Another burning question in this case is the curious conduct of Mr. Lippman, a senior attorney and volunteer at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS).
Now no one wants to say anything bad about an attorney that regularly volunteers for the poor, and in this case the poor and elderly, but Mr. Lippman’s behaviour became quite curious in the course of the proceedings involving the guardianship of Mary G. Sykes. And to be fair, no one really knows why all of this happened but it all appears to be a severe violation of Mary G’s rights in this matter. And other than the fact Mr. Lippman did not show up in court–after being provided with a subpoena, the fault really lies with the court and not Mr. Lippman.
Sometime before that hearing date of December 7th, in fact many months before, Gloria took her mother to CVLS and asked for an attorney to help her fill out a Power of Attorney for Health Care and for Property. As with any good attorney, when a family member brings in an elderly senior, he wanted to talk with Mary G alone, determine that she was not under any undue duress or influence, and that she basically understood what the documents she was about to sign were there for. So he talked with Gloria for a short while, and then he privately discussed everything with Mary G and sent her happily on her way with the two required Illinois statutory forms, one for Property and One for health care. Mary filled them out with the assistance of another independent family member, and they were notarized by an independent party. The notary was available to testify in court, but the court did not want to hear that testimony, that the notary watched Mary G sign as indicated and there was no evidence of undue influence or duress. (Actually a notary only testifies that she knows the person signing the document was in fact the person before her–notaries do not ensure any other matters such as undue influence or even sound mind and memory, unless that is specifically stated so in the notary clause.)
But during the court hearing to appoint a guardianship, the court ignored all of these important facts, and even the most important document–the Power of Attorney and Health Care granted to Gloria which was the most recent and it should have been enforced UNLESS it was conclusively shown that Mary G was incompetent at the time of the signing–which would have been nearly impossible in a normal court because Mary G wrote specific wishes all over the document in her own handwriting!
The GAL’s said Mary was just parroting instructions, which was absolutely ridiculous because the words and phrases were complex and the handwriting was excellent. Was the court merely following the theory that a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters typing a thousand years could write an award winning short story? Was that the reasoning for this.
The court SHOULD have required Mr. Lippman to testify and enforced the Subpoena that Gloria filed, the court SHOULD have listened to the testimony of the notary. And the court clearly should have questioned Mary about who she wanted to have her Power of Attorney and if she could identify her handwriting on the document.
Instead, the court railroaded Gloria and appointed Carolyn–a person who was the subject of a Protective Order where Mary G alleged Carolyn was wrongfully removing assets from her accounts!
Mary G deserved her own private attorney and not the GAL’s who were ignoring her requests and her instructions.
She wanted to stay in her own home and have Gloria continue to care for her.
Those should have been the only goals of the Court and of the GAL’s.
Now it gets very, very strange. Of course the court would want to see those documents. Perhaps the court wanted to talk with Mr. Lippman, JD, to determine that he followed proper and customary procedures (this would NOT require Mary G to divulge her attorney client privilege. Mr. Lippman would only discuss the procedure and NOT the substance of the conversations.
Instead, at the last minute, Mr. Lippman said he would not attend and that the director of CVLS told him not to unless there was a court order in place–ridiculous. Mr. Lippman has a duty–even as an ordinary citizen–to attend a court hearing out of a civil duty. In Illinois attorneys have the right to obtain a subpoena where ever there is due cause that the testimony may be helpful to the court or to their client. Mr. Lippman and CVLS ignored all of that!
Further, the hearing on December 7, 2010 when Carolyn was appointed was only to be on Gloria’s care plan. Instead, the court railroaded Gloria and appointed Carolyn, even tho the matter should have been set for another day because there was no notice to anyone.
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