RIGGED–The Bar never loses and Families never win

After over a decade of complaints from countless victims of guardianship abuse, the Florida Legislature has passed a bill Intended to increase transparency in the guardianship system.  The bill was created and promoted by Pinellas County Clerk of courts Ken Burke who deserves a great deal of credit for his efforts.  He created a guardianship improvement task force and this legislation was the overarching recommendation of that large and august group.
The Florida Bar recently commented on that legislation In a news release

Fl Bar Article

Hidden in that release is the fact that a last-second amendment to the overall bill proposed by the Bar destroyed the entire intent of the bill by making the results of the database they propose available only to the court insiders, the very people who are creating the abuses. Of course, the Bar could not resist their usual gaslighting and blame shifting by slamming families who create the complaints–not the abuse–as villians in this article.

The allegation that families are the cause of abuses in guardianship Is a very clever and highly effective ploy by the court insiders and their overlords at the Bar in every state to put the blame anywhere but on themselves.  Of course family members are involved in abusive guardianships!!!– because only guardianships that include wards with families with any degree of disagreement on how to deal with a vulnerable elder, referred to as dysfunction–as much as 90% of American families qualify– are the ones that are heavily contested, litigated and immensely profitable.  For the court insiders to make the most money from these cases (which is after all the primary goal of the court insiders), they have to create a faux legal contest with a good guy and a bad guy to set up their staged phony, never ending estate draining litigation.  Anyone who opposes the guardianship is automatically and permanently labeled a bad guy and the cause of all the mischief, abuse and litigation that accompanies the emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual abuse so commonly seen and well documented by activists for decades. Sadly, this “bad guy” is all too often the person who has invested enormous amounts of effort, time, resources and love in caring for the allegedly incapacitated person.  Examples of this phenomenon become very clear when one takes the time to listen to court testimony of the families and victims of convicted criminal Guardian Lynnrod Douglas in his recent sentencing hearing.  Each one of these family members who described their anguish at the hands of this criminal guardian had been immediately and permanently labeled as the bad guy in probate litigation. Every one of them complained to every agency involved in guardianship for many years to no avail. Every one of them was denied the ability to speak in front of the judge until the sentencing hearing.  Each family member was enormously injured in every way by watching the premeditated, drawn-out slow murder of of their loved one and their estate.

If the information from this proposed database were ever allowed to be examined openly by the public and professionals, the Bar knows that their perfidy would be far too obvious.  Real statistics on guardianships could be developed, evidence of court bias revealed, financial records studied, paper trails followed, and actual hard evidence gathered. Instead, they use the hackneyed excuse that revealing personal information about a ward would be deleterious to the ward, as if destroying their entire life, making them helpless and dead in the law, taking away all their rights, stealing their life savings and work isn’t deleterious to the ward.

In the struggle to reimagine guardianship and replace it with something more humane, the creation of this database is a positive development in that it recognizes that there are major problems with the way government addresses the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.  But it is only a tiny step, and though congratulations to Clerk of Court Ken Burke are definitely in order, far more work is necessary over a protracted period of time, perhaps generations, before the criminality and abuses that we and others have been documenting for over a decade can be remedied or prevented.

That work must ultimately result in abolishing the current system in its entirety, taking it out of the hopelessly anachronisitc equity courts and replacing it with a construct that strengthens the family and resolves rather than inflames familial conflict, guarantees the safeguarding of lifelong wealth from predatory lawyers and Guardians, eliminates the massive incentives for mercenaries in the courts, strengthens rather than stripping away the civil rights of innocent Americans, and reinforces clearly stated wishes in advance directives.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Dr. Sam Sugar

March 16, 2022