Guardianship creation is the big business of Probate Courts that wield the power to destroy anyone they target, like some kind of Orwellian Big Brother. These courts hover around us ready to pounce on any unsuspecting family unlucky enough or stupid enough to be involved in their perfidy. The administrative law officers running these Star Chambers are creating havoc and misery and even death of their vulnerable wards so often because that is what they are accustomed to doing, by habit, by lack of supervision, by their need to be accepted by their peers and not rock the boat and all this is justified by their biases.
We so often hear families and victims of probate, divorce or family court actions complain that the system is corrupt or the judge is corrupt or the Guardian is corrupt. These complaints are usually spawned by actions taken against families and victims that seem to make no sense, seem illegal or are based on something other than the facts of the case. The natural reaction to these events is to suspect that corruption is involved.
Corruption is defined as dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.
Now, only in very rare cases is there actual evidence of officials taking overt bribes. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen, but proving it is extremely difficult. There have been cases in which judges in particular appear to have accepted loans that are paid back by others, leases that are paid for by others, real estate or business deals that include a judge for no apparent reason and the like. These types of egregious behaviors are crimes and it is no secret that judges and others almost never pay for these crimes unless they are exposed in some kind of investigation. But the average litigant in probate has no possibility of performing such an investigation. Law enforcement is, to say the least, reluctant to accuse their brethren the infallible, powerful high-profile judges of any crimes or misdemeanors. The regulatory mechanisms in place over judges are essentially window-dressing and almost never call judges to task for the dicey decisions they make in their courtrooms. So these judicial behaviors are reinforced and become acceptable, normative. In time they inform the judge’s biases.
But there is a much subtler form of corruption and bribery that takes place on a regular basis in courtrooms across the country. It has its roots in human psychology and is expressed in the form of judicial bias in favor of their professional and historical sense of propriety and penchant to favor the individuals that judges interact with on a regular basis in their chambers. The people who appear on a routine even daily basis in front of the judge, whether purposefully or unintentionally become the normative part of the judge’s world.
Many of us have heard an attorney say that a judge likes a particular lawyer or dislikes a particular lawyer or guardian. At first blush this peculiar type of statement makes one wonder why it’s important whether a judge likes or dislikes your lawyer or someone else’s lawyer, but in fact experience tells us that in probate cases in which judges have such unchecked and extreme latitude, judges will typically believe those people whom they view favorably and be biased towards ruling in their favor. This may explain why probate judges seems so eager to declare incapacities, to choose certain guardians, to choose certain court-appointed attorneys, and to adamantly rule against the people that their favorite lawyer friends are referring to as criminals and evildoers and abusers. Their behavior is an expression of their bias.
There certainly may be situations in which a judge’s bias is influenced by leverage from outside sources like lawyers very familiar with the judge. It may be that the judge is susceptible to influence–perhaps has a drinking problem or a sexual problem and is being blackmailed to keep it secret. It may be that the judge has serious gambling debts or marital issues. The judge or his spouse or family may have been hiding their secrets to avoid scrutiny from regulating agencies or the public. But those close to the judge might have knowledge of the secrets and overtly or covertly threaten to expose the judge if he rules against them.
But it’s my belief that these cases are the minority. It is much more likely that continuous familiarity with the day-to-day actors in his courtroom leads to social interaction with and experiential bias toward the positions of these actors. That can explain why it’s always the same lawyers defending the same guardians in front of the same judges for years and years. That would explain how abusive guardianships that exploit the assets of vulnerable individuals occur with such regularity. It would explain why a particular “charitable” guardianship company/organization so frequently is associated with exploitation of its hundreds of wards when the judge is affiliated with that religion organization and looks upon it in a biased favorable light while refusing to even hear about charges of its abusive behavior.
Another profound judicial bias is to enable the flow of money to court insiders. Judges have been known to be concerned about the ability of the lawyers who practice in front of them to make an adequate income. After all in Florida alone there are 102,000 attorneys and each judge in Florida has been an attorney. So it is not difficult to understand why judges are sympathetic to their fellow lawyers and their ability to make money. The way lawyers make money is to litigate and that may explain why there is an enormous amount of staged litigation in these courts. It is not important who “wins” the cases, only that all lawyers get to “dip their beak” into the estate of the litigants.
There is also the issue of business as usual. When these judges have been on the bench for many years and are used to doing things a certain way particularly with certain of their lawyer friends and Guardian buddies, that is their norm and that is what they consider proper. It is their personal bias that cannot be challenged.
While there are a host of other nonfactual issues that impact judicial behavior, the question for litigants in these courts is whether they are wasting their time in front of the court because no matter what they say, no matter what their case, no matter what the facts, the judge–who in probate is BOTH the trier of facts and the trier of law– will be inclined to believe those he is most familiar with or most threatened by over anything else. The facts are not as important as the judge’s comfort with the impact to himself of his decisions.
We expect our judges to be unbiased, faithful to the statutes, beyond reproach and meticulously dedicated to truth and justice. But since they are human beings and subject to the same regular pressures as the rest of us, some judges fail to live up to those expectations. Once elected and untouchable, such judges tend not to be stellar jurists and are not promoted to more prestigious court assignments. They tend to be relegated into less visible positions like probate. Enormous amounts of money pass through these courts every day and by virtue of that money judges in probate court wield enormous power including the ability to steer much of that money to their friends and cronies. The temptation for a judge to gain some kind of personal advantage over those close to him by ruling in a certain manner must be irresistible. The fact that ruling in this way unnecessarily destroys families and fortunes is assuaged by the power and authority the judge gains over those who might have the same against him.
Bias in the court of any kind is lethal to the American system of justice. Among other factors, it is such bias that creates horrific stories of abuse in guardianship that fill the pages of countless websites and blogs while it fills the pockets of unscrupulous guardians and lawyers who take full advantage of this subtle form of judicial corruption.
Only by holding Judges fully accountable for their actions with meaningful oversight and supervision can we even hope to remove bias from the probate courts and treat victims and their families with integrity. Without that integrity and the faith of the public in the justice system, that system is illegitimate and operates above the law.
Biases can be very subtle.
For example, if–as the law provides– we are all assumed to be capacitated until proven otherwise, then why would court ordered exams of potential wards/victims called “incapacity” determinations rather than “capacity” determinations?
Why is hard proof of a ward’s capacity submitted to the court called “a suggestion of capacity”?
Why are so many court examiners’ reports so often identical as if they were copied and unanimous in favor of total incapacity?
Why does guardianship legislation allegedly intended to limit the court’s enormous latitude in these cases constantly use the highly fluid and permissive terms “may”,
“shall” or “can” instead of the term “must” when referring to the court’s obligation to follow the statutes?
Why are guardianship hearings often closed and sequestered?
Why are there no juries allowed in guardianship matters?
Why is valid evidence of capacity so often discarded by the court?
Why do the courts constantly fail to monitor abuses in the guardianships they create?
The answers are simple.
First and foremost, those actions have been historically acceptable and routinely practiced for decades by prior judges and courts.
The bias in the rather obvious function of the court–especially in hotspot districts–the default position of the court and the revenue generated by the court and the power held by the court is firmly rooted in creating–not preventing–guardianships by identifying, conscripting and quickly and irreversibly declaring innocent citizens as “incapacitated” whether they are or not!
The court could not and would not be sustained (funded) if there were not a steady stream of new victims and cash flow. That steady and growing revenue stream justifies the demands for even more court funding and more court power and, of course more money for the real beneficiaries of this court process, the court insiders. Once that goal is accomplished and another innocent is thrown to the guardianship wolves, the court has little interest or time to spend with what happens next–they are well aware of how their system works and do not want to hear about the abuses they have empowered and abetted because to do so would impugn their imperious rule and bring into question their decisions to hand over lives to court insider predatory lawyers and barbaric guardians.
In fact, the court has immense historical, iconoclastic and anachronistic biases and they mitigate toward creation of guardianships which perpetuate its own power.
So, rather than adhering to advance directives, the court bypasses them to advance the unspoken but very real aim of the court which, as we have shown, is to create profitable guardianships and fuel the predation industry. Rather than solving problems within dysfunctional families, the court creates far more severe new problems that force families into needless, costly, never ending litigation that massively benefits only the working machinery of the racket- it has spawned-court insiders. Rather than actually protecting vulnerables, the court is fully complicit in their exploitation and denouement.
This bias–which may be subconscious– is a horrifying reality and an unspeakable affront to the the public who justifiably, lose faith in the judiciary every day these egregious cases are exposed.
Abuses in probate guardianship (conservatorship in some states) ALWAYS track back to the the same cadre of (mostly elected) state judges and magistrates whose biased, logic defying decisions become the genesis of many years of pain, suffering and exploitation at the hands of the court insiders. It is these supercilious, arrogant, ossified and untouchable judges who create far too many guardianships and then complain that these cases overwork them!
All forms of Judicial bias and abuse of process are nothing new and has many origins, but it is wholly unacceptable. Without the oversight of juries that abuse is unchecked. Whatever the inducement or even absent any inducement, the deadly multigeneration destructive fallout from equity probate court must be exposed for what it is–a blight on our legal system. The hands on privileged perpetrators of this racket–insider lawyers and professional guardians–must no longer be allowed to leverage the bias of of these courts/judges into windfalls they steal with ease from innocent families.
Purging bias from Equity type courts starts with mandatory educational efforts to expose and identify the causes and effects of judicial bias. these must originate with the masters of these court–The Supreme Court. The moment when the Supreme Court finally acknowledges bias in their equity type courts will be the moment that reform can begin in earnest.