County survives Combs lawsuit – The Kaufman Herald : News

County survives Combs lawsuit – The Kaufman Herald : News.

County survives Combs lawsuit

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Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:17 am

County survives Combs lawsuitBy Gary E. Lindsleykaufmanherald.com | 0 comments

The Supreme Court of Texas on Friday decided not to review an appeal filed by attorney Jo Ann E. Combs against Kaufman County’s commissioners.

In 2002, Combs was awarded $143,168.95 by a guardianship court for her services as attorney ad litem for Wallace A. Darst and his estate from 1995 until 2002.

 

However, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals justices Joseph B. Morris, Molly Francis and Elizabeth Lang-Miers ruled July 31, 2012, “Because we conclude appellants have governmental immunity from suit on all of Combs’ claims, we reverse the trial court’s summary judgment and render judgment dismissing Combs’ lawsuit.”

The legal battle began June 24, 1994, when Joseph Darst, one of Wallace Darst’s sons, filed for guardianship of his father. Wallace Darst was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to court documents. Wallace Darst died Dec. 18, 2000.

Other family members on July 5, 1994, contested Joseph Darst’s qualifications as a guardian. The matter then went before the county’s presiding judge, Maxine Darst, Wallace Darst’s sister-in-law. Maxine Darst recused herself from the case.

Attorneys then agreed to allow Judge Glen Ashworth, who was serving in the 86th District Court, to preside over the case. Ashworth then appointed Combs as guardian of Wallace Darst’s estate as well as his ad litem.

Eight years later, Combs billed the county for her services after the estate could not pay the bill. In 2002, Ashworth awarded Combs the $143,168.95 for fees and expenses.

In 2006, Combs filed a lawsuit against the county to recover the amount Ashworth ordered in 2002. However, Judge John Robert Adamson, a visiting judge in the 86th District Court, dismissed Combs’ suit in June 2007.

Then, in December 2008, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dallas reversed Adamson’s decision.

Finally, after another appeal by the county in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based on the premise the county had governmental immunity, the court justices agreed and dismissed the case July 31.

“We were delighted,” Wood said after learning the Supreme Court of Texas on Friday had decided not to hear Combs’ appeal. “This is, financially, extremely good news. If we had been made to pay [her], it would have been more than $1 million.”

In September 2012, Wood said the case was a major cost factor for the county, and that the county’s commissioners had approved paying $402,406.46 to Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP. Another $95,901.60 was paid to Joseph E. Ashmore, who Wood said was called in as a witness for the county. FedEx was paid $2,820.65 for its services as well.

ATTRIBUTION : http://www.kaufmanherald.com/news/article_a34302c0-d37b-11e2-9cb1-0019bb2963f4.html

 

Posted in Guardianship Abuse, Judicial Discretion and Finding, Texas, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ACLU Comment on Ruling in Disability Rights Guardianship Case | American Civil Liberties Union

ACLU Comment on Ruling in Disability Rights Guardianship Case | American Civil Liberties Union.

Posted in Judicial Discretion and Finding | Leave a comment

Grabbing the Purse – Fort Worth Weekly

“The case of the Dorothy Luck Guardianship is a tragedy like so many others that play out in the probate courts across this nation. Everyday Judges with overreaching powers granted to them by our elected officials strip ordinary citizens of the civil and constitutionally guaranteed rights and often it is done without due process. Please take the time to read this story.

The following is Reblogged from the article Grabbing the Purse – Fort Worth Weekly. by Jeff Prince

“Dorothy Luck was enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of hard work: a well-cared-for house, a good-running Cadillac Deville, a million dollars in a bank account, another million in annuities, and a monthly income from investments and Social Security. A widow with no children or close relatives, she remains active and relatively healthy at 85.

Her comfortable lifestyle was made possible by various investments created with her husband, Leskie, who died 20 years ago. The couple co-owned and operated Luck Field, a general aviation airport that opened in 1960 in South Fort Worth, offering a landing strip and hangar rentals for 40 years, until it closed in 2000.

Shyness isn’t a problem. Luck dominates conversations, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and can be a pistol when riled. She’s also softhearted. Her church gets 10 percent of every dollar, and Luck gives additional money to charities and friends in need.

The neat and still-elegant woman has always kept a close watch on her finances, and she believed she’d have plenty of money to last until the end of her life.

“I was very wealthy,” she said. “Now they’ve stripped me of about everything I have.”

The people stripping away her wealth aren’t con artists, muggers, or thieves, although the end result looks the same. “They” are a judge and court-appointed lawyers involved in a probate system that deemed Luck to be mentally incapaci-tated and unable to handle her affairs.

Two years ago they took control of her money and her life. She’s been writhing in the court system ever since, trying to regain control of her bank account, which has become at least $500,000 lighter since the court took over.

“I’ve worked since I was 15 years old, and I don’t deserve this,” Luck said. “It’s going to kill me. It’s aged me terribly.”

Texas, unlike most states, allows its judges to initiate guardianship cases. If a defendant in a civil lawsuit refuses to settle, a Texas probate judge can say, “I think you’re mentally incapacitated.” Then that same judge can remove the defendant’s right to hire an independent attorney and use court-appointed attorneys to settle the case in a closed hearing without the defendant’s input.

Don’t believe it?

Luck wouldn’t have believed it either. Until it happened to her.”

Click here to read the full story - Grabbing the Purse – Fort Worth Weekly.

What is most disturbing is that numerous legislators in the Texas House and the Texas Senate sat by and listened to Dorothy and others testify that she was being denied the right to counsel but they all went home and did nothing to correct the problems and loopholes in the Texas probate code that lack the checks and balance provisions neccessary to ensure that no such abuses can occur.

When these officials are up for re-election they should be voted out for the callous disregard of the fallacies of their laws and their utter failure to act to protect the vulnerable elderly and disabled adults.

 

Posted in attorney ethics, Attorney Fraud, elder abuse, Guardianship Abuse, Judicial Discretion and Finding, Justice, Texas | Leave a comment

Grabbing the Purse – Fort Worth Weekly

Grabbing the Purse – Fort Worth Weekly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How judges, probate attorneys, and guardianship orgs abuse the vulnerable – News and Politics – San Antonio Current

How judges, probate attorneys, and guardianship orgs abuse the vulnerable – News and Politics – San Antonio Current.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Woman with Down syndrome prevails over parents in guardianship case – Washington Post

Woman with Down syndrome prevails over parents in guardianship case – Washington Post.

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NOTEGA:

Why is it legal to abuse the elderly and disabled in America ? Why is it legal in Texas for one man or woman (a judge) to have omnipotent control over another persons life, to find that person incompentent and remove their rights to their live and or property and then order that they cannot hire an attorney, cannot get their rights back from one year and even then refuse to allow them to hire an attorney or submit a written request to the court ??? This is unconstitutional and should be illegal.

Originally posted on NOTEGA - Working to End Guardianship Abuse:

Questions sent to the Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2011

IN RESPONSE TO THEIR HEARING ON ELDER ABUSE

WE ARE ASKING OUR STATE AND NATIONAL LEADERS WHY ?

  1. Why is it legal to abuse and rob the elderly in guardianships?

  2. Why is it legal to force an “alleged” incapacitated person into guardianship with an emergency or some other hearing without due process of the law where the ward is not present and/or not represented by counsel? Why are our constitutional due process rights under the 14th amendment not protected in guardianships?

  3. Why is it legal to isolate a ward, to over medicate, to chemically restrain, to sterilize and even authorize an early death through hospice in guardianships?

  4. Why do the advance directives of these dear elderly citizens appear to mean nothing? The designation of a pre-need guardian, a power of attorney or health care surrogate are routine ignored…

View original 311 more words

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