Archive for September, 2011

Former Mayor’s Wife Battles Guardian

September 30, 2011

Before he had a stroke in late 2008, Jim Brown was the mayor of Cynthiana and a hands-on businessman who compiled personal and business assets of approximately $115 million, including an ambulance service, a nursing home, a restaurant and a hotel.

Now, Brown’s well-being and financial affairs are at the mercy of a judge, who this summer ordered him taken from the home he shared with his wife following an employee’s allegations that the former mayor was being mistreated, according to court documents.

Brown, who didn’t want to leave his home, was transported by his own ambulance service and placed in Cynthiana’s Grand Haven Nursing Home, which he also owns. Brown’s wife, Kay Brown, was ordered not to have any contact with him and was jailed briefly without bail for not appearing at a hearing regarding her husband.

Kay Brown recently filed lawsuits in Jim Brown’s native Magoffin County and in Johnson County, where the couple moved after the stroke, against her husband’s temporary court-appointed guardian, Cynthiana attorney Edwin M. Culbertson.

Full Article and Source:
Former Cynthiana Mayor Mired in Odd Legal Battle

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Woman Cleared of 2008 ‘Kidnapping’ of Elderly Man

September 30, 2011

A woman who was charged with kidnapping and attempted theft in 2008 was acquitted by a jury in King County Superior Court.

Kulany Roeksbutr, 32, was cleared of all charges following a five-day trial before King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell in December 2009.

Roeksbutr and a friend, Sunjinda Yahatta, were charged after Yahatta married a 78-year-old man who was in an Issaquah nursing home suffering from dementia. The charges alleged that Yahatta married the man so she could drain his bank account, and that Roeksbutr acted as a witness at the wedding and was involved in the alleged scheme.

The women took the man to the bank after the marriage and tried to withdraw $23,000, according to charging documents. A suspicious teller called police.

Both women were acquitted of all charges after defense attorneys argued that the state had failed to prove the elderly man was incapacitated at the time of the wedding.

Full Article and Source:
Woman Cleared of 2008 Kidnap Case

How to File a Complaint Against Judges and Attorneys (preface)

September 29, 2011

This series (How to File a Complaint….) is meant for every jurisdiction in the USA. As far as getting something done to effect change, I believe this series is of utmost importance. I’m asking that you repost and let’s make this viral. I’m sure similar avenues of legal accountability exist in other countries (for those around the world who follow this blog).

This series is an attempt to educate laypersons on how to file a complaint against naughty lawyers and unethical judges who have kept us in the dark to this recourse. I consider myself someone who keeps himself relatively informed and educated by reading the newspaper and watching the news(and a college graduate), but I had no idea there was a governing body that should be protecting me from the illegal actions of Kennedy. I had never heard of the Court of the Judiciary (governing body over judges) or the Judicial Code of Ethics (rules judges MUST conduct themselves by). I had never heard of The Board of Professional Responsibility (governing body over attorneys) and the rules they are governed by, until I ran into a childhood friend who is a judicial investigator from my home state. I returned to him a week later with a working knowledge from the Judicial Code. I went to the website I will provide in this series and downloaded the various complaint forms, then went to work. My complaints stuck. Considering that, today, in the Tennessean newspaper, an article appeared that represented over 90% of judicial complaints are dismissed, I bat .1000 in my efforts. I don’t claim credit for being masterful in my first complaint, but it was with ease that I caught their attention by clear and convincing evidence (actually, “strongly represented allegations”). I assisted Ginger Franklin in authoring her complaint against the same judge (Kennedy) and it stuck. Two pitches, two hits. Kennedy is generously errant, so he’s an easy target. Unfortunately, the TN Court of the Judiciary is comprised of former TN judges, so we have found ourselves dealing with a impotent body of judges judging judges. (in truth, they have proven to be an organization that protects judges). They have yet to discipline Kennedy in either complaint. We are confident Senator Mae Beavers, chairperson for the TN Senate Judiciary Committee, and the hearings she held this week addressing drastic reform in the TN Court of the Judiciary, will finally bring our much needed REAL protection from errant judges.

Educate yourself to the rules governing lawyers and judges and you become a force to be reckoned with. We must take the power back in a corrupt legal system where “we the people” have become a lost interest.

Full Article and Source:
ImpeachRandyKennedy: How to File a Complaint Against Judges and Attorneys (preface)

‘Ella’s Law’

September 29, 2011

I got a phone call from State Sen. Edith Prague D-Columbia who represents the 19th Senatorial District where I live, and therefore, where my mother lives, telling me the bill we refer to as Ella’s Law, after my mother M. Ella Winter, has become law. Sen. Prague, or Edith as I like to call her, befriended my mother a few years ago when Mom was locked in a series of legal battles with my out-of-state siblings and their spawn who wanted to institutionalize her.

Mom won the major legal battles, but then was subjected to a series of complaints that were initiated in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, all falsely alleging that she was being abused in Connecticut because she wouldn’t call the people in those states who had tried to institutionalize her.

The complaints went on for more than a year and included other forms of harassment, but what they really accomplished was exposing a major weakness in Connecticut’s elder abuse system. So, late last year, after the elections, after Sen. Prague, Edith as I like to call her, was re-elected, she convened a task force to do some rewriting and new writing to fix the law.

The work was done, hearings were held, testimony was gathered, pros and cons were considered, and ultimately we have what now is referred to as Public Act 11-224. The act will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011 and from then on we expect regular reports of overcrowded jails as scores of criminals and other low lifes attempt to rob the poor and stuff the pockets of the rich.

From now until then, should any cases of elder abuse through false complaints surface, we’ll just have to rely on good old-fashioned vigilantes.

Full Article and Source:
Granny Snatching: Ella’s Law Now Law Protecting CT Seniors

Senate Judiciary Subcommitee on Administration and the Courts Holds Hearing on Guardianship

September 28, 2011

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a hearing (Thursday, Sept. 22) on protecting seniors and persons with disabilities from abuse and neglect by guardians.

During the hearing, Klobuchar called for more accountability and oversight of court-appointed guardians to ensure that seniors are safe and receive the care they deserve. Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.

Klobuchar invited Minnesota State Ombudsman Deb Holtz to testify at the hearing. Holtz serves as the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging, and is the top consumer advocate for thousands of elderly Minnesotans.

“We know from experience, unfortunately, that many people are being ill-served by their guardians and conservators. We also know that many court systems simply lack the resources to effectively monitor this enormous system,” Holtz said. “We are very supportive of Senator Klobuchar’s action to now take on this issue at the federal level. It should be a given that we all age without any abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation and that our lives will continue to be filled with dignity.”

In addition to Holtz, other witnesses that testified at the hearing included Kay Brown, Director of the GAO’s Education, Workforce and Income Security team; Naomi Karp, Strategic Policy Advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute; Robert Baldwin, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the National Center for State Courts; and Michelle Hollister, Managing Partner at Solkoff Legal, P.A., and former Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Public Guardianship Office.

Full Article and Source:
Sen Klobuchar Chairs Hearing on Protecting Seniors From Abuse, Neglect

View the Hearing

Read the 2010 GAO Report: Guardianships – Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect and Abuse of Seniors

TN Legislators Push to Overall Judge Discipline Board

September 28, 2011

At the conclusion of a two-day review of the state’s judicial discipline system Wednesday, lawmakers said they are satisfied that they have plenty of evidence to justify an overhaul.

While some of the proposed changes to the Court of the Judiciary — the body that investigates ethical complaints against judges and decides whether to punish them — would bring the commission more in line with its counterparts in other states, other changes would be unusual. In any event, members of a special legislative committee, the second one in as many years to review the Court of the Judiciary, said testimony from several disgruntled litigants suggests change is needed.

“Hopefully, we can make our members understand from these hearings … that it’s serious, and not just to take the word of their hometown judges that there is no problem when there is a problem,” said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, who was angered earlier this year when state judges spoke to lawmakers and helped kill her proposal to drastically alter the Court of the Judiciary’s structure at the end of the legislative session.

Beavers and her allies hope to resurrect the proposal, or one like it, when the legislature reconvenes in January, but no specific time frame was provided. The Court of the Judiciary is made up of 16 members, including 10 judges appointed by the state Supreme Court. Beavers’ proposal would reduce the commission’s size to 12 members appointed by the speakers of the state House and Senate, and only five would be judges.

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said allowing the Supreme Court to appoint judges to “judge judges” is a conflict of interest and that the court’s appointing power needs to be stripped.

Full Article and Source:
TN Legislators Push to Overhaul Board That Disciplines Judges

TN: Court of the Judiciary

September 28, 2011

Judges have a hand in some of the most emotional decisions in Tennesseans’ lives, yet many who feel like they were wronged by the legal system say the board created to punish judges is protecting them instead.

The Court of the Judiciary investigates complaints against judges in Tennessee and reviews whether or not there was any misconduct. Much of what they do takes place behind closed doors, and lawmakers say that needs to change.

Channel 4’s I-Team investigation was front and center during a legislative hearing Tuesday that could shape the way judges are investigated and punished.

We first introduced you to Danielle Malmquist in July. The judge presiding over her divorce, Jerry Stokes, had her investigated by police believing she wanted to kill him.

Yet during that investigation and even now, he continues to preside over her divorce case.

“During the five-month police investigation, (Judge Stokes) rules against me 64 times,” Danielle Malmquist said.

Malmquist believes the judge should have recused himself, so she filed a complaint with the Court of the Judiciary – the board tasked with investigating and punishing judges.

Her complaint was dismissed, and she feels like a system designed to protect her is protecting someone else instead.

“Judges judging judges is not working in our current system of judicial accountability as those judges have a vested interest,” Malmquist said.

A majority of complaints are not made public unless they rise to the level of a public reprimand. That bothers many state lawmakers who say it’s impossible to know if the judges are really doing their jobs.

“Right now we’re in the dark as the public is as to the reprimands that are being issued to judges, private reprimands,” Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) said.

Those on the Court of the Judiciary say the disciplinary system is working, and that making every complaint public could cause unnecessary harm.

“We don’t want to just immediately expose everything everybody accuses something in public,” Court of the Judiciary Judge Chris Craft said.

In the past year, there have been 359 complaints against judges. Of those, 314 have been dismissed, nine resulted in public reprimands and six resulted in private reprimands.

Full Article and Source:
Some Want More Oversight on Investigations Into Judges

Former Judge Michael T. Conahan Gets 17.5 Years!

September 27, 2011

On Friday, September 23, 2011, former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan, 59, was sentenced by Federal Middle District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to 210 months, or 17.5 years, in federal prison for his part in the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Conahan pled guilty to his crimes and received a sentence of almost 10 years less than co-Defendant, former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella.

Kosik additionally ordered Conahan to pay more than $874,000 in restitution, along with other fines. Judge Kosik also recommended that Conahan be sent to a prison in Delray Beach, Florida “not for convenience” but so that his family can be in close proximity

Before the sentence was handed down, Conahan sat as he read a prepared statement accepting responsibility for his actions and apologizing to all of those he harmed. He told the court, “…the system was not corrupt. I was corrupt.”

Source:
Former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison

Michael T. Conahan’s Statement to the Court

September 27, 2011

Thank you, your honor. Good morning.

Your honor, this has been a long road for me. It has been difficult, embarrassing, damaged my reputation beyond repair. I’ve lost everything that I worked for my entire life, and I’m about to go to prison.

Your honor, I deserve these consequences because of what I’ve done.

First, please allow me to apologize to the children and the families of the children that appeared in juvenile court in Luzerne County.

You are the vulnerable people of our society and are entitled to have decisions based upon what is in your best interests. I let you down the most. My actions undermined your faith in the system and contributed to the great difficulty in your lives.

I was the president judge, I owed you better. I’m grateful that the Supreme Court overturned your findings of delinquency and expunged your records. I am sorry you were victimized.

I apologize to the staff and the probation department of the juvenile court. I was the president judge and I should have let you do better things for those juveniles. I let you down. You deserved better from me.

To all of those people who lost faith in the juvenile justice system, I ask that you please keep in mind the system was not corrupt, I was corrupt.

The system has integrity, I did not perform my duties the way I should have, and I do not have integrity.

I apologize to the citizens of Luzerne County because your faith in government has been shaken, as a result of the dark cloud I placed over all of us. I let you down personally and professionally.

I hope that both the prosecutions of public officials and public officials like me accepting responsibility and admitting their criminal actions will restore your faith in government.

Your honor, Luzerne County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. The county and its government were not corrupt, I was corrupt.

I also apologize to the legal community and the judiciary. I’ve tarnished the reputation and trust that people have placed in lawyers and in the judiciary.

I think I did some good as a judge, however, I lost my way, and any good I have done over the years will forever be overshadowed by my criminal acts.

The public has the right to expect that lawyers act with integrity at all times. As a lawyer, I failed.

The public has a right to expect that the judiciary is built upon the foundation of upholding truth and honesty. As a judge, I failed.

The judicial system was not bad or corrupt, your honor, I was corrupt.

Your Honor, I lost my way and violated my oath and broke the law.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to understand these facts. I worked long and hard to try and understand all the wrong that I’ve done and why I did it and to try and understand how I can atone for it.

Throughout this process, my family and close friends never left my side. They have given me the love and support I needed so that I could step back and examine my life and my conduct.

I have a lot of time to think about what I did. My failures and this process helped me to look at myself, and I did not like what I saw. I disappointed and hurt so many people.

I apologize to my family and friends for putting them through all of this.

I apologize to the public for putting them through all of this.

I realize that mere words cannot change the pain that so many people are feeling, but I hope it’s a beginning, and I’m sorry.

What I did was wrong, what I did damaged a great many people, and I hope that going forward, the citizens, the public, and most importantly, the children of Luzerne County can begin to heal and that their faith in the legal system, in government and the Judiciary can be restored.

From my part, I will work the rest of my life to atone for what I’ve done.

Thank you.

Source:
Michael T. Conahan’s Statement to the Court

The Heartbreak of Elder Abuse Continues

September 26, 2011

I will continue to be amazed at the ludicrous actions of those in charge of protecting our citizens. This is the third installment of the blatant elder abuse case that my friend’s mother, Dorothy Wilson, is a victim of. On September 19th, the latest conference was held, only to end in the call for another conference without a date being set. The judge decided that after listening to what seems to be more lying and perjured testimony from the law guardian and healthcare manager, that he wants a health evaluation from the current nursing home that Dorothy Wilson is incarcerated in.

Mrs. Wilson’s health has spiraled down somewhat since she was deceived into leaving her home of six decades by the law guardian and healthcare manager’s associate.

On the day of this latest hearing, Dorothy Wilson was not allowed to attend. Her law guardian, whose firm is in Garden City, NY, failed to make arrangements to have her there. When Diane left several messages for the fourth party in this case, her mother’s appointed attorney, to ask her to make it happen, she did not get a timely response, so Diane called the nursing home. She was told by the social worker that the director of the nursing home stated, “It will not be safe for Dorothy to leave the nursing home.” This woman went on to say that prior to being transported anywhere, Diane would need to be trained by the staff. A follow up call to the correct department at the facility was made, where she was told it would take five to ten minutes. She was denied the right to have this done before the conference. Diane has been getting her Mom in and out of the car for a long time without incident, but suddenly she needed to be trained in how to do this. It was another blatant attempt to keep this elderly woman from having her own voice heard in the courtroom in front of the NY State Supreme Court judge who is responsible for this entire situation.

It must be noted that the following day, Dorothy’s safety wasn’t a concern for her to leave and go to a doctor appointment (not her own long-time physician) that is approximately the same distance as the court. While there was an original excuse that there were not enough funds to transport her, suddenly funding was not an issue.

I will leave you with the actual words from eighty-seven year old, Dorothy. She handwrote her plea to get out of the nursing home the night before the conference.
9/18/11

To Whom it May Concern,

I want to go home more then [sic] anything else in the world. There is nothing wrong with me. Being home will make me the happiest person in the world. You never realize how precious your home is until you are not in it.

Please help me. I want to go home.

Sincerely,

Dorothy Wilson

Full Article and Source:
The Heartbreak of Elder Abuse Continues

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