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NASGA is a public interest civil rights organization founded by several victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianship and conservatorship cases. Please visit our website at for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.

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    About half of the states could end the year with laws on the books empowering and enlisting financial advisors in the fight against elder financial abuse, InvestmentNews reports.

    Ten states already have laws based on a model from the North American Securities Administrators Association, and about 10 more should join that list in 2018. That’s according to NASAA president Joseph Borg, who spoke in New York Thursday.

    NASAA’s model rule requires advisors to report suspected abuse to authorities. It also gives them the legal ability to stop disbursements from seniors’ accounts and shields them from liability, InvestmentNews notes.

    States may not have to bother with their own laws if Congress passes its own NASAA model-based law. Such a bill is in the pipeline in Congress.

    Elder financial abuse is a huge problem, affecting upwards of $36 billion a year, as Advisor Center has noted. The costs, financial and otherwise, fall on families, the economy and society as a whole, Philadelphia Fed chief Patrick Harker said in a recent speech.

    Full Article & Source:
    Elder-Abuse Laws Seen in Half of States

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    Every month from January 2017 to September 2017, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview received a 1-star out of 5 from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), the worst overall staffing rating possible for a nursing home. (Click here to see the CMS Five Star Rating). In fact, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview had 39 straight months (July 2014 to September 2017) with this lowest possible 1-Star staffing rating for overall staffing.

    In addition, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview had 41 straight months (May 2015 to September 2017) with this worst possible 1-Star rating for Health Inspections and had 24 straight months (October 2015 to September 2017) with this lowest possible 1-Star rating for Quality Measures.

     Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation-Forestview received federal fines of over $25,000 due to violations of federal law.  On June 14, 2016, it was fined $17,550. Then, on April 27, 2017, it was fined again for $7,543. Click here to review these fines.

    Understaffing has been linked to health and safety violations and has been determined to cause patient injury and dignity violations according to numerous scientific studies. (Click here to read some of these studies).

     The Institute of Medicine and the American Nurses Association have concluded that each nursing home resident needs a minimum of 2.8 hours of CNA care per day for safetyand basic services.  But Kindred-Forestview averaged only 1.74 hours of CNA care per resident per day from January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017, based on its daily payroll staffing records.

    These low staffing levels significantly reduced Kindred-Forestview’s labor costs.  According to its most recently published Medicare Cost Report, Kindred-Forestview generated annual gross revenues of $26,292,167.

    Personal Note from NHA–Advocates: NHAA shares with all the families of loved ones who are confined to nursing homes the pain and anguish of putting them in the care of someone else. We expect our loved ones to be treated with dignity and honor in the homes we place them. We cannot emphasize enough to family members of nursing home residents; frequent visits are essential to our loved ones’ well-being and safety. This nursing home and many others across the country are cited for abuse and neglect.

    You can make a difference. If you have a loved one living in this nursing home or any other nursing home where you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, contact us immediately.

    We have helped many already and we can help you and your loved one as well by filing a state complaint, hiring a specialized nursing home attorney or helping you find a more suitable location for your loved one.

    Contact us through our CONTACT FORM located on our website here below or on the sidebar or call our toll free hot line number: 1-800-645-5262.

    You can make a difference even if your loved one has already passed away.

    Full Article & Source:
    Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation-Forestview, Wareham, MA

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    Across the nation, the dysfunction within the family law system flourishes and continues in a manner where rules are ignored, laws are manipulated and egos go unchecked.


    Similar to watching a magician perform a trick on stage that has the initial impact of leaving most viewers in disbelief—the episodes that play out within the confines of family law can many times operate under the same principle—distract and deceive.

    The Hand is Quicker than the Eye

    Unless a person has had the misfortune of being in the predicament on more than one occasion – everything they encounter and see playing out before them is often for the first time. This tends to create a problem in an area of law that has very little oversight at its disposal – and the oversight that does exist in many cases often suffers from having an appearance of impropriety when one scrutinizes the membership and affiliations of such entities.

    Using the analogy of a magician performing an act on stage and understanding how they did it – well, good luck in trying to get them to explain it to the bewildered audience since most magicians have a self-imposed rule to never reveal secrets. In applying this to the stage where family court ordeals transpire, whether it is one performer or several working in concert to produce desired outcomes – they often share one other fact that the spotlight doesn’t always focus on – the other individuals working around the stage with them day in and day out. These individuals are often in the best position to observe the inner workings of the court – holding different titles but commonly known as clerks, custody evaluators, reporters, security officers, interpreters and court attorneys.

    View From Within

    Many of them have spent a better part of their careers working within the infrastructure of the court system — all with a front row seat in observing various aspects of the behaviors and patterns playing out in the court.

    Robin Dorantes, a retired Senior Clerk, worked for the State of New York, in the Family Court located in the Bronx. Commenting on her assignment there, she expressed the following:
    During the course of my assignment at Bronx Family Court, (aside from the conditions that could occur from people requiring its services) I found the enormous egos and ironically lack of judgment of many judges, support magistrates, (at that time referred to as hearing examiners) and referees truly disturbing. As it is and simply by virtue of one having been appointed the title of judge [could] certainly provide a person with his or her own feelings of entitlement as well as insecurities, neurosis or any such variety of human frailties, not to mention one most unattractive condition commonly referred to as a ‘God Complex’. Of course and in all fairness, there were always those judicial employees who did as best as they could—given the limited resources available to them. There were times when a judge’s behavior would be so incredibly inappropriate as to provide fuel for non-judicial employees’ conversation amongst one another—as well as court officers, clerks, assistants and sundry other office workers. I’ve known officers to actually walk out of a court part in total dismay and disgust due to a judge’s untoward behavior. There was one such incident I recall where a hearing examiner, notorious for his uncontrolled outbursts actually ‘went off on’ a case before his bench, kicking over a trash can and had his officer remove the people from his courtroom! He had them return after lunch, a typical procedure if a case ran up to the court’s lunch hour; this exhausting procedure placed many a petitioner or respondent in a most inconvenient position as many of them had jobs and not being aware of the court’s machinations, could conceivably be there for the balance of the day, not to mention the copious number of adjournments imposed due to any number of reasons."

    Rules Meant To Be Broken

    Emily Gallup was a family court services mediator in California for four years where she was responsible for making formal written recommendations regarding child custody when mediation between parents did not succeed. She recounts experiences regarding ex parte communications that would often transpire saying,
    I met with parents daily to try to facilitate mediated agreements. When this was not possible, I recommended what I thought would be the best custody arrangement. In the vast majority of cases, the judge ordered what the mediator recommended. I met with the family court judge daily, as well. Our judge did not understand/accept the concept of ‘ex parte communication,’ so I had to attend morning staff meetings where the mediators and judge discussed the day’s cases privately. I was also asked to have this type of ex parte communication with the judge in her chambers if she had a question about how mediation went, or what I’d recommended in my report."

    In demonstrating how such conversations would transpire, these excerpts from her book illustrates this type of communication:

    Bad Behavior and Key Insights

    Melissa Isaak, an attorney who practices Family Law in Alabama, commented on several concerns in regards to the Family Court system, touching on a broad range of issues listed out below she offers an insight into some key areas.

    Ex Parte Communications

    “The ex parte communications are rampant. When the ex parte communication is brought to the issues.’ There are certain judges who are notorious for ex parte communications and it is expected when their financial contributors or friends are opposite a case. While everyone knows that it is not allowed, it is widely practiced.”

    Due Diligence

    “Due diligence is woefully inadequate. In my experience and after thousands of cases, there is one Judge who consistently and consciously rules on custody decisions and applies what is truly best for children: shared parenting. Other Judges listen to evidence of how a Mother let a child eat ice cream at 10:00 p.m., or how a father put his daughter to sleep without brushing her teeth, or that a father let his 10-year-old daughter watch a PG-13 movie. Rather than focusing on how to craft an arrangement which would guarantee both (fit) parents having the opportunity to raise their children, the Courts entertain menial complaints that have little to do with parental fitness to the tune of billions of dollars a year.”

    Judicial Impartiality

    “It is common knowledge that certain lawyers carry certain favor with certain Judges. Without a doubt this a huge problem. With few exception, parents should be most concerned with who their Judge is and the track record of that Judge. If a parent’s case is assigned to a Judge who will not, under any circumstance, grant both parents equal rights to a child, both parents should be ready for the fight of their lives because they will be pitted against one another in a ‘winner takes all’ courtroom. If the parents have lawyers, they likely will have little interaction with court staff. If they have lawyers, they should be prepared to get the ‘what the Judge is likely to do’ speech. Few lawyers will challenge a system that they themselves know to be unfair. Every member of the bar should be concerned with fairness and impartiality. Regardless of the area of the law, this is the trademark of justice and the only way that our society will have any sense of trust in our profession and in the Courts.”


    Across the nation the dysfunction within the family law system flourishes and continues in a manner where rules are ignored, laws are manipulated and egos go unchecked.

    Parents and children are routinely put into circumstances far from anyone’s best interests but at the behest of power and profits. Until more individuals in the position to observe the true nature of these practices and proceedings have the type of recourse and oversight that is beyond reproach, protecting those willing to speak out on the misconduct and unethical behaviors, nothing will likely change.

    Full Article & Source:
    A Broken System: A Court’s Eye View

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    Injuries, serious medical conditions and even deaths of those with developmental disabilities living in group homes often are not looked into and go unreported, federal investigators say.

    An audit of three states found that officials routinely failed to follow up on incidents ranging from head lacerations to loss of life in violation of federal and state policy. The issues are believed to be systemic affecting people with developmental disabilities residing in group homes across the country.

    That’s according to a joint report issued Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Administration on Community Living and Office for Civil Rights, which is recommending policy changes.

    The report stems from a 2013 request by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who was alarmed by newspaper reports of widespread abuse and neglect of group home residents in his state. After the inspector general’s office found serious problems in its review of Connecticut, the office conducted similar audits of Massachusetts and Maine.

    In each state, investigators identified emergency room visits from group home residents, then determined if the incidents were reported to the state and, if so, what action the state took.

    The inspector general’s office found that group homes often failed to report incidents to state officials. But even when states knew, up to 99 percent went unreported to law enforcement or other authorities for investigation.

    “Each state was somewhat unique, but what was similar across the states was that there were gaps in policies and procedures so that when an incident occurred, they could make sure that it was identified, investigated, corrected and reported,” said Megan Tinker, senior advisor for legal review at the Office of Inspector General and an author of the report.

    Aside from the three states that were audited, investigators said that recent media reports from 49 states citing health and safety problems in group homes suggest the issues are pervasive. The Office of Inspector General has additional audits underway or planned in another six states, Tinker said.

    Citing the “magnitude of the danger for beneficiaries,” the Office of Inspector General worked with the Administration for Community Living and the HHS Office for Civil Rights and other federal entities to develop recommendations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and states to address the holes in existing policies and procedures.

    The report released this week is a culmination of that work and includes model practices for states to develop better oversight. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take steps to help states address problems by forming a “SWAT” team and taking action when problems are identified in order to ensure the safety of group home residents, the recommendations indicate.

    “CMS is working directly with the three states specifically examined by the OIG, and is working with department partners to distribute tools, information and any other necessary assistance to all states to ensure that quality care is being provided to all Medicaid beneficiaries,” the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement to Disability Scoop. “The suggestions found in this report are being carefully examined for further action by the agency.”

    Despite the problems identified, Tinker said many group homes are great places.

    “If people are looking at a group home for their loved ones, we think it’s important to spend time at the group home and to ask questions and make sure it has the right policies and procedures in place,” she said. “What do they do if something goes wrong?”

    Full Article & Source:
    Government Watchdog Warns Of Group Home Dangers

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    John Louis Wages
    A Pensacola man faces up to 30 years in state prison after a jury convicted him of exploiting a blind, elderly victim.

    An Escambia County jury on Tuesday convicted John Louis Wages, 45, of illegal use of criminal identification information against a victim over 60 years of age and exploitation of the elderly, according to a release from Attorney General Pam Bondi's office.

    The case was investigated by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the State Attorney's Office after an anonymous report to the Florida Department of Children and Families Elder Abuse hotline.

    The person who called the hotline said Wages was using an elderly victim's money and credit card without consent while the victim was in Wages' care.

    The victim was deemed legally blind and suffered from hearing loss and was moved into Wages' home for assistance with daily activities and finances, according to the Attorney General's office release.

    More than $20,000 had been misappropriated from a joint account Wages opened with the victim shortly after moving the victim into his home.

    Wages bought his children more than $1,000 worth of Christmas presents with a Target gift card issued in the victim's name without consent, the release states.

    Wages now faces up to 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Escambia County court Feb. 15.

    Full Article & Source:
    Pensacola man convicted of spending more than $20K of blind, elderly victim's money

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    - At a Senate hearing Wednesday, the head of the State Health Department apologized for a failure to protect vulnerable adults in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Now, officials are trying to get to the bottom of the neglect.

    Since December, eight people from the Human Services Department have been working with Department of Health investigators to get through the back log. But, victim advocates and even lawmakers are still exasperated that elder abuse continues.

    The heat from state senators has only intensified as families continue to tell stories of elder abuse and neglect.

    "In my case, my father's body laid in his room for seven days without the facility doing a wellness check,” said Kristine Sunberg with Elder Voices Family Advocates.

    As of Jan. 1, senators were told the state has a backlog to 826 pending abuse and neglect cases. Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said the goal is to complete them by the end of the year, if not sooner.

    “We know that as we get our arms around and get new information on the backlog and more specificity, we believe this date will be pushed up significantly," Piper said.

    While the health department takes heat for poor oversight, Governor Dayton blamed providers.

    "First and foremost, they are the ones to blame for these egregious abuses," he said Wednesday.

    The governor's own task force on elder abuse intends to give him four recommendations on Friday: strengthen the rights of vulnerable adults in state statutes, enhance civil and criminal penalties, create more consumer protections and increase the licensing requirements for elder care providers.

    “We believe in increasing the fines in a residential setting in cases of egregious injuries and death," said Mary Jo George with AARP.

    All of this comes after the department of health was accused of not doing enough.

    "If we he failed even a single vulnerable adult in this state, we owe them an apology, and I apologize," said Dan Pollock, acting MDH Commissioner.    
    However, Senator Karin Housley questions whether too much damage has already been done.

    "It was nice to hear an apology. Is it too late for some of those families? I think for some of them, yeah," she said.
    The governor’s goal is to drive new legislation for the session that begins Feb. 20.

    Full Article & Source:
    State government responds to complaints of elder abuse, neglect

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    A measure aimed at overhauling New Mexico’s guardianship laws cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were in resounding agreement that a system meant to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable residents was in need of serious improvement.

    The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill, while acknowledging that the issue was complex and the legislation would still need more work before it could be considered by the rest of the chamber.

    The committee also voiced concerns about funding for what some have described as a major paradigm shift.

    “We are bringing this bill because the New Mexico guardianship and conservatorship system is very broken. It is a tragedy,” said Jack Burton, a Santa Fe-based attorney who worked on the legislation.

    The system was thrust into the spotlight following a series of investigative articles published last year by the Albuquerque Journal that raised questions about the lack of oversight and transparency.

    The New Mexico Supreme Court followed up with the creation of a commission that was charged with studying the system. That panel has since made numerous recommendations, some of which have been incorporated into the bill.

    The push for change also has been bolstered by recent federal criminal cases in which executives from two nonprofit firms that handled guardianship and conservatorship duties in New Mexico allegedly embezzled millions of dollars of client funds.

    “We’ve been hearing horror stories for so long. … This is a real step forward for individual rights,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat.

    Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s or others who need help with their decision-making or finances. Under the current system, guardianship proceedings are secret and families have complained about being barred from visiting or communicating with their loved ones once a professional guardian is appointed.

    The measure would require guardianship proceedings to be open to the public and that more notification be given to family members when a legal guardian is appointed and if guardians fail to carry out their duties. It also spells out the powers and duties of guardians and conservators and sets limitations.

    State District Judge Shannon Bacon was among top judicial officials from around the state who attended Thursday’s committee meeting in Santa Fe. She said the issue is important for New Mexicans and also for the court system.

    While the judges voiced support for the changes, they also cautioned lawmakers to consider the fiscal implications. For example, they said the requirement for attorneys to be appointed in certain circumstances has the potential to create another budgetary crisis for the courts.

    There would also be administrative costs associated with transitioning to a new system. Bacon estimated that some 24,000 cases would need to be reviewed to determine which are still active.

    Bacon said the courts could use $1 million in one-time funding that is currently earmarked in the proposed state budget to establish the infrastructure that will be needed to eventually implement the changes.

    “I feel we have a responsibility to fund it,” said Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos. “We have been treating our disabled quite badly and we need some reforms.”

    Citing numerous complexities, some in the audience urged lawmakers to take more time on the issue.

    Full Article & Source:
    New Mexico lawmakers weigh reforms of guardianship system

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    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    This is the story of an art project that began with three words, typed into Google: grannies, Norway, photographer.

    It was 2011, and the Finnish artist Riitta Ikonen was dreaming up a new proposal related to Nordic folk tales. While studying at school in Brighton, England, Ikonen had developed a friendship with a Norwegian student who had a particularly animated relationship with the natural world. “I would go and visit her in Norway, and she would talk to the rocks and the mountains,” says Ikonen, who speaks in a melodic accent. “I thought, hold on a minute, I’m from Finland, so I obviously appreciate my lakes and bogs and mountains. But I don’t really talk to my mushrooms and blueberries. So what’s happening here?”

    Imagining that this intimacy had roots in Nordic lore, and that the country’s elderly population would be closest to those traditions, Ikonen began to conceive of a project involving Norwegian senior citizens. She would need a collaborator to take photos, so she dropped the appropriate search terms into her browser, and discovered the work of Karoline Hjorth, a photographer whose book of portraits, Mormormonologene (2011), is a celebration of Norwegian grandmothers.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    The meeting between Ikonen and Hjorth that followed would evolve into a seven-year (and ongoing) collaboration known as “Eyes as Big as Plates,” featuring excursions to several different countries—including Greenland, Japan, and the U.S., with hopes of future travel to Africa and South America—and a roster of local grannies and grandpas, whom the pair have artfully transformed into mythical gods and organic creatures. The resulting works are gorgeous, richly imaginative photographs, recently published in a book of the same name; a selection from the series is currently on display at the Chimney, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The duo’s photos from a Korean edition of the project, conducted in partnership with the upcoming Winter Olympics, are also on view in Seoul, South Korea.

    The 60 or so portraits range from the folkloric to the whimsical, poetic, and fantastical. In one image, we see Salme, a friend of Ikonen’s late grandmother. The artist duo pictured her wearing a baroque headdress composed of decadent puffs of small white flora. Ikonen and Hjorth consider their subjects collaborators, and in their book, each of them receives a short text to accompany their image. In this case, we are informed that “Salme is placid yet tough, just like the cottongrass growing in the many bogs around her.”

    Agnes, who according to the book is the oldest Norwegian woman to have ever completed a parachute jump (twice, in fact, at the age of 85 and then again, at 90), is pictured standing on a stark black rock face at the edge of the sea; she wears an armature on her head made of sinuous, tendril-like twigs, dramatically swept to one side. “She’s personifying the North Wind,” says Ikonen.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    Astrid, an enthusiastic bridge player from Norway, is reimagined as the “semi-menacing forest maiden” Huldra, from Nordic folk tales, who is distinguished by her long locks of hair. Ikonen and Hjorth accomplished her transformation into the seductive creature by giving her a thick mane composed of giant arms of rhubarb taken from Astrid’s arboretum. (She was eager to get rid of the bushels of rhubarb; during the shoot Ikonen offered them to passing joggers, who gratefully ran off with the jumbo fronds.)

    The project is not limited to women; the book and exhibition also feature portraits of elderly men, like Velkkari, who is shown sporting proud blooms of cow parsley from his chest, and Mr. Maruyama, an ikebana flower arranger from Japan who wears a halo of fukinoto, an edible spring vegetable that grows in abundance near his home in Sanjō, in the Niigata Prefecture.

    For Ikonen and Hjorth, recruiting their collaborator-performers can take a certain amount of moxie, and sometimes even requires a covert reconnaissance mission of sorts. “We might be in Paris, and you might be at an opera soiree evening and there might be an old lady dancing, the last person on the dance floor,” says Ikonen. “And you just think: Who is this fascinating person I have to meet? You approach them and ask them, ‘Who are you and what are you doing tomorrow?’” Ikonen isn’t speaking hypothetically. A similarly auspicious encounter with an opera singer named Marie-Ange led to a shoot the following day, in which she is pictured at the edge of a lake, wearing a theatrical bustle made of weeping willow branches.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    The name of the project—taken from a folk tale about a dog that lives beneath a bridge and has eyes as big as plates—is something of an emblem of the curiosity that guides these interactions. “We ask them, ‘What has happened in your life and how do you make sense of your surroundings?’ ” says Ikonen. “We enter with open eyes. They dictate what happens in the shoot. It’s kind of like an adventure club.”

    Often, subjects are photographed in places that hold special significance for them—at a favorite rock or beach. Other times, Ikonen and Hjorth pick the place for its natural beauty or mystical quality.

    Asked whether the photographs are more about the humans or the environment, Ikonen pauses to consider. “I think they might be, interestingly, about how there might not be a difference between the two,” she says. “It’s very nice when after the shoot you ask, ‘How do you feel?’ Sometimes the answer is just: heavy or wet or cold. But occasionally it is: ‘I’ve never looked at my surroundings like this. I really feel part of where I am right now.’”

    The duo shoots with an analog camera, which means the process can be slow and physically challenging. It often entails something of a bonding experience with the elements. “The person might be sitting in a bog, dressed as a bog, for three or four hours,” says Ikonen. “It’s quite rare that we would go to a bog or field and spend that amount of time being quiet and focusing just on being.”

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.
    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    Indeed, even when their faces are semi-hidden (or entirely obscured by a sprouting costume of moss or branches), the elderly subjects convey a certain stillness, peace of mind, or vulnerability.

    Edda, for instance, is pictured amid steaming Icelandic hot springs that bubble up between two tectonic plates. She is dressed like an ethereal oracle in an aerodynamic cloak of hay. There’s a national myth about a breed of hot spring birds that dive into the bubbles, Ikonen says. According to folklore, they represent souls of the dead. And during her shoot, Edda described having seen relatives at these hot springs that were not quite from this world.

    Ikonen acknowledges that the photographs suggest a poetic allusion to the afterlife, of a return to nature. “Maybe it’s the fantasy of being in nature, some fleeting moment in the idealistic brain of the human where you could be one with nature,” she says. Yet at its heart, the project is one that’s profoundly life-affirming, both in its portrayal of the elderly and of our environment.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    Photo by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Courtesy of the artists.

    In a 2015 photo from the series, Jakob, a fisherman from the southwest coast of Greenland, is pictured wrapped head to toe in ice, lying on his side and embedded among a bank of snow-capped stones as though ready to drift out to sea. Jakob has spent his whole life surrounded by and observing the conditions of ice. But in recent years he has witnessed it melting at greater speed, tides rising higher, and reindeer migrating in larger numbers.

    “We are not the masters of the weather,” Jakob reflected during his portrait session. “You have to live life to the max because of the conditions in our land—this is life, so we enjoy it.”

    Full Article & Source:
    The Artist Duo Transforming the Elderly into Natural Wonders

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    Robert Beck
    A former lawyer who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients to fund a high-end lifestyle was sentenced Tuesday to 4½ years in prison by a judge who said the man had violated a sacred trust.

    Robert Beck, 50, had handled estate work for clients, including some who were elderly and had dementia, DuPage County prosecutors said.

    “You had a sacred trust to the most vulnerable clients a lawyer can have,” Judge Liam Brennan told Beck before handing down the sentence.

    Beck pleaded guilty in September to a single count of theft, admitting that he stole almost $700,000 from one deceased client. Prosecutors alleged that his total thefts from other clients may have reached $1 million. Beck improperly shuffled around as much as $1.2 million of clients’ money in an ongoing attempt to evade discovery, prosecutors said.

    By the time he was apprehended in 2014, Beck was spending about $29,000 a month for household expenses, which included boat payments, prosecutors said when Beck pleaded guilty.

    Beck, of Mount Prospect, was identified as a Wheaton attorney at the time he was charged. He faced four to 15 years in prison, and the judge said Tuesday he would have imposed a longer sentence if supporters of Beck had not agreed to pay restitution on his behalf.

    Brennan also said the attorney had led an otherwise exemplary life and had no criminal history. Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak asked for a 10-year sentence. Beck could be eligible for parole in a little more than two years.

    The judge also said he believed that Beck was truly remorseful. Beck tearfully apologized before his sentence was imposed and said he was trying to be accountable for the chaos his actions had caused his family and clients.

    “I do realize I’ve harmed my profession,” said Beck, who was disbarred in 2016.

    Full Article & Source:
    Ex-lawyer who stole from elderly clients to fund lavish lifestyle sentenced to 4 1/2 years

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    Bipartisan law to establish a national strategy to support family caregivers is endorsed by over 60 aging and disability organizations



    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are applauding yesterday’s signage of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act into law. This bipartisan law establishes a national strategy to support family caregivers across the country.

    The RAISE Family Caregivers Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and sustain a national strategy to recognize and support the more than 40 million family caregivers in the United States. The bipartisan law is endorsed by over 60 aging and disability organizations, including the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Arc.

    “When we work together across party lines we can get things done. This bipartisan effort is especially personal to me as I was raised by my maternal grandparents and later served as my grandmother’s primary caretaker as she grew older. I know the challenges that family caregivers face. I’ve listened to family caregivers across Wisconsin. This reform will provide much-needed support for family caregivers and help ensure that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care in their own homes,” said Senator Baldwin. “Every day, family caregivers do right by their loved ones, and I am proud to say we are doing right by them with the RAISE Family Caregivers Act being signed into law to formally recognize and support family caregivers across this country.”

    “Family caregivers play an essential role in our communities by dedicating time and attention and making countless personal and financial sacrifices to care for their loved ones,” said Senator Collins.  “I am delighted that our bipartisan legislation to develop a coordinated strategic plan to leverage our resources, promote best practices, and expand services and training available to caregivers has been signed into law.  Family caregivers across America will now receive the much-needed recognition they deserve as well as the resources and training needed to better balance the full-time job of caregiving along with everything else that life brings.”

    “Signing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act into law is an important step in supporting the nation’s 40 million family caregivers who take care of loved ones, many of them elderly, often with very little support or resources available to them,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “With the rapid growth of our aging population, it’s reasonable to say that many of us will end up either being a caregiver, or needing one. As a result, the potential benefits of this legislation are both critical and wide reaching.”

    The RAISE Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028) was supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of cosponsors including Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME).

    Important Facts on Family Caregivers:
    • 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated $470 billion in uncompensated long-term care in 2013.
    • Many caregivers are putting their own health at risk since caregivers experience high levels of stress and have a greater incidence of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and depression.
    • Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and as many as 90 percent of them have one or more chronic health conditions.
    • Americans 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the aging population. This population is most at risk for multiple and interacting health problems that can lead to disability and the need for round-the-clock care.
    Learn more about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act here.

    Full Article & Source:
    U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins Praise Signage of Bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act

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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A scabies outbreak at a south Arkansas nursing home spread throughout the facility and into the community after those in charge failed to act, according to a government report.

    Government documents show that officials at Longmeadow Nursing Care in Camden told nursing staff in some cases not to leave any documentation indicating they were treating residents for scabies, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by mites, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine.

    Residents with scabies weren't isolated and proper procedures were neglected, causing employees to contract the bugs that spread outside the facility, the documents show.

    State regulators cited the facility in July for failing to properly address a smaller infestation affecting a few residents, just weeks before the condition struck every resident at Longmeadow. A nurse told inspectors the facility didn't document the outbreak because of instructions from higher authorities.

    The state Office of Long Term Care gave the violations the most severe rating in a 12-letter rating system after a Dec. 14 inspection.

    "The failed practices resulted in Immediate Jeopardy, which caused or could have caused serious harm, for all 28 residents who resided in the facility," said a report by the office.

    The facility neglected to treat staff members who developed scabies, which eventually spread to their relatives, according to the report. The Arkansas Department of Health doesn't suspect the outbreak has reached Camden schools, said Meg Mirivel, a spokesman for the agency.

    The facility must submit a plan of correction. Medicare and Medicaid payments for new residents stopped Thursday. Regulators will revisit the site before it can receive payments again. Longmeadow will no longer be certified to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments if it doesn't come into compliance before March 22, basically shutting down the nursing home.

    Phone calls by the newspaper to Longmeadow and an email to the facility's owner weren't returned.

    Full Article & Source:
    Arkansas scabies cases in nursing homes linked to inaction

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    This is the text of a speech that Robert Tembeckjian, administrator and counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, gave to newly-appointed and newly-elected judges at the New York State Judicial Institute Jan. 3.

    First, let me offer to each of you my congratulations on your ascension to judicial office. As you and your families know, it was not an easy road that brought you here.

    Whether elected or appointed to the bench, all of you are at the enviable crossroad of accomplishment and promise. While you have already achieved much by becoming a judge—and it may seem that you have climbed a mountain to get to this point—becoming a judge is only the beginning of the judicial experience. However challenging the journey to reach the bench may have been, it will pale in comparison to the significance of the decisions you will be called upon to make every day, decisions with monumental consequences: the custody of a child, the liberty or incarceration of an accused, the disposition of breath-taking amounts of money.  This is where your path to accomplishment becomes the road of promise. How much or how little you live up to that promise will become, in large measure, your ultimate reputation. Will you be wise or impetuous, fair or cavalier, dignified or coarse?

    Clearly, you will not be able to please everyone. If that were your goal, you surely chose the wrong profession. But will reasonable people honestly be able to say that you not only dispensed but appeared to dispense justice, that your decisions were respected even by those against whom you ruled, that you comported yourself in a manner that brought credit to the courts? If so, then at the end of your judicial journey you will have made good on the promise you embody now at the outset of your days on the bench. How rich and important that promise is, for being a judge puts you at the heart of our constitutional governance. There may be no state interest more compelling than the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.[1]

    The Independence of the Judiciary

    From the founding of our republic, an independent and impartial judiciary has not only been the indispensable anchor of our tripartite system of government, it has been an immeasurable protector of our most fundamental rights and liberties—ensuring the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination, the right to a fair trial, the right to free expression, the right to worship. You are now part of that noble protectorate. This may subject you to unfair and certainly unwanted criticism. A prosecutor may denounce your decision to release a defendant on recognizance. A public defender may decry your maximum sentence against a convicted felon. Why, a president may accuse you of being unfair because your ancestry is Mexican—or Polish, Italian, Persian or Armenian, as the case may be—even though you swore to uphold the same constitution he swore to uphold.

    Whatever the pressure and wherever its origin, your job is to act at all times, on and off the bench, in a manner that upholds and promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

    Why are judicial probity and fairness so significant? Because public confidence in the administration of justice is what keeps people coming back to the courts and what empowers the writ of our law. As Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers and history has repeatedly underscored, the judiciary owes its power not to an army to enforce its will and not to the public purse to fund its mandates, but to the integrity of its judgments. It is confidence in that integrity, and in the principle that the litigant will get a fair shake from an impartial magistrate and a fair-minded jury, that keeps us coming to the courts rather than turning to the streets to resolve our disputes.

    Time and again, from the earliest days of our civil society to the present, the courts have stood up to the potential tyranny of the mob and government. Not always, of course. Judges and juries are fallible human beings. Try as they might to get it right, sometimes they get it wrong.  As every trial judge knows, and as you all will surely know soon enough, that’s why we have appellate courts.

    But at critical junctures in our history, ordinary citizens, protected by evenhanded judges, have made extraordinary decisions that shaped who we are as a society of laws. When a grand jury refused to indict John Peter Zenger for libel in 1734 but the attorney general charged him anyway, a petit jury acquitted him, and two classic American principles were enshrined before we even had a national constitution: freedom of the press, and truth as a defense. And recently, in California, when a jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of the heartbreaking murder of Kate Steinle, despite the massive attention drawn to the case because the defendant was a repeat illegal entrant into the United States, another anonymous group of average citizens demonstrated that we are a nation of laws, that a defendant may only be convicted if the proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, that even the xenophobic public pronouncements of a president cannot and should not lead jurors to where the evidence does not go.

    Judicial Accountability

    As all of you will come to appreciate, the enormous responsibilities incumbent upon the judiciary also come with accountability, not just in terms of appellate review but in the monitoring of judicial conduct.

    Every state has adapted the Model Code of Judicial Conduct which the American Bar Association first promulgated in 1924. In the words of its preamble, the code is comprised of “rules of reasons,” as much a guide to ethical judicial behavior as a basis for imposing sanctions for their violation. I am not aware of any public officers at any level of government who are held to a higher standard of conduct, or bound to a more stringent set of promulgated ethics rules than judges.

    Nor am I aware of any who are subject to more vigilant ethics enforcement. Every state in this union has an independent judicial ethics enforcement entity such as New York’s Commission on Judicial Conduct.

    The Judicial Conduct Commission is not an appellate court. It cannot remand or remit a case, or overrule a court-adjudicated finding of fact or conclusion of law. It cannot reassign a judge to a different term of court of part of the state. It can only investigate and, where appropriate, discipline a judge for failing to live up to the ethical standards embodied in the Code of Judicial Conduct. Even where the commission determines that a judge was unethically motivated to decide a case a certain way and should be removed—say, where it turns out that a close relative of the judge was a party or lawyer in the matter—the determination may only discipline the judge; it has no effect on the court case itself. An aggrieved party would have to seek redress through the courts themselves for the judge’s mal-motivated decision.

    The commission investigates and, where appropriate, disciplines individual judges who violate the code. Whether by confidential caution, public admonition, public censure or removal from office, the commission holds the judiciary to account for ethical transgressions and plays an important role in protecting the public from unfit incumbents.[2]

    Of course, however justified, to a judge even the mildest discipline stings. It may, therefore, be natural for judges to view the Judicial Conduct Commission with suspicion, as a scold or even as an inhibitor rather than protector of judicial independence. But they would be wrong.

    It is true that since 1978, the commission has issued over 800 public disciplinary decisions—every one of them, I would argue, deserved. But it is also true that the commission absorbs a great deal of public criticism that would ordinarily be directed to the judiciary. Those 800 disciplines comprise a mere 1.5% of the more than 55,000 complaints received, processed, analyzed and mostly rejected over that same time frame. In other words, 98.5% of the time, the commission tells a complainant that there was no ethical wrongdoing. In that way, it protects the judge’s freedom and responsibility to call them as she or he sees them.

    The recent firestorm of controversy regarding the “Stanford rape case” is a prime example of how a disciplinary commission may actually protect the independence of the judiciary. Whatever your view of the merits of Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner for the sexual assault of an unconscious “Emily Doe”—three months in jail, plus three years’ probation and registration as a sex offender—it was the California Commission on Judicial Performance that answered the public outcry from those who considered the sentence lenient. The California Commission, an independent state agency like its New York counterpart, found that the sentence was lawful and within the judge’s discretion, that he had not been motivated by such misconduct as bias based on gender, race, socioeconomic status and that he was not insensitive to the seriousness of sexual assault.[3]  For its trouble, the California Commission was subjected to fierce political criticism and an investigation by the State Auditor, which tried to pry into its case files, perhaps seeking to uncover other instances of supposedly “lenient” treatment of judges by the commission. It was a California court that upheld the confidentiality of the commission’s files and rendered them off limits.

    We have had similar experiences in New York. For example, in a landmark 1984 case, Stern v Morgenthau, the New York State Court of Appeals held that a grand jury subpoena of commission records had to be quashed because it sought to invade the sanctity of the commission’s confidential files.[4] To render commission records reachable by subpoena would be to upset the carefully nuanced constitutional system for disciplining judges, which is premised on there being no higher state interest than an independent but accountable judiciary.

    In 1997, in Matter of Duckman, a case that generated worldwide attention, the New York Commission threaded the needle between acts of misconduct and discretion.[5] Duckman, a New York City Criminal Court judge, had reduced the bail on a defendant from $5,000 (which he couldn’t make) to $2,000 (which he could). The defendant promptly went out and killed both his girlfriend and himself. The political and tabloid outcry against Judge Duckman was unprecedented. The governor, mayor and Senate Majority leader, among many others, called for his removal. The attention to Duckman brought to light numerous other problematic acts, and the commission determined to remove him from office for inter alia repeatedly making statements that were gender and race insensitive, and for deliberately dismissing accusatory instruments as facially insufficient when he knew they were not, because he did not believe the district attorney should be prosecuting these particular cases. But as to the matter for which the governor and others wanted him removed—the bail reduction that led to murder—the commission dismissed the charge, having determined that it was a lawful sentence within the judge’s discretion, and that it had not been tainted by prejudice or other misconduct. And for our trouble? The governor promptly recommended a cut in our budget, which we had to fight for the Legislature to restore. (It did.)

    Public Confidence in the Courts

    You as judges, my colleagues and I as ethics enforcers, have important roles to play in protecting the independence of our Third Branch and the public’s confidence in it. That may mean at times acting contrary to popular opinion. It may mean restraint when action would be so much easier and more politically expedient. It may require engaging in some public education, as the California Commission did in the Persky matter, and the New York Commission did in Duckman.

    In an age when high public standards and constitutional institutions routinely come under attack, in some instances by the very people who are sworn to preserve, protect and defend them, we cannot let the judiciary become just another casualty of partisan politics or culture wars. Especially when our national executive leadership seems intent on degrading public standards and discourse, and our national legislative body seems to spiral ever downward toward an acrimonious partisan abyss, our state and federal judiciaries can and must continue to demonstrate how to operate above the fray. And our judicial ethics enforcers must continue to show that officers of at least one branch of government are held to the highest standards of conduct, with measurable consequences when they do not.

    Perhaps nowhere is the threat to an independent judiciary more evident than the rancorous manner in which we elect or appoint judicial officers. As the US Supreme Court case of Caperton v. Massey Coal and the blood sport of federal judicial nominations all too vividly reveal, special interest groups now spend millions of dollars to affect judicial elections and nominations. In Caperton, millions of coal industry dollars were spent to elect a West Virginia Supreme Court justice who then cast the tie-breaking vote in a case favoring the coal industry. The US Supreme Court found the compromise to independence and impartiality so great as to invalidate the decision.[6]

    In United States Senate confirmations, passionate pro-choice and right-to-life groups mobilize their partisans, as do pro-business and pro-consumer groups, pro-gun and gun-control groups, law-and-order advocates and civil libertarians, and countless others. Rarely in these debates do we hear any passion for the idea that a judge should rule with integrity on the facts and law without injecting personal beliefs into the equation. Yet that is the ultimate ideal. A judge who believes in either pro-choice or right-to-life should still be able to decide whether there was trespass at an abortion clinic, on the facts, without ideology.

    The increasingly divisive, special-interest and politically driven view of the judiciary cannot be what we want for our system of justice. It would threaten to make the judge an instrument of ideological tyranny instead of a guardian against it.

    I deeply believe we have to resist this trend, which brings with it the potential to eviscerate the most distinguishing, liberty-saving feature of our constitutional governance. It cannot be said forcefully enough that there is a compelling, even overriding state interest in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary. We play with it, and fail to protect it, at our great national peril.

    To all of you, as you embark on this new and exciting facet of your careers, I ask that you always keep in mind the higher purpose and calling of your office.  You have chosen and been chosen for noble work. May you do it with wisdom and dignity.


    [1]Raab v. Commission on Judicial Conduct, 100 NY2d 305 (2003); Watson v. Commission on Judicial Conduct, 100 NY2d 290 (2003)

    [2] In many states, judicial disciplinary commissions also have the power to suspend a judge. New York’s commission does not have such authority. Source: National Center for State Courts.


    [4]Stern v. Morgenthau, 62 NY2d 331 (1984)

    [5]Duckman v. Commission on Judicial Conduct, 92 NY2d 141 (1998)

    [6]Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc., 556 US 868 (2009)

    Full Article & Source:
    A Judiciary Both Independent and Accountable

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  • 01/27/18--23:00: Abused And Betrayed
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    4:00 pm PST … 5:00 pm MST … 6:00 pm CST … 7:00 pm EST

    Hosted by Tanya Hathaway


    “There’s a wrong way to do the right thing” Brent Elisens

    To some a hero; others tout him as just trying to get a reduced sentence; and to others still scratching their heads, and well- just need to know more than mainstream media’s version (just in-case), before they form an opinion on this whole twisted and okay, I am going to say it although it really is not a pun intended-explosive matter.

    Thankfully, the operatives, including Brent- knew no explosives would detonate on that fateful day.

    Former FBI under-cover finally gets the chance to set the record straight. Meet Brett Elisens.

    Through preliminary talks and meeting Brent, (host, Tanya Hathaway), can say that Brent doesn’t mince words, and is willing to tell it all…even when “all” might not be so perfect-but as Brent says “Omission is commission”- so let’s hear him out.

    You really won’t want to miss this live, so please, mark your calendars and listen in and listen up! “Where your voice is heard and your story is told” on TNT Tanya Talks, with host, Tanya Hathaway, who will have a one-on- one candid conversation with Brent- and you decide for yourself what is real and what is bureaucracy at it’s ________ (you fill in the blank).

    After Brent got wind of just how these FBI reps “operated”; he realized he needed to be recording more than just Varnell. There are three very short clips (@ 30 seconds each) to give you a taste of how some of the FBI navigate and seem to think……….. Let’s face it-voices really do carry. These are available in extended versions on

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    The Nevada Attorney General's office has released a resource guide for law enforcement across the state when it comes to investigating cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.

    Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a statement the guide will help law enforcement recognize signs of elder abuse and help the elderly get services they need.

    Laxalt's office applied for and received a federal grant for enhanced training and services. Three resources teams have also been formed to look into issues, including a team for Washoe County and rural Nevada communities.

    Grant dollars have also been earmarked for direct services to elder victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, financial exploitation and neglect.

    To view the resource guide, visit the Attorney General website.

    Full Article & Source:
    Nevada Attorney General releases guide for elder abuse, neglect investigations

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    ( – A Oklahoma couple is facing charges after they allegedly starved their teenage son who has cerebral palsy.

    Jesus Hibbard, 16, died in September 2017, and authorities said his parents are at least partially to blame, Oklahoma News 4 reports.

    Police said Victor Trinidad, 28, and Lindsie Trinidad, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been charged with child neglect. They said Jesus could not feed himself, and his parents neglected to feed him. According to police, he was malnourished and underweight when he died.

    Police said his mother told them that Jesus could not eat solid foods, and her blender “was broken a bit.” The Trinidads also stopped taking their son to his doctor, nutritionist and therapist, according to police.

    Deadly discrimination against people with disabilities occurs both outside the womb and in. While abuse like this still is condemned, discrimination by abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia tragically are accepted and even encouraged in some cases.

    No matter what their abilities, every human life is valuable and deserving of protection.

    Full Article & Source:
    Parents Starve Teen Son with Cerebral Palsy

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    by David Arnold

    Part 1. “We the People”

    The Constitution of the United States begins with “We the people of the United States . . .”

    Abraham Lincoln said: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”

    The United States of America is the best country in the world. The goal of many people in the rest of the world is to live in the United States. I always felt safe living in the United States of America because it is a democracy. The purpose of a democracy is to prevent abuse by government.

    I never worried about abuse of the power by government until 2012. Someone I loved very dearly was subjected to abuse by a professional guardian appointed by the Probate Court. I was also subjected to abuse. In practice, there was no recourse to the power of the guardian. There were no checks and balances. There was no accountability.

    People who have been victims of abuse by court-appointed guardians say this is not supposed to happen in a democracy like the United States. This kind of thing only happens in third-world dictatorships. But it does happen. I know. I was a victim.

    I kept asking myself how this could happen in a democracy. That question would not go away. It remained unanswered for four years. In 2016, the answer finally came to me out of the blue. The Probate Court is not a democratic institution. It is a dictatorship (see the December 2017 issue #45 of The Boston Broadside, page 3).

    Unfortunately, that is not the end of the trail. There is an underlying problem that makes it very difficult to fix the problems with guardianship.

    The French philosopher Montesquieu who advocated the idea of three branches of government also pointed out that the personnel of the three branches should not coincide. If the same people or entity control all the branches of government, this negates the checks and balances.

    The problem is not hidden. We all have the information needed to understand what is wrong. However, it took me a long time to see the truth that was lying in plain sight. Consider the following:
    1. The Judicial Branch is controlled entirely by lawyers.
    2. The Legislature, both state and federal, appears to be about 60 percent
    3. The Office of the District Attorney, which is under the Executive Branch,
      is controlled by lawyers.
    4. A disproportionate number of governors and presidents are lawyers.
    As the list above shows, the government of the United States is controlled almost entirely by lawyers, not ordinary people from all walks of life. Although the individual people may be different, the same entity – the legal profession – has total control of the Judiciary and the Legislature, and a lot of control over the Executive Branch.

    Is our government really “of the people, by the people, for the people”? I guess it depends on how you define “people.”

    Suppose we change one word in Lincoln’s famous statement so it reads: “Government of the lawyers, by the lawyers, for the lawyers shall not perish from the earth.” In my opinion, this is much closer to the truth.

    In 2011, there were 1.22 million lawyers out of a total population of 311.7 million. This means that 0.4 percent of the total population controls two of the branches of government. The representation of lawyers in the legislature is 150 times greater than their percentage of the total population.

    We cannot blame the lawyers for controlling so much of our government. We the people elected them. If this is a problem, we have only ourselves to blame. It is not surprising that so many legislators are lawyers. Knowledge of the law is needed to draft good legislation. On the other side of the coin, the Legislature is supposed to represent the interests of ordinary people from all walks of life, not just lawyers.

    The problems with guardianship center around misconduct by lawyers and judges. The problem I ran into is that lawyers seem to control all of the ways that one would file a complaint against the lawyers and judges who are guilty of these abuses. In my opinion, lawyers should disqualify themselves from handling complaints against their professional colleagues on the grounds of conflict of interest. Would there be anyone left if all lawyers disqualified themselves? I have described below what happened when complaints were filed.

    After Gretchen died, I filed complaints with all three branches of government. Two other parties also filed complaints to the court, on a website, and in an article published in the September 2017 issue #42 of The Boston Broadside (page 16). None of these complaints had any effect. All these complaints ended up in the hands of a lawyer or a judge who did nothing.

    1. In 2012, Gretchen’s son and daughter-in-law filed a blistering complaint with Judge Gorman asking for the removal of the professional guardian, Regina Bragdon. Instead of removing the guardian, the judge approved a motion by the guardian’s attorney, Lawrence K. Glick, giving the guardian more authority.
    2. In 2014, I filed a complaint with the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs of the Massachusetts Legislature. The complaint was handled by Kelly Love, Esq., the director of research for the Committee. She was sympathetic but did nothing. She took another job without leaving any notes on this case.
    3. In 2015, I filed a complaint with the Middlesex District Attorney. The person I talked to on the phone was a personal friend of the professional guardian Regina Bragdon. The central issue of my complaint was that allowing a guardian to overrule a doctor could enable a guardian to commit an indirect form of homicide by denying necessary care. The neurologists treating Gretchen had to go through college, medical school, and internship. Judge Gorman gave the professional guardian, who had no medical training, authority to overrule all of Gretchen’s doctors. The details of how the guardian kept overruling Gretchen’s doctors are given in the September 2017 issue #42 of the The Boston Broadside (front page). The Office of the District Attorney found no legal grounds for an indictment. The guardian had the legal authority to overrule Gretchen’s doctors.
    4. In December 2016, I met with my state Senator William Brownsberger to discuss the problems with guardianship. My complaint was against the judge and the lawyers in the case, not just the guardian. I pointed out that as a lawyer himself, Senator Brownsberger was in a position of conflict of interest. I knew the bar association would oppose any reform of guardianship that interfered with the income of its members. I asked Senator Brownsberger to refer my complaint to someone who is not a lawyer. His response was: “I do not practice law and have not practiced for almost 10 years. I have no fear of retaliation from bar associations or others. I serve only my constituents.”
    5. In 2017, I filed a complaint with the Office of the Chief Justice of the Probate Court. Nothing was done. I was told there is no record of the testimony I gave against the GAL (Guardian ad Litem) and the professional guardian at the trial in February 2013. The Office of the Chief Justice referred me to Bill S.1178/H.3027, saying it was proposed by a group of advocates for the elderly. A close reading of the bill shows that it creates a dictatorship and puts the immunity of guardians into law. Judges already give guardians immunity as “agents of the court.”
    Part 2. Accountability of Lawyers

    There is nothing wrong with having lawyers in government service. However, the fact that lawyers have so much control over the whole government means that there has to be a good system of accountability for lawyers.

    One of the organizations working to stop abuse of power by court-appointed guardians pointed out to me that the legal profession is entirely self-policing. This violates a universally accepted principle of law. No person can be his own judge. No profession or entity can be its own judge.

    There are a number of problems with accountability of lawyers:
    1. Lawyers control the court that is responsible for accountability of all members of society including lawyers. No other profession controls the institution responsible for its own accountability.
    2. Lawyers are required to report misconduct by other lawyers. I know two lawyers who fulfilled this professional responsibility. In both cases, the lawyer who “blew the whistle” on another lawyer was subjected to severe retaliation by the other lawyer. The court did not just look the other way. The court enabled the retaliation. As one attorney told me: “Attorneys who have a clue are afraid — life is too short . . . very entrenched system.”
    3. Under the Constitution, the Legislature can impeach a judge. However, the Legislature is controlled by lawyers. This tends to negate the checks and balances intended by the Constitution.
    4. Review panels for lawyers and judges consist of lawyers, not ordinary people from all walks of life.
    Lawyers are a special case because they control the court that is supposed to hold them accountable. The Constitution does not deal with the special case of lawyers. I do not find this surprising. About 60 percent of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were lawyers.

    In my opinion, it is possible to construct a reasonable, practical, effective system of accountability of lawyers:
    1. Review panels for judges and lawyers should be comprised of ordinary people from all walks of life.
    2. There should be a system for filing indictments against a lawyer that is not controlled by lawyers.
    3. The Constitution does not require judges to be professional attorneys. I think there should be judges who are not professional attorneys for the specific purpose of handling cases involving lawyers and judges.
    A lawyer may not have the same goals as the client he represents. The practice of law is an occupation of common right. The legal system should be user friendly so people can represent themselves.

    Self-policing violates a basic principle of law. It will not work in a culture that does not tolerate whistle blowers. Honest lawyers seem unable to defend themselves against dishonest members of their profession. Lawyers control most of the government. In order to have a true democracy, lawyers need to be accountable to We the People.

    Full Article & Source:
    ‘We the People’ and Accountability of the Lawyers

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    5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

    Hosted by Marti Oakley, with Luanne Fleming and Robin Austin

    Our guest is David Arnold a Massachusetts advocate and activist who was forced to endure the human trafficking of his companion, Gretchen.

    Tomorrow, January 30th, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on these bills in Massachusetts. David will be testifying at this hearing.
    David will be discussing the Hearing on bill S.1177/H3027

    An Act to establish the office of adult guardianship and decisional support services
    These bills are of course, the government sanctioning of predatory guardianships wherein the ongoing identity theft by predator guardians and the fee churning by attorneys will be white-washed, sanitized and made to sound as if their intent is to perform a good deed. These bills simply sanction the human trafficking of the elderly with the intent to profit. All participants in this trafficking will be immune from being held accountable or prosecuted for their crimes against humanity. These bills were originally offered by the former AG of Massachusetts. these bills are also companion bills at the state level, to the Federal bill S 178……..the expansion and inflated funding of the very organizations and individuals who traffic the elderly now with the addition of dozens more.

    Contact your Legislators
    Main Statehouse Phone Number(617) 722-2000

    Search by street address for a list of legislators that serve your area. Then, use the contact information on their member page to reach out to them about issues for which you have questions or concerns.

    LISTEN live or listen to the archive later

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    Roger Lawrence McKinnon and Rufus Jerome Parker

    COLONY - Two Colony men were arrested on Thursday for elder abuse, according to the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.

    Sheriff’s deputies responded to a welfare check on an elderly female under the care of Roger Lawrence McKinnon, 54 and Rufus Jerome Parker, 53. Once the deputies arrived at the residence, they heard the victim yell for assistance from her bedroom, said a statement from the CCSO. Deputies made entry and found the woman bedridden and unable to help herself.

    In the course of investigation, deputies determined that McKinnon and Parker were allegedly taking the victim’s checks, instead of using the money to care for her. The victim told deputies she had been receiving calls from “check-cashing” establishments.

    McKinnon was charged with third-degree elder abuse and neglect, along with possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Parker was charged with third-degree elder abuse and neglect, as well as third-degree financial exploitation of the elderly.

    Due to the nature of the crime, the CCSO is not releasing the victim’s name or details of her condition.

    Both suspects are being held in the Cullman County Detention Center, each on a $4,000 bond.

    Full Article & Source:
    2 Colony men arrested for elder abuse

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    Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Nevada's top prosecutor is stepping up to help protect vulnerable residents of our community.

    Contact 13 has the details in an ongoing coverage of corruption in Nevada's guardianship system.

    Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced today that his office is putting teams together to help local police recognize elder abuse and exploitation.

    Our series of investigative reports uncovered heart-wrenching cases where loved ones were isolated from their families while their life savings were drained.

    Calling it the "...largest criminal guardianship abuse case in Nevada history", Laxalt referred to former private, for-profit guardian April Parks.  Following our Contact 13 investigation, Parks and her business associates were arrested and charged with hundreds of felony counts, including racketeering and exploitation.

    Family members of victims told us Parks often used the threat of calling police as a means to intimidate and isolate those she was assigned by the court to protect.

    Court records from Parks' case state sometimes "police were with create further fear"

    Using new grant money from the department of justice, the AG's office is forming several teams to train local police, first responders, guardians and others to help seniors get the services they need without being exploited.

    The new teams will hold training sessions through out this year, in both Southern and Northern Nevada. The AG's office also released a new elder abuse resource guide.

    Full Article & Source:
    Attorney General launches new teams to protect seniors

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