Archive for the ‘Judge Kennedy’ Category

Former TN Attorney John E. Clemmons Accused of Stealing from Conservatorship

November 13, 2013

John E. Clemmons is now facing criminal charges in Davidson County for the first time. You may remember he pleaded guilty in Rutherford County for doing the same sort of thing he is alleged to do here – stealing from the infirmed who were powerless to protect themselves.

Now, Clemmons is jailed in Nashville on half-million dollars bond. He’s accused of causing millions of dollars of heartache to families like those of Nannie Malone.

Malone was 82 when she died in a nursing home. Clemmons was supposed to be caring for her and paying her bills. He had been her conservator for six years.

“I would ask for money to buy diapers or to get her hair cut. He said, ‘She had no money,'” said Malone’s daughter, Teresa Lyles. “He was very arrogant, he was very arrogant.” Lyles says her younger sister hounded Clemmons, demanding an audit and an accounting of their mother’s money.

“So he filed a petition in court to keep her from seeing our mother. She couldn’t handle that. She could not handle not seeing our mother. And she took her own life that night,” Lyles said. Eventually, the bank statements would show Clemmons wrote himself more than 50 checks from Nannie Malone’s account for a grand total of $367,000. “One of those checks would have paid for the medicine that my mother needed – the cancer drug that he stopped paying for,” Lyles said.

Lyles told Channel 4 News in July she wanted Clemmons prosecuted, and that’s the process now in place.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Former Attorney Accused of Stealing From Conservatorship

New oversight of conservatorships proposed

November 3, 2013

A task force assigned to examine the growing number of  conservatorships in Davidson County has concluded there aren’t enough resources to provide adequate oversight and has proposed the creation of a publicly funded Office of the Public Guardian.

The new office would replace the existing single public guardian, a post now vacant.

In a 55-page report made public Friday, the task force appointed in March by Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy said the proposed new office could be funded by a combination of public money and voluntary support.

The panel cited an increasing caseload of conservatorships in the local court, with the number jumping from 636 in fiscal year 2009 to 1,782 in 2012.

The task force was appointed in the wake of the abrupt resignation of the public guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart, after a series of Tennessean reports on the fees Stuart charged for a variety of tasks. Among those tasks were accompanying wards on shopping trips and attendance at events, including a symphony orchestra performance.

Stuart, whose resignation coincided with Kennedy’s demand that she resign, charged her wards the full hourly lawyer’s fee — up to $225 an hour — no matter the task.

A Tennessean review of Stuart’s billing showed she billed twice for the same services, including a five-hour shopping excursion.

Specific fees dodged

The task force dodged the issue of setting specific fees for nonlawyer tasks but did recommend that conservators be required to “use their time as judiciously as possible” and “act in the best interest of the ward.”

The panel, headed by attorney Colleen P. Mac­Lean, did not recommend a specific budget or staffing level for the proposed public guardian office but instead contrasted the current effort in Davidson County with Tarrant County in Texas, which it cited as a model program.

While Tarrant has a staff of 11.5 to handle an annual caseload of 1,237 cases, the panel said, Davidson has a single judge and a staff of 3.5. Davidson’s caseload is growing and is expected to surpass 1,910 a year.

The Tarrant court has an annual budget of $940,000 and it spends an additional $675,000 to contract with a third party to provide services to wards.

In addition to urging an increase in public funding, the panel said increased court filing fees could underwrite the cost of some of its recommendations.

Kennedy did not respond Friday to a request for comment but provided a copy of a letter forwarded to Metro Council members along with copies of the report.

“I am confident that working together we will continue to enhance and improve our system of justice in this challenging area of the law,” Kennedy wrote in the letter.

The panel attributed the high Davidson County caseload — the highest in the state — to a variety of factors, including a high number of nursing homes, hospitals and veterans facilities and a large homeless population.

“This translates into a ballooning demand, particularly of indigent individuals in need of a conservatorship who do not have friends or family available to serve in this position,” the report states.

Data gathered by the panel showed that the fees charged by conservators currently range from $50 to $250 an hour. Much of the current caseload, it found, is handled by nonprofit and government agencies.

But, the task force warned, those entities “don’t have the capacity to serve all the indigents in Davidson County.”

While not recommending specific fees for non-legal-conservator services, the panel did suggest a system under which overall fee limits could be set.

It cited a flat fee of $1,500 for a case requiring minimal duties and a ceiling of $10,000 for more complicated cases, with a requirement that fees over that ceiling would require greater documentation.

The panel also called for the creation of a program to provide voluntary services for overseeing conservatorships. Such a program would provide training for those interested in serving as conservators.

Overall, the panel concluded that the Davidson County court has too few resources dedicated to the administration and oversight of conservatorships.

“The number of these cases is expected to grow even further as the baby boomer generation ages and life expectancies continue to grow due to advances in modern medicine,” the report concludes.

Full Article and Source:
New oversight of conservatorships proposed

Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

September 19, 2013

Over a month ago, Davidson County Trial Courts approved the establishment of an Expedited Probate Docket.  Judge Randy Kennedy and Presiding Judge Joe P. Binkley, Jr. jointly announced that due to the large and growing volume of cases filed in the Seventh Circuit Court; it has been determined to be in the best interest of the public and for the efficient administration of justice to establish and maintain an Expedited Probate Docket, as distinguished from the regular probate dockets.

Over 100 cases have been tried by Special Probate Master Jennifer Surber and Special Master John Manson who alternately preside over expedited dockets and conduct hearings on uncontested probate matters including name change petitions, small estate administrative proceedings, petitions to administer intestate estates, petitions to probate wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments.  

Full Article and Source:
Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

See Also:
TN: Conservator Jeanan Mills-Stuart and Judge Randy Kennedy

Criminal probe requested in conservatorship case

July 30, 2013

John E. Clemmons

Citing “incomplete accountings and other misrepresentations,” a court-appointed conservator is recommending that the district attorney general and the TBI open criminal investigations into a Nashville attorney’s handling of a conservatorship.

In a 26-page report filed Thursday in Davidson County Probate Court, Paul Gontarek found that attorney John E. Clemmons paid himself over $370,000 while acting as the conservator of Nannie P. Malone. Court records show that most of those payments were made without court approval.

Malone passed away last year at the age of 81, but her family has filed a civil suit against Clemmons, who is facing criminal charges in a separate case in Rutherford County.

Gontarek was named to replace Clemmons in the Malone case on April 10 after the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Clemmon’s license to practice law. Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy also named Gontarek to take over three other of Clemmons’ cases.

Gontarek said that his review of the four cases showed Clemmons routinely submitted accounting reports that omitted the payments he made to himself. He said some of those reports were “totally fraudulent.”

Full Article and Source:
Criminal probe requested in conservatorship case

See Also:
Nashville Attorney John E. Clemmons Charged With Theft in Conservatorship Case

Tennessee Attorney John E. Clemmons, Court Appointed as Conservator, Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Conversion, and More

Pauper v Probate: Notice of Perjury and Referral for Prosecution and Disciplinary Action

July 28, 2013
Pauper v. Probate Court
(The Biggest Business in the World)                                                                                           
                                                                     Case No. : PD1; Filed: November 8, 2011

Notice of perjury by David E. Tate and Paul T. Housch 
Pauper v Probate – Notice of Perjury and Referral for Prosecution and Disciplinary Action
See Also:
NASGA:  Danny Tate

TN: Family Says Conservatorship Bilked $300K From Mother’s Estate; The Conservator: Attorney John E. Clemmons

July 18, 2013

John E. Clemmons’ law license was suspended a few months ago after he was accused of writing himself more than $50,000 in unauthorized fees from the bank account of a disabled client.
Now, another family says they’re out more than $300,000.

Malone’s children not only lost their mother, but they also lost everything that she had collected – all the precious memories. Clemmons sold everything at auction.

“They sold her clothes, family photos in that auction,” Lyle said. “It was one of the saddest days I’ve ever been through.”

“And now, seeing the money that has been taken from her, it’s like living her death all over again,” Boone said.

Family Says Conservatorship Bilked $300K From Mother’s Estate

See Also:
Nashville Attorney John E. Clemmons Charged With Theft in Conservatorship Case

Judge Randy Kennedy Orders Jeanan Mills Stuart Reimburse Double Billing

June 11, 2013

More than a year after the Davidson County public guardian double-billed a ward to take her on a shopping trip to Dillards and Walgreens, the judge in the case has ordered a repayment.

The 6.5 hour trip on Jan. 16, 2012, still cost Marlene Spalding $1,462.50, but now she won’t have to pay twice.

The double-billing and the cost of the shopping trip were exposed by The Tennessean in a story about Davidson County’s public guardian, Jeanan Stuart, who charged legal rates of $200 to $225 an hour for non-legal services. The Tennessean also found several instances of double-billing.

Court records show 40 open cases assigned to Stuart have been handed over to new conservators.

Seven cases were turned over to the Greater Nashville Regional Council and six each were transferred to Fifty Forward and the Guardianship and Trusts Corporation. Both are nonprofits.

Townsend said some cases will also be assigned to the Michael Dunn Center, a nonprofit serving the developmentally disabled.

Sixteen cases were handed off to private attorneys with Adam Hill getting two and Travenia Holden getting four.

The court records show Stuart still must file final  accounting reports in the reassigned cases by a July 31 deadline.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Orders Repayment in Shopping Trip Double Billing

See Also:
Judge Randy Kennedy Removes Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart

An Investigation into Conservatorship Abuse

June 2, 2013

Applause and standing ovation to Walter Roche Jr., the Investigative Editor/Reporter at The Tennesean, for his hard work, efforts, and his excellent ongoing expose of Davidson County Probate Court.

Victims of unlawful and abusive conservatorships who have suffered and been “protected” into indigence and silenced by an uncaring system, are being heard thanks to the sunshine of the media and the dedication of Mr. Roche and The Tennessean.

NASGA hopes Mr. Roche will receive many awards for his excellent and stellar series!

Judge Randy Kennedy – Davidson County’s only probate judge.

An Investigation into Conservatorship Abuse

Nashville Attorney John E. Clemmons Charged With Theft in Conservatorship Case

May 29, 2013

A Nashville attorney, whose license to practice law was recently suspended, has been charged with theft of more than $60,000 from a client.

John E. Clemmons, 65, was charged last week with theft from a retired teacher.

While serving as the conservator of the Rutherford County resident, Clemmons paid himself more than $50,000 in fees without court approval.

Paul Housch, Clemmons’ attorney, said his client already had entered a not guilty plea to the criminal charge. He declined to respond to the charge, stating that it would be addressed in court. An initial hearing is scheduled for June 7.

The charges were initially spelled out in an April order from the state Supreme Court which indefinitely suspended Clemmons’ license to practice law, concluding that allowing him to continue posed “a threat of substantial harm to the public.”

Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III on March 5 removed Clemmons as Russell Church’s conservator. Rutherford County Clerk and Master John A.W. Bratcher then referred the matter to District Attorney General Robert Whitesell, whose office brought the charges to a grand jury.

The indictment was unsealed last week.

Clemmons also is facing charges in a civil case brought by the daughter of a woman for whom Clemmons served as a conservator for more than four years. The suit charges that Clemmons misappropriated about $450,000 from the estate of Nannie P. Malone, who died last year.

The suit on behalf of Malone’s daughter, Teresa A. Lyle, charges that Clemmons breached his fiduciary duty and failed to properly account for thousands of dollars in proceeds when Malone’s property was auctioned. The insurance company that provided a bond for Clemmons under his services in the conservatorship has filed a cross claim against Clemmons for the value of the $300,000 bond.

Full Article and Source:
Nashville Attorney Faces Theft Charges in Conservatorship Case

See Also:
Tennessee Attorney John E. Clemmons, Court Appointed as Conservator, Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Conversion, and More

Judge Randy Kennedy Removes Public Guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart

May 23, 2013

Citing “significant concerns” that she charged excessive fees to her clients, Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy Wednesday permanently suspended Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart and vowed to help seek her replacement.

Stuart, who had held the job for five years, submitted a resignation letter effective in a week. Her letter was forwarded to members of Metro Council along with a letter from Kennedy announcing her termination.

In his five-paragraph letter to council, Kennedy wrote that while most conservatorship cases, including those assigned to Stuart “have been handled properly; even the perception that excessive fees have been charged is inexcusable.”

Stuart’s termination and simultaneous resignation follows a series of Tennessean stories raising questions about her billing practices.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Removes Public Guardian After She Charged Lawyer Fees for Non-Legal Work

See Also:
Tennessee Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart’s Fees Exceed $1.8 Million