Saturday, January 2, 2021

89-year-old philanthropist caught in conservatorship nightmare can't help charities at Christmas

Potato chip heiress Joann Bashinsky won an initial round in court, but faces a hearing next year on whether she will be permanently placed under a conservator's control. 
Joann Bashinsky
(Courtesy photo)

By Susan Katz Keating

A beloved Alabama philanthropist won't be able to support her favorite charity this year at Christmas, thanks to legal maneuverings that blocked the 89-year-old heiress from using her own charitable foundation — and threaten her independence.

For more than two years, Joann Bashinsky has been fighting to regain her financial autonomy after two former employees filed an emergency petition alleging that she has dementia and is mentally unfit to handle her multimillion dollar estate. 

The Golden Flake potato chip heiress, known to many as "Mrs. B.," won a first round earlier this year when the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the emergency order that placed a guardian and a conservator in charge of her. She still, however, faces a hearing next year on whether she will be permanently placed under the conservator's control. In the meantime, she said, she cannot use the foundation money that enabled her to help others at Christmas.

"I want to be freed from freezing my money," Mrs. Bashinsky told Just the News. "I want to be able to do my own thing."

For the clear-spoken grandmother, that includes supporting a favorite beneficiary, the Big Oak Ranch children's homes in Springville and Gadsden, Alabama. Every year at Christmas, Mrs. Bashinsky buys individual gifts for the children.

"I usually have them write to me and tell me what they want in the $50 range," Mrs. Bashinsky said. "We call them up and hand them their presents. They are delighted."

This year, she said, there won't be any presents for the kids.

"My children at the Big Oak Ranch are not getting anything for Christmas because I can't do the shopping," Mrs. Bashinsky said. "It hurts me. I've been doing it for years. I want to help them. Now I can't."

The longtime philanthropist is the widow of Sloan Bashinsky, Sr., who founded the Golden Flake potato chip company. The company was sold in 2016 to Utz for a reported $141 million. Joann Bashinsky's personal estate has been estimated to be worth $80 million, with her overall estate valued at $218 million.

Her legal problems began when she loaned $23 million to her grandson, who is the sole heir to her estate. Two of Mrs. Bashinsky's employees objected to the loan, advisers said, and launched a series of headline-grabbing maneuvers wherein "Mrs. B." lost control of her fortune and was placed in conservatorship.

"People keep trying to say I've got dementia," Mrs. Bashinsky said. "I don't have dementia. I can take care of myself."

Supporters who know her agree. 

"This woman does not have dementia," said former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who is advising Mrs. B on how to navigate her situation. "She's clear, witty, smart, responsive. She is not lacking in any mental faculty at all."

The local press has chronicled Mrs. Bashinsky's travails at length. She was featured in a seven-part series in Alabama Today about conservatorship abuse entitled Protected or Prisoner. The series examined other actions by the conservator and the judge who were involved in Mrs. Bashinsky's case.

Just the News was not able to reach those who took part in the actions that potentially could see Mrs. Bashinsky in permanent conservatorship. 

Unable for now to help others at Christmastime, Mrs. Bashinsky plans to spend a quiet holiday at home with her grandson. She hopes to see her financial freedom fully restored in 2021.

"I can write my own checks," she said. 

She also will pursue her case. Said Mrs. B: "I'm a tough old bird." 

Full Article & Source:

Protected or Prisoner Part 1: One Mountain Brook woman’s experience with a broken conservatorship system

By Apryl Marie Fogel

When you meet Joann Bashinsky you don’t have to use your imagination to picture her as a force to be reckoned with in her youth. At 88 years old she’s just as fiery and self-aware as someone decades younger. She played a pivotal role in the management of the Golden Flake company that her husband started. She’s also created a name for herself throughout Alabama as one of the most charitable philanthropists in the state. 

It was her philanthropy work that caught my attention. However, in talking with her for a brief moment it didn’t take long for her to share details of what I’d describe as a fight for her life and livelihood. It seems she has found herself battling some of her formally most trusted employees and the very individuals a Jefferson County court declared, without any input from lawyers or witnesses on her behalf, was necessary to protect her. 

In a continuance of her ongoing fight for independence, Bashinsky (known to many as Mrs. B or Mama B) told me a story of intimidation, scare-tactics and questionable ethical actions by two powerful and well-known attorneys. It’s a story that would sound as if it were ripped straight from the headlines of any long-running t.v. crime and legal drama, or was the plot of a novel if not for the fact – there’s audio. 

The lawyers involved, are Greg Hawley and Amy Adams. Hawley is the former law partner of U.S. Senator Doug Jones. Adams is an attorney from Balch & Bingham, firm long considered a state and national powerhouse.

The facts below are supported by a recording that was made by Mrs. B on a day she unsuccessfully fought back efforts to retain her voting rights in SYB Inc, a company whose board she’d been a part of for decades.

The conversation and actions between Hawley, a man the court-appointed to protect Mrs. B’s interest, and Amy Adams, a woman who in her own words Mrs. B said used “scare tactics” to intimidate her into firing her current counsel and hiring her are painful to read or listen to, but let me summarize them for you below.

What happened was Hawley pulled Mrs. B aside before and then again after the board meeting, refusing to allow her chosen attorney Fisher Law at King & Spalding, in the room and leaving her alone with Adams for a period of time. Their goal: have Mrs. B fire her current legal council and hire Adams. When that didn’t happen, Hawley hired her anyway himself. 

Here are 3 of the most alarming parts of the conversation:

  1. Financial scare tactics

The first, yet not even the most concerning issue arises in the first couple of minutes when Amy Adams meets Ms. B and says “I’ve seen your finances”.

Those documents are or at least should be confidential. At this point, Adams (Balch & Bingham), had not been retained by anyone in the case nor had Mrs. B. given her permission for them to be reviewed. She wasn’t even expecting to meet with Adams that day or at any other point.

But what’s worse? Not that Adams has seen the documents, but that she misrepresents them repeatedly. 

She tells Mrs. B that she could potentially lose her house and staff and run out of money. These “scare tactics” as Mrs. B calls them is repeated, no fewer than 10 times over the course of their 2 conversations. With Adams saying things like, 

“You’re not going to have enough money to live off of the rest of your life if you keep going through your money the way you’ve gone through it the last couple of years.” 

“It takes a lot of money to stay in your house and you’re not keeping enough money to stay in your house. You realize that right?” 

“Okay. I’m just telling you – I’ve looked it you’re not keeping enough money.”

She doesn’t stop there at the threat that Mrs. B losing her house. She goes on to suggest that Mrs. B might need to fire some of those who help her at her home. Trusted employees, some of whom have been with her for many years. Adams says this about them, “We might have to get rid of some of the people that are on your staff.”  

The problem is Mrs. B owns her house and has tens of millions in liquid assets not including stock. This painful conversation goes on for several minutes at a time off and on during both meetings. The basic theme of Adams being if you want to stay in your house you need to hire me or my firm Balch & Bingham — at $425 per hour. She goes on to joke though if retained drinks with her would for free, “I wouldn’t charge you for that,” she says. 

When Hawley returns to the conversation he makes it clear all that Adam’s repeated misrepresentations about Mrs. B being in dire financial straights can’t be verified, “What I don’t know yet is, I don’t have the whole financial picture so I can’t say, I can’t say that yet.” That doesn’t stop her from saying it a few more times as the conversation continues though. 

*Note I put Hawley’s audio first because it puts Adams’ “scare tactics” in perspective.

“Hawley corrects Adams”
Audio Player

2. HIPAA compliance questions

Mrs. B sat for several competency tests. The results of which she describes as showing she is perfectly capable of managing her own affairs. Again, results that the court never even heard. 

That said when Hawley brings up one of the initial tests, it was clear his office sent them to Adams. While Hawley is looking for them himself, Adams says, “I might have it on my phone.” Note this report would fall under the category of private health information (PHI) covered by HIPPA. 

She proceeds to check, confirming that Hawley’s assistant Margaret sent private and confidential medical records. 

Hawley’s casual dismissal of the fact she has them and his office sent them, should send shock waves through his client list, “Margaret was supposed to just send you the letters of conservatorship but anyway…” he says, as if this sort of mistake happens every day and is just fine. 

I emailed Hawley and among the questions I asked him was if his office was HIPAA compliant. In his response, in which he did not answer the HIPAA questions following his signature was this boilerplate messages, “CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential information that is legally privileged. Do not read this e-mail if you are not the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of any information contained in or attached to this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify us by replying to the sender or calling the sender at (205) 490-XXXX and destroy the original email and its attachments without reading or saving it. Thank you.”

I don’t think it takes an expert to know Adams should have known better than to read private medical information that came from another attorney’s office before she was formally engaged by either party. 

Audio Player


3. Hawley hires Balch & Bingham after

After Amy Adams spoke alone with Mrs. B, Hawley continues to push Mrs. B to hire Adams. Refusing to allow Mrs. B’s existing lawyer to be in the room. When Mrs. B decided not to hire Adams, telling me that she felt like Adams talked down to her, tried to use scare tactics, and made her feel disrespected, you’d think this would be the end of Adam’s chapter in this sordid situation. It wasn’t. After this meeting, Hawley hired Adams himself.

Nevermind that at the beginning of the conversation Adams gives her word that she’s not interested in helping Hawley just in being Mrs. B’s attorney, “When Greg called me I told him the only way I’d do it is if we could fire him because I wasn’t going with him. I’d only go with you and that’s what I told him that’s the only I would come.” 

It wasn’t just a promise by Adams that she would only represent Mrs. B. Here’s what Hawley said, “Let me tell you, there are lawyers – Amy’s very decisive. Some people use the B-word to describe her, okay. She’s a great lawyer, but she’s very decisive, and she will represent you. And I even told her, and I’ll tell you this and I’ll tell you this, in front of her, and I’ll put it in writing that if she ever sees a conflict of interest developing between what’s best for you and something different I say, I want her to represent you, not me.” 

“I want her to represent you, not me.” Those were his words and then he hired her anyway after Mrs. B said she didn’t want her engaged. It’s enough to make one’s head explode.

“Getting rid of other lawyers2_Clip2_AT2” Amy Adams & Greg Hawley
Audio Player

Can you imagine a loved one going through this? I cannot.

What’s more, I cannot begin to imagine how intimidating it would be find yourself at the mercy or a court who didn’t allow your voice to be heard before placing you in the “protection” of a lawyer who among, other concerning actions could willy nilly allow your medical and financial documents to be shared with others, by a lawyer who brought onto your case someone you clearly didn’t and wouldn’t hire yourself, someone you felt bullied by. This whole situation leaves many questions to be answered. 

I asked about this situation, their code of conduct for lawyers, and a host of other questions to Adam’s direct supervisor at Balch & Bingham, Stan Blanton. I received a response to reach out to their media relations person. The spokesman sent the following statement after a call, “It is our understanding that Mrs. Bashinsky expressly stated that she did not want the conservator to engage Amy Adams as her attorney, and therefore no attorney-client relationship was formed. Balch & Bingham has not taken any position adverse to Mrs. Bashinsky.  Nevertheless, we notified the conservator of the firm’s intent to withdraw from our representation of the conservator in this matter to avoid being a distraction.” I responded to that message repeating questions from my first inquiry about their code of conduct or ethics and did not get a response.

It seems to me that keeping your word would be included in any code of conduct required of Adams, and as such, she shouldn’t have taken any role in this case after her promises to Mrs. B that she would only engage if she could engage on her behalf. 

What I found after examining this case and conservatorship, in general, is that there is an exceptional lack of openness and transparency in the process. Seniors all over the country have found themselves seemingly railroaded by the court system and the attorneys who are supposed to “protect them”.

So I close this first story of a multi-part series posing the following questions: Are conservatorship/guardianship courts failing seniors here in Jefferson County or more broadly throughout Alabama? Who is going to stand up for the seniors who can’t stand up for themselves?

You can find Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here.

Full Article & Source:

Protected or Prisoner Part 2: How our grandparents and their livelihoods are being stolen by the court system

By Apryl Marie Fogel

Financial exploitation is at the heart of several cases related to guardianship and conservatorship here in Alabama. Several weeks ago in the first of this series, Alabama Today released exclusive audio recordings of Joann Bashinsky (Also known as Mrs. B or Mama B), the window of Goldenflakes company founder. These recordings revealed her court-ordered conservator Greg Hawley allowing Amy Adams of Balch & Bingham to use what Mrs. B described as “scare tactics” to pressure her to fire her current legal team and hire her. Adams is heard repeatedly stating that Mrs. B could lose her house and staff while her house is paid for and she has an estimated $200+ million in assets.

Mrs. B, her personal physician, her staff, and family have all consistently held that she does not need to be under a conservatorship. The court in her case didn’t allow a single witness to speak on her behalf after disqualifying her attorney. (Click to Continue)
Full Article & Source:

Protected or Prisoner Part 3: One Alabama daughter’s struggle with Judge Alan King, Greg Hawley, and a flawed conservatorship system

By Apryl Marie Fogel

Imagine you’ve done everything right to prepare your family for the realities that come with aging. You’ve created a power of attorney that specifically notes that your daughter is to be your conservator and guardian, should the need arise. You and your second-wife have a prenup to protect your assets, and spell out the use of funds for your future. You think you’re ready.

Then the day that you and your family hoped never would come, does, and with advancing age slight dementia begins. All that’s left to do is execute your pre-planned system. 

Your daughter goes to court, documents in hand, but the judge won’t hear her case. It turns out that after the dementia set-in, the step-mother also had a power of attorney signed.

So the judge appoints a “temporary” conservator and a guardian-ad-litem until a full hearing can be held. The father tells the guardian-ad-litem he has chosen his daughter and wishes for her to be the conservator, but again the court refuses to listen.

Hearings come and hearings go, and the daughter’s voice is failed to be heard, her father’s wishes go unmet. What’s worse, in one hearing a witness tells the court the two family members have argued in front of the father, and the judge uses that as the basis to make the temporary conservatorship permanent. The witness statement — untrue according to the daughter. Complete fiction. 

Five years go by and the daughter still has not had her day in court. Meanwhile, the court-ordered conservator has been paid $15,000 plus expenses and is on-track to be paid at a minimum another $15,000. Unless of course he can either wait it out or convince the family to liquidate assets such as selling property. Then he’s paid even more.

In addition, the costs of attorney fees for the family totals nearly $65,000 of which $55,000 is being paid-out of the estate. Money that could and likely should have stayed with the family and estate, if not for the judge’s order. 

This is the story of Susan Evans and her father James Belew.

Evans is the only child of Belew. Her mother, his first wife, passed away in 2008. He remarried in 2012. Belew was in the baking industry and was the general manager of the Dolly Madison Plant in Columbus, Ga. when he retired. 

Evans, a mother of two and grandmother of one, just retired after 18 years at Viva Health.

The judge is none other than Jefferson County Probate Judge, Alan King.

The conservator is none other than veteran litigator and probate lawyer, Greg Hawley.

The witness whose alleged false and unconfirmed testimony caused the court to move the temporary conservatorship to permanent? Is none other than Hawley’s own assistant, Margaret Holland.

If you’ve been following along in this series those names will sound familiar. They’re the same two players involved in the Joann Bashinsky case. As a matter of fact, they’re the same players as a number of cases in Jefferson County, Alabama. I’ll be writing about more of these horror stories in the coming days. (Don’t worry, if you’re missing Hawley’s “friend” Amy Davis Adams from Balch & Bingham, she too will return in several future installments of this series beginning later this week.)

Evans is one of a handful of people who personally reached out to me after seeing my first story in this series. I’ve spoken to her several times. Her father’s case is as frustrating as the Bashinsky case because it was Evans herself who went to the court with no reason to doubt that the judge would hear her case and allow her to perform the role her father chose her for. Of course, that’s not what happened as Judge King seemingly went against her father’s expressed written and verbal wishes.

I want to bring attention to some specific points of her case and hopefully, I want to give you something you can do to help this family, yourselves, and others.

Individual judges have unquestionable amounts of power and discretion with little to no accountability: 

Evans echos the sentiments I’ve heard from a number of people wrapped up in the conservatorship system. It’s designed in such a way that the judge might as well be a God. 

In her father’s case, Hawley’s guardianship was initially meant to be temporary. This is a familiar refrain from those with loved ones and family members involved. However, hearing after hearing it became clear that unless something changed, Hawley will be Belew’s conservator for the rest of his life. 

Lack of transparency and accountability

Until this week, after five years of Hawley being the conservator, Evans had not had a full accounting of her father’s assets or of the costs associated with the conservatorship. This week Holland provided that breakdown for the first time. You may remember Holland from the first post. Holland is the assistant who sent confidential medical and financial documents to Adams “accidentally”.  

It states, “Fees are based off of a percentage of the Estate which in total is roughly 9%. It is calculated only at a Partial and/or Final Settlement Hearing. This is an Alabama State Statute = 2.5% of what’s received, 2.5% of what’s disbursed and 4% attorney’s fees.”

As I mentioned, records indicate that thus far, $15,000 has been paid to Hawley’s firm. 

The incestuous nature of the lawyers and those who work for them

One of the often unspoken problems faced by family members fighting the court orders is the closeness of the attorneys and judges involved in the cases. Evans has had two attorneys paying approx. $22k of her own money in order to fulfill her father’s wishes. The step-mother has also hired an attorney.

If you couple this with the fees associated with Hawley’s representation, and the fees associated with Evan’s step-mother’s lawyers this amount ballons.

The costs to families aren’t just monetary

The monetary costs aren’t necessarily even the biggest problem for those involved. Many have explained it’s the stress of the unknowns and the time associated with fighting the judge’s order, working through the conservatorship process, and making sure their loved one is taken care of, and not exploited, that is the part that really takes a toll.

“What bothers me the most about the money… my dad was a frugal man who made a good living and lived within his means. He saved so that I and my children could have it. He worked hard for it and scrimped and saved, and now there’s not much left.”

We need to do better as a state. We need to demand our lawmakers require more of our courts. We need more transparency and accountability within the system. We need for families to be kept together and not set against one another. We need change.

Follow this series for more one-on-one stories with those involved in the system here. Beyond those, we’ll be sharing detailed reports of what’s happening here in Jefferson County and how you can get involved to reach out to lawmakers to fix this broken system. 

Editors Note: This is an op-ed. Emails from Alabama Today to Greg Hawley went unanswered. We relied on interviews and research for the dates and amounts cited in this article. This included reviews of both legal and personal correspondence associated with this case. We will update this story if additional information becomes available.
Full Article & Source:

Protected or Prisoner Part 4: Balch & Bingham and the lies they’ve told

By Apryl Marie Fogel

Image source: Shutterstock

There’s an expectation when you’re dealing with a national firm of the size, scope, and storied history that Birmingham’s own Balch & Bingham has garnered over the decades. That expectation is that the lawyers and employees there would strive for honesty, integrity, and excellence in everything they do. If you have that impression of the firm, it may be time to read on, reconsider your opinion, and see them for who they are versus who they once were or who they portray themselves to be.

I’m not too proud to admit that before hearing the disturbing recordings of Balch & Bingham lawyer Amy Adams, I bought into the myth of Balch’s higher standards hook, line, and sinker. 

If you missed the first article in this series, you’re going to want to go back and read it as well as listen to the audio recordings. In it, Joann Bashinsky (aka Mrs. B or Mama B), shares audio recordings she made of her court-ordered conservator Greg Hawley and Balch & Bingham’s, Amy Adams. Bashinsky is currently under a contested court-ordered conservatorship granted after what some have called a “kangaroo court” style hearing. This hearing didn’t allow her legal representation and blocked evidence to show she didn’t need the conservatorship or witnesses of her own. In that meeting, Adam’s attempted to land Mrs. B as a client using what that Mrs. B described as “scare tactics” while “talking down to her” and trying to “bully and intimidate” her into firing her current council. It would be unbelievable if not for the recording. In the recording, Mrs. B is assured by Adams that she’s not interested in being a party in the case for Hawley, strictly Mrs. B. When Mrs. B doesn’t hire her, what happens? Sure enough, contrary to multiple assertations, Adams is hired by Hawley to fight Mrs. B as she attempts to regain her freedom and independence.  All of this brings us to today’s story. 

I thought the audio recordings and Adam’s conduct would be a low point for firm behavior, but alas, they got lower. 

Before publishing that story, I reached out to Adams and then her boss, Stan Blanton, with a series of questions. Mr. Blanton then directed me to Julie Wall, their Director of External Affairs.

Wall, by all accounts, has shown that she’s on the up and up. She promptly got back to me, she heard me out on the context of my story, and she gave me timely responses. Of course, she didn’t answer or address the majority of my questions. She’s a PR professional. I’m sure there’s a chain of command above her that clamped down on her response, so I won’t hold that against her. 

The issue: While Wall nailed her job in deftly conveying answers to me in a timely and professional way, the responses themselves were lies. Two out of two messages turned out to be not true. Let me say that again, not once, but twice someone at Balch seemingly decided to lie on the record about Adam’s and her role in this case. 

Wall is not an attorney. She’s a public relations professional with excellent credentials. It’s highly doubtful she would knowingly lie in such a blatant manner. She was just the messenger. This leads me to some essential questions. Who gave her the lies to feed me? Was it Adams herself, Blanton, or someone else in the firm? What was the motivation of lying? How many times has said lawyer lied and gotten away with it? 

Lie one: The day Adam’s left the case. The statement below, saying that Adams was withdrawing from the case, was sent May 20, 2020. Yet, Adams was copied on emails related to the case, and her name was on filings related to the case for weeks following, which leads me to lie and email two.

Lie two: Upon getting word that Adam’s name on documents and emails, I reached out to ask why there was no record of her withdrawing from the case. That’s where the second lie comes in. See below, where Wall tells me that no written request for withdrawal is required, an answer she would have needed to get from Adams herself or another lawyer. 

On June 25, 2020, a little over 2 weeks after Wall says no withdrawal is needed, what does Adams finally get around to doing? Well, see below. She files for withdrawal. One has to wonder when her billing stopped; I assure you we will report back on that when it happens. Did it stop May 20 or June 25? 

Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to play a game of “gotcha” with Adams or Balch. I’m trying to bring transparency to a system and case that, in my opinion, is full of many cut and dry examples of egregious abuse of the state’s conservatorship powers. 

I’m writing this today so that you can join me in asking those involved from Balch, and maybe even Greg Hawley if all of this happens with the bright spotlight of media coverage and with many eyes watching them, what do the players in this case do when they think no one is watching?  

Click to read
Full Article & Source:   

Protected or Prisoner Part 5: Game changer! Alabama Supreme Court admonishes Judge Alan King in Joann Bashinsky case

By Apryl Marie Fogel 

While the war will wage on for families throughout Jefferson County and the state of Alabama seeking to regain their independence from a broken conservatorship system, the good guys won a critical battle today. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of Joann Bashinsky (aka Mrs. B or Mama B) freeing her from the “prison” of a court-ordered contested conservatorship that Judge Alan King wrongly put her under. 
I had the pleasure of congratulating Mrs. B by phone after the ruling came out, and she told me, “I’m happy. I feel vindicated by the Supreme Court’s ruling.” Her tone was lighter than in any previous conversation we’ve had before, now that the stress and burden of the personal hell she’s been put through has been partially lifted.
I told her that since we last spoke, I’ve heard from others whose cases eerily track with the same M.O. used by Judge King and the same conservator of her case, Greg Hawley. These individuals show up to court with lawyers of their own only to have King disqualify them, and Hawley being given a conservatorship “temporarily.” As in her case, the temporary orders lasted well past the 30-day limit the court intended. There were also emergency petitions granted when no emergency existed. I asked her if she had any thoughts for other families going through this, and she said, “I hope others continue to fight, and I hope they can win.”
While the news of her case was positive, she reflected on the fact that others still are, and will still be caught up in the system. She wished them success and said, “I hope they don’t have to go through what I did.”
She hasn’t forgotten how this all started for her either, “It’s sad that two former employees could use our court system to steal my freedom. It should have never happened. Anyone who does this should be held accountable.”
Mrs. B’s case was the catalyst to what has become a personal mission that will continue even after this ruling. I’ve spoken to around a dozen other people, from lawyers to family members about other questionable conservatorship decisions made by Judge King. These decisions led to the appointment of Greg Hawley specifically. Several of these cases are still in “temporary” status and pending the review of court long after the 30-day limit that the Supreme Court just reinforced as law. Additionally, I have asked the Jefferson County Probate Office for records to examine even more cases and data (story coming on their refusal to release public documents and records coming soon).
I will work diligently to help shine a light on other examples of wrongdoing, like what happened in this case. If I have learned anything, it is that this was not an isolated case of what the same behavior the Supreme Court called “egregious.”
I cannot do justice to the opinion by paraphrasing it, so let me just pull the highlights for you. 
On the matter of Judge King misusing the “temporary” authority and how the case didn’t meet “emergency” standards:

Put simply,

the purported evidence presented to the probate court clearly,

and by any standard, did not establish that an “emergency”

existed that required action so immediate that the probate

court could not allow Ms. Bashinsky an opportunity to respond

to the accusations or to retain counsel after the probate

court, at the outset of the hearing, dismissed the three

lawyers she had chosen to represent her. Consequently, the

provisions in the AUGPPA requiring notice, the presence of

counsel for the respondent, and an opportunity for the

respondent to present arguments and evidence could not be



circumvented in this instance. See §§ 26-2A-102, 26-2A-103

and 26-2A-134(a), and 26-2A-135.

Any lingering doubt that the situation was not a true

emergency is erased by the probate court’s scheduling of the

subsequent hearing on the permanent petition. As was

recounted in the rendition of the facts, the hearing on the

emergency petition was held on October 17, 2019. After the

probate court rendered its judgment appointing a temporary

guardian and conservator, the probate court scheduled a

hearing on the permanent petition for March 12, 2020, five

months after the emergency hearing. In a dependency context,

removing a child from the custody of a parent without giving

that parent notice and an opportunity to be heard requires

that a full hearing be scheduled within 72 hours of such a

determination. See § 12–15–308(a), Ala. Code. 1975.

Temporary restraining orders are subject to a 10-day

limitation period. See Rule 65(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. Section

26-2A-107(a) itself limits the appointment of a temporary

guardian to 30 days, a provision Judge King attempts to ignore

by ordering that the temporary guardian’s appointment “shall

automatically renew every fifteen (15) days until the



Permanent Hearing in this matter.” The short duration of such

orders underscores that emergency rulings are permitted based

on the understanding that the truncation of constitutional

due-process rights they entail will be mitigated in short

order. The probate court’s decision at the October 17, 2019,

hearing not to grant a continuance to allow Ms. Bashinsky to

retain new counsel is unfathomable, given the length of the

scheduled delay between the hearings on the emergency petition

and on the permanent petition. More broadly, the fact that

the probate court believed that the matter could wait another

five months for a permanent determination starkly illustrates

that any potential harm to Ms. Bashinsky’s health, safety, or

welfare was not immediate or substantial, i.e., this was not

an “emergency” by any reasonable definition.

On the violation of her constitutional rights and the prejudgement of the case: 

However, it is still the case that the probate court

disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys at the outset of the

October 17, 2019, hearing on the emergency petition and that

she was not afforded the opportunity to retain new attorneys

or to present any evidence or question witnesses at that

hearing. Because we have determined that no “emergency” was

presented in that hearing, the representation and casepresentation

rights afforded to a respondent in §§ 26-2A-102

and 26-2A-135 were applicable. Those provisions, and

Ms. Bashinsky’s basic due-process rights, were egregiously

violated, as the probate court treated the proceeding like an

ex parte hearing even though Ms. Bashinsky was present.

16The statutory provision under which Prestwood was

decided, § 26-2-43, Ala. Code 1975, was modified by § 26-2A-

103, Ala. Code 1975, of the AUGPPA in 1987. However, the

requirement that notice be given to “the person alleged to be

incapacitated” has remained consistent in the law, undoubtedly

because, as the Prestwood Court noted, “fundamental fairness

would require adequate notice of a competency hearing.”

Prestwood, 395 So. 2d at 11.



But the problems with the probate court’s

disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys extend even

beyond basic constitutional due process and the procedures

afforded by §§ 26-2A-102 and 26-2A-135. The probate court

disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys primarily based upon

Rules 1.7 and 1.9 of the Alabama Rules of Professional

Conduct. Both of those rules expressly state that the

conflicts of interest described therein can be waived by the

client if the client is made aware of the conflict and still

elects to have the attorney continue the representation. Yet,

there is no indication that the probate court asked

Ms. Bashinsky at any point during the October 17, 2019,

hearing whether she was aware of her attorneys’ alleged

conflicts of interest. This fact suggests that the probate

court had already decided that Ms. Bashinsky was not competent

to make her own decisions because the court assumed for itself

the duty of determining that the alleged conflicts could not

be waived. In other words, the probate court’s

disqualification of Ms. Bashinsky’s counsel at the outset of

the October 17, 2019, hearing indicated prejudgment of the

very question at issue in that hearing: Whether



Ms. Bashinsky’s competence was sufficiently in question to

warrant appointment of a temporary guardian and conservator.

Moreover, the manner in which the probate court handled

the issue of the motion to disqualify Ms. Bashinsky’s

attorneys — granting the motion and then choosing to proceed

directly with the hearing on the issue of Ms. Bashinsky’s

competence — created an unnecessary complication that was

highlighted by the probate court’s subsequent scheduling of a

hearing in January 2020 to discuss how Ms. Bashinsky’s new

attorneys were to be selected. That is, because the probate

court disqualified Ms. Bashinsky’s attorneys and then declared

Ms. Bashinsky to be incompetent, it raised the specter that

she cannot enter into a contract to hire new counsel to

represent her interests in this matter. This complication

would have been avoided if the probate court had followed

basic procedures of due process and fundamental fairness with

respect to Ms. Bashinsky.

In sum, because the allegations raised in the emergency

petition and the facts presented in the hearing on that

petition clearly did not constitute an “emergency,” the

provisions for appointing a temporary guardian or conservator



in §§ 26-2A-107(a) and 26-2A-136(b)(1) were inapplicable.

Under §§ 26-2A-102 and 26-2A-135, Ms. Bashinsky was entitled

to have counsel of her choosing represent her, to crossexamine

witnesses, and to present evidence on her behalf, none

of which she was afforded in the October 17, 2019, hearing and

which, in fact, was openly refused by the probate court.


“[p]rocedural due process, as guaranteed by the

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States

Constitution and Article I, § 6, of the Alabama

Constitution of 1901, broadly speaking, contemplates

the rudimentary requirements of fair play, which

include a fair and open hearing before a legally

constituted court or other authority, with notice

and the opportunity to present evidence and

argument, representation by counsel, if desired, and

information as to the claims of the opposing party,

with reasonable opportunity to controvert them.”

Ex parte Weeks, 611 So. 2d 259, 261 (Ala. 1992) (emphasis

added). Thus, Ms. Bashinsky’s constitutional and statutory

rights of due process were also violated through a deprivation

of counsel and a lack of opportunity to present evidence and

argument before the probate court. “A judgment is void … if

the court rendering it … acted in a manner inconsistent with

due process.” Insurance Mgmt. & Admin., Inc. v. Palomar Ins.

Corp., 590 So. 2d 209, 212 (Ala. 1991). Accordingly, we



conclude that the probate court’s October 17, 2019, order

appointing a temporary guardian and conservator must be set



You may read the Supreme Court Opinion in its entirety below. 

Click to read

Full Article & Source;

Protected or Prisoners Part 6: Meet John P. McKleroy the man behind the Joann Bashinsky contested conservatorship

By Apryl Marie Fogel

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’re learning together about the dysfunction, potential corruption, and madness involved in Alabama’s conservatorship and guardianship system. One of the missing components in my coverage to date has been addressing a frequent question, “How does this happen to someone?” Today, let’s explore that. 

The story that sparked this series was that of longtime philanthropist and heir to the Golden Flake company, Joann Bashinsky (aka Mrs. B or Mama B). 

In her case, Mrs. B’s forced and contested conservatorship began after firing two longtime employees John P. McKleroy and Patty Townsend, who seemingly “betrayed her.”  The day they were fired, after months of insubordination and actions that went against the express wishes and interest of Mrs. B, the two petitioned the court for an “emergency order.” Today, we’ll look at McKleroy’s role in this.

McKleroy and Towsend filed an emergency order. What did they have to gain? Access and control of tens of millions once they took away Mrs. B’s voice and votes on the boards of her company and foundations. What did they have to lose? Not much or so they would have thought, if not for Mrs. B aggressively fighting their efforts and telling her story publicly. 

What kind of man would do this? Well, the same man who would plead guilty to third-degree domestic violence and harassment, as McKleroy did. The police report detailing his abuse describes his violent assault saying, “while in a domestic altercation,” McKleroy did, “push, choke, and slap the victim.”  

According to a letter from his doctor and the court order, he went on to get a minimum of one year and three months of professional treatment to “address the psychological issues related to his episode of loss of control.” The clinical and forensic psychologist at the time stated that “he probably would not have sought treatment without legal pressure.”

Mrs. B was never made aware of McKleroy’s violent altercation with a member of his immediate family, (we are not identifying out of respect for the victim), the arrest, his need for therapy (including a court-ordered additional six months beyond his plea agreement), or his two years of probation. When I spoke to Mrs. B about this, she was disappointed. I asked her if she felt he should have told her about all of this, and she said, “Absolutely!”

Bashinsky trusted McKleroy so explicitly before this betrayal, that when drawing up an update to her will, he advised her that her late husband, the founder of Golden Flake Sloan Bashinsky, had included him in his final will. He indicated he was a beneficiary, not just the executor. Mrs. B wanted to honor her husband’s wishes. She allowed him to include himself in her will at what he told her was the same amount as in Mr. Bashinsky’s will. What McKleroy wrote in her will, on her behalf, was that “My good friend John McKleroy shall receive,” and it ended up being 2% of her entire estate.

After firing McKleroy and Townsend, Mrs. B told Alabama Today that an examination of her late husband’s records indicated that Mckleroy had not been honest with her about that. No record of those wishes existed. The sad irony is that a significant component of their emergency request was a concern that Mrs. B wouldn’t be able to fulfill the bequests of her will.

McKleroy has made millions during his time with Golden Flake and the Bashinsky’s.

Reading the timeline presented in court documents, the only logical assumption is that McKleroy had been planning this for some time. He also had crafted a strong narrative in defense of his actions. Initial reports by the court-ordered Guardian ad-litem and social worker demonstrated facts contrary to what the filings by McKleroy claim. These include false accusations about Mrs. B’s cognitive abilities and her understanding of her financial investments. The filing falsely claims that Mrs. B needed to be “coached” on her requests to move money out of Level Four financial advisors, but she was able to explain the request and the justification clearly to the two court-ordered neutral parties.

According to his report to the court, Robert Squire Gwin told him just days after the two employees filed their motion, “Mrs. B[ashinsky]voiced her strong opinion that she was ‘totally disappointed and disgusted with John McKleroy and Patty Townsend’ since they both have been long time advisors over many years. She stated that she ‘felt betrayed by these former employees and advisors.'”

The court filing also stated that “Ms. Bashinsky was able to identify relevant dates and events in her life to Gwin and Sellers. Both the court-ordered guardian-ad-litem and social worker submitted statements saying that Mrs. B was lucid, able to talk.  They indicated she was able to describe in detail the transfer of funds that is at the heart of this case. You see, one of the most significant components of their emergency order and one of the reasons they were fired is because the financial advisors at a Level 4 Dallas based company refused to comply with multiple requests by Mrs. B to diversify her account. Orders that the two former employees attest she didn’t understand or ask for herself. 

McKleroy claimed in court that an emergency existed. The state Supreme Court said in their decision dismissing the order for conservatorship that no such emergency was indicated. 

On Friday, July 24, 2020 Mrs. B hosted a board meeting, that included both McKleroy & Townsend as the other two board members, during which she directly addressed the violent criminal charges that McKleroy pled guilty to. She told me after the meeting, “I find it atrocious what Mr. McKleroy did. I feel strongly that he had a duty to disclose his actions to the board at the time it happened. At this point, it doesn’t surprise me that Patty (Townsend) isn’t disturbed by the news, but I don’t feel that this particular member’s actions are a good representation of my family’s boards.

My husband would be deeply ashamed. In light of this new information, I asked that he be removed as a director, but the other board member seems to think that those actions are excusable. In the words of Mr. McKleroy, “it was just a misdemeanor”.

Does Mrs. B need protection? Turns out that maybe so, maybe from the very people trying to steal her rights and silence her voice. After all, McKleroy’s only response to his heinous violent acts towards a loved one, “it was just a misdemeanor.” 

You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

You can find the police report and court records of McKleroy’s here. Full but redacted: Police report and court documents

Editors Note: We were able to confirm that John P. McKleroy was the person involved in the domestic violence case by his home address, victims name, and relationship to him and his law office phone number which were all included but have been redacted out of supporting documents for the privacy of the victim. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( provides research and assistance they can be reached at 1.800.650.6522.

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Protected or Prisoner Part 7: Can the Britney Spears case be the tipping point for change within a system rife with abuse?

By Apryl Marie Fogel 

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, file photo, singer Britney Spears makes an appearance in front of the Park MGM hotel-casino in Las Vegas. Spears wants to be freed from her father. In a recent series of court maneuvers, Spears has sought greater say over her life and affairs, which for years have been under the control of a court conservatorship run mostly by her father, James Spears. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)

Policy changes and pop stars – two topics that aren’t frequently discussed together. With the growing spotlight on Britney Spear’s contested conservatorship, that is changing. Many in our nation are getting a first glimpse at a broken system that has ruined lives, drained bank accounts, and destroyed families across the nation.

Don’t get me wrong; even Britney will tell you: there’s a time and a place for the court to examine all evidence, hear all sides and make well-informed judgments on the appointment of a trusted and qualified conservator to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It’s been said Britney herself has agreed that her own conservatorship was initially needed. But her lawyer is claiming the situation in her case and, all too often in our own communities, the people who the court claims they are trying to protect actually find themselves prisoners. 

With Spears’ birthday this week and recent court arguments coming to light, we can all hope there is a tipping point coming. Not only a time for a change in Britney Spears’ case but also a time for state and federal lawmakers to reexamine and fix the problems that have repeatedly been acknowledged by families, national advocates, the Bar Association, and even the Government Accountability Office(Click to Continue Reading)

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year - 2021


HEARTWARMING Moment - Kids and Seniors Celebrate 103rd Birthday! | Old People's Home For 4 Year Olds


Magic of music: 102-year-old’s memory triggered by piano

The memory of a 102-year-old woman with dementia is triggered by playing a piano every day.

Tap dance showdown between toddler and seasoned pro


"Cranky Old Man"?

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses?  What do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man not very wise,
Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food  and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice...'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ,the long day to fill?

Is that what you're thinking?   Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young boy of Sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide. And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children. My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me ... My wife is now dead.
I look at the future. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age .look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass, A young man still dwells.
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys. I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people, open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer..... see .......... ME!!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

102 Year-Old Woman Beat the 1918 Flu and Now Has Beat COVID --- TWICE!

When she was a baby, she lived through 1918 flu. Throughout her life she survived cancer, internal bleeding and sepsis. In April, she survived coronavirus -- a virus that has taken nearly 1.5 million lives worldwide.

And now, the 102-year-old New York resident just did it again. She survived a second coronavirus diagnosis, according to her daughter, Joanne Merola, who spoke to CNN affiliate WPIX.
"My invincible mother tested negative," Merola said.

Full Article and Source:
She's 102. She lived through the 1918 flu and now she's beat coronavirus — twice

93 Year-Old Woman Gets Diploma 75 Years After She Was Forced to Quit High School

by Laima Stasiulionyte

A 93-year-old senior citizen from Centerville, Virginia named Eileen Delaney was one of many people to not finish high school back in her day. However, this has recently changed. For her 93rd birthday around a week ago, she received a bit of a surprise—a gift in the form of a high school diploma from the school she attended and quit 75 years ago.

So, 93-year-old Eileen Delaney has finally received her high school diploma from Port Richmond High School in Staten Island, New York—the school she had attended 75 years ago and was unfortunately forced to quit so that she could get a full-time job which would help pay the bills.

You see, Eileen’s mother passed away when she was but 12 years old. Her father remarried when she was 14. Making ends meet was hard, so she got a job at the New York Telephone Company—a job she quite enjoyed. And she might not have graduated school back then, but she kept in touch with all of her friends there.

Eileen’s niece got in touch with the principal of Port Richmond High School, the school Eileen attended 75 years ago, as well as the alumni association, which Eileen was a part of throughout the years, and managed to get her a high school diploma from the class of 1945.

Needless to say, Eileen was absolutely surprised—she never would have guessed that she’d get a diploma for her birthday, let alone her 93rd! It has been 75 years since she left school, after all.

Full Article and Source:
93 Y.O. Virginia Woman Gets Diploma 75 Years After She Was Forced To Quit High School

92 Year-Old Woman With Dementia Performs "Moonlight Sonata" on Piano

 92-year-old pianist is wowing her audience. Elaine Lebar suffers from dementia but remembers her love for music.

She recently went viral on TikTok with a performance of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' in 2019.

Full Article and Source:
92-Year-Old Woman With Dementia Performs 'Moonlight Sonata' on Piano

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Walt Disney's Grandson Fighting Courts And Twin For His Inheritance

By Amy Lamare

Bradford Lund is the 50-year-old grandson of Walt Disney. He's been fighting for his $200 million inheritance for 15 years while his twin sister and trustees of the estate have been claiming he has Down syndrome, which would nullify his trust on the grounds of not being mentally capable. Lund has been tested for Down syndrome and he does not have it. Now he's asking the California Commission on Judicial Performance to remove LA County judge David Cowan for an alleged ethics violation during a probate hearing. Bradford claims that Cowan showed bias by siding with "hostile trustees" who are paid $1 million a year to oversee the trust and thus have a vested interest in keeping the trust intact rather than releasing the money that was due to Lund on his 35th birthday.

Last June, Cowan allegedly said in court: "Do I want to give $200 million dollars effectively to someone who may suffer from Down syndrome? The answer is no." Lund's DNA test proved he did not have Down syndrome and he is able to manage his own finances.

Photo by Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Walt Disney died in 1966, four years before Bradford and his twin sister Michelle were born. He left a significant part of his fortune to his daughters Diane and Sharon and their descendants. Bradford and Michelle's mother Sharon died in 1993 after a battle with breast cancer. She left her kids a portion of her estate when they turn 35 with the caveat that three appointed trustees have to find them mentally capable in order for them to receive their trust funds. Sharon's will stipulated that Bradford and Michelle would receive payouts from their trust fund on their 35th, 40th, and 45th birthdays. She appointed the trustees which included her husband Bill, her sister Diane, and a real estate agent who scouted the location for Disney World. The trustees each receive $1 million a year until Bradford and Michelle's payments were made.

When the twins turned 35, the trustees decided Bradford lacked the mental capabilities necessary to receive his payout. Michelle, on the other hand, was awarded her payout, despite allegedly being a drug addict and after a nearly fatal brain aneurysm in 2009 that reportedly affected her mental capabilities. Bradford and Michelle were once close siblings. Now, they've been battling over their $400 million inheritance and haven't spoken in four years. Bradford's side of the argument is that Michelle suffered brain damage from her aneurysm and that the trustees control Michelle like a "robot," yet she gets the payouts from their shared trust fund. Michelle's side includes the trustees, and their argument is that Bradford is mentally incompetent.  The feud started on Labor Day 2009 when Michelle had her near-fatal aneurysm. As she fought for her life, her father tried to move her to Arizona where he lived with his fifth wife and Bradford. The trustees filed suit to stop him and Michelle chose their side when she recovered. Further complicating matters is the fact that the twins' aunt Diane and their half-sisters worry that Bradford was being used by his father and his step-mother Sherry for his money. In a lawsuit filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, Diane and the siblings called him a virtual captive in his home. Bradford has denied this.

Now Bradford is taking issue with how the caveat in his mother's will is being interpreted. He and his attorneys claim the probate system is susceptible to corruption. Basically, the longer the client is considered incapable of managing his or her affairs, the longer the trustees get paid.

Judge Cowan removed himself from the Bradford Lund case. He also is no longer a sitting judge in probate court.

Full Article & Source:
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Now disbarred, former Weld District Court judge’s misconduct described in new court documents

Ryan Kamada disbarred this week by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court

GREELEY, CO – JULY 21:The Weld County Courthouse stands near downtown at the Weld County Centennial Center in Greeley July 21, 2020. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

By Trevor Reid

Ryan Kamada, the former Weld District Court judge who pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal felony charge for obstructing an investigation into a local drug trafficking ring, was disbarred this week by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court.

Documents from the office’s proceedings show Kamada’s misconduct was not limited to his leaking details about the 2019 investigation to a friend who was involved. Kamada was appointed as a Weld County magistrate in May 2015. During that time, he maintained long-running text message chains with his friends, according to court documents.

Ryan Kamada, after taking the bench
in 2015 as a Weld County magistrate.
(Greeley Tribune file photo)
Kamada in late 2016 and early 2017 bought marijuana from a longtime friend, the documents state. The friend referenced in the documents appears to be Geoffrey Chacon, to whom Kamada leaked information about the 2019 investigation. Chacon shared information with others involved in the trafficking, helping investigators trace the source of the leak back to Kamada.

In September 2016, Chacon asked Kamada to look up information about someone. Kamada responded to the man in question “wasn’t convicted of the sex assault but he was on other charges and ended up in (expletive) prison man.” The text went on to say the man in question was having sexual relations with a minor and giving her cocaine. 

“Don’t say anything man,” Kamada wrote.

In December 2016, Kamada referred to a former client by name in a group chat with his friends, saying he did her custody proceedings.

“If that kid lives I’ll be shocked,” he wrote.

In March 2018, Kamada discussed a pending dependency and neglect case in the group chat. A friend asked whether the parent involved had a warrant, and Kamada said he didn’t find one but he hadn’t checked hard, according to court documents.

The next day, that same friend sent a group chat a photo of two children who were reported missing. Kamada went on to talk about details of the family, including that the mother was found overdosed.
“When we get those kids back I’m gonna let that (expletive) have it,” he wrote. “That (expletive) is gonna get forced sobriety. AKA jail.”
Kamada also thrice sent a group of friends photos depicting his desk and case management screen, which showed case numbers, litigants’ names, events and document titles. In November 2018, he repeatedly used profanities in the group text to refer to a lawyer who had a dependency and neglect case before him, a case for which that lawyer apparently wasn’t prepared.

On Jan. 8, 2019, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Kamada to succeed Elizabeth Strobel as Weld District Court judge. That same month, Chacon asked about someone taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Kamada tried looking up the case, but could not find it. He surmised it was a federal case, according to court documents.

Also that month, Kamada presided over a divorce proceeding and sent a photo of the first page of the decree of dissolution to his friends. Kamada said he was “going to grant this today so she is free game tomorrow night,” court documents state.

Kamada also told a friend he had the friend’s brother-in-law in court, including a photo of a party involved in a custody battle. The photo was not the friend’s brother-in-law. Still that same month, Kamada sent the group a photo of a father and a child, saying, “check out the dad in my trial today.”

Finally, court documents noted Kamada’s leak about the 2019 drug trafficking investigation involving Alberto “Beto” Loya. Loya was sentenced in June to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, a Class 1 drug felony, and conspiracy to money launder, a Class 4 felony. He originally faced 21 charges but made a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Kamada resigned from the district court judge position a day before Greeley police announced Loya’s indictment and the arrest of some of his associates. A few days later, he formed Kamada Law, LLC, in Windsor. He took a job the following month with Burnham Law. In March, according to Kamada’s LinkedIn profile, he left Burnham Law for Kamada Law.

Kamada signed an agreement consenting to disbarment and accepting the facts laid out in the court documents. The agreement requires that he pay $224 to the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Offices for costs incurred in the case.

Kamada is free on bond until his sentencing 2 p.m. Dec. 4. Court records indicate he likely faces 12-18 months of imprisonment and no fines. He faces at least one year of supervised release and no more than three years.
Full Article & Source: