Lawyers in Love - By Janet Phelan
“I can’t keep up with what’s been going wrongI think my heart must just be
Among the human beings in their designer jeans
Am I the only one who hears the screamsAnd the strangled cries of lawyers in
love?”— Jackson Browne
After a three and a half year battle in a conservatorship matter, William Horspool has been granted the right to his own home, through a decision tendered last week by the Fourth Appellate District Court in California.
William Horspool , 47, is the son of Raymond Horspool, Sr., who was put under a conservatorship in July of 2006. The conservatorship was launched by three of Raymond’s children--Redlands attorneys J. David Horspool and Karin Horspool, along with sibling Margaret Updike. J. David Horspool has served as chief counsel for the infamous conservator Melodie Scott, whose business practices have been under scrutiny by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the San Bernardino Grand Jury and other entities.
At a hearing in San Bernardino Probate Court, Updike declared that her father, Raymond, was suffering from dementia and short term memory loss and that his pension and savings were at risk because he had mailed checks in response to a purported mail scam, wherein he was requested to mail in money prior to receiving a prize. Judge Frank Gafkowski granted the temporary conservatorship to Updike on the spot. Raymond Horspool, a WWII veteran and former chemist, was not in court nor was he represented at that hearing.
In 2005, prior to the initiation of the conservatorship, William Horspool was granted a piece of property in Riverside by his father. Judge Michael Welch (see September 11, 2009 San Bernardino County Sentinel article, posted on scamraiders.com December 30, 2009 concerning multiple reconveyances by judges ) later reversed the gift made by Raymond Horspool, Sr. and ordered the property into the hands of Trustees David Horspool and brother Raymond Horspool, Jr. The siblings then moved for the eviction of William, his wife and young children.
A protracted legal battle ensued. The attempts to derail the conservatorship failed and William then tried to secure his property rights, as his own brother, David and sisters Karin and Margaret moved to take over his home. The Riverside Sheriffs came out on at least one occasion intent on forcibly removing William from his house. They were blocked by a last minute legal maneuver by his sister, Barbara Howard, who was on site and claimed possession of the property.
According to Howard, eight officers showed up on the morning of April 15, 2009, with guns drawn. She recalls at least one officer had an AK-47 in hand. The officers forced the occupants out of the house “at gunpoint” until it was determined that Howard’s stated right of possession would be honored.
On January 27, the Fourth Appellate court reversed the decision by Welch and authorized the property to remain in the possession of William until trial commences in April
Barbara Howard has maintained that the conservatorship has resulted in abuse of their father and a severing of close family ties. In October of 2007, William Horspool called the Riverside County Sheriffs to report that his father was being neglected by the conservator. He purportedly had taken photographs of his father, lying in a bed soaked in urine and excrement, with rashes in evidence on his lower parts. According to Howard, the Sheriff's arrived and allowed attorney David Horspool and Updike a good forty five minutes to go in and clean up Raymond before the deputies entered the house. When William filed the photos with the court, Judge Welch ordered the photos removed from the court file and issued a Restraining Order against William.
William Horspool has not seen his father in over two years. Barbara Howard, who is a travel agent living in Los Angeles, states that she has also not seen her father for a year and a half. "I'm afraid if I go see him that David will get a Restraining Order against me, too." she says. She states that the conservatorship has split up the once close family, and has produced an irreparable schism among the adult Horspool siblings.
“I had no idea what my brother David was doing before he put Dad into the system,” she states. “I thought he was helping out elderly people. I had no idea what he was really doing to people.” She states she then spent hours researching her attorney brother and was “horrified” at what she uncovered. “He is like a terrorist,” she stated. “He is terrorizing the elderly and he terrorized my brother, William.
”William, who is a retired peace officer, was ordered by the court to turn in his firearms as a stipulation of the Restraining Order. In a recent interview, Howard stressed the fact that William never had an evidentiary hearing on the Restraining Order. In fact, the order issued by Judge Welch on the Restraining Order lists no one as being in court for the hearing, buttressing Howard’s contention that the court violated his right to due process. “It is just incredible that someone can lose access to a family member and lose their Second Amendment rights without ever having a hearing,” she stated.
“It must be so hard for Dad,” she says. “William and he were so close. I’m sure he doesn’t understand what is going on.
”In a similar case, another San Bernardino County attorney, Sherri Kastilahn, was sanctioned over ten thousand dollars when her bid to launch a conservatorship over her own step father, Clifford Hughes, met with failure. Her declaration to the court in support of the need for the conservatorship alleged neglect by her mother, Jean Hughes. The declaration to the court in support of the conservatorship also states the immediate request to sell Hughes’ property.
At the same time, Kastilahn filed for protective orders alleging elder abuse by Jean and Kastilahn’s sister, Debra Futryk, Futryk’s husband, Scott and Kastilahn’s brother, Mark Kastilahn.
In his decision of March 15, 2002, San Bernardino Superior Court Commissioner David Proulx denied Katilahn’s bid for conservatorship and denied the protective orders she had requested. While he granted some conservatorship fees and expenses for the period of time that Kastilahn had forcibly taken Clifford from his home and was supervising his care, Proulx denied her attorney fees. Kastilahn appealed this decision. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied her any appeal and then sanctioned her for launching a meritless and frivolous action.
According to Debra Futryk, Kastilahn’s failed conservatorship bid cost them over $20,000 and resulted in Jean Hughes spending over $100,000 in legal fees. Jean Hughes’s attorney, Richard Millar, formerly the President of the Orange County Bar Association, took the unusual step of reporting a colleague to the State Bar. His five page report to the State Bar, dated March 29,2002, lists perjury, impersonation and destruction of evidence/obstruction of justice as the alleged charges against Kastilahn, and details specific actions such as Kastilahn forging her step-father Clifford’s signature on a Trust document, “destroying or attempting to destroy evidence of said forgery by taking scissors and removing portions of the purported signature of Mr. Hughes,” “Inducing her secretary…to remove Mr. Hughes’ signature from her notary book by pasting blank paper over the signature,” and Kastilahn impersonating her own mother, Jean Hughes in an email to a third party, among other acts.
The State Bar’s response was terse. “There is insufficient evidence to establish that Ms. Kastilahn has engaged in any misconduct,” wrote Erin McKeown, Deputy Trial Counsel, in a letter dated July 31, 2002.
Scott Futryk expressed amazement as to how Sherri Kastilahn could have later ascended to the position of President of the High Desert Bar Association. She has also served as a Judge Pro Tem in San Bernardino Court.
“What she did to to her mother, Jean Hughes, as well as to Cliff constitutes elder abuse,” Scott Futryk declared in an interview last week. “An attorney friend, an expert in elder law, explained this to us but at that point we had no money to pursue her,” he said.
The order from the Fourth Appellate District Court stated that Sherri Kastilahn should “report the sanctions order to the State Bar of California (Bus. And Prof. Code 6068). Oddly, the State Bar of California lists Sherri Kastilahn as a member in good standing, with “no public record of discipline” and “no public record of administrative actions.”
Calls to the State Bar requesting input as to why the State Bar did not list the sanctions were responded to by attorney Kristin Ritsema. While unable to state whether the Bar investigated the complaint against Kastilahn, Ritsema stated that “all complaints are reviewed by an attorney but not every complaint is investigated. “ She denied that there was any “special list” of attorneys who were given a pass when complaints were tendered against them.
Neither Sherri Kastilahn nor J. David Horspool responded to calls from this reporter questioning their actions in the above cases.
Notes from the Editor:
The story by Janet Phelan is most interesting in that it follows a common theme that we have been expounding here at E.A.
First it exemplifies what a superb con job the legal profession does in policing their own, and protecting their own at any expense, and how useless it is for anyone even thinking of filing a complaint with the State Bar Association, although we can only hope that not every state bar is as corrupt as the California Bar and I am sure that there are times that they might want to purge their members and find the complaint process helpful in that venue.
Secondly, it shows how easy is to weaponize the (public servants) (DCF) police and other public agencies and use them as as a terror weapon against elders and family members by filing False reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult which is not true and is maliciously made for the purpose of:(a) Harassing, embarrassing, or harming another person;(b) Personal financial gain for the reporting person;(c) Acquiring custody of a vulnerable adult; or(d) Personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a vulnerable adult.
Thirdly,“It is just incredible that someone can lose access to a family member and lose their Second Amendment rights without ever having a hearing,” Here we go again! that incredibility thing! It never ceases to amaze me when people realize they have no rights, there isn't a hearing required, and you can be isolated, medicated and put away without as much as a hearing!
How surprised they act, like a deer caught in the headlights, I like to call it the "I didn't think this could happen in America" syndrome.