An emerging perspective
From the number of calls I receive daily from guardianship victims from across the country, it appears that the guardianship racket is working overtime creating more victims, more destroyed families and more profit for itself. I find myself spending hours every day explaining how the broken equity probate system is constructed and how it routinely destroys anyone who dares object to it.
Trouble is, absent personal experience with the racket, no one can understand how such a thing can happen in America– how such abject corruption, avoidance of justice, extreme ageism, massive conversion of funds and exploitation of America’s most vulnerable happens on a daily basis in courtrooms throughout the country with absolutely no consequences or likelihood of consequences to the perpetrator court insiders. It makes no sense to the uninitiated and that is why it is easy for them to deny the existence of the racket and why they fail to understand the urgency of its threat to each of us. Here is why:
The guardianship victim community is composed of normal law-abiding citizens and their families who have love for their family, have been charged with no crime, have not been convicted of anything and who normally don’t think about committing crimes, hurting others, or acting in an inhumane fashion or exploiting others. Those kinds of thoughts never cross their minds in any serious way. They lead their lives abiding by the law, expecting what government promised them, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all the rights and protections of our founding documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and all its amendments as well as the Bill of Rights. They expect equal access to justice and moral and outstanding behavior from elected officials and in particular from judges.
Then there is another class of people whose lives are not ruled by that kind of morality or thinking. Their world is one in which they can be winners only if there are losers. They are amoral at best though more frequently immoral. Often, they are egomaniacal or narcissists who feel very comfortable treating people as objects that are to be bent to their will. They function in a world filled with conflicts of interest that they can rationalize and exploit to their benefit. They function with the kind of hubris that allows them to flourish and sleep well with little or no regard to the damage they do to fellow human beings. Couple that perspective with the sobering reality that guardianship cases are almost never monitored or supervised and that the fix is in with too many judges whose goal is to create guardianships as quickly as possible to clear their docket and relieve them of the onerous task of dealing with family conflicts, one can begin to understand court insider behavior. Whatever it takes to gain that type of advantage will be leveraged among and between the court insiders and that includes anything from insider trading information to secret deals, to mortgage fraud, to direct payments, to supporting a judges reelection, to keeping quiet about foibles like addiction or depravity or alcoholism. In the equity court world, you either play along to get along or your career is over. And just like in other rackets you never turn or flip on a fellow insider who might upset the cart and get everybody put into prison.
This is the world of the court insider. Their domain is the equity court. There they are surrounded by enablers and accomplices. They use the opaque and haphazardly wide Rules of Court procedure to disadvantage and disarm any challenges to their absolute authority. They know that anyone who dares stand up to them without hiring a clone of themselves so as to begin the endless billing process- I am referring to pro se litigants- will not only lose but will not even understand that they lost before they started. A layman can’t possibly even understand the crypto speak of equity courts. They cannot win in that world—ever. That maddening fact in and of itself is just simply too outrageous for most people to believe.
It is no wonder that victims experience acute and chronic bewilderment at the criminality and corruption they are forced to endure in abusive equity court proceedings and guardianships they create. It also explains why until one personally experiences this exquisite and choreographed form of abuse, it is impossible for anyone to empathize or understand its victims.
The challenge for advocates who are desperately trying to stop this madness and criminality is that their message does not resonate with a naïve uninformed and vulnerable public. Any messaging or intervention is too late for existing victims who have been trapped. It certainly does not resonate with or even matter to the court insiders and their allies who are fully aware that their massive incomes are at stake. They surely know that if any aspect of the racket is exposed not only their money but their freedom would be forfeit. The danger presented to the public from the racket is only occasionally discussed in the mainstream media and then only in one or two articles at most when the reporters move on to the next big headline. It cannot be acted on by any branches of government that are too invested in the process to dare challenge it.
Because of technicalities in Federal law, assistance from the government which might otherwise be available in non-equity court cases is precluded by the probate exclusion or exception. The federal government cannot and will not be of assistance to victims of guardianship.
So what should the message be?
How can we make our message resonate with those who need to hear it?
What can we do better?
First, every effective reform movement learns how to control the narrative. In this we have an advantage since the court insiders need to remain silent, confident that the system which will remain in place and maintain the status quo. As victims and advocates however, our voices and our stories are powerful tools but we must learn how to engage the media at every level to create messages that have legs. This means that a one-off story in a newspaper or magazine is simply not enough. We need to educate and train effective spokespersons in every state to engage investigative reporters to dig deep and fearlessly reveal what all of us have experienced. As effective advocates, we must all become experts to cultivate long-term relationships with law enforcement, with sympathetic reporters and their organizations and their staffs and develop easy access to them in order to assist them with the development of their reports over time. Every distinct jurisdiction is covered by different press organizations and media. As advocates we need to use them as a conduit to tell our true life experiences.
Second we need to stop wasting our time waiting for new legislation or probate rules. That route takes far too long and it is almost impossible to overcome the objections and inertia of feckless politicians, the entrenched court insiders and their enablers in the legislature, BAR, law enforcement and judiciary which so easily and quickly can railroad new legislation that would help us. In my opinion the biggest problem with existing laws wrong is they are ignored routinely and perverted by the judges.
Third, we need to be more precise in understanding the root cause of this abuse. Lawyers and guardians, though they may be easy targets, are nothing more than instruments of the judges. Without the judges none of this could possibly take place.
Since the judges are absolutely in charge and profiting in whatever way, they are disincented for change.
We need to find ways around the courts not through them to fight back as well as prevent the next abusive guardianship.
To this end, I have proposed the formation of civilian national and state guardianship review and advisory boards around the country which will function under the uniform commercial code (UCC) rather than by statute. These boards are in formation at this time but it will take quite some time to fully educate volunteers for the board to make them effective. This format has never been tried before and it is born of the universal futility of trying to fight abusive guardianships and equity courts. We will either succeed or fail but at least we will try. Trying to fight the insiders on their home court is a losing proposition.
Lastly, despite numerous attempts, there is little or no cohesion or even agreement among groups across the country attempting to reform guardianship and expose it. This inability to develop intra-group cohesion, collaboration and cooperation is a major impediment to progress. We all must take our fair share of the blame for this and I do. I have a hard time working some other advocates, but I would love to bring us all together, swallow our pride and all pull together.
Until such time as our messaging is uniform and coordinated under a unifying banner, our numbers will never reach the point of critical mass needed to overthrow the repression and criminality we want to report, convert and prevent. Advocates around the country are motivated, exceptional, talented and have the best intentions. As a consequence of the strength it takes to fight the system, advocates are often totally committed to their perspective and their particular methodologies to the exclusion of others. I am hopeful that over time this resistance to organize under a single banner will diminish and that energy that propels each of us forward can be leveraged to create exponential strength in numbers.
Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
Dr. Sam Sugar
July 31, 2019