The Unraveling

November 26, 2007

03-6-09
Sponsorship needed.

I am looking for sponsorship so that I may finish my book. My purpose is to shed light on the treatment the incapacitated receive in our courts and the corruption and lack of accountability therein. As yet there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the incident of its occurrence is increasing. Alzheimer’s is devastating not only to the individual but it affects all those who are close to the person.

Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease that can take up to twenty years destroying the brain before offering release in death.
Once deemed incapacitated by the court an individual loses all rights formerly held and has less protection than that of a child. Who is more child-like than someone helpless? Yet relegation to second class citizenry is an every day occurrence in our courts.

There is little that garners the attention of the court more than an incapacitated individual with an estate. My mother wasn’t the first to be given to the whims of a lawyer/guardian with the family forced to the side line. The corruption is well entrenched with each segment of the court coddling, enabling and protecting the other. Read my letter to Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner Steven Grovdahl at deanlibey.com for an example of what one elderly individual went through when the court proclaimed her incapacitated.

Dean Libey

8-12-07

Spokane County Superior Court

Commissioner Grovdahl
1116 Broadway Ave.
Spokane WA. 99260

Re. Case # 00-4-00390-2

Commissioner Grovdahl,

The above case number is in reference to my mother Evy S. Hohner, now deceased. I have a question that I’d like you to answer, but first a little background to refresh your memory and for those individuals who are also receiving this correspondence. My mother became that number when the court deemed her incapacitated in 1999. Prior to that my son and I had moved over from Everett, Washington and took care of her for a year until the court gave control of her life to a lawyer/guardian. No one questioned the care she received nor were there any financial improprieties during the time I was her caregiver.

My brother Howard, a doctor, came up from Texas and my brother Randy came over from Tacoma to join me in petitioning the court for guardianship of our mother. Yet you, Commissioner Grovdahl gave control of her life and finances to a complete stranger, Thomas Robinson, citing familial conflict. Perhaps by that you are referring to the fact that a fourth son did not want the family to act as guardian.

I would think that three out of four a strong showing, along with the fact that my son and I moved across the state to care for her.

When I complained of the inadequate care my mother was receiving under the guardianship of Mr. Robinson the court extended Carol Hunter’s roll as Guardian ad Litem to investigate my claim. Originally Ms. Hunter had been appointed by the court to look into 20 cases of Mr. Robinson’s that were non compliant in that court ordered documents (annual accountings, death certificates etc.) were not forthcoming. I included Judge Kathleen O’Connor as a recipient of that complaint and I believe this led to the appointment. The subsequent report substantiated my claim of inadequate care.

At the end of her report Ms. Hunter states “As to the violations of Standards of Practice, to my knowledge the Certified Professional Board has not made a finding on any violations. The provisions cited above may be relevant to an investigation by the Board. The Court may, in its discretion make a complaint to the Standard of Practice Committee of the Certified Professional Board.”

Correct me if I’m wrong Commissioner Grovdahl, but there was no action taken by the Board or the court with regard to the GAL report.

When Mr. Robinson stated in an affidavit that he left $400.00 in a paper bag for caregivers to use, I refuted that claim by offering the names and phone numbers of the caregivers who would deny that such a thing occurred. The court did not act upon this information.

In Mr. Robinson’s first late accounting he charged my incapacitated mother $16,189.87 in attorney fees. In that same accounting he alleged that she spent $18,058.18 under the heading of “Personal Allowance” and Commissioner Grovdahl you approved.

In the final accounting Mr. Robinson alleged that my incapacitated mother spent $8,610 also under the heading of “Personal Allowance” which coincidently is exactly what she received from Social Security. And once again Commissioner Grovdahl you approved.

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious but would Mr. Robinson make such allegations of spending by my mother and risk being cited for allowing it if he thought for one minute that what he submitted to the court was not going to receive blanket approval?

I lived four blocks away and saw my mother almost every day. Believe me when I tell you that dementia had taken from my mother the wherewithal to remember what she had just eaten much less the ability to spend $26,668.18 in less than two years on frivolities.

The $200,000 my mother originally had in mutual funds did not make it there by spending on nonessentials. Such spending was contrary to her core values. Dementia takes away the present leaving the past, and then it takes that away as well. Without the present there is no desire to want anything except for that which the body tells you it needs i.e. food etc.

If you recall the amount set by the court for the purchase of nonessentials was $1500.00 per year.
The court did not cite Mr. Robinson for allowing the alleged spending. Although my mother had lost her concept of money, there were those who were keenly aware of her bank account.

I have filed complaints with the Washington State Guardianship Board and the Bar, but because the accountings were court approved, both entities are blocked from pursuing any sort of investigation.
This is a prime example of the “good old boys” displaying their “go along, get along” philosophy.

And let me not forget the last little favor you did for Mr. Robinson when he petitioned the court for a substitute guardian and asked that my mother’s file be sealed citing “sensitive issues”. You [the court] found that to be a compelling reason, “go along, get along” aside nobody else apparently agrees for as you know the Seattle Times successfully petitioned that the file be reopened along with many others around the state.

I am quoted as saying “The sealing of my mother’s file is a symptom of a disease that plagues the court” (Seattle Times, Your Courts, Their Secrets). Commissioner Grovdahl you have company with the many that skirt the few laws set in place to protect the incapacitated.

Given the sequence of events the disease is systemic in nature. Selective compassion does not exist.
Is it a crime that my mother was charged $16,189.87 in attorney fees in the first year of Mr. Robinson’s guardianship? These charges apparently did not need court approval until after the fact and it was given by silence. Mr. Robinson charged my mother’s estate for the time it took him to answer my complaints. The allegation of inadequate care was substantiated by Carol Hunter’s Guardian ad Litem report if you remember.

My mother paid twice, once with the hell of untrained caregivers and again with money taken by Mr. Robinson with court approval.
What can be done to prevent the misuse of the power held?

In the real world Commissioner Grovdahl this is known as corruption when the intent of the law is thwarted.
Among other things it is the intent of the law to protect the helpless is it not?

Now my question to you is this; I know what Mr. Robinson received from the guardianship of my mother, but what did you get out of it?

Sincerely

Dean Libey
Cc
Seattle Times
Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct
Washington State Bar Association
Washington State Guardianship Board
Senator Ken Jacobson

Right here is a good spot to place two of seven canons (that guide the conduct of judges in Washington State) which I feel are pertinent.
‘RCW 2.24.020
Oath.
Court commissioners appointed hereunder shall, before entering upon the duties of such office, take and subscribe an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the state of Washington, and to perform the duties of such office fairly and impartially and to the best of his ability.

3-31-08
Rereading the letter I am reminded that the Guardian ad Litem report took a year to surface as opposed to the usual 45 days. The delay I’m told was maternity related.

Anger and frustration contributed to the impetus for writing the letter.

The days, months and years pass with accountability tossed out the speeding window of time like so much litter Not unlike the lives of the incapacitated thrown by the court to a complete stranger as a favor. It is the thief that savors the regard, thrice blessed is he in the favor, in the taking and in the protection a good old boy offers.

For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men –
Marcus Antonius:
Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 2, 91–94

In our courts the intent of the law is diverted from the good of the many to the greed of a few. Its spirit withers from apathy. At birth, at death and for so many of humanity between they stand alone, not love, empathy, or compassion for company.

But how else would you have the terminally ill treated in God bless America, home of the kind and compassionate only if there is something in it for me?

Easy pickings these when the victim is helpless with a bank account.
Money is the deciding factor whether or not you warrant the attention of the court.

If reality can be suspended just long enough to believe that my mother spent $26,000 in less than two years on nonessentials what next must be considered is what her guardian was doing while she was throwing money away month after month after month.

Given this scenario there are only two conclusions available one of which is unconscionable incompetence and the other is embezzlement. It seems the court regards either as business as usual. Obviously the Commission on Judicial Conduct agrees, although it took them almost two years of investigation before they finally understood the ramifications.

At which point they averted their gaze and walked away mumbling excuses.

We do not even have the comfort of illusion given the courts’ blatant blanket approval of that which is presented to it by the guardian.

God help the poor, the destitute who are helpless for they are unwanted. They are without the scrim of pretension afforded those with a bank account.

Some months after I wrote the above letter I sent a copy of it to the FBI, my explanation to them for doing so was that I thought they should be aware of what I consider corruption in the court. I have never heard anything from them. I called them up and asked why I had not heard from them and their answer more or less was that it isn’t their department

I don’t think for one moment that what has been witnessed is unique or rarely occurring. Corruption is tolerated and accepted as long as greed is kept in check. There are enough incapacitated with bank accounts to go around.

What follows is a work in progress. As time passes I’m more concerned with the need to write and less with the possible legal concerns that may result from what I have written.
My opinions are a result of court declarations.

Since both accountings were approved by the court there was no point in pursuing the former guardian so I turned my attention to the court and the commissioner. I couldn’t see how stealing from someone so absolutely helpless could be any more blatant, how the coddling and enabling by the court of the lawyer/guardian could be any more obvious so I wrote a letter of complaint to the Washington State Commission of Judicial Conduct (CJC).

After my complaint passed through the initial screening the CJC apparently spent the better part of two years investigating the commissioner.

In the beginning the CJC told me that I could be cited for contempt if I revealed to anyone the nature of the complaint. There are confidentiality rules that must be adhered to.

The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct spent 22 months investigating my complaint of Commissioner Grovdahl and in the last correspondence I received from them I am told;

“The Commission determined that no violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct was substantiated in the matter. The jurisdiction of the Commission is strictly limited and defined by the Washington Constitution. With no basis for action within the Commission’s jurisdiction, this matter has been closed.”

From the Washington State Bar Association, Office of Disciplinary Counsel I received a letter that stated the following,” Mr. Robinson submitted an annual accounting of the receipts and disbursements of the guardian in July 2001. He submitted his final accounting in October 2001. You disputed many of the expenditures listed in Mr. Robinson’s accounting. Nevertheless, Mr. Robinson’s accounting was approved by the Spokane Superior Court in both instances.”

In another paragraph I’m told “Your complaints about Mr. Robinson’s accountings have been previously considered and ruled upon by the Spokane County Superior Court, and we are not in a position to review or reexamine the court’s decisions.”

From what has been conveyed so far you might get the impression the situation is a nice tidy package that will successfully resist being unwrapped. The smell alone is enough to suggest something rotten lies within. I know what the package contains and now you do too.

The Unraveling; a Memoir

My Mother has finally died. She had been dying for years with a disease that was destroying her brain, her mind. The nursing home called me up to say she had not eaten or drank anything for the last couple of days. Hours after I saw her she passed away.

I know everyone dies. We all become orphans eventually. My father died ten years ago and now my mother. It was enough that she died of dementia; it was more than enough that she suffered because she had become helpless. In so many ways the family had became helpless as well. There is grieving in loss and losing. We lost when the court gave control of her to a lawyer/guardian who petitioned for guardianship as did her sons.

““Jesus’ command was that we love one another. That trumps our judging others,” he said.

“I am also requesting that this file be sealed by immediate court order, upon the filling of this Motion, for the purpose of protecting the privacy of the parties herein, and because of the sensitivity of the matter discussed herein.” From an affidavit to the court submitted by the former guardian.

And the court acquiesced to his wishes.

“The last authority and instruction I had from your mother was to remove you from her home. While she has changed her mind again regarding that instruction, please be advised that this is the last time I will support her decision to have you remain in the home.”

That was from a letter he had written to me while I was my mothers caregiver.

“We need to talk with each other to remind ourselves of our obligations as people of faith and to be mutually accountable for our actions,” he said.

I’d like to remind that we are responsible for our actions and the subsequent consequences. Every moment of being leads and follows what we by intention create or allow to flow through us.

This is something children are taught, but children tend to be forgetful.

He eventually strips himself with words and we come to this point where an unraveling begins.

I feel compelled to write. At this point the choices are diminishing not unlike those of my mother but in her case death gave release from the suffering she endured. The result of greed is continued existence while perhaps wishing for an end that does not come.

It may be long in the past for some; a little old lady with dementia silenced by a wasting disease now gone, but there are others who turn in their confusion and gaze into an emptiness cry silently for help.

I would not wish dementia upon anyone, not anyone.

There is an inevitable twisting in the wind and it is a harsh cold wind that blows. Perhaps it taunts a long sleeping conscience that resides dreamless.

An unraveling begins.

“Your mother deserves a great deal better treatment than you provide to her. The only reason she has again changed her mind about removing you from the home is because of your intimidation. I am no longer prepared to tolerate it. For this reason I will file my Guardianship Petition requesting the replacement of my Power of Attorney with Letters of Guardianship if there is any additional complaint against you. This will empower me with the authority to remove you from the home immediately without seeking anyone’s permission such as is required with the Power of Attorney.”

My mother ended her unraveling and I wish I had been there those few hours later when she died, but my grieving would have gotten in her way for there is a continuing. Now there is little doubt of the breadth and expanse of life. The cycles.

He never knew my mother not even after the dementia started taking her away. She was just another guardianship case for his agency. Before that time she would have seen right through him for what he is. Mom was a good judge of character.

With the courts blessing he sifts through the ashes the flames of a disease have left behind. The incapacitated join the ranks of those persecuted simply because of what they have become.

Helpless

What follows is what the court and he never knew nor could they be expected to know the time before the grieving began.

The Unraveling

I don’t think my father ever really gave his eventual death much thought. It came as a complete surprise to him as it does to most of us I suppose. At the onset not long before dawn, denial then anger may have passed through him and perhaps finally acceptance of the fact that he was dying.

From sleep to the wide awake realization took only a few hours. Yet I can’t help but think he had a good death. I’d like to think he was as conscious in death as he was when he was born.

When my father died in 1996 it hit us boys upside the head. It was sudden and final when his heart decided that it had had enough and quit. With the grieving long over, that fancy casket was a waste of money. I think the old man would agree. “When you’re dead, you’re dead.” Seems to me he said that. We shipped him across the state to be buried next to his brother Leslie who died two years earlier from cancer. The side by side plots came as a gift from their oldest brother Hershel, whose wife Hattie Evelyn wanted to be buried in her hometown of Colfax forty miles west, where he eventually joined her.

Dad had only lived in his brand new house for eight months or so before he died. Paid cash for it and was too cheap to get insurance. I bitched at him when I found out. For Christ sakes Dad if the place burns down you might as well take the money you paid for it and flush it down the toilet.

There wasn’t much he could say to that. He surprised me when he bought the place and continued to when he filled it with new furniture.

For the past two decades he’d lived rent free in a couple of shacks that Les owned, in Tacoma and then in Everett. He never put any money into them unless he had to. In the last house he was forced to put a roof on it when the lathe and plaster started letting go of the walls. There were places where the plaster had surrendered to gravity revealing twisted lathe. And he replaced the hot water tank. It was depressing to go inside.

Located on the side of a hill over looking the Snohomish Valley it was just below the freeway and when a semi truck hit the inevitable chuck hole in the road the whole house would shake.

He once told us that someone had kicked in the back door, but nothing was missing. What are they going to steal I asked him? I bet the would-be-thief felt sorry for you. Old and wore out, it was all old and wore out with the drapes always drawn, the windows shut tight and the walls dripping with the oil of fried foods and exhaled smoke.

Looking back on it now I think he suffered from depression and didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t realize you don’t have to feel like that. He was miserable for years and the house reflected that misery back upon him. You could hear the scurry of mice in the attic and walls late at night after the TV was silenced. Dad would grumble about it but had little inclination to rid the house of them. The dark hole of depression left him with the will to do only that which he had to do, mainly go to work each day.
At times he suffered for he had grown sensitive to petroleum products and as a mechanic he was always in contact with it in some form or another. His skin would break out. I remember him rocking back and forth in pain while sitting in front of a blaring TV.

It was a few years after he retired that he went into the hospital to have a vein transplanted into his leg which was unsuccessful. His leg was amputated just below the knee. While he was in the hospital my brother Randy and I did our best to clean the place. The curtains were so rotted they would tear apart with very little effort. We went to the Goodwill and replaced them all. We washed walls and opened the windows to let the old place have a breath of fresh air.

Like so many people who had gone through the depression he hoarded food. We sorted through his canned goods and filled three large grocery sacks with cans that were spoiled, many had burst their seams.

There is an old maple tree stump cut down just above its own celebration of life where it divided seeking the morning and evening sun. There dad would press peanuts and watch with amusement from the kitchen window as the squirrels struggled to retrieve them.

I’d never known him to make any grand decisions since Mom divorced him. He spent years telling anyone who would listen how she fucked him over, buying drinks for an ear until they had enough of both and walked away.

As a family we did a lot of camping, picking huckleberries, just driving to see what was around the next bend in the road. Once east of Avery, Idaho we ran into a patch of snow just before the crest of the mountain, the old man paused and said “We can make a run for it.” He heard the other side of it when Mom saw the passenger view and it ended hundreds of feet down scree into a creek. He was loath to backtrack but due to the admonitions administered by Mom he did on this occasion. There were others. Clyde she would say to give him a moment’s pause, long enough to think of his wife and the children in the back seat.

We went to Disney World and even went to Norway to see Mom’s family in 1961. We brought back a VW Bug picked up at the factory. All on a mechanics wages with mom hoarding every penny, scrimping and saving. They were in love then and wanted the same things.

Maybe what prompted Dad to buy the house was that Uncle Les willed it to me when he died, with the provision that Dad could stay there as long as he wanted. I lived sixty miles away with a good job and wasn’t in any hurry for the place. I knew it had to be completely remodeled. Randy called it a shit-box and true to form suggested the best thing that could happen to it was to tear it down and start over.

When his stump healed and toughened he got a prosthetic and was able to get around fairly well. He had quit drinking some years before and because he was told he lost his leg due to smoking he quit that too. Maybe the blackness of depression lifted enough for him to see some possibilities; A Goddamn new house with some Goddamn new furniture.

On July 1, 1996 at three am in the morning he was awakened with what he thought was heartburn so he took some antacid which didn’t relieve the discomfort. The burn turned to pain and he soon realized it was more than he could handle so he called 911. He took his keys and wallet with him when the ambulance came and somewhere along the way to the hospital, twenty five miles away he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

He has been dead some time now. Upon hearing that he never left a will his brother Lloyd said he must have expected to live forever. Within four and a half months Lloyd died from road rage, his own. Not unlike my father he didn’t have insurance and his passenger, Aunt Loretta was forced to sue his estate to cover the medical expenses. Lloyd never had a will either.

Ever practical mom once said, “When I die just bury me in the garden.” Of course it was meant as a joke, but the underlying truth that she conveyed more than once is that after you’re dead the body is just a shell; the person is no longer there. That same logic would suggest that is far better to be there with the person while they are alive.

I held her face gently and spoke to her. For an instant her eyes came alive with the person that is there but unable to speak. She was there and gone.

Like so many diseases that take their time, Alzheimer’s has given us a constant grieving. Alzheimer’s and dementia are for the most part one and the same for the end result is the gradual elimination of what it is to be a human being. Or perhaps it is the gradual elimination of the person I used to know. Mom has multi-farct-dementia according to the doctor. It was caused by stroke in 1988.

During the time I was her caregiver she told once that I was the cause of her stroke. In spite of the fact that those stricken with dementia are apt to have some very irrational observations and statements, I’ve come to believe she may have been correct. But it was love that led her down the road she chose, love of a son and a grandson whom she had healed. During that healing time, my mother told me later that it was almost more than she could give, but she never gave up. When the time came the love she gave was not in vain and with a few hundred dollars and a borrowed car my son and I took off for the better part of a decade.

I wrecked my motorcycle July 4, 2004 and was on crutches for eight months. I had a lot of time on my hands, which gave me the time to write. Three out of four sons petitioned the court for guardianship when it got the point where mom couldn’t make decisions. The court gave her to a lawyer/Guardian. That shyster wouldn’t have been interested if mom had not been frugal with her money and put it in mutual funds. $200,000 is enough to raise the interest of any thief.

It’s been six years or so since I began trying to expose the corruption in the courts. Letter after letter I’ve written and I won’t stop until I have my satisfaction. I wonder why the court approved the first annual accounting that charged my incapacitated mother $16,000 in attorney fees for the first year of his guardianship. I wonder how the court could accept and approve the guardian’s declaration that mom spent $28,000 in less than two years on nonessential purchases when at the time of his appointment the agreed-upon limit was $1500 a year.

It is corruption that allows such declarations, allegations and lack of accountability.

Before that time, when my son and I took care of her for a year, I would ask her what sounds good for dinner and she would tell me to think of something. Dementia had taken from her the ability to visualize something good to eat. And yet her former guardian insists she spent $1400 a month on frivolities.

I lived four blocks away, and I could hear her call me, sometimes urgent, always voiceless. Often she would say to me, “I was just thinking about you and here you are.” The urgency expressed itself in the panic I saw when a caregiver didn’t show up and she was alone and hungry, frightened. I gave her the comfort she had given me when I was a child through kind words, presence and a meal. I can see her now standing at the kitchen window looking out over the backyard waiting for me.

What is important now is that we are there for Mom, just as she has always been there for us. I’m going to give you what I’ve written. When I was a kid I used to say to her, “You’re the bestest mom in the whole world,” and I still feel the way. I’m lucky to have had her as my mother.

Dear Mother,