At WillPowerNM, we’ve taken a break for the past 8 months, and refrained from commenting on the attempts by the New Mexico Judiciary to reform itself. The publicly-visible effort has been lead by ‘retired’ judge Wendy York, chairing the Adult Guardianship Study Committee (AGSC), created by (former Chief) Justice Charles Daniels to reform the practice of guardianship in New Mexico’s courts. As noted, this is the public-facing effort, that the public is allowed to know about, and is routinely reported upon.
At the same time (Feb-April 2017) (former Chief) Justice Daniels established the public AGSC, Justice Daniels, selected Administrative Officer of the Courts Patricia Galindo, who already publicly held the position of Vice-Chair of the AGSC, to be Chairman of a ‘Task Force’ that would work to reform guardianship – without any public input or public agendas. This ‘task force’ was to continue the work begun in November 2013 by a group of self-selected and self-dealing estate planning and guardianship attorneys and Judges. For more information on the $20,000 that was to be given to this secret group by the American Bar Association, and the supposed, but not documented removal of this $20,000 ABA grant for Patricia Galindo’s inability to follow the contract terms that she & Chief Justice Daniels agreed to before accepting the $20,000, see these previous posts: New Mexico receives $20,000 American Bar Association WINGS grant and Guardianship Study Commission Message #18.
Given the AGSC recommendations, released in late November 2017 to the public, resulted in the American Bar Association’s Uniform Law Commission using Senator Jack White’s SB 19 to ram through laws that would amount to a web dream for any Judge or attorney adjudicating guardianship cases.
IF SB 19 had passed as originally written by members of the Chicago-based Uniform Law Commission, attorneys ruling over any conservatorship would be able to change their Wards’ Wills, with absolutely no restrictions on who could receive the property.
IF SB 19 had passed as originally written by members of the Chicago-based Uniform Law Commission, attorneys ruling over any conservatorship would be able to change their Wards’ Wills, with absolutely no restrictions on who could receive the property. This is a recipe for corruption in an already thoroughly corrupt system with no checks & balances, since there would be nothing stopping court-appointed attorneys from re-writing their Wards’ Wills to name themselves, Judges, and other court-appointees as the beneficiaries of their captive wards’ estates.
In essence, this is already what happened to Blair Darnell’s 17 acres and house on the banks of the Rio Grande. The State of New Mexico is the current beneficiary – the owner- of what was to be Blair Darnell’s estate to pass onto her children – bought at a bargain basement price of slightly over 1/2 of the listed value of $5.2 Million, quoted by one of the attorneys who forced Blair Darnell into an emergency, supposedly-temporary, guardianship — without a hearing, and with no notice to family members who were named by Blair in her valid Durable Power of Attorney to serve as guardians in the event of Blair’s incapacity.
All of Blair’s stated legal wishes – about who Blair had legally designated as her guardians in the event of incapacitation and how her property was to be shared by her 4 children in equal proportions – were thrown in the trash and completely disregarded by Judge Beatrice Brickhouse, as she let her court-appointed Conservator & Trustee do whatever he wanted with Blair’s property and lie in public court record about his actions.
What branch of the government does Mary Galvez and her privately-owned guardianship corporation belong to, since membership on the Rules Committee is limited to the “Three Branches of Government”?
According to reports in the Albuquerque Journal Judge Martin of Las Cruses as well as Judge Brickhouse of Albuquerque inexplicably have ZERO CONTROL over the attorneys that practice law in thier courtroom. For Judges to lack control over their court-appointed attorneys who serve exclusively at the Judges’ pleasure, is extraordinarily unusual. Attorneys who violate a judge’s order are typically “handed their heads on a platter” (proverbially speaking) and their license to practice law is immediately revoked, or at least put into a many-year suspension, crippling the attorney financially, and sending a chilling message to any other attorneys who think its okay to disregard and not follow Judge’s Orders. Disbarment is the best way to penalize and control lawyers, so why are attorneys so regularly allowed to break the law and violate Judges’ Orders in guardianship and conservator cases in New Mexico?
So now New Mexicans can look forward to the implementation of a “skinny” version of SB 19, which the State Supreme Court has decided to implement via its Rules Committee, a committee only open to the “three branches of government.”
In a veritable Who’s Who in New Mexican guardianship circles the composition of the Rules Committee for Guardianship Forms is a Rogue’s Gallery of insiders — all of whom make substantial portions of their income from their guardianship case load.
While a Law School is an important institution, the University of New Mexico is NOT part of the three branches of government so why is law professor Sarah Steadman joining this elite group that gets to set it’s own Rules?
When we compare the names of the members of the special group that gets to regulate itself and supposedly reform itself in its illegal & unconstitutional practice of guardianship in New Mexico, to the list of Frequent Flyers in New Mexico’s closed guardianship system, there is an amazing correspondence:
Second Judicial District Court Judge C. Shannon Bacon (D), Steering Committee Chair, one of four judges who against all current laws reassigned disgraced & defunct Ayudando Guardians’ Wards without any proper notification to family or to the Wards, covering up in the process what has happened to Ayudando Guardians Wards collective $4.8+ Million dollars. Please note that 36 cases of guardianship — all in Judge Bacon’s 2nd Judicial District — were given to Ayudando Guardians under Judge Bacon’s Orders.
How is an attorney in private practice like Mary H Smith — an attorney that doesn’t seem to have represented a single guardianship case ever – a representative of one of the “Three Branches of Government,” deserving admittance into this special group selected by the Supreme Court Justices to set the Rules for guardianship legal & judicial practices?
Second Judicial District Judge Nancy Franchini (R), Steering Committee Vice Chair, one of four judges who against all current laws reassigned disgraced & defunct Ayudando Guardians’ Wards without any proper notification to family or to the Wards, covering up in the process what has happened to Ayudando Guardians Wards collective $4.8+ Million dollars. Please note that Judge Franchini has had no trouble continuing to employ attorney Darryl Millet in her guardianship cases, awarding Millet some of the few cases he has received by appointment since his role in the disgraceful distribution of Blair Darnell’s assets was exposed by the Albuquerque Journal in Nov-Dec 2016.
Sen. James White (R) of Albuquerque, a man who saw nothing wrong with allowing attorneys to re-write their Wards’ Wills when it was put into SB 19 by the Uniform Law Commission.
Rep. Daymon Ely (D) of Corrales; practices guardianship law and infamously “represented” one of the Darnell children in Blair Darnell’s horrific guardianship, silencing Blair’s adult child from voicing her strong protests against the theft of her mother’s $5.2 Million estate thru the guardianship process, because if you are represented by an attorney, you cannot speak in a courtroom. Damon Ely has been richly rewarded with a Legislative seat that Judges Bacon & Franchini successfully appealed to, in their January and February 2018 lobbying appearances at the Roundhouse.
State Auditor Wayne Johnson (R), appointed by Gov Martinez to fill seat. An unknown factor who will presumably be friendly and help out Governor Martinez who appointed him – the same governor who has yet to express any interest, remorse, or regrets about the Guardianship scandal that has rocked New Mexico for that past 18+ months, where Millions of dollars has gone missing and yet no one wants to investigate where it went or who took it.
Leslie Porter, cabinet director in the Office of Gov. Susana Martinez. Leslie Porter was assigned the Adult Guardianship Study Commission where she failed to ask any questions, or speak up at any of the meetings, to defend the Wards, or protect their interests. She is presumed to be a stooge for the Guardianship Industry, based upon her association with a Governor who has not even acknowledged the pain and suffering her administration of the courts and the appointments to Judgeships Gov Martinez has made that has so damaged and hurt so many New Mexicans.
Third Judicial District Court Chief Judge James Martin – has no listed political party affiliation since he has only been appointed to office (2005), not elected. We do know from the Albuquerque Journal exposes that Judge Martin is presumed to be a friend of the Guardianship Industry since he has no problems letting his court-appointed attorneys disobey his written orders. We also know that Judge Martin was present at a 2007 meeting where he heard fellow Judge Murphy solicit a bribe for then Gov Richardson from another attorney who wished to become a Judge. Judge Martin’s response: throw the attorney under a bus, and keep his own job safe. Yes, that’s Judicial Justice in New Mexico – let the brave whistleblower swing in the wind while the rotten apples keep their corrupt jobs.
Thirteenth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Louis McDonald – has no listed political party affiliation since he has only been appointed to office (1992), not elected. Judge McDonald has presided over 97 guardianship cases in the 13th Judicial District between Jan 1, 2010 and July 1, 2017 out of a total of 167 guardianship cases, so clearly he’s the go-to Judge if you want to conscript a Ward into Guardianship in Bernalillo.
First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson (D) doesn’t appear to have heard many Guardianship cases at all, but Judge Thomson has also not had any trouble employing disgraced attorney Darryl Millet in various court-appointed role(s) either.
Mary Galvez of Guardianship and Care Management Services LLC – What branch of the government does Mary Galvez and her privately-owned guardianship corporation belong to, since membership on the Rules Committee is limited to the “Three Branches of Government”? Appointing Mary Galvez, a Guardianship Frequent Flyer, who receives in excess of 10% of all court guardianship cases awarded in the 1, 2, 3rd and 13th Judicial Districts is truly letting the Fox guard the poor, doomed hens. The appointment of Mary Galvez to the Rules Committee is an example of how the Supreme Court richly rewards private citizens who help the Supreme Court keep its secret of where all the money goes when the wealthy wards are conscripted into guardianship, as well as where all the SSI and other federal government payments go when the not-so-wealthy are conscripted into guardianship.
Alice Liu McCoy of Disability Rights New Mexico – an attorney who has no track record of any kind listed on any of the common legal websites (Martindale.com, Lawyers.com) Very useful for the Rules Committee to find what can be presented to the public as a ‘blank slate.’ Again we must ask: What branch of government does a not-for-profit advocacy group like Disability Rights NM occupy?
Ruth Pregenzer, an Albuquerque attorney – who is a Frequent Flyer for her and her firm’s lawyers NOTORIOUSLY AWFUL REPRESENTATION of any Ward or victim of guardianship. Ruth Pregenzer has represented 33 guardianship cases in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 13th Judicial Districts between 1/1/2010 and 7/1/2017) while her partner Marcy Baysinger has been involved in 93 guardianship cases, partner Sale in 13 cases, and partner Wideman in 29 cases making the Pregenzer firm, with a total of 168 guardianship cases, one of the MOST FREQUENTLY awarded winners of Judicial Wards in New Mexico. And that’s just the named partners – not the entire firm’s roster of attorneys.
Sarah Steadman of the University of New Mexico Law School is another Frequent Flyer has represented approximately 112 parties in 75 guardianship cases in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 13th Judicial Districts in a 7.5 year span is PART OF THE PROBLEM and therefore is not expected to be part of the solution. Furthermore, in most of these cases, Sarah Steadman represented the State of New Mexico in their relentless conscription of poor people into guardianship, of which at least six of the 75 cases of guardianship were awarded to Ayudando Guardians on Ms Steadman’s watch. While a Law School is an important institution, the University of New Mexico is NOT part of the three branches of government so why is law professor Sarah Steadman joining this elite group that gets to set it’s own Rules? We assume it’s because she’s represented the State so frequently in their conscription of Wards into their clutches that to reward Ms Steadman with the ability to set her own Ruules is a great gift to give.
Mary H. Smith, an Albuquerque attorney in private practice — who has sucked up to the Adult Guardianship Study Commission, complaining about the public daring to name the names of their perpetrators who have robbed them through Guardianship proceedings. Again we must ask – how is an attorney in private practice like Mary H Smith — an attorney that doesn’t seem to have represented a single guardianship case ever – a representative of one of the “Three Branches of Government,” deserving admittance into this special group selected by the Supreme Court Justices to set the Rules for guardianship legal & judicial practices? Answer: she is not, no more so than the many victims who wanted to get on this committee but were rejected because supposedly victims of this Judicial Racketeering didn’t represent one of the “Three branches of government.”
Three AOC staff members are non-voting committee members:
Greg Saunders, chief information officer.
Celina Jones, general counsel; and
Patricia Galindo, Staff Attorney in charge of all guardianship cases in New Mexico for the AOC who has been a HUGE PART OF THE PROBLEM since she and Chief Justice Daniels decided that Ms Galindo would Chair a private, little-advertised guardianship “task force” in Feb-April 2017 that was to receive $20,000 from the American Bar Association for its work. Supposedly the $20,000 was returned to the American Bar Association when the whistle was blown, the public alerted as to the shell game both Ms Galindo and the (then Chief) Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court were playing with the public and the public’s attempt to exert control over their lives and their property if/when they were conscripted into Ms Galindo’s courts that she is responsible for as the AOC’s relevant Staff Attorney.
To close, we’ll end with a letter we received from a previous contributor, Concerned Senior Citizens:
Greed-minded guardians have completely taken-over and over-run the court sponsored secret guardianship system. Guardians have taken advantage of the secret guardianship system and have helped themselves to the family assets.Courts awarding guardianship’s to non family guardians, is invariably, the beginning of the end of the victims well-being and the victims assets. Methods used by non family greed-minded guardians is to always spend the minimum on the victim in order to maximize the returns to the guardians.
It’s becoming apparent that the guardianship system is so secretive, that the courts themselves, have no knowledge of the atrocities and massive theft, resulting from the secret guardianship system. It would be very interesting and enlighting, to actually see how much expenditures go towards the well-being of the victim, and how much expenditures go towards lavish lifestyles of the guardians.
Without any record keeping, oversight, transparency, accountability, etc., it is little wonder that the New Mexico guardianship system is a mecca for greed-minded guardians.
Concerned Senior Citizens
It will be a most-interesting 2018 as the public watches to see how this group of self-selected Court Insiders will ‘reform’ guardianship Rules in New Mexico, Rules that will have the force of law, without any of the chance for public input from anyone citizens might have elected, because for the most part these are not elected officials on this committee but private attorneys and Judges that at best have run unopposed, for a guaranteed retention election, along with a few selected choice individuals who represent no one but their wholly-owned corporations who profit off the system as it is (Social Worker Mary Galvez, and private attorney Mary H Smith.)
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 this weekly message and by establishing and maintaining a publicly accessible and widely promoted web site on the Commission’s important study effort.