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From AJO: False psych hold of court corruption victim Amy Kush: please help her

Statement of Andrew Joseph Ostrowski

I submit this statement in the matter of the 302 petition, and commitment, of Amy Kush.

I have known Amy for several years as a facebook friend, not knowing anything about her or where she was from.

She reached out to me a couple months ago concerning a mortgage foreclosure matter for any suggestions I had for her, her knowing that I have a background as a lawyer, and have talked a lot about mortgage foreclosures and the court system.

I went to Amy’s house on Monday, May 14, 2018 to look at some of her documents, to see if I could provide her any direction, or suggestions as to anything else she could do to address the situation.

Amy was very stressed about the impending June 1, 2018 sheriff’s sale, as she felt that it was wrongful, and she did not get a fair chance to present her claims in court. I did not observe her disposition on May 14, or the previous week when I first met her, as being any different than any other of the many persons I have met over the years who have been dealing with the tremendous stress of having a foreclosure looming over them while feeling that they have not been provided due process by the courts. In fact, Amy was very engaging, and even took some time to read some Bible passages to me, as I knew from viewing her facebook posts that she is a woman of faith.

On Monday, May 14, when I was there to pick up/look at some documents, Amy showed me and separately handed me a letter she had sent, or was going to send, and insisted that I and the other person I was with read it. This, I believe, is the letter that was the subject of the 302 affidavit.

I did read it, in its entirety, and I told her immediately that it was a very bad idea to send the letter, and it put her at risk of inviting some intrusion or other, because of the wording she used. I believe I specifically said “you can’t send this letter.”

As I understood it, she was asserting some biblical right under the Book of Ezekiel, I believe, in defense of her due process rights, and it contained something about a “warning of death,” and had it in bold letters. I believe she used those words because she felt that her mandate was to express it as expressed in the Bible passages to which she was referring. I have not gone and looked at any of these passages.

I told her at least 5 times that she should not send the letter as it stood, because I believed it would reasonably cause the recipient(s) some concern as to whether it was threat of physical harm, and would justify a further inquiry into it, and that I did not support her sending the letter as it was written, and that I wanted no part of any of it, and my admonitions were echoed right down to forecasting that the sheriff would be contacting her if she sent it.

I further did an assessment of her myself as to whether she presented any threat of harm. I asked her if she was planning to do anything affirmative to anyone that came upon her property, and I even asked her if she had any weapons of any sort in her home. She said answered negatively to both questions, and I did not observe any signs in her home of any such things – all of the items and materials around her house had messages of love and peace, and Jesus, etc..

The following Monday, as I recall, Amy filed a document in the Luzerne County courthouse, and messaged me when she got home and told me she was stopped by the sheriff’s deputies, and asked about her letter.

I believe it was a proper and reasonable inquiry under the circumstances, and I told her that specifically, and further reminded her that it was very bad judgment on her part to send the letter. I was actually surprised that they just let her go as she explained to me, because I do believe that further inquiry into it was a duty on the part of law enforcement under the circumstances, and remain of that opinion.

I also believe that, under all the circumstances, the detention of her for purposes of conducting a more thorough evaluation, whether through the law enforcement process, or through the mental health process, was fully proper and I, too, remained bothered by the lack of judgment she displayed in sending it, even though I do not believe the words themselves present any threat to anyone, and I did not believe that she presented such a risk to anyone.

I believe, based upon my own observation, that Amy was very distressed about her foreclosure, and that her lack of judgment in sending the letter resulted from that stress, together with her rigidity in matters of biblical interpretation.

Other than that one exercise of poor judgment, Amy was otherwise fine in all respects, though, in my opinion, she possesses some eccentricities, and unique world views that are not in the mainstream, but are all within the realm of the human condition, and that nothing I have observed suggests that she is any threat of harm to anyone, as her guiding ethics are the Love and Peace of God, and she grounds that in the Bible.

I will be available, and request the opportunity, to testify at any further proceedings in this matter.

Andrew Joseph Osrowski

From Joanne:

I am trying to get the fax and email of the judge so everyone might respond.  Please, if you have any info on false psych holds, get the name, fax and email of the director of the facility AND the name and fax of the judge involved so people can respond.

Since there is little or no oversight in the court system (less than 1% of all judges are ever removed from the bench for wrongful conduct after complaints are filed), you the public has the right to turn to the media (blogs) to get this done.

Help me help you all.  We must protect our still fragile democracy in the US

While I have not seen the letter, unless it contained a direct and imminent threat and she had the tools to carry it out, confirmed in the letter, she had a 1st Amendment right to write whatever her heart dictated, including very strong Bible passages, as a woman of faith, even if they were in bold.  F that nonsense.  She had a foreclosure, what do you think she was feeling at the time.  At least she was being honest about her situation.

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

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
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
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
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,


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.


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

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.


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?

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

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

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.

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

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

Child Support and Maintenance

Form Title

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


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
Approved 4/2016
Approved 4/2016
Approved 9/2016
Approved 4/2016


From SK: Right to take notes and record in Court

FAN 19 (First Amendment News) Law Prof. Contests Ban on Note-Taking in Courtroom

This first part of this column is about bans on note-taking in courtrooms, federal and state. To illustrate this point, I want to say a few things about a law professor and the recent hell he went through in his attempt to takes notes in a public courtroom in Cook County, Illinois. Before I get to his story, which is an incredible one, permit me to set the stage with a few bits of history.
* * * * 
There was a time, in my adult lifetime, when spectators in the Supreme Court were barred from taking notes. Yes, note-taking was not permitted unless one was a member of the press corps. One had to sit and listen in silence. In an August 18, 1997 Washington Post op-ed, Professor David M. O’Brien and I put it this way:

“It is an unwritten rule but a rule nonetheless. No ordinary citizen can take notes in the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court, unless granted special prior approval by the officer of the Public Information Office. . . . (For an unknown period before 1988, not even members of the Court’s bar could lift a pen.) . . . . No one really really knows when the rule, which is of contemporary vintage, began. Insofar as there is any reason for the rule, it is to protect the ‘decorum factor.’ Violate the rule and the marshals whisk you away.”

“No one, including the ever-attentive press corps, fusses over the rule, one of the few of its kind enforced in any federal or state court in this land. . . . Back in 1988, however, Justice Harry Blackmun complained about the rule in a memo to his colleagues: ‘I wonder if we go too far in our request for decorum.’ Noting came of the complaint.”

We concluded our op-ed this way: “Imagine courtroom audiences . . . taking notes about what they hear and see, as if the Court were a civic classroom. Imagine citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to further their knowledge of [the Supreme Court] and their Constitution. What is amazing is that such things can only be imagined — for now.”

Ban Silently Lifted 

And then the world changed in November 2002. As Tony Mauro reported in a May 5, 2003 article for Legal Times: The rule’s “demise came without fanfare and without public notice, but Court public information officer Kathy Arberg confirmed last week that sometime last November the policy against note-taking was ‘no longer enforced’ by Court Police officers.” And then this: “One of the weblogs that handicaps Court cases, [SCOTUSblog], first noted the change on April 25th after blogger Ted Metzler attended the arguments in Nike v. Kasky. As he and other spectators went through security, Metzler recalls, ‘The officer told us we could bring in a notebook and pen and we all looked at each other.’ Metzler is currently a law clerk at D.C.’s Goldstein & Howe . . . .”

Professor Samuel V. Jones

12 Years Later — Enter Professor Jones (the would-be notetaker)

He doesn’t fit the typical profile of a rabble-rouser. He is a former Marine Sargent, a former U.S. judge advocate, and before that senior counsel in the Commercial Law group at AT&T Corp and later as corporate counsel for Labor and Employment for Blockbuster, Inc. He is also a former Special Advisor to the Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council. And now he is a professor at the John Marshall Law School.

He is Samuel V. Jones. This former Marine is not a man to sit on his rights, especially his First Amendment rights. And so when the deputies in a circuit court ordered his to forsake those rights, he refused.

It all happened on May 8th during the course of bail hearings in a Cook County court presided over by Circuit Judge Laura Sullivan. Apparently, the atmosphere was tense as deputies patrolled the courtroom. At one point, according to Professor Jones, a “deputy approached and impolitely inquired, ‘Are you an attorney’? I identified myself as a professor of law doing research. She responded, ‘There is no note-taking in here.’ I wondered if the deputy knew that ‘the right of the press to access court proceedings is derivative of the public’s right,’ and journalists held no greater right than I did. I informed her that the office of the chief judge had advised me that note-taking is permitted. I asked if I had violated any laws or was disruptive. ‘No,’ she replied, and walked away.”

But that was hardly the end of the matter. Shortly thereafter, two different deputies ordered the professor out of the courtroom and confiscated his notes. “One deputy approached Judge Sullivan,” recalls Professor Jones, “and the proceedings immediately stopped. I was ordered to sit on a bench, told not to move or write, and was surrounded by several deputies.”

Judge Laura Sullivan

Here is how it ended: “After roughly 30 minutes, they released me with my notes. As I left, a group of African-Americans approached, wanting to shake hands. A lady enlightened me, ‘We saw what they did to you and figured you must be important.’ ‘Why,’ I asked. She explained, ‘Because they let you go.’”

Turns out that this is a old story in Cook County courts. According to recent a Chicago Tribune editorial, “in 2004, a different Cook County judge threw a different law professor out of her courtroom for taking notes. [Now retired] Judge Gloria Coco  forbade . . . writing in her courtroom . . . . That time, it ended up in federal court. A judge said the First Amendment protects public access to the courts so that citizens can observe and critique their government, and note-taking helps ensure an informed discussion.” (Here is the case: Goldschmidt v. Coco (2006).)

Thanks to Professor Jones, the problem may now have been solved for good insofar as Chief Judge Timothy Evans has since signed an “administrative order spelling out that note-taking is permitted in court.”

→ For an earlier discussion of the same problem, see Eugene Volokh, “Ban on Note-Taking by Spectators in Court,” Volokh Conspiracy, May 24, 2013

→ The American Judicature Society has conducted a federal court and 50-state court survey of “Note-Taking Laws,” this in connection with juror note-taking.

Third Circuit to Hear Challenge to Delaware’s Voter Guide Rules

The case is Delaware Strong Families v. Biden. In his complaint filed in federal district court for DSW (a 501(c)(3) biblical civic group), attorney David E. Wilks alleges that Delaware’s election laws concerning submission of voter guides are unconstitutional. The group plans to publish a voter guide (see appendix here) 60 days before the upcoming 2014 general election.  DSF’s non-partisan voter guides list all major party candidates for federal and state offices and those candidates’ positions on various issues. The responses are collected from the candidates themselves and, failing a reply, from public sources. In 2014, DSF intends to spend more than $500 to distribute its guide via direct mail and the Internet. DSW argues that Delaware’s election laws (15 Del Code § 8002(10), § 800(27), and § 8031) force it to file unduly burdensome reports with the state and require disclosure of the group’s confidential information, including the identities and home addresses of its contributors. The group maintains that such requirements violate its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lead defendant is Joseph Biden, III, the state attorney general. The State’s brief in opposition to the motion for a preliminary injunction can be found here.

Lawyers for the Center for Competitive Politics are co-counsel (Allen Dickerson, Esq.) in the case. As the Center sees it, the issue in the case comes down to this: “Should the state have the power to regulate groups that publish nonpartisan voter guides in the same way that it regulates candidate committees, political parties and PACs? . . .  As written, the law appears to require groups to choose between publishing information on candidates or violating the privacy of their supporters who might contribute as little as $9 a month. As a result of the law, Delawareans will find it more difficult to get information about elected officials and candidates.”

→ See here reWSJ video interview the Center’s president David Keating speaking on the case.

Last April, Judge Sue L. Robinson issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the challenged Delaware laws pending resolution of the case. In its earlier Memorandum Opinion, the District Court found the laws unconstitutional, relying on both Supreme Court and Third Circuit precedents.There was no discovery in the case.

Briefs are due in early July. The Third Circuit is in recess for August, so the case is likely to be calendared for September or October.

Woman Said to Lose City Job Offer over Campaign Contribution

Last month Elizabeth Riel was offered the job of Public Affairs and Communications Officer for the City of Santa Monica. But last week city officials rescinded that offer. Why? As her attorney Steven J. Kaplan told a reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press, her contract was termintaed because of a “legal campaign contribution she made in 2006.”

“‘Ms. Riel contends that the City of Santa Monica violated her First Amendment rights of free speech and association,’ Kaplan said in a statement, ‘by rescinding her employment contract because’ of the contribution.”

At first, City Manager Rod Gould would not comment, noting that it was a personnel matter. But later he said: “‘The duties of the Communications and Public Affairs Officer are different from most other positions in that this person must interact with all members of the City Council, various community leaders, the media, other legislators and serve as the official spokesperson for City government,’ he said. ‘To have the trust of all involved, this person must be free of all political alliances.’”

According to Daily Press reporter David Mark Simpson, Kaplan’s “lawsuit would assert claims for breach of Riel’s First Amendments rights of free speech and association, violation of a state code that,” as Kaplan maintains, “‘prohibits restrictions on the political activities of any municipal employee,’ and claims relating to City Hall’s breach of her employment contract.”

For the Record: ACLU Opposes Udall Constitutional Amendment

In a June 3, 2014 letter to Senators Patrick Leahy and  Charles Grassley, the American Civil Liberties Union formally opposed S.J. Res. 19, a proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). The ACLU argued that “would severely limit the First Amendment., lead directly to government censorship of political speech and result in a host of unintended consequences that would undermine the goals the amendment has been introduced to advance—namely encouraging vigorous political dissent and providing voice to the voiceless, which we, of course, support.”

The 8-page letter (signed by Laura Murphy (director of the Washington Legislative Office, and Gabriel Rottman, Legislative Counsel) listed three main objections to the proposal to amend the First Amendment:

  1. The Amendment is Unnecessary and Would be Corrosive to Vigorous Political Debate About the Issues of the Day
  2. The Amendment Could Perversely Harm Freedom of the Press and Would Directly Eviscerate the Freedoms of Speech, Assembly and Petition, and
  3. Amending the Constitution to Limit a Specifically Enumerated Constitutional Right is Unprecedented in the History of the Republic

The letter closed with the following statement:

“For all of these reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose the Udall amendment, and to focus Congress’s attention on enacting effective public financing laws, tightening up the coordination rules, ensuring prosecutors have effective resources to pursue straw donations and other common sense measures for promoting the integrity of our political system.”

“What you must not do is ‘break’ the Constitution by amending the First Amendment.”

[Hat tip to Nadine Strossen]

From FB: How Family court hands over custody to an abuser



Author:Lilia Luciano
Published:12:06 AM PDT May 10, 2018
Updated:11:24 PM PDT May 11, 2018

Family court handles divorces, the division of assets, restraining orders and custody of children.

In most cases, divorcing parents go through the process outside of the courtroom, through mediation.

But high-conflict divorces, when the parties can’t agree, can end up on trial.

From FB: Some Great Law you can use in Motions and Briefs on parental rights

Procedural right to Due Process–parents rights under state kidnap

The right to procedural due process is implicated where a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest is concerned. Board of Regents of St. Colleges v. Roth, 408 US 564 (1972). The crux of procedural due process is the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 US 67 (1972).

The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions as to the companionship, care, custody and management of their children, which right is a protected liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. Troxel v. Granville, 530 US 57, 65-66 (2000). As a result, there can be no doubt that the Fourteenth amendment is implicated whenever the government seeks to separate a parent from his or her child, and due process principles generally require the right to notice and a hearing before children are separated from their parents. Hollingsworth v. Hill, 110 F.3d 733, 739 (10th Cir. 1997). The separation does not have to be carried out with force for due process to be implicated; instead, duress or coercion will be sufficient, such as where a social services worker threatens to place the children in foster care if the children are not “voluntarily” placed outside of the home with family or friends. Croft v. Westmoreland County Children & Youth Services, 103 F.3d 1123, 1125 (3rd. Cir. 1997); Dupuy v. Samuels, 462 F.Supp.2d 859 (ND.Ill. 2005), aff’d, 465 F.3d 757 (7th Cir. 2006).

However, where there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a child is in “imminent danger” of serious harm, a pre-deprivation hearing is not required. Hollingsworth, 110 F.3d at 739. In such a case, several courts have determined that a post deprivation hearing must be afforded within 72 hours, even if such a hearing has not been requested by the family. Patterson v. Armstrong County Children and Youth Services, 141 F.Supp.2d 512, 531-39. (WD Pa. 2001). Some courts have permitted slightly longer or required slightly shorter periods depending on the circumstances. Berman v. Young, 291 F.3D 976, 985 (7th Cir. 2002) (concluding that 72 day delay was “rather outrageous” but finding no damages), Jordan v. Jackson, 15 F.3d 333, 351 (4th Circ. 1994)( concluding that 75 hour delay was constitutionally permissible but was “near, if not at, the outer limit of permissible delay between a child’s removal from his home and judicial review. A delay of this length, absent extraordinary circumstances, for example, cf. County of Riverside, 500 U.S. at —-, 111 S.Ct. at 1670 (“bonafide emergency or other extraordinary circumstance” must be shown to justify delay greater than 48 hours), most certainly would be difficult to justify under either the statute or the Constitution (if it could be justified at all) where a removal is effected other than during, or shortly prior to, a weekend, as the Commonwealth has recognized through its statutory scheme. We are not prepared to say, however, that a delay of this length over an ordinary weekend is so offensive to principles of fairness as to require its invalidation under the Constitution.
The state’s removal of a child from his parents indisputably constitutes an interference with a liberty interest of the parents and thus triggers the procedural protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. There are few rights more fundamental in and to our society than those of parents to retain custody over and care for their children, and to rear their children as they deem appropriate. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 1394, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255, 98 S.Ct. 549, 554-55, 54 L.Ed.2d 511 (1978); Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651, 92 S.Ct. 1208, 1212, 31 L.Ed.2d 551 (1972); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166, 64 S.Ct. 438, 442, 88 L.Ed. 645 (1944); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35, 45 S.Ct. 571, 573-74, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, 43 S.Ct. 625, 626, 67 L.Ed. 1042 (1923); see also Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 386, 98 S.Ct. 673, 681, 54 L.Ed.2d 618 (1978). To say that “the
institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 503, 97 S.Ct. 1932, 1938, 52 L.Ed.2d 531 (1977) (plurality), as the Supreme Court often has said, see e.g., Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110, 123-24, 109 S.Ct. 2333, 2341-42, 105 L.Ed.2d 91 (1989) Page 343 (plurality); Smith v. Organization of Foster Families, 431 U.S. 816, 845, 97 S.Ct. 2094, 2110, 53 L.Ed.2d 14 (1977), borders on understatement. The unitary family is the foundation of
society. Through the intimate relationships of the family, our children are nurtured, tutored in the values and beliefs of our society, and prepared for life. See Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 602, 99 S.Ct. 2493, 2504, 61 L.Ed.2d 101 (1979) (“[P]arents generally ‘have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare [their children] for additional obligations.’ “) (quoting Pierce, 268 U.S. at 535, 45 S.Ct. at 573). Through these relationships,
our children–indeed, we, as parents–are strengthened, fulfilled and sustained. The bonds between parent and child are, in a word, sacrosanct, and the relationship between parent and child inviolable except for the most compelling reasons. Where the state seeks to interfere with these “essential,” Meyer, 262 U.S. at 399, 43 S.Ct. at 626, or “fundamental,” Santosky, 455 U.S. at 753, 102 S.Ct. at 1394, parental rights, its action must satisfy the procedural strictures of the Due Process Clause. Cf. id.; Lassiter v.
Dep’t of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18, 101 S.Ct. 2153, 68 L.Ed.2d 640 (1981). Due process, however, does not always require prior process. See FDIC v. Mallen, 486 U.S. 230, 240, 108 S.Ct. 1780, 1787, 100 L.Ed.2d 265 (1988) (“An important government interest, accompanied by a substantial assurance that the deprivation is not baseless or unwarranted, may in limited cases demanding prompt action justify postponing the opportunity to be heard until after the initial deprivation.”); see also United States v. James Daniel Real Property, — U.S. –
—, —-, 114 S.Ct. 492, 501, 126 L.Ed.2d 490 (1993) (hearing may be postponed until after the event in extraordinary situations) (citing Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67, 82, 92 S.Ct. 1983, 1995, 32 L.Ed.2d 556 (1972)). And, as appellants concede, it is well-settled that the requirements of process may be delayed where emergency action is necessary to avert imminent harm to a child, see Weller v. Dep’t of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 393 (4th Cir.1990); Doe v. Hennepin County, 858 F.2d 1325, 1329 (8th Cir.1988), cert. denied, 490
U.S. 1108, 109 S.Ct. 3161, 104 L.Ed.2d 1023 (1989); Donald v. Polk County, 836 F.2d 376, 380-81 (7th Cir.1988); Hooks v. Hooks, 771 F.2d 935, 942 (6th Cir.1985); Duchesne v. Sugarman, 566 F.2d 817, 826 (2d Cir.1977), provided that adequate post-deprivation process to ratify the emergency action is promptly accorded. See Weller, 901 F.2d at 396; Hennepin County, 858 F.2d at 1329.

From FB/USA Today: Does Judicial immunity cover sexting and sex with female litigants in chambers? I sure hope not.


Immunity lets bad judges off hook for bad behavior
Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree testifies in Washtenaw Circuit Court in Ann Arbor, Mich, on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. During his misconduct hearing, McCree talked about his affair with Geniene La’Shay Mott who appeared as a witness in a child-support case in his court.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree testifies in Washtenaw Circuit Court in Ann Arbor, Mich, on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. During his misconduct hearing, McCree talked about his affair with Geniene La’Shay Mott who appeared as a witness in a child-support case in his court.
DETROIT — Wade McCree Jr. lost his job, but he won’t lose his shirt.


The disgraced judge — who once texted a shirtless photo of himself to a female court bailiff — had an affair with a woman while overseeing her child custody case, had sex with her in his chambers and sexted her from the bench.

But he can’t be sued for money damages over any of that because judges are immune from civil lawsuits — a well-established doctrine that has many in the legal profession demanding change, arguing the McCree case highlights a pervasive problem in the justice system: judges getting away with bad behavior on immunity grounds.  (Note however, the plaintiff was the woman’s boyfriend, and not herself, so that probably made a difference.  It is doubtful that boyfriends and husbands would have standing to sue the judge.  I would hope that the woman would have standing, but in this case it appeared the Judge was favoring her, not demanding she have sex for custody or child support).

“There has to be a point where there is no immunity for judges. When we’re told that certain government officials are off limits — it undermines public confidence in government,” said Connecticut civil rights attorney Norm Pattis, author of “Taking Back the Courts,” a 2011 book that documents flaws in the justice system.

“I don’t think anybody should be above the law, least of all those who administer it,” said Pattis, who called the immunity doctrine “a crazy rule” and the McCree case “outrageous.”


“It’s sort of a medieval relic to suggest that the king can do no wrong, so why sue them,” Pattis said.

And McCree did plenty wrong, said Detroit attorney Joel Sklar. He’s preparing to take the McCree case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has long held that judges are immune from lawsuits for their acts and decisions, even unconstitutional ones. The idea is to help judges stay impartial.

Last Monday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals cited that philosophy in concluding that McCree could not be sued by the father of his mistress’ child, even though his actions were “often reprehensible.”

The ruling baffled Sklar. He represents the father, Robert King, who claims McCree denied him access to a fair and impartial judge by having an affair with Geniene La’Shay Mott when she sued King over child support. King claims McCree’s decisions — such as placing him on a tether — were influenced by his “sexual desires” and that his rulings unfairly favored his mistress.


“This conduct is absurd,” Sklar said. “It’s so beyond description. A judge uses his chambers to have sex with a litigant? … If this isn’t too far, what is too far?”

Consistent rulings

Sklar is facing an uphill battle.

Over the last several decades, federal courts nationwide have consistently ruled against plaintiffs who tried to sue judges for civil damages over decisions they made or misconduct issues. The courts granted immunity to judges under the guidance of the U.S. Supreme Court,which established the judicial immunity doctrine in 1967 when it ruled that a Mississippi justice of the peace was immune from a civil rights suit for trying to enforce illegal segregation laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue again in 1978, when it blocked a lawsuit against an Indiana judge who had authorized the sterilization of a mentally handicapped 15-year-old girl at her mother’s request. The girl, who didn’t learn she was sterile until she got married — she was told she had an appendectomy — sued on due process grounds, but lost.

The high court essentially has held that anything a judge does in his or her capacity as a judge is covered under the immunity clause. But if, for example, a judge unlawfully fires someone, that’s not covered because because hiring or firing is not considered a judicial activity.
This conduct is absurd. A judge uses his chambers to have sex with a litigant? … If this isn’t too far, what is too far?
Meanwhile, only a handful of judges nationwide have been successfully sued for civil rights violations — none in Michigan. One such case involved a Tennessee juvenile court judge who was accused of violating the civil rights of three women by sexually assaulting them and threatening to take their kids away if they didn’t give in. In 1996, the 6th Circuit denied him judicial immunity from civil liability.

Those cases are very rare.

Freedom from fear

According to legal experts, it has long been recognized that in order for judges to be able to make impartial decisions, without fear of repercussions, they need to be immune from lawsuits.

“We don’t want judges looking over their shoulder, being worried about being sued by litigants. And we don’t want litigants being able to take judges to court for everything they think they’ve done wrong,” said Michael Crowell, a public law and government professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

But just because you can’t sue judges for money damages doesn’t mean they can get away with bad behavior or an unfair decision, Crowell said. He noted that judges who engage in misconduct can be removed from the bench — as McCree was. The Michigan Supreme Court removed him from the bench in March and suspended him without pay for six years, just in case he is re-elected to office this fall.


Crowell said that judges can be criminally prosecuted if their conduct is bad enough. Or a litigant unhappy with a judge’s decision can use the misconduct as grounds for an appeal.

“Judicial immunity protects a judge from being sued … but that doesn’t get the judge off the hook altogether,” Crowell said, noting he’d be “very surprised” if the U.S. Supreme Court takes the McCree case.

Loosening the immunity doctrine would trigger a tsunami of lawsuits against judges, discourage appeals and strip judges of their independent decision-making authority — all of which would hurt the justice system, said Sheldon Nahmod, a constitutional law and civil rights professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“The Supreme Court does not really need to get into this,” he said.

2 Tennessee cases

Judicial immunity is a sore spot for Stuart James, a civil rights lawyer in Chattanooga, Tenn., who is handling two civil suits against state judges — one of whom escaped liability recently. That case involved a judge accused of propositioning a woman for sex in exchange for him issuing a warrant for some individuals she claimed attacked her.

In February, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that even if the judge did ask her for sex, he was protected by the immunity doctrine. The judge, however, lost his job and was indicted on criminal charges. He just can’t be sued for money.

That’s not enough for James. He believes that if a judicial panel has removed someone from the bench for misconduct, the immunity defense shouldn’t hold up anymore.

“If your conduct was so reprehensible that you’re being taken off the job … I think they should be monetarily liable,” James said. “That’s the way our justice system works. Victims should be compensated for what’s been done with them.”

As for the immunity doctrine, he said: “There’s gotta be a change … because unfortunately, there are a lot of bad judges.”


From VR: Excellent case law on supervised visitation

Supervised Visitation
Supervised visitation is only appropriate where a parent poses a severe threat or
harm to a child.
A Sampling of Cases on Restriction of Visitation:
T.M., In re, 706 N.E.2d 931, 302 Ill.App.3d 33, 236 Ill.Dec. 57 (Ill. App. 1 Dist., 1998)
(Sexual assault/fondling and alcoholism by step father)
In re Marriage of Chehaiber, 334 Ill. Dec. 408 (2nd Dist. 2009):
A court shall not restrict a parent’s visitation rights unless it finds that the visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” 750 ILCS 5/607(c) (West 2008)
A parent, by statute, is entitled to a hearing before visitation is restricted in any manner.
In re Marriage of Anderson, 130 Ill. App. 3d 684 (2nd Dist. 1985)
With respect to the restriction of visitation, the endangerment standard is an
onerous one (In re Marriage of Hanson (1983), 112 Ill.App.3d 564 , 568, 68 Ill.Dec. 268 ,
445 N.E.2d 912 ; In re Marriage of Neat (1981), 101 Ill.App.3d 1046 1048, 57 Ill.Dec.
413 , 428 N.E.2d 1093 ), and is more stringent or exacting than the best interest standard
( 84 Ill.App.3d 901 , 907, 40 Ill.Dec. 197 , 405 N.E.2d 1289 ; Ill.Ann.Stat. ch. 40, par.
607(c), Supplement to Historical and Practice Notes, at 27 (Smith-Hurd Supp.1983);
see 101 Ill.App.3d 1046 1048, 57 Ill.Dec. 413 , 428 N.E.2d 1093 ).

Where the custodial parent seeks to restrict visitation rights, he or she bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the existing visitation seriously endangers the child.
(Griffiths v. Griffiths (1984), 127 Ill.App.3d 126 , 129, 82 Ill.Dec. 220 , 468 N.E.2d 482 ; 101
Ill.App.3d 1046 1048, 57 Ill.Dec. 413 , 428 N.E.2d 1093 ). It should be noted that there
were allegations of sexual abuse by the father.
The August 10 order clearly restricted the respondent’s visitation with Marc. The
trial court did not make the requisite finding that the visitation would seriously endanger Marc’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health (Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 40, par. 607(c)), but rather found that the restriction in visitation was in “the best interests of the minor child”. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court erred in restricting the
respondent’s visitation rights. See In re Marriage of Solomon (1980), 84 Ill.App.3d 901 ,
907, 40 Ill.Dec. 197 , 405 N.E.2d 1289 ;

Pleasant v. Pleasant, 256 Ill. App. 3d 742 (1st Dist. 1993)
Allegations of sexual abuse.
In re Marriage of Lombaer, 200 Ill. App.3d 712 (1’1 Dist. 1990)
Mother being in hospital and refusing to take medication insufficient to restrict her
The standards within section 602 provide that the court shall determine custody
in [200 Ill.App.3d 723] accordance with the best interest of the child giving
consideration to:
(1) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his custody;
(2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian;
(3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his
siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best
(4) the child’s adjustment to his home, school and community;
(5) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; and
(6) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential
custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
but witnessed by the child.

In re Marriage of Neat, 428 N.E.2d 1093, 101 Ill.App.3d 1046, 57 Ill.Dec. 413 (Ill.
App. 1 Dist., 1981)
Mother’s demeanor in court (swaying, glazed eyes) insufficient to restrict or terminate
visitatin. “(c)ourts are reluctant to deny all visitation rights because of the underlying rationale that parents have a natural or inherent right of access to their children and that the sound public policy of this State encourages the [101 Ill.App.3d 1049] maintenance of strong inter-family relationships, even in post-divorce situations. Only very extreme circumstances require and allow the trial court to permanently deprive a parent of visitation.” 54 Ill.App.3d at 1015, 12 Ill.Dec. 680 , 370 N.E.2d 303 .
In re Marriage of Lee, 615 N.E.2d 1314, 246 Ill.App.3d 628, 186 Ill.Dec. 257 (Ill. App.
4 Dist., 1993 )
Both parties violent. Custody awarded to mother. Father awarded reasonable visitation.
Taraboletti v. Taraboletti, 56 Ill. App. 3d 854, 14 Ill. Dec. 350, 372 N.E.2d 155 (1978)
Termination of visitation rights: The testimony at the trial on the merits in the original
divorce produced the following facts: That the defendant had threatened to kill her
daughter, Carla, on a number of occasions; that defendant threatened to push her
daughter, Carla, down a flight of steps; that defendant threatened to kill her husband,
the plaintiff, and had struck him at various times; that defendant had tried to strike
plaintiff and plaintiff’s mother with an automobile; that plaintiff was fearful for the
children’s safety when they were with the defendant; and that the defendant did not
rebut any of this evidence against her. At the proceeding on the defendant’s petition to
change custody from plaintiff to herself, the following evidence was presented:
defendant had chased the plaintiff with a pan of boiling water while the children were
present; that defendant had struck plaintiff’s car with a garden rake while the children
were present; that during a confrontation, one of the minor children, David, age 10,
warned his father that the defendant was going to “kick him in the crotch”, that
defendant did strike plaintiff below the belt while the children were present and that
police assistance was required; that on another occasion defendant struck the plaintiff,
knocking off his glasses, and ripping his shirt,… Holding: visitation terminated for
defendant. Affirmed.

From Joanne;

I am publishing this because I am getting  a lot of complaints that parties are losing custody based on the following: child not attending day care (shouldn’t a pre school kid be with a parent while the other one works?  this isn’t school, it’s preschool); mother gets supervised visitation with a supervisor at $50 per hour when she makes minimum wage, which means the court has basically told her no visitation. What is wrong with these judges? and the GALs seem to be behind all of the problems.

From EB: How to order Federal Court Records on line and why aren’t all court cases online for cheap or free?

As of the writing of this post today, Dorothy Brown’s records are not online.

DuPage county does not allow laptops or cell phone in the court house (why is that?)

The Cook County satellite courts do not allow cell phones or laptop in the courthouse (why is that?)

As a result, it looks like something really, really fishy is going on in Illinois.

In an open and democratic country all court records, including appellate court records and briefs (why rewrite a brief, just get one case that has already explored the issue, why rehash the past, when in fact we should be advancing the law).

In an open an democratic country, you should be able to bring your laptop into court and take notes, blog or whatever.  You can’t do that in Illinois.  We have an US and Illinois constitution but apparently those stop working when you cross the courtroom door threshold.

So if you get a chance today, please write your elected or appointed Clerk of Court and demand that they make all court records available for cheap or free.

From Google:  Dorothy Brown Clerk of Court

AddressRichard J Daley Center, 50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Ask her to get all court records online and only charge 8 cents per page or less like Pacer does in Federal Court.  It’s kind of like blackmail when the taxpayer owns the court documents, and then they want to sell them back to you at 25 cents a page or more. those are YOUR documents.  Ask her to permit the use of cell phones and laptops in the courtrooms because that’s provided for under the US and Illinois constitutions.

For Federal Appellate records, apparently the Federal Documents services used to do this, but now all records are online.  Pacer goes back to 2000 for every appellate case, so check there for old briefs and records.

Please write the clerks of court for each Illinois Appellate court and demand they put all briefs and motions online for the public to see.

1st District Appellate
Clerk’s Office

(no name on website for clerk)
160 North LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 793-5484 
Office Hours: 8:30 – 4:30
2nd District Appellate
Clerk’s Office

Mr. Robert Mangan, Clerk
Appellate Court Building
55 Symphony Way
Elgin, IL 60120
(847) 695-3750
Office Hours: 8:30 – 4:30
3rd District Appellate
Clerk’s Office

Ms. Barbara Trumbo, Clerk
1004 Columbus Street
Ottawa, IL 61350
(815) 434-5050
Office Hours: 8:30 – 4:30
4th District Appellate
Clerk’s Office

Ms. Carla Bender, Clerk
201 West Monroe Street
P.O. Box 19206
Springfield, IL 62794-9206
(217) 782-2586
Office Hours: 8:30 – 4:30
5th District Appellate
Clerk’s Office

Mr. John Flood, Clerk
14th & Main Street
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
(618) 242-3120
Office Hours: 8:30 – 4:30

Also write the presiding judge,  Illinois Supreme Court

Mr. Lloyd Karmeier

Ms. Carolyn Taft Grosboll, Clerk

Clerk’s Office – Springfield
Supreme Court Building
200 E. Capitol Springfield, IL 62701
(217) 782-2035

If anyone can call and get their email addresses, that would be great too!






from FB: Canadian citizen arrested in Cook County GA because a Canadian driver’s license “not valid”?

what is it about the name “Cook County” that just implies gross incompetence?


“OK, I’m in the back of a police car, I’m in cuffs.,” said Emily Nield as she sat in the back of a Cook County deputy’s vehicle.

Emily, a Canadian woman, posted a Snapchat video from the back of a Cook County Sheriff’s vehicle last month after she was arrested for not having a valid driver’s license.

Emily told deputies she had a valid Canadian driver’s license but said they put her in handcuffs anyway.

Interstate 75 brings approximately one million travelers through Cook County each month. With those travelers, law enforcement regularly encounters individuals who are engaged in crimes such as identity theft and will have on their person a license that is not their(‘s) or of those stolen or illegally reproduced. That is why we follow Georgia DDS guidelines and request a passport or visa to verify their identity. – Capt. Brent Exum of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office

Emily’s Snapchat went viral after her arrest on April 2 and she has done several interviews with Canadian media telling her story.

Emily was driving back to Tennessee from Florida when she was pulled over by a Cook County deputy for speeding.

The deputy asked for her driver’s license and Emily, a Canadian citizen, showed the officer her Ontario license. But the deputy told her, it wasn’t valid.

“I was confused. It was so loud at the side of the highway I thought I had misheard her,” explained Emily.

The deputy asked Emily to pull out an original copy of her passport, something Emily said she doesn’t keep on her. Next thing she knew, she was in handcuffs.

Below is a WALB digital exclusive uncut interview with Emily:

“I’ve never been arrested, I’ve never been in cuffs,” said Emily in her Snapchat from the deputy’s vehicle.

After the arrest, Emily said she was told she would have to pay the almost $900 bond in cash or stay in jail until a June court date.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office, in a statement released Monday night, said that’s not true.

On CBC Toronto, it was reported that had Ms. Nield not post a cash bond she would have been in jail until June 12. That is not correct. Georgia law states that any individual who is arrested on a non-warrant is entitled to a first appearance hearing to be advised of their rights and bond within 48 hours of arrest. It is important to note that despite the driver’s license issue, Georgia law allows law enforcement officers to require the posting of a cash bond for non-residents even for the offense of speeding because their driver’s license cannot be displayed in lieu of bail. – Cook County Sheriff’s Office

Without the cash, Emily said she felt trapped.

“Eventually they just let me pay in debit because I was telling them the only way I can pay in cash is if you have an ATM inside the jailhouse,” explained Emily.

Finally, Emily said a deputy looked up the law and released her.

“I was able to drive an hour north and then I checked into a hotel, I needed to shower jail off me ’cause I was fingerprinted, mugshot, I wore orange,” said Emily.

The Cook County Solicitor Matthew Bennett did say he dropped the license charge against Emily. He said the confusion was from Emily telling the deputy she lived in Tennessee, where she would have to register for a Tennessee license.

After reviewing the facts of the case and in consultation with the arresting agency, I chose not to prosecute the case and entered a nolle prosequi. The probate court worked with Ms. Nield’s attorney to have her record restricted and sealed. The confusion that arose in this case was the fact Ms. Nield stated she lived in Tennessee. Non-permanent residents in the United States legally are permitted to get a Tennessee driver’s license or ID card that expires at the end of their visa. – Bennett

But Emily told WALB that her license is valid six months after leaving Canada and that she had left the country on February 4.

Emily said that despite what happened, she doesn’t have any hard feelings against the sheriff’s office or the state of Georgia.

“The Cook County judge and the probate court were amazing. Everyone I dealt with in Georgia was amazing in helping this case be dismissed and I cannot thank them enough,” said Emily.

Emily told WALB that she doesn’t plan to file a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

After Emily’s Snapchat video went viral, the Canadian Consulate reached out to Cook County officials for a conference call on Tuesday.

Below is a press release from Cook County about the conference call between the Canadian Consul General and Cook County officials:

ADEL, GA – Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Canadian Consul General Nadia Theodore and Cook County, Georgia officials meet via conference call to discuss how the parties could move forward in the wake of an incident involving a Canadian citizen.

Cook County Sheriff Douglas Hanks, Capt Brent Exum, and Judge Chase Daughtrey participated in the meeting with Ms. Theodore, which she initiated, to discuss best practices for law enforcement officers and Canadian citizens that visit Georgia. As a result of the meeting, Cook County Officials assured Canadian travelers that Georgia is open for business, their citizens would be treated with respect, due process would be afforded to it citizens, and any non-citizen who is arrested would be able to contact their regional consulate.

“Today’s meeting highlights what can be achieved when lines of communication are open. I appreciate Consul General Theodore listening to our thoughts, suggestions, and remedies as it relates to travelers from our respective countries. I look forward to future dialogue with the Canadian government on important issues such as these.” stated Judge Chase Daughtrey.

“The men and women of my office are dedicated public servants. They are taught to be professional and courtesy. As I explained to Consul General Theodore, her citizens will be treated with respect and dignity and will be treated no different than that of Americans or any other person whom we come into contact with.” remarked Sheriff Douglas Hanks.

from Joanne:

And I thought Canada was our 51st state, so much for being friendly to Canadians.

It’s hard to believe that a police officer would not know that a Canadian license is completely valid in the US

From KKD: Dr. Sugar’s new book on Guardianship

Exploiting the elderly has become one of the most prolific American Industries, and the safest criminal enterprise in history.    The funding necessary to create success is available through government and insurance company sources in large (health care fraud).    The individual victims are an easy mark and theft of their assets is added perk.      Most importantly, the guardian provides in many situations an important service that is laudable and essential; however, in other situations it is a dark world designed to prey on the helpless, the infirm, and the vulnerable.

Dr. Sugar’s expose, to wit: Guardianships and the Elderly, the Perfect Crime exposes in a concise, direct, and straight forward manner the predation of HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the elderly that is plaguing America and assaulting her core values.      In few pages, Guardianships educates the reader not only the ‘history’ of the enterprise, but its statutory origins and most importantly the perpetrators.    The book is a primer not only for ‘law enforcement,’ but also the members of the general public who do not which to be victims or family members of victims.     Education and awareness are the two guide posts of Democracy.

Few individuals have the qualifications to meet the challenge that is required to credibly expose the corruption associated with the felonies of Elder Cleansing.     (Elder Cleansing being the isolation of an elderly person so that corrupt individuals through the usage of corrupt guardianships can be systematically deprived of their humanity, property, human and civil rights).    As a physician and caring relative of a victim Sugar explores not only the societal background that gives rise to the Parens Patrie concerns of guardianship, but, the concerns of society that promulgate not only the criminal corruption that is the target of the book, but the root corruptions that foster the cottage industry.    It is an ‘everything you wanted to know and were afraid to ask’ expose.

The villains exposed in this expose are for the most part respected people in the community, many of whom are in the Political and Judicial spectrum.    Many contribute to charities and social service organizations and are routinely honored.      This respected citizens operate a ‘dark society’ that corrupts our political and judicial system so that their operatives can navigate judicial corruption to successfully strip targeted elderly of their assets, their humanity, and their civil rights.    Indeed, in the pages of his book after defining terms Sugar outlines just how a guardian can and does take over the assets of a victim and depletes it through kickbacks, theft, overcharges, and court ordered fees.    The “feeding tube” scenario is exposed along with a common method of remunerating the Judge or other public official responsible for protecting the human trafficking enterprise.

The October 9, 2017 New Yorker article exposing an elder cleansing case arising out of Nevada created more ripples than the Four Government Accounting Office reports to Congress, however, it was quickly shoved aside by carefully crafted articles distracting from the horrors of this human trafficking; however, anyone who reads Guardianships is going to come away a sense of the perfidy and betrayal that have befallen some of our most vulnerable elderly.     Sugar is specific in pointing out WHO and How.     The reader with empathy and understanding cannot help but come away with a cornerstone of knowledge as why or how he/she and his/her loved ones are threatened.     For instance, the image of the ‘unreachable’ judge is shattered!     Sugar reveals just how in a virtually undetectable manner the pious jurist accepts a bribe[1] and the care protocol that immobilizes the victim.    In one place, the reader and in particular law enforcement has a text that obviates any excuse for not cracking down on this cancer that is destroying America.

[1] The public official travels to his local bank and applies and receives a loan equal to an amount in excess of the agreed to bribe remuneration.    The public officials makes a few payments on the loan.   The briber clandestinely in an agreed manner sees that the loan account receives sufficient credits to liquidate the debt (or agreed portion thereof).

Ken Ditkowsky

From Joanne:

Sounds great. I hope to receive a copy of the book soon so I can review it and put it on my blog.

From FB: New law proposes no more state guardians–families to work out disputes

Bill to update guardianship laws clears Senate panel

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill aimed at easing the state’s growing burden as guardian of vulnerable elderly and disabled people moved a step closer to clearing the legislature Wednesday.

The measure, which seeks to ease the strain by ensuring that more relatives take on guardianship roles, won unanimous approval from the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, without any changes.

The bill goes next to the full Senate. The House approved it by a vote of 79-3 early this month.

It comes as the state struggles with growing caseloads of people who become wards of the state. The state is currently guardian for 4,448 wards, said Tim Feeley, deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“We have a system where our guardianship program continues to grow and grow and grow, and we can’t keep up with it,” he told the committee.

State guardians are juggling caseloads of 65 to 70 wards apiece, about three times more than that recommended by national guidelines, Feeley said.

Under the current system, when families are fighting over who will serve as a relative’s guardian, judges sometimes resolve the matter by appointing the state as guardian, the bill’s supporters said.

Under the bill, judges would have to determine that “exceptional circumstances” exist to appoint the state as guardian.

The bill “makes the family have to work it out,” said main sponsor Republican Rep. Daniel Elliott of Danville.

Unlike some neighboring states, Kentucky has no cap on the number of wards in its public guardianship program, and Feeley spoke against imposing such limits.

“I don’t think a cap is the right idea, because there’s always one more case that we need,” he said.

Much of the discussion in committee focused on another provision, which would allow jury trials to be waived in guardianship matters when all participants consent to a judge deciding the case.

Supporters stressed that the right to a jury trial would remain intact for anyone wanting it. Kentucky is the last state to require jury trials in such guardianship matters, Feeley said.

The provision was opposed by Heidi Schissler Lanham, legal director at Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, an agency that provides legal representation for people with disabilities.

She said jury trials should remain without a bench trial option. Those cases determine whether vulnerable people lose such rights as disposal of property, where they live and medical treatment, she said.

“We need to continue to have jury trials in guardianship cases,” she said. “You’re taking away important rights.”

The legislation also would shield public guardians employed by the state from personal liability unless their actions were grossly negligent.


The legislation is House Bill 5.

From FB/FD: Horrifying story of 93 year old woman neglected in nursing home in Georgia dies from raging untreated scabies infection

This is too horrible for words.  How can such neglect and abuse happen?


Rebecca Zeni’s carers ‘were warned that the scabies ‘eating her to death’ meant the ex-model’s hand would FALL OFF if they touched it’

Her distraught family are suing Pruitt Health – who own the Georgia-based nursing home – for neglect

STAFF at a care home were told not to touch an elderly former model’s scabies-infested hand in case it fell off, her family have claimed.

Disturbing pictures show how Rebecca Zeni, 93, was “eaten alive” by a horrifying outbreak of scabies which led to her dying from septicemia in June, 2015.

 Rebecca Zeni was infested with parasites that should have been treated, its claimed

Rebecca Zeni was infested with parasites that should have been treated, its claimed

Scabies is an agonising and maddeningly itchy skin condition caused by parasitic mites which burrow into the skin and lay eggs before feasting on the body.

Rebecca’s relatives are now suing Pruitt Health – who own the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette, Georgia – for neglect.

The family’s lawyer Mike Prieto claims that staff at the home were told “not to touch Zeni’s hand” over fears “it might fall off her body.”

He told “I don’t understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly.

 This photograph shows Rebecca Zeni's blackened hand which was said to have been caused by scabies

This photograph shows Rebecca Zeni’s blackened hand which was said to have been caused by scabies
 Her family claim she was 'eaten alive' by the horrifying condition

Her family claim she was ‘eaten alive’ by the horrifying condition
 Rebecca found fame as a glamorous model in New York

Rebecca found fame as a glamorous model in New York
 During World War Two she did her bit working in a dockyard

During World War Two she did her bit working in a dockyard

One of the horrifying photographs released shows the elderly woman’s hand which appears to have turned black, is covered in dead skin and has long overgrown finger nails.

Rebecca, who was once a glamorous model working in New York, was placed in the home in 2010 after she was diagnosed with dementia.

It has emerged that state health officials knew of the outbreak of scabies but never investigated the problem or inspected Shepherds Hill.

The condition is curable with a permethrin cream which needs to be applied at regular intervals for at least a week and maybe more depending on how bad it is.

Dr Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist, who has studied Rebecca’s autopsy report said her case was “one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist.”

He added: “I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect” while admitting that the 93-year-old would have suffered a painful death.

From ECG: Police escalate situation and then taze another RN–this one because he wanted to stay with him mom while she was being treated in the ER

As I have been told by hospital staff, never get between a son and his mother.  If a relative dies, and there are men around, everyone is quickly shuffled off to the basment to be with the body. Why?  While women will cry, men tend to like to punch out walls and throw chairs. That’s how they grieve.


In any case, I find the following report fairly shameful:

Police use Taser on Tennessee nurse after he allegedly punched officer in the face

Police officers shocked a Tennessee nurse with a Taser on Thursday after he refused to leave a hospital and then punched an officer in the face, court documents show.

Roger Davis, 42, was charged with “two counts of assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct” after he allegedly refused to leave the emergency room at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga after his medical colleagues asked him to leave. Davis is an employee of the hospital but it’s unclear if he was on duty, ABC News reported.


Police used a Taser on Roger W. Davis last week after he refused to leave the Erlanger Hospital.  (Hamilton County Jail )

Chattanooga Officers Sarah Rogers and her partner, referred to as “Officer Woody” in a court document, responded to a call from the hospital regarding Davis. Rogers said she asked Davis to speak lower and said he would have to leave if he continued to raise his voice.

Davis reportedly replied: “Then do it.” The officer told him to leave the building but he did not, the arrest affidavit said.


“At this point I placed my hand on his arm to escort him out the door. As I did this, Mr. Davis started swinging his arms in an attempt to keep me from making him leave,” Rogers said.

“I attempted to take Mr. Davis into custody. Mr. Davis continued swinging his arms and fists at one point punching Officer Woody in the face, busting his lip.”

Davis was told to “put his hands behind his back and to quit fighting the police” but refused to, officials said. He also told officers to “go head” and use a stun gun. The officers tried to use the “take-down technique” but were unsuccessful, police said.

“I pulled my Taser. I placed it on Mr. Davis’ chest and advised three times if he would not stop resisting … I would deploy my Taser,” Rogers said. “Mr. Davis finally rolled over on his stomach and we were able to place him into custody.”

A video of the incident shot by a witness showed Davis refusing to comply with officers. Ethan Raymond, the person who shot the video, said he believed the officer was provoking the nurse.

“When they pulled out the taser, that’s when the nurse said he had a heart condition,” Raymond told News Channel 9.


“[Rogers] was way out of line,” Raymond said. “I just know what I saw was the cop that’s supposed to diffuse it and instead she was the aggressor, from what I saw.”

The hospital released a statement thanking officers for “containing the situation.”

“Erlanger would like to thank our associates, security and the Chattanooga Police Department for containing the situation that occurred on the evening of April 26. Because of their diligence, patient care in the emergency department was in no way impacted as a result of this isolated incident,” the statement read.

From FB: murdered teen girl was a runaway from a foster group home, but no one reporter her missing. no one ever investigated her disappearance.

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF – For many, adding to the tragedy of 15-year-old Stacy Duke’s murder is knowing she was here in Bakersfield seemingly alone. The teen’s older brother says she was loved, but she had a difficult life. He says Stacy did what she had to do in order to survive.

Adam Pittman says his sister’s short life was filled with struggle as she was born into the foster care system. “Foster care, it’s not what you want to know in life, not what you want to learn…how to run the government or how the government can run you”, says Pittman.

He says he and Stacy’s mother had four children, but they never all lived together at once, they were always in and out of the system. He says the family is originally from San Bernardino.  He says his mother loved them, but she struggled with addiction.

He says Stacy’s dream was to get out of foster care and go back home. “She just wanted to live with her family again and be with her family.”

Pittman says he last spoke to his 15-year-old sister around 4 months ago. She told him she was safe, living in Bakersfield with a boyfriend. “She called me personally and said ‘I’m on the run, I don’t want to be in foster care anymore, I don’t want to be in a foster home’. She was doing everything she had to do to survive as a homeless teen.”

Pittman says he is also homeless, living in Los Angeles. He says he disagreed with her decision to runaway and urged her to go back, but he admits he understands why she ran.

“She expressed to me every time she got to talk to me, ‘I hate where I live, I hate that I’m in the foster care system’. You don’t see the neglect from families who act like they care about you, but in the end they’re only there for that $900 check they get at the end of the month”, says Pittman.

He says their mother is in prison on drug charges, but will be getting out soon and was planning on taking care of Stacy when she did. He says he would do anything for just one more moment with his little sister. “To tell her she is strong, stronger than I was ever, just to be by her side and tell her she is loved, that’s all I want…I wish I could’ve…that’s my regret.”

But Pittman says he knows Stacy knew her family loved her and thought about her everyday. Since learning his sister was strangled to death inside a Bakersfield garage, he’s struggled with his emotions, but says he forgives his sister’s killer, because that’s what she would’ve wanted.

“My sister, she lived from the heart, she loved from the heart. She never hated people. She hated situations and circumstances, but she never hated people”, says Pittman.

Bakersfield Police say Stacy Duke was reported missing from group homes numerous times throughout the years, but no one had reported her missing this last time she ran away.


 From Joanne;
and just how many children are missing from the foster care/DCFS system in Illinois?  Why do we put up with this. DCFS/foster care should not get another dime until they can account for every child every day. Disgusting.
Here is DCFS plan–locate and report all missing children ASAP
Here is the reality:
3100 kids missing in 2014 and I could find no audit since then.
Why are these people even getting a dime of tax payer funds when there is no current audit published on the internet and 3100 kids were missing in 2014?

From NASGA: Time to reform probate court

Opinion: It’s time to reform probate court

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 12:18 AM PDT

By Ben Bartlett

Predatory for-profit conservators often take advantage of the elderly by charging huge fees and isolating them from the community.

In 2013, a former Berkeley resident, Greg Cooke, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A physician deemed Mr. Cooke’s wife unable to care for him, and he was referred to a nursing home. A private conservator became aware of Mr. Cooke’s situation and began to petition for conservatorship. Mr. Cooke’s wife fought to retain her role as his caregiver, but ultimately, the Alameda County Probate Court assigned Mr. Cooke to the private conservator.  The conservator began billing Mr. Cooke $8,000 a month in the form of excessive fees and charges. The conservator refused to communicate with Mr. Cooke’s family regarding his condition. They refused his family visitation rights and recently sent a letter to Mr. Cooke’s wife stating that he was deceased. Yet, in spite of the letter, the conservator has continued to bill Mr. Cooke’s estate.

Our probate court system is failing seniors and people with disabilities such as Mr. Cooke. Predatory for-profit conservators are taking advantage of vulnerable community members through a system of conservatorship that is rife with elder abuse and civil-rights violations. This process is a part of a larger trend robbing families of color of their property and wealth. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and it is time to address this problem.

A conservatorship in California is a probate court proceeding where a judge appoints a caretaker for an adult unable to care for him or herself.

Once a conservatorship is established, the caretaker (legally termed a ‘conservator’) has nearly total control over the person put under his or her care (a ‘conservatee’).

Conservators become responsible for every aspect of a conservatee’s life, including all property, possessions, finances, and even medical and personal decisions. For example, conservators choose the individual’s doctors, dictate whether or not relatives visit, and can even sell a conservatee’s house, and spend their money.

Conservatorship was designed to help families protect relatives unable to care for themselves. Mostly, it is used for seniors who cannot manage their own lives. Conservatorship is also used to assist adults who are disabled or the victims of catastrophic illness or accident.

Despite this noble intent, the system can fail the very people it was designed to protect. Professional conservators can petition for conservatorship of an individual, even without the knowledge and consent of the individual or their family. Judges often grant approvals for conservatorships with little scrutiny in hasty hearings.

Predatory conservators profit by billing the estates of the conservatees, charging exorbitant fees for miniscule, unnecessary, or fabricated tasks. These practices quickly deplete the wealth of the seniors and disabled persons who are supposed to be under their care. As a result, families are denied their inheritance and in the most tragic cases, seniors lose retirement savings and become homeless or financially dependent on relatives. In addition to financial predation, conservatees are often victims of abuse. There have been reports of these vulnerable individuals being confined and isolated, sexually violated, or physically abused.

Over the past decade, state legislators have passed various laws aimed at targeting this issue, most notably the Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Reform Act of 2006. Since this reform, courts have been tasked with increased procedures for monitoring conservatorships. Regulations have also been imposed on professional conservators. Experts agree that California has decent probate laws on the books.

Yet, there continue to be reports of elder abuse and civil rights violations within the court system. Why? Because we have failed to allocate additional funding to enforce these critical laws that protect our most vulnerable citizens. Unless courts and court investigators receive sufficient funding, these laws will be nothing more than empty and meaningless statements of governmental principle.

There is a growing movement for probate court reform. The Berkeley City Council recently passed a council item requesting that District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and the Judicial Council investigate this matter. I call upon the Berkeley community to join and help advocate for our seniors. Please contact your state legislators, district attorney, and the Judicial Council to investigate abuses within our probate court system, enact positive changes and protect our families from this theft. Simply put, our elders deserve better.

Full Article & Source:
Opinion: It’s time to reform probate court

Bills on governor’s desk would boost elder abuse protections

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 12:32 AM PDT

Suffering in silence, some older adults may never tell law enforcement or authorities about government benefits and other income being stolen by family, friends or caregivers.

“That’s a really hard one to deal with because many times that older person doesn’t want everybody to know what their flesh and blood is doing to them,” said Pat Freeman, chief executive officer of the Oakwood-based Legacy Link.

A trio of bills sent to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk this month would empower the elderly, their families and their advocates against abuse and exploitation. First lady Sandra Deal co-chairs the Older Adults Cabinet with Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn Crittenden. The cabinet is an executive committee created in 2017 to address issues such as housing, health care and exploitation.

“I think for a lot of the bigger issues we’re seeing with older adults especially is financial exploitation. Family, friends and caregivers befriend the older adults and then help themselves to assets and so forth,” said Pat King, team leader of the forensic special investigations unit inside the state’s Division of Aging Services.

According to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, reports to law enforcement on elder abuse or exploitation jumped from 18 cases in 2014 to 46 in 2015. In 2017, there were 56 reports.

Adult Protective Services’ policy writer/trainer Sharee Rines said the numbers statewide continue to rise.

“Over probably the last five years, our numbers have continued to go up,” she said.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Brett Roach said financial exploitation is one of the main complaints investigated. Some cases involve abusing power of attorney, and the investigators work closely with Probate Court on such cases.

“Just because you are the power of attorney doesn’t make it where you can make a financial gain off of it,” Roach said.

House Bill 803 concerns trafficking elderly and disabled people, where a person “recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains” people “for the purpose of appropriating the resources … for one’s own or another person’s benefit.” These resources are often Social Security payments and other financial help for the elderly.

Anyone convicted of such trafficking would be guilty of a felony punishable by jail time between 12 months and 20 years, a maximum fine of $100,000 or both.

The trafficking statute is defined as “deception, coercion, exploitation or isolation.” Isolation is considered preventing a disabled or elderly person of having any contact with friends, family, law enforcement or others against their will.

“Even bank employees have gone to training about signs to look for, like if someone is illegally and without permission taking charge of a loved one’s assets,” Freeman said.

In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office authored a report saying it had identified “hundreds of allegations of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by guardians” in 45 states and Washington D.C.

“In 20 selected closed cases, GAO found that guardians stole or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated victims, many of whom were seniors,” according to the report.

If family members are concerned about a loved one’s care in an assisted living facility or nursing home, Freeman said all licensed facilities must have a poster with Legacy Link’s number to call about complaints.

The agency’s ombudsman are advocates for the residents who settle issues before law enforcement or state government agencies get involved.

Regarding the increase in reports, King pointed to the 2012 initiative known as the At-Risk Adult Crime Tactics training, which is a 16-hour course for primary and secondary responders.

“We want to make sure when someone calls 911 — whoever answers that phone until the case goes to court — we want to make sure anybody that touches that case knows what abuse looks like, what questions to ask, how to build a case, who the mandated reporters are … so forth and so on,” King said.

Roach said investigators will look at living conditions and what type of care the person is receiving.

When her team started tracking arrests and where they’ve done training last year, King said there was a positive correlation between the two, suggesting that the training is helping to identify exploitation that previously wasn’t reported.

Senate Bill 406, which was part of Deal’s final criminal justice reform package, concerns background checks and licensing for employees and facilities.

“One of the things that we’ve seen a number of times this past year is people are opening up homes (that) they say it’s assisted living or they call it a personal care home. They’re not licensed. They’re not following the rules that they should be for safety’s sake and feeding people as they should,” Freeman said.

Legacy Link’s ombudsman helped law enforcement and state government agencies in finding these places and helping shut them down.

“Many times, the owners just go to a different county or a different place in the state and start all over again,” Freeman said.

According to the bill, those submitting an application for a new license must send in a records check application for each owner, applicant and employee.

“On or before Jan. 1, 2021, each owner and employee of a currently licensed facility shall furnish to the department a records check application,” according to the bill. “In lieu of such records check application, a facility may submit evidence, satisfactory to the department, that within the immediately preceding 12 months each owner and employee received a satisfactory determination.”

Background checks will be processed through the Georgia Crime Information Center and the FBI.

House Bill 635 would increase information sharing among agencies investigating elder abuse and developing local task forces.

“Our Adult Protective Services unit cannot currently share its files with medical examiners and coroners, so that bill authorizes us to do that, should it be signed into law,” said Ashley Fielding Cooper, the chief operations officer for the Division of Family and Children Services.

If signed, the law would allow the prosecuting attorney, law enforcement, other state agencies involved in the investigation and coroners/medical examiners to have access to these abuse reports.

The district attorney of each judicial circuit would also be able to establish an “adult abuse, neglect and exploitation multidisciplinary team,” which would review responses to abuse reports and identify areas to improve. Cooper said the review team would be similar to the child fatality review completed by county committees annually.

“It does clarify some sharing of records information and clarify with Adult Protective Services, so it can be an asset in those communities that are able to form such a team,” said Julia Fisher Strauss, associate general counsel for the Division of Aging Services.

Full Article & Source:
Bills on governor’s desk would boost elder abuse protections