compulsory periodic review of partial guardianship and this is scheduled for every 7 years.

Full Article and Source:
Latvia Abolishes Plenary Guardianship

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway Charged With Fraud

Federal prosecutors have filed a fraud charge against Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, just a few days before she leaves the state's highest court in a scandal involving the sale of a Detroit-area home and suspicious steps taken to conceal property in Florida.

The charge was filed Friday as a criminal "information," which means it was negotiated and that a guilty plea is expected in federal court. Defense attorney Steve Fishman declined to comment Saturday.

Hathaway is resigning Monday, months after a series of questionable real estate transactions first were revealed by a Detroit TV station. Hathaway and her husband, Michael Kingsley, deeded a Florida home to a relative while trying to negotiate a short sale on a house they couldn't afford in Grosse Pointe Park.

The sale went through and erased any remaining debt they had with the bank, $600,000. The debt-free Windermere, Fla., home then went back in their names.

The bank fraud charge says Hathaway made false statements to ING Direct, transferred property to others and failed to disclose available cash -- all in an effort to fool the bank into believing she had a financial hardship. Kingsley has not been charged.

Hathaway has refused to make any lengthy public comments. She told WXYZ-TV last spring that the property shuffles were a private matter.

Full Article and Source:
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charged With Fraud

Dementia Patient "Overqualified" for Medicaid

“A man that’s worked all of his life, two to three jobs at a time has never asked for help,” said Rosemary of Gene.

“Now he severely needs help and can’t get it.” Rosemary said Gene needs medicaid to help cover the cost of assisted living or in-home care.

But because of the 1.7% social security raise, Rosemary said Gene no longer qualifies for medicaid. He’s overqualified by $15 too much in income.
Source: Dementia Patient "Overqualified" for Medicaid

When Stockbroker Fraud Involves Elder Abuse

Senior citizens may rely more and more on professionals to help manage their affairs, but doing so may open them up to stockbroker fraud, which in such cases could also amount to elder abuse. Some unethical stockbrokers will commit stockbroker investment fraud against elderly clients, putting the clients not only at risk of losing their money, but also in a position where that money cannot be regained. A recent incident of stock fraud highlights the issue.

According to KOMO News (12/27/12), a former stockbroker has been sentenced to five years in jail for stealing more than $1 million from an elderly man who was also his client. Prosecutors alleged the stockbroker was an investment advisor for the client, and was later given power of attorney over the man. Among the money that was reportedly stolen were more than $650,000 from a Charles Schwab account, almost $600,000 in checks written from the client's accounts and almost $250,000 in checks for estate services after the client died.

The stockbroker's registration was revoked in 2009. So far, according to prosecutors, none of the stolen money has been returned.

Elderly investors are at risk of coming up against unethical stockbrokers who will steal their clients' money for their own purposes. In some cases, they do so by manipulating the client into giving them power of attorney, gaining access to vital accounts and transferring money to themselves, spending it on luxurious items and trips.

Full Article and Source:
When Stockbroker Fraud Involves Elder Abuse