New Mexico’s elderly ‘desaparecidos’ are reminiscent of Argentina’s ‘niños desaparecidos’ (Photo above): Just like the Mothers & Grandmother’s of Argentina’s ‘desaparecidos,’ New Mexicans whose elderly relatives are effectively ‘disappeared’ by the courts are increasingly speaking out, against judges’ gag orders. As in Argentina, ‘But I couldn’t keep quiet. We needed everyone to know, even if nobody believed us.’ Photograph: Eduardo Di Baia/Associated Press
Dear Guardianship Study Commission Members, News Media Professionals, Others:
Last week, my colleague asked me to write of WHY equity abuses – specifically guardianship, conservatorship, and trusteeship abuses – occur.
The answer is simple: Easy Money, and lots of it.
Whenever there is a
- Vulnerable population, (such as the elderly) and
- Their life-savings and accumulated wealth are
- Identifiable by well-placed attorneys, and
- Brought under control of a judge,
the stage is set for the court to offer “protection for unscrupulous people looking to get rich off a family’s estate.” Families seeking honest help and protection for their loved ones who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another mental disability don’t realize that the primary predators they need to fear are their own attorneys and the judges who preside over their case.
Proceeding from last week’s message to the Adult Guardianship Study Commission, which called for the return of property in seven cases related by the same attorneys being involved, I will set forth a model that explores the WHO and HOW of equity abuse, as they pertain to guardianship, conservatorship, and trusteeship cases.
NOTE: The Adult Guardianship Study Commission has issued strict requirements for secrecy in all public discussions concerning guardianship:
In an effort to conform to the Commission’s stricture, while also educating the public for their own protection, WillPowerNM will no longer name names in its communications. All information provided in Case Studies will be drawn from public records such as media reporting, court dockets, public deed records, legislative records, Open Meetings, etc.
Instead, we will be developing a Cast of Characters (or a Rogue’s Gallery, depending upon your perspective) where the insiders will only be identified by title. This list of known insiders will be kept current on our WHO page.
Nameless review of existing cases:
I will submit to readers that all seven cases mentioned in Message #4 are linked by a common Pattern and Practice of equity abuse, no matter whether the case involves corporate legal governance, estate probate, trusts, guardianship, conservatorship, or even receivership.
In all cases, the tactics – the HOW – is the same.
- Sufficient cash on hand to allow attorney(s) to launch the case;
- An attractive asset (typically real estate but could also include fine art, stocks or securities, gold, gemstones, jewelry, or collectible cars – the possibilities are as endless as there are possessions to own) to be controlled through a Guardianship, Trust, Estate, Receivership, or Corporation;
- The rightful owners of the assets represent a group of people to be divided and conquered, be it a family, a corporation, beneficiaries or heirs, or an entire New Mexican community.
In each of the seven cases listed in Message #4 the Pattern and Practice was the same: Upon seizing control of the legal entity that held the cash and assets, a division amongst the rightful owner(s) was either created, or greatly exacerbated by legal action initiated by attorney(s) claiming imminent harm would be done unless the court stepped in to take immediate judicial control. The judge then appoints their preferred insider attorney to oversee the court’s administration of their newly-seized assets.
The seizure by the courts of assets may happen without any Due Process, or Rules of Evidence being followed, and often relies on hearsay that would never be allowed in a real court of law, but since all of these cases occur in civil Equity courts where the justice is in the hands of a single person with no checks and balances, supervision or oversight, Judges in New Mexico routinely create cases that fail to provide even a speed bump on the way to converting the seized assets into billable attorney hours and related ‘professional’ fees.
Rules and Statutes are routinely ignored, as was documented by Diane Dimond in the Albuquerque Journal’s six-part expose, “Who’s Guarding the Guardians?” Additionally, Rules (NMRA 1-079 (D) (7), (9); NMRA 12-314 (C) (9), (12)) and Statutes (NMSA 45-5-303 (I); NMSA 45-5-407 (M)) all grant the public access to information in both guardianship and conservatorship cases:
45-5-303 . Procedure for court appointment of a guardian of an incapacitated person.
I. A record of the proceedings shall be made if requested by the alleged incapacitated person or the alleged incapacitated person’s attorney or when ordered by the court. Records, reports and evidence submitted to the court or recorded by the court shall be confidential, except that the public shall be granted access to the following information:
(1) docket entries;
(2) date of the proceeding, appointment and termination;
(3) duration of the guardianship; and
(4) the name and other information necessary to identify the alleged incapacitated person.
Daily the District Courts are allowed to violate these Rules and Statutes governing public access to basic information about who has been taken into guardianship by the Court’s order. Without access to this basic information: name of Ward, duration of guardianship, and case docket of each and every guardianship case in NM — as both Rules and Statutes require — the Wards conscripted into guardianship by the courts are effectively disappeared.
In other words, once taken into guardianship there is no public record of what happens to the Ward, and what happens to the Ward’s assets, typically millions of dollars of property that the court seized & then controls once the courts conscript a Ward into guardianship.
To see how these Three-point vulnerabilities are exploited by the courts and their appointees, myself and my colleagues at WillPowerNM will be delving into each of the seven cases listed in Message #4 in detail, so that the Commissioners and readers can educate themselves as to how these tactics are applied again, and again, frequently by the same attorney(s).
Taking them in roughly chronological order this post details the legal misadventures that have beset what remains of an original 1724 Spanish Land Grant corporation, under the legal direction of Attorney A. The other six cases will be discussed in coming weeks.
WillPowerNM has been formed to support and inform each Member of the Commission in their work over the coming weeks and months by preparing and releasing regular email information in a format similar to the previous four weekly messages and by establishing and maintaining a publicly accessible and widely promoted web site on the Commission’s important study effort.
5th Lord Chancellor*
*The Lord Chancellor is a member of the Cabinet and, by law, is responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts.