From DM: Fax to Cal. lawmakers begs them to fix Probate in Alameda County

City Council
Darryl Moore 510 981 7120
Council Member, district 2

ACTION CALENDAR
October 18, 2016
To; Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council
From:  Darryl oore
Subject:  Resolution to Fix Probate Court and Investigate
Council member Darryl Moore
Mayor Tom Bates
Council member Kriss Worthington
Examining Alameda County Probate Court Process, Including
Consideration of Establishing A Grand Jury to Investigate
RECOMMENDATION:
Adopt a Resolution requesting an examination of the way in Which the probate courts in
Alameda County function and the City Clerk send copies of the resolution and agenda
item to the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County
Supervisor Keith Carson, Assembly member Tony Thurmond, and State Senator Loni
Hancock.
BACKGROUND:
The Berkeley City Council was recently approached by a group consisting of dozens of
African American families that feel that they have been unfairly treated by the probate
court system and, as a result, lost significant portions of their respective Inherited
assets.
Some of the concerns raised by local African American families include the folIowing:
When there are issues with an estate, the matter of disbursing the proceeds of the
estate is typically assigned to a probate court. Differences of opinion in selecting an
heir as the Special Administrators or Managing Trustees of the Living Trust or Will can
often lead the probate judge to assign a court-appointed attorney to function In this role,
These court-appointed attorneys often accumulated significant fees that are assessed
as a lien against the assets of the will or living trust. As a result, there is an implicit
incentive for the court-appointed attorney to sell assets as to extract their payment. The sale of said assets can often be done hastily, at below-market-value, to encourage a quick sale. Those sales are often done without consideration by the court appointed trustee or special administrator to whether or not the heirs of the estate may desire to purchase the asset. As a result of those aforementioned factors, heirs are often unable to purchase the assets of the estate and are often saddled with significant costs liened against assets of the estate. When the assets are disbursed to the heirs, the costs incurred can often approach 30-50% of the estate value.
We request that the District Attorney of Alameda County impanel a grand jury to
investigate the way in which the probate court system functions to determine whether
certain groups are disproportionately affected compared to others and how the system
can be improved for all families,

IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED:

WHEREAS, questions have been raised about whether certain groups are
disproportionately affected compared to other groups; and
WHEREAS, as a result, a group of local African American families feel as though issues
related to the probate court system are magnified for their community. including the
following; and
WHEREAS, differences of opinion in selecting an heir as the Special Administrators or
Managing Trustees of the Living Trust or Will can often lead the probate judge to assign
a court-appointed attorney to function in this role; and
WHEREAS. court-appointed attorneys often accumulated significant fees that are
assessed as a lien against the assets of the will or living trust; and
WHEREAS, as a result, there is an implicit incentive for the court-appointed attorney to
sell assets as to extract their payment; and
WHEREAS, the sale of estate assets can often be done hastily, at below-market-value,
to encourage a quick sale; and
WHEREAS, the sale of estate assets are also often done without consideration by the
court-appointed trustee or special administrator to whether or not the heirs of the estate
may have a desire to purchase the asset; and
WHEREAS, costs incurred on the estate can approach 30-50% of the value; and
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Berkeley that the
Council requests that the Alameda County District Attorney empanel a grand jury to
review the process in which probate is administered to determine whether people of color and/or women may be being disproportionately affected by the probate court system and whether improvements can be made to correct the system for all families and become more equitable

 

From Joanne:

 

I think this is a wonderful declaration of rights for what is really happening in our nation’s court system and it has to end.  The poor and minorities and brown and black people are affected the worse by  all of the perfidy, legerdemain and mendacity which runs amok.

We must insist on accountability and oversight from committees who have members who are tested for psychopathy with a PET brain scan first.

We are all tired of the lies, deceptions and theft of our loved ones and their assets.

JoAnne

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From EB: Kentucky Judge faces 20 years in prison for human trafficking; many victims under age 18

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/386454-former-kentucky-judge-given-20-years-in-prison-for-human-trafficking

A former Kentucky judge has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on human trafficking charges.

Timothy Nolan, a 71-year-old former Campbell County district judge, pleaded guilty to human trafficking and other felony sex crimes involving minors, according to multiple reports.

Nolan is also a conservative political activist and worked on President Trump’s campaign in Kentucky during the 2016 presidential race.

Nolan apologized and vowed to seek treatment during his sentencing hearing on Friday after prosecutors read statements from the nearly 20 teen victims, many of whom were under 16 years old, according to The Associated Press.

Nolan previously forced a delay in the sentencing by firing his attorneys and attempting to withdraw his guilty plea in a “wild” court hearing in March, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

http://www.tampabay.com/ex-kentucky-judge-sentenced-to-prison-for-human-trafficking-ap_national2a7f3b5e3c384fb8a2c224cd02e341c7

http://www.tampabay.com/ex-kentucky-judge-sentenced-to-prison-for-human-trafficking-ap_national2a7f3b5e3c384fb8a2c224cd02e341c7

 

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky judge and conservative political activist has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to human trafficking and other sex crimes.

A special prosecutor said Tim Nolan, 71, targeted young women, gave them opioids and threatened to withhold the drugs or call law enforcement if they didn’t perform sex acts.

News outlets report that prosecutor Barbara Whaley read statements from some of the women. Seven of the 19 victims were under 16 years old.

Nolan fired his attorney in March and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.

On Friday, he apologized in court and promised to seek treatment.

 

from EB: Oakland County Judges hire attorney under investigation for probate fraud

does this sound familiar to anyone?

https://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/oakland-county-probate-judges-hire-attorney-under-criminal-investigation

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) – She was terminated from her position by the Attorney General and she was at the center of a 7 Action News investigation. So why are taxpayers now paying the salary of this local lawyer?

A criminal investigation was launched after we exposed how some public officials and real estate brokers were cashing in on probate estates, often leaving rightful heirs with very little.

So why is one of the public officials being investigated by Oakland County — now working for Oakland County’s Probate Court?

The 7 Investigators first exposed probate attorney Barbara Andruccioli a year ago.

“How can the taxpayers have any confidence with you working here,” asked 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

“Really, I think you probably need to talk to the judges,” said Andruccioli.

Andruccioli was a partner at Kemp Klein law firm. She was also an Attorney General-appointed Public Administrator:  a public official with the authority to open probate estates after someone dies if there are no heirs available.

Court records show Andruccioli teamed up with real estate broker Ralph Roberts and his companies to open those estates, sell the homes, and cash in.

We uncovered court filings that show Andruccioli and one of Roberts’ companies, Probate Asset Recovery, were billing for thousands of dollars, while the actual heirs ended up with very little.

“They should be held accountable,” Joanne Zaremba told Catallo in 2017.

Until the 7 Investigators got involved, Zaremba had no idea that Andruccioli had opened an estate in her late mother’s name, even though under the law, Andruccioli had a duty to find the heirs.

After our investigation, Attorney General Bill Schuette terminated Andruccioli as a Public Administrator. And that’s not all:  the FBI and Oakland County Sheriff’s detectives raided Ralph Roberts offices, and launched a criminal probe into the Public Administrators.

So why did the Oakland County Probate judges recently hire Andruccioli as the Probate Register for the county?

“How can the taxpayers have any confidence — when you’re now under criminal investigation — with you working in this court,” asked Catallo.

“That’s not true,” said Andruccioli.

“It struck me as the wolf guarding the hen house,” said Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown described her reaction when she first heard that the judges from the Probate Court (which Brown and Meisner do not oversee) hired Andruccioli: “Shock, absolute shock and bewilderment…  So out of having a wonderful pool of applicants, why would you choose this person who has a cloud over them?”

In the wake of our reporting, Brown and Meisner successfully fought to change the state laws that allowed this probate practice to go on.  Neither can understand why the four Probate judges would hire Andruccioli.

“It’s natural that people that work together are going to get to know each other and establish relationships,” said Meisner. “The unusual part is when those relationships and friendships result in inappropriate preference, self-dealing, and lack of due process.”

The Probate Register oversees the daily operations of the Probate Courts Estates and Mental Health division.

Chief Probate Judge Kathleen Ryan would not talk to us on camera, but she did tell 7 Action News that the decision to hire Andruccioli as the Probate Register of the court was unanimous among all four judges and she said, “we’re confident in our hire.”

Judge Ryan also confirmed they hired Andruccioli at the top of the county pay scale, at $102,650.  Also, in the past Andruccioli has given small campaign contributions to two of the judges who hired her (Judge Ryan and Judge Jennifer Callaghan), but Judge Ryan says that had no bearing on the hiring decision.

“I think it is a slap in the face to a lot of people,” said Brown. “It reduces confidence that justice will be served here.”

Officials from both the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office and Sheriff’s office tell the 7 Investigators that the criminal probe into the probate scheme and the Public Administrators is ongoing.

County officials such as the Clerk, the Treasurer and the County Executive do not have control over who the judges hire.

If you have a story for Heather, please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.comor call 248-827-4473.

From EB: Ms. Kasem talks about the rights of children to see elderly parents

http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/national/kasem-speaks-against-elder-abuse/article_25857078-570d-11e8-8156-8f7f83c9abcd.html

WEYERS CAVE — Kerri Kasem, daughter of late Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem, visited the area on Wednesday to speak on elder abuse. Kerri spoke at the 7th annual training of the Greater Augusta Coalition Against Adult Abuse on Wednesday.

The conference was at the Plecker Workforce Center at Blue Ridge Community College. The day started with the film EDITH + EDDIE – A Story of Love and Elder Abuse.

Next, Kasem presented “Isolated: How Casey Kasem’s Family fought, changed the law, and survived.”

Kasem is an American radio personality. She hosted Sixx Sense and The Side Show Countdown with Nikki Sixx.

Kasem and her siblings were banned from seeing or talking to their father, Casey, in the last years of his life. He was isolated and no law prevented the abuse.

Kasem told her family’s story of the struggle to see her father. She talked about early warning signs of abuse, prevention and offered tips on how law enforcement and Adult Protective Services should approach these cases for the victim’s rights to be protected.

“I learned very quickly there are no laws in the U.S. protecting adult children,” she said. “There needs to be stronger laws in this country protecting our elderly.”

Kasem fought to see her father and eventually created the Kasem Cares Visitation Legislation. The bill “provides an open path for family members to ask the court to rule on visitation without incurring the enormous expense and time that comes with a challenge to guardianship or conservatorship,” the website explains. It has passed in 12 states.

Casey Kasem passed away on June 15, 2014 — that day is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and Father’s Day.

During her fight, many people reached out to her via letters saying they were going through the same situation. She hopes the legislation and the Kasem Cares Foundation will help other people.

“I knew there were so many families going through this,” she said. “I couldn’t let them go through that. I knew I had to do something. That’s why I created Kasem Cares.”

The GACAAA conference continued throughout the day with “Making Sense of Cents” with Stephanie Painter, Bank Secrecy Act Manager, and Jordan Weatherholtz, fraud analyst with Dupont Community Credit Union; “SSA Fraud Overview,” with Gavi Simms and David Voland, special agents with the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General and “The Derailing of End of Life and Estate Plans: My Mother’s Story of Undue Influence,” with Vera Hailey, magistrate.

For more information on Kasem Cares, go to kasemcares.org.

From Joanne;

While I applaud Kerri’s dedication to allowing children legislation to see parents in guardianship, this legislation still requires a lawyer and court approval== and in Illinois, children are still being banned from seeing their elderly parents in a gship.  It’s the courts and not the laws that are the problem. jmho.

From CS: Federal Court proceeds with wrongful death claim against gship probate judge who allowed abuse of disabled ward.

https://setexasrecord.com/stories/511420179-houston-federal-judge-allows-state-judge-to-be-sued

Looks like Texas is paving the way for Illinois:

 

HOUSTON – Southern District Chief Justice Lee H. Rosenthal recently issued a landmark ruling allowing a wrongful death lawsuit against a Houston probate judge to proceed in an adult guardianship claim.

Sherry Johnston sued Harris County Probate Judge Christine Butts in 2016, alleging that her elderly mother Willie Jo Mills suffered broken bones and a rapid, preventable decline, which contributed to malnutrition and death when Mills was a ward of the State of Texas under guardianship.

A ward is typically a senior citizen experiencing cognitive decline or a younger adult with physical or developmental disabilities.

“Construing the allegations in the light most favorable to Johnston, she has alleged a plausible claim against Judge Butts’s bond under § 1201.003,” Judge Rosenthanl states in her May 15, 2018 Decision.

Issued by Texas Bonding Company and Harris County, Judge Butt’s public official bond is valued at $500,000, according to court records.

Judge Rosenthal’s ruling comes at a time when the adult guardianship system in Texas is under fire, according to a press release.

Bexar County Probate Judge Kelly Cross was admonished this month by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for labeling a proposed ward in another case “Mr. Maggot” and “Maggot Man” while the Spectrum Institute’s Legal Director Tom Coleman has requested records from Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht to determine whether a self evaluation of the state’s guardianship system is underway. On April 18, the Texas Judicial Council’s David Slayton announced to Congress in Washington, D.C. that nearly half of adult guardianship cases in the state are out of compliance with reporting requirements.

“Johnston does not allege that Judge Butts failed to conduct the annual examination,” wrote Judge Rosenthal in her May 15, 2018 Memorandum and Opinion. “But she does allege that Judge Butts ignored requests for emergency relief, including a request made two days before Mills died. The context and timing of these requests are enough to state a claim that Judge Butts did not exercise reasonable diligence to determine whether Dexel and Lott were performing their duties as Mills’s guardian. The claim is limited to the amount of Judge Butts’s bond.”

According to court records, successor guardian Ginger Lott settled with Johnston in April 2018.

Judge Rosenthal dismissed claims against Harris County and guardian ad litem Clarinda Comstock however claims against Judge Butts and David Dexel will continue with a status conference on May 29, 2018 at 10:30a.m.

Section 1201.003 of the Texas Estates Code (TEC) specifically states that a judge is liable on a Judge’s bond to those damaged if damage or loss results to a guardianship or ward because of the gross neglect of the judge to use reasonable diligence in the performance of the judge’s duty under this subchapter.

“It creates a limited waiver of judicial immunity, allowing recovery for losses directly tied to the judge’s duties under the subchapter,” wrote Rosenthal in her decision.

Johnston sued David Dexel for breaches of his fiduciary duty based on allegations that he improperly billed and received attorney’s fees at $300 per hour in many instances instead of billing at a Guardian’s rate of $100 per hour.

According to Judge Rosenthal’s order, claims against Dexel include discontinuing physical therapy for Johnston’s mother, which Johnston alleges made her mother’s muscle problems worse.

“The allegations as to Dexel’s conduct as Mills’ guardian and the allegations as to his conduct in the probate-court proceedings support one claim for breach of fiduciary duty,” Judge Rosenthal’s order states.

 

From MG: Illinois now has standardized Dissolution of Marriage Forms

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Forms/approved/divorce/divorce.asp

I think this is a great idea and putting them on the internet is an even better idea.

Now we need standard forms to defend against abusive probate, theft in estates and defense of mortgage foreclosure.

Approved Statewide Forms – Divorce, Child Support, and Maintenance Forms

The following forms have been approved for use by the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and are required to be accepted in all Illinois courts. The forms are ADA accessible, and you can handwrite or type into the PDF form.

You will need Adobe Acrobat or free Adobe Reader XI or higher in order to save completed forms.

Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union (Divorce with Children)

Form Title
Notes
Suggestions?
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018

Child Support and Maintenance

Form Title
Notes
Suggestions?
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018
Approved
5/2018

Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union (Divorce No Children)

Illinois Legal Aid Online provides a guided interview that will ask you a series of questions related to this topic and then the program will complete the forms for you. It is free to use.
Form Title
Notes
Suggestions?
Approved
1/2018
Approved
2/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018
Approved
1/2018

 

Financial Affidavit (Family & Divorce Cases)

Illinois Legal Aid Online provides a guided interview that will ask you a series of questions related to this topic and then the program will complete the forms for you. It is free to use.
Form Title
Notes
Suggestions?
Approved 4/2016
Approved 4/2016
Approved 9/2016
Approved 4/2016