Saturday, March 12, 2022

Justice Department Finds that Colorado Violates the Americans with Disabilities Act

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 3, 2022
 

Justice Department Finds that Colorado Violates the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Justice Department concluded today that Colorado unnecessarily segregates people with physical disabilities in nursing facilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. The department’s findings, detailed in a letter to Colorado Governor Jared Polis, follow a thorough and multi-year investigation into the state’s system of care for people with physical disabilities.

The ADA and the Olmstead ruling require state and local governments to make services available to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, regardless of age or type of disability. However, many Coloradans with physical disabilities are denied a meaningful choice to receive the services they need in their own homes and communities. Community-based services that can help people live at home successfully include help bathing, dressing, managing medications and preparing meals.

“People with disabilities have too often been unlawfully segregated in institutions like nursing facilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the rights of people with physical disabilities, including older adults, to access the community-based services they need to age in place and thrive at home.”

“Older Coloradans and Coloradans with physical disabilities increasingly expect to remain at home as their support needs increase,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado. “I’m hopeful this situation can be remedied so that individuals with physical disabilities are no longer isolated.” 

The department’s investigation found that a significant number of Colorado’s Medicaid-funded nursing facility residents are interested in transitioning to community-based settings and could successfully do so with appropriate supports. However, few Coloradans with physical disabilities who want to move out of their nursing facilities are able to do so. The investigation found that most residents are unaware of the services available to help them move and live successfully in the community. 

The right to receive needed services in the community instead of an institution has become particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports show that a significant number of all deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are linked to nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities. Enabling people to move out of nursing facilities and into the community can reduce that risk and satisfy the ADA by avoiding unnecessary institutionalization.

This investigation was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Colorado. The full findings letter can be found at www.ada.gov. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead enforcement is available on its website at https://www.ada.gov/olmstead/.

Source:

Colorado violates Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Justice Department finds

by Tatiana Flowers

Nancy Bach, 63, and her niece Elizabeth, 36, on Monday, July 19, 2021, in Northglenn. Nancy struggles to fill Elizabeth’s pill boxes because her hands tremble, and aids have mistakenly caused Elizabeth to overdose by providing inaccurate amounts. Elizabeth, who has a developmental disability along with bipolar disorder, has lived with her aunt for five years and gone through four different home aid agencies. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and a major Supreme Court ruling by “unnecessarily” segregating people with physical disabilities in nursing facilities, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday. 

The findings, detailed in a letter to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, come after a three-year investigation into the state’s system of care for people with disabilities, a news release from the Justice Department said.

The investigation found that a “significant number” of residents at Colorado’s Medicaid-funded nursing facilities are interested in transitioning to community-based settings, and could do so successfully with appropriate support. However, few Coloradans with physical disabilities who want to move out of their nursing facilities are able to do so because most are unaware of services that could help them make the transition, according to the Justice Department.

The DOJ did not share details about the number or location of nursing facilities under investigation with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which oversees the Medicaid division, because the complaints are confidential, said Marc Williams, a spokesman for the state department.

The DOJ investigation began in November 2018. Williams said the state department received the findings Thursday. The department will compare its home- and community-based services accomplishments to the DOJ’s findings to help identify ways to address any more gaps.

The ADA and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling require state and local governments to make services available to people with disabilities in “the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs,” regardless of their age or disability. However, many Coloradans with disabilities don’t receive the services they need in their own homes and communities, such as help with bathing, dressing, medications and preparing meals, according to the investigation, which was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights section with help from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado.

“People with disabilities have too often been unlawfully segregated in institutions like nursing facilities,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a news release. “The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the rights of people with physical disabilities, including older adults, to access the community-based services they need to age in place and thrive at home.”

The Health Care Policy and Financing department is committed to creating a system that ensures people with disabilities always have the option to receive their care in the community, Williams said. 

Over the past decade, the department has worked to strengthen and enhance the home and community-based services available to people with disabilities, he said. About 81% of people with Medicaid are receiving Colorado’s long-term services and support in their own homes, he said, up from about 76% six years ago.

“We have accomplished this through a number of initiatives,” he said. For example, Colorado was the first state to implement a program that supports people with disabilities by helping them transition back into the community from institutional settings. Since its inception in 2019, the program has helped 687 people transition back to their homes and ensured that they continue to receive service there, he said.

After Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March and offered states federal funding to strengthen community-based services for people with disabilities, Colorado was the first state to receive almost $530 million to improve its system. The 65 projects included in that plan are working to ensure that people can receive care in their communities, Williams said.

Older adults and people with physical disabilities in Colorado increasingly expect to remain in their homes as their needs increase, said Cole Finegan, the U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado. 

That desire has become more acute during the pandemic, as reports confirm that a significant number of all COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Enabling people to move out of these facilities and into the community can reduce that risk and comply with the ADA, according to leaders of the investigation.

Finegan said he hopes the situation can be remediated so that people with physical disabilities are no longer isolated.

Williams said the health care department is committed to working with the DOJ to address the issues identified in the investigation. “The department’s commitment to ensuring that people receive care in their homes has and will continue to drive all of the work we do.”


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. on March 5, 2021, to correct the percentage of disabled Coloradans on Medicaid receiving in-home long-term care services and to clarify that the U.S. Department of Justice did not provide details to the state agency that oversees Medicaid about which nursing homes were under investigation.

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Hesperia caretaker arrested after stealing from her 97-year-old client, a WWII Veteran

By Victor Valley News Group

Jessica Steiner, a 38-year-old resident of Hesperia

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. (VVNG.com) — A 38-year-old caretaker from Hesperia was arrested after allegedly stealing from her client, a 97-year-old World War II Veteran, officials said.

On Thursday, March 3, 2022, at approximately 12:29 p.m., Sheriff’s Service Specialist Reynolds with the Apple Valley Police Department responded to a theft report at a residence in the 11000 block of Oak Street, in the town of Apple Valley. 

Upon arrival, the reporting party told Reynolds her husband’s Rolex watch and over $200 in US currency were stolen. The Rolex was last seen on the victim’s wrist on March 2, 2022, officials said.

Reynolds conducted a thorough investigation and identified the suspect as Jessica Steiner, the caregiver to the victim. 

On March 3, 2022, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Deputy Rollins contacted Steiner at her residence. The Rolex watch was recovered and returned to the victim, but Steiner had already spent the money.

Steiner was arrested and booked into the High Desert Detention Center on suspicion of felony theft of an elder by a caretaker. She was cited and released on March 4, 2022.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Sheriff’s Service Specialist Reynolds or Deputy Rollins at the Apple Valley Police Department at (760) 240-7400 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at (760) 956-5001. 

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Friday, March 11, 2022

Woman accused of preying on 84-year-old widower to steal his home, police say

by Andrea Torres

Officers arrested Maribel Torres on Tuesday in Miami-Dade County. (MDCR)

MIAMI
– Prosecutors released information on Wednesday about the evidence detectives found after suspecting a 56-year-old woman took advantage of an 84-year-old widower for years in Miami-Dade County.

Detectives accused Maribel Torres of preying on her victim while making funeral arrangements after his wife died in 2019. To gain his trust, the Maspons Funeral Home employee pretended she and her son were relatives from Cuba, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Detectives and prosecutors accused Torres of manipulating the widower — who has Alzheimer’s disease and advanced dementia — into giving her access to his legal and financial matters and transferring ownership of his mortgage-free home of 40 years.

“Utilizing a wife’s death and an obvious impairment as tools to steal an elderly man’s home would seem to be a new low in alleged criminal conduct,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Torres and her son were living in the victim’s home when a nephew who lived in Palm Beach County showed up to visit and became suspicious enough to report them to authorities, according to police. Investigators reported the suspicious transactions were in 2020 and 2021.

“Situations like this expose the ugly face of elderly exploitation which targets the frailest members of our community,” Fernandez Rundle said.

State and county records show Torres registered 5811 SW 25 St LLC as a Florida corporation on Nov. 3, 2020, and transferred the ownership of the home at 5811 SW 25 St., in Miami-Dade’s Coral Way Heights neighborhood on Nov. 10, 2020.

There was a balloon mortgage on the victim’s property for $100,000 and a business loan for $360,000 —utilizing the home as collateral, according to prosecutors with the elderly exploitation task force.

The investigation included a bank account with Torres and her son as the only authorized signers. In 2021, from March 23 to April 8, there were $118,000 in cash withdrawals and $104,627 in deposits in that account, police said.

“Our community will not stand for crimes in which our elderly are exploited,” MDPD Interim director, George A. Perez, said in a statement.

Officers arrested Torres on Tuesday. She is facing charges of first-degree felony exploitation of the elderly or disabled over $100,000, first-degree felony grand theft over $100,000, and third-degree felony organized scheme to defraud. She was released on a $25,000 bond on Wednesday.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Wilson Louis contributed to this report.

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Nurse practitioner who treated the late actress Stevie Ryan stripped of California licenses

Actress Stevie Ryan, seen in 2012, starred in the VH1 sketch comedy show “Stevie TV,” which aired for two seasons.
(Tiffany Rose / WireImage)

By Daniel Miller

The nurse practitioner who treated actress Stevie Ryan — and engaged in a sexual relationship with her months before she killed herself in 2017 — has been stripped of his California licenses, the state’s Board of Registered Nursing said last week.

The move, effective Feb. 28, came after the nurse, Gerald “Jay” Baltz, lost an administrative law proceeding that focused on his treatment of Ryan, known for her pioneering YouTube videos and her VH1 sketch comedy show “Stevie TV.” The case had been initiated by the head of the nursing board, an agency within the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Baltz is challenging the decision in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The formal accusation, brought against Baltz in 2020, sought the suspension or revocation of his nursing licenses for alleged misconduct subject to discipline under the California Business and Professions Code. The legal filing accused him of gross negligence, incompetence, unprofessional conduct and sexual misconduct.

A Times investigation, published in April 2021, detailed Ryan’s rise in Hollywood, her entanglement with Baltz, and her death at 33. Told of the nursing board’s decision, Steve Ryan, the late actress’ father, said, “I guess that’s good news.” 

“It’s hard to feel good about something that is that life altering for both parties,” he said.

In the accusation, Baltz was alleged to have engaged in an inappropriate, boundary-crossing relationship with Ryan while she was his patient, and then a sexual relationship with her while she was receiving treatment at the facility where he worked. It also said that Baltz allegedly issued Ryan prescriptions for about 10 drugs used to treat a variety of conditions — including depression and bipolar disorder — without providing “clear rationale for prescribed medications.” He also allegedly failed to seek supervision for her when she was suicidal, the accusation said.

Following a hearing last fall, a judge from the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings issued a proposed decision in November that ordered Baltz’s four state nursing licenses be revoked. The judge wrote that there was cause to discipline Baltz for unprofessional conduct and gross negligence, but not for incompetence or sexual misconduct, in part because Ryan was no longer his patient at the time their relationship became intimate. The Business and Professions Code says that “any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations” with a client is grounds for discipline, but does not note this applies for former clients.  

Ryan asked out Baltz during an April 5, 2017, visit, the proposed decision said. That day, Baltz terminated his nurse-patient relationship with Ryan and transferred her care to another mental health provider at Insight Choices, the facility where he worked, the filing said. Baltz and Ryan dated briefly: They ended things in late April via a text message chat, during which Baltz said he hoped she would “never say anything” about their romantic relationship, according to the decision.

Three months later, Ryan took her own life.

Baltz’s “breach of professional boundaries with a former patient with known mental health infirmities evinces a serious lapse in judgment,” the judge wrote in the proposed decision.

At the hearing, Baltz explained that he felt “terrible” over his romantic relationship with Ryan, and blamed engaging in it on his alcohol abuse, according to the decision. (He said he has been sober since May 2017.) Baltz defended the rationale of his prescribing activity but also acknowledged that he had lied to a nursing board investigator during a 2019 interview in which he was asked about his relationship with Ryan, saying that he did so because he “felt guilty and afraid,” it said.

The nursing board adopted the decision in January, but Baltz filed a petition for reconsideration Feb. 14. It argued, in part, that revoking Baltz’s licenses was “improper and punitive” due to, among other factors, the judge having erroneously interpreted the law in finding that Baltz had committed unprofessional conduct by having a sexual relationship with Ryan after he stopped treating her. The petition was denied by the board Feb. 24.

Baltz, who left Insight Choices a month after Ryan’s death and has more recently practiced at MelrosePsych in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, will be eligible to seek the reinstatement of his licenses in three years, according to the nursing board.

Via his attorneys, Baltz declined multiple interview requests. In an interview with The Times, one of his lawyers, Michael Khouri, said that “for many years, Gerald Baltz has been a highly regarded nurse practitioner with a large patient following who all say nothing but wonderful things about the man.”

Khouri downplayed some of the allegations Baltz faced, including those that pertained to the intake note he wrote when he began providing care to Ryan in 2015. The note allegedly “provided scant information” and “failed to document” elements of Ryan’s health history, the accusation said. “If every doctor in California was disciplined because their notes weren’t complete, there would be no doctors,” Khouri said.

Baltz is a nurse practitioner — a registered nurse with additional education, allowing him to prescribe medicine and offer diagnoses, among other activities. With such responsibilities, nurse practitioners, whose work in California requires physician oversight, have a unique role in the healthcare system, a fact highlighted at Baltz’s hearing in October before the administrative law judge.

Stevie Ryan, seen in 2008, took her own life in 2017 at the age of 33.
(Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

A major area of disagreement at the hearing centered on Baltz’s actions when Ryan felt suicidal. California law obligates nurses who observe “abnormal characteristics” in patients to initiate “appropriate reporting, or referral” to others in the medical field.

The judge’s decision quoted Baltz’s notes from his sessions with Ryan, including one from their final visit that said “she feels suicidal.” A nurse practitioner who served as an expert witness for the head of the nursing board said that Baltz failed to refer Ryan to a higher level of care. Baltz opted to refer Ryan to his supervising physician for a specialized course of treatment, a move the witness described as substandard.

Baltz testified that Ryan “was not at inherent risk for suicide because she endorsed a passive death wish for multiple years,” the decision said. He also said he believed he had referred the issue “to an appropriate level of higher care” with his supervising physician. The judge noted, however, that there was no “indication that [Baltz] ever performed any suicide risk assessment” for Ryan, even after her complaint of feeling suicidal at their last session. Therefore, the judge wrote, it was “questionable” how Baltz had concluded that treatment with the physician was appropriate instead of “a referral to a psychiatric hospital or emergency care.”

The judge noted that Baltz had submitted positive character reference letters and completed an educational training program on professional boundaries. The decision also explained that a clinical counselor who served as an expert witness for Baltz conducted a “sex offender risk assessment” of the nurse and found that he “is not at risk for re-offending sexually.” Nonetheless, the judge wrote that Baltz had shown “little evidence of rehabilitation,” saying that he had provided no “concrete plans to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar incident.” 

Baltz “was grossly negligent in failing to provide care or to exercise ordinary precaution in [Ryan’s] case, which he knew, or should have known, could have jeopardized that patient’s health or life,” the judge said.

Khouri, Baltz’s attorney, said that “society is worse off having his license revoked.”

“Is he remorseful for what happened? Of course he is,” Khouri said. “Do we respect the board’s power to render judgments on professional rules violations? Of course we do. But we disagree with the penalty.”

To that end, Baltz is continuing to pursue the matter: On Feb. 16, he filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate in L.A. County Superior Court. The filing asked the court to vacate the decision to revoke Baltz’s licenses, arguing that the nursing board misinterpreted and misapplied relevant statutes in its disciplining of him, among other contentions.

The nursing board declined to comment on Baltz’s court filing, a spokesman said, explaining that it doesn’t discuss active litigation. The parties will meet May 26 to set a trial date.

Baltz is not practicing in California as he awaits the outcome of his court challenge: Telephone calls to MelrosePsych
this week were met by an automated message that said another provider is “covering for Dr. Baltz in the interim.” He also has nursing licenses in Colorado and Washington, but their status is now in flux.

According to an August filing with Colorado’s Board of Nursing, Baltz voluntarily agreed to a “non-disciplinary interim cessation of practice agreement” while it investigated claims surrounding his conduct in California. Baltz denied he violated the Nurse Practice Act, the legal document said.

In Washington, Baltz faces the revocation, restriction or suspension of his license after being accused of unprofessional conduct by the state’s Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, which, in a December statement of charges, cited allegations he faced here.

Friends of Ryan including Yuni Kim said that they were thankful for the nursing board’s decision to revoke Baltz’s California licenses. He had continued to work during the board’s years-long scrutiny of his actions.

“I feel relief — I also feel like I want to cry, because it should have never come to this,” said Kim, who began sobbing. “The relief is mired with grief. She was my best friend.”

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The Special Bond of Older Dogs and Older Owners

By Jen Reeder

When Barbara Castleman and her husband visited an animal shelter in Albuquerque, N.M., several years ago, they were surprised to find a purebred toy Australian shepherd available for adoption. While it would have cost them thousands of dollars to purchase such a dog from a breeder, 10-year-old Stella's pet adoption fee was only $40 because she was a "senior" — and Castleman received an additional $10 discount because she herself was over 50.

Pet Adoption
Credit: Adobe Stock

"Best of all, before taking her home, the shelter vet asked if they could give her a free dental exam, saving us hundreds of dollars. Imagine, for what we'd spend on lunch out, we've gotten years of unconditional love and companionship," Castleman said.

Stories like these are popping up around the country as shelters and rescue organizations implement so-called "Seniors for Seniors" programs. The idea is simple: discount or waive adoption fees for older adults who want to adopt pets aged 7 and up. Some organizations even cover medical bills for vaccinations, surgeries and dental care prior to adoption. In addition to the financial incentives, senior dogs can make ideal companions because they are typically housetrained and need less exercise than puppies.

Supporting Senior Pet Adoptions

Lisa Lunghofer, executive director of The Grey Muzzle Organization, a nonprofit that awards grants to rescue groups to support senior pet adoptions, said that in a survey of grant recipients, two-thirds of respondents noted that older adults are the most open to adopting senior dogs.

"Seniors for Seniors programs are such an exciting trend because they are making a life-changing, and often a life-saving, difference for both older dogs and older people," she said.

Ashley Zeh, associate director of communications for Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester in Fairport, N.Y., said that although November is the ASPCA's Adopt a Senior Pet Month, her organization has offered a Seniors for Seniors program year-round for a long time. The open-admission shelter, whose staff cares for over 10,000 animals each year, waives the adoption fees for pets aged 6 and older for people aged 60 and older who are adopting them. The dogs and cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, de-wormed, microchipped and given dental care.

"Senior [pets] have so much to offer, but they have hard competition with those cute little kitties and puppies. So we just provide a little extra incentive," said Zeh.

Because those personalities have already developed, potential adopters can know what to expect from each animal and find an ideal fit for their home.

"If they want to snuggle up on the couch or if they want to go on a six-mile walk, they're not going to change their minds anytime soon," Zeh said. "It's really looking at the individual animal and your lifestyle and making the right choice for both of you."

Benefits of an Older Dog

Cheryl Rakich, founder and president of Almost Home Dog Rescue of Ohio, said her nonprofit rescues collies, shelties and mixes from high-kill shelters in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Through the nonprofit's Senior to Senior Foster Homes program, people aged 55 and up can become "permanent fosters" for dogs aged 7 and up. To remove financial barriers, the organization covers all costs associated with the care of the dogs, including food, treats, monthly heartworm and flea medication, three trips to a professional groomer each year and veterinary expenses.

While some potential adopters worry it would be "too sad" to adopt an older dog, Rakich suggests looking at the bigger picture.

"Step outside of your comfort zone and just look into the eyes of this dog and realize that you are going to benefit deeply by giving this a chance," she said.

Laura T. Coffey, author of the bestselling book "My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts," agrees. During research, she interviewed over 100 people from across the country about adopting senior dogs and didn't meet a single person who regretted their decision.

"They all said they would do it again," Coffey said. "People get hooked on it. It's such a meaningful thing to do, because you know you're making such a difference in the life of an animal who otherwise may have run out of options."

Some rescue organizations focus not only on senior pet adoptions, but on retention programs to help older owners keep their pets in their homes.

The Bonds of Companionship

Laura Oliver, president and medical director of Lionel's Legacy Senior Dog Rescue in San Diego, said her nonprofit's "Keeping Pets Home" program helps older people with financial difficulties by covering veterinary costs for their pets. (A complementary program, "Always Home," pledges to take in pets who ultimately outlive their owners.)

"There are situations that require a little more effort and work on our end, but to be able to give them that companionship is just incredible," Oliver said. "It's like a gift back to us."

Tomzie Greer said she started paying for her dog Starlett's medication instead of her own before reaching out to Lionel's Legacy. She was overjoyed when the organization paid for her "baby's" heart surgery. Starlett has since passed away, and Greer is determined to adopt a senior dog when she can.

"With puppies, you have to be on your toes," she said. "The older ones are more seasoned, like I am."

Ultimately, Seniors for Seniors programs celebrate the special bond between people and pets.

Mellinda Phillips said she and her husband adopted Abby, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever, through the Seniors for Seniors program at La Plata County Humane Society in Durango, Colo. and Abby proceeded to join them on road trips and "help" with upkeep on their farm.

"Abby felt like family immediately. It was as though we have had her since she was a pup," Phillips said. "We are so happy we found such a wonderful companion."

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Dr. Oz accuses sister of stealing millions, forging dad’s will

By Priscilla DeGregory  

Dr. Oz needs to call in Dr. Phil.

Health guru Mehmet Oz is in the midst of a family feud with his sister, who he claims has swiped millions of dollars from their late father’s estate, according to a new court papers.

The host of “The Dr. Oz Show” host — which ended last month — says Turkish prosecutors have tracked down some of the cash in bank accounts in three other countries, including the Cayman Islands, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court filing from Friday.

The television personality-turned-aspiring politician detailed his family’s legal dispute in an affidavit asking a judge to pause sister Nazlim Oz’s suit accusing him of wrongfully withholding rent payments from a pair of Upper East Side apartments owned by their dad, Mustafa, who died in 2019, the court papers say.

Dr. Oz needs to call in Dr. Phil.

Health guru Mehmet Oz is in the midst of a family feud with his sister, who he claims has swiped millions of dollars from their late father’s estate, according to a new court papers.

The host of “The Dr. Oz Show” host — which ended last month — says Turkish prosecutors have tracked down some of the cash in bank accounts in three other countries, including the Cayman Islands, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court filing from Friday.

The television personality-turned-aspiring politician detailed his family’s legal dispute in an affidavit asking a judge to pause sister Nazlim Oz’s suit accusing him of wrongfully withholding rent payments from a pair of Upper East Side apartments owned by their dad, Mustafa, who died in 2019, the court papers say.

Dr. Oz claims his sister has swiped millions of dollars from their late father’s estate.
© Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press Wire

The rental income has been going to Nazlim and their other sister, Seval — but Dr. Oz, as the manager of the apartments, said he cut Nazlim off pending another legal dispute that’s playing out in Turkish courts, the filing says. That money is being held in a separate account and he insists he doesn’t “benefit” from the rental income in any way.

The sibling squabble stems from allegations that Nazlim took over their father’s account without permission in the year leading up to his death, Dr. Oz claims in the affidavit.  

“Dr. Oz ceased the distributions because he, Seval, and their mother (Suna Oz) uncovered evidence that Nazlim had been stealing her father’s money,” Dr. Oz’s lawyer, Michael J. Cohen, wrote in court papers. 

The squabble stems from allegations that Nazlim Oz took over their father’s account without permission in the year leading up to his death
Instagram

Nazlim — who lives in Turkey — allegedly hid money “from her father’s estate to her own use and to the ongoing detriment of her sister, Seval Oz,” the affidavit alleges. Nazlim also allegedly “deprived our mother of funds with which to live, and deprived her of her inheritance,” the papers say.

Dr. Oz claims Nazlim forged their dad’s will in 2018 in an attempt to override the real one, according to the affidavit.

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched a probe to track down Mustafa’s money. The office found that Nazlim has accounts in the Netherlands, India and the Cayman Islands, the affidavit alleges. 

“We are attempting to recover the funds from those accounts, at least a portion of which represent the very rental payments from the Oz LLC tenants that she now accuses me in this New York litigation of failing to distribute to her,” Dr. Oz’s affidavit alleges.

Dr. Oz is asking a Manhattan judge to stay his sister’s suit against him pending the resolution of the Turkish matter.

Lawyers for Nazlim did not immediately return a request for comment.

In December, Sony announced that Dr. Oz’s show was ending Jan. 14 as he prepared to run for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat.

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Britney Spears Demands Justice: ‘I Won’t Stop Until Something Is Done’

by Anna Chan

Britney Spears isn’t done speaking out. The pop star may have recently enjoyed a tropical getaway to celebrate fiancĂ© Sam Asghari’s birthday, but her 13-year-long conservatorship was not far from her mind — and she vowed to set things right for herself.

In an Instagram post on Sunday (March 6), the pop star once again revisited the difficult work schedule she originally shared with Judge Brenda Penny when she testified publicly for the first time on June 23.

“I gave my all when I worked only to be literally thrown away,” she wrote in a lengthy post that featured images of a stunning cathedral, the Star of David, and Australia. “I was nothing more than a puppet to my family yet to the public I just performed on stage and did what I was told to do … but it was worse than that because it was accepted and approved by the people I loved most.”

The pop star explained that because of how hard she had to work — again claiming that she was given “no days off” during her restrictive conservatorship — she more than deserved the lavish getaways she’s been enjoying in recent months. “Looks are deceiving …. I must have it nice on vacations lol !!!!” she wrote. “After 13 years damn straight I should go !!!”

“Nobody should ever be treated the way I was,” she continued. “The reason I bring this up is because ending the conservatorship is a huge deal but come on … THAT’S IT ??? They all got away with it !!!”

“I’m not done,” Spears concluded. “I want justice and I won’t stop until something is done to those who harmed me … and YES I was harmed !!!!”

Billboard has reached out to Jamie Spears, Lynne Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears for comment.

During her emotional testimony to end her 13-year conservatorship, Spears compared her “abusive” experience to being sex trafficked, arguing that her family had taken advantage of her for years. “My dad and anyone involved in the conservatorship and my management who played two roles and punishing me when I said, ‘No.’ Ma’am, they should be in jail,” she told Judge Penny in June.

The judge terminated the conservatorship on Nov. 12

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Former lawyer sentenced to 18 months for stealing from elderly clients

The prosecutor calls the Tenants Harbor woman – who stole more than $1 million from three, elderly incapacitated clients – 'the Bernie Madoff of Maine.' 


WISCASSET — Former lawyer Anita Volpe was sentenced Friday to 18 months in jail for stealing more than $1 million from three elderly, incapacitated clients.

Justice Daniel Billings sentenced the 76-year-old Tenants Harbor woman in Lincoln County Superior Court for three counts of felony theft.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin filed a memorandum in the Knox County court in October 2019 asking for a seven-year prison term for Volpe. At the March 4 hearing, Robbin asked for a 10-year sentence with all but five years suspended to be followed by three years of probation.

“Anita Volpe is the Bernie Madoff of Maine,” the prosecutor said.

Justice Billings imposed a 10-year sentence with all but 18 months suspended to be followed by three years of probation. The judge cited Volpe’s age and her health in imposing less than sought by the prosecution. Volpe was treated for bladder cancer but has been in remission.

The judge also noted that Volpe had the support of her community. About 20 family and friends attended the hearing to show support for the Tenants Harbor woman. They included other attorneys and her pastor.

Volpe pleaded guilty Oct. 18, 2021, and has been free awaiting sentencing.

Volpe was indicted in March 2019 on three counts of felony theft, two counts of Class B misuse of entrusted property and one count of Class C misuse of entrusted property. The misuse of entrusted property charges were dismissed Monday in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Volpe was represented by attorney Leonard Sharon.

The case, like most in the court system, had been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions imposed by the court.

Volpe stole $553,225 from Mary Webb; $490,416 from Patricia Wakefield; and more than $100,000 from Corine Hendrick who was her mother-in-law. Judge Billings ordered Volpe to pay about $1 million in restitution to the Webb and Wakefield estates. Her attorney said she was ready to pay $65,000 in restitution.

Volpe had stolen from the Webb and Wakefield estates to repay the Herrick estate. The prosecutor said if not for an alert teller at the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, Volpe may have gotten away with her crimes.

Volpe served as the power of attorney for the three women.

The longtime local lawyer used the stolen money to pay personal credit card debt and to purchase real estate, including a parcel abutting her home in St. George. Volpe also used some of the money to repair her Main Street law office in Rockland, and for repairs to her St. George home. Money was also used to pay property taxes for property she owned in Florida and for a vehicle for her business partner. One payment from Webb’s account was $2,500 for a wood carving from an art gallery that Volpe owned in Rockland.

Volpe also received annuities meant for Wakefield, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, after the woman died. The prosecutor noted that Wakefield had intended for her estate to go to a private school that provided her a scholarship after her father died. The money was intended to provide scholarships to the next generations of students.

“That would have been her legacy,” Robbin told the judge.

Volpe apologized in court, saying she still doesn’t know why she stole the money.

“I wasn’t thinking. I was ego driven to appear successful and receive the love that I wanted,” Volpe said.

The prosecutor said courts tend to treat white-collar criminals more leniently because they look like the people who decide their fate.

Hendrick died Dec. 20, 2014, at 92, after several weeks in a nursing facility in Augusta that her grandchildren said was very low-quality. The family had wanted to put her in Quarry Hill, but could not because of lack of funds.

The Maine Supreme Court accepted the surrender of Volpe’s license in lieu of disciplinary action in August 2016. Justice Andrew Mead impounded all the documents related to the matter, but Hendrick’s grandson, Shane Hendrick, of Camden, released the paperwork in 2016.

Volpe initially had been the personal representative for Hendrick’s estate after Hendrick died, but withdrew before the estate was probated. She repaid the Hendrick estate after she surrendered her law license, but the Board of Overseers of the Bar was unaware that the money had been stolen from Webb and Wakefield.

The thefts from the other women occurred in multiple bank transactions over a period of years.

Volpe was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1977.

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WHY STATES SHOULD PASS UGCOPAA

by Marcia Southwick

Encourage your state to adopt the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act. The Senate Committee on Aging supports this bill, which was created after two years of research into the practices of all 50 states.

Many advocates want the guardianship system to be abolished altogether. If anything this drastic can happen, alternatives that don’t remove fundamental rights would need to be available for those who need aid. UGCOPAA works towards this goal, loosening the grip of the guardianship system. The goal is to create a fairer playing field. The fairer the playing field, the fewer guardianships there will be.

1) UGCOPAA requires Due Process. Emergency petitions must be followed by a hearing within 5 days. If you are subjected to a proceeding, you can hire a defense attorney of choice, or an attorney who must defend your rights will be appointed by the court. (This is a shift away from the “best interest” standard and towards equal rights defense.) If a petition for a permanent guardianship occurs, a hearing is held within 14 days. You and your attorney can cross examine evaluators, the petitioner, and others on the case. Witnesses can be called as well in your defense. If you can’t attend the hearing for reasons beyond your control, the hearing comes to you.

2) UGCOPAA requires the court to consider all possible alternatives to guardianship (such as supported decision-making) before placing a guardianship on someone. UGCOPPA provides guidance as to what the alternatives are in Article 5. With a an attorney to defend you (as was the case for Britney Spears) alternatives can be created that replace the need for guardianship and removal of rights. In most cases, guardianship is unnecessary. (Or conservatorship in California’s case). Alternatives are what allowed the conservatorship to end.

3) A list of people, along with contact info– including family, step-family, close associates, close friends (or anyone who has assisted the person during the past six months), must be provided along with the petition. All of the people on this list are then informed of hearings, the AIP’s rights, and instructions as to how the person under protection can terminate the guardianship. Guardianship is explained in detail to all parties before the hearing.

4) The standard of argument for a petition eliminates hearsay in favor of clear and convincing evidence. This change favors a rights approach over a punitive approach.

5) If a guardianship is absolutely necessary and no other option is available, the guardian must provide a detailed plan for care, along with proposed fees, and this plan is provided to everyone on the list for review and objection. If the guardian strays from the plan, this can serve as a red flag to those who are close to the person under protection. Close associates and family provide more ears and eyes for the court reducing the cost of monitoring, The attorney and person under protection receive all financial accountings and can contest inappropriate charges. Until now, financial accountings have fallen into a black hole, creating secrecy and encouraging fraud.

6) The Guardian cannot restrict visitation for more than 7 days without presenting evidence to the court that the restriction is needed. Presently guardians isolate without reason and they do so of their own accord and for their own convenience.

7) Anyone interested in the welfare of a person under guardianship can petition to terminate the guardianship, or petition for less restrictive alternatives

8)  A system for complaints is set in place, and complaints must be addressed and placed in the guardian’s permanent file to keep track of the guardian’s actions.

9) If a guardian contests a petition for termination, and their effort to keep the guardianship fails, they are responsible for their own legal fees. This disincentivizes guardians from continuing to fight since they are restricted in the use of the protected person’s funds.

10) The court is instructed to issue single orders to solve specific problems. An example might be ordering someone into a care facility, rather than putting a guardianship in place. If a nursing home bill isn’t paid, the court would order that it be paid rather than approve a guardianship simply for that purpose.

The end goal is to use plenary guardianship only when absolutely necessary, to encourage tailored limited guardianships if needed, to use single court orders to solve problems, and to encourage support systems that replace or avoid guardianship and loss of rights. The idea is to respect each person’s fundamental rights to autonomy. UGCOPAA is a living document into which further reforms may be added.

Bankruptcy lawyer disbarred after sanctions in 30 cases

By Mike Scarcella

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - A bankruptcy lawyer who had been sanctioned in courts at least 30 times has agreed to disbarment in Washington, D.C., following a related penalty in Florida last month.

Sam Babbs III consented to disbarment in Washington over misconduct allegations that included misusing advance funds from clients and practicing law in states where he was not licensed. The District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility this week recommended that the city's highest court, which oversees attorney misconduct, impose the sanction.

His disbarment would be effective on April 11, giving him a window, bar regulators said, to wind down his practice. He has been a member of the D.C. bar since 2009.

In a separate action, the Florida Supreme Court last month revoked his license to practice for at least five years. The D.C. bar's disciplinary office said some of the matters it was investigating were the same as complaints lodged against him in Florida.

Babbs, whose work focused on bankruptcy matters involving individuals and families, told Reuters on Wednesday that he has no interest in practicing bankruptcy law again and decided not to fight the claims.

"You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them," he said.

He said he will have the ability in both jurisdictions to reapply to the bar. Babbs said his business model, where he tried to build and maintain a national practice relying on local counsel, came about from "bad advice."

The D.C. bar's disciplinary office was investigating a referral from the U.S. Trustee Program, the U.S. Justice Department's bankruptcy watchdog.

"In at least 30 cases, the bankruptcy courts have sanctioned me for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, charging unreasonable fees and violating the Bankruptcy Rules including for not making required disclosures," Babbs told the D.C. bar's discipline team.

Bankruptcy courts in some instances blocked Babbs from making further appearances and also ordered him to disgorge the fees he had received from clients.

The D.C. bar's disciplinary office on Wednesday declined to comment.

The case is In the Matter of Sam Babbs III, D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary Docket 2021-D142, et al.

Full Article & Source:
Bankruptcy lawyer disbarred after sanctions in 30 cases 

After an Alzheimer's diagnosis, her husband asked for help to die with dignity

by Terry Gross

Amy Bloom and Brian Ameche married in 2007. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2019.

Beth Kelly Photography

Shortly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2019, architect Brian Ameche, then in his mid-60s, told his wife, novelist Amy Bloom, that he wanted to end life on his own terms, before the disease robbed him of everything.

Bloom was reluctant, but Ameche was resolute — and he needed her help.

"He had strong feelings about people's rights to agency and autonomy," Bloom says. "He said, 'I don't want to argue about this. This is what I need to do.'"

Bloom and Ameche had met later in life, and married in 2007. Bloom describes her husband as a man of action, whose fundamental principle was: "If there's going to be a fight, throw the first punch."

But as his Alzheimer's progressed, Bloom watched as her husband forgot the names of his grandchildren, and got lost in the neighborhood grocery store. "It was clear that the disease was taking its toll," she says. 

At Ameche's insistence, Bloom began researching options for assisted suicide. Though a handful of states in the U.S. have so-called "right to die" laws, Ameche did not fit their strict qualifications. Instead, Bloom and Ameche wound up going to Zurich, where after a careful screening process, Ameche succeeded in terminating his life in late January 2020.

"I'm sure that there were a number of circumstances, which, had they been different, he would have liked to have stayed longer," Bloom says. "But he also completely understood that there was a window of cognitive functioning and that he had to make this decision and act on it within that window. And that was very clear to him."

Bloom's new memoir, In Love, is centered around her husband's diagnosis and her quest to help him end his life in the manner he chose. The book also chronicles their life together and how it was changed by Alzheimer's.

Interview highlights

In Love, by Amy Bloom
Penguin Random House

On why Brian's case fell outside the purview of right-to-die laws that exist in certain U.S. states

Nobody with dementia would qualify in any of those states because a terminal disease diagnosis is required, and "terminal" means that you will be dead within the next six months. Period. It doesn't mean you have a terminal disease, you might be dead in a couple of years, you might be dead in a year and a half – six months. You have to find a doctor who will say that you will be dead in six months. There are not that many doctors who are prepared to say this is an absolute fact. And you have to be able to take the medication, the lethal dosage yourself, which for somebody with Alzheimer's might or might not be a problem, but for somebody with some other kind of disease, like ALS, would be a genuine obstacle to overcome.

You certainly have to be able to display judgment and cognitive functioning and discernment, which I support entirely. But it is the combination of the timing — the terminal diagnosis and the cognitive function — that makes this such a thread-the-eye-of-a-needle process for so many people.

On the application process for medically assisted suicide in Zurich

It was not easy. You become a member of the organization, of Dignitas, as a supporting member. There's that first application in which there is not a big screening process. You sort of say, "Oh, I would like to support this endeavor," and you become a member and then you begin the process. They require an autobiography by the person who's making the application. They require medical records and medical support, if you are engaged in the medical process, which, of course, most people who would be applying to Dignitas would have a medical professional, if not several, in their lives. You again have to sort of demonstrate that you are, as we used to say, "of sound mind." Then there are some telephone interviews and then there is a provisional go-ahead or a no-go. If you get the provisional go-ahead, when you go to Zurich, you have two more interviews with physicians to continue to check in with the person making the application. That's the process.

On what the final days were like 

I think most of the tears were on my part. So for me, the whole trip was a long, tearful goodbye. I think for him, he had made up his mind. He knew what he was going to do. He was focused on what he needed to do and his own process about that, his own process of departure. We held hands a lot, and we took a lot of naps and we walked around the city together. We didn't talk much about what was coming and we didn't talk a lot about our life together and how it had brought us to this and what would be next. He did say, "I hate to leave so soon." He also said, "I am not afraid."

On how the doctors repeatedly told him he could change his mind at any time

It was reassuring to me. I think that was something that met with Brian's approval. He thought it was the right thing for them to ask repeatedly. He actually said that at one point. He said, "I appreciate your asking. I will be giving you the same answer every time." I don't know that there are a lot of people who change their minds once they are in Zurich, although I'm sure that there are some. And, of course, there are many people who apply to the organization as sort of an insurance policy and never follow through.

On what the final moments were like, once he took the poison

I am cursed with a pretty expressive face, which so far I have been unable to overcome. But I knew what he saw on my face because I knew what I felt and what he saw was love. And we held hands and we kissed and he fell into a light sleep and then a deeper sleep. It was a very, very peaceful process. ...

I did not want him to see fear in my face, I also didn't feel fear at that moment. I knew that this is what he wanted, and he was at peace with it, and he was glad to be able to accomplish what he had wanted to accomplish. Not happy, but glad and relieved and I think what he saw on my face was that I was there for him.

Therese Madden and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the web.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Chase Bank Took $2,500 Deposit for Disabled Oregon Man, Then Wouldn't Give it Back

by Mike Rogoway

When Jeanne Tindall went to the bank with $2,500 in pandemic relief funds on behalf of her disabled ward last October, she envisioned him someday using the money to pay for future care, or maybe for therapeutic horseback rides.

Tindall has been legal guardian to the Oregon man, named Stephen, since the late 1980s. He is 46 and lives in a group foster home near Portland because he has a cognitive disability and cannot care for himself. So Tindall helps, managing his finances and make sure he’s getting what he needs.

The aid money could be helpful down the road, so Tindall took it to her local Chase Bank branch in Albany and put it into a guardianship account on Stephen’s behalf.

In November, Tindall went back to the bank to shift the money into an ABLE account, a special category of savings designed to enabled disabled people to set aside money without reducing their eligibility for government aid programs.

Chase refused to move the money, though, notifying Tindall that Stephen’s account had “insufficient funds.”

So Tindall spent three months seeking to pry the money back from Chase. She says the bank refused to hand it over, providing a variety or explanations ranging from fraud concerns to questions about who was authorized to access the account.

Full Article and Source: 
Chase Bank took $2,500 deposit for disabled Oregon man, then wouldn’t give it back

Why We Need More Data on Guardianships

by Marcia Southwick

Many people, when they hear the words “data collection”, think of Google and Facebook. We’ve been literally used as commodities for exploitation. Data collection destroys privacy and freedom!

People in Guardianship, though never have privacy–they are monitored 24 hours a day and the charges are paid out of their own estate. They aren’t in the same situation as most citizens. They are rendered voiceless in many cases. Yet, courts all over the nation have been handing people’s most fundamental rights, often thoughtlessly, over to guardians who then controls everything about the person’s life–down to where they will live, who can visit and when, and what their allowance will be each month–usually about $100 bucks if you’re lucky. In the meantime, you could be wealthy, but since all of your assets are under the guardian’s (or conservator’s) control, you’ll never see a dime. They also pay themselves out of your assets but you will never know how much.

What prevents a guardian from going rogue with no one watching? When it comes to guardianship, there are plenty of examples of financial exploitation and isolation, but the reports don’t come from databases. — the reports come from the press. Press coverage seems to be just about the only way someone can be freed from guardianship.

Presently, there are very few states with the technology to gather statistics and organized records, Minnesota being one of the few. Without a state knowing how many guardianships there are, there is no effective way to know what happens to a person as a result of guardianship. The goal is to know where a person in guardianship is located, what kind of powers were given to the guardian, how long the guardianship has been in place, how often the person is being visited and a record of the court hearings and motions.

One goal, as pointed out in the link below, is to achieve restoration of rights for those who no longer need guardianships, or who were wrongly placed in overly restrictive situations. How can anything be done to help people if no one is tracking where and who they are? We know a few examples of families who have searched for years to find a parent taken into guardianship.

Another goal is to provide oversight by connecting the dots. Why was the person put into guardianship in the first place? (The petition-) Was an alternative to guardianship suggested or tried? (Court documents would show whether they did or didn’t.) Was there a proper evaluation for incapacity?

(You’d be surprised by how many people in guardianship are never evaluated by a proper committee, much less anyone at all. Research has shown many examples of frightening short cuts when it comes to “incapacity declarations,”. To make things even worse, many cases have bypassed due process altogether.)

We need to know: When was the guardianship initiated? Are there any complaints about the guardian? And are there other red flags, such as not turning in detailed annual accounting or any receipts? This situation deserves our attention and support. People under guardianships can be reduced to ghosts of their former selves, languishing in institutions alone. with no one seeming to care.

Wouldn’t it be useful for the state itself to collect information in case a guardian moves from one county to another, or from one court to another? States and county courts don’t have the proper technology to track cases. That’s why passing the 2021-2022 Guardianship Accountability Act introduced to congress is so important. Funds would be provided by the Federal Government to improve technology for the states, and to create a national database. The funds would be provided to the highest state and tribal courts who would make decisions on court improvement efforts.

Without stored records of complaints about a guardian, not much can be done about a guardian who has generated flurries of complaints. The Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act would require that complaints be addressed and kept in a permanent file. This file would go into a central state database. States should adopt the Act, which is a rights-centered approach to caring for those who need help. Alternatives to guardianship in the document go a long way towards cracking open the sometimes barbaric hold that the guardianship system has over the people in it.

Judith Widener of Nebraska, convicted in 2014, ran guardianships all over the state. She opened 40 different bank accounts through which she filtered assets belonging to the people under her protection. She was in complete control of the lives of 400 people– stuffed in institutions, no doubt, and out of sight. And yet, nobody in the Lincoln courthouse was aware of the whole picture–for an inexcusable amount of years. If counties and then the state had collected complaints, numbers of people under protection for each guardian, and a few other important details, this would never have happened.

Here’s an example of how bad things can get without comprehensive record keeping. In New Mexico, court records were examined, piece by piece, and investigators found at least two dozen guardianship cases had been closed, even though the people in guardianship were still alive without rights restored. No records, accountings, or other documents were there to reveal anything about these cases, much less the welfare of the people subjected to them. One woman put into guardianship is still nowhere to be found.

Investigations also found that two professional guardianship companies had stolen over 11 million dollars from the people in their care. A third company had failed to turn in accountings for particular cases for 10 years. Is this a system protecting people, or is it harming them? Considering how little we know about the fate of people in guardianship, the system itself is a public safety hazard.

We don’t know why people were put into guardianship (i.e. what was said in the petition), we don’t know how long a person has been in the guardianship, or whether the guardianship is limited, or plenary, We don’t know where people are being kept, we don’t know what happens them if they are moved out of state. What SHOULD we be expected to know? A lot more than we do.

Guardianship/Conservatorship Monitoring – Recommended Data Elements

Source:
Why We Need More Data on Guardianships

Attorney Client Relationship and Diminished Capacity

 by Dennis Fordham



An attorney owes the duties of competence, communication, confidentiality, loyalty and non-discrimination to a client. These duties require special attention and care by the attorney when representing client with diminished capacity. Recently the California State Bar issued formal Opinion No. 2021-207 (the “Opinion”) to examine four ethics issues when an attorney represents a client with diminished capacity.

First, “a lawyer has a duty to maintain, insofar as reasonably possible, a normal attorney-client relationship, as reflected in the rules relating to competence, communication, confidentiality, loyalty and nondiscrimination.” A lawyer must first apply the presumption that the client has capacity to engage in the legal activity. Capacity is evaluated on a “decision by decision basis” and the lawyer’s duty of competence may require the lawyer “taking measures to enhance the client’s ability to make and communicate an effective decision.” Some decisions require more capacity than other decisions.

For example, “the attorney may adjust the interview environment, communicate more slowly, spend more time, and meet the client when he or she is more lucid”. The attorney may have the client’s trusted family members help the client’s communication and understanding.

Nonetheless, the client must still have sufficient capacity. Even with support a lawyer must recognize that, “… the client may be unable to make a legally effective decision, …, or that diminished capacity will result in a decision that does not serve the client’s interest or exposes them to harm that the client cannot understand or prevent.”

For example, out of loyalty to the client, a lawyer should decline to modify a client’s estate planning when, “Lawyer’s reasonable belief is that Client lacks the capacity to make a decision reflecting Client’s interest and that Client’s preferred course would expose Client to the risk of exploitation.”

Full Article and Source:
Attorney Client Relationship and Diminished Capacity