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Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 13:36:49 EST
Subject: Important Elder Abuse Issue
CC: (Marc Hankin)

Marcy and Mindi--Let me introduce you to each other. Marcy Zwelling-Aamot, MD is a dedicated, excellent internist (?ex-intensivist) physician currently serving as Secretary to LACMA. Mindi Thelen is Administrative Director of the Southern California Psychiatric Society. I have spoken with you both about my colleague (and friend) Mr. Marc Hankin, Esq, a sometimes crusading and usually visionary attorney who is at the forefront of elder abuse and elder law issues.

The issue is the court decision summarized in the attachments: Superficially a technical point, namely whether a judge has essentially arbitrary prerogatives with regard to awarding fees in elder abuse cases. † In reality, this IS a fundamental issue. I will not repeat the matters in the attachment, except to say that my small part in one case (Peggy Page) was to evaluate Mrs. Page, leading to the findings of her impairment which in turn led to the authority to protect her from her abuser--WHO HAD INDUCED HER TO TURN OVER LEGAL AUTHORITY TO HIM BY SIGNING DOCUMENTS. This step, e.g., is substantially effective in shielding him from inter-ventions by Adult Protective Services and police (or has been in many cases).

My part in this was very small. † In fact, undoing such webs that underlie the significant and horrific abuse involved, requires a tenacious, complicated, and lengthy legal approach. The force of the decision is to reduce substantially any likelihood that people of modest estates in particular will be able to expect the necessary investment in time and effort that will be required for such protection. † I am currently involved, e.g., in a post mortem contest that is very bitter and expensive precisely in a case where the family did not pursue legal remedies because of an ability to pay retainer and no attorney would risk the time involved.

If this decision is allowed to stand, therefore, a major tool potentially protecting our abused elders will be blunted and made useless. In my opinion, both medical and psychiatric societies should strongly abhor such an outcome and therefore we should support Mr. Hankinís efforts publicly and vociferously. I will look forward to assisting our working together on this important matter.

Stephen Read, MD
Associate Clinical Professor, UCLA
Member, LACMA & SCPS
310-521-9747; fax 310-521-8112

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