About jmdenison

Patent and Trademark Attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois accepting clients nationwide. We also do trademarks, general intellectual property and business litigation. See our website at www.DenisonLaw.com. Now suspended for 3 years by the Illinois Atty Regn and Disciplinary Commission for blogging about corruption and telling truths that the ARDC wants to cover up. Still a patent agent, tho.

Humbolt County California corruption victim seeking low cost/fee housing near San Francisco

This is a very nice young man, age about 30, who has filed a federal court lawsuit regarding a false corrupt guardianship case.  Since he is a targeted individual (by police and authorities), it is best his location and information should be kept confidential.

Call or email me if you some room for this nice young man.  He has suffered quite a bit.  he is Christian.

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From EB: Massive fraud found in Palm Beach gship cases of Betsy Savitt–fees to be disgorged

EXCLUSIVE: Betsy Savitt guardianship report alleges ‘wrongdoing by sitting judges’

   

Posted: 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, September 05, 2018


A confidential investigation into controversial professional guardian Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt contains “allegations or suggestions of wrongdoing by sitting judges,” an administrative judge revealed on Wednesday.

The revelation surfaced during a first-of-its-kind hearing into whether Savitt should face sanctions for conflict of interest with judges involved in her guardianships, including her husband, former Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

The action against Savitt by the state Office of Public and Professional Guardians is based on the report by the Inspector General of the Clerk of Court in Palm Beach County. The new guardianship office is asking for sanctions against Savitt. Those sanctions could effectively bar her from practicing in this county and may include repayment of up to $190,000 in guardianship fees.

Savitt, as a professional guardian, was a so-called “member of the judicial community,” dining with judges and even going on vacation with one. The former chief judge felt it necessary to move all her cases out of the South County Courthouse, concerned with the appearance of coziness between Savitt and judges there.

Savitt’s attorney, Ellen Morris, tried in vain to exclude the investigative report, with its judicial allegations of wrongdoing, from Wednesday’s proceeding. Morris in a pleading said the report contains “statements and conclusions that are highly objectionable throughout.”

But Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy said she found nothing in the report that makes it confidential under state law — no Social Security numbers or medical information of incapacitated seniors or disabled adults. Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock has refused to turn over the report despite a public records request filed by The Palm Beach Post on June 20.

Creasy said Morris’ concerns about the allegations against judges was also not a basis to bar the report as evidence against Savitt.

2012 investigation of Savitt

Anthony Palmieri, the clerk’s deputy inspector general, testified at the hearing that in May 2012 the clerk’s office alerted then-Chief Judge Peter Blanc about a conflict of interest involving Savitt and Colin. He didn’t know what Blanc did with the report but Blanc told The Post last week that he cautioned Colin to be careful not to preside over his wife’s cases.

Savitt testified she didn’t know until recently that her husband signed orders in her cases. She said if she had known, she would have alerted her attorney to “a mistake.”

However, she also repeatedly said she had no conflict of interest despite the fact that her husband sat as a guardianship judge who at times ruled on her cases and granted fees in other cases to attorneys who worked for her. Morris argued state guardianship statutes don’t specifically say that a guardian married to a guardianship judge has a conflict of interest.

“I don’t have a conflict of interest arising from my marriage,” Savitt said. “I didn’t appear in front of Judge Colin. He wasn’t presiding over any of my cases. He wasn’t the judge on any of my cases.”

The Post reported Sunday that Colin’s was an invisible hand in Savitt’s guardianship cases. He asked Delray Beach elder law attorney Sheri Hazeltine in the fall of 2009 to represent his wife as the tennis instructor aimed to enter the lucrative field. A professional guardian is appointed to oversee the affairs of seniors who are found incapacitated by the court. They can handle all financial, health care and residency decisions for the ward.

At least twice, Colin appointed Hazeltine, who took action that led to Savitt becoming a guardian.

Savitt, in testimony, denied Hazeltine’s account that Judge Colin pegged her to represent Savitt. Hazeltine at the time had numerous cases in front of Colin and told The Post that being a sole practitioner with a disabled child that “there was a natural measure of fear involved” in being asked to do something for her home-court judge.

Hazeltine said she quit as Savitt’s attorney when she learned that the guardian was taking fees prior to judicial approval.

Savitt also testified that there had never been any complaints from family members of her ward about a conflict of interest.

‘Never said a word’

However, James Vassallo said Savitt never disclosed that she was married to a guardianship judge and if he had known, he would have never allowed her to be guardian to his father, Albert Vassallo Sr.

“Never ever did she say a word to me about that,” Vassallo said. “I would never have hired her. I found out later. She told me that it didn’t matter what I said, she was married to a judge and that she could do whatever she wanted.”

Vassallo said Wednesday that he spent $20,000 fighting Savitt over his father’s trust and to keep her from funneling money to his sister, who had previously taken money from his dad and was the reason he sought the guardianship in the first place.

“And I’m still getting bills that my father owes, like from the hospital and stuff, that she never paid.”

Thomas Mayes, son of Savitt ward Helen O’Grady, said in The Post’s 2016 investigation, Guardianships: A Broken Trust that Savitt never disclosed her conflict with her husband.

The Mayes family learned that Savitt was married to a judge when Circuit Judge Rosemarie Scher, then presiding over their case, said she’d been out to dinner with the couple and described the judge’s wife as “part of the judicial community.”

“Savitt never told us beforehand, which I thought she should have,” said Mayes. “The lawyers never told us.”

Savitt testified she disclosed her marriage by identifying her husband as “Martin Colin” on her guardianship applications. However, Savitt didn’t identify him as a sitting judge, saying that the court or the clerk of court would automatically just know.

Palmieri testified that just putting Colin’s name under spouse in the guardianship applications did not go far enough.

One easily refutable statement by Savitt, under oath, at Wednesday’s hearing was that no other judge but Colin recused himself from her cases. In fact, Circuit Judge John Phillips recused himself routinely. Also, after The Post’s investigation, then-Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath required south county judges to recuse themselves from Savitt’s cases. He also removed all of Savitt’s cases from the South County Courthouse out of concern of conflict of interest.

A large swath of time at Wednesday’s hearing was spent delving into when Savitt took money from the life savings of her wards prior to a judge’s approval.

Savitt admitted she wrote checks out of the wards’ accounts prior to judicial approval and deposited them into a personal checking account but insisted she was serving the wards’ best interest.

Palmieri testified that of the 2,000 guardianship cases he has investigated, only Savitt has taken retainers. The Post found Savitt took $20,000 in retainers in at least seven guardianship cases.

Savitt testified she took retainers at the advice of her counsel at the time.

Palm Beach County’s judicial circuit prohibited the practice after The Post reported on Savitt and Colin.

Morris argued at the hearing that Savitt eventually disclosed the retainers to the judges presiding over her cases and that they were all approved.

Vacationed with judge

Savitt also addressed her relationship with Circuit Judge David French, who oversaw the majority of her cases. Michael McKeon, senior attorney for the Department of Elder Affairs, asked Savitt whether she was “friendly” with French.

“I’m friendly to all the judges,” Savitt said.

Savitt said French is a friend and that she vacationed with him in the Bahamas in 2006 or 2008 before he was a guardianship judge. She couldn’t remember the last time she visited his home.

When asked whether she believes she has a conflict when it comes to French, Savitt said no. “Judge French takes an oath. He would recuse himself,” she said.

Despite an order from the chief judge to recuse himself from Savitt cases, French appointed the guardian to a pro bono case in January 2017 — her last guardianship appointment. The appointment allows Savitt to remain on the wheel for random appointments under new rules.

The latest case, involving senior Mavis Samms, includes accusations from the family that Savitt allowed the senior’s home to go into foreclosure.

“Savitt has made a mess of my mom’s finances,” according to an emergency motion filed by Samms’ daughter, Paula, in May 2017.

McKeon asking Savitt to be declared “unfit to serve as a guardian” due to the conflict of interest and acting in bad faith toward her wards.

Morris, representing Savitt, said the guardianship office brought the complaint in bad faith and that she would be seeking attorney fees.

The hearing will continue today. Judge Colin and Hazeltine are listed as witnesses.


From DF: Polypharmy in the elderly; taking too many prescription meds can be risky or even deadly

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/polypharmacy-dangerous-drug-interactions-119947.htm

Polypharmacy in the Elderly: Taking Too Many Medications Can Be Risky

Marlo Sollitto Updated 
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Polypharmacy occurs when a patient takes too many medications for their own good. It is most common among seniors and individuals with multiple medical issues. Because older people metabolize drugs differently, the combined effects of numerous medications can be especially harmful.

Being on too many medications can lead to potentially dangerous drug interactions and exposure to many side effects at once. Keep in mind that this applies not to just prescriptions, but also to over-the-counter (OTC) medications and dietary supplements, which patients often use as needed without informing their doctors.

Treating only one chronic medical condition may require several prescriptions, but for seniors who often have several ailments, their medication regimens can be very complex. It can get to the point where the patient doesn’t know all the drugs they are taking, why they’re needed, or how to take them properly. What’s worse is that even their physicians may not be aware of all the medications they’re taking.

The average older adult takes four or more prescription drugs each day. While each one was created to treat or correct a specific medical problem, each comes with its own risks and side effects. The more medications a person takes, the higher the chances are for experiencing adverse reactions, negative side effects and even life-threatening conditions.

Symptoms of Polypharmacy

“Polypharmacy is a huge problem in our society,” says Stephen Sinatra, MD, internationally renowned cardiologist and author of, The Great Cholesterol Myth. According to Sinatra, elderly patients are often put on five or more medications at once and it’s no surprise that they develop serious side effects. This is especially true for people who have been diagnosed with heart disease or recently suffered a heart attack or stroke. “Unfortunately, many doctors attribute these side effects to just getting older,” Dr. Sinatra notes, but age isn’t always the culprit.

If a loved one takes multiple prescriptions, OTC medications and/or supplements each day, it’s important to keep an eye out for the following red flags:

  • Tiredness, sleepiness or decreased alertness
  • Constipation, diarrhea or incontinence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion, either continuous or episodic
  • Falls
  • Depression or general lack of interest
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing things
  • Anxiety or excitability
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased sexual behavior
  • Skin rashes

Responsible Medication Management Can Minimize Polypharmacy

The first and most important step is to inform every physician involved in your loved one’s treatment of every medication and supplement your loved one takes. The easiest way to do this is to collect every pill bottle/container and make a detailed account of their medication regimen. The list should include each drug’s name, strength (in milligrams or international units), recommended dosage and instructions (such as frequency and timing), and any cautions stated on the bottle or package.

Retain a copy for your own records and provide each of your loved one’s physicians with a copy. Each time a drug is added, removed or changed, be sure to update the document. This tool allows all doctors to get a complete and accurate picture of your loved one’s health and medications before making any treatment decisions. Having a copy on hand in the event of an emergency can be extremely useful as well.

Whenever a new drug is prescribed, it is crucial to read the printed medication guide that comes in the package. This insert will provide information about the medicine, how to take it, possible interactions with certain medical conditions, other drugs, and foods, and tips for avoiding adverse effects while taking it.

Try to Use One Pharmacy to Fill Prescriptions

As another line of defense against medication related problems, make your loved one’s pharmacist a larger part of their care team. Some people like to shop around for the best prices on their prescription medications, which often means filling them at several different pharmacies. Unfortunately, this prevents pharmacists from gathering information about all the medications a patient is taking and detecting possible side effects and interactions. It’s best to use one pharmacy for all prescriptions to minimize the chances that potential risks are overlooked.

Schedule Regular Brown Bag Check-Ups

Depending on how frequently a senior’s regimen changes, it’s wise to attend a “brown bag” checkup with your loved one’s physician or pharmacist at least once a year. Traditionally, this involves bringing all a senior’s medications in a brown bag (or you can use a current copy of your loved one’s medication list) to discuss improvements that might be made to their regimen. Of course, a doctor will have more insight into and control over these changes, whereas a pharmacist can only make minor alterations to a prescription after receiving approval from the prescribing physician.

Vik Rajan, MD, president and founder of Houston Patient Advocacy in Texas, recommends asking these questions during a medication check-up with a doctor:

  1. What medications is my loved one taking and why?
  2. How necessary is each medication? Can any be removed or have dosages reduced?
  3. Are any medications interacting with each other in a negative way?
  4. Could these medications be causing additional symptoms or conditions?

It may be wise to schedule a doctor’s appointment specifically dedicated to answering these questions to ensure you have time to address all your concerns. It’s difficult to squeeze everything into a generic 15-minute appointment.

A pharmacist can run a database analysis of each drug your loved one is taking and the overall combination. This service identifies possible side effects and drug conflicts, often at no additional cost. While consumers can usually walk in and consult with a pharmacist, making an appointment with the pharmacy for a full medication review will help ensure you won’t be kept waiting.

Polypharmacy may be the biggest threat to seniors’ health, quality of life and longevity. As a caregiver, you can work with your loved one’s care team and spearhead efforts to prevent medication issues. Following all the suggestions above can help you get started.

From DSS: Judge rules suit valid against State Bond for probate court abuse of Willie Jo Mills

View story at Medium.com

On May 15, 2018, federal judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston issued a landmark ruling allowing a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed against the $500,000 public official bond of state probate judge Christine Butts in Harris County. The claim against Judge Butts’ bond was brought to the Southern District federal court of Texas by Sherry Johnston who alleges Judge Butts turned a blind eye to the preventable decline of her aging mother Willie Jo Mills while she was a ward of the State of Texas under guardianship.

“It is unconscionable that this abuse can occur under the watch of the U.S. Attorney General in 2018,” said Taso Pardalis, an attorney and partner with Pardalis & Nohavicka Lawyers in New York. “Approximately 5 to 10% of adult guardianships in this country are reported to have a fraudulent aspect — yet the percentage is most certainly much higher.”

In North Carolina, Ginny Johnson claims she had been named her father Hugh Beverley Johnson’s power of attorney and health care proxy but after a sibling filed for guardianship in Wake County’s Special Proceedings Estate Division Probate Court, a professional guardian was appointed instead.

Johnson says she cared for the 95 year old Hugh in the colonial home she was raised in for 35 years until one day, three months after her dad had been guardianized, she came home to find herself locked out of their Raleigh house with no trace of her Dad.

“My father was in great shape until he was warehoused by the court appointed guardian in a care center that starved him, restricted him from seeing me and didn’t shower him regularly,” Johnson said.

A year later, the elderly military veteran, who had owned a dry cleaning business, passed away at 96 years old, according to Johnson who has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

The Commission declined to comment.

“We are the state’s designated tribunal/court for tort claims against the State of North Carolina and, as such, we simply cannot comment on any potential, pending or adjudicated claim before us,” said J. Brian Ratledge, general counsel with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Johnson is among a growing number of adult children who regret involving their local court to stop the negative dynamics of their dysfunctional families.

“Family dysfunction and sibling rivalry are the primary reasons the matriarch or patriarch of a family is typically guardianized and ultimately starved, drugged or isolated to death unless they are restored to capacity,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship(AAAPG) in Hollywood, Florida.

Errol Rappaport has taken to standing in front of the residence daily where his 100 year old mother Frances resides with a sign that says, “I want to see my Mommy” in order to draw attention to the emotional pain he is experiencing at being alienated from his parent who is under a court appointed guardianship.

“I am my mother’s son, her flesh and blood,” Rappaport said. “I don’t understand why I cannot visit unannounced. My mother wants to be around family members when she passes away not caregivers.”
Rappaport says he was taking care of his elderly mother and father just fine but after his father died, relatives allegedly asked to sell the family’s $6 million apartment located at 200 Central Park South apartment and 59th Street.
When Rappaport opposed the sale, he says he was hauled into housing court where a judge appointed a guardian over his mother who was then moved to an apartment in Queens. Originally, the devoted son could visit the elderly Frances 5 hours a day but now he is allegedly only allowed to visit 2 hours and he has to schedule that time 48 hours in advance.

“What are they hiding?” Rappaport said.

The court appointed guardian in Rappaport’s case is Sabrina Morrissey, an attorney who declined to comment.

“Even though a guardianship should be used to honor the best interest of the ward, it’s become clear that the system has become a business,” said Pardalis.

A “ward” is a legal term used to describe a senior citizen who has been guardianized due to cognitive decline, such as memory loss. But younger adults are also at risk for becoming a ward of the state due to autism, mental illness or car accidents that lead to disabilities.

The AAAPG’s Dr. Sugar says he gets new calls daily from adult children who are either left penniless, restricted from visiting their parents or both.

“It’s the worst punishment to inflict on an adult child whose parent is at the end of their life because they may never see their mother or father again,” Dr. Sugar said. “Court insiders collude on these restricted visitation orders to crush any challenge to the Judge or guardian’s ultimate authority.”

Active pending adult guardianship cases in the U.S. range from fewer than 1 million to more than 3 million, according to the National Center for State Courts, but with baby boomers entering their golden years and experiencing Alzheimer’s or dementia, that number is on the rise.

By 2020, some 14 million seniors are expected to be afflicted, according to the Alzheimer’s Association data, and they will be at risk for guardianization by the courts.

“The court and the court appointed guardian cannot strip the person of all their assets unless they first declare the individual incapacitated at which point the guardian owns them the way a master owns a slave,” said Dr. Sugar who authored the best selling book Guardianships & The Elderly:The Perfect Crime.

That’s because once an individual is placed under guardianship, he or she becomes a ward of the state, forfeiting their assets while losing all of their rights.

Critics claim guardians appointed by judges, whether they are greedy family members or court insiders, rob the estate by overcharging for tasks and duties that family members perform out of love.

“Private guardians are legally allowed to charge a ‘reasonable’ fee but the State has not defined the term,” Pardalis said. “Some private guardians charge rates as high as $600 an hour for tasks as menial and mundane as writing emails. Fees are billed to the ward’s estate and without sufficient supervision by the State of the guardian’s operations, there is a high potential for financial abuse.”

Orders of restricted visitation can also be very expensive.

For example, Mary Bush in West Chester, Pennsylvania is required to pay $50 to visit her 87 year old mother Genevieve Bush who resides at Park Lane nursing home.

An APS worker and a Sheriff must also be present, according to Bush’s visitation order.

“The court has unjustly labeled me a criminal and violated my due process rights,” Bush said. “My mom had a million dollar estate that has been liquidated by court appointed guardians.”

The Honorable Judge Katherine Platt of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas declined to comment specifically on the Bush guardianship but stated that neither the county nor the state profit from senior citizens who are wards of the state of Pennsylvania under guardianship.

“If anything, they are a drain on judicial resources,” Judge Platt said. “Judges are law trained. We are not social workers and most of us don’t have advanced degrees in the mental health arena. Family dynamics, in some cases, go beyond what our constitutional commission requires of us.”

Judge Platt says she has witnessed court appointed guardians and judges alike being pulled into the dynamics when a parent of a dysfunctional family is guardianized.

“If a court appointed guardian has to deal with dysfunctional relatives of an incapacitated person, they are entitled to be compensated for the time it takes to intercede,” said Judge Platt, an Orphans’ Court judge.

As for orders of visitation that limit an adult child’s visitation with a relative at the end of their life, Judge Platt said, “There’s nothing written in our statute that defines severity.”

But Philadelphia Attorney Alan Denenberg defined severity in a federal lawsuit he filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against two Westtown East Goshen Police Officers whom he alleges conspired to violate Ms. Bush’s 4th Amendment Rights under the U.S. Constitution by using excessive force in the parking lot of Park Lane nursing home where Ms. Bush’s mother resides under guardianship.

Bush v. East Goshen Township et al, against Sergeant James Renegar and Ted Lewis of West Chester, outlines four counts including assault and battery under state law.

“Sgt. Renegar lunged at the Plaintiff Mary Bush, grabbing her cell phone and throwing it to the ground,” stated Counselor Denenberg in an August 29, 2018 Amended Complaint. “Sgt. Renegar then body slammed the Plaintiff onto the pavement causing her head to strike the hard surface. Although she was not resisting arrest, Sgt. Reneger got on top of the plaintiff, twisted her left arm way up her back and threatened to shoot or taser the Palintiff.”

The adult guardianship system in the U.S. is in plain need of greater oversight. But in the meantime, in order to avoid a full-on custody court battle that leads to restricted visits with relatives at the end of their lives, Judge Platt recommends professional mediation.

“Sometimes real contentions exist between family members and there’s quite a discernment that needs to take place to evaluate deep seated historical grievances,” she said. “Mediators have more time for the nuances.”

Meanwhile, the adult children who feel defrauded and are restricted from visiting their elderly relative are increasingly joining immigrant parents who are protesting being separated from their children under detention.

“We feel their pain,” Bush said. “It’s the same situation except it’s our elderly parents who are being detained and we are Americans being separated from them.”

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

Good news: from FB post: Jury awards $16.4 million against probate lawyers for abusing an elderly man in a nursing home

https://www.pacermonitor.com/articles/2017/11/02/alleged-elder-negligence-in-florida-leads-to-multimillion-dollar-jury-award/

For those of you who are trying to decide whether you can sue in Federal Court for the abuses your loved one suffered, read on:

Alleged Elder Negligence in Florida Leads to Multimillion-Dollar Jury Award

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Case shows just how easy it is for seniors to lose control of their lives and finances.

Oliver Bivins was allegedly living in a dirty and uncared for condo in Palm Beach, Florida, when his son Julian wanted to relocate him back to  Amarillo, Texas, where the Bivins family had made their fortune in oil and gas.

“I thought it would be a no-brainer to transfer Oliver home,” said attorney J. Ronald Denman, litigator with the Bleakley Bavol Law, whom the younger Bivins had hired in 2011.

Instead, the case dragged on for six years. Denman had unwittingly signed on to an elder guardianship case in which a diagnosis of incapacitation had turned Oliver Bivins into a ward of the state of Florida along with his tens of millions of assets.

“Once Oliver was in that system, my client Julian couldn’t get his dad or assets out of it,” said Mr. Denman.

In his doting age, Bivins had reportedly fallen prey to a care manager’s emergency application for court-appointed guardianship on a weekend trip to Florida.

Court-appointed guardians Curtis Rogers and Stephen Kelly allegedly filed a motion to prevent Mr. Bivin’s son from living with his grandfather and when a judge approved it, he was ordered to move out and leave Oliver to fend for himself.

“The lawyers hired by the court-appointed guardian began attacking Julian, making him out to be a bad guy when the truth is that Julian loved his dad and wanted to take care of him,” Mr. Denman said.

About 21.6% of 1.4 million Palm Beach County residents are aged 65 years or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and according to the Clerk & Comptroller of Palm Beach County’s chief communications officer, Nannette Rodriguez, the number of guardianship cases has fluctuated from 2,700 to 3,000 since 2014 but Ms. Rodriguez stopped short of commenting on any specific case and declined to confirm or deny whether complaints had been filed with the Clerk & Comptroller’s office about any of the defendants.

When an individual, such as Oliver Bivins, is deemed a ward of any state of the U.S., he is stripped of his constitutional rights, civil rights and ability or right to enter an attorney/client relationship. As a result, Mr. Bivins was forced to rely upon a court-appointed guardian to do so on his behalf.

“In Oliver’s case, he was still quite aware of what was occurring but was helpless to do anything to change the direction of the guardians or the attorneys they hired,” Mr. Denman said.

It was not until Denman filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida West Palm Beach Division against the guardians, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Rogers, and their attorneys Brian O’Connell and Ashley Crispin that the devoted son found relief.

The September 2015 Bivins v Rogers lawsuit alleged that Mr. O’Connell and Ms. Crispin in their role as lawyers for Mr. Rogers, while he was acting as guardian for Oliver Sr., owed similar duties to Oliver Sr. and were fully aware that the work they were doing for Mr. Rogers was for the benefit of Oliver Sr. but that Mr. Rogers and his attorney s were negligent and reckless in the exercise of their fiduciary duties to Oliver Sr., resulting in damages.

Attorney Brandon J. Hechtman, who was part of the defendant’s legal team, stated in an email that he could not provide PacerMonitor News with specific commentary.

According to court records, defendant’s counsel argued that they were representing the guardian directly as opposed to the ward and therefore should not be held responsible for the condition of Oliver Bivins or his estate because they had no direct attorney-client relationship with the ward.

“In reality, the attorneys are supposed to act in the best interest of the ward, who in this case was Oliver Bivins, because they get paid by the ward’s money,” said Mr. Denman.

For years, watchdog groups like Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) have advocated for federal and state authorities to outlaw elder guardianship not only in Palm Beach County but in all 50 states.

Under guardianship, seniors are often starved, overmedicated, abused, robbed and isolated, and family members are banned from visiting, according to Dr. Sugar, who founded AAAPG in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

“Judges, lawyers and guardians are not medical professionals and should get out of the business of caring for the elderly,” said Dr. Sugar whose AAAPG acts as a clearinghouse of cases nationwide. “Victims like Julian and Oliver Bivins are among the families who have the financial means to pay for justice. Others are not so fortunate. I get new phone calls every day from family members who are concerned for the welfare of their aging family members who have been involuntarily or unknowingly placed under guardianship.”

Attorneys for Ms. Crispin and Mr. O’Connell have not responded to Pacer Monitor’s requests for comment.

To win the Bivins case, Denman based his argument on Saadeh v. Connors, in which a 1996 opinion of former Florida Attorney General Robert Butterworth stated services performed by an attorney who is compensated from the ward’s estate are performed on behalf of the ward even though the services are technically provided to the guardian.  After emigrating from Jordan with his wife, Karim Saadeh raised a family of three children and became a very successful businessman. After his wife’s death in 2007, Mr. Saadeh met a younger woman and allegedly began loaning her money, which his adult children objected to by contacting an attorney named Colette Meyer.  

An incapacitation petition was filed and after a hearing, the court-appointed a guardian.Butterworth further wrote, “Under the state’s guardianship statutes, it is clear that the ward is the intended beneficiary of the proceedings. Section 744.108, Florida Statutes, authorizes the payment of attorney’s fees to an attorney who has rendered services to the ward or to the guardian on the ward’s behalf.”

According to the Bivins’s federal complaint, the Palm Beach County court-appointed guardians had not only allowed several of Bivins’s properties to deteriorate but also reversed the transfers of money the older Bivins initiated for Mr. Bivins, his beneficiary son.

A federal jury sympathized with Mr. Bivins plight, ruling that Ms. Crispin and Mr. O’Connell, the attorneys appointed to oversee the estate of Oliver Bivins, were deemed liable for professional negligence and for breaching their fiduciary duty to the elderly Bivins who died in 2015 at 98 years old.

In July 2017, Julian Bivins walked away with a jury verdict and award of $16.4 million

 

From AD of FB: Guardianship is the worst civil penalty for an US Citizen there is

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/federal-report-examines-civil-death-of-the-rights-of-people-with-disabilities-and-the-elderly-under-guardianships-calls-on-department-of-justice-to-ensure-full-and-fair-due-process-rights-300618287.html

You just read:

Federal Report Examines “Civil Death” of the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Elderly under Guardianships, Calls on Department of Justice to Ensure Full and Fair Due Process Rights

From AP News: Chicago Federal Court Judge relieved of duties for ethics violation

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in two of Illinois’ highest profile cases has been removed from hearing all his criminal cases after it was revealed he exchanged emails with an employee at the U.S. attorney’s office in which he commented on and joked about one of his trials in progress at the time.

Some legal experts said Tuesday the matter could lead to a review of hundreds of cases to see if Judge Colin Bruce had sent out similarly inappropriate emails during trials before, a review process that could create trial delays and logjams at the U.S. District for Court for central Illinois.

“It is an understatement to say that this is outrageous,” said Phil Turner, a defense attorney in Chicago and a former federal prosecutor in northern Illinois with no cases before Bruce. “It’s extremely unusual and way beyond the pale.”

The Urbana-based Bruce had been presiding over ex-U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock’s corruption case and the case of Brendt Christensen, accused in the 2017 kidnapping and slaying of Yingying Zhang, a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois. Neither case has yet gone to trial.

Schock, a Peoria Republican, resigned in 2015 and was indicted on allegations of misusing funds in 2016. The 37-year-old has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Christensen, saying he tortured Zhang, 26, before killing her.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid said in a one-sentence statement Tuesday that he had “temporarily reassigned” all of Bruce’s cases in which federal prosecutors are a party. He didn’t say why.

Bruce’s emails to a paralegal at Springfield’s U.S. attorney’s office came to light last week in a motion for a new trial by Sarah Nixon, convicted in December 2016 of international parental kidnapping. She was sentenced last year to just over two years in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office disclosed the emails to the defense in May, saying it had only recently become aware of them, according to Nixon’s motion.

In one Dec. 17, 2016, email Bruce sent before Nixon’s trial had ended, he said sarcastically that a prosecutor had done “a WONDERFUL job of repeating the bull—- the defendant said as if the defendant’s story was all fact.”

“This trial went from slam-dunk for the prosecution to about 60-40 for the defendant,” he wrote. A Dec. 18 email added: “I really cringed when the inexperienced DOJ attorney started (cross-examining) the defendant.”

Turner said Bruce’s comments, if conveyed to the trial prosecutors, could have helped them adjust how they questioned witnesses.

Bruce’s office declined any comment Tuesday, as did prosecutors.

But in a filing last week following Nixon’s motion for a new trial, Bruce recused himself and defended his emails to someone he described as a longtime friend. He said the point of the emails was to explain why he hadn’t attended a retirement party for an outgoing U.S. attorney.

“At the time it was sent, and now, I consider the email exchange to be innocuous and merely a private email conversation with someone entirely uninvolved in this case,” he wrote.

Turner said he expected many defense attorneys whose clients were convicted in cases heard by Bruce to ask for an investigation, which he said would include examining the judge’s email archives.

The temporary reassignment of Bruce’s cases, he said, could easily end up becoming permanent, saying an argument could be made that the judge should be booted from the bench entirely.