Recent admissions by government agencies pledged to provide oversight for those handling the affairs of the most vulnerable of American citizens, the elderly and disabled, point to systematic ‘cover’ being granted professional conservators and guardians. The degree of ‘cover’ provided those pledged to care for the elderly and infirm could be seen as providing absolute immunity for acts of criminal misconduct.
Guardianships (also called conservatorships in some states) are generally initiated through court proceedings when there are allegations that a person is lacking capacity and unable to care for his own affairs. Upon the appointment of a guardian, the alleged incapacitated person may lose all access to his property and assets and may also lose the rights to make his personal decisions, such as where he will live, whether or not he may see family and friends and whether or not he will receive medical treatment. He also generally loses the right to hire an attorney to defend against this grave revocation of rights. It must be stressed that these guardianships are launched on allegations alone, and no proof of incapacity may be provided or required.
Ernest Moore was alarmed when he received the reply to his complaint to the California State Bar. The Los Angeles man had provided proof to the State Bar that attorneys had lied to the court, misrepresenting assets belonging to his mother, who is under a conservatorship. After denying the merits of his complaint, the responding SB attorney advised him that “the court where the matter is pending is the appropriate forum to determine whether either (attorneys named) engaged in improper conduct. If that court makes a specific factual determination of misconduct….you may contact this office with a copy of the court record for further consideration.”
It has been the long standing mandate of the State Bar to discipline attorneys. A call to the media representative for the California State Bar confirmed the suspicion that there was no legal basis for the statement made by the state bar attorney that the court was the proper venue for Moore’s concerns. Moore’s complaint, incidentally, included transcripts which backed up his contentions that the attorneys lied to the court.
But Moore’s complaint focused on attorney misconduct in the guardianship of his mother and true to the mandates of ‘cover’ for those involved in guardianships, the State Bar denied his complaint.