Saturday, October 12, 2013

Woman Accepts Plea Deal In Theft From Elderly Mother

BARTOW | A 43-year-old woman accepted a plea deal Tuesday on charges of stealing more than $40,000 while acting as her mother's court-appointed guardian.

Diana Copley pleaded guilty to exploitation of an elderly person. Her sentencing is set for Nov. 12.
If Copley repays $36,922 in restitution by the time of her sentencing hearing, she is expected to receive 120 days in jail followed by three years of probation, according to the plea agreement.

If she does not repay the amount, Copley is expected to receive about a year in jail followed by three years of probation.

Copley was arrested in November 2012 after investigators say she took money from her mother, Virginia Rieke of Lakeland.

In October 2008, a judge wrote that Rieke, who at the time was 76, needed a guardian because she was "totally incapacitated."

Stephen R. Menge, an investigator with the State Attorney's Office in Bartow, wrote in a complaint affidavit that Copley abused her position as guardian and financially exploited her mother.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Accepts Plea Deal In Theft From Elderly Mother

The Source: Former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson | Reforming How Texas Chooses Judges

"The question is not how is the judiciary? We must ask instead whether our system of justice is working for the people it has promised to serve. Do we have liberty and justice for all? Or have we come to accept liberty and justice only for some?" - Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson's State of the Judiciary, March 2013.
Last week the state's highest jurist stepped down. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson left public service to re-enter private practice after 12 years on the Texas Supreme Court, where his voice was credited with moderating what has been seen as a pro-business bench.

He has won numerous awards, had a school named after him in Northside ISD and was both the first African American on the Texas Supreme Court as well as its first African American Chief Justice.

Jefferson joins us to talk about his story and the issues of justice he sees facing Texas as he leaves public life.

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson joined the law firm of Alexander, Dubose, Jefferson & Townsend

Full Article and Source:
The Source: Former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson | Reforming How Texas Chooses Judges

Friday, October 11, 2013

Trial begins for trio charged with bilking elderly Emmaus woman

Authorities say an elderly Emmaus woman died of a broken heart after finding out virtually everything she owned had been stolen from her, but attorneys for the three people charged with the alleged thefts insist their clients didn't steal "a dime."

Two of the three defendants, one of whom had owned the former Emmaus Diner, cared for Queen E. Hersh, 90, and benefited from her generosity but didn't take any money without her knowledge, the attorneys said Wednesday during opening statements in the trial. The third defendant had almost no involvement at all, her attorney argued.

Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Charles Gallagher told the jury that Hersh died in December 2008, months after she received a foreclosure notice in the mail and learned she had been taken for more than $260,000.

Authorities say Penelope Veronikis, 51, masterminded the thefts, using some of the money for a tummy tuck and a breast lift,  credit card payments and department store trips. Also charged are her daughter, Barbara Paxos, 28, and former diner owner Hristos "Chris" Dimou, 51.

Full Article and Source:
Trial begins for trio charged with bilking elderly Emmaus woman

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Word About Attorney Ken Ditkowsky

Friday, October 11th at 11:00 a.m., Illinois Attorney Ken Ditkowsky will stand in front of the ARDC Review Board* in oral argument, defending himself against a four-year suspension of his law license for his involvement in the Mary G. Sykes unlawful guardianship case.

NASGA stands firmly with Attorney Ditkowsky, as we have all along. Attorney Ditkowsky is one of a dying breed of attorneys - those who chose and went in to the legal profession to help people in need instead of just to make a lot of money; a man who is outraged by injustice; and a champion and voice for the vulnerable.

We pray for justice at this hearing.

The world can't stand to lose an attorney like Ditkowsky; in fact, we need more like him!

*One Prudential Plaza
15th Floor
Chicago, IL
11:00 a.m. 

SSA whistle-blowers in attorney-judge scheme testify about harassment

Current and former Social Security Administration employees testified Oct. 7 that they were persecuted and harassed for speaking up about alleged collusion between a disability lawyer and a judge.

"Management has been allowed to harass, intimidate, oppress, stalk, discipline, ostracize, monitor and make my life as miserable as possible for the last 7 years," said Sarah Carver, a senior case technician at the SSA's regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Huntington, W.V., before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

According to a report from the committee, David Daugherty, an administrative law judge at the SSA office in Huntington, colluded with Eric Conn, an attorney in Stanville, Ky., to approve at least 1,800 claimants for disability benefits. The bank records of Judge Daugherty and his daughter contain $96,000 in cash deposits that he has refused to explain, while Conn received more than $4 million in attorney fees from his SSA cases.

Located in a town of 500 people, Conn's firm was the third highest paid disability law firm in the country thanks to its SSA fees, the report says.

Carver, who still works at the SSA office in Huntington, said at the hearing that it was not difficult to observe the scheme between Conn and Daugherty. "It was done in such openness," she said.

Daugherty, who has retired from SSA, personally assigned himself Conn's cases, holding up to 20 hearing for his clients in a single day, while most judges held 15-20 hearings in an entire week. He approved virtually all of them, "in assembly-line fashion," the report says. Other judges approved disability benefits in about 60 percent of cases.

Jennifer Griffith, a former master docket clerk at the SSA office in Huntington, noted at the hearing that judges are not supposed to be involved in choosing cases, in order to avoid favoritism. She called the proceedings for Conn's clients "sham hearings."

Griffith testified that when she discovered the improper docketing of cases, she thought her supervisors would be glad to hear that she had found the issue and could correct it. Instead, she said, she was persecuted.

"At one point, my supervisor would time every action I took during the day, including how long I spent in the bathroom," she told the committee.

Full Article and Source:
SSA whistle-blowers in attorney-judge scheme testify about harassment

Wayne Co. Judge McCree's lawyer seeks censure instead of removal

Detroit— The lawyer for disgraced Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wade McCree said removing the judge from the bench is both unprecedented and draconian.

McCree, who is under fire from the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission for complaints of judicial misconduct, should instead be censured and temporarily suspended, said his lawyer Brian Einhorn.

In his written brief in response to the tenure commission’s findings, Einhorn asked to be allowed to make oral arguments in the matter before the Michigan Supreme Court.

McCree got into hot water with the commission while presiding over a 2012 child support case involving Geniene La’Shay Mott with whom he had an extramarital affair.

He also is accused of giving favorable treatment to a relative of Mott’s and for using derogatory remarks to describe some litigants in his courtroom. Last month the nine-member commission recommended to the Michigan Supreme Court McCree be removed from office and also called for a six-year “conditional” suspension for the judge in the event he is re-elected to the bench next year.

During a hearing last month, the executive director of the Michigan Tenure Commission said McCree “suffers from egomania” and is a “narcissist” who is no longer fit to serve as a judge.

Full Article and Source:
Wayne Co. Judge McCree's lawyer seeks censure instead of removal

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ohio appeals court again sides with hospital seeking to send Amish girl back to chemotherapy

An appeals court has sided again with an Ohio hospital that wants to force a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

The court ruled that an attorney who’s also a registered nurse should be granted limited guardianship over the girl, Sarah Hershberger, and the power to make medical decisions for her.

Doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital believe Sarah’s leukemia is treatable but says she will die without chemotherapy. The hospital went to court after the family decided to stop chemotherapy and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

The appeals court ruling, issued last week, overturns a judge’s decision that said that keeping the parents from making medical decisions for their daughter would take away their rights.

“While we respect the wishes of the parents and believe them to be honest and sincere, we are unwilling to adhere to the wishes of the parents,” the appeals court judges wrote.

The beliefs and convictions of the parents can’t outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child, the court said. It also ordered that the guardian should be appointed right away.

Full Article and Source:
Ohio appeals court again sides with hospital seeking to send Amish girl back to chemotherapy

See Also:
Judge Again Blocks Ohio Hospital's Attempt to Force Amish Girll to Resume Treatments

Judge sides with hospital that forced chemotherapy for Amish girl with leukemia

Ohio hospital wants to force Amish girl’s cancer treatment after parents stop chemotherapy

HTC, Lawyers Sued by Nina Simone's Daughter

CN) - The daughter of Nina Simone has taken aim at HTC over the use of the legendary jazz singer and pianist's song "Sinnerman," and at a law firm for allegedly mishandling her mother's estate.

 Lisa Simone Kelly filed the federal complaint against HTC and advertising agency Deutsch LA in Manhattan on Sept. 27, claiming they neither sought permission nor paid the estate for use of "Sinnerman."
She seeks $1 million in damages.

Her mother was signed to the Mercury Records subsidiary Phillips Record when she recorded the 1965 hit song, which fell under the umbrella of a collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the complaint alleges.

Because HTC is a party to contracts with the federation and the Screen Actors Guild governing the commercial use of recordings, it was obliged to negotiate with Simone's estate before using the song, according to the 5-page filing.

Kelly filed a separate lawsuit that same day in Los Angeles Superior Court, naming as defendants her former attorneys Sussan Shore, Blake Rummel and the estate-planning law firm Weinstock, Manion, Reisman, Shore & Neumann.

In her complaint for professional negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, Kelly claims that the law firm failed to investigate whether Simone was domiciled in France when she died there on April 21, 2003, at the age of 70 after a long battle with breast cancer.
Kelly says that it was in her interest that administration of the estate take place in France under the country's hardship laws. Weinstock Manion allegedly wanted Simone's estate probated in California, however, because it would net them more in fees.

"Defendants knew that plaintiff Lisa Simone Kelly was in a vulnerable state after the death of her mother and wanted to close the estate quickly," the complaint states. "The breaches of fiduciary duty by defendants caused the probate proceedings to drag on interminably with acrimonious litigation, arbitration and other disputes; indeed, ten years after Nina Simone's death, the probate proceeding in California is still ongoing."
Full Article and Source:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Judge Ken Anderson Resigns Amid Ethics Lawsuit

Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.

Anderson is facing both civil and criminal court proceedings for his role in prosecuting Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. Attorneys for Morton allege that Anderson withheld critical evidence that pointed to Morton's innocence and that he lied to the judge about the existence of that evidence. Morton was sentenced to life in prison and spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA testing revealed that he was innocent and connected another man to his wife's killing. He was released from prison in 2011.

In a statement, Anderson made no reference to the Morton case and thanked his supporters. For the "foreseeable future" he said he would be focused on "making the transition into private life."

"There comes a time when every public official must decide that it is time to leave public life," Anderson said in the statement released by his lawyer, Eric Nichols. "For me and my family, that time is now."

Morton's lawyers, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Barry Scheck of the New York-based Innocence Project, said Anderson's resignation was "long overdue."

"We look forward to an adjudication of the pending disciplinary action brought by the state bar as well as the pending criminal charges," they said in an emailed statement. "Judge Anderson deserves a fair trial, but if there are findings against him in either proceeding, we would expect that appropriate penalties be imposed.”

Anderson was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002 and the State Bar of Texas named him “Prosecutor of the Year” in 1995. Perry responded to Anderson on Monday with a letter accepting the resignation and thanking the longtime prosecutor and judge for his service.

The State Bar filed a disciplinary case against Anderson last year, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday in Williamson County. Anderson could be disbarred if he is found to have violated professional rules of conduct in securing Morton's wrongful conviction.

Anderson is also facing criminal charges after Tarrant County state district Judge Louis Sturns, following a court of inquiry in February, charged the former prosecutor with tampering with government records (a misdemeanor), tampering with physical evidence (a felony) and failing to comply with a judge's order to turn over such evidence, for which he could be held in “contempt of court.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge Ken Anderson Resigns Amid Ethics Lawsuit

Candidate was taken off guardianship cases 10 times

Gretchen DeBacker, the Democratic candidate for Toledo Municipal Court judge, was removed from 10 guardianship cases between 2006 and 2011 for failing to file mandatory reports on time.

In all 10 cases, Ms. DeBacker had been hired to represent a person who had been judged incompetent to look out for their own affairs, and her main duty to Probate Court as guardian was to file an annual inventory and two reports with Lucas County Probate Court on her ward's status.

According to Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, guardianship cases are handled by magistrates. He said in the majority of cases in which guardians are removed the reason is failure to file documents on time.

Ms. DeBacker is running in the nonpartisan general election Nov. 5 against Republicans Joshua Lanzinger and Kenneth Phillips. The seat is now held by Mr. Lanzinger who was appointed to the vacancy by Gov. John Kasich on Sept. 11 and sworn in as judge two days later. The vacancy was created when former Municipal Judge Michael Goulding was appointed to a vacancy on Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Ms. DeBacker acknowledged that she was removed from the cases.

“It wasn’t anything to hurt the clients. It was simply my failure to show the status of my work to the court. Probate Court is not my regular or main area of practice. It’s not an excuse it’s simply an explanation,” Ms. DeBacker said.

Full Article and Source:
Candidate was taken off guardianship cases 10 times

Monday, October 7, 2013

Westmoreland native, former congressman Bailey banned from law for 5 years

Attorney Don Bailey leaves the courtroom
 in December 2012 after a
state committee held a hearing 
on disciplinary action against him. 
(Matt Miller, The Patriot-News)
The state Supreme Court has ordered Greensburg native Don Bailey, a former Pennsylvania auditor general and U.S. congressman, to surrender his law license for five years.
The court on Wednesday ordered the suspension that was recommended in May by its Disciplinary Board.
Bailey violated the rules of professional conduct by making false statements critical of federal judges in Pennsylvania, the court said.
Although the Supreme Court ruling came in a three-sentence order, the Disciplinary Board's 19-page recommendation attached to the order sharply criticized Bailey, who lives in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.
“(Bailey) fails to accept adverse judicial decisions by an objective review of the facts or the law. He simply concludes that such decisions are a result of a conspiracy against him or his clients,” the disciplinary board said.
“(Bailey) has not expressed regret or remorse for any statements that he made,” the board noted.
In a separate 2009 case, Bailey, who practiced in Harrisburg, was ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in fees and costs for making unfounded claims of judicial misconduct.
Bailey, 68, served as auditor general from 1985 to 1989. He served as congressman from 1979 until 1983, representing a Western Pennsylvania district eliminated in redistricting.

Full Article and Source:
Westmoreland native, former congressman Bailey banned from law for 5 years

Couple Arrested for Exploitation of the Elderly

A husband and wife were arrested Thursday for stealing from a disabled World War II Veteran who allowed them to live in his home, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

The 87-year-old victim contacted deputies in September when he discovered a few pieces of his jewelry were missing, according to a report. He later realized a large amount of jewelry that belonged to his late wife worth an estimated $50,000 was also stolen, the report states.

Kevin Babbidge and his wife, Christina Babbidge, have known the victim for 10 years and moved in with him in late August to help care for him, the report said.

Detectives learned that within days, Kevin pawned several pieces of jewelry, but also found records showing he pawned items believed to have belonged to the victim in 2012, when he was paying Kevin $200 a week to clean his home, a report stated.

Detectives have recovered about $7,600 worth of jewelry taken from the man's home. Both suspects pleaded with the victim to allow them to make restitution and not press charges, a report said.

Full Article and Source:
Couple Arrested for Exploitation of the Elderly

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tonight on T.S. Radio: The Trial Lawyers Association: Holding Our Courts Hostage

Join us this evening as Bill Scheidler returns to discuss his undertakings in the State of Washington with regards to the “trial lawyers association”, which for all intense and purposes, runs this country including the probate courts.
They have enough hand-picked lawyers on the Bar Associations, in the legislature, in judicial positions and on various commissions, boards and other influential positions to control the corrupt courts we are forced to endure.

Should a citizen “file a complaint” that complaint is heard by the very ‘lawyers’ that are responsible for the nature of the complaint.  In other words, lawyers set the rules, interpret the rules, administer the rules, and impose penalties if they feel the rules have been broken.

Where does that leave you?

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LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later