Saturday, June 9, 2018

Caretaker of elderly lotto winner loses power of attorney

The unlicensed caregiver of elderly lotto millionaire Charles Hairston no longer has control over the 88-year-old Paso Robles resident's fortune or his medical care.
File Photo By Jayson Mellom
MONEY MATTERS A SLO County judge appointed a third party to manage the care and finances of lotto winner Charles Hairston, 88, of Paso Robles, stripping his former caregiver of her power of attorney over his lotto fortune. Hairston won $78 million at this convenience store in 2011. 

A SLO County Superior Court judge revoked Tiffany Borba's power of attorney as part of a contentious conservatorship case and appointed a third party to manage what's left of the $78 million lottery award Charles won in 2011, according to court records.

Charles asked Borba, whom he reportedly met while she was working at Scolari's Market in Paso Robles, to be his caregiver in 2012, and signed over power of attorney to her in 2015. He spent some of his winnings on gifts for Borba, including the purchase of a $819,000 home and a 2016 Porsche.

Charles' nephew Eddie Hairston initiated court proceedings to appoint a conservator for Charles in 2017, claiming that Borba failed to properly take care of him, isolated him from family and friends, and took advantage of him for financial gain. Court records show that Debora Trout, a licensed professional fiduciary, was appointed as the conservator of Charles' estate on Jan. 12.

As part of the case, Eddie raised concerns about Borba's handling of Charles' finances. Court documents reference large amounts of money being moved between three bank accounts set up outside of the trust created for the lotto winnings.

October 2017 bank statements filed as part of the court case show the transfer of $10,000 from one account in Charles' name to another. That second account, also in Charles' name, showed more than $8,721 in funds were withdrawn or debited in a 30-day period. A third account in both Charles' and Borba's name showed a balance of more than $92,000 between September and October 2017, with withdrawals totaling $3,510 for the same period.

Herbert Stroh, an attorney who represented Charles, also raised concerns about the accounts in a January court filing seeking to compel Borba to turn over accounting documents. Stroh's review of bank statements from some of the accounts showed "significant ATM cash withdrawals," according to the filing.

"There are significant outflows of large dollar amounts during 2017," he wrote.

Eddie's attorney, Brighton Hushing-Kline, said that the money in those accounts came from the lotto winnings trust, and questioned how much of the withdrawn money was used to pay for expenses related to Charles' care. He believes that Borba used it for her own day-to-day expenses.

"We've have long been suspicious of potential mismanagement," Hushing-Kline said. "She's not provided any explanation whatsoever."

In a written declaration submitted as part of the case, Borba denied allegations that she mistreated Charles. Meanwhile, she has enlisted the services of the Irvine-based law firm of Wallin and Klarich. Attorney Greg Balderrama confirmed that Borba was a client, but said it was not in relation to the conservatorship case.

"We are representing her in a very limited capacity," he said.

Balderrama declined to comment further on why he's representing Borba, but a March 26 letter to Eddie stated that Balderrama's firm was retained to represent Borba in a "pre-filing criminal investigation." According to the firm's website, a pre-filing investigation "generally involves a law enforcement agency analyzing and scrutinizing the facts of your case to determine whether the police agency can recommend that prosecutors file charges against you."

As of April 5, both the Paso Robles Police Department and the SLO County District Attorney's Office said they were not conducting any criminal investigations involving Borba.

Full Article & Source:
Caretaker of elderly lotto winner loses power of attorney

Nursing home owner investigated for $80K payout to legislator who moved to limit negligence claims

A judge has ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate an $80,000 wire transfer from a nursing home owner to a former state senator's construction company — money that allegedly moved just days after the lawmaker introduced an amendment to limit negligence claims in Arkansas.

Sebastian County Prosecutor Dan Shue asked for an outside investigator to avoid any potential conflict of interest. The Times-Record also reported that Shue has asked the local U.S. Attorney to determine whether the wire transfer violated any federal law.

Jake Files (R), the one-time Fort Smith lawmaker at the center of the case, pleaded guilty in January to unrelated charges and is scheduled to be sentenced June 18. He faces counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in relation to improper use of state improvement funds intended for a local sports complex.

The Times Record first discovered the 2014 nursing-home related transfer in civil court documents last year.

The money came from David Norsworthy, part owner in a dozen Arkansas nursing homes. It followed on the heels of a constitutional amendment that sought to limit damage lawsuits — like negligence claims commonly pursued against nursing homes — to $500,000.

That amendment failed then, but it found new life in the current session, before Files resigned in January.

Neither Files nor Norsworthy have explained the $80,000 transfer with media or in court.

The Arkansas Times reports the case has become an issue for those who support  limiting lawsuits through Issue 1, a bill that has been publicly backed by nursing homes, doctors and chambers of commerce. 

Full Article & Source:
Nursing home owner investigated for $80K payout to legislator who moved to limit negligence claims

NAELA Praises John Oliver’s Coverage of Guardianship; Here’s How to Protect Yourself

As many people saw on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, abuses by guardians and other fiduciaries does sadly occur. There are steps everyone can take to avoid something like this happening to them. Most important is preparing a power of attorney that designates someone you trust to look after you and your affairs in the event of incapacity. “The focus is often on aging, but the truth is someone can lose capacity due to an injury or chronic illness at any age,” said NAELA President and Fellow Michael J. Amoruso, Esq., CAP.

Where to Go for Help 

While forms for powers of attorney are widely available, an elder law attorney should be consulted prior to executing documents that give access to one’s financial and medical affairs to another person. 

For example, many states provide sample forms (particularly health care powers of attorney) as part of their statutes. Many are limited in purpose and scope. Unfortunately, the sufficiency of power of attorney forms is usually tested only after it is too late to make necessary revisions.

The advice of a qualified elder law attorney is important to protect the rights and welfare of the principal who wishes to sign a medical or financial power of attorney. Elder law attorneys usually have particular experience in drafting and enforcing powers of attorney. The agent under a power of attorney may also need legal advice or representation. Sometimes, interpretation or enforcement of a power of attorney (or recovery against an agent who has acted improperly) may require court proceedings and representation by an experienced elder law attorney. In choosing an attorney to prepare, defend, or enforce a power of attorney, be sure to ask whether he or she has experience in such matters.

New Uniform Law Would Address Instances of Abuse 

Recently, NAELA members were involved in drafting the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA). This important new model legislation would address many of the issues raised in the segment. 

About NAELA 

Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Upon joining, NAELA member attorneys agree to adhere to the NAELA Aspirational Standards. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations, and others. The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

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NAELA Praises John Oliver’s Coverage of Guardianship; Here’s How to Protect Yourself

Friday, June 8, 2018

Former 'Living The Dream' Facility Raided

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - A Putnam County facility that once operated under the name "Living the Dream" was raided Thursday as part of an investigation into possible elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly, according to the district attorney.

Financial disclosures show the retirement and assisted-living facility, now known as Senior Lifestyles LLC, is partly owned by Republican legislative candidate Ed Butler. He's also the registered agent for the corporation.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway said the facility was the target of one of three search warrants. Investigators also searched the facility's administrative offices at 723 West Jackson Street in Cookeville and a car belonging to the operator, Stephanie Butler.

"The allegations were that the operator of that facility was engaging in financial exploitation and possible elder abuse of some of the residents," Dunaway said.

The DA said that there were "in excess of 40" residents inside the facility, which is regulated by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health.

"That doesn't mean all of them are victims," Dunaway said. "We believe a good many are."

The investigation is being led by Dunaway's office. Also assisting in the searches were investigators from the TBI, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, the Cookeville Police Department and the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

Case workers from the Department of Mental Health assisted to ensure that residents received proper care, the DA said.

Dunaway added that the evidence would be reviewed and, if wrongdoing is found, the case would be presented to the Putnam County Grand Jury for possible criminal charges.

Efforts to reach Ed and Stephanie Butler were unsuccessful.

Someone at the facility told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "Please don't call back."

That facility was the subject of a NewsChannel 5 investigation when it was known as "Living the Dream."

Our investigation revealed how the former executive director of the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) poured more than a million dollars of agency money into the facility for the elderly that also became her home.

Wendy Askins later pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

After the scandal broke, UCDD sold the facility.

Full Article & Source:
Former 'Living The Dream' Facility Raided

Bridgeport Attorney Pleads Guilty to Stealing $1.3 Million From Clients, Friends

Photo: RomanR/
A former longtime Bridgeport attorney pleaded guilty in federal court in Hartford to one count of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding clients, family members and friends of more than $1.3 million.

Thomas Murtha, who was a partner and managing member of now-defunct Maher & Murtha in Bridgeport, resides in Newtown. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Martinez Wednesday. Prosecutors say he operated a long-term fraud with more than 20 victims, including a client suffering from mental illness.

Murtha faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Shea in September. He was released on a $10,000 bond pending sentencing.

Murtha, 62, resigned from the Connecticut Bar in September 2016 after three grievance complaints accused him of defrauding multiple victims, beginning around November 2011.

Those victims, court papers say, include a brother and sister and their deceased cousin, who jointly owned a three-family home in Shelton. Murtha handled the cousin’s estate and the sale of the home.

The complaints also accused Murtha of forging documents for a mortgage and trust. They claim he used the money to purchase a $725,000 home in Michigan and a 2.11-carat diamond engagement ring.

Prosecutors said Murtha stole at least $1.3 million from more than 20 individuals over the course of several years. They said he took more than $516,000 from a client suffering from mental illness.

Law enforcement officials arrested Murtha on a federal criminal complaint on April 5, 2017.

A grand jury returned a multicount indictment on Aug. 16.

Murtha has agreed to pay about $1.36 million in restitution, forfeit his interest in the Michigan house, and surrender the 2.11-carat diamond ring that the government seized.

According to the May 30 plea agreement, Murtha “knowingly and willfully converted client or trust funds without the victims’ knowledge and permission.” The plea agreement also states that Murtha “falsely represented to victims that he had their money when, in fact as he well knew, Murtha had already expended those funds for his own use and benefit and/or commingled those funds with his own money.”

The plea agreement also states Murtha submitted false or forged documents to victims. And, the agreement says, Murtha obtained and incurred charges on credit cards in the name of others without their knowledge or permission.

Murtha had practiced law in Connecticut for 35 years, from 1981 to 2016. His areas of expertise included civil and criminal litigation, and real estate and family law.

Andy Bowman, a Westport-based solo practitioner, represents Murtha. He did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Murtha could not be reached on multiple phone numbers by press time.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Laraia and David Huang prosecuted the case. Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, declined to comment.

Read the plea agreement:

Full Article & Source:
Bridgeport Attorney Pleads Guilty to Stealing $1.3 Million From Clients, Friends

Agency investigates thousands of elder abuse cases

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Every year the department of family protective services investigates thousands of abuse claims of elderly people.

Last year alone, officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services say there were more than fifty thousand in the state who suffered abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

According to Adult Protective Specialist Stephanie Barclay, some of those claims were from the Brazos Valley.

"This time of year it's mainly they need help with air conditioning or their electric bill is too high and they can't pay it,” said Barclay.

Other times Barclay is called to a home because family members or caregivers are exploiting the elder financially.

"A lot of times they don't want to talk about it,” she said. “They will say 'but it's my daughter or my grandchild' but it is not ok that's your money that you worked all your life for."

Wednesday KBTX was invited along as Barclay followed up with a Bryan resident, Lloyd Harris whose case deals with concerns about his food.

Harris had major concerns about a large leak under his kitchen sink and fridge that’s been working on and off for several weeks.

While the agency will try to find a way to help with the repairs, Barclay says Mr. Harris' concerns are not uncommon and every day there is an elderly person being taken advantage of or neglected.

"It's sad because these people have worked all of their lives to save the money and now someone has come in and taken everything they have worked for,” she said.

The law requires anyone who suspects adult abuse or neglect to report it to the Texas abuse hotline at (1-800) 252-5400.

You can learn how to recognize the signs by logging on to

Full Article & Source:
Agency investigates thousands of elder abuse cases

Thursday, June 7, 2018

$17.5 million lawsuit filed against Chesapeake nursing home

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - A $17.5 million lawsuit has been filed against a Chesapeake nursing home after staff allegedly tied an elderly woman to her wheelchair and drugged her.

The lawsuit alleges two Carrington Place of Chesapeake nurses used bedsheets to tie Annie Johnson to her wheelchair and confine her in her room overnight in May 2016.

According to the complaint filed in Chesapeake Circuit Court, the nurses also injected Annie Johnson with Geoden -- an antipsychotic drug -- to “knock her out."

When another staff member questioned the nurses about Johnson’s confinement, a supervisor told them she is “not a [expletive] babysitter,” the complaint states.

Although staff at Carrington Place are not allowed to use restraint without a doctor’s consent, that same night another resident named Alice Mackey was also tied to her wheelchair and confined to her room, according to the complaint.

Annie Johnson was a Carrington Place resident who suffered from dementia. She depended on Carrington Place staff to bathe, feed and clothe her.

The May 2016 incident left bruising across her body, which her grandson discovered about three days later when he came to visit her at Carrington Place.

Staff members who reported Annie Johnson’s confinement to supervisors were fired during the facility's “clandestine and superficial review” of the incident. The accused nurses kept their jobs, the complaint states.

A legal representative for Carrington Place could not be reached before publication.

Full Article & Source:
$17.5 million lawsuit filed against Chesapeake nursing home

Judicial 'inappropriate conduct' is broader than isolated incidences, panel finds

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Washington (CNN)A special US judiciary working group set up last December after a prominent appeals court judge was accused of sexual harassment reported on Monday that "inappropriate conduct" in the nation's courthouses is "not limited to a few isolated instances."

Yet the eight-member group -- which met with scores of former and current employees of the judiciary and invited comment nationwide -- did not detail the magnitude of employee abuse in the US judiciary beyond saying it was "not pervasive." The group also did not note whether, during its five months of study, any action was taken against individual judges or other court employees.
The working group, which was established by Chief Justice John Roberts, made several recommendations in its report, including that:
  • judges should put a greater priority on improving workplace culture
  • the code of conduct should be revised to make clear what behavior is prohibited
  • the complaint system should be made more transparent and accessible.
"The Code of Conduct should make clearer that judges cannot turn a blind eye to a colleague's mistreatment of employees," said the report filed to the Judicial Conference, which sets policy for the nation's federal courts.
The federal judiciary's #MeToo movement began after former law clerks and other staffers went public with sexual harassment claims against US Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski, who had served for more than 30 years in California.
Kozinski, who had been subject to misconduct allegations in 2009, retired in December after the new claims were made, beginning with a Washington Post story. A formal misconduct complaint was filed, but judicial officials declined to investigate because Kozinski retired.
A CNN special report in January, examining about 5,000 judicial orders arising from misconduct complaints over the past decade, found that rarely do the judges overseeing the complaint system find that a claim -- by a lawyer, litigant or employee -- warrants an investigation. Even rarer is for any judge to be disciplined. In most cases when a judge faced serious scrutiny, the CNN report found, the judge retired and ended all disciplinary proceedings.
Some lawyers and law professors who have spoken out about flaws in the judiciary's misconduct-complaint system and tracked the working group's progress praised its initial recommendations Monday yet noted the lack of findings about the scope of the problem.
"We really don't know anything more about the nature and extent of the problem," said University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman, who has long studied federal courts and misconduct issues. Hellman wondered whether other reports of egregious behavior by a judge had emerged. "It's very troubling that we don't have an answer to that question," he said.
But Hellman lauded the group for recommending that avenues for filing complaints be clarified.
Washington lawyer Jaime Santos, a former law clerk on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, where Kozinski was based, said she was pleased that more training was recommended, as well as greater transparency, so that the system encourages victims to come forward.
The CNN review found that while 1,000 orders related to misconduct are posted annually on federal court websites, they contain scant details and are not categorized in a way that would separate frivolous cases from those with merit. Simply filing a legitimate grievance can be difficult, as forms and instructions are not easily retrieved and explained throughout the 13 regional circuits.
The report released Monday acknowledged that people with valid complaints sometimes hit roadblocks in the judicial bureaucracy.
"The Working Group received anonymous anecdotal reports about harassment or other inappropriate behavior that were not properly addressed," the report said. "It is therefore vital that judges and court executives ensure, through educational programs, performance reviews, and other mechanisms ... that judges, executives, supervisors, and managers at every level throughout the judiciary demonstrate the same strong commitment to workplace civility."
The report also noted that, as in the Kozinski situation, any investigation or discipline for a judge is generally halted if the judge retires. The report noted that law clerks "expressed concern about the seeming lack of punishment for a judge who, under allegations of serious misconduct, retires or resigns and thereby terminates the disciplinary proceeding."
The Washington Post story that first brought attention to Kozinski highlighted an account from a woman who said that the judge, based in Pasadena, California, had asked her to look at pornographic images on his office computer. Several other women subsequently came forward with allegations about misconduct.
Kozinski resigned shortly thereafter, saying he "may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace."
When reached for comment on Monday, Kozinski's lawyer, Susan Estrich, responded in an email that Kozinski had no further comment. She added that "he denied the substance of the charges" and had resigned because "he did not wish to burden the judiciary or his former clerks with [an] investigation."

Full Article & Source:
Judicial 'inappropriate conduct' is broader than isolated incidences, panel finds

Carl DeBrodie was killed by injuries from forced fighting, court documents reveal graphic details

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FULTON, Mo. - New allegations released in a civil lawsuit reveal Carl DeBrodie was forced to physically fight another resident for the "benefit and amusement of Paulo and her family," those events eventually causing his death. Sherry Paulo was the manager of Second Chance Homes, where Carl was living before he died.

As a result of these forced fighting engagements, Carl suffered serious injuries, including at least six broken ribs. Carl also regularly suffered black eyes and other bruising.

Sometime after October 25, 2016, but before November 24, 2016, Carl and a resident stayed overnight at Paulo's residence to sleep in the basement on the concrete floor. During the middle of the night, Anthony Flores, Paulo's husband and employee of Second Chance homes, was awakened by Carl's scream. Carl was found unresponsive and convulsing on the floor of the basement, appearing to have a seizure.

Documents say instead of calling 911 or other emergency assistance, Flores and the resident carried Carl upstairs and placed him in a bathtub with the shower running. Carl was bleeding from his nose and mouth and continued to convulse in the bathtub. Documents say "no life-saving measures were attempted that night with respect to Carl, Carl died as a result of the episode. Carl remained in the bathtub for two or three days until he was ultimately placed into the City of Fulton trash can, encased in concrete, and placed into a storage unit."

Court documents say for several months leading up to October 2016, Sherry Paulo, group home manager would regularly and frequently take Carl and another facility resident to overnight at her own personal residence in Fulton. Paulo allegedly forced Carl to stay at her own personal residence, require him to perform manual, unpaid labor around her home.

Carl and another resident were forced to stay and sleep in Paulo's basement, where no beds or mattresses were provided.

On April 17, 2017, the Fulton Police Department received a missing report for Carl, who had gone missing from the Facility.

Due to the decomposition of Carl's body, it was determined he had been missing and/or deceased for several months before the missing person report was filed.

The names below are the defendants in the case:
  • Second Chance Homes of Fulton, LLC
    • Rachael Rowden, Owner
    • Sherry Paulo, Manager
    • Anthony Flores, Sr., Employee and husband of Paulo
  • Callaway County Public Administrator's Office
    • Karen Digh Allen, Callaway County Public Administrator
    • Robin Rees Love, Employee
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health
    • Mark Stringer, Director
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health - Division of Developmental Disabilities
    • Valerie Huhn, Director
    • Wendy Witcig, Deputy Director, Community Operations
    • Marcy Volner, Assistant Director of Central Region
    • Wendy Davis, Director of Central Missouri Regional Office
  • Callaway County Special Services (CCSS)
    • Julia Kaufmann, Executive Director
    • Melissa Delap, Employee and Carl's community RN
    • Tiffany Keipp, Employee and Carl's case manager
Keipp and Delap were required to report to appropriate authorities, including the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Mental Health Division of Disabilities, any suspicions or allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or neglect of Carl, and also any misuse of Carl’s funds or property.

For several months leading up to Carl’s reported disappearance, Allen, Love, Keipp,Rowden and Paulo prevented the plaintiffs in the case, Carolyn Summers and Carol Samson, from seeing or visiting with Carl.

Instead of conducting the required face-to-face contact, Keipp and Delap made false reports saying that face-to-face contact was made with Carl.

In her false reports, Keipp said she had made face-to-face contact with Carl in October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017, February 2017 and March 2017. None of these meetings took place.

Delap said in her false report she had made face-to-face contact with Carl in October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017, February 2017 and March 2017. These meetings also never took place.

In 2016, Second Chance, Rowden, Paulo and Delap did not submit consistent monthly reports about Carl to Keipp, CCSS, Allen, Love and the Public Administrator.

Keipp and Love did not make contact with Carl to check on his health and well-being, even though Paulo reported Carl was not in good health.

Keipp and Love were aware of verbal abuse towards Carl, but didn't report it. They were also aware of physical abuse occurring between Carl and another resident that they didn't report.

Rowden, Paulo, Keipp, Delap and Love waited several months to report Carl’s disappearance so they could continue to receive and collect state and federal monies for the provision of residential services for Carl, according to the court document.

To read the entire document, click below:

Full Article & Source:
Carl DeBrodie was killed by injuries from forced fighting, court documents reveal graphic details

See Also:
Carl DeBrodie case: Family attorney says the charges didn't surprise him

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

They Say Legal Guardians Ripped Them Off—and the State AG Let Them Down

It is a New Yorker’s nightmare: losing all that a family has worked for, even down to the place they call home. But what if it was all taken in the name of protection?

Ann Masotti, a born-and-raised Bronxite, says that she and her 31 year-old daughter have been “exiled” to Texas in the wake of a protracted legal battle over the estate of her late ex-husband, Vito. Ann and Vito adopted Andrea, nicknamed Andi, from Hungary when she was six years old. Andi is autistic, and during the year after Vito’s death in 2006 she experienced mental health troubles and became suicidal. She was hospitalized multiple times and could not seem to stabilize.

Ann found a residential facility about 50 miles north of the city that she believed could help, and sought to place Andi there. However, this placement would have cost more than Ann says she could reasonably afford. Ann asked the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court to allow her to withdraw funds from Vito’s estate to pay for Andi’s treatment. Vito had always intended for his estate to go to his daughter, says Ann, and after he was diagnosed with cancer he set up a will and trust with his long-time tax attorney specifying that intent.

There was one major problem. In 2005, Joseph Pisani, a former state senator and lawyer who had previously been disbarred on federal charges of fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion, had cozied up to Vito in his last months. Pisani and Vito had changed the will and named Pisani as Executor and Trustee of the estate, including a rental property that reportedly generated revenue income substantial enough to sustain Andi for the rest of her life. Pisani refused to release any of the funds. Instead, he drained them, dissipating accounts and paying himself and other attorneys he hired with the money from Andrea’s estate.

Pisani claimed in court records that he was looking after Andrea’s well-being and had her best interests in mind. As a fiduciary Pisani was supposed to file an accounting of the estate with the court when requested and upon closing, but the one accounting Pisani did file in 10 years was rejected by the court and never corrected.

Ann tried every legal remedy she could think of, including applying for legal guardianship of her adult daughter under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law, but nothing succeeded in removing Pisani’s hold over the accounts. Even after Ann successfully had Pisani removed as Trustee, the court kept him on as Executor. Meanwhile, as Andi bounced from facility to facility, Ann paid for her daughter’s care out of her own pocket. After Andi’s last stint at a facility in Houston, they settled in Texas, unable to afford to return to New York.

“Nobody could make up this stuff,” says Masotti. “It’s worse than any crime novel that you could pick up. And it’s true.”

Hopes for action dashed

Ann Masotti took her complaints to the New York State Attorney General’s office twice. The first time, in 2008, the office was headed by Andrew Cuomo. In a phone call, Ann says, his office responded that they had deemed her detailed, documented complaint to be without merit. The second time, in 2014, Masotti addressed her complaint to Eric Schneiderman. The response on his behalf came from the office’s Public Integrity Bureau: By their determination the complaint did not warrant action. The office did not provide a reason.

Now, more alleged victims of guardianship abuse and trust fraud have come forward to say that Schneiderman’s office refused to investigate their complaints, even after reaching out to them directly in an apparent show of good faith. Lately, Albany has been talking about fixing the state’s adult guardianship system, which even a longstanding judge says is “broken,” but victims have yet to experience relief or see justice. As a new Attorney General takes the helm, will justice be served?

“The Attorney General’s Office is the chief law enforcement officer for the state. It’s their responsibility to accept and process complaints for serious infractions,” says Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship. “When they establish a policy of ignoring complaints that are well-documented, they are breaking their own laws and their oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitutions of their individual states, all of whom make it clear that discrimination against anyone for any reason is illegal.”

The Attorney General’s Office and Governor Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Guardianship is a legal system designed to protect people who are incapable of managing their own personal, medical, and/or financial affairs due to mental or physical disability. Under Article 81 of New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, a person concerned with the welfare of an individual can commence a proceeding in court. From there, a judge makes a determination that the individual is incapacitated and appoints a guardian for the person. The guardian then has the legal authority to make decisions regarding the person’s property and/or care, depending upon whether they are guardians of personal needs, property management, or both. Article 81 directs guardians to consider the needs and wishes of the individual and choose the “least restrictive” interventions. The guardian can be discharged if the court is satisfied that the guardianship is no longer necessary, if the person becomes capable of managing their own affairs again, or if the person dies.

According to Michele Gartner, Esq., Special Counsel for Surrogate & Fiduciary Matters in the Office of Court Administration, there are more than 17,000 active open Article 81 guardianship cases in the state of New York. Richard Black, director of the Center for Estate Administration Reform, estimates that there are closer to 60,000 to 80,000 adults currently in guardianship in the state. Black’s estimate includes adult guardianship cases that would not fall under Article 81, such as Article 17-A guardianships in Surrogate’s Court. Black estimates that 5 to 10 percent of adult guardianships are fraudulent to some extent, costing victims and their families approximately $10 billion nationwide each year.

Although abuse cases vary, the pattern typically includes a declaration of incompetence by a judge, the appointment of a guardian — in New York, when not a family member, the guardian is generally an attorney from an approved list — and the isolation of the individual, either in their own home or in a nursing home or other facility. At that point, a person is nearly powerless against any personal care and/or financial decisions the guardian chooses to take. A guardian can enrich his/herself by billing fees for his/her time to the person’s estate, and in the absence of sufficient supervision of a guardian’s activities — for example, if he/she chooses not to submit proper accounting of the estate to the court, or if a court evaluator does not carefully review the accounting reports — there is potential for mishandling of assets.

Alleged: that $3M was taken

One such case is the nearly 13-year ordeal of Bertha Kornicki. In 2004, Bertha and her husband Manny reportedly discovered that their daughter Terri had been taking money from their accounts without their knowledge. In total, Terri was alleged to have stolen approximately $3 million from her parents over seven years. In order to protect Bertha, who had Alzheimer’s, from future exploitation, Manny and his other daughter Marian sought guardianship over Bertha under Article 81. Instead, the judge appointed as guardian attorney Ellyn Kravitz, who was unknown to the family, and agreed to appoint Bertha’s cousin Rudy Shur as co-guardian.

Marian alleges that Kravitz never marshaled the family’s assets, which allowed Terri to take more, and did not visit Bertha or attend to her personal needs. Kravitz also failed to file a final accounting when she stepped down as co-guardian.

Eventually Kravitz was replaced by another lawyer, and then another. The court received bills for the guardians’ time at rates as high as $400 and $600 per hour for tasks as menial as responding to emails and reviewing receipts. These fees were paid from Bertha’s estate. Over more than 12 years and a succession of numerous guardians, lawyers, and accountants, the estate of Bertha and Manny Kornicki trickled out. Some of the funds went to Terri, who by then had been arrested on felony theft charges and entered into a plea bargain (the grand larceny charges were dismissed, citing Manny’s death and the lack of a legally sufficient case by the DA, and she pleaded guilty to offering a false instrument for filing, a misdemeanor.)

Now, there is almost nothing left. Meanwhile, Marian charges that the guardians did nothing to help with her mother’s day-to-day care, so Marian took it over after her father’s death. “I came to the judiciary system for help because I was a victim of elder abuse and I feel that I am being treated in an abusive way by the very system I am seeking help from,” wrote Manny to the judge in 2005.

A representative for Kravitz provided the following statement: “As an elder law attorney in practice for 25 years, I’ve always held myself and my work to the highest legal and ethical standards. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect and misinformed.”

Marian wrote to and called the Attorney General’s office multiple times in recent years and was disappointed when the office’s only response was to forward her complaint to the Office of Court Administration, where it languished.

In recent months, conversations with Assistant Attorney General Sean Courtney and Legal Intern Micheleen C. Karnacewicz in the Public Integrity Bureau raised her hopes for action. However, other victims recently told Black, who also spoke with Courtney and Karnacewicz about nine additional cases in the state, that the office was refusing to help them after an initial conversation, so Kornicki and Black are not optimistic that the office will pursue their complaints.

Their remaining hope lies with the AG’s Charities Bureau, which Black says reached out to him May 24th requesting more information.

Bertha passed away on May 8th, the same day Attorney General Schneiderman resigned. Now, Marian hopes that the family’s guardianship ordeal will end, but first she has to wait and see if the deed to her parents’ house will be released to her. The current guardian, Deborah Rosenthal, was supposed to turn it over to Marian two years ago as part of a settlement between the sisters. Rosenthal instead proposed that a reverse mortgage be taken out on the house to increase the money in the guardianship account. Marian, who has been very active throughout nearly 13 years of guardianship proceedings, now hesitates to take any more action to obtain the deed because she fears that the legal process will drain what’s left of the estate. Says Marian, “As soon as you do something, everyone starts billing you.”

Rosenthal refused to comment on the allegations, but said, “Despite the court requesting that she do so, a law requesting that she do so, [Marian Kornicki] refused to provide the court and her sister information regarding her mother’s burial arrangements. It’s required by law. If you’re going to go and start criticizing people I think that’s an obvious criticism.”

A national issue

Guardianship and trust abuse are well-documented locally and nationally. In October 2017, The New Yorker covered guardianship abuse in Nevada, telling the story of an older couple removed from their home through guardianship proceedings. In New York state, a 2016 study estimated statewide losses due to financial exploitation of the elderly at a whopping $1.5 billion; of those cases, 15 percent involved power of attorney abuse, 6 percent involved fraud, and 4 percent involved denial of access to assets. Within the city, thefts from guardianships have been reported for more than a decade. Although abuse cases vary, the pattern typically includes a declaration of incompetence by a judge, the appointment of a guardian — in New York, when not a family member, the guardian is generally an attorney from an approved list — and the isolation of the individual, either in their own home or in a nursing home or other facility. From there, a person is nearly powerless against any medical and/or financial decisions the guardian chooses to take.

Errol Rappaport of Manhattan says that his mother, Frances, age 100, has been moved from her long-time home at 200 Central Park South to a place in Queens and the apartment sold after a dispute between Rappaport and his two brothers. Rappaport has reportedly been prevented from seeing his mother except with 48 hours’ advance notice, for a visit of up to two hours. Each visit is requested by email, for which the guardian, Madeleine Egelfeld, bills for 15 to 20 minutes at a rate of $450 per hour.

Egelfeld was paid at least $12,000 to $20,000 per year beginning in 2013, and hired Ellyn Kravitz as her own counsel in the matter for a sum of $123,139 as of January 2018. Egelfeld also billed for hours spent communicating with Kravitz, so that both were paid for the same time spent, a common practice known as double-billing. Through this process and a separate matter in Surrogate’s Court, Rappaport has been removed from the home where he was staying with his mother and has been unable to access his portion of the estate, which he says was to be split equally among the brothers, and is now homeless and couch-surfing at age 74.

Rappaport’s brothers declined to comment. Egelfeld did not respond to a request for comment.

On January 8, the New York State Senate held a round table on guardianship. Present at the round table were judges — including Kornicki’s judge, Hon. Arthur M. Diamond — and lawyers, practitioners, and senators. Attendees lamented a lack of data surrounding guardianship in New York as well as a lack of funding to pay guardians and court evaluators in guardianship cases. No victims of guardianship abuse were invited to speak.

Meanwhile, Ann Masotti is her daughter’s legal guardian under Article 81, yet she was unable to protect Andrea from an unscrupulous executor. It seems that this system, although designed to protect some of the most vulnerable, can fail when used by a family member in good faith but enable abuse by those who use it for personal gain.

A few years ago, Masotti and an accountant pored over financial documents submitted by Pisani to the court and found what she believes is a smoking gun: Pisani had deposited funds intended for Andrea’s escrow account into his own private bank account. Masotti went to her District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, who is now Chief Judge of New York. By the time that office got back to her, the statute of limitations on her case against Pisani had run out. Pisani died in 2016.

“There was far more care taken to protect Joseph Pisani, the felon, than to protect Andrea Masotti, the disabled young woman,” says Ann Masotti. Because the system is so entrenched and no one at the county or state level would take up her complaints, Masotti declares, “There was going to be no day of reckoning for Joe Pisani.”

Full Article & Source:
They Say Legal Guardians Ripped Them Off—and the State AG Let Them Down

Carl DeBrodie case: Family attorney says the charges didn't surprise him

Click to Watch Video
"I assured my clients that the prosecutor was working on it and something probably would happen," Ruday Veit,, the DeBrodie family's attorney said. "And it has."

Fulton Police arrested five people associated with the Carl DeBrodie case.

“I knew a long time ago that charges would be filed because I saw the documents,” Veit said. “I had been anticipating that for a long time they were going to make an arrest, it's just a matter of when the prosecutor could coordinate with the other parties involved in the case."

Veit said this process has taken a long time.

“Its been a while and each step shows that somebody is doing something and someone cares,” he said.

Veit said these charges set a precedent for care facilities across the state.

"One of the things we want to do is make sure this action doesn’t happen again, and by him prosecuting them all it sets a good message to other facilities not to do this kind of conduct,” Veit said.

Veit thinks the charges for this case will be staying, ”In this case the evidence is pretty clear that these charges will be met In every one of these cases.”

Veit said these criminal charges do not affect the civil case with the DeBrodie family.

“It should not affect the outcome, but it will help us reach the goals we want to reach,” Veit said. "Except now I know where to find them."

Former Cole County Prosecutor Bill Tackett said that civil and criminal cases are "different animals" and agrees that the new charges wouldn't affect really affect the civil case. Fulton police already said they didn't find evidence DeBrodie was forced to fight other residents of the group home, even though the civil suit accuses that.

"When you file a civil suit, you're making allegations. If you make a fact, you make exaggerate that fact and it's accepted within the bounds of a civil lawsuit," he said. "With criminal law, you have to be very specific. You're talking about putting someone in prison, taking away their liberties. In civil law, you're talking about taking away their money. Nobody goes to jail with civil law."

Full Article & Source:
Carl DeBrodie case: Family attorney says the charges didn't surprise him

Little Hocking woman placed in Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

Gail J. Rymer
LITTLE HOCKING — A clinical psychologist from Little Hocking was inducted Thursday into the 2018 class of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

Working with older adults, Gail J. Rymer realized the barriers to health care for seniors were notable and was shocked by the conditions of state mental hospitals where elders comprised more than half the population. At the time, many were restrained and had little if any cognitive stimulation.

Rymer wrote articles exposing the poor conditions and mobilized families and others to lobby for mental health changes.

She continued to advocate, starting programs such as “We Care,” a hotline for elders and others to call when in need of assistance or services. She helped start and hopes to expand the Southeast Ohio Elder Abuse Commission to educate the public that elder abuse is a rapidly growing crime in America.

“I hope that I have, in some way, touched the lives of others by my actions and words so they might know the spirit of love,” she said. “I know that I have walked with many as they struggled, and I was fortunate to see many grow and blossom.”

The Hall of Fame is a project of the Ohio Department of Aging to recognize the achievements and contributions of older Ohioans. More than 450 people have been inducted since 1977.

Rymer received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Ohio University. Her career began with jobs in health planning and the ministry.

She saw there were few opportunities in the community for older adults to feel valued, loved and engaged and organized efforts to visit elders and host senior luncheons and fellowship meetings. Rymer collaborated with other churches and their congregations to help and started food banks and Christmas Day dinners for those who were alone during the holidays.

Rymer after she received her doctorate worked in community mental health then opened her private practice. Her practice focuses on services to the elderly while advocating for their quality of life.

She is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a lay pastor of a rural church. Rymer works with churches to complete home modifications and repairs for seniors. In October 2017, volunteers made 19 homes safe and accessible for older residents.

Rymer also is working with churches and other organizations to write ethical statements and guidelines to prevent elder abuse and exploitation and to support broader mandatory reporting requirements.

She plans to write a children’s book with junior high school students about a severely abused Pug, Liberty, which she rehabilitated. Rymer belongs to multiple professional and civic organizations and has had many community leadership roles, including the Attorney General’s Elder Justice Unit as a board member.

Rymer and her husband, Donald, met at Ohio University and are looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by dancing in the streets of Santorini, Greece.

Full Article & Source:
Little Hocking woman placed in Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tonight on Marti Oakley's T. S. Radio: Hospice Survivors and Victims with Carly Walden

7:00 pm/CST.... 8:00 pm/EST

Tonight we will be discussing what you need to know to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones, especially the elderly from the growing efforts to cull and euthanize as many as possible using legal and medical means. Hospice in most cases, is no longer the Good Samaritan and has instead become the weapon of choice for prematurely ending the lives of those unfortunate enough to find themselves in one of these facilities or, under Hospice care in a hospital.

Do you know what a Patients Protective Medical Directive is? Why you should have one?


Do you know what a "Living Will" really is? Did you know that it is actually an advanced directive for assisted suicide/euthanasia?

Hospice Discharge, Revocation and Transfers

Medicare Benefit Policy Manual (CMS Pub. 100-02), Ch. 9, §20.2

The Medicare hospice benefit is only available to beneficiaries who are terminally ill. A hospice may discharge a beneficiary in certain situations. A beneficiary or representative may choose to revoke the election of hospice care at any time.

This and much more "need to know" info tonight with Carly Walden

LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later!

John Oliver Explains How Legal Guardians Abuse Their Power

John Oliver exposed the troubling flaws of the guardianship system on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, detailing how court-appointed individuals often abuse their power while assisting people with mental or physical disabilities, particularly the elderly, who can't make responsible decisions about their health or finances.

The comedian opened the exhaustive segment with some startling statistics. There are currently 49.2 million Americans aged 65 or older, and that figure is expected to surge in what some experts have dubbed the "Silver Tsunami." As ages rise, so does the need for guardianship, and 1.3 million people currently require such services.

Guardians wield major power over the people under their care, or "wards" – since they're making important decisions about health and finances, they have access to people's bank accounts and health records.

"Guardians can bill for each individual service they provide, from leaving voice messages to opening the mail. And they can take payment directly out of their ward's estate," Oliver said, exploring how the system often leads to absurd charges that can cripple a person's finances. In one egregious example, a guardian charged a woman for Phoenix Suns basketball tickets, tacking on $228 for determining the game's "effect on [her] mood." Another billed for 100 hours of services in a single day – a mathematic impossibility that Oliver anchored home with a science joke.

"One hundred hours a day is not physically possible, unless she was working on the planet Mercury, where, as we all know, each day lasts 1,407 Earth hours," he said. "I'll be honest: That's a joke designed specifically for Neil deGrasse Tyson, so I do hope you enjoyed it, Dr. Tyson, because absolutely nobody else did."

Dr. Tyson, in a pre-recorded response, interjected to question the definition of a "day" on Mercury, irritating Oliver. "Shut up, Neil! Shut up! Why do you have to ruin everything?" the host fumed, later throwing in a half-reference to Samantha Bee's Full Frontal "feckless cunt" controversy. "Just enjoy something for once in your fucking life! What is wrong with you, you feckless – oh, nevermind. It's not worth it."

Oliver clarified that guardianship is the responsibility of state and local courts, "meaning in most places everything about it – from who becomes one to who they oversee to what they can charge is up to local charges, who may be elected and may have no legal training." In Texas, for example, county judges handle guardianship decisions, and only 29 of them are lawyers. Equally shocking, only 12 states require professional guardians to be certified at all.

With the "Silver Tsunami" approaching, Oliver said, it's crucial to outline with your family how your care and finances should be handled in such a scenario. To iron home that point, Last Week Tonight recruited a group of famous seniors – William Shatner, Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin, Fred Willard and Rita Moreno – to offer some pointers about aging, or not. "You may not age at all," they said. "You may die tonight, young, by getting hit by lightning or eating too many Tide pods or getting killed by a hippo. That's actually a lot more likely than you think."

The celebrities recommended selecting someone to serve as a health care representative and "durable power-of-attorney" should the need arise. Their suggestion? National treasure Tom Hanks.

Full Article & Source:
John Oliver Explains How Legal Guardians Abuse Their Power

Brother of Local Attorney Charged with Theft
The brother of a local attorney who is on the run from police after allegedly stealing millions of dollars from his personal injury clients is also in trouble with the law.

According to court testimony Malcolm Snipes was picked up at his grandson’s Little League Championship game in Harris County after allegedly withdrawing thousands of dollars from a trust used for settlement funds that was supposed to be paid to his brother’s clients.

The 74 year old brother and employee of William Snipes had five felony warrants for his arrest by the time Investigators caught up with him and more charges pending.

A police detective told the judge the multi million dollar theft scam was a family affair with funds transferred into family members accounts and surveillance video from a local BB&T bank proves it.

Malcolm Snipes made multiple withdrawals from that trust account, each time careful not to take more than ten thousand dollars , the threshold amount required to report to the IRS.

His defense attorney Bobby Jones said Malcolm Snipes was a signature on the account even though the State Bar permits Licensed Attorneys only to hold such settlement accounts.

Malcolm Snipes is not an attorney.

“If I work for an attorney that did personal injury law and I was on the account and the attorney suggested  that I go get the money out of the account then I would go get the money out of the account if I was a non lawyer and didn’t know Bar rules,” attorney Robert Jones said.

In a contentious back and forth with Prosecutors the defense attorney suggested the arrest of Malcolm Snipes was a mere ploy to find William Snipes whose been spotted in Mississippi and Alabama since the scandal broke.

“Many times I’ve seen police put pressure on other people in order to squeeze them so to speak to either get evidence on the person they’re really after, the target of the investigation or to possibly get the target to come in because an innocent pawn so to speak has been arrested and they wouldn’t want that to happen to that person,” Jones said.

As the wife of Malcolm Snipes appeared outside the courtroom, Some of her brother in law’s distraught clients appeared too, unable to contain their anger as they made their way from the parking lot

Police say more than 30 victims have come forward to report their personal injury claims, now in the millions were ripped off.

Full Article & Source:
Brother of Local Attorney Charged with Theft

Dignity in Old Age

We are not equal in old age.

That's the tragic truth.

As equal as we are in human dignity and value in God's sight, some are treated very differently, especially as age limits physical ability.

Some have the advantage of family members who live nearby and can take time to be with them. Some have family with accessible homes who invite them in. Some have family who can ensure they have the best treatment in a senior residence.

Some don't.

Some have the advantage of money to pay for the best care.

Some don't.

In Huron, where I served before moving here, Medicaid-covered residents at the larger nursing home were two to a room, while others enjoyed single occupancy. When visiting people in nursing homes in Pierre, it is not hard to tell whose care is paid for by Medicaid. Often - not always, but often - that person's circumstances are worse.

For a younger person, we might encourage them to work harder and make more money, but someone well past retirement age? I don't think so.

Of Pierre's senior residences, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, some are fantastic environments.

Some are not.

Caregivers and nursing home staff are well intentioned, work hard, and have so much kindness to share. But when staff are poorly treated or run ragged, residents are going to be poorly served.

We deserve equal dignity in old age. From the Ten Commandments on, God has always affirmed that, and will hold anyone accountable for not treating people with the dignity they deserve.

God commands "honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land." So what can we do?

1. Live with elderly parents.

A friend of mine and her family are about to move into her mother's house to care for her in the midst of Parkinson's. That used to be common, but today it's rare. People living farther from parents as well as the economic realities of two income households and more irregular work hours make this harder, and the community (workplaces included) can support families in this. But there's also a cultural shift that needs to happen, and it's going to take bold people giving it a shot.

2. Advocate for elders.

There are some magnificent people who regularly volunteer their time to play music and visit people in nursing homes and assisting living. There ought to be more. Families and the professionals serving people are on the front lines, but the whole community can be invested in their well being.

3. Don't tolerate exploitation.

Exploiting elders for financial gain is an attack on the dignity of vulnerable people. God hates exploitation, and we should hate it too. Where we can, we should drive exploitation out of town, because we don't want that in our community.

Never treat someone with anything less than full human dignity, especially for your own financial gain. Whether in good health or in infirmity, treat elderly parents, neighbors, and fellow Pierre residents with honor.

Full Article & Source:
Dignity in Old Age

Monday, June 4, 2018

Family: Retirement facility didn't notice man was dead for two weeks

An Ohio family is distraught after they say it took two weeks for someone to discover their loved one had died.

According to WCPO, Paul Patterson, 77, moved into SEM Manor in Anderson Township after he suffered a stroke. He felt he needed to live somewhere where he could have more support.

SEM Manor describes itself as a "retirement & assisted living facility" on its Facebook page.

Patterson's family was stunned when they recently received a call from a detective stating that he had died.

"Nobody ... should hear something like, 'Your brother has been dead for two weeks in an apartment,'" Patterson's sister, Martha McKee, said.

The coroner told family members that Patterson's body had been decomposing for two weeks before anyone at the facility noticed he was dead. Management finally noticed when someone complained about the smell.

"That it took somebody next door to say there's a foul odor is very upsetting," Foster said.

SEM Manor declined to comment. A sign outside their facility indicates they receive taxpayer money through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the facility's website, residents receive scheduled transportation, activities and attention from a caring staff in exchange for 30 percent of their income.

Patterson's family feels he was not taken care of.

"Somebody laying there for two weeks, it's just wrong," McKee said.

The sheriff's office said the death is still under investigation. The coroner's office has not yet determined a cause of death.

Full Article & Source:
Family: Retirement facility didn't notice man was dead for two weeks

Review finds judge filed inappropriate orders in 13 cases

DES MOINES -- An independent review has found that a former Northwest Iowa judge improperly used proposed orders from lawyers as his final order in at least 13 cases dating back to 2011.

The reviewers' report, released Friday, also found insufficient evidence to show that other judges in the 3rd Judicial District, which includes 16 Northwest Iowa counties, had solicited rulings from attorneys without notifying the attorneys for the opposing side.

"I have read their thorough and comprehensive report and will now be acting on the recommendations," state court administrator Todd Nuccio said in a statement released with the report.

Nuccio's statement gave no indication what actions will be taken or when. The report was released after state court administration offices had closed at 4:30 p.m., and Nuccio did not return a message seeking comment.

Nuccio appointed retired state court administrator David Boyd and Senior Judge Robert Hutchison in March to review former District Judge Edward Jacobson's actions and determine to what extent he may have used ghostwritten orders obtained by ex parte communications -- those communications with only the attorney representing one side of the case -- without giving opposing attorneys a chance to review the proposed orders.

The review's purpose was not to determine whether Jacobson had broken any laws or rules. Nuccio said that task would fall within other entities' jurisdictions.

During an interview with Boyd and Hutchison, Jacobson, who retired last fall after 16 years on the bench, said he never believed he was doing anything improper when entering final rulings that were submitted by attorneys without notifying the opposing parties.

Jacobson said the practice is common in South Dakota, where he practiced before moving to Iowa, and in Iowa. He told the reviewers that he sought the proposed orders only after he had decided a case, and no parties had ever gained an advantage by writing a ruling for him without the other party's knowledge.

"He stated he only called upon a lawyer to write a ruling for him when he felt extreme time pressure," the reviewers wrote in their report.

Jacobson's actions came to light after telling lawyers in a deposition taken in a Plymouth County divorce case that he had asked one of the attorneys to draft the final decree because he intended to rule in favor of her client. The attorney for the other party was not contacted, nor was she given a chance to review the decree before Jacobson signed it.

Jacobson's actions in the divorce case have led to a motion to vacate the final decree.

During the same deposition, Jacobson said that he had directed attorneys in approximately 200 cases during his judicial career to write the final ruling without notifying the opposing attorney.

"If I made a decision, and all I want is somebody to put it on paper, I don't have any problem telling one counsel to do it without telling the other counsel I told them to do it," Jacobson said in the deposition.

In his interview for the review, Jacobson clarified his remarks, saying that the number of 200 cases referred to all cases in which he had solicited proposed rulings from attorneys, not the number of cases in which he adopted an attorney's proposed order as his own.
Independent review
In addition to interviewing Jacobson, the independent panelists reviewed approximately 9,500 available archived emails Jacobson sent and received, interviewed his former court reporters and other 3rd District judicial officials and examined case records.

Those reviews found 13 of Jacobson's rulings, most of them in family law cases, that raised concerns.

In a 2017 Crawford County case, it was found that Jacobson had obtained a proposed ruling from an attorney and emailed it directly to his court reporter without showing it to the opposing counsel. The proposed ruling was entered word for word as the final ruling, the reviewers found.

Other cases in which Jacobson's actions were deemed improper were heard in Woodbury, Plymouth and Monona counties.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady in March filed a supervisory order reminding the state's judges they are not to privately solicit orders from attorneys without notifying the opposing side. He also ordered all judges to attend a continuing education course on the rules of ex parte communications.

Among their recommendations, Boyd and Hutchison said all Iowa lawyers, in addition to judges, would benefit from continuing legal education sessions on the subject.

The reviewers also said that if a judge wants to obtain proposed findings of fact and conclusions from lawyers, the request should be documented as made to both sides. Attorneys should file any requested document in the court's electronic filing system, rather than emailing it to the judge, so that it will be docketed and a notice of the filing sent to all parties in the case.

Full Article & Source:
Review finds judge filed inappropriate orders in 13 cases

6 Nonverbal Dementia Communication Techniques Make Caregiving Easier

Using nonverbal communication tips improves quality of life

Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be tough without learning some new techniques.

The damage in their brain has changed the way your older adult hears, processes, and responds to conversation. That’s why it’s necessary to adapt the way we communicate to match their abilities.

Often, the nonverbal messages we send with our body language and facial expressions come through more clearly than the words we speak. And sometimes the nonverbal messages don’t match the words we use, which causes confusion. That’s why being aware of our nonverbal communication is such an important dementia communication technique.

Using body language and facial expressions that help your older adult clearly and easily understand your meaning can reduce confusion, agitation, and anger as well as increase cooperation. This makes caregiving easier and improves quality of life for both of you.

We explain what nonverbal communication is and share 6 helpful nonverbal communication tips that you can use right away.

What is nonverbal communication?

There are many different types of nonverbal communication, including:

1. Facial expressions
Your face can express emotions without saying a word. And many facial expressions are the same across cultures, like happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

2. Body movements and posture
The way someone moves and carries themselves can say a lot about them, their mood, and their state of mind.

3. Gestures
When we talk, we use gestures without even thinking about it – waving, pointing, and using our hands when we’re angry or excited.

4. Eye contact
For people who can see, vision is the dominant sense. That’s why eye contact is so important. The way you look at someone can say a lot. Plus, eye contact helps you see the other person’s engagement level and reactions.

5. Touch
Touch is another way to “speak” without using words. For example, these mean very different things: a limp handshake, a gentle shoulder tap, a warm hug, a reassuring pat on the back, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm.

6. Space
Everyone needs some physical space, though how much may vary for each person and situation. For example, standing too close can make someone uncomfortable. But staying at too far a distance could seem uncaring or uninterested.

7. Voice
The tone and volume of your voice adds a lot of meaning to words. For example, imagine saying “fine” during a heated argument compared to saying it when you’re happy and content. The same word sounds completely different.

6 nonverbal dementia communication techniques that help you connect

1. Be patient and calm
  • Project a positive and calm attitude – it can help your older adult communicate more easily
  • Avoid body language that shows frustration, anger, or impatience
  • Try not to interrupt them
  • Give them your full attention
When a situation is very frustrating, staying calm can be tough. In those cases, it’s worthwhile to step away for a minute to do some deep breathing or calming exercises so you can come back with a calm attitude. 

That helps you avoid a situation where your tension or frustration could subconsciously influence your older adult’s responses or behavior.

2. Keep voice, face, and body relaxed and positive
  • Have a pleasant or happy look on your face – a tense facial expression could cause distress and make communication more difficult
  • Keep your tone of voice positive and friendly

3. Be consistent
Avoid confusion by making sure your body language and facial expression match the words you’re speaking.

4. Make eye contact and respect personal space

  • Approach from the front so they can see you coming and have a chance to process who you are and the fact that you’re going to interact with them
  • Don’t stand too close or stand over them – it can feel intimidating
  • Keep your face at or below their eye level, this helps them feel more in control of the situation
  • Make and maintain eye contact while having a conversation

5. Use gentle touch to reassure
Physical touch can give comfort and reassurance, but be sure to observe to make sure they’re comfortable with the touching.
This could include:
  • Shaking hands
  • Patting or holding their hand
  • Patting or rubbing their shoulder or back
  • Putting an arm around them
  • Giving a hug

 6. Observe their nonverbal reactions
Dementia may make it difficult for your older adult to express themselves verbally. Watch for signs of frustration, anger, or fear and adjust your responses and actions to calm or soothe as needed.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team

Full Article & Source: 
6 Nonverbal Dementia Communication Techniques Make Caregiving Easier