Monday, January 28, 2008

The War on the Vulnerable Through our Courts.-“THIS CAN’T HAPPEN HERE”

by Janet C. Phelan ( janetcphelan [at] )

On a quiet tree-lined street in Redlands, California, in a low, architecturally unremarkable beige building, the war has come home. Nestled behind the Redlands Police Department, the Redlands Superior Courthouse is housing a systematic and covert assault on the lives and life-savings of San Bernardino County's elderly and disabled.

A smiling, bespectacled security officer, sporting a platinum blonde ponytail, runs the visitors through a metal detector as they enter. One walks into a lobby area, with two courtrooms off to the side: Department E1 and Department E2. Only traffic and probate are now heard in the Redlands Court. At the far end are the filing windows, where smiling and attentive clerks will retrieve files and accept court filings. In the California Superior Court system, one must pay a filing fee in order to enable the court to dismantle one's life and estate.

Across from the clerk's office, the East wall is lined with photographs of San Bernardino Court judges, beaming beatifically, and posing in their black robes. However, Judge Michael Welch is not smiling. Welch is one of only two probate judges in the entire San Bernardino County, and as such is the point man for the probate conveyor belt, which is grinding up the elderly and turning them into cash, through the court conservatorship and guardianship programs.

This is how it works: A family member, or even a neighbor, may notice that an elderly person is alone and may be increasingly vulnerable. Depending on the morality and authenticity of the concerned party, that person may contact Adult Protective Services, or may attempt to file for guardianship over the elder, in order to either protect or to gain access to that person's funds. The police may become involved, if there are allegations of lack of capacity or of financial or physical abuse. This opens the door for the professional conservator, buttressed by her lawyers, to "move in for the kill."

Attorney Sherri Kastilahn's response to my call is recorded on my voicemail. She threatened me with a lawsuit, a Restraining Order and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not a reporter, and had no standing to ask questions about this case. It should be noted that none of the above questions were ever tendered to Ms. Kastilahn. When I spoke with her secretary I merely imparted that I had questions about "financial irregularities" in the Burke file.

So much for the First Amendment. And how about that "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" stuff?

Well, maybe the Founding Fathers weren't referring to the elderly. Or, as an alternate explanation, maybe our country is in battle mode. With the U.S. government waging wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and wars now spreading like forest fires across the globe, maybe what we are seeing is another war, against those least able to protect themselves, right under our very noses.
I am requesting that those reading this article take action, and contact the California Attorney General’s office and demand that this office step up to the plate and DO THEIR JOB. The number for Dane Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General (and Mark Geiger’s boss) is (916) 445-2030. Attorney General Jerry Brown’s number is (510) 622-4180. Judge Larry Allen, Presiding Judge for San Bernardino County Court, may be reached at (909) 457-5680.

The Fifth Commandment reads "Honor thy mother and father," not "Honor thy mother and father's cash, rob them blind, and then throw them away like old dishrags."

Abridged =>>

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