Too Quiet in the Court

Thursday, February 28, 2013
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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?


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Unlawful and abusive conservatorships are a growing threat to the health and wealth of our vulnerable elderly and disabled -- and to our nation's economy.

Awareness is the first step for reform. Conservatorship abuse thrives and proliferates in the darkness. Thank you, Bryan Rosen, for this article shining a bright light on an important issue.

Conservatorship abuse IS elder abuse. Join the national movement for reform: join NASGA!

Elaine Renoire

ElaineRenoire (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 8:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This happens all to often. My sister's conservatorship was terminated because the probate court investigtor felt I was difficult, and the Judge stated on the record that my sister could take care of herself, eventhough there was/is medical documentation stating otherwise.

Since the termination of her conservatorship my sister has no representation, and her court appointed trustee has billed for thousands of dollars for just saying no to requests from my sister for special needs items.

Since when do Probate Court Judges in California become Licensed Medical Doctors?

fiduciarywatch (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 11:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There are a couple of very unethical or fraudulent forensic clinical psychologists in town who do family court evaluations, one I know is currently doing competency evaluations. If this is an issue, can you get a second opinion? Abuse by conservators, appointment of conservators for competent people, and drugging the frail elderly and disabled is disgusting and horrible.

I had a recent traffic court appeal in SB and couldn't hear anything. ADA compliance requests need to be made in advance - 2 weeks, I think. I don't have a problem hearing people in normal conversation. It's impossible to anticipate the need for audio amplification prior to a scheduled court date. Maybe the Superior Court website should mention that some judges adjust the PA amplitude 20-30 dB below the range used in normal speech. I told the judge I couldn't hear and there was no change detectable in the audio recording.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 1:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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