When is a public hearing not a hearing? When you can’t hear what’s going on, what’s the point of having a court hearing open to the public?
In probate court, the speakers are often so quiet you don’t have a clue what’s happening. In this court, many-a-fate of an older person is decided. Many elders are put under conservatorship, and lose their rights and freedom. Persons under conservatorship should have the right to be videotaped in this court.
An example of corruption was when my mother was placed under conservatorship – hundreds of thousands of dollars of her estate went to pay the fees of a profit-seeking network.
Family disunity was exploited. The court-approved evaluators said she had dementia – one said “likely of the Alzheimer’s type.” My mother’s choice of evaluator, a highly qualified neuropsychologist, Dr. Cheryll Smith of Montecito, and her doctor of 25 years, found her competent but this was ignored by the court. She was even given heavy-duty dementia medications, which she refused to take. When the second professional conservator resigned due to my “interference,” my mom was placed in the hands of the Public Guardian, who found her to be competent. The Public Guardian, who had no incentive to portray her in a negative light and plunder her estate, petitioned for the conservatorship to end.
I don’t think the conservatorship of my mom would have happened if the public had been watching, and seen how eloquent she was. It would have been such an embarrassment to the court.
Citizen oversight is imperative, but how can we protect our elders if words spoken in court aren’t audible? Other courtrooms have microphones. During a recent court hearing, a man in the audience informed Judge Sterne that people couldn’t hear what was going on. He was ignored. Do they want us to know what’s going on?