Saturday, March 5, 2022

Nonna Dora’s Pasta Bar, From the Family Behind I Trulli, Opens for Dinner

Credit...Tess Mayer for The New York Times

By Florence Fabricant 

Addolorata Marzovilla, known as Dora, has been cooking for about 70 years, the last 32 of them alongside her son Nicola at his New York restaurants, notably the recently closed I Trulli. Now, at 85, she has her own restaurant, a showcase for her excellent handmade pastas, which opened in February. During the pandemic, she remained at home, making pasta. “I like making pasta” Ms. Marzovilla said, adding that she also liked being around people. This allows her to do both. Her son made it clear that this was her project, not his, though he is an adviser. The restaurant, serving only dinner for now, is small, with a dozen counter seats, a few high-top tables and an open kitchen at the small bar. Ms. Marzovilla’s menu, with a strong nod to her native Puglia, cuts no corners, offering a lengthy list of appetizers that includes panzerotti and Sunday meatballs. The pastas, just shy of 20 choices, include cavatelli with broccoli rabe and almonds; tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffles; orecchiette in rabbit ragĂș; three kinds of lasagna; maccheroncini grano arso (burnt wheat) with duck; and mezzelune stuffed with shrimp and mushrooms. A few family-style main courses, including roasted rabbit, rack of wild boar and Tuscan steak, can be ordered in advance. There’s a full bar and a small selection of products like olive oil for sale; all the food is available to-go.

606 Second Avenue (33rd Street),

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Immigration attorney suspended again for unauthorized practice of law

An Indianapolis attorney already on probation following a suspension will have to serve the remaining balance of her suspended time after she was found to have practiced law while under a reciprocal suspension order.

Patricia Rios was disciplined in April 2021 for representing clients in an immigration matter after being fired for noncommunication. The Indiana Supreme Court suspended her for 90 days, with 30 days served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of a probation period of at least 545 days.

In January, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a motion to revoke Rios’ probation, asserting she had committed the unauthorized practice of law, in violation of Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 5.5(a), by filing four appearances with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. At the time, she was under an order of reciprocal suspension imposed by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Rios filed a verified supplemental response maintaining she signed three of the appearances before she became aware of the reciprocal suspension order. But she admitted she signed the fourth appearance and had all four appearances mailed after she learned of the order.

The Supreme Court issued an order Feb. 24 granting the commission’s motion in In the Matter of: Patricia L. Rios, 20S-DI-312.

Beginning April 7, Rios will be suspended from practicing law for 60 days without automatic reinstatement. Also, she is barred from undertaking any new legal matters from now until the time her suspension begins, and she is required to fulfill all the duties of a suspended attorney under Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26).

At the end of the 60-day period, Rios may petition for reinstatement if she has paid the costs of the proceeding, fulfilled the duties of a suspended attorney and satisfied the requirements for reinstatement of Admission and Discipline Rule 23(18).

All justices concurred.

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California judges could order help for homeless Californians under Newsom’s new plan

A resident of a homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles sits on the street in January.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Hannah Wiley

As California cities struggle to address a homelessness and mental health crisis on their streets, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Thursday unveiled a proposal to push more people with severe psychiatric disorders and addiction issues into court-ordered care that includes medication and housing.

The proposal, which Newsom is calling the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Court, is the state’s latest effort to address one of California’s greatest struggles, and a recognition that something more robust is needed to solve the problem. Newsom allocated $12 billion for homelessness in the state budget last year and proposed an additional $2 billion in his January financial blueprint.

But implementing a court-ordered response to mental illness and substance abuse disorders would accelerate the state’s multipronged strategy to help thousands of people get much-needed services, while acknowledging that the current system is not working as it should.

“Rather than reforming in the margins a system that is foundationally and fundamentally broken, we are taking a new approach,” Newsom said during a Thursday news conference. “We are offering a new strategy and new partnerships. But we are offering it in a way that we haven’t in the past, and that’s with resources.”

Newsom said the new initiative would come with “unprecedented investments” that could total in the “billions and billions of dollars” over several years to set up the infrastructure and establish the workforce needed to accomplish the plan. He said CARE Court aims to address the urgency and magnitude of the homelessness crisis, and contains accountability provisions to ensure people follow the program.

“This is about accountability, but it is about compassion, and it’s about recognizing the human condition,” he said.

Sarah Dusseault, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness in Los Angeles County, welcomed the announcement. Dusseault has worked in local government for years on solutions to homelessness, inspired by her experience advocating on behalf of her brother and navigating a system that has made it difficult for him to receive care for his schizophrenia.

“I’m incredibly excited about increased access to care,” Dusseault said. “People get lost in the current system and we have to create accountability measures so that people don’t get lost.”

All of California’s 58 counties would have to participate in the program through their civil courts, and local governments could face sanctions if they don’t comply with its requirements. A person would not have to experience homelessness to participate in CARE Court, and families, clinicians, counties, behavioral health providers and first responders could all ask judges to implement a plan. To determine if someone qualifies for a CARE plan, a judge would have to order a clinical assessment.

Participants could include those who were just arrested and released, or are exiting a short-term involuntary hospital hold. A plan could be ordered to last for 12 months, with the possibility of a 12-month extension. If unsuccessful, a participant could instead be hospitalized or ordered into a conservatorship. Criminal cases that were paused while participants entered CARE Court could then resume if the plan didn’t work.

Conservatorships, which are usually reserved for those with serious mental illnesses, hand legal decision-making power to someone else. The practice is highly controversial, and some critics argue that it unfairly strips people of their rights, while proponents claim it is often the best option for those experiencing crisis. The Newsom administration said CARE Court instead would emphasize “individualized interventions” through a “client-centered approach,” and participants would have access to a public defender and a care team throughout the process.

On a Thursday call with reporters, administration officials said the new program aims to save lives and prevent incarceration and homelessness among the state’s most vulnerable residents through a modernized approach that doesn’t default to conservatorship.

“CARE Court is really not a replacement for conservatorship,” said Jason Elliott, Newsom’s top advisor on housing, adding that it is a “new tool.”

Thursday’s announcement deviates from what Newsom suggested during his January budget proposal when he hinted at “leaning into conservatorships” this year, though he offered few details at the time on what that could include. 

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, said the plan would help alleviate “one of the most heartbreaking, heart-wrenching and yet curable challenges that we face in our communities and on our streets.”

“For a community, a population of individuals who lives in the shadows, lives often without voice, today is about lifting them up and prioritizing their needs,” Ghaly said.

Jessica Cruz, executive director of the California chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the proposal is something for which families have advocated for years.

“This is an opportunity for families who have been in so much pain and suffering for so many years, this gives us at least an opportunity to get the treatment our loved ones need,” Cruz said. “This is an opportunity to save lives and heal families.”

Cruz also said that the CARE Court framework not only presents an alternative to conservatorship, but would also give new hope to those who haven’t had success with prior treatment.

“It’s a different road for people, a different door that people can really open that has never been unlocked before,” Cruz said.

Ghaly said the new program will focus on clinical services for people experiencing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, along with treatment plans for substance abuse disorders. Another important element of the plan is providing housing services, Ghaly said.

In response to the announcement, however, the California State Assn. of Counties in a statement raised concerns with the proposal, including that it contains sanctions.

“Building off of past collaborative successes between the state, counties and cities is important. Counties are all in to do our part to solve homelessness and rebuild behavioral health infrastructure. Sanctions are not the way to do it,” Graham Knaus, the association’s executive director, said in the statement.

The association also warned that behavioral health infrastructure has suffered from decades of insufficient funding. Though CARE Court would help a “narrow population,” the association wrote, more housing and systemic change is needed, which means the program “will have limited success.”

Though the plan so far is just a policy framework, the administration said it is working with the Legislature on a bill that would codify the proposal. Newsom also said CARE Court could be included in the budget, which would be the fastest way to implement it. The deadline to pass legislation is Aug. 31, but the Legislature approves the budget each year in June.

Elliott said it is imperative that lawmakers work quickly to pass legislation so the plan can become law.

“We don’t have any time to waste here,” Elliott said.

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Friday, March 4, 2022

Editorial: Lawmakers add new protections to guardianships

By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board

The years-long overhaul of guardianships in New Mexico most recently has focused on rules related to emergency appointments of temporary guardians, a key source of weakness in the system of protecting vulnerable adults.

Recent high-profile cases have exposed how easily a person’s liberties can be stripped away — and how difficult it can be for that person to reclaim some say in how their lives are arranged following an emergency intervention.

In two cases profiled by the Journal, temporary guardians were appointed for retirees in Las Cruces without the knowledge of their families. In each case, it took several years and thousands of dollars in legal fees for the women’s sons to convince the judges in the cases to remove the corporate guardians and permit the sons to serve as guardians.

Lawmakers and the judiciary have been reforming New Mexico’s adult guardianship system since 2018, after the Journal began an ongoing investigation. Critics complained the system was ripe for corruption given the power granted to court-appointed guardians and conservators. Some families of incapacitated adults contended they were barred or restricted by guardians from visiting their loved ones.

With federal criminal fraud indictments of principals of two major guardianship firms fueling the debate, lawmakers and the judiciary adopted numerous reforms aimed at transparency, accountability, family involvement and oversight. But temporary guardianships had not been tackled.

Changes for the better

To date a temporary guardian can be appointed by a judge without the alleged incapacitated person or their family being notified; they can be forced out of their homes, their bank accounts transferred and their property liquidated. And all this can occur before they ever appear before the judge, who would eventually evaluate the evidence and decide if, in fact, they needed a guardian.

Now, the Legislature has unanimously approved a bill requiring judges who approve a temporary guardianship to hold a hearing within 10 days to listen to the evidence. Currently, state law requires hearings to be held “as soon as possible.” But sometimes months elapse before a hearing, during which temporary guardians have had wide latitude to make life-altering changes on a protected person’s behalf.

The measure still needs the approval of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, but she paved the way for the law’s creation by adding its proposal to the list of bills to be considered during the recent short session. The governor (a lawyer who is also a caregiver for her mother) is sure to appreciate the protections afforded by tightening up of the emergency process.

Temporary guardians would be barred from liquidating the protected person’s property or moving them out of their residences without express approval from the judge. There is no such prohibition in current law.

And families, even a friend or neighbor, would have standing to appear at the 10-day hearing and ask the judge to modify or dissolve the temporary guardianship.

One of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, told the Journal the bill is important because it “requires for the first time that temporary guardians and conservators account for the decisions they make and the actions they take.” A report must be filed with the judge in the case within 15 days of an appointment.

Temporary guardianships are meant to be a rare exception to the usual process of appointing a permanent guardian. Supreme Court Justice Shannon Bacon told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee there should be about eight temporary guardianships filed annually in the state. Instead there are more than 800.

The bill’s endorsement by the state AARP chapter and N.M. Guardianship Association is well earned. It increases oversight over the temporary guardian, establishes a firm timeline, requires a clear determination of a need for a guardian early and provides more opportunities for an allegedly incapacitated person to rebut allegations.

It will be tougher for the process to be abused once the governor signs this bill into law.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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Attorney Suspended for Damaging Reputation of Opposing Lawyer, Legal Community

By Dan Trevas

The Supreme Court of Ohio today suspended a Cuyahoga County lawyer for asking a judge to refer an opposing attorney for mental health screening to pressure that attorney into dismissing a contentious case.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court suspended Douglas Whipple of University Heights for one year, with six months stayed. The Court found Whipple violated ethical rules by making threats of filing criminal charges or professional misconduct charges for the sole purpose of gaining an advantage in a civil matter.

In 2019, Whipple filed a motion requesting that the trial judge refer attorney Roger Synenberg to the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP). Whipple stated in court that he would drop the request if Synenberg and the other opposing attorneys agreed to dismiss a prolonged estate-planning case.

In a per curiam opinion, the Court stated that Whipple damaged not only Synenberg’s reputation with the allegations of mental health issues, but also the reputation of the legal profession by “reinforcing one of the worst stereotypes of attorneys – that they will abuse the legal process to gain an unfair advantage for their clients.”

Estate Dispute Leads to Prolonged Court Case
Glenn Seeley was a retired attorney and friend of Whipple’s. In 2010, Seeley granted his wife, Kristina, power of attorney to manage his finances and health care. He also designated his wife as a co-trustee of a trust in his name. By early 2015, Glenn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and moved into a facility for those suffering from dementia.

In February 2016, Glenn signed a second durable power of attorney, giving his son, Gregory, and his grandson, Matthew, (both attorneys), power to manage his finances. Whipple also alleged that Glenn amended his trust to make Gregory the co-trustee of his trust, replacing Kristina.

In November 2016, Kristina, who is Gregory’s stepmother, hired Whipple to challenge the validity of the documents signed early in the year. In January 2017, Whipple filed a lawsuit on behalf of Glenn and Kristina Seeley against Gregory and another attorney. Synenberg and two other attorneys were hired to represent Gregory and the other lawyer.

After nearly two years of contentious litigation, the parties agreed to a settlement in December 2018. The next month, the trial court determined the settlement was reasonable and directed the parties to complete their remaining obligations, including submitting a filing to the court to formally dismiss the case.

Settlement Dispute Prompts Controversial Request from Judge
About two months after agreeing to the settlement, Synenberg questioned whether Kristina was mentally competent to sign the settlement agreement. Whipple asserted she was. The trial court attempted to have the parties confirm the settlement and set a hearing for a Monday morning in June 2019.

Late on the Friday before the hearing, Whipple filed a motion requesting that the judge refer Synenberg to OLAP. In this motion, Whipple alleged Synenberg’s “performance as a lawyer was impaired by a mental or emotional condition or some other condition.” He maintained Synenberg was making unfounded attacks on Kristina’s mental capacity and needlessly delaying the case’s dismissal.

In his motion, Whipple referred to an unrelated high-profile case involving Synenberg. Based on media reports of the unrelated case, Whipple accused Synenberg of retaliating against a witness who testified against one of Synenberg’s clients. Retaliating against a witness is a third-degree felony. Whipple also made other claims against Synenberg, including that he made misrepresentations to the court and defamed Whipple’s paralegal, who is also Whipple’s wife.

At the Monday hearing, Synenberg and his colleagues objected to the motion, claiming it was frivolous. Whipple told the trial judge that he expected Synenberg and the other attorneys to sign the agreement to dismiss the case. If not, he wanted to proceed with the motion to have Synenberg referred to OLAP.

The trial judge did not act on the motion, and later raised the issue of whether Whipple’s request violated the professional conduct rule that prohibits threatening to charge an opposing attorney with a crime or professional misconduct solely to gain an advantage in a civil matter.

The Seeley case was dismissed, but based on the motion, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association filed a complaint against Whipple with the Board of Professional Conduct.

Board Found Rule Violations
The trial judge in the Seeley matter testified at Whipple’s disciplinary hearing. The judge told a three-member panel that Whipple was expressing his anger with the court for the delays and his frustration with Synenberg. The judge indicated the motion, which is a public record, was intended to pressure Synenberg and the other attorneys to end the questioning of Kristina’s competency and settle the case.

Whipple maintained he did not commit any ethical violations and was expressing a true concern for Synenberg’s mental health. The board disagreed and recommended the Supreme Court suspend Whipple for one year, with six months stayed.

Whipple objected to the board recommendation, suggesting his conduct at most warranted a public reprimand. The objection triggered oral arguments before the Court.

Supreme Court Examined Allegations
The opinion stated the Court’s independent review of the record provides overwhelming evidence that the sole purpose of Whipple’s motion was to force Synenberg to stop questioning Kristina’s capacity and agree to dismiss the case. The Court noted Whipple’s own actions at the hearing refute his claims that he had sincere concern for the opposing attorney. Whipple only agreed to withdraw the motion if Synenberg agreed to settle.

The Court noted that by implying Synenberg was committing the crime of witness retaliation, Whipple was also alleging that Synenberg engaged in professional misconduct. The claims violate the rule of alleging a crime or professional misconduct to gain a legal advantage, the Court concluded.

Whipple also said that his comments did not harm Synenberg’s reputation, and that Synenberg had downplayed the significance of Whipple’s accusations. The opinion stated an attorney’s “most valuable asset is his or her professional reputation for competence, honesty, and integrity.”

The Court stated that Whipple went far beyond citing the publicized unrelated case regarding potential witness retaliation by claiming Synenberg’s actions “were adversely affected by some unidentified condition.” Those allegations in a public filing caused some harm to Synenberg’s reputation, the opinion stated.

“In addition to the harm Whipple’s allegations inflected on Synenberg’s reputation, his conduct also caused immeasurable harm to the public perception of the legal profession. On these facts, Whipple’s conduct warrants a sanction greater than the public reprimand that he seeks,” the Court concluded.

The six-month stay of Whipple’s one-year suspension is conditioned on not committing further misconduct. He was also ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

2021-0229. Cleveland Metro Bar Assn. v. Whipple, Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-510.

Video camera icon View oral argument video of this case.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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Workers accused of running ‘fighting ring’ at NC assisted living facility face prison

By Cassandre Coyer

Two women accused of running a fight club at an assisted living residence in North Carolina are headed to prison. Marilyn Latish McKey, 35, and Taneshia Deshawn Jordan, 28, both from Winston-Salem were convicted of inciting elderly residents to fight each other at Danby House in 2019. One of the fights included two residents with dementia that was recorded on video, McClatchy News previously reported.
According to court documents obtained by McClatchy, Jordan and McKey incited a resident to assault and strike another resident with a disability by “putting her hand around her throat, pushing and wrestling with her.” 
Documents show McKey also assaulted and struck the resident by pushing her into her room.

 McKey pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on an individual with a disability and Jordan pleaded guilty to one count of assault on an individual with a disability, Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court’s told McClatchy. 
On Feb. 28, McKey was given a suspended sentence of 45 days in prison, with 12 months of supervised probation, the court said. Jordan was given a suspended sentence of 30 days in prison, with 12 months of unsupervised probation. 
Both women were ordered to stay away from Danby House and must not contact any of the residents. They will also have to complete 50 hours of community service, the court said. 
According to a 2019 report from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, employees encouraged residents to fight each other while they recorded and shared videos on social media. 
One of the fights recorded led to “one resident being strangled with her face turning red,” the report says.
The report says staff members can be heard on video saying, “Punch her in the face.” They were heard talking, laughing and commenting as two residents were fighting. 
Another staff member was heard asking, “Are you recording?” “You gonna send it to send me?” 
The employees let the fight happen because one of the residents “always caused problems,” according to the report. 
Danby House was temporarily banned from admitting new residents in 2019 because of “numerous patient-care deficiencies,” The Winston-Salem Journal reported. The news outlet said employees were not trained properly and often failed to give residents medications prescribed by a doctor.
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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Family law advocates raise privacy concerns over guardianship database bill

by Brian Burgess

An obscure bill moving quickly through the Florida legislature has family law experts concerned over the establishment of what they say is a far-reaching database and a sweeping expansion of data collection on some of the state’s most vulnerable individuals. The two bills, Senate Bill 1710 and its companion in the House, HB 1349, would require Florida clerks of court to collect and store guardianship information and build a new database to house the data.

The searchable database would be maintained by the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC), which is controlled and operated by the Florida Clerks of Court and exists to manage county clerk budgets and court efficiency measurements. But critics say the corporation could possibly also make money from the data.

This bill could be called Data Over Dignity. It’s a vast government overreach — Big Brother in the underwear drawer of some of the most vulnerable people in our state with no public purpose for that much information,” said elder law attorney Twyla Sketchley. “Even if a person’s name isn’t revealed, their geography, their stories, their intimate details will become public, and people will connect the dots.”

Supporters of the bill say the privacy concerns are unfounded because robust security measures are already in place and the courts have been working with the information for a long time.

“The database’s design came from a recommendation from the guardianship task force,” said J.D. Peacock, Clerk of Courts for Okaloosa County, and the chairman of CCOC. “The biggest priority that came out of that task force was a database to help us better understand the scope of the number of guardians out there and the cases they are working on.”

But Sketchley said the bill as written gives about 50,000 people access to the data, most of those within the court system. The bill includes the phrase “at a minimum,” which provides no limit on the information available, opening the door to even wider distribution of a person’s most sensitive personal and financial information. Within such a large universe, the risk is great that there will be some that will do inappropriate or even illegal things with that information that can endanger the health, welfare, and safety of a ward or their financial security.

Addressing the security concerns, however, Peacock says the system would be designed with data protection in mind.

“There are already standards in place regarding access to that information, Peacock said. “There’s no additional data points that aren’t already protected by confidentiality rules.”

The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys also think the legislation goes too far. They posted this statement on their website:

“While we recognize the importance of collecting aggregate guardianship data, these bills provide too much personal information, which could be exploited. Only information that has a public purpose should be collected, and private information must be protected to ensure the interests of incapacitated and disabled adults.”

The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill on Monday, and if passed there, would move to the Rules Committee. The House version of the bill has already cleared Appropriations and is now under consideration by the Health & Human Services Committee.

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Alleged Walmart walkouts lead to new ethics charge against 'distracted' judge

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A West Virginia judge is facing a new ethics charge alleging that he failed to pay for scanned items at a Walmart, delaying a disciplinary trial stemming from his response to a police officer who pulled him over for holding a cellphone.

The judge is Judge C. Carter Williams of Moorefield in Hardy County, West Virginia.

The West Virginia MetroNews and the West Virginia Record have stories on the allegations by the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission.

Judge C. Carter Williams in Hardy
County, West Virginia. Photo from
the West Virginia Judicial System.
According to the initial ethics complaint, filed Oct. 25, Williams complained about the Moorefield, West Virginia, officer who pulled him over to a police lieutenant, the police chief, the retired police chief and the mayor.

During his interaction with the officer, he spoke in an “angry tone” and argued about the basis for the traffic stop, the ethics complaint said. Body cam video is here.

The officer had pulled Williams over in July 2021. Williams was quick to identify himself as a judge and told the officer that he was holding his cellphone because he just found it in his car after losing it. The phone was not on, he said.

The officer didn’t issue a ticket for the cellphone violation based on the direction of the police lieutenant Williams had called. A check indicated that Williams was also driving on an expired license.

The officer was African American. When complaining about the officer to supervisors, Williams referred to him as “your boy” and “one of your boys,” the ethics complaint said.

When the mayor promised to look at the body cam recording, Williams “hung his head and for the first time disclosed that he had been an ‘a- -hole’ during the stop,” the ethics complaint said.

The police chief later ticketed Williams for improper use of a cellphone and driving on an expired license. Williams pleaded no contest to the expired license charge, and the cellphone charge was dropped.

The new ethics charge, filed Feb. 14, said Williams scanned about 10 items at a Walmart self-checkout in August 2021 and then left without paying. He later paid for the items when contacted and said the failure to pay was a mistake. He did not report the incident to the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission.

It wasn’t the first incident, the ethics complaint said. Williams had also failed to pay for self-scanned items valued at $300 at a Walmart in July 2020. Walmart determined that incident was accidental.

The Walmart loss prevention officer said Williams appeared “distracted” during both incidents, which happened after he would “get to talking to somebody and not pay” for his items before walking out.

It’s unclear whether there was a third Walmart walkout. The complaint noted an August 2019 text exchange with the Walmart loss prevention officer in which Williams thanked her for “letting me know about my payment issue.” He said he “had absolutely no idea I did that,” and he added, “It’s called, having too much clutter in one’s brain!!”

Williams had maintained that the first walkout happened in 2019, rather than 2020, for a total of two incidents.

Williams declined to comment when the ABA Journal contacted his office.

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Foxboro caretaker admits to bilking elderly Attleboro woman out of nearly $70,000 to pay for cosmetic surgeries

By David Linton

The James Sullivan Courthouse in Attleboro

ATTLEBORO — A former caretaker for an elderly Attleboro woman admitted Monday to bilking her out of nearly $70,000 to pay personal expenses including breast enhancement and liposuction surgeries.

Yvonne Kilgore, 40, of 7 West Belcher Road, Foxboro, was sentenced to two years’ probation in Attleboro District Court, where a judge called her actions “a special kind of vampirism.”

Hired to care for the 73-year-old widow in October 2019, Kilgore had access to the victim’s personal information and credit cards and went on a spending spree over the next year, according to a police report.

She used the credit cards to pay over $23,000 for a full-body makeover, including breast augmentation, liposuction and tattoo removal.

She also spent over $48,000 on the victim’s credit cards to pay for dinners at expensive restaurants, jewelry, cellphones, her cellphone and cable bills, Keith Sweat concert tickets and groceries, according to a police report.

The married nursing assistant was terminated from her $1,000-a-week job around October 2020 when the victim’s family uncovered the suspicious spending.

Kilgore, who has no prior criminal record, was not experiencing any financial difficulties or having any other issues, a prosecutor told the court.

The former Boston resident was hired by the victim, who suffers from a neurological disability similar to Parkinson’s disease, to help her and take care of her finances.

The victim, who lives in an assisted care facility in Attleboro, trusted the defendant, according to the report.

Kilgore admitted to two felony counts of credit card fraud of more than $1,200 and two misdemeanor counts of identity fraud.

The felony counts were continued without a finding for two years with probation and she was found guilty of the two misdemeanor counts.

If Kilgore completes her probation, the felonies will be dismissed but the guilty findings on the misdemeanor will stay on her record.

Lawyers for both sides initially recommended the case be continued without a finding for all four counts, but Judge Steven Thomas insisted on a guilty finding for the misdemeanors after hearing the facts of the case.

“This is very egregious. Taking care of someone is an honor and a privilege,” Thomas told Kilgore.

Noting that the defendant did not commit the fraud because she needed money and was using it for body modification surgeries, Thomas said, “It’s a special kind of vampirism.”

A guilty finding on the misdemeanor counts instead of continuing the case without a finding “was more palatable for the court,” Thomas said.

“Having this just dangling in the wind is giving me indigestion,” he said.

While on probation, Kilgore, who has not worked since she was charged in the case, is prohibited from working with the elderly or people with disabilities.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Scott, chief of the district attorney’s financial crimes unit, said the victim and her family did not want the case to go to trial and supported the plea bargain.

When she was questioned by police, Kilgore admitted to her actions and was now taking responsibility by admitting to the crimes in court, according to the prosecutor.

Kilgore has no financial ability to pay restitution except for the $1,500 cash bail her husband posted to get her out of jail, Scott said.

The credit card companies are holding the victim responsible for the charges Kilgore racked up but Scott said that may change once they are informed of the defendant’s change of plea.

Kilgore may also be held responsible if a civil lawsuit is filed against her, according to the prosecutor.

Her lawyer, Gregory DiPaolo of Fall River, said his client has been unable to work since she was charged and now needs surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome.

Thomas warned the defendant that if she violates her probation, the court could change the disposition of the case, find her also guilty of the felonies and send her to jail.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Hollywood Hiding Horrifying Elder Abuse Epidemic! Barbara Walters, Katherine Jackson, Stan Lee & others could be in danger.

Hollywood is hiding a horrifying epidemic of elder abuse with frail and dying TV and movie stars trapped in living nightmares of torture and terror, can reveal after an explosive special investigation. Experts insist money and power are behind the abuse — with charges of extreme mistreatment, neglect and brazen theft leveled against the caretakers entrusted to nurture the stars in their fading final days. By Radar Online –  FIRST-In the latest shocker, J.C. Lee, daughter of Marvel mastermind Stan Lee, 95, was granted an elderly abuse restraining order against her famous father’s former manager and caretaker, Keya Morgan, on July 6. J.C., 68, charges Morgan kept her from contacting Lee while controlling the comic kingpin’s $50 million fortune. But the Spider-Man creator insisted he was not the victim of abuse, and that any claims of it are “slander.” He defended his manager, calling him “my friend Keya Morgan,” which totally confused his family and fans! But the restraining order stays and Morgan is out — for now.

Schenectady judge disciplined for having secretary do her personal work

Family Court Judge Jill S. Polk admonished by Commission on Judicial Conduct, an organization she once worked for

by Robert Gavin

Judge Jill Polk
ALBANY – A state judiciary watchdog panel on Wednesday disciplined a Family Court judge in Schenectady County who used her secretary to plan her daughter’s bat mitzvah celebration – a violation of rules that prohibit judges from using court resources for their own benefit.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct imposed the punishment of admonishment on Judge Jill S. Polk, who began a 10-year term in January 2015. It is the most lenient of the commission’s options to discipline judges; more serious options include censure and removal from the bench.

Polk – a former attorney for the commission based in Albany from 2008 to 2014 – had the secretary, close friend Chara Ritter, do other tasks as well, such as researching options for Polk for vacation rentals, vehicle service, a locksmith and the cost of a landscaper, the commission said. It noted the judge did not in any way coerce the work.

And the commission found that between 2015 and 2017, Polk allowed her daughter to be unsupervised in the courthouse, where the child regularly spoke to court officers as they worked a magnetometer at a security checkpoint. The girl, 12 and then 13 at the time, would innocently ask the officers about items being scanned. Still, the commission noted it was a distraction that impeded the officers' work, which included possible confiscation of weapons and dealing with disputes between nearby Family Court litigants. 

Polk, who has served as an acting state Supreme Court justice since 2017, was first accused of the misconduct in September 2019. Represented by attorney Stephen Coffey, the judge disputed allegations of wrongdoing. The commission appointed attorney Michael Hutter, an Albany Law School professor once nominated for the Court of Appeals, to preside over a four-day hearing via video where the judge testified on her own behalf.

In June 2021, Hutter determined Polk violated rules governing judicial conduct. The commission’s administrator, Robert Tembeckjian, recommended that Polk be removed from the bench. Coffey asked for Hutter's determination to be disaffirmed or, in the alternative, a punishment of admonishment be imposed. 

"To impose a severe sanction on a hardworking judge who accepted a little help from a close friend where no one, including the state, was negatively affected as a result, would be ludicrous and unwarranted," Coffey stated in a brief to the commission last August. 

Polk apologized for her actions when given a chance to speak in October, following Hutter's ruling.

"I should have done it differently," Polk told the commission. She said she initially rejected Ritter's offer to plan the bat mitzvah, but later agreed to it if Ritter did the work off-hours, which did not happen. "It has, you know, it got away from me," she said. "But it wasn't done with any kind of intent to violate any rule. It was done in a compassionate way. It was done in a humanity way and I'm sorry that I didn't recognize it at that time and stop it." 

The investigation noted that Polk worked for the commission when it scrutinized two judges for using staff for personal purposes. 

The commission went for the lighter sanction. Its determination noted that Polk had no prior disciplinary history and was a relatively new judge at the time of the wrongdoing.

“Although the commission and I disagreed on the appropriate sanction in this case, the commission made clear that it was wrong for Judge Polk to have her court-paid secretary perform extensive acts of personal assistance, using court resources, on court time,” Tembeckjian said in a statement. 

“It was also wrong for Judge Polk to allow a security issue to fester, despite specific notice from a ranking officer that her young child’s regular, unsupervised presence at courthouse magnetometers was problematic," Tembeckjian said.  "Judge Polk knew better, having been an attorney at the Commission when two other judges were publicly disciplined for similar misconduct.”

In November 2014, Polk, a Niskayuna Democrat and an attorney since 1988, won a three-candidate race over Deanna Siegel and Ursula Hall to win the judgeship. 

In its determination, the commission noted that when Polk worked as a commission attorney, it rendered two decisions on judges who used court staff for personal purposes. 

Ritter started working as the judge's confidential secretary in January 2015 after interviewing with Polk and Polk's court attorney, Nancy Stroud. Ritter, a former receptionist, taught Stroud's nieces in Hebrew school, the commission's determination said.

According to the determination, the judge, Stroud and Ritter would have lunch daily. The judge planned to have a bat mitzvah for her daughter in the spring of 2016, but did not have a planner,  Polk planned to hire a party planner until Ritter offered to do it. Ritter used her court system email to send emails out to vendors. At the end of the email, Ritter was identified as "Secretary to Honorable Jill S. Polk." The address Schenectady County Family Court was included. 

"These emails from Ms. Ritter's '' email address lent the prestige of judicial office for (Polk's) personal benefit and gave at least the appearance that court resources were being used for (Polk's) personal purposes," the determination said.  "All judges must be mindful that court resources are to be used for court purposes and that any appearance that they are not undermines public confidence in the judiciary." 

When asked if there were limitations on the work Ritter did for her, Polk responded: "We're friends and we're family and so that's our relationship. And so we have a relationship that is outside of our professional relationship."

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Unprecedented Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Create a Breeding Ground for Elder Abuse

 by Sokolove Law Team

Nursing homes in the United States have been devastated once again by COVID-19 during the omicron wave of the virus. Positive tests for the coronavirus among staff and residents recently reached record highs after increasing tenfold since November, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2022 so far, deaths at nursing homes have been climbing too, though not as quickly as before coronavirus vaccines became available — a time when those who live and work in long-term care facilities accounted for 40% of the country’s COVID deaths.

On top of this, long-term care providers face a serious, pressing concern: a shrinking supply of care staff. The pandemic has only inflamed a long-standing shortage of nursing home workers that had already reached crisis levels.

With more Americans turning 65 every day, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease among them, and declining interest among students in nursing education, demand for certified nursing assistants is far outpacing supply.

The Nursing Home Workforce Is Quitting Droves

The already diminished workforce continues to dwindle as overworked staff quit in droves. This is compounded by the slow uptake of vaccines among the staff who are left behind. According to the CDC, nearly 84% of nursing staff are now fully vaccinated, compared to 87% of residents. But only 30% of staff have received boosters.

Consider this exposure of patients to COVID-19 with the shortage of care, and the situation looks dire. One ombudsman told NPR that they have seen a significant increase in complaints from facilities where there is only one certified nurse aide for as many as 50 residents.

“We are certainly seeing a huge increase in the number of calls from residents who are saying that they are not being changed, they’re not receiving their meals on time,” said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman in New Jersey.

“So clearly, people are not going to be getting the care they need under those types of conditions where you have double-digit numbers of residents per certified nursing assistant,” Brewer continued. “That’s just an impossible job for that nurse aide.”

Sadly, the consequences for nursing home residents could be fatal. (Click to continue reading)

Full Article & Source:

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Judge in high-profile guardianship case criticizes son, media

By Colleen Heild

During a sometimes contentious hearing last week in Dorris Hamilton’s high-profile guardianship case, the 93-year-old former educator and civil rights pioneer had a few words for the judge.

Her voice crackled a bit over the phone line during the telephonic court proceeding. But her intent was clear.

She asked that a Las Cruces attorney responsible for helping put her into legal guardianship in 2019 be removed from the case.

“I do not want CaraLyn Banks in my business anymore because I found it to be unfair,” Hamilton told Chief District Judge Manuel Arrieta of Las Cruces. “Please listen to me.”

Dorris Hamilton
Last summer, after agreeing to replace a corporate guardian with Hamilton’s only son, Arrieta told the parties he would review Banks’ continued representation in six months.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge opted to keep Banks on the case a while longer despite Hamilton’s plea and the fact that attorneys from the nonprofit Disability Rights New Mexico organization have stepped in to represent her.

“The court is overseeing the best interests of Mrs. Hamilton,” Arrieta told the parties.

The judge took the opportunity to criticize Hamilton’s son and news media coverage of the case. He also questioned legal fees billed to Hamilton’s mother’s estate by an attorney who helped Rio Hamilton win his legal battle to become her guardian. He is now authorized to make medical and personal decisions for his mother and chose a new conservator to manage his mother’s finances.

The case, which is among 5,760 active adult guardianship and conservator cases in New Mexico, has made national news as calls for reform and more accountability in guardianship systems have echoed around the country.

Advocates, including those in New Mexico, have sought more family involvement and to give a greater voice to so-called protected people deemed mentally incapacitated and in need of someone to make decisions for them.

A Journal reporter was permitted to listen to the unusual 70-minute hearing on Tuesday under a reform state lawmakers enacted in 2018 to make the traditionally secret process used to appoint guardians and conservators more transparent.

Such guardianship hearings are now open to the public, but most records in the case are still sealed. Attorneys, other advisers and the judges involved usually do not speak publicly about such cases outside the courtroom.

Just weeks ago, the state Legislature unanimously passed its latest reform measure to place tighter controls on the use of emergency temporary guardianships – the process that led Hamilton being removed from her home and placed into an assisted living facility after Banks filed a petition in 2019 alleging an emergency existed.

Banks contended in the petition that Hamilton, then 91, was in danger of “irreparable harm” to her physical and mental health and financial interest.

At the time, Hamilton was living alone in her Las Cruces home in the community where the current mayor of the city, Ken Miyagishima, had been one of her students. She went to aerobics, still drove a car and counted at least one top state lawmaker as her personal friend. Her only son, Rio Hamilton, had a career in New York City in the interior design field but would come to visit.

Guardianship battle

During one of those visits in the summer of 2019 – and realizing the condition of his mother’s home of 50 years – Rio Hamilton took his mother to Banks to draw up a power of attorney document. That authority would have allowed him to temporarily move her to a hotel and hire a crew to clean out her home, he has told the Journal.

But instead, days later Banks filed a petition contending Rio Hamilton wanted his mother placed into a corporate guardianship with a company Banks recommended. Banks alleged in the petition that Dorris Hamilton had memory loss, vascular dementia, was hoarding and was at risk for financial exploitation.

Rio Hamilton said he never sanctioned the legal action – deemed a last resort because of its restrictions on a person’s liberties. He said he learned about the guardianship petition several weeks after it was filed in his name.

Soon after Arrieta approved the corporate guardian appointment, Dorris Hamilton couldn’t access her bank accounts, which had been closed and the money been transferred out by the guardian company that was also appointed temporary conservator. Las Cruces police helped the guardian agency move her to the memory care facility, which she didn’t like.

Within months, Banks’s role changed from the petitioner’s attorney to a lawyer appointed by the judge to represent Mrs. Hamilton.

Rio Hamilton moved back to Las Cruces in the fall of 2019 and began his near two-year legal fight to become his mother’s guardian. In January he received court approval to move his mother into an assisted living facility she preferred.

The next step was to ensure Banks was no longer involved in the case, Rio Hamilton told the Journal last fall.

Banks, in a Journal interview last year, declined to comment other than to say she was looking out for the interests of her client, Mrs. Hamilton. She didn’t return a Journal phone call after the hearing last week.

A son’s case

At Tuesday’s hearing, Arrieta said he was concerned that Rio Hamilton’s attorney, Josh Dwyer of Las Cruces, had billed Dorris Hamilton’s estate for more than $54,000 in legal work prior to his client becoming her guardian.

Under state law, many costs attributed to a guardianship action, including fees for attorneys and the corporate guardian, are paid from the protected person’s assets. It’s unclear how much money Mrs. Hamilton’s estate has paid out to date.

Dwyer told the judge on Tuesday he believed billing the estate was proper and reasonable because “Mr. Hamilton’s pursuit in this entire case was for the benefit of his mother, his interest and his mother’s interest.”

And he said the case could have been resolved much earlier. “If not for Ms. Banks’ involvement,” he added, “this probably did not need to be a two-year ordeal for her only son to be appointed as guardian for his mother.”

Dwyer said he believed the bills submitted by Banks for her legal fees in the case were “certainly in the same category” as his bills.

To that, Arrieta responded, “the difference is there is a specific order out there that I entered early on that Mr. Rio Hamilton did not qualify, was not prepared to, and was not able to act as a guardian for his mother. There were some questions of neglect, so on and so forth.” He didn’t elaborate.

Dwyer responded that his client was clearly as qualified as the appointed Las Cruces corporate guardian firm, which at the time had no nationally certified guardians as required by 2019 reforms to state law.

Banks didn’t respond to Dwyer’s assertions during the hearing. Dwyer declined to comment after the hearing.

The judge asked Banks to draw up an order and write a brief on the attorney fees issue. The other lawyers in the case are also expected to weigh in.

Arrieta said “it was my intention today to relieve Ms. Banks from any further proceedings, however this issue of attorney fees has arisen.” After that issue is resolved, he said during the hearing, he would allow her to withdraw.

Press coverage

Since 2019, Rio Hamilton has been vocal in expressing his criticism of Banks and the guardianship system in New Mexico. His mother’s case has been the subject of news reports in the Albuquerque Journal and Searchlight New Mexico.

Last fall, the Washington Post wrote about the case after Rio Hamilton appeared at a #FreeBritney rally in Los Angeles, as singer Spears sought to end her 13-year legal guardianship, called a conservatorship in California.

On Tuesday, Arrieta took issue with the press coverage of the case, specifically mentioning comments attributed to Rio Hamilton in a Feb. 2 Searchlight article.

Rio Hamilton criticized the current state’s emergency guardianship law, which allows judges to appoint guardians first and then hold a hearing weeks or months later to ascertain the truth of the allegations of mental incapacity

“So why not make sure that this person is actually incapacitated before you take them out of their home?” he was quoted as saying.

If the latest reform bill is signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan, a hearing would have to be held within 10 days of a temporary guardian being appointed. And temporary guardians would be barred from removing an alleged incapacitated person from their homes without approval from a judge.

Manuel Arrieta
Arrieta on Tuesday did not address Rio Hamilton’s questioning of the system, but focused on whether there was any doubt his mother was incapacitated.

Dwyer said he was not challenging the judge’s prior rulings that Mrs. Hamilton lacked the capacity to make certain decisions on her own.

“But I also understand the explicit policy of the guardianship statutes is to foster independence and autonomy,” Dwyer said.

Arrieta acknowledged Rio Hamilton has a First Amendment right to speak to the press.

“My concern is the integrity of the court is being impugned by some of these articles,” the judge said, “and things are not being correctly reported.”

Any of the “parties” in the guardianship case, if contacted, could direct the news media to the transcript of a October 2019 public hearing, Arrieta said.

That was the first hearing in the case and delved into the allegations about Mrs. Hamilton’s home.

Arrieta said he wanted to “caution” Rio Hamilton about the “possibility” the transcript of the 2019 hearing could be released.

Rio Hamilton told the judge on Tuesday that he hasn’t sought out media attention but has responded to reporters’ questions.

“Everything I’ve stated is true. Some of the words may have been misconstrued. … But my intent is not to demean the court system but simply to let other people know this can easily happen to them, and there’s no denying that.”

During his phone conversation with Mrs. Hamilton on Tuesday the judge asked her: “Can you tell me who I am?”

“Judge Arrrieta,” she responded without hesitation.

“Okay,” the judge replied. “Are you sitting next to your son?

“I’m in the same room with him,” she said.

She complained about a lack of communication with Banks, and said her son “is perfectly capable of helping me.”

“Alright,” Arrieta asked her, “do you remember that when you first came to my court there was a report of hoarding and unlivable conditions in your house?”

“That was a long time ago, several years ago,” she said. “It was different then than it is now, he has shown me that he can help me and does help me.”

“Tell me,” Arrieta asked, “where was your son when this hoarding took place and you were living in unlivable conditions in your house.”

“He was around,” she responded.

As for Banks, Mrs. Hamilton told the judge, “I can’t tell you anything that she has done for me.”

‘She’s an inspiration’

Before the hearing ended, Rio Hamilton’s attorney praised Mrs. Hamilton.

“I feel like she’s an inspiration, and the reason so many people care about this case is because of who she was and how she’s lived her life for 93 years,” Dwyer said. “She’s an important lady in our community and through this case, changes have been made at the legislative level. This lady has improved our community.”

Dorris Hamilton overcame extreme poverty growing up in Arkansas, becoming the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Arkansas and receiving a master’s degree at age 23. She secured a place in New Mexico history as the state’s first Black school principal. She championed civil rights with the NAACP in New Mexico.

Arrieta said he agreed she is an “icon in this community,” and added “the court is acting in her best interest to make sure everything is done properly.”

Banks told the parties she believed “media attention is a difficult one to address.”

“Mrs. Hamilton has the right to privacy and I fear that has been violated in this case,” she said. “That’s always been my biggest concern … what people are going to remember her for is this proceeding and not her good work.”

Full Article & Source:  

Lies don’t always mean disbarment, Maryland high court says

Court of Appeals relaxes Vanderlinde standard

By: Steve Lash

“We have on multiple occasions imposed a sanction less than disbarment in cases involving intentional dishonest misconduct where there was no theft or misappropriation of funds by the attorney, the attorney had not benefited from the misconduct, and no client had been harmed,” wrote Court of Appeals Judge Shirley Watts. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

An attorney’s intentional dishonesty to a court, client or bar counsel – long regarded as a sure ticket to disbarment in Maryland – no longer results necessarily in the loss of a law license, the state’s top court ruled Friday in indefinitely suspending a lawyer caught in lies.

But disbarment remains appropriate in the absence of extenuating circumstances when the dishonesty involves theft, fraud, harm to a client or third party, or the intentional misappropriation of funds, the Court of Appeals said in its 7-0 ruling.

The high court said its newly announced standard is in recognition of several recent cases in which it has suspended rather than disbarred attorneys when no client was harmed and no money was improperly taken due to the lawyers’ intentional dishonesty.

These recent cases have diluted the court’s 2001 decision in Attorney Grievance Commission v. Vanderlinde that an attorney’s intentional dishonesty warranted disbarment in the absence of mitigating circumstances directly related to the lie, Judge Shirley M. Watts wrote for the high court.

“We have on multiple occasions imposed a sanction less than disbarment in cases involving intentional dishonest misconduct where there was no theft or misappropriation of funds by the attorney, the attorney had not benefited from the misconduct, and no client had been harmed,” Watts wrote.

“Going forward, it is clear that cases involving dishonesty and knowingly made false statements will be assessed on an individual basis to determine whether the misconduct at issue gives rise to deployment of the standard set forth in Vanderlinde, namely, whether compelling extenuating circumstances that are the ‘root cause’ of the misconduct are required to warrant a sanction less than disbarment,” Watts added.

Attorney Alvin I. Frederick, who represents lawyers in disciplinary proceedings, said Monday that he is not surprised by the high court’s relaxation of its Vanderlinde decision, which essentially called for automatic disbarment.

“They’re looking carefully at the facts and circumstances of each case,” said Frederick, who was not involved in the case the court decided Friday. “The rules (of professional conduct) are rules of reason. There are no automatics.”

Frederick is with Eccleston and Wolf in Hanover.

Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless, the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission’s chief administrative prosecutor, declined to comment on the high court’s ruling.

The Court of Appeals rendered its decision in ordering the indefinite suspension of Baltimore attorney Natalie Thryphenia Collins who, while under an unrelated 60-day suspension in 2020, had lied on her petition to the high court for reinstatement.

Specifically, Collins lied when she stated in the petition that she had not received any other disciplinary complaint from an opposing party – despite a record of bar counsel having notified her of just such a complaint, the Court of Appeals said in handing down the second-most severe professional sanction.

Collins also lied in stating she had complied with bar counsel’s requirement that she provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all her clients within 15 days of the start of her 60-day suspension, the high court added in citing the findings of Baltimore City Circuit Judge Julie R. Rubin.

The Court of Appeals had assigned Rubin, now a U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore, to make findings in a complaint for disciplinary action that bar counsel had filed against Collins related to the petition.

Collins’s intentional dishonesty could have resulted in disbarment under the prior Vanderlinde standard, which generally had no tolerance for lies by attorneys.

“Considering the nature and circumstances of the false statements, as well as recent case law in which we have not consistently imposed the sanction of disbarment for misconduct involving intentional dishonesty, and that we now expressly recognize that the Vanderlinde standard is not implicated in all instances of intentional dishonesty, Collins’s misconduct does not warrant disbarment,” Watts wrote.

“Collins’s misconduct did not involve circumstances for which we have generally applied the Vanderlinde standard, for instance, theft, fraud, intentional misappropriation, or harm to a client,” Watts added. “Indeed, Collins’s misconduct has resulted in harm only to herself.”

Collins did not immediately respond to a telephone message Monday seeking comment on the high court’s ruling.

The Court of Appeals rendered its decision in Attorney Grievance Commission v. Natalie Thryphenia Collins, Misc. Docket AG 6, September Term 2021.

Full Article & Source:

Monday, February 28, 2022

North Carolina: Rethinking Guardianship - Carol Kelly

Carol Kelly shares the story of her mother, Mary Jane Mann, who was the victim of an inappropriate, predatory guardianship (conservatorship) in California. Features scenes from "A Hijacked Life," courtesy of KOVR CBS13 Sacramento.

Rethinking Guardianship's mission is to promote less restrictive alternatives to guardianship and effect long-term changes in North Carolina's guardianship system. To learn more, visit:

Rethinking Guardianship: Carol Kelly

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Guardianship Abuse Victim's Condition Deteriorates Following Court's Ruling

 Within hours of the court’s decision, Karilyn’s eldest daughter relocated her to a facility with limited physical therapy resulting in Karilyn's rapid decline.

To know that someone can become so hopeless due to their belief that the legal system has completely failed them is disheartening.”
— J. Ronald Denman - Attorney for Christine Montanti

NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, February 11, 2022 / -- After Broward County’s 17th District Court denied guardianship abuse victim Karlyn Montanti’s right to be heard at the Suggestion of Capacity hearing January 14th, 2022, her condition has severely worsened and deteriorated. The court denied Karilyn due process at the hearing: it rejected her request to appear in court and for a continuance due to her hospitalization after undergoing emergency hip surgery. The judge proceeded with the capacity hearing in Karilyn’s absence in a courtroom closed to the public and refused to allow questions of the court- appointed doctor. In addition, the court refused to hear from any witnesses, including other psychiatrists and doctors who were prepared to testify to her capacity. 

Within hours of the court’s finding of incapacity, Karilyn’s eldest daughter relocated her to a nursing home over an hour away from her residence and family members who live nearby. Following emergency hip surgery, Karilyn underwent a regimen of intensive physical therapy at JFK North Hospital 7 days a week, several times a day which is needed for someone with this type of injury. Since her eldest daughter selected a nursing home that only offers limited occupational and physical therapy in Lauderhill, instead of an intensive rehabilitation facility, Karilyn’s condition has rapidly declined.

Ms. Montanti ‘s younger daughter has been advised by several medical professionals at Karilyn’s present nursing home that this facility is inadequate to address her needs; she requires a facility that offers more intensive and frequent therapy. In addition, Karilyn’s daughter was also advised by Karilyn's treating doctor that with proper therapy, she should have been out of the rehab facility within two weeks.

Due to the lack of necessary physical therapy, Ms. Montanti’s condition has taken a turn for the worse. She is not receiving the level of rehabilitation she needs and is limited to therapy once a day a couple of days a week; this is far less than what is needed for any patient coming off major hip surgery. Because she is in tremendous pain and not mobile from the lack of required therapy, she has gotten severely depressed, tired and has lost her will to live.  She has requested a transfer to the hospital, but her requests are being ignored. Several appeals have already been filed by Chrisitine Montanti’s attorney J. Ronald Denman seeking a reversal of the judge’s prior order in this matter, but Ms. Montanti's family feels that Karilyn may be running out of time.

Full Press Release:
Guardianship Abuse Victim’s Condition Deteriorates Following Court’s Ruling