Archive for the ‘Kentucky’ Category

Judge Who Threatened Lawyers Reprimanded By Judicial Conduct Commission

August 19, 2013

There are a lot of prickly judges in the world. You can’t really blame someone who reached the pinnacle of their professional career for being insufferable to everyone else. Actually, you can blame someone for doing so, because success is not actually a license to be a prick.

That said, in the annals of judges, luckily, few have to deal with judges who insult and even threaten lawyers while openly undermining the constitutionally guaranteed rights of defendants in the courtroom. That sounds like the worst judge for a lawyer to practice in front of ever. (Well, maybe not the worst judge for a lawyer to practice in front of ever.)

In any event, the thankfully retired judge at the center of this tale left an ample record of his judicial shortcomings. As sanctioned by the state judicial conduct committee, this guy is a true embarrassment to his robes, and darned if he didn’t leave us a legacy complete with video.

And he’s not even a bit sorry for his actions…

Full Article and Source:
Judge Who Threatened Lawyers Reprimanded By Judicial Conduct Commission

Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

July 21, 2013

Legal guardianship is designed to protect a legally disabled adult who can no longer meet his/her personal needs. The decision to pursue guardianship of an individual is never an easy decision. Often, such a decision emerges at the end of the road – e.g., when a family or friend has exhausted all other options and has no choice but to take legal action to ensure the proper care for and well-being of a loved one. The circumstances are never ideal, as common scenarios may involve a severely disabled child who has just reached the age of majority, or an elderly adult who is fighting Alzheimer’s.

An individual for whom the Court appoints a guardian may lose some or all of his/her civil rights. In instances where a full guardianship is granted, for example, a person may lose basic rights that we typically take for granted, including the right to marry or divorce, hold office, make a contract or will, own or sell property, or obtain a drivers’ license. In effect, the person is treated by law as a minor child without power to make his or her own substantive decisions. While the process can be emotionally painful, it is comforting that Kentucky courts recognize that guardianship is a serious, often life-changing issue. As a result, Kentucky generally has the most stringent guardianship statutes in the nation.

Any person concerned with the welfare of a person may initiate the guardianship process. First, a person must complete two forms: the Petition to Determine if Disabled and Application for Appointment of Fiduciary for Disabled Persons. These forms must be filed with the appropriate district court. The person asking for guardianship is referred to as the Petitioner, and the allegedly disabled person is designated as the Respondent.

Kentucky is the only state that requires a jury trial before a guardian can be appointed. Other states have provisions to provide for a jury if the disabled person requests it; however, the problem with this is evident — if a person is believed to lack the ability to care for one’s self, then it is possible he or she will not understand or comprehend the need for a jury.

Prior to trial, three professionals will generally examine the Respondent: a physician, psychologist, and social worker. This team will examine the Respondent at separate times to assess his/her abilities and needs. The findings are documented in a report, and include recommendations about if, and to what extent, guardianship is needed. These reports help to confirm and reassure a Petitioner that guardianship is the appropriate path or, alternatively, open his/her eyes to less-intrusive options.

Kentucky recognizes four different options for the care of a legally disabled person:

(1) A full guardianship, in which case a person is unable to take care of any of his needs;

(2) A limited guardianship, in which case a person can meet some, but not all, of his needs;

(3) A conservatorship, in which case the person only needs help with his finances; or

(4) A guardianship and conservatorship.

Pursuant to KRS 387.550, the professionals’ reports can be filed with the initial Petition. If this occurs, then the district court will hold a hearing within 30 days. If these reports are not filed with the Petition, then the court will order the evaluations and schedule a hearing within 60 days of the filing date. All interested parties, including the Petitioner, Respondent, and the proposed guardian (if different from the Petitioner), must receive notice of the hearing date at least two weeks before the hearing. If additional time is needed before the hearing occurs, any party may file a motion with the court to request an extension.

The hearing is held before a six-person jury. The allegedly disabled person is generally required to be at the hearing. In some circumstances, exceptions may be made if the attendance will subject the person to a risk of harm. It is the jury, and not the Judge, who is vested with the power to determine an individual’s fate with respect to guardianship. Kentucky not only requires a jury trial, but also vests the jury with explicit responsibilities to determine the extent of a person’s disability, if any. KRS 387.580 requires a jury to:

(1) Inquire into the nature and extent of the general intellectual functioning of the respondent;

(2) Inquire into the respondent’s capacity to make informed decisions concerning his personal affairs and financial resources;

(3) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has no disability in relation to the management of his financial resources; and

(4) Determine whether the respondent is disabled, partially disabled, or has not disability in relation to the management of his personal affairs.

The foregoing factors often help alleviate the emotion and bias of any individual juror involved in these matters. If the jury finds that the Respondent is not disabled, then the Petition is dismissed. If there is a finding of partial or full disability, then the Judge, without the aid of a jury, determines what kind of care the person (who will now legally be referred to as a “ward”) should receive, what powers a guardian or conservator will have, and the duration of his/her appointment.

The Court helps ensure that wards receive proper care by requiring annual reports from a guardian, which detail information such as the ward’s residence and location and the activities in which he or she is involved. When a conservator is appointed, the conservator has 60 days from appointment to assess the ward’s assets and income and report such information to the Court. A bi-annual financial report is thereafter required to help ensure that a ward’s assets are properly dispensed and accounted.

A person’s assumption of a guardianship or conservatorship role should not be taken lightly. The primary purpose of Kentucky’s guardianship laws is to protect citizens from harm. The Court recognizes, however, that guardianship or conservatorship is often necessary as a result of a particular individual’s circumstances. If you are considering applying for guardianship or conservatorship, we can help. Our attorneys are experienced in every step of the way – from the decision of whether to apply for guardianship/conservatorship through trial.

Full Article and Source:
Taking Care of Loved Ones: Guardianship and Conservatorship in Kentucky

Ky attorney disbarred over criminal conviction

June 22, 2013

A Lexington attorney has been permanently disbarred after admitting to taking $631,000 from a client over a 20-year period and another $46,000 in a separate case.

The Kentucky Supreme Court concluded Thursday that 65-year-old Brian P. Gilfedder’s conduct warranted a permanent ban on practicing law. Gilfedder agreed to the disbarment as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in April that resulted in a 41-month prison sentence.  

Gilfedder admitted to taking $631,000 from a disabled veteran for whom he was appointed conservator in 1990. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the benefits and using them for himself from 1991 and 2011.

In the other case, Gilfedder acknowledged keeping $46,000 paid by an insurance company to four clients after an auto accident.

Full Article and Source:
Ky attorney disbarred over criminal conviction

KY: Judge Faces Suspension Over Threats Due to Cell Phone Call

June 11, 2013

A senior judge is facing a possible suspension over allegations of misbehavior and open displays of bias while on the bench, including an accusation that he threatened to strangle a defense attorney because of a phone call during a death penalty appeal.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday in Paducah for Judge Martin McDonald of Louisville, who faces two counts of violating the rules of judicial conduct. Commission attorney George Rabe, in a memo recommending McDonald’s suspension from the bench, noted that the judge had a stroke about 18 months ago that limited his ability to filter what he says.

Full Article and Source:
KY May Suspend Judge Over Death Penalty Case

KY Judge-Executive Arrested on Theft Charges

June 8, 2013

Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop has been arrested on burglary, theft and official misconduct charges.

[Sheriff Marvin J.] Lipfird said the investigation is continuing and a preliminary hearing will be held. The sheriff said other people may also be charged.
Grieshop was not indicted but arrested on a warrant that Lipfird obtained in December. He said he didn’t arrest Grieshop immediately because other agencies advised him to wait.
Grieshop is charged in the warrant with third-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking over $10,000, 10 counts of retaliating against a participant in a legal process and one count of first-degree official misconduct.

Harlan Judge-Executive Arrested on Theft Charge

Former KY Attorney, Donald A. "Champ" Maze, Disbarred Over Vote Buying

May 31, 2013

A former county attorney from northeast Kentucky was disbarred Thursday for paying voters to cast ballots for him in a 2006 election and then lying about it to a grand jury.

The Kentucky Supreme Court found that one-time Bath County Attorney Donald A. “Champ” Maze’s conduct proved so egregious, he should be permanently banned from practicing law, even though he had no prior disciplinary record.
Chief Justice John D. Minton, writing for the court’s majority, said Maze abused a position of power and trust by using his office to corrupt both the voting process and the judicial system.
“Any layperson should know better, and so much more should a lawyer with over 20 years of experience, 12 of which included prosecuting criminals as the County Attorney,” Minton wrote.

Full Article and Story:
Former County Attorney Disbarred Over Vote Buying

Judge Martin McDonald Under Fire Again for Courtroom Behavior

November 23, 2012

Just weeks after being removed from a case in which he threatened to strangle a lawyer, senior Judge Martin McDonald is facing criticism in a different case, accused of treating a public defender derisively and sending a defendant back to prison improperly.

In the latest case, McDonald told public defender Carlos Wood during a Nov. 7 hearing, “You act like you don’t know what the heck’s going on here.” And when Wood raised an objection, McDonald said, “Your part of this hearing is over with. Thank you for coming by.”

Wood’s boss, chief Jefferson County public defender Dan Goyette, said in a statement that McDonald was out of line: “The sort of disrespectful remarks and attitude exhibited by the Court toward counsel and his client is disturbing, and it is disappointing that such inappropriate conduct is not being addressed by those in a position to rectify it.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge Martin McDonald Under Fire Again for Courtroom Behavior

Estranged Wife of Former KY Mayor Accused of Financial Exploitation

November 14, 2012

James A. Brown served as Cynthiana Mayor in the mid 90s and then was re-elected in 2007 to 2009.

James Brown’s estranged wife, Brenda Kay Brown is now accused of exploiting him.

According to an indictment, Kay is accused of financially exploiting Brown while he was incapable, due to mental or physical dysfunctioning to manage his own resources.

Kay Brown also faces a first degree perjury charge and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

WKYT was not able to locate Kay Brown to ask for a comment.

Full Article and Source:
Estranged Wife of Former Kentucky Mayor Accused of Financial Exploitation

KY: Insurance Agent Accused of Bilking Elderly Client Out of $500K Found Dead

July 29, 2012

The body of a man found hanging earlier this week in a northern Grant County barn has been identified as that of a Kenton County insurance agent who was accused of bilking an elderly client out of more than $500,000, police said Friday.

The body of Raymond Crosby, 49, of Hebron was found late Tuesday afternoon in a barn of the Lloyd Wildlife Management Area, a 1,100-acre recreation area near Crittenden, Kentucky State Police said in a release.

Kenton County police had a felony theft warrant for Crosby’s arrest so he could face charges that he stole money from an elderly client, said Detective Andrew Schierberg.

“We believe he misappropriated about $540,000 from one client,” Schierberg said.

Full Article and Source:
Man Found Hanged was Accused of Bilking Elderly Client Out of $500,000

Sister Allegedly Exploits Sick Brother

May 29, 2012

An employee of the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office is facing charges accused of exploiting her brother’s health condition so she could dip into his finances.

According to the arrest warrant, 40-year-old Jennifer Reardon was awarded guardianship of her brother from August 2009 to November 2011. Police said she was put in charge of her brother and his finances due to his numerous health issues.

The money was supposed to benefit her brother, but instead investigators said she spent $17,000 on other things.

Reardon is being charged with exploiting an adult.

Sister Allegedly Exploits Sick Brother