Friday, May 14, 2010

Alleged Co-Conspirator Presides Over Case

by Janet Phelan

As a reporter, I am reluctant to report on issues where I am an affected party. The idea of the “objective” reporter, which we learn as a mantra in Journalism School, largely dissuades us from reporting on events which impact us directly. However, as I watch the mainstream press twist facts and spin stories in order to protect and please those in power, I have come to see objectivity as a false flag under which mainstream media does repeated damage to the truth.

The story below certainly does involve me. The facts cited are sustained not only by my personal testimony, but are buttressed by court records and other external documentation. Given the seriousness of what is reported herein, given the potential for a similar deprivation of rights to all who set foot inside Riverside Superior Courthouse, I find it necessary to write this, my story.

On May 5, 2010, Judge Stephen Cunnison emerged from retirement to preside over several hearings concerning a case enumerated as RIP 080974, the Conservatorship of Amalie Phelan. Amalie, who is now deceased, was my mother. The case had been transferred from Judge Gary Tranbarger to Cunnison on April 26, 2010. Tranbarger is the third judge to be suddenly pulled off this case following my research on property loans taken out by judges, first reported in the San Bernardino County Sentinel and archived here ( On calendar was a lawsuit against former Conservator/

Trustee Melodie Scott. The lawsuit named Judge Stephen Cunnison as acting in a capacity which could be considered as “co-conspirator” with Melodie Scott. And on May 5th, Stephen Cunnison threw out the lawsuit which named him a compromised judge.

Count VI, entitled “Fraud Upon the Court and Undue Influence,” alleged that Melodie Scott had exercised “undue influence” over several judges through the course of RIP 080974 and specifically named actions by Stephen Cunnison as profoundly illegal. I maintain that these actions by Stephen Cunnison resulted in Amalie Phelan’s death.

My mother first visited Attorney J. David Horspool in the fall of 2001. My sister, Judith Phelan, had been residing with my widowed mother, and following the death of our father in 1997, had been stealing from the family estate, at one time valued at approximately $1 million dollars. In an effort to curtail the hemorrhaging of the estate by my sister and reluctant to initiate criminal proceedings against her, my mother and I approached J. David Horspool, seeking a bookkeeper to handle the funds of my mother, who was in her eighties.

In December of 2001 my mother and I met with Melodie Scott and Horspool. Scott expressed consternation at my sister's behavior, and stated she would "cut Judith off." Not wishing to leave her elder daughter destitute (Judith, though well-educated, is psychiatrically and physically disabled and does not work), my mother expressed her wish that Judith not be "cut off" but be granted adequate funds for her needs.

On December 2, 2001, my mother signed a document nominating Melodie Scott as conservator of her person and estate. In the Living Will set up by my parents in 1997 by Attorney Mark Anderson of Escondido, a conservator was named in advance should this prove necessary. An old family friend, James Henderson of Riverside, had been designated as "stand-by" should conservatorship prove necessary. He was also named successor trustee. In the meetings with Scott and Horspool we were at no time given input as to the difference between a “conservator” and a fiduciary or even a bookkeeper.

In light of the actions embarked on by Horspool and Scott against the best interests of Amalie and me, her signing the conservatorship nomination proved disastrous.

Almost immediately, Scott started funneling thousands of dollars a month to Judith. In a moment of rare and uncharacteristic honesty, Judith referred to these payments as “hush money.” Scott placed aides in my mother's home, ostensibly to care for Amalie, although none were needed before. On several occasions she threatened to call the police on me when I came to visit Amalie. Very shortly, Amalie requested I find her an attorney to consult on this matter, as she was distressed by Scott's behavior.

And then Amalie went down. Alarmed at how she sounded during a routine phone call in mid-June of 2002, I rushed to Temecula to find her too ill to even walk unassisted, and nearly delirious. I trundled her into my car and took her to the Emergency Room at Rancho Springs Hospital where she was evaluated and admitted. Shortly thereafter, she was taken into surgery and a pacemaker was inserted. Two days later, I was served with a Temporary Restraining Order. Melodie Scott had gone to court and said that I had “harmed” my mother by “unnecessarily” transporting her to the hospital.

On August 1, 2002, Stephen Cunnison was set to preside over two hearings. One was a hearing on the permanent conservatorship of Amalie Phelan, as the conservatorship moved from temporary to permanent. This was set for 8:30 a.m. On the docket following this hearing was a hearing on the above cited Restraining Order.

As far as I could see it, this Restraining Order hearing was going to be a slam-dunk. I would tell the judge the truth—my mother was close to death and received life-saving cardiac surgery as a result of the hospitalization. But Stephen Cunnison never called the Restraining Order to hearing. He left the courtroom following the hearing on the permanent conservatorship and the courtroom was then closed. I, along with a party who accompanied me to court that day, was told to leave the courtroom. Stephen Cunnison violated the Constitutional Right to Due Process and signed my Restraining Order into permanence without ever allowing me to face my accusers. The Minute Order for the hearing, signed by Stephen Cunnison on August 1, is archived here ( along with other relevant documents pertaining to this case. Aptly, the minute order reveals no one as listed as being in court, revealing Cunnison did not call this to hearing. The subsequent document was produced by my witness to that morning’s events.

But Scofflaw Cunnison didn’t stop there. He was to preside over a second Restraining Order hearing against me in October of 2002 and signed an order barring me from contacting the police, the FBI, The Ombudsman for Nursing Care and nearly anyone else who could have assisted Amalie Phelan, as I could no longer protect her, being “legally” restrained from my own mother. In that second hearing I asked Cunnison to recuse himself. He refused to do so.

Amalie soon died under suspicious circumstances. I was not informed of her death until weeks after she was buried. Possibly this was what Judith had referred to as the impetus for the “hush money.”

I filed suit against Melodie Scott, alleging multiple serious crimes. Upon discovering that Cunnison was again assigned to my case in May of 2010, I filed for his recusal. These papers were entered into the court file on May 5. The Challenge for Cause cites his heinous and illegal actions back in 2002.

In his denial of this request to have him recused, Cunnison determined that I should have moved to have him kicked off the case back in 2002. Which I had done. Other judges took over the case from 2003 on and I had no reason to suspect that he would emerge to further assault the law and my rights.

But he did.

Incidentally, the California Code of Civil Procedure 1013 (a) mandates ten extra days for notice to parties residing outside of the State of California and twenty extra days for those residing outside of the U.S. I have repeatedly noticed the court that I am residing in Toronto and that my mail is bundled from Ashland, Oregon and Fedexed to me in Toronto. Even if the court only ignored the fact that I now reside in Canada and chose to attend to my Oregon address, the ten extra days for service were not satisfied by re-scheduling from April 26th to May 5th.

The station at the court responsible for checking these details is the Probate Examiner, Elizabeth Miller. I spoke with Miller recently and told her that the court was ignoring the extended time for service, mandated by CCP 1013 (a) and ignoring my repeated filings to this effect. “Just keep telling the court,” she exhorted.

If the Riverside Superior Court can’t do any better than appoint a “Red Queen Judge” to destroy my family, destroy my ability to protect my mother from an obvious liar and plunderer and destroy my God-given rights to appeal to law enforcement to protect a vulnerable elderly person, I have only one question left:

What should I tell the court? What possible words are there to convey the damage done by this Constitution-denying scofflaw who has now quashed my lawsuit against the woman who, in concert with him, destroyed my family?

I fear we are living in lawless times, distinguished only by the fact that so many Americans have not yet realized this. As painful as it may be to realize that the promise of freedom, of equal protection under the law, is a farce and an illusion, it is imperative we wake up before we lose everything. My mother, who had a PhD and worked decades as a City Health Department supervisor, lost her life because of the illegal actions of an absolute stranger who had total power to hurt her. I have left the country of my birth to avoid a similar attack. If we have no protection from the justice system, then who do we turn to?

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