“THIS CAN’T HAPPEN HERE” 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.
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