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Corrupt-a-Homa: Judicial Abuse in the Heartland
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Corrupt-a-Homa: Judicial Abuse in the Heartland
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2021
Second in an ongoing series on probate abuse; previously: Blowing the Lid Off Probate Predators

Thanks to Britney Spears’ court battles over her hard-earned fortune, more Americans than ever before are learning about how predatory lawyers, judges, doctors, conservators and guardians collaborate to defraud and destroy the lives of innocent victims.

The 39-year-old Spears went public last week with her 13-year-long struggle against her father and court-appointed guardian Jamie Spears—who reportedly wrested legal control over her work schedule, dating partners, ability to have children, psychiatric medications, vacations and even, according to one court document, what color she was allowed to choose for her kitchen cabinets. Britney Spears is not alone. A recent Netflix movie called “I Care a Lot” depicted similar scams on a grand scale. But the probate abuse racket is not just the stuff of Hollywood nightmares. Estates large and small are fleeced every day in this country through a cruel legal process summed up by Boston Broadside investigative reporter Lonnie Brennan: “isolate, medicate, liquidate.”

Last week, I noted how the family of singer Nina Simone had blown the whistle on former California Democrat Attorney General and now-Vice President Kamala Harris’ role in an alleged probate abuse conspiracy that they are still fighting to this day. The veep’s office did not respond to my request for comment. Politicians in both parties have shown disturbing bipartisan apathy toward elderly targets and their loved ones.

Take the case of Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt. In August 2019, Texas realtor Tonya Parks wrote Stitt, then-state Attorney General Mike Hunter, U.S. Sen. James Lankford and the FBI requesting an investigation into judicial corruption related to her late grandmother’s probate case in the Sooner State.

READ: Letter to Mike Hunter from Justice Too 2

Backed up by a sheaf of corroborating exhibits, Parks alleged that the attorney for the estate, Roe Simmons, “lied to the court and told the court that my grandmother’s house had been sold for ten thousand dollars, when in truth it was sold for ($)16,000, presold for ($)35,000 … and re-sold for ($)115,000, without prior approval from the court, and without my mother (an heir) receiving proper notice.” Parks called the transaction, which occurred at the attorney’s office, a “fictitious sale” that amounted to “mortgage fraud.” Her family learned that former Oklahoma County Judge Timothy Henderson intervened in the case by holding a private ex parte meeting with Simmons, who had previously sponsored a campaign fundraiser for Henderson.

(In March, Henderson abruptly resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations involving female Oklahoma County prosecutors.)

Parks also provided Stitt and other top elected officials the transcript of her phone call with a sheriff’s deputy confirming that Henderson directed the sheriff’s office to draft a trumped-up misdemeanor criminal charge against her elderly father for “threatening” Simmons in retaliation for her father having exposed “fraud” and “embezzlement” regarding the sale of Parks’ deceased grandmother’s house and personal property. Shockingly, Parks pointed out, the phone call revealed that it was “commonplace” for Oklahoma judges and sheriffs to engage in “improper collusion” to cook up criminal charges against citizens.

ORDER IT NOW

Oklahoma GOP State Rep. Justin Humphrey has been investigating alleged corruption in Oklahoma County and wrote Stitt on June 2 about a “very likely pattern of judicial and court abuse in these cases.” He informed Stitt about the manufactured arrest of former Oklahoma attorney Alex Bednar for allegedly failing to appear in court in a foreclosure case. “Court documents clearly show his case was not set on the date he is accused of failing to appear,” Humphrey found. “It also seems abundantly clear that court documents have been altered to cover up a wrongful arrest” after Bednar blew the whistle on disgraced Henderson’s “judicial misconduct and improper sexual misconduct with a district attorney employee.”

Furthermore, Humphrey informed Stitt: “It appears this judge met with the bar association, and may very well have coordinated inappropriate activity to affect Mr. Bednar’s law license.” Bednar had previously written [Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Darby] in March [and informed Stitt’s office] on his knowledge of district attorneys who have “regularly texted judges in Oklahoma County” ex parte, “abusing their position at the courthouse to influence the outcome of litigation.”

READ: Bednar whistleblower report to Darby

This is the tip of a Corrupt-a-Homa iceberg. Longtime readers of this column will recall that Henderson was also the judge at the center of illegal ex parte “secret hearings” in the wrongful conviction case of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw. (More here and here.) Once again, Oklahoma elites perpetuate injustice in the name of justice. It’s time for outside intervention.

Will Stitt do the right thing? I’ve reached out to his office for comment. Perhaps he’ll get back to me before Kamala Harris does. Stay tuned.

***
Update: I also reached out to Roe Simmons’ office for comment. As of 10pm Eastern 6/30/21, his office had not responded, either.

Update: READ Bednar June 2, 2021 letter to Gov. Stitt

 
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  1. And how long has this been happening?It’s part of the GDP by now.

    This is the best country.We’re #1.Sweet land of liberty.A republican democracy?

    Faith based,biblical,judeo-christian traditional conservative values are really something…

    Good thing the “free market” can afford dancing ladies like Ms.Spears,prai$e…or else.

  2. This one, that one, or the other one, none of them will be getting back to you Michelle. And this Federal Administration will be damned unlikely to, either. Seems like the FBI would land all over this but no, they’re chasing White guys with bad teeth, an American flag and no money.

    Like Don Corleone said, “A lawyer and his briefcase can steal more than ten men with guns”. So it shall always be. Thanks though. Shows why your estate needs to be locked down with a will and competent executor.

    • Agree: Irish Savant
    • Replies: @Adam Smith
  3. Thanks Michelle.
    Sometimes I think this kind of corruption is more serious than the the “big issue” corruption with which we a so familiar (Iraqi WMD, Russiagate etc)

  4. Realist says:

    The U. S. is avaricious and corrupt…and will soon pay the price.

    • Replies: @Hayek Guy
  5. Typical send up from Ms Malkin. The letter linked by Ms Malkin proves zero. Where are the supporting documents and the tape? It would be easy for Ms Malkin to post the supporting documents so that lawyers reading this column who are familiar with Oklahoma practice could comment. Oklahoma also has a great online system for its court system. If Ms Malkin could be so kind as to post docket numbers and the specific county and the case name, it would be easy for people to read court pleadings. Ms Malkin has not done that. This again smells like a stupid book promotion and not anything real. The judicial system has quite a few safeguards built in and Oklahoma courts are known for leaning Republican and protecting property rights. From everything here that is plainly much more to this story.

    • Thanks: Emslander
  6. SafeNow says:

    “Isolate, medicate, liquidate”

    Clicking on that link, I read: “court documents reveal that one local lawyer, Marsha Kazarosian of Haverhill, billed the retired lawyer’s holdings in excess of $200,000 in just one 12-month period.” Ah, the billing. The first rule for lawyers is “complex, expensive, drawn-out, and hostile.” Even for elite, non-corrupt lawyers, that’s the template for projects. The definition of a client is “someone who has a problem.” As soon as there is no longer a problem, there is no longer a client.

    • Agree: Achmed E. Newman
  7. Lussier says:

    I remember seeing a plethora of real estate signage in and around Joplin MO, almost all for verdant, grass-covered vacant lots, with corresponding MLS ads assuring the lucky buyer that their new lot comes pre-installed with full utilities – ready for your new construction.

    It takes a certain kind of wackadoodle to live in Tornado alley, where each spring the wrath of nature takes aim at you like a minuscule pestilence to be crushed, as it cuts a swath through your landscape.

    This ‘natural’environment does not bode well for non-psychopathic formative development among its harried denizens.

  8. MarkinLA says:

    It isn’t just when things are corrupt. Even when you have a consenting conservatorship the system bleeds you. I was conservator over my Mother with her complete approval. The courts assigned an attorney to “represent” her for the initial filing. That cost her small estate 4000 dollars. We had filing fees and fees for people from the county to come out for 20 minutes to see she wasn’t being mistreated – 450 dollars cha-ching. The estate had to buy a bond every year for about 500 dollars because of the 22,000 dollars a year she got from Social Security and the 20,000 dollars worth of personal property she had. Luckily her house worth 200K-400K over the time of the conservatorship was in a separate trust and didn’t need to be covered by the bond or the Bond would have run into the thousands at least.

    I had to hire an attorney unless I wanted to learn about all the requirements of the court. My guess is over the 7 years of the conservatorship, her estate was billed for close to 20,000 dollars that was completely unnecessary.

    • Agree: Rich
  9. Corruption has always been part and parcel of the judicial systems of states like Arkansas and Oklahoma. Dirty judges and cops run rampant in the absence of an active Fourth Estate to act as a sanitizing agent against their activities. And anybody who doesn’t believe this goes on every day is the most pathetic sort of pollyanna. It’s as old as the hills.

    Another tactic used by these entities is the lack of process followed by the summary judgment. Some years ago, a member of my extended family who owns land in southwest Arkansas found to his surprise that he had a summary judgment that had been entered against him in a civil case he never even knew existed. Why did he not know of it? He was never contacted in any way by a process server. Even though he’d lived at the same address outside Houston for more than twenty years, the Arkansas court claimed that it hadn’t been possible to serve him because he couldn’t be found. And of course it was too late to contest any of this. It was a fait accompli.

    The upshot of the suit was that my family member had damaged an adjoining property owner–who happened to be a local lawyer–because of “poor drainage” from his land that caused flooding on the lawyer’s property. This was an almost completely undeveloped piece of land. The only improvements were a concrete pad for his RV and a gravel road through the property. Given that, any flooding was simply a result of the local hydrology, not of anything my relative had done. But it was all a settled matter once he found out about it on a credit report.

  10. There is a site that has covered this topic for years.
    http://www.stopprobatefraud.com

  11. @MarkinLA

    Actually there are so very many relatives who bleed mom or grandma completely dry that everything the court did was absolutely necessary. Fact is children can be trusted only to take their parents funds. Courts are alive to this fact and make sure they protect folks. The fact that you needed to get a court ordered conservatorship in the first place indicates you all had not, when mom was more capable, created the proper devices and documents to allow you to manage mom’s affairs. Obviously you are leaving details out. Reality is that courts do a very good job and heirs are thieves.

    • Replies: @Rich
  12. Rich says:
    @Harry Huntington

    You’ve got a point, Harry, heirs are often thieves, but so are many of the lawyers and judges involved in these cases. We live in a dishonest world, but this fellow has a point that the government was overcharging him. Not everyone went to Hofstra Law school and knows the ins and outs on preparing an estate, and most don’t even know a decent lawyer they can trust not to rape them in fees.

    • Replies: @Harry Huntington
  13. Hayek Guy says:
    @Realist

    Who is the “U.S.”? It certainly is not everyone in the U.S. You can be certain the only people to pay the price will be traditional white middle class and lower class citizens. Our corrupt leaders and their big gov and big corporation cronies all have some form of golden parachutes and they have no worries. Our only hope was the Republican party but for decades they have only served themselves, wasted the wealth of the country and lied to their constituents. And those constituents were ignorant fools for ignoring their corruption and continuing to reelect them. Worst case in point is foolish and irresponsible Kentucky voters and Mitch McConnell who has contempt for his own voters, with Tea Party people being one example but by not means not the only one.

    • Replies: @Realist
  14. MarkinLA says:

    4000 dollars for a lawyer to represent her and make sure the conservatorship wasn’t against her will? 500 dollars every year to “protect” her SS check and some items in a safety deposit box. 450 dollars every two years for someone to look in on her for 20 minutes. Filing fees of 400-600 dollars each time for routine court visits that could have easily been done administratively?

    I get it that some times relatives rip off each other and things have to be put in place but these are ridiculous charges, especially when you consider they keep recurring regardless of the history of how the estate was being managed year after year.

    The reason I needed a conservatorship was I needed the legal ability to evict my brothers “girlfriend” from my Mom’s house. My brother was under a court order to to not live there for 10 years but she didn’t go with him.

  15. @Rich

    I don’t know enough facts with the examples cited here (i.e. I have not read email between lawyers and clients, seen fee arrangements, or bills) but lawyers can be subject to bar discipline for excessive billing and for performing unauthorized legal services. Obviously those issues are fact dependent and state law dependent. Intelligent consumers of legal services know to ask lawyers: (1) how much will it cost; (2) why do we have to do it that way; (3) are their cheaper options; (4) what result can I get if we do “x” instead … and similar questions. When looking at a legal bill, intelligent consumers also can suggest certain things took too much time. Folks should realize, large corporations routinely authorize legal work then turn around and slice legal bills to pieces claiming work took too long to complete. There are many places people can find competent advice on this matter. Ms Malkin’s hyperbolic writing is not the best place.

    • Replies: @Rich
  16. Rich says:
    @Harry Huntington

    You aren’t wrong, but how many regular folks are equipped to fight a lawyer on his bill? And I’ve known way too many lawyers who are all too eager to put a lien against someone’s home or send bills to collections when a client doesn’t pay promptly. Finding a good lawyer who will represent a person’s interests without gouging them is great, but, unfortunately, it’s rare. I’ve seen way too many cases of lawyers taking advantage of clients and billing them exorbitant fees. I’m not sure where you’d expect the average person, working and commuting and trying to raise their families to go to find “competent advice”. Jacoby and Meyers down at the local Times Square Store? How’s your average person supposed to know whether the lawyer they hire is honest? It’s hard enough to find an honest plumber or electrician, honest lawyers are even rarer. Lawyers want to be rich, every one of them. That’s why they’re in the business. And I’ve known too many who’ve acted dishonestly when dealing with clients. Finding a good lawyer is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    • Disagree: Emslander
  17. ruralguy says:
    @MarkinLA

    We all learn the hard way not to go through probate. I knew better, but I accidentally overlooked two of my parent’s assets that were never placed in a trust. When they died, I had to go through the probate courts to transfer it to the estate. A Probate Attorney wanted $8,000 for this simple transfer. So, I chose to handle the probate myself. MarkinLA seems to have gone through a court supervised probate. That is a horribly expensive approach, as he showed, but unfortunately when even modest sums of money are at stake, the greed causes distrust and fights, so a supervised probate often results.

    That’s likely what happened in the two cases that Michelle cited. If you go through a court-supervised probate it will be outrageously expensive and seem unfair, because when the state is forced to act on your behalf, they must get a court order to do everything. Unsupervised probate is so much easier, but it requires cooperation.

    Put ALL your assets in a trust and make sure your beneficiaries can find your signed and notarized will and trust, not a copy. If your beneficiaries only find a copy, they will have to go through probate.

    • Thanks: Achmed E. Newman
  18. Realist says:
    @Hayek Guy

    Who is the “U.S.”? It certainly is not everyone in the U.S.

    But the majority have allowed it.

    Our corrupt leaders and their big gov and big corporation cronies all have some form of golden parachutes and they have no worries.

    This only happens because the majority allow it.

  19. @Jim Christian

    Some will rob you with a six gun some with a fountain pen…

    • Replies: @Brad Anbro
  20. @Adam Smith

    “Adam Smith” – I am currently watching episodes of “The Untouchables” (with Robert Stack) on DVD. While watching each episode, I am continually reminding myself that as these “hoodlums” were robbing banks, the bankers were robbing the people. Of course, the bankers’ thefts were perfectly “legal.” Reminds me of a saying —

    What is the best way to rob a bank? OWN ONE!

    • Agree: Adam Smith
  21. bayviking says:

    There is a bit of this corruption in every piece of civil litigation, especially the divorce Mills that impoberish the parents whose children the Courts pretend to care about. But then, like everything else in the USA, it’s profits for the most powerful fish first. Let’s hope this Judge is sent to jail. Spears deserves her life back, the ruling against her defies any and all sense of Justice.

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