Saturday, October 3, 2015

7 powerful photographs of terminally ill patients living out their final wishes

Before 54-year-old Mario passed away, he had one special goodbye he needed to say ... to his favorite giraffe.

Mario had worked as a maintenance man at the Rotterdam zoo in the Netherlands for over 25 years. After his shifts, he loved to visit and help care for the animals, including the giraffes.

As Mario's fight against terminal brain cancer came to an end, all he wanted to do was visit the zoo one last time. He wanted to say goodbye to his colleagues — and maybe share a final moment with some of his furry friends.

Thanks to one incredible organization, Mario got his wish.

"To say goodbye to the animals." All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

The Ambulance Wish Foundation, a Dutch nonprofit, helps people like Mario experience one final request.

It's a lot like Make-A-Wish, only it's not just for kids.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
7 powerful photographs of terminally ill patients living out their final wishes

Letter: Protect the elderly

letter art
Dear Editor:

I would like to address your article about phone and email scams targeting Santa Monicans by Nicholas Salazar. Although the article was written as a public awareness article, I feel the police department is not doing enough to go after telephone scammers who target the elder- ly. If the victim in the story, Ms. Bloem had been mugged and $1500 dollars had been taken out of her purse, I think that felony would have been taken more seriously. And yet someone committing fraud by impersonating a federal agent to take $1500 away from Ms. Bloem is seen as something the elderly need to be “aware of”. What if the next victim has a heart attack and dies because of the verbal abuse the caller places upon the victim. Would the police view this as murder or just another scammer people need to be “aware of.”

My Grandparents have been recently victimized. My grandparents were told that the US Treasury Department had money for them from an old bank account. To claim the money they had to wire some funds so the check could be sent Fedex. They were suspi- cious so they asked that info about the check be emailed to them, but instead they sent a virus that erased all their emails and wrecked havoc on their computer.

The police need to be more active and vigilant and not solely place responsibility on the victim. These are not victimless crimes. The police should provide caller ID to seniors who do not have it in order to get the phone number of those who call trying to scam them. If the number is unrecognizable then they should not answer it. I find that people who use caller ID are able to better avoid these scams. Reverse dial up will often reveal their actual location, which sometimes is in a local area.

Telling the caller that they will be reported to the FBI for impersonating a governmen- tal agency often works as well. Then when people do call the FBI fraud division and lodge a formal complaint with the caller’s phone number attached it helps decrees the number of these types of crimes committed. The Criminals need to be made “aware of” that someone will come after them.

Greater efforts need to be put in place to safeguard those who are most vulnerable and targeted in our society.

Antonio Okun
Santa Monica

Full Article & Source:
Letter: Protect the elderly

Class action lawsuit filed against Blythe Post Acute

BLYTHE - A Blythe nursing home is one of 11 throughout California that has been sued as part of a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed September 21 in Orange County Superior Court, claims that Blythe Post Acute and the other 10 facilities conceived and implemented a plan to "wrongfully increase business profits at the expense of the health of residents."

It was filed on behalf of Robert Garcia, a former resident at one of the other nursing homes, by Garcia, Artigliere & Medby, a Long Beach, Calif., law firm representing victims of nursing home and elder abuse. The lawsuit includes more than 3,000 members who have complaints against the 11 facilities.

The law firm is also seeking an injunction, which would require the defendants to properly maintain staffing levels in accordance with the law.

The nursing facilities listed in the complaint are Meridian Management Services, LLC; Intelex Enterprises, LLC; Office Smart, LLC; MMS Hesperia, LLC; MMS Green Tree, LLC; Bay View Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC; Blythe Post Acute, LLC; Country Crest, LLC; Knolls West Post Acute, LLC; and Spring Valley Post Acute, LLC.

Officials at Blythe Post Acute, which used to be Blythe Nursing Care Center and Rehabilitation Services but was sold in the last six months to Blythe Post Acute, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"Mr. Garcia and more than 3,000 patients were fleeced and treated as if they were inanimate objects undeserving of the medical attention that the law mandated they receive," said attorney Stephen Garcia. "The infirmed had no idea of the substandard living conditions that existed at these facilities and no doubt would have sought care elsewhere if they had known they were at risk."

The complaint alleges that for more than four years, the defendants and their licensees defrauded their residents by engaging in malicious and oppressive business practices to wrongfully increase profits at the expense of patients.

Each facility was underfunded and understaffed solely for the purpose of financial gain and failed to provide the proper health, care and attention that the residents paid for, according to the complaint.

It notes that for more than four years, Robert Garcia and more than 3,000 patients were the victims of financial abuse by not receiving the proper services paid for. Even more egregious was that their lives were placed in jeopardy.

As an example of the defendants' disregard for the welfare of the patients, in the last few years, each facility paid the defendants as much as $1 million for nursing supplies and office supplies, but received little or nothing in return, said the complaint. Instead, the money was used to benefit the defendants.

"Despite repeatedly being cited by the Department of Public Health for deficiencies, the defendants continued to be non-compliant and take advantage of the most vulnerable segment of our society," said Garcia, the attorney. 

Full Article & Source:
Class action lawsuit filed against Blythe Post Acute

Friday, October 2, 2015

Lies, Secrets, and Scams: How to Prevent Elder Abuse

To understand how Beth Baker, an independent, generally robust 87-year-old, got taken for $65,000 in less than one week last year, it’s important to know about her grandson, Will. Baker, a retired second-grade teacher living in National City, Calif., beams when she speaks of the 24-year-old, the eldest of her five grandkids. As a high school football player and later a U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate, Will made his grandmother terribly proud. When, late last year, Will’s wife delivered Baker’s first great-grandchild, Baker was overjoyed. “Will is precious to me,” Baker says.

So when a man phoned one morning last December from an unfamiliar number, the news he delivered hit her like a sledgehammer.

“He said my grandson was in Peru and was in trouble there,” Baker recalls. Then he put another man briefly on the line. Thinking it sounded like Will, Baker anxiously said into the phone, ‘Will?’ ”

What Baker unwittingly did was provide the caller with her grandson’s actual name, which was swiftly woven into a story. The caller said that Will had been a guest at a wedding in Peru. While driving, he had been involved in an accident that injured a 7-year-old pedestrian. Then a caller claiming to be Will’s lawyer got on the line and said Will was in jail and needed money at once; there was no time to think or question. “And he said if I shared this story with anyone, there’d be trouble for my grandson,” Baker recalls.

Baker hadn’t seen Will for a while, but the tale seemed plausible to her.

So, shaken and scared, she followed the caller’s instructions without verifying the story with anyone in her family. She hung up, drove to her bank, withdrew $5,000 from savings, and bought 10 $500 Green Dot MoneyPak cards at a CVS and a Ralphs supermarket. The contact called back as promised, and Baker scratched the card backs and read him the numbers beneath. That was all he needed to get an almost untraceable $5,000 payment, ostensibly for Will’s legal fees.

The man called soon after to say the injured child had died. Will needed more money to avoid 10 to 20 years in prison. Again, the caller stressed urgency and secrecy. At his prompting, Baker withdrew $11,000, bought more MoneyPak cards, and waited for her phone to ring.

It did ring—again and again—each call detailing a new twist on Will’s story and yet another demand. Over five days Baker purchased 101 MoneyPak cards and sent $65,000—almost all of her liquid savings.

Baker hardly slept. She was shaky and nervous. She skipped a visit to her husband, in nursing care at a home for veterans. She lied to her son, Jim—Will’s father—about her activities. Once during a visit, Jim noticed that her thumbnail tip was black. He didn’t ask why for fear of embarrassing her. In retrospect, he says, he realized that “it was from scratching off all those Green Dot cards.”

When Baker applied at her local bank for a $14,000 loan against her paid-off home, she attracted the attention of a manager. With patient prompting, Baker finally confessed. The banker told her she was being scammed. They called Jim to confirm that Will was safe. “I was so relieved,” Baker recalls.

Jim Baker reported the crime to the San Diego County district attorney’s Elder Abuse Unit and fired off an angry letter to Green Dot. He remembers the incident with bitterness. “It made my mother question her own sanity and worth,” he says. “At her age that’s hard to get back.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Lies, Secrets, and Scams: How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Pretrial hearings paving way for trial of Augusta woman accused of exploitation of an elderly person

A woman accused of taking advantage of a 96-year-old dementia patient by helping herself to the elderly woman’s bank account is headed to trial next month.

An Oct. 12 trial date in Richmond County Superior Court is set for Patsy Sheppard, 59. She has pleaded not guilty to three counts of exploitation of an elderly person and one count of attempted exploitation of an elderly person.

At a Tuesday afternoon hearing, attorneys sparred over discovery issues and what evidence should be admissible at trial. Sheppard is accused of taking more than $22,000 from the bank accounts of Ophelia Beard last year. Beard died Dec. 23, not long after Sheppard was indicted.

The documented evidence includes 1,300 pages of bank documents. Defense attorney Kim Wilder complained the accusations lodged in the indictment itself are so vague that it’s impossible to know what acts she is supposed to defend Sheppard against.

On behalf of the state, Assistant Attorney General Lyndie Freeman sought discovery from the defense – names and contact information for possible witnesses and copies of any records the defense intends to use.

While the defense has until five days before trial to provide discovery, Freeman protested that a last minute dump of information would leave the state at an unfair disadvantage. Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. assured both attorneys that he would not let either side be ambushed.

Freeman said in addition to bank records and footage of security video from banks, she would have witnesses testify about Beard’s state of mind last year.

One potential problem area might be Freeman’s intention to call a bank employee who could testify that when she became suspicious about Sheppard, she asked Beard who Sheppard was and Beard said she didn’t know.

The hearing in the case will continue next week. The trial is expected to last for more than a week.

Full Article & Source:
Pretrial hearings paving way for trial of Augusta woman accused of exploitation of an elderly person

New indictments against former nurse in death of nursing home resident

BRIGHT, Indiana —An Indiana nurse who was once accused in the death of a nursing home resident is now facing new charges related to the same incident.

Kathy Hess, of Bright, Indiana, faced several abuse charges back in February of 2014 in the death of Dionne Scalf, 77, but all charges were dropped last fall.

The Ohio-Dearborn County prosecutor took the case to a grand jury in early March and after hearing evidence the grand jury filed new indictments.

Full Article & Source:
New indictments against former nurse in death of nursing home resident

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fired & Smeared in Santa Clara, Official Says

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - Santa Clara County's former public guardian says he inherited problems during his time on the job and was ultimately fired - very publicly - because of them.

An 11-page federal lawsuit says before former Santa Clara County Public Guardian Don Moody was hired as the public guardian, the county issued multiple reports saying the position needed improvement.

Santa Clara County's public guardian is tasked with attending to the physical and financial well-being of residents who cannot manage their own affairs. Moody says he managed "three different county programs and supervised over 65 employees, all in the aftermath of one of the worst financial meltdowns in American history."

Years before Moody was hired the public guardian position had been criticized in the press and the focus of civil grand jury proceedings going back to 1998, according to the complaint.

Throughout Moody's time in the position, his role was criticized in local media and he was accused of elder abuse - for example, by denying them visitors. He was ultimately escorted out of the office when he was fired in 2014, according to the complaint.

"To save face in the press, the county summarily fired him, leaked derogatory information about him, and publicly 'perp-walked' him out of his office," the lawsuit says.

Moody says he was never warned about poor performance and had in fact received only positive performance reviews.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 24, Moody is a former marine who spent two decades in the field of health administration and in 2008 became the Santa Clara County public guardian.

He is suing Santa Clara County and its social services agency director Bruce Wagstaff under the federal civil rights "stigma plus" law and for deprivation of substantive due process. He seeks general, special and compensatory damages.

Neither Moody's representation James McManis nor the county could immediately be reached for comment.

Full Article & Source:
Fired & Smeared in Santa Clara, Official Says

San Jose Police Department Develops Elder Abuse Policy

Since 2012, Coalition for Elder & Dependent Adult Rights (CEDAR) encouraged San Jose Police Department to develop an elder abuse policy that is consistent with California's Penal Code 368 and with 21st century thought on civil rights.

In June 2015, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand reported on deficiencies in the Department's elder abuse policy. In September 2015, the Department is revising their elder abuse policy according to recommendations from the Civil Grand Jury and from CEDAR.

To our knowledge, San Jose Police Department is the first department in the nation to take these steps. Kudos to SJPD for leading the way!

San Jose Police Department Develops Elder Abuse Policy

Pawnee County judge indicted twice by state grand jury

OKLAHOMA CITY - A Pawnee County associate district judge was indicted twice Thursday by the state's multicounty grand jury.

Judge Patrick M. Pickerill is accused in one indictment of falsifying judicial records and other felony offenses to create a drug court, even though he did not have that authority.

Grand jurors alleged he hired a former secretary at his law firm as the drug court coordinator and as his bailiff. Grand jurors also allege he backdated two administrative orders to mislead the public and had an attorney lie for him.

He is accused in the second indictment of failing to file a loyalty oath after taking office after his election last November, a misdemeanor.

Full Article & Source: 
Pawnee County judge indicted twice by state grand jury

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Fragile Patchwork of Care for New York’s Oldest Old

John Sorensen stood in the entryway of his Upper West Side apartment with a fresh bruise spreading over his upper arm and a blood-smeared bandage around one shin.

Mr. Sorensen, 91, had fallen in his kitchen — he said he did not recall how — and was still unsteady on his feet.

“It’s been a very bad day for me,” he said, his voice quavering just above a whisper. “I could’ve fallen 20 or 30 times today but I caught myself.”

Mr. Sorensen is one of six New Yorkers over the age of 85 I have been following since the beginning of the year. For Mr. Sorensen and the woman who manages his care — Anne Kornblum, a niece of his late partner — the fall was a cause for worry. Had Mr. Sorensen reached a turning point in his already fragile health? Was another fall inevitable, especially if Mr. Sorensen, who is nearly blind, continued to refuse to use a walker?  

Ms. Kornblum guided Mr. Sorensen to a favorite chair and tried, once more, to reason with him. If he were to fall again, she said, he might have to give up his home.
“I tell him, if he falls and breaks something, his life is going to change drastically,” she said. “And it will bring into question whether he can stay here. Because once he goes into the hospital with something broken, it’s sort of out of my hands what happens to him.”

Ms. Kornblum examined Mr. Sorensen’s arms and legs for other bruises. She did not say what they both knew: that she was doing all she could to keep him alive and out of a nursing home, and that no matter how much effort she put in, at some point it was a battle she would lose.

“It gets stressful,” she said. “You learn as you go along.”  (Continue Reading)

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Coos Elderly Services offers more than just financial management

Kimberly Warren at Coos Elderly Services

COOS BAY — Entering its 25th year, Coos Elderly Services isn't just a nonprofit financial management organization.

Talk to the employees, volunteers and clientele, and it's a much more dynamic and personal relationship.

"We make a difference in people's lives," executive director Kimberly Warren said. "It's not just paying bills. The clientele that we serve, a lot of times their lights have been turned off either because they don't know how to pay the bills or they have forgotten. Some have gambling addictions. A lot of the people are victims of financial exploitation, so they come to us because they're about to be evicted or their lights are being turned off, and we try to make sure they still have a roof over their head."

The service was started by Sister Mary Laetice Williams, who along with one volunteer would assist elderly individuals suffering cognitive decline with paying bills and balancing a checkbook.

While the organization still provides those services, Warren said the bulk of its business is serving as the representative payee for individuals as assigned by government agencies.

With the agency consisting of four employees and nine volunteers to serve 311 clients, its name is now even a bit of a misnomer.

"We also no longer just serve the elderly," Warren said. "We serve any age. Our youngest client is 8 years old and our oldest is 103, 104 years old. We serve the mentally disabled, the homeless, drug- or alcohol-addicted, developmentally disabled along with our seniors."

But with the most clients, the organization builds a closer relationship as they generally serve as the only family the person has left to aid them.

"With a very large portion of our clientele, we are the only family they have, and we feel they are our family just as much as they feel vice-versa," Warren said. "Some of them with mental illness, they've already burned the bridge, because they don't understand the illness, so the family has written them off. The ones that are financially exploited, everybody else has already gotten all the money, so they don't want anything to do with them."

One experience dealing with a drug-addicted client continues to stick out to Warren to this day, causing her to choke up.

"They don't like us very much when we tell them no and they can't have extra money because we know they're going to buy drugs," Warren said. "This particular person was very upset. I was in Walmart one day and he approached me and actually gave me a hug and started getting teary. He said 'I absolutely hated you guys. I wished death on you every day. I've now been clean for over a year and I thank you for saving my life.'"

Deeply impacted by his words, Warren stood with the client in the middle of the store, crying.
"We all have those times at our jobs when we just want to throw in the towel," Warren said. "It's times like that where you think, 'This is where I belong.'"

A volunteer for 14 years, the work and impact keeps Teresa Sletcha motivated to continue coming back to help.

"There is a little bit of Sister Laetice hanging over us," Sletcha said. "It gives me something to do, but I help out of the heart and I just keep coming back."

As the organization has expanded its services, including acting as court-appointed guardians, conservators and personal representatives of estates, its clientele also now includes demand from Curry County.

"There's no other organization to help them the way we do," Warren said. "At the request of the local courts and protective services, they've asked us if we could help some more clients out there."

That has prompted them to look for a satellite office and need for more volunteers.

"As we continue to grow, I'm putting more pressure on the staff and volunteers, and at this point it's becoming a hindrance because we are continuing to accept new clients every day," Warren said. "We would of course love to have more volunteers."

Not picky about volunteers, all Warren requested was a big heart and passion for helping people through the organization's mission.

But despite the added demands and workload, it's the passion, satisfaction and reward that continues to drive the organization forward and fulfill its mission to aid those in need.

"It'd be great if no one needs our services anymore, but unfortunately that's not going to happen," Warren said. "We're not going turn anyone away or stop helping people."

The agency is located at 390 S. Second St. in Coos Bay, and residents can learn more about its services at

Full Article & Source:
Coos Elderly Services offers more than just financial management

U.S. state regulators unveil plan to protect seniors from scams

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - A proposal unveiled by U.S. state securities regulators on Tuesday could lead to more uniform state laws aimed at protecting seniors, people with dementia and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

The plan by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), would establish a model law whose provisions would include allowing firms to temporarily hold off on disbursing funds or securities when they suspect potential financial abuse.

NASAA, a group of securities regulators from U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, expects to have a final version in place by year-end, said Judith Shaw, who became NASAA's president on Tuesday. Shaw, who is also Securities Administrator at Maine's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, unveiled the plan at the group's annual meeting.

The group is requesting input from the public and financial advisory industry about the proposal through Oct. 29.

The plan follows efforts by some U.S. states that have already adopted or are considering similar measures. On June 12, Missouri became the third state to enact a law to protect senior citizens from scams and other types of financial exploitation.  Washington and Delaware also have similar laws.

More than five million Americans over the age of 65, or 1.5 percent of the U.S. population, have Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, according to the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association. That could balloon to 7.1 million by 2025.

These people can become easy targets for scams. U.S. seniors lose as much as $2.6 billion per year to financial exploitation, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group.

A model law, which state legislators could choose to adopt, would lead to more uniformity, Shaw said in an interview.

Brokerages and investment advisory firms could then expect consistency when developing their procedures and programming software, Shaw said.

"They know they can follow the same process and procedures state by state in order to protect seniors," Shaw said.

The NASAA plan would allow firms to report suspected abuse to adult protective services and securities regulators without fear of legal actions, such as lawsuits, for violating privacy, among other things, Shaw said.

Firms would also have to make reasonable efforts to get the name and contact details for a trusted contact person when opening a customers' account.

The NASAA effort, in the works for about a year, is similar to a Sept. 17 proposal announced by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s industry funded watchdog.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Full Article & Source:
U.S. state regulators unveil plan to protect seniors from scams

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lippman Commission Calls for Uniform Discipline Standards

A commission appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman recommended Friday that uniform standards for attorney discipline be adopted throughout New York state and follow guidelines developed by the American Bar Association.

While the existing machinery of disciplining attorneys should remain in place in each of the four Appellate Division departments, adopting uniform rules would ensure that lawyers from Long Island to Buffalo would be subject to the same punishments for the same misconduct, according to the recommendations of the Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline.

The committee said the ABA's standards for imposing lawyer sanctions should serve as the template for disciplinary standards throughout the state. That single set of standards should be adopted by the administrative board of the courts and by each appellate division, the commission recommended.

Overall, the commission said the current attorney discipline system was not broken. "In many ways, it works quite well," the report said.

However, it found that the system is "antiquated, inefficient and far too opaque—a flaw which undermines public confidence."

The group proposed creating a new position of statewide coordinator of attorney discipline, who would be a liaison among the disciplinary committees in each of the four appellate divisions to ensure that disciplinary rules are being enforced uniformly, to "encourage" communication between four disciplinary panels and to recommend improvements as a more uniform statewide discipline system is adopted.

The overarching theme of the commission's report—to reduce inconsistencies on how the four departmental committees discipline lawyers—was expected when Lippman appointed the statewide panel in March. When announcing its formation, Lippman said, "if this commission were starting from scratch and creating an attorney disciplinary system in the first instance, there is no question it would establish a single, statewide structure."

Lippman noted that the appellate division-based disciplinary system has been criticized for the inconsistent application of standards and for inconsistent punishments for the same misconduct, depending on where in New York the offending attorney is practicing.

A subcommittee of the commission found a "pressing" need for "rejuvenation, coordination and uniformity in both procedure and sanction" regardless of which appellate department the attorney is registered in.

The commission said most of its recommendations could be approved by the courts administratively and "expeditiously," without the need for legislation or amendments to the state Constitution.
Other recommendations included:

• Allowing each of the four disciplinary committees to seek a court order for the interim suspension of attorneys and the publication of charges in cases where lawyers' conduct places clients at "significant risk or presents an immediate threat to the public interest."
• Establishing a diversion or alternative-to-discipline program for misconduct attributable to alcohol abuse, substance abuse or mental illness.
• Creating an "administrative" suspension and reinstatement process for attorneys who are delinquent in timely payment of their registration fees.
• Devising a better system of informing the "legal consumer" how to bring accusations against lawyers.
• Improving tracking of disciplinary matters involving alleged misconduct by prosecutors, and making the administrative board of the courts adopt rules ensuring that judge's determinations of prosecutorial misconduct are promptly referred to departmental discipline panels.
The commission was chaired by Barry Cozier, senior counsel at LeClair Ryan and a former Second Department justice. Its members included current and former judges, attorney disciplinary officials, litigators and academicians (NYLJ, March 31).

Nicholas Gravante, a member of the commission and an administrative partner and general counsel at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, said that, for him, finding a uniform system between the four judicial department was "key."

"Where things ended up was never the issue as each of the four state judicial departments have reasonable policies and procedures, and which of those policies and procedures are best could be debated endlessly," Gravante said. "Adopting one set and striving for statewide uniformity in their application was the critical objective."

Commission member Hal Lieberman, a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady and author of "New York Attorney Discipline," said that he was generally pleased with the commission's final product, particularly with the recommendations to establish a statewide attorney discipline "czar" and use of ABA's rules as a guide for the statewide sanction system.

But Lieberman, a Law Journal columnist, said the commission should have done more to address the delays between the time an alleged misconduct takes place and when the matter is brought to the attention of grievance committees and resolved.

A non-member of the commission, Timothy O'Sullivan, is executive director of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, the state entity that compensates clients for losses caused by crooked lawyers. He said in an interview Friday that the panel's report at initial review appears to satisfy his trustees' concerns about the unequal application of sanctions against lawyers.

"My initial impression is that the commission made some excellent recommendation about concerns that the Lawyers' Fund and my trustees had, which is that there be more consistency with the imposition of lawyer sanctions and that there be a statewide coordinator for attorney discipline," O'Sullivan said.

Robert Giuffra, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and a commission member, said recommendations in the report will likely bring about "real-life consequences." He noted that past committees formed by Lippman to study specific elements of New York's judicial system—such as an advisory council established in 2013 for the state's Commercial Division courts—tend to result in policy changes.

Giuffra said the commission's recommendation to keep the four judicial departments intact while working to achieve uniformity allow for both the benefits of some centralization while maintaining the benefits of keeping grievance committees local. The nature and speed of practicing law differs in each judicial department, he said, as do the clients.

"This is a very diverse legal market in a very diverse state, so there's a benefit in avoiding absolute uniformity," Giuffra said.

Stephen Gillers, a member of the commission and a New York University School of Law professor who has been critical of the disciplinary regime, said the recommendations do not adequately address the issue of bringing more transparency earlier to the disciplinary process.

In 40 states, the disciplinary process becomes open once there is probable cause to hold a hearing, Gillers said in an email, but not New York.

"So imagine a lawyer charged with serious misconduct that will almost surely lead to suspension or disbarment," Gillers said. "But it may not happen for a year or two. In the interval, a conscientious client thinking of hiring that lawyer cannot discover this fact."

The New York State Bar Association, which represents some 74,000 attorneys, said it would give its opinions about the recommendations after studying the report.

"The commission's report is very important to our association and the profession," state bar President David Miranda, partner in Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti of Albany, said. "Our Committee on Professional Discipline is studying the report."

The commission developed its recommendations after conducting public hearings in Albany, Buffalo and Manhattan (NYLJ, July 29, Aug. 12).

Lippman proposed the review of the disciplinary system in his 2015 State of the Judiciary address (NYLJ, Feb. 18). Its relatively short turnaround for producing recommendations was seen by many as a reflection of Lippman's desire to revamp attorney discipline procedures as one of his final major administrative initiatives while head of the state courts.

Lippman must step down as chief judge at the end of 2015 under the Court of Appeals' mandatory retirement rules.

Lippman initially put Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti in charge of the review commission. When she resigned from the judiciary this summer to take a job at Hofstra University School of Law (NYLJ, July 27), Lippman elevated Cozier from vice-chair to chair of the panel and appointed Cornell University School of Law Professor W. Bradley Wendel new vice chair.

The Administrative Board of the Courts, comprised of Lippman and the presiding justices of the four appellate division departments on Thursday approved circulating the commission's report for public comment.

The Office of Court Administration said persons wishing to comment on the proposals should e-mail their submissions to or write to: John McConnell, Counsel, Office of Court Administration, 25 Beaver St., 11th Floor, New York, New York 10004.

Comments must be received no later than Nov. 9, 2015, the OCA said Friday.

Full Article & Source: 
Lippman Commission Calls for Uniform Discipline Standards

Elder Lawyer Abuse


"We have met the enemy and he is us."

For you whippersnappers out there, that's a quote from Walt Kelly, a cultural icon from days gone by, who knew what he was talking about.

 As an official spokesman for old people, I have to agree: We are the enemy.

If you don't believe me, you haven't been reading all the articles on this newfangled Internet computery thing about the real problem with law firm advancement and technical evolution in the modern era: old people.

See, for example, "The Legal Industry Generation Gap," or "What If the Associates Ran the Asylum," or "A Lateral Boom of Older Lawyers."

Codgers either can't keep up with new technology and/or they don't want to leave and make way for younger lawyers.

What's to be done with this population of annoying elderly lawyers?

Murder, obviously, is a tempting option. Many poisons can produce heart attack-like symptoms. The chance of an autopsy is slim.
Still, I have to rule that out as a recommendation. It violates ethics canons in most states and you'll have to deal with litigation over splitting the dead guy's share of the firm.
You need to be more subtle and imaginative. Try to see things from the ancient ones' point of view.
Here a few things to keep in mind:
1. Before doing anything, check to see if the senior partner is still alive. A partner may seem to be acting normally, but could be simply propped up on a one of them newfangled chairs. It's not always easy to tell.

2. Many old people don't realize that they're old. Years ago, one of my college friends told me he went to a high school reunion and was shocked to see that instead of his classmates, their grandparents showed up.
A lot of us see the people around us withering away and wonder what the heck happened to them. We look so much better than they do.
A lot of us see young, attractive people smiling at us and think they want our bodies. This may be true in my case, but all those other old guys are deluding themselves.
You can take advantage of this by challenging old lawyers to tennis matches and/or signing them up on Tinder.
They'll need weeks to recuperate.
3. Old people like to think they know more than you do.
This is also true of young people - hence, the problem.
Smartypants young'uns, however, can take advantage of the situation by pretending to agree with the codgers and then writing blogs about how old partners get in the way of progress.
The old guys will never see the blogs.
This brings a question to mind: If the old farts don't know what they're doing and the tech-savvy guys do, why don't the young lawyers just leave and form their own firms?
Come on. Let's you see if you kids can earn your money where your mouths are.
And stay off my lawn!
 Quote of the Week: From a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court:

"On or about September 14, 2013, Plaintiff was attempting to locate and provide assistance to an injured and pregnant stray cat. ... At or about that time Defendants screamed at Plaintiff, threatened Plaintiff, slapped Plaintiff while she was within her car, punched Plaintiff in the face while she was within her car, pulled Plaintiff out of her car, threw Plaintiff to the ground, and continued to punch Plaintiff in the face until she was unconscious because they did not like cats."
We still have a long way to go in the fight for civil rights for all species.

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Elder Lawyer Abuse  

7 tips for dealing with irrational people

Dealing with someone who’s irrational can drive you to despair or make you question your own sanity. Yet some people seem to never get their feathers ruffled…how do they do it?

As much as we might like to think we’re always logical, we’re all irrational sometimes. Certain medical conditions, medications, and simple exhaustion can cause people to behave irrationally. Of course, knowing someone’s illogical behavior has a logical cause doesn’t make it any easier to deal with!

Here are 7 tips for living with irrational people:

Take a step back

Before you dismiss someone’s version of reality, take a look at the situation from their perspective. Even people who are delusional are often responding to real-world stimuli. Listen without judging them. There might be more logic to their behavior than you realize.

Focus on what you agree on

Taking a look at things from their perspective makes it easier to find things you agree on. Find the kernels of truth and use those to improve the situation.

Be patient

Easier said than done, I know. Step back from the situation or pause the conversation if you need to. You can’t calm someone else down if you aren’t calm yourself.

Ignore it if you can

Sometimes the storm is just passing through, other times it’s here to stay. If someone throws an occasional temper tantrum without causing lasting damage, it may be best to simply move on as if it never happened.

Figure out what they want

It’s common for people to act out when they want attention. No one wants to encourage bad behavior, but it could be a sign that they need more attention or support in general. Take the time to listen and ask what they need.

Know people’s buttons

The better you know someone, the better you become at navigating around their buttons. If you have to make someone do something they’re uncomfortable with, this knowledge will help you make the situation as easy on them as possible.

Don’t dispute their reality

Arguing about what is or isn’t will get you nowhere. Use non-argumentative phrasing, such as “from my perspective,” “I saw things differently,” or “I thought.” Give them the opportunity to agree with you without admitting that they were wrong.

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7 tips for dealing with irrational people

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guardianship battle spills to street

TRAVERSE CITY — Sunshine from a clear blue sky kissed the brightly colored signs Erica Canfield and her friends held high in the air facing Munson Medical Center.

Their message was clear: “Free Hannah G.”

“Hannah G” is Savannah Garcia, 20, an autistic patient who passed through the hospital’s doors nearly a month ago and hasn’t stepped outside since. An ongoing legal battle in the local probate court over Garcia’s guardianship effectively kept her within the medical center’s walls.

Canfield said Garcia wants to return to her own apartment, attend Beach Bums championship games, see a movie at the State Theatre, pet her therapy dog and sip coffee at Starbucks.

“If she were home, she would be on her swing singing loudly to Green Day,” Canfield said.

But Munson Medical Center professionals are concerned Garcia’s health could suffer if her mother, Samantha Garcia, remains involved in her care. On Sept. 4, they successfully entered an emergency petition that removed Samantha Garcia as Savannah’s guardian and appointed a temporary guardian in her stead.

Documents filed with and subsequent testimony in Grand Traverse County Probate Court outlines concerns that Samantha Garcia may be experiencing Munchausen by proxy — a form of abuse in which a caregiver makes someone in their care appear ill or causes actual harm in order to gain attention.

Samantha Garcia directed questions toward Traverse City attorney Eric Phelps, who declined comment.

The specter of Munchausen by proxy in Savannah Garcia’s case arose after she checked into Munson experiencing pain on Aug. 31. Doctors later testified that Samantha Garcia blamed many of Savannah’s problems — pain, violent outbursts — on complications from a medical condition and insisted on care multiple Munson doctors didn’t agree with.  (Continue Reading

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Guardianship battle spills to street

Disbarred Corrales municipal judge refuses to resign

By Katy Barnitz Corrales

Municipal Judge Luis Quintana has no plans to leave the bench despite having been disbarred by the New Mexico Supreme Court in July.

Because municipal judges in New Mexico don’t have to be attorneys, Quintana said his disbarment is unrelated to his position as judge and he sees no reason he can’t complete the remainder of his term, which ends in 2016.

According to state Disciplinary Board documents, the complaint against Quintana that resulted in his disbarment was filed in November 2013 by one of his clients, Maria Ramos. She said Quintana received a $4,500 settlement check in her workers’ compensation case, which he failed to turn over to her.

A Disciplinary Board hearing committee wrote in its findings that Quintana used Ramos’ settlement to pay debts owed to other clients.

The Supreme Court issued an order May 11 approving the Disciplinary Board’s recommendation for discipline and permanently disbarring Quintana, effective July 1.

But Quintana told the Journal on Tuesday that the actions that resulted in the loss of his license took place before he was elected judge and have nothing to do with his ability to carry out his term.

“Are people going to be disappointed? Sure. I’m disappointed, too,” Quintana said. “I’m disappointed because I didn’t serve Ms. Ramos as great as I should have, you know. But that was one instance in 30 years.”

Though complaints that don’t result in formal charges are kept confidential, William Slease, chief disciplinary counsel for the Disciplinary Board, said Quintana received a formal reprimand in July 2005 when the board determined that he failed to adequately tell a client the fee he intended to charge, failed to cooperate with the investigation and failed to keep the client reasonably informed.
Meanwhile, Quintana is facing pressure to resign.

Village Councilor and former Mayor Phil Gasteyer said that many Corrales residents are concerned and he that he plans to ask for Quintana’s resignation.

“People like myself who are lawyers or retired lawyers are quite alarmed, not only that it happened, but that it’s taken several months for it to become public knowledge, and he’s continued to serve in the interim,” Gasteyer said. Because Quintana is an elected official, the council does not have the power to remove him from his position.

Gasteyer raised the issue at a Village Council meeting Tuesday. He said the group discussed the situation for about 13 minutes, before deciding to give Quintana a chance to address the council at a future meeting.

Quintana said he doesn’t think that he won election solely because he was a member of the State Bar and he doesn’t see any reason to resign.

“I won by three votes,” Quintana said about being elected in 2012. He narrowly beat Marilyn Hill, a former deputy state treasurer, who is not an attorney. “I don’t think it mattered to anybody whether I was an attorney or not. That wasn’t an issue at the time of the election.”

Municipal courts are permitted to handle petty misdemeanors, traffic violations, DWI cases, municipal ordinance violations, landlord and tenant disputes, torts and contract cases. Municipal court judges cannot preside over jury trials.

Mayor Scott Kominiak said that as far as he knows, most of his constituents either aren’t aware or aren’t bothered by the development, and that he hasn’t received complaints or comments.

Kominiak said he spoke with Quintana about the issue, and Quintana said that his disbarment was a private matter that had to do with his private law practice and said he intends to conduct business as usual.

“The analogy is that if I were to lose my job, would I be required to resign as mayor?” Kominiak asked.

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Disbarred Corrales municipal judge refuses to resign

Advocates seek night inspections in Oklahoma nursing homes

At least one-fourth of all state nursing home inspections should be conducted on evening, late-night shifts, weekends and holidays, the state Silver Haired Legislature recommends.

John Kusel, president of the OK
 Silver Haired Legislature
Also, nursing homes should have more staff working on overnight shifts of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“Many residents living in nursing homes have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia,” the Silver Haired Legislature notes in a bill now heading to the 2016 Oklahoma Legislature.

“It is not uncommon that these individuals are active and awake at night. Also, falls may occur at night, when fewer staff are available to assist residents or respond to call lights,” said Silver Haired lawmakers who held their state convention Tuesday and Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

A Silver Haired Legislature bill calls for minimum staff-to-resident ratios of 1-to-6, 1-to-8 and 1-to-10 on three usual evening and night shifts.

The organization sends bills to the Legislature every other year or on odd-numbered years.

Currently, unannounced “off hour” inspections and investigations are conducted by the state Health Department. But the Silver Haired Legislators want to see such inspections increased to at least 25 percent to 33 percent of all inspections.

This week, a new Silver Haired vice president for legislation was chosen — long-time and now retired state Ombudsman Esther Houser.

“The Silver Haired legislators showed, once again, that their priority concerns revolve around the needs of the frail elderly and the risks those vulnerable elders face in both their homes and in care-providing facilities,” she said Thursday.  (Continue Reading)

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Advocates seek night inspections in Oklahoma nursing homes

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Batavia woman gets probation for stealing from elderly mom

A 44-year-old Batavia woman convicted of stealing more than $20,000 from her mother in 2009 and 2010 recently was sentenced to probation and community service, according to Kane County court records.

Monica Ogen, of the 0-99 block of North Mallory Drive, was convicted over the summer of financial exploitation of an elderly person, a felony.

Judge Susan Clancy Boles sentenced Ogen this month to four years of conditional discharge, which is a form of probation, and 160 hours of community service, records show. Ogen also must pay $8,070 to the estate of her mother, who died in 2012.

According to prosecutors, Ogen used the money to buy clothes and go to restaurants and bars. She once dropped nearly $2,300 on flooring at Home Depot as well, authorities said.

If Ogen violates her probation, she could be resentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Ogen confessed under oath to her actions and wrote an apology letter to her mother, prosecutors said.

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Batavia woman gets probation for stealing from elderly mom

One-third of British people born in 2015 'will develop dementia'

One in three people born this year will develop dementia, according to new figures.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK charity warned of a “looming national health crisis” as the population ages.

It called for greater efforts across the globe to help develop new treatments.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, resulting in the loss of brain cells. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease.

Early symptoms include problems with memory and thinking. As the disease progresses, people can experience difficulty with walking, balance and swallowing.

Alzheimer’s Research UK said age was the biggest risk factor for developing dementia.

As people live longer than ever before, the numbers with dementia will rise. The latest analysis, commissioned by the charity and carried out by the Office of Health Economics, was released to mark World Alzheimer’s Day.

It showed 27% of boys born in 2015 will develop the condition in their lifetime, alongside 37% of girls. Previous research from the same team has estimated that the development of a drug that could delay the onset of dementia by five years would cut the number of cases by a third.

Dr Matthew Norton, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s wonderful news that each generation is living longer than the last, but it’s important to ensure that people can enjoy these extra years in good health.

“Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and, if we are to beat it, we must invest in research to find new treatments and preventions.

“Research has the power to transform lives, and our actions now will help determine the future for children born today.”

Amanda Franks, from Swindon, a champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, whose mother Cathy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s six years ago, said: “My mum was only 58 when she was diagnosed. Up until then, we had no idea this devastating disease could affect someone so young.

“Simple day-to-day tasks like making a cup of tea, getting dressed and eating soon became a huge challenge for mum.

“As a mum myself, I would dearly love to see preventions and new treatments found to defeat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, giving hope to people now and future generations.”

George McNamara, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Society said: “Dementia is already the biggest health challenge this country faces. It costs the UK in excess of £26bn, which equates to £30,000 a person with dementia – more than the cost of either cancer or heart disease. Today’s stark finding should galvanise the government, and us all, into action.”

“We urgently need long-term, sustainable research funding that is proportionate to the economic and social impact of the condition. Alzheimer’s Society has pledged to put at least £100m into research into the disease over the next decade, McNamara added.

“The quicker we see better investment, the sooner we will get the answers we need to develop treatments, ways of preventing dementia and ultimately a cure.”

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One-third of British people born in 2015 'will develop dementia'