People get very excited when they hear that their state legislators may actually be listening to their complaints and trying to do the right thing by the public that elected these civil servants.
In guardianship matters, case reports, investigative reports, pressure from advocacy groups, as well as multiple indictments across the country of court insiders have led to a sense of hope and optimism that there is reason to expect that progress is forthcoming in the form of new legislation that would rectify some of the many wrongs that AAAPG has been exposing for the better part of a decade.
AAAPG and other advocacy groups have had successes in multiple states in creating legislation that would have appeared to address some of the serious guardianship abuses which have become so rampant. Making elder abuse a felony, creating multiple state Supreme Court appointed study groups, WINGS conferences, creating new administrative authorities like the OPPG in Florida, revamping guardianship laws completely as is proposed in New Mexico currently, creating and passing visitation laws throughout the country and creating a safe space for victims to bring their complaints and collect cases for eventual presentation to federal law enforcement and other accomplishments all are laudatory.
No matter how good a law is, it only matters if it can be enforced.
But when all is said and done, legislators only deal with creating laws. No matter how good a law is, it only matters if it can be enforced. Over the years we have witnessed massive resistance by law enforcement to even become involved with clear-cut recurrent massive criminality that occurs regularly and routinely in guardianship cases and especially in high dollar value cases. The predatory court insiders have figured out a way to take money without having to steal it from innocent victims. As every victim knows, in addition to the abject torture inflicted upon victimized wards, the predatory court insiders have any number of crafty cudgels to achieve their goal of massive diversion of estate funds. All of these tools are perfectly legal even if they are morally reprehensible.
As every victimized family knows all too well, the primary tools used to beat families into submission while their loved ones are being slowly murdered is the threat of endless litigation and money—obscene legal and Guardian fees. Isolation orders, sanctions and threats of imprisonment are additional retribution for bucking the “industry”, but as long as complicit judges continue to allow court insiders to collect outrageous amounts of money for prolonging litigation, inflicting pain and suffering on families and wards, perverting the laws of the state while enriching themselves greatly, no laws are broken and therefore there is no criminality as far as law enforcement is concerned. This is why law enforcement has traditionally responded to valid complaints by saying “it’s a civil matter and you should hire a lawyer”, which is precisely the outcome that the court insiders welcome because all it means is more litigation and money in their pockets.
The insider lawyers also pile on even after the guardianships end with their restrictive settlements containing non disclosure and non defamation clauses which threaten even more litigation if a victim dares to even speak of the brutality suffered.
While the ward suffers the isolation, overmedication, humiliation and disappearance of their assets, friends, dignity and identity, the family must watch helplessly. When they try to fight the “industry” they are attacked, ruthlessly verbally assaulted with lie after lie, impoverished from legal fees from all sides, abandoned by their own lawyers (who know they can never beat the probate machine). denied their rightful inheritance and told to shut up about it or face more litigation. And much more.
And it is all the fault of the Judges in the judicial hotspots.
Either they are too lazy or disinterested to do their jobs, especially monitoring guardianships and supervising guardians or they are corrupt. I have yet to hear any other plausible alternative.
And if you say most judges are good, then I would ask why do they not follow their own canons and weed out the bad judges? They cannot be good judges if they tolerate a single bad judge in their midst. Same goes for lawyers and guardians too.
The excuse that there is not enough money to pay for Judges to do the work needed is self serving nonsense. If the Judges want less work, follow the law and stop making so many needless guardianships that fill your dockets for years on end. Honor the advance directives that you so flippantly toss out and avoid all the staged litigation. Otherwise, stop complaining. Judges are among the highest paid civil servants in the country.
While there may be a degree of innate corruption or bias throughout the legal system in this country, outside the criminal system, the blatant bias and cronyism on display in equity probate (and family and divorce) courts has a cost far greater than can be measured in dollars. In real civil law courts no one has to die or have their rights taken away for lawyers to get their booty by the billable hour. In equity courts people’s rights are destroyed, families are ruined, and lives are actually sacrificed on the altar of equity court greed. In these courts the accumulated wealth of a lifetime and that of future generations can be forfeit in the blink of an eye.
The laws and rules already on the books would be fine—if they were enforced.
The judicial canons already say that an attorney may not, cannot litigate before a Judge who is their spouse, but there are multiple cases of just that happening right now in Naples, Florida. And despite being reported to the Florida JQC, what has the JQC done. Nothing.
The statutes already say that guardianship must be a last resort and the least favored intervention for those in need of protection from the court. But in case after case of abusive guardianship, it is clear that no other option is ever even considered by the court insiders.
The statutes already say that the least invasive guardianships are preferred, but plenary guardianships are far more frequent than any other kind.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to continue pressing for much better laws and rules. But the fundamental flaw in thinking new legislation will make a difference is that guardianship probate equity courts across the country function above the law and in defiance of it. The latitude given to judges in these courts is unlimited, unmonitored and unsupervised. The court insiders who have the ear of the judge also have the means, motive and opportunity to perpetrate any act they see fit with almost zero likelihood of retribution or punishment. It is a credit to those judges who conduct themselves honestly and those lawyers who are not rapacious and those guardians who do the best they can for the benefit of the Ward that they manage to maintain their integrity and avoid the temptation to get rich quick by plundering families and taking the money that they earned for themselves, even if they do fail to report the scoundrels in their midst.
State judicial systems have allowed this exploitation to continue for decades and it is irrational to expect these powerful insiders to allow any revised or new statutes to get in the way of their cash cow. They are too smart to let that happen and they have too much influence across the board including the incredible amount of influence that each state Bar has in the actual drafting of bills for legislators. No bill in the area of probate will ever be voted on, let alone passed by any legislature unless every word in it is approved by the state bar Association.
So I encourage everyone to continue their advocacy in the legislatures across America. But I also urge that we focus on exposing this “industry”for what it is by relentlessly pounding on the media to cover the endless stories that are available and to demand a thorough and honest investigation of the for-profit probate industry by the Department of Justice and federal Bureau of investigation. And to warn those you love that they might be next.