Somedays in this frustrating and emotional job we get a victory. Last month we helped gain the release of Tuscarawas County Ohio resident Michele Augustine from an involuntary adult guardianship. Michele was conscripted by her brother and sister and Community Mental Healthcare, in an apparent attempt to take over her estate, when they ex parte petitioned for guardianship over Michele in July 2016. Michele had a successful career with Saks in New York, but due to an injury had decided to move back home in New Philadelphia, Ohio to be near her mother and family. True to the scheme we see repeated nationwide, the unsubstantiated claims of the siblings were used to justify inserting local elder law attorney and professional guardian Tara Timberlake. Michele’s objections were ignored as she was held in a locked down psych ward for over thirty days and she ultimately contacted AAAPG in November 2016. We helped identify a committed and capable lawyer to represent Michele and she was ultimately freed on August 9, 2017.
Judge Linda Kate and Magistrate David Worth diligently kept the guardianship going, forcing an evidentiary hearing, while supporting Timberlake. Matthew Mullen, Esq. represented Michele. Fortunately Michele was an articulate and intentional fighter. Most victims are targeted long after they lose the ability to fight. After a few months Tara decided to withdraw as Michele and her long term primary care physicians testified the guardianship was unnecessary and never warranted. In his final opinion Magistrate Worth opined on how he felt the guardianship should be continued but that the withdrawal of Timberlake gave him no alternative. He gave no credence to Michele’s best interests or expressed interests. Worth again demonstrates the bias by many judicial officers nationwide that guardianships are always best, especially when supported by allies of the state bar.
Michele awaits the return of her funds from the guardian, now more than two months after she was released. I find it odd Judges can remove your rights and estate in a matter of hours but it takes months to be reestablished. We hope Michele has no more surprises as this experience has already caused her untold emotional pain and over $70,000 in just 13 months. Congrats Michele, you are one of the few lucky ones.