Friday, August 29, 2008

When It Comes to Making a Buck

by Horace Cooper ( as published by Estate of Denial

Attorneys are renowned for their innovativeness and creativity when it Comes to making a buck. We all remember a few years ago when a clever lawyer was able to exact a $2.9 million judgment after his client spilled a hot cup of coffee on herself. And it was national news when a lawyer filed a $67 million lawsuit against his dry cleaners in a dispute over his favorite pair of trousers. But he wasn’t so fortunate. His lawsuit failed. Notably however the media neglected to report that defending against the suit almost bankrupted the dry cleaner costing the owner-operators nearly $400K in the process.

The sad fact is the unbelievable creativity and audacity of trial lawyers represents a poor state of affairs for the rest of us. And it’s only getting worse. There now appears to be yet another new trend in civil litigation. I call it “celebrity sharking.” It’s what happens when slick and relatively unknown lawyers with names like Howard K. Stern and Jon Eardley find ways to insinuate themselves into the lives of celebrities. Not merely hangers on like Kato Kaelin, this new breed of shark uses his connection with the celebrity as an entre to all manner of litigation opportunities for himself.

Out of nowhere small town lawyer Jon Eardley showed up in a federal district court in California attempting to wrest control of the Britney Spears conservatorship case. According to published reports Eardley claims he was hired by Spears in a telephone conversation and he swears that he is acting in her best interest. And even after an adverse ruling in federal court – to wit, “you’re not Britney Spears’ lawyer” – Eardley continues undaunted. Recently, he filed a new action in the state court this time attempting to appeal the decision granting Spears’ father control over the troubled singer’s business and personal affairs. Allegedly this conversation took place while Britney Spears was legally competent to enter into a contract so we have the prospect, win or lose, that she’ll have to pay for the lawyers on both sides of the challenge of her own conservatorship.

And where does one start with the legal Svengali Howard K. Stern? For living the mantra, “no lawsuit left behind”, he should get the award for the lawyer most able to stretch and twist the legal system. The faux baby daddy of Anna Nicole Smith, Stern has engaged in a series of lawsuits purportedly on her behalf. Starting with a dog of a case, the decade long dispute over her deceased husband’s billion dollar estate (which has churned millions in litigation fees for both sides), Stern is a veritable litigation lottery. Even while losing the case at nearly every stage along the way and getting a narrow reprieve from the Supreme Court he has managed to run the score in litigation fees. Along the way he discovered a cornucopia of new suits to file on her behalf. And even after Anna Nicole Smith’s death Stern managed to grab the legal responsibilities of handling her estate and even the financial interests of her young daughter Dannielynn.

While “celebrity sharking” is just the latest example of a very troubling trend in our justice system, win or lose the efforts of the trial bar impose tremendous costs on the judicial system and the society at large. Just over the last 50 years we’ve seen a 100 fold increase in civil justice costs from less than $2 billion in 1950 to $205 billion in 2001. This has far outstripped our nation’s overall economic growth by at least a factor of three. End result: it raises the costs for all of us and delays the courts ability to deal with legitimate matters.

Mind you, while I like every American is thankful that toilet cleaner brushes now carry helpful labels reminding us that they are “not for personal hygiene use” or that contraceptive jellies are not to be used on melba toast. The thing is, many of us who were able to figure these things out on our own are beginning to wonder if the costs for this new found “help” is worth it.

Government Agencies Ignore Reports of Fraud by Lawyers and Judges

Washington, District of Columbia - By Sandy Meyer

Corporate, Judicial and Legislative fraud is costing millions of Americans their jobs, homes, earnings, health care, children's education and retirements.

America's government offices direct the defrauded millions to commissions, committees bureaus, and government and corporate funded non-profit agencies (NGOs) they claim are set up to help,homeowners and prosecute fraud.

Letter: Due Process Violation Investigation

But do any of these agencies prevent or prosecute fraud by corporations, lawyers and judges?

Who heads these commissions, committees and bureaus and non-profits we the taxpayers give billions of dollars to fund? Who are they really working for? Which corporations did they come from ? Where do they after misusing public offices to provide services to corporate and political interests?

What has happened to the millions of complaints which homeowners have sent to these public officials via voice mails, internet forms and the U. S. Mail?

Who is protecting American's against fraudulent liens, judgments and home foreclosures by lawyers and judges?

Read it All Here=>>

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can The Crash Still Be Avoided ?

By John Sakowicz

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the free fall of the U.S. economy

Critics in Congress who voted against the bill voiced concern that we were rewarding Wall Street's greed. They argued that we, as a nation, were rewarding predatory lending practices. They argued that we were rewarding massive fraud. They specifically argued that the housing bill bails out the banks and broker-dealers that are joined at the hip with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the trillions and trillions of dollars of those bogus insurance policies against default called credit-default swaps.

During the week I spent in Washington reporting this story, I have concluded that we are a nation of disinterested and mostly happy bystanders. Polling data tells us this much: As long as our paychecks clear every two weeks, we are happy. As long as our beer is cold, we are happy. As long as we have a warm puppy to hold, we are happy. As long as we can fill up our Chevy Mastodons, we are happy. As long as we have HBO and Showtime, we are happy. As long as we are not foreclosed upon and homeless, we are happy

A 10.615 trillion national debt is more than we want to think about. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also more than we want to think about. We like to think of the United States as a participatory democracy It is-but only in theory. Participatory democracy is for the disgruntled and for kooks.

With a debt ceiling of 10.615 trillion, our children, and our children's children, will be paying the price. And this is evil. We have mortgaged their futures.

I am deeply ashamed of my generation's apathy and willful ignorance. Here and now, I apologize to my children and any future grandchildren for blowing it.

It's too late to get out of the bailout business. Too late. The stock and bond markets sank. Treasury securities sank. The dollar sank. The national economy sank. The world economy sank.
In my generation, everything sank.

We may be a nation of the stupidly happy, but at this time in our history I am reminded of Pablo Neruda's "Song of Despair": "You swallowed everything, like distance. / Like the sea, like time. In you, everything sank."

Peter Spencer, of Ernst & Young and a former top British Treasury official agreed. "The coming crash in the United States is something that will simply have to play itself out. To think it all could have been avoided is sad."

Sad? Yes. Evil? That, too.

John Sakowicz is a Sonoma County investor who was a cofounder of a multibillion-dollar offshore hedge fund, Battle Mountain Research Group. Ryan Morris assisted with research for this article. Send a letter to the editor about this story.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Platform - National Guardianship Reform Desperately Needed (Platform Meeting)

We will have several meetings and conference calls where family members of victims of the broken guardianship system can craft ideas, send in their stories and help put together the statements to submit to the Platform Committee. We need to get this done in the next week. In America we hear more and more about the rising epidemic of Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation of the Elderly. Too often the very systems set up to help our frail elderly result in even more abuse and financial exploitation through the broken Guardianship System in the Civil courts.

While these systems may help the indigent and there are some success stories there are many stories where the lives of the disabled person and their loved ones are devastated by the results. In cases where the disabled person has money the petition process itself and the guardianship system can be and is used by those who know how to play the game to further victimize the disabled person, fleecing their estate of the elderly person and destroying not only their lives but also the lives of family members who try to help.

So in the end it is John Q. Public, the everyday American Taxpayer who foots the bill for this nightmare. At these meetings and conference calls family members of victims of the broken guardianship system and other sincere interested parties can help craft our position for the Platform committee and can send in their stories to submit to the Platform Committee. Our goal is to submit this critical issue and also to see if we can testify to the committee.

Please call or email if you wish to join this discussion and help us make America a better place for our elderly in the future. We could all be victims one day is we do not do something to fix this problem.

NATIONAL ELDER ABUSE AND GUARDIANSHIP VICTIMS TASKFORCE FOR CHANGE Louann Anderson (Texas)- Rudy Bush (Colorado) - Sharon Denny (Washington) Ray Fernandez (Florida)- Jeff Golin (California) - Angela Jacobs (Illinois) - Kim Manier (Texas) - Jeanette Nevilles (Minnesota / Tennessee) - Janet Phelan (California) - Bonnie Reiter (Florida) - Latifa Ring (Texas/Deleware) - William Roberts (California) - Robert Sarhan (Florida) - Bonnie Jean Smith (Minnesota) - Hon. Sylvester Turner (Texas) - Gerard Wallace, ESQ - (New York) Robin Westmiller (California / Florida) - Robert Gladson (Florida / Indiana) - Richard Half (Pennsylvania) - Ruby Tanner (Texas)

Incapacitated Persons " Mining for Diamonds"

One of the most attractive things about about incapacitated persons is the ease from which huge amount of money is made on a daily basis in every major city in the country.

It's easy to have a person committed to a guardianship, a disgruntled family member who feels un fairly treated in a Last Will or Trust can easy find willing players in the form of attorneys, probate courts, APS, and judges who will put the well to do elder in a guardianship very quickly.

Once the elder is in a guardianship you can expect charges of up to $450/hr from the guardian and his associates totalling upwards of $850 per hour.
Elder Victims are deposed of by the system quickly and effectively as in the case of Corinne Bramson who was forced into guardianship she was stripped of her rights lost over $250,000.00 in legal fees and the guardian chose to put Corinne into a Hospice program under an alledged false diagnosis, and caused her death within her 12 days from the use of Roxanol,Morphine and Ativan.

In mining for Probate although not directly sanctioned, the State looks the other way and the families of the elders are easily disqualified Robert L. Aldridge, Atty at law, testimony before Congress said "Misleading unsworn or untested allegations maligning family members are the norm in forced guardianships. So don't worry about the dead beat families, you have plenty of help to discredit them and see that they get nothing but the legal bills to show for their trouble.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, the money to be made with elderly people
is easier than taking candy from a baby, there is no one to dispute the Guardian's bills or speak up for the disabled elder who are not entitled to any Constitutional protections or Legal Aid from public agencies. The family of the disabled elder are discredited early on by un proven accusations and fees in the tens of thousands of dollars are routinely rubber stamped by Judges without so much as a raised eyebrow.

We are going to spread the knowledge around and teach you what guardian attorneys don't want you to know! By more people being aware and getting involved


Welcome to the very profitable world of probate, back in the nineties guardianship was only for people who did not have anyone to help care for them. While people over 65 are expected to increase at a 2.3% rate, the number of family members available to care for them will only increase at a 0.8% rate. The guardianship business is set to be the next gold Boom!

The Market is Huge! By 2030, 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65. This is one out of every five Americans. California, Florida, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey. Florida, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were the states with the highest proportions 65 and older in 2000: 17.6 percent, 15.6 percent, and 15.3 percent, respectively. - US Census Data

"Wards" are usually bankrupted quickly and their real estate is up for grabs
be among the smart professionals that have jumped on the bandwagon of the hottest and fastest growing business of the 21st century.

*Find probate property before it's for sale .No competition from other buyers or agents

* By keeping your sale out of court you can bypass court confirmation and overbidding

*In todays hyperactive Guardianship market One probate escrow per month is realistic.

* You can enjoy 30-day Closings You might be able to close in even less time.

*Partner with others who are willing to share the Wealth Buy Probates with partners at deeply discounted Realize $35,000 plus paydays .

The scope of this article is not to teach you how to find old people with dementia who are easy to prey upon, Estate of Denial.Com in Predatory Practices and Places Where the Looters and the Poachers Stalk Prey: Guarding Your Estate in the 21st Century by Lou Ann Anderson gives an excellent overview of where professionals go to stalk their prey.

Again the scope of this article is not to teach you how to buy Real Estate in a purely artificial market, for details Google "Diamond Farming" or Probate Real Estate Kits" where you can find out more.

Now keep in mind that the best deals are to be had by the Probate proffesionals. In cases such as attorney Paul Didzerekis case documented here =>> Who also owns DGW Real Estate, apparently managed by his wife. So be prepared for stiff competition, but even if you get the leftovers, this market is so lucrative that you can still make a lot of money in this little known business....

Probate Real Estate Sales - Good Business ? or Abuse?

by Matt Carroll, Globe Staff August 11, 2006

NEW BEDFORD -- Bristol County Probate Court Judge Elizabeth O'Neill LaStaiti ordered an investigation yesterday into sales of elderly people's homes handled by the guardianship program of Family Service Association of Greater Fall River Inc. after hearing how at least four homes were bought by the son and daughter-in-law of Vivian Duff, the woman who formerly ran the program.

The son and daughter-in-law, later sold the properties for a profit.
Stephen J. Hanna, the first assistant register of the court, and J. Michael Roberts, a lawyer, were appointed by LaStaiti to handle the investigation. No date was given on when they must report back to the court.

Attorneys for Family Services, a broad-based social service agency, also said in probate court yesterday that after appraisals were completed on three homes, Vivian Duff approved spending more than $90,000 of the elderly homeowners' money to improve the buildings. However, no further appraisals were done after the work was completed and the homes were sold at close to their initial appraised values to companies controlled by Debra and Jamie Duff, said the agency's lawyers, William H. Kettlewell and Maria Durant.

Family Services is still checking to see if any other properties were sold to agency employees or their relatives, Durant said.

The work included $24,000 to clean up a Taunton home, $25,000 on cleanup and repairs to a Somerset home, and more than $44,000 on cleanup and repairs to an Attleboro home, according to the attorneys representing Family Services. The homes were bought by Debra and Jamie Duff's companies between 1998 and 2002.

John D. Casey and Matthew M. Aspden, lawyers who had been routinely appointed by the court at the time to review two of the sales, said they were shocked to learn that work had been done to the homes after the appraisals were completed and said they would have asked for another appraisal if they had known.

The court has asked Family Services specifically about four sales in Bristol County. In three sales, officials at Family Services have said in past interviews, they had no idea Jamie Duff was the buyer. Vivian Duff had a minimal role or no role in a fourth sale in Fall River, which was handled mainly by Duff's successor, Elizabeth Duffy-Johnson, who has said in interviews that she was aware Jamie Duff was involved. The homes had been owned by elderly nursing home residents who were sick. Money from the sales went to pay nursing home bills or to their estates.
Vivian Duff, of Fall River, has since retired as the guardianship program manager for Family Services.

The Globe first reported on the sales last month. Jamie and Debra Duff had gross profits of $775,000, before expenses, on the three properties in Bristol County and an additional property in Barnstable County that Family Service officials said they did not know about.

Jamie Duff has said in interviews that his expenses on some of the sales were substantial. He also said his mother knew nothing about the purchases because they were done through corporations.

But he said yesterday he welcomed an investigation. ''I have nothing to hide," he said.
Vivian Duff does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached yesterday.
The agency has changed how it handles property sales. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, the guardian may not sell property to himself or herself or to relatives and coworkers, or pay relatives or friends to do work on the properties, unless there is no alternative and the conflict is disclosed. The agency also no longer makes extensive repairs of homes it is holding for sale.

''We're embarrassed and ashamed and want to straighten this out and make it well and whole," said Family Service president Donald J. Emond.

Matt Carroll can be reached at

Urgent Call To Guard Assets from Guardians/Conservators

A Queens grand jury has recommended on overhaul of the state's system of court-appointed guardians and examiners, saying it's riddled with loopholes that encourage theft and corruption.

The jury's six-month investigation found that tens of millions of dollars in people's assets are entrusted to guardians, often lawyers, who are poorly trained and inadequately supervised, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said early today.
He said in one case a lawyer stole more than $2 million from people whose assets he was appointed to protect, including $631,000 from the estate of a 67-year-old mentally ill man and $832,000 from a 52-year-old quadriplegic.

To improve the system, the grand jury recommended that court examiners be full-time employees of the Unified Court System and be required to fulfill specific requirements for the job.

It also called for tougher enforcement of accounting requirements and stiffer penalties for improper accounting.

To keep track of what happens to large sums, it said banks should be required to report to court officials' withdrawals of $10,000 or more from accounts controlled by guardians.

Brown urged the state Legislature and courts to act on the proposals "so that never again will the estates of helpless, incapacitated and vulnerable individuals be plundered with impunity."

Leo Standora

Letter to AP, Miami Herald ,Channel 10 News

by Alicia Rook

We are writing not only for ourselves but for a number of other people. We would like to have a meeting with you to discuss the following serious concerns:

Did you know that anyone can call Elder Affairs, and this in turn could set in motion a chain of events which could land an elder person (or Britney Spears) in front of a Probate/Guardianship judge who can have this person declared incompetent? This judge has the power to take all of the elder persons’ constitutional rights away, name a court appointed corporate guardian, their attorneys, caregiver personnel, which could cost everything he or she owns [bank accounts, financial portfolio, social security checks, IRA’s, 401K’s plus ALL real property (home, furnishings, collectibles, cars) everything]!

Please read AARP article "Stolen Lives" by Barry Yeoman . This is an eye-opener. Among the many things stated is that this kind of elder abuse is rampant in the probate/guardian court system across the U.S. Of course it is very much “alive and well” right here in South Florida.

We know of a case of an M.D., the court declared his Mother incompetent, later this Doctor had her examined by a Court appointed Psychiatrist as well as a private one, and both found her to be competent. Nevertheless, the judge would not give her rights back, (it appears Ted Bundy had more rights in criminal court [ACLU and press where are you?] in some cases judges do not consider critical data which is paramount to the case). In the meantime, this lady has had to pay over $600,000 in guardians, lawyers, personnel, etc. that are "caring" for her.... Sure they are. Not only that, but the attorney for his Mother was the attorney for the court appointed guardian at the same time!

There are other sad cases like the Tristani case, the El Nuevo Herald Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 of 2004, Haye’s case, Gertler case, Torrent case, and many others. There are cases in Broward County, Palm Beach county, Monroe county. In fact last Sunday, April 18th, on the front page of the Key West paper, please see there is an outrageous case, there are similar cases in our ever growing group across Florida. We even get emails from people withholding their names for fear of reprisals from certain judges.

There is a clear cut pattern of behavior on the part of attorneys, guardians, judges, which points to a great deal of financial abuse and of course physical and emotional as well. Please read Mary Joy Quinn –Guardianships of Adults [page 42 where it states: That within the next few years, and it’s beginning to take place now, an enormous transfer of wealth, estimated at “eleven trillion” dollars between the older generation and their Baby Boomer children is taking place].

Looking at the many websites like, to name a couple as well as many others, reading articles, speaking with witnesses, our own experience it is our perception that the Probate/Guardianship Division of the Court System has to be looked at "very closely", new legislation reform is needed immediately, people are suffering and worse.

A real estate agent is required by the State to give prospects written disclosures. Similar written disclosures of information or guidelines should be given by the Probate Courts to lay people who apply for guardianship of another person. As the AARP articles says, seniors have become victims of the legal process.

The shape of things to come for baby boomers(?), (the generation which has done more for Civil Rights than any other, etc.) Not very good if you have any assets.

Waiting to hear from you, we thank you for your time and consideration on this grave and shameful problem.

Brian and Alicia Rook 305.933-9594

Citizens Against Elder Abuse in the Probate / Guardianship Courts

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Message For All Women

post courtesy of Lisa Marie Macci


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920
that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.

(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of obstructing sidewalk traffic.' They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new
movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the
actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history,
saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history,
social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think
a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for us by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote. History is being made. And those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Read more:

What Does Exercising the Right To Vote Mean To You ?

Posted By Grim at Blackfive

US Army Staff Sergeant Matt Sims, a combat medic wounded three times in the past 12 months (transcript here). He served in the initial ground war in Iraq, and was in Iraq again during the historic elections of 2005. He tells us his own story, but when asked for a story about someone else, he spoke of an Iraqi woman:

Well, actually, I do have a great story. It's not specifically about an American servicemember. It's about a Iraqi -- an Iraqi woman. And it's actually a really good, you know, uplifting story. When people ask me my opinion on the war, I actually tell this story and kind of tell them, you know -- you know, this is my opinion of -- you can -- from my story, you can kind of get your own opinion on how I feel about the war.

Me and two -- it was during OIF-3, during the national elections -- the very last national elections that they had in Iraq. We were doing security for one of the election sites and I heard a few of the infantry guys, you know, kind of yelling for a medic. So we ran up to the area, the line where the Iraqi folks were waiting in line to vote. There was a woman that was waiting in line to vote, and she -- an Iraqi woman -- she was very pregnant, nine months. She went into labor while she was in line to vote.

And so, you know, she was having a baby right there. So me and a couple of the infantry guys sat down, and she was in the labor for about 20 minutes. And she gave birth to a brand new Iraqi boy right there. We helped her deliver it. As soon as we cut the umbilical cord, got her cleaned up, got the baby cleaned up, she was so motivated that she was able to vote, because women had never been able to vote.

A lot of the people were never able to vote there. She actually left her brand-newborn baby with us and got back in line and voted.

You know what a son is worth in Iraqi culture. She left the American soldiers to guard her newborn son, and got back to the line to vote.

Pause and reflect on that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

End Guardianship Abuses in Michigan

Burton Hawn was a friend of mine. For his first 64 years, he lived in his parent's home on Huron River Drive in Rockwood, Michigan. He had his own apartment, friends, and large collections of videos and tapes, and of course all the latest electronic gadgets. He was a familiar site in Rockwood as he cruised everywhere in his wheelchair and his customized golf cart. Everyone in town knew and recognized Burton.

Burton Hawn was forced to leave without a change of clothing and never saw his home or most of his possessions again. Burton died of a broken heart in February of 2002. May he rest in peace.

Michael Rowe is a person with a disability due to a motorcycle accident (Sept. 1982) at the age of 16. He lived in foster care for fourteen years after his accident, graduated from high school, took part in the Battle Creek Disabled Sports and, United Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association.

Thanks to the abuses he is living with under Michigan guardianship, he now is locked away, without access to phone, news, family or friends.

Read Mike Rowe's story.

What rights do we have? See Michigan guardianship rights (in PDF format)

Suffolk County, New York the story of Drugging Granny.

COURT: If you believe you are being treated unfairly, save all documentation and submit your complaints to your judge in writing. If you are still unhappy, write to your county's chief judge.

POLICE: If fraud has occurred, you could report your problem to your police department.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: The state Attorney General's Office investigates fraud. If your loved one is in an institution such as a nursing home or home for the aged and has had problems, call (800) 242-2873 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, or leave a message anytime.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR: Questions or concerns about a county public administrator may be directed to the state public administrator, Andrew Quinn, (517) 373-1145, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION: If your guardian or conservator is an attorney, you could also file a complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission. Call (313) 961-6585 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Americans Leaving in Record Numbers Where Are They Going?

With many of you telling me that you no longer feel safe here and that you are afraid to retire and become part of "The Retirement Nightmare" or a "Ward' of the State and and thereby losing your civil rights and have your property confiscated and your contact with your family restricted .Americans are moving out in unprecedented numbers I have done a little research to find out where a lot of you are going .

Mexico City - The day after the U.S. presidential election, Jim and Joan Marker left for a scheduled vacation in San Miguel de Allende, central Mexico.

Now they've decided they'd like to live there permanently.
The Alabama couple are among the many United States citizens who have been going south, for adventure or a new life. The decades-long trend has gathered steam in recent years, statistics show, and Mexico is undergoing a sustained Americanization, with Americans buying more property, seeking permanent residency and congregating in enclaves that seem like home abroad.

"The people who are buying here are three or four years away from retirement ... although there are also a lot of younger people coming - 38 to 40 years old - looking for a place to rest or get out of the cold."

Analysts say the influx of Americans is fueled by such factors as a lower cost of living, more affordable housing, warm weather, a more relaxed pace of life and a different political atmosphere.

More than 76 million American baby boomers are expected to reach retirement age in the next 20 years, and 25 percent of them have no health insurance or savings, according to an AARP report.

A significant number of those future retirees will likely be heading south, said Viviana Rojas, a researcher at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

"Mexico makes them feel younger, connected again and re-energized," Rojas said.
But expatriates in Mexico generally pay less for health care and medicine, housing and domestic help, according to experts and the expatriates themselves.

Rojas and a colleague, T.S. Sunil, are studying a sample of U.S. retirees in Ajijic, Jalisco state. She said more than half the 172 people surveyed said they were living on less than $1,000 a month. That money covered rent, utility bills and other costs such as maid and gardener service and regularly eating out.

"These are people who are looking for alternatives that will accommodate their fixed income," she said. "The key question here is, how many Americans can manage to live (in the United States) on less than $1,000 and have all those amenities?"

In Nayarit state, public officials are trying to lure Americans by hawking an affordable lifestyle. Ads for the fishing village of Sayulita assert that residents can live in the village for as little as $500 a month, gardener and maid included.

Some Americans have come to embrace Mexico to such a degree that they're becoming citizens.His attorney, Gilberto Pineda, represents 60 Americans seeking permanent residence.

Ethridge settled in Playa because, he said, it is younger and hipper than some other expatriate centers - and has topless beaches as well. He said that he could not imagine returning to live in the United States and that he does not miss the hectic pace and materialism of his native country.

Tereso Ortiz, of Dallas, is one of the estimated 24 million U.S. citizens He sees Mexico as the place where he will spend his golden years - to be closer to family and to enjoy a retirement that he could not afford in the United States.

For other Americans, Mexico is a refuge from what they view as a rancorous environment....

"I come from one of the two (places), New York and the District of Columbia, which were attacked on Sept. 11," she said. "And we don't feel any safer. If anything, I feel more scared and that's why I'm looking for a home here in San Miguel.

San Miguel de Allende may be the most American town in the country. About 10 percent of the residents are American. Most stores price their wares in dollars. English is heard everywhere.

Kentuckians in the Tropics?

"I awoke this morning to the soothing sound of Pacific waves lapping the shores of the Mexican Riviera's crown jewel - Puerto Vallarta. The cloud flecked sky changed colors as the sun journeyed from the mountains toward the sea. The scented air gently caressed my face."

By accident (or was it meant to be?) we were put in touch with a transplanted California realtor who just happened to have a beach side condo for us to see. Walking into that condo, the view of the sea, brilliant with millions of diamonds winking and blinking, took away our breath. Believing in love at first sight, at that moment we both knew this was it!

Life is still fulfilling and meaningful, but in different directions and dimensions. New friends - Méxicans of all ages and backgrounds, visiting tourists who, on their annual vacations, move in and out of our lives, and expatriates from many parts of the world - spice our lives.

Old friends who journey south of the border keep us grounded and give us delight as they sample our new and different world. We keep up with the USA via satellite TV (now high speed internet too,) and we vote by mail.

We revel in life in our condo nestled between the sea and el centro. We love the wonderful Vallartenses, the people who so graciously and warmly welcome us into their land and their lives. We savor the pace, the palms, the mountains, the language, the flavors, the sounds, the music, the colors, the climate, the children!

Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 57 years, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.

Click HERE for more articles by Polly Vicars.

What ever you do stay away from the border towns where corruption is rampant, according to studies Americans consume some 50% of the world's total cocaine production and than makes for some pretty nasty behavior, on the border towns where the trafficking takes place.

We would like to hear from any Americans living abroad, Please E mail us.

Living the American Dream in Brazil

By Gabriel Elizondo in Itabirinha, Brazil Al Jazeera

Brazil's returning expatriates and their US dollars are being welcomed with open arms

The small town of Itabirinha, Brazil might seem like the most unlikely place in the world to be benefiting from the US economic downturn.

With a population of 10,000 and located in the remote interior of Brazil, one in every 10 people from Itabirinha live in the US.

But this is quickly changing; this year alone hundreds of people gave up the 'American dream' and returned home to re-invest their dollars in the local economy.

Itabirinha represents a microcosm of a much larger reverse migration trend that has been happening in the past year.

Booming Brazil

But that is just half the story, because Brazil is currently undergoing an economic revival it has not seen in years.

There is record growth in everything from the Sao Paulo stock market (the largest in Latin America), to new home sales, to discretionary spending.

In short, Brazil is booming and it is not just the wealthy megacities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but also the medium-sized cities.

The thousands returning from the US are hoping for a slice of the Brazilian pie.

US media outlets have also quoted travel agents in the New York area alone who said that one-way tickets from Kennedy Airport to Brazil are averaging about 150 a day, more than double those of a year ago.

Meanwhile, the small town of Itabirinha is reaping the benefits of people coming b

"I told the people I met with that whoever had capital to invest of any kind, $100,000, $50,000, $10,000, could return to Itabirinha and create his or her own business," Ferreira said.

"We had a market for any business they wanted to create, and we are ready to help them, no matter how much they wanted to invest. I made it clear Itabirinha is waiting for them with open arms."

As the trend plays out in small Brazilian towns like Itabirinha in the months and years to come, people like Araujo, the new business owner in town, says he has no regrets about coming back.

"I am living my America dream," he said. "I am just living it here, and not back in America."

Political Refugees from America and Canada Intensifies

I just read this interesting article in the Delaware Online that talks about the recent phenomena of Americans moving abroad permanently...

“Adventure figured into the impulse. But equal considerations were living with less stress, disaffection for American political and social culture, and affordability, including health care.”
Overall, this matches my own rational for wanting to retire in Panama, namely: less stress, low cost of living, good health care, less taxes, and a great climate. The part about “disaffection for American political and social culture” correlates with what I have been told by most of the Americans I met in Panama. Many consider themselves to be “political refugees” and most cite this as at least one of the reasons behind their decision if not the main one. Frankly, if our Canadian Conservative government continues along its current trajectory, this will also become one of my reasons for moving.

“The Migration Policy Institute focused on retirees 55 and older increasingly drawn to Mexico and Panama by specific government incentives for foreign seniors. The lower cost of living was sweetened by special visas for pensioners, low taxes and discounts on ordinary household bills and purchases. But Americans abroad also have been faulted for rising real estate prices and setting up their own colonies in their new locales.”

Why Americans Should Be Packing Their Bags NOW

by Ezekiel

It is now time to think about the unthinkable. Americans who have been raised to love their country and trust in their leaders' commitment to democracy need to be considering--even planning for--emigrating to escape before full-blown tyranny arrives in the United States.

Don't be lulled into complacency because neither you nor your parents or children have been hauled out of your home and put into a forced guardianship/conservatorship with your visiting rights denied or severery restricted and your property confiscated into court controlled 'guardianship accounts" that are drawn down very quickly, your properties sold at artifical and non public sales until all your families assets are depleted and you are totally dependent upon the State.

The heavy hand of an unrestrained government is already being felt among some targeted groups, namely the elderly, those incapacitated and those suffering from autism, or other disabilitating conditions the mechanisms necessary to institute a totalitarian state that will impact the daily lives of all Americans are already in place. Within a matter of hours, the power of the imperial federal executive can be invoked to freeze your assets and prevent you from traveling within or out of the United States.

Do you still believe that your money is your own, and that you can do with it what you want? Then you have a lot to learn about how federal control of your money has grown in the last 15 years. Many ordinary Americans, people who are far from being terrorists or even political activists, have already encountered the Bank Secrecy Act and the features of the Patriot Act that have made it even more restrictive. Benedictine sisters at the Holy Name Monastery in Florida couldn't understand why their checks were bouncing back in 2005. A call to the bank revealed that their account had been frozen--by the bank--because one 80 year-old signatory on the account had not provided her Social Security number as required by the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act.

If a federal or local law enforcement agency decides to put you on the "Control List," you will lose access to your bank assets within hours.

You probably already know something about the lists that can prevent you from traveling by air. The F. B. I. created the original "no-fly" list in 1990, but the Patriot Act created a new agency, the Transportation Security Administration, to implement the list after 9/11. At the beginning of September, 2001, there were 16 people on the list. Now, European airlines, who must check the list before boarding passengers bound for the U. S., report it contains over 80,000 names.

Again, if an agency decided to submit your name, this computerized system would be able to block you from being able to travel within minutes.

Nations that move toward totalitarianism follow a common series of steps as they eliminate freedom. While rhetoric aimed at target groups may begin with "love it or leave it," before long authoritarian states enact restrictions on emigrees taking assets out of the country and even on emigration itself. In the United States, those restrictions are already in place, but are currently enforced selectively against a fairly small number of people to avoid arousing too much controversy.

Those who are counting on a major electoral defeat for those who support implementing a totatlitarian government in the U. S. are pinning their hopes on a "triple bank shot."

I've written before that, at least to me, the principal if not exclusive benefit of the Democrats taking over one or both of the Congressional houses in November is that it will impose some checks and limitations on the behavior of the administration and, specifically, will finally result in meaningful investigations into what has happened in our country and to our government over the last five years. But I have serious doubts about whether that would really happen...John Cole is absolutely right that Democrats have managed to change virtually nothing as a result of the collapse of the Bush presidency.

Given the intensity and promimity of the current threat to personal liberty, it is wishful thinking to hold out for an electoral victory in November that will make everything right.

Economic Factors Make Emigrating More Difficult Every Day

Emigrating is much easier with a little money. Obtaining residency in most countries requires an immigrant to demonstrate the means to survive either from assets already in hand or income from a job or business. If you can get your current employer to transfer you or have the skills to get a new job overseas, you're set. Otherwise, getting away from oppression in the U. S. may require you to assemble and use some of your financial assets.

For most people, a substantial percentage of personal assets are tied up in the family home. Equity in a house can provide the funds necessary to relocate, buy a home abroad, and start a business in a new country. The problem is that the American housing market is in decline. Inventory is up 40%. Sales are down 15-20%. Some are predicting price drops of more than 10% with a bear market that could last four or five years.

The longer you wait, the less equity you're likely to have.

On top of that, the dollar is declining. Since early April, the value of the dollar has fallen by more than 7% against the Euro, and the combination of huge trade and budget deficits suggest to some analysts that the dollar's fall will continue until 30% to 50% has been wrung out of its value.

Again, the longer you wait, the less your dollars will buy you in another country.

Economic trends are yet another factor suggesting that now is the time to emigrate before housing deflation and a dropping dollar rob you of the money you will need to start a life outside the U. S.

Delay Is Dangerous

Leaving your home and career behind is hard. I know. I've done it. But in the year since I've left, things have only gotten worse in the United States. Yes, Bush's popularity has suffered because of the endless war in Iraq, the Katrina fiasco and rising gasoline prices, but the trend toward authoritarian government has not been reversed; it has accelerated. All it takes is for one of a number of possible events--a terrorist attack, war against Iran, financial panic, an epidemic, civil unrest--to tip things to a point of no return.

The laws and mechanisms are all in place to prevent people from escaping tyranny. They have already been used to harass and trap tens of thousands. The government now has the ability within a matter of hours to prevent everyone from taking assets abroad or leaving by the light of day.

If you are inclined to "stay and fight," then I can only wish you good luck. In my fifties, I do not see myself as a freedom fighter taking to the hills with my rifle, nor would I want to put myself in a situation where I was forced to take the life of another to save my own or that of a family member. For us, it is better to go to a place where the insanity has not spread so widely.

If you believe that leaving the U. S. would be giving in to the forces of fascism, I would point you to a recent movie about a fascist dictatorship. The character Evie, played by Natalie Portman, recalls the arrest of her parents in the movie "V." As scenes of their capture and torture play on the screen, she narrates, "My mother wanted to leave the country. My father said that would be letting them win. (He thought) it was a game."

This is no game. How tragic it was that not more Jews left Nazi Germany in time to escape the concentration camps. They loved their country. They trusted in the basic decency of their neighbors. As anyone would be, they were reluctant to leave behind their homes, their careers, their friends, their family. In the end, they lost it all.

The people who now control the executive branch of the federal government have committed serious crimes already, and will not refrain from even greater abuses to hold onto power and avoid prison. No one should expect to see George Bush deliver a rambling speech about his mother before climbing aboard a helicopter in disgrace. These people will not back down.

The window is closing. Life goes on outside the boundaries of the United States. Don't wait until it's too late.

Ezekiel is an American who emigrated to Europe a year ago. He distributes a monthly newsletter for people who would like to learn more about emigration, obtaining visas, starting businesses overseas and living abroad. You can reach him at

Edited for E.A. in italics original =>>

Monday, August 18, 2008

America is Being Abused

by By Linda Wattley

"America is being abused mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. There is no reason for us to be unable to take care of our self without borrowing money from other nations. We should not have to strip our country of its resources to prosper our families. We are all over the world sacrificing lives of decent offspring that should be at home strengthening our nation. The world is watching us bleed to death mainly due to greed and selfishness. If we do not let a new spirit into our leadership, spirit will die here and we may very well become slaves to other nations in more ways than one."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Russia as Abusive Ex, Georgia as Battered Wife (Revised)

Clouthier Gets it Right on Spousal Abuse Analogy
Melissa Clouthier over at Pajamas Media presents a great analogy today saying Georgia is the abused spouse to a bullying Russia. She gets it right from all angles, including the inexcusable role society plays in blaming the victim and supporting the aggressor.

I love, love, love this analogy. To play it out yet further… when abused spouse Georgia begs the courts for help, the judges offer only ineffective mediation, but do nothing while aggressor Russia plunders at will.Susan Katz Keating:

Since you guys like analogies so much how about this from C.Glick at the Jerusalem Post :

After Russia illegally invaded Georgia, European and American officials as well as Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama hinted that Russia had a legitimate right to invade, when they wrongly referred to South Ossetia as "disputed territory."

When disputed territory(Family Estates ) this gives courts the right to intervene and invade (family sovereignty) install Guardians (peacekeepers) who end up plundering at will and ultimately by charging huge fees end with the bulk of the Estate to the chagrin of family members who initially trusted the courts but who now are caught like 'deer in the headlights'.

The Domestic Commercialization of Old Age Versus Third World Countries

by Ray Fernandez

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have lived in third world countries for stretches of up to ten years at a time and have done investigations into this and I found that the elders are revered and have more rights as the age. The Stripping of their rights just because they are old or incapacitated seems to be a relatively new phenomenon that's upsetting families and leaving people with a very bad taste as regards the treatment of our loved ones in times of need.

The commercialization of old age and the surge in popularity of warehouses for the old for profit is not seen in many countries. In the D.R. nursing homes that I've visited are subsidised by the state and are free, elders are not slumped over and drugged, outings are planned every weekend, there is no ban or fear of being photographed and investigation into abuses are rare because nuns of various religious orders volunteer to run these nursing homes.

In our parents' case we've been helped with the oversight of Circuit Judge David Audlin, a judge who studied philosophy and history and he has allowed Clara to remain with her loving family, he has allowed her to travel and most recent in a hearing on August 8, 2008 he has taken steps to restore Clara's civil rights. This means Clara's family will soon be able to use her social security income for that for which it was intended instead of it being used to pay for Guardian fees which in the families opinion are exhorbitant, also means that Clara will be able to make decisions as far as she is able to , travel freely, and have a chance to live out her days with dignity and respect.

Unfortunately many of our dear friends and readers are caught in a web of corruption, oversight for profit, and are denied the most basic of all human rights, *'The Right to Take Care of Your Own' we pray for them whose lives have been made a living hell by this system of Guardians for profit and for the good of our society and the survival of our values we can only hope that the sharing of these experiences will lead to meaningful reform.

It is indeed very sad and speaks poorly for our society when more and more Americans are forced to seek asylum in other countries when the most basic of all human rights , "The Right to Remain Together as Family" is denied.

We can only hope that our efforts will result in meaningful reform of the corruption and commercialization of laws intended for the protection of our most vulnerable segment of our population.

* ref the Carla Rae Sindelar story;

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A battered woman, Holly Ann Collins, fled the United States with her children to protect them from abuse. They were granted Asylum in the Netherlands.

By Beth Walton Published on July 30, 2008 by City Pages News

It was the first week of the New Year when Holly Collins showed her identification card to the clerk at City Hall in a small township in western Holland. "Asylum for an unlimited time," it read on the front. On the back: "American Citizen."

"Have you seen this? An American asylum seeker!" the shocked clerk yelled to a colleague across the lobby. Dozens of people milling about the building stopped to listen. The clerk shook her head, and held the card to the light. She couldn't believe it: an American refugee.

Please read this incredible story of a family outstanding courage in the face of repression Source=>>

MINNESOTA RESIDENTS CLICK HERE!!to send a free, pre-written message to the Minneapolis District Attorney, the Minnesota Attorney General and the Minnesota Governor, and your state legislators, urging them to drop the charges against Holly, so that she and her children can return to the United States and live their lives in peace.

EVERYONE ELSE, Click the button below to send a free, pre-written message to the Minneapolis District Attorney, the Minnesota Attorney General and the Minnesota Governor, urging them to drop the charges against Holly, so that she and her children can return to the United States and live their lives in peace> <>

My brother is 24 and I am 22. We are the “victims!” We want to be heard! We don’t think that our mother should be punished nor silenced any longer.

My mother is a formerly battered woman who is the first American to receive asylum in Europe. My brother and I were abused children who were failed by the American Justice System, but fortunately we received asylum in the Netherlands.

"The court officers literally ripped me out of my mother’s arms as I was kicking and screaming “MOMMY HELP ME! HE HURTS ME AND HE HURTS MY BROTHER! MOMMY…. I WANT MY MOMMY!” The memories of that dreadful day still bring tears to my eyes. I will be haunted by that moment for the rest of my life!"

After trying every legal possibility to secure our safety, on June 30th 1994 this brave woman “kidnapped” us children right out from underneath her abuser. Please note that we voluntarily went with our mother! It was one of the happiest days of our lives! We went “underground” and eventually fled the United States in 1994. (Apparently the Judge reversed custody of Christopher as well, after we left.) After spending 3 years in various refugee camps our shy, petite, young mom won her case under the High Commission for Refugees and was the first American Citizen granted Asylum in the European Union! (My brothers and I also received our own asylum.)

If you would like to get a message of support to Holly Ann Collins or her children, please write to

Thank You for Helping Us Reach a New Milestone

We just reached a new mile stone, we clocked the 85,000 person to log on to ElderAbuseHelp.Org from Washington D.C. Thank You Senator for reading ElderAbuseHelp.Org

Spiny Florida Lobsters Get More Protection than Our Elders Do

Cudjoe Key,Florida USA BY TIMOTHY O'HARA of Key West Citizen

Federal agents confiscated three boats and three vehicles and say they plan to seize three homes owned by a Cudjoe Key commercial lobster diver accused of lobster poaching in the Keys.

David Dreifort, 41, was arrested Wednesday and a federal judge granted him a $50,000 bond on Thursday. Judge Lurana Snow also said Dreifort could not sell or mortgage his two homes in the Keys and one in Sebastian Inlet, as federal officials plan to seize them, if they can prove they were acquired by profits made.

You Would Not Believe You Are in America. It's like the Middle Ages, a Third World County. It's truly a veil over reality. It's so Sad."

Posted by Beth Walton as published in The Blotter

Jennifer Collins says that her father beat her as a child. She says that she told court officials and therapists several times during a tragic and lengthy custody trial that she did not feel safe with him. Nonetheless, Hennepin County Family Court put her and her older brother Zachary in his custody when they were just 7 and 9. It was believed that their mother was unstable and coaching the two children. Despite findings of spousal abuse, her father, Mark Collins of Crystal, Minn., was seen as the more fit parent.

Today, at 23 years old, Jennifer feels cheated. As a kid everyone told her if she told the truth everything would be OK. "But it wasn’t, was it?" She says on the phone from her mother's house in Western Holland. "I know I am an adult and it shouldn't matter so much anymore, but I want justice for us kids and for other kids who are currently being abused," she later adds in an e-mail.

Jennifer says her past has shaped her future. Upon graduation from college, the psychology major plans to be an advocate for change. She hopes to move to the U.S. and work on issues of family court reform and the rights of children. Someday, she would like to start her own organization for abused children, run by adult survivors of child abuse. "I think it is about time for such a bold organization…" she wrote.

For now, Jennifer is focused on getting the word out. She has started a website with several YouTube videos detailing her version of the past. She has sent over 400 emails to every U.S. Senator, member of the Minnesota legislature and advocacy groups she could find to raise awareness. She’s even worked with StopFamilyViolence.Org to set up an online petition on behalf of her family.

While reluctant to share the intimate, tragic details of her past, Jennifer realizes the power of her family's story. They went forward to raise awareness about the system that they believe failed them. "[Family court] is the one who should be charged with 'Failure to Protect!,'" she says.

Unfortunately, experts and advocates in the area of abuse say what happened to the Collins family is a widespread problem within the American judicial system. There have been several studies done around the country that show the difficulties family courts have in protecting women from domestic violence and children from abuse, says Dr. Joyanna Silberg, clinician and Executive Vice President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence.

Every week the organization's website is flooded with people in similar situations needing help. It is astonishing the number of custody cases where domestic violence is present in which the courts award the children to the abuser, she says.

"It isn’t as if people want to harm children. Certainly nobody consciously wants to harm children, but it’s a matter of systemic errors that allow children's needs to fall through the cracks. The same systemic errors exist in many states and counties."

Abusers will often challenge custody because it is a way for them to continue to exhibit control over the woman or kids they batter, she says. "It’s almost a science of how to get custody when you are an abuser. There are websites and play books you can find on line. If you are accused of child sexual abuse, some lawyers will recommend the thing to do is to go for full custody… Chances are the court will look at you as, 'here’s a nice guy who wants to be part of the children's lives.'"

More often than not, a battered woman is not going to want let the children go to the home of the man who abused her, and she ends up looking hysterical and frantic as she pleads for their safety, at times defying ordered visitation upon the advice medical practitioners. Lawyers for the abuser will then capitalize on that behavior and make the battered parent look unstable—using labels such as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) or Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a disease not substantiated by the American Psychological Association with little scholastic or empirical evidence. Here's a great Newsweek story on the subject.

Slowly some states are starting to introduce legislation to improve the system, says Silberg, who is working on federal reform to better protect children from abuse. In Tennessee, for example, a bill was passed making it illegal to use PAS as a custody reversal basis if abuse is alleged. In other places lawmakers are trying to do the same thing with MSbP.

The system changes slower than the cases cycle through. A little while ago Silberg worked with a client whose father was implicated for physical abuse and had punched his child in the face. He got full custody. Years later the mother was finally allowed weekend visitation.

"But that's not uncommon. That's a very common story," Silberg says. "If you spent a day in my shoes you would not believe you are in America. It's like the Middle Ages, a Third World County. It's truly a veil over reality. It's so sad."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Day , Another Victim ? Protecting Estates from Guardians/Conservators

Submitted by Rudy Bush

The Colorado judiciary is reviewing a flawed probate system to recommend changes to the Colorado Assembly By Jennifer Gilbert write the author

The Colorado State Judiciary is reviewing its protective proceedings, and the Silvia Tessadri case is a big reason why.

The judiciary realized the current system to protect elderly, infirmed and other members of society within the guardianship, trustee and conservator purview is flawed.

Although no names were mentioned in a 2006 audit prepared by Clifton Gunderson LLC, Tessadri's case figured prominently in the review of the current system. Tessadri, 83, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic by a court-ordered evaluation in 2002.Tessadri's guardian Ann Grasee recognized the case when she read the report, and she said it grossly overstated her fees.

When she entered the care of Grasee by court order in 2003, Tessadri had an estate valued at more than $500,000 as well as a home and trust. Grasee charges $100 per hour for her care, a standard fee for guardian ad litems in Colorado.Tessadri's son, Rudy Bush, 59; said Grasee and conservator, Michael Beutz, have spent the $500,000 and are now listing his mother's house on the market.

Bush lived with his mother in the $180,000 Lakewood house until the court ordered he move from the premise. Now, the property is being rented under lease until a buyer can be found.Beutz and Grasee said the profits from the sale would be used to care for Tessadri, whose estate is now nearly bankrupt.

"When it was determined there was no belief she would ever return home, it squanders an estate asset to have it empty," Beutz said. "The trust (managed by Wells Fargo) wished to sell the house and received a court order to do so."Bush said his mother should never have been put into guardianship or moved from her house into a care facility.

"A woman who had a half-million dollar estate and a house is now broke," Bush said. "It's the saddest thing I've ever heard.

.... Bush is allowed to see his mother, but she said he must give notice so it can be supervised.Although she would not specify why Tessadri was unlikely to return home due to privacy concerns, she did say there were many reasons for people to remain in a care facility."If they are on medications and have demonstrated they are not able to maintain themselves on medication or take them as prescribed, that would be a reason for assisted living," Grasee said. "They may need help changing clothes, keeping up hygiene and eating well."Beutz said the Tessadri estate has been liquidated so quickly because of legal proceedings brought by Bush and Tessadri. The court banned Bush from bringing further legal action, but each time the case is reviewed in court, the estate pays for Tessadri's lawyer, Beutz's lawyer, Beutz's fee, Grasee's fee, Grasee's lawyer and any other professional services.

"The Tessadri case is unusual, abnormal, extraordinary, out of the norm in a significant way," Beutz said. "In my view, Rudy's pursuit of this or encouragement of Silvia to pursue this has cost her an extraordinary amount of money. This isn't only a consumption of money and a consumption of resources; this sucks the life out of a person."Tessadri said she did wish to return to her house and live with her son, but Grasee said Tessadri had told her differently in many instances.Bush continues to try to get his mother re-evaluated, a request denied by the court, and have her removed from the probate system."They're keeping her from an evaluation, keeping me away from her, keeping everybody away from her," Bush said.Cases similar to Tessadri's led to a judicial task force public hearing on Sept. 28 to receive information from lawyers, judges and other involved parties on the best way to improve the system.

Among the options offered by the judicial protective proceedings task force are better streamlining of reporting and court filing fees. The task force also recommended better oversight of guardians and conservators.At present, guardians and conservators are required to present documentation for all expenses, but there is no general overview of the system.

The judiciary does not know how many people are in the care of guardians or how much money is in the probate system at any point in time."The current system is egregiously unfair, unjust and greed-driven," elder care activist Bob Barry said at the public hearing. "It's evil, and it's perpetuated on the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society."The task force will present its findings and suggestions for legislation to the Colorado General Assembly early next year.

Article abridged for E.A.

Inheritance in America: Rights v. Slights

by Lou Ann Anderson

Rights of inheritance, the tradition of designating heirs to receive property or other assets upon one’s death, are a long-standing American institution currently under assault. The term “dying wish” would not be ingrained into our culture were it not a time-honored tradition – at least until now. Pre-empting or violating rights of inheritance is a disturbing new avenue for garnering financial resources.

Today’s American mindset increasingly reflects an entitlement sense in which people view poaching the resources of others commensurate to days past when honorable asset acquisition resulted from a strong work ethic and self-reliance. Be it through government or private resources, honest or otherwise, “getting what you deserve” has become paramount with probate venues and instruments such as wills, trusts and guardianships now vehicles used for accessing the assets of others. Property poaching via wills and trusts typically happens posthumously, but asset looting can also occur preemptively (during a targeted individual’s lifetime) through a guardianship so that upon death, heirs still have rights of inheritance only estates contain little or nothing to inherit.

The family of J.P. and Doris Manire, residents of Denton County, TX, had this experience. An effort started in late 2004 left the couple both under guardianships appointed by a Denton County probate judge. Family members report that in 18 or so months, assets (cash and other investments) totaling about $500,000 appear to have funded court-appointed guardians and attorneys as well as paid for Doris’ nursing home expenses and medications despite family at that time being willing and able to care for the couple. Doris died May 2007.

Though intended to be the long-term home of their son and his family, the Manire’s homestead (house and acreage) was sold later in 2007 for approximately $150,000 with proceeds ostensibly earmarked to fund additional probate-related expenses. Shortly before his June 2008 death, the court agreed to return several modest bequests J.P. made to his son and grandchildren, bequests previously taken away by the guardians. A pre-paid funeral contract was also approved for purchase. Weeks later J.P. died and his grandson paid the balance on his grandfather’s burial with reimbursement allegedly forthcoming from the estate. Despite once having financial means, J.P.’s family believes he was on Medicaid at the time of his death thus shifting the cost of his care to taxpayers. Throughout this action, the Manire family received limited financial information and was largely denied physical access to their loved ones. The government’s takeover of two aging yet self-sufficient and historically productive people denied the Manire heirs their right to inherit family resources clearly designated for them while parties friendly to the government appeared to profit.

Another pre-emptive and “beyond belief” story continues in Connecticut. Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green began reporting several years ago about Daniel Gross, a New York resident involuntarily kept in a Connecticut nursing home after having become sick while on a trip. A court-appointed guardian caused him to be held for more than 10 months against his will until a Superior Court judge intervened terming the case “a terrible miscarriage of justice.” Despite Gross having been freed two years ago and having died in October 2007, Gross’ former conservator is back in court seeking nearly $40,000 from Gross’ estate – compensation for work on what was deemed an unlawful act! This family has been through enough – both financially and emotionally. Daniel Gross presumably left assets to designated heirs who now have to defend their rights of inheritance from a “we deserve it” entity whose only claim stems from a blatant disregard of the law.

Property rights, rights of inheritance, dying wishes – they used to be respected concepts as did people’s intentions in such matters. Not any more. One of the most famous inheritance rights cases is Marshall v. Marshall – better known for petitioner Vickie Lynn Marshall (aka Anna Nicole Smith). This case exemplifies how disrespectful people can be toward a person’s final wishes. It shows that despite preparation and execution of a bona fide estate plan, today’s American society – including the legal community - is accepting of, even willing to assist, those seeking personal though illegitimate gain by thwarting another individual’s legitimate right to determine his/her property’s ultimate distribution. And with access to funds and/or notoriety that attracts contingency attorneys, proceedings can then be contrived and extended so that the “wheels of justice” and billable hours churn indefinitely.

Not long after the 2006 death of E. Pierce Marshall, son of J. Howard Marshall II and heir to his father’s estate, The Dallas Morning News published an article in which family members described the prolonged legal battle with Smith being “a personal commitment Pierce made to his father.” The sense communicated was that the 10+ years of courtroom battles were about honoring the final wishes of J. Howard Marshall II. A family friend was quoted saying “…the public life wore him (Pierce) down and put a pessimistic streak in him that I was looking forward to see go away when the suits did. Alas, he did not reach that point.”

Perspectives of the Manire and Gross families have undoubtedly been shaped based on their experiences. They likely feel violated by our judicial system, maybe other government entities and certainly by specific individuals involved with abusing the legal system and violating tenets of basic decency. If Pierce Marshall, a man with a noble mission as well as significant financial and professional resources, was left with a similar “pessimistic” feeling, Americans need to wake up.

When people with exceptional resources have their rights of inheritance unjustly challenged and despite good faith efforts, cannot ward off estate predators, where does this leave the rest of America? What hope is there for the Manire family, the Gross family – or for your family?

Your property is at risk. Your heirs’ future enjoyment of hard-earned family assets is not so guaranteed. An overwhelming sense of entitlement is causing rights of inheritance to be violated or denied every day. Be aware – everything you have could depend on it.

Lou Ann Anderson is producer of The Lynn Woolley Show, a Texas-based talk radio program. She also is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. Lou Ann may be contacted at