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Is It "Accusatory And Immoderate" To Say That
Non-Wealthy Elder Abuse Victims Are Not Being Served?
Over a period of about a year and a half, in hearing after hearing, and in minute order after minute order, Judge Letteau strove to drive Hankin out of the Probate Court. Judge Letteau flagrantly violated a long list of rules governing his conduct, including humiliating Hankin in court over and over again, and including cutting Hankinís fees in half or more, time and again, for the purpose (which the Second District determined to be Judge Letteau's intent) of harming Hankin's law practice, instead of carrying out Judge Letteauís duties as a judicial officer.
In Conservatorship of Levitt, Justice Miriam Vogel distanced herself from the majority opinion, by stating that there was no indication of any need for reform. During oral argument, Justice Miriam Vogelís tone of voice expressed her annoyance and disdain for our appeal; she also agreed with Judge Klausner that the poor have perfectly adequate access to the judicial system, and that death penalty defendants get excellent representation under the current system. She suggested that Hankin was overpaid by Judge Klausner,
On page 16 of the [Not Certified for Publication] Conservatorship of Fiest decision, Justice Charles Vogel, denounced Judge Letteau's misconduct, but apparently characterized as "accusatory and immoderate" Hankinís "outspoken commentary" as follows:
" * * * Hankin had raised the court's ire by stating that the court's practice of cutting fees is used as a weapon by those who abuse elders because they are encouraged to drag out the litigation while the conservators and their attorneys are discouraged from doing all that is necessary to protect the elderly victims. The trial court took this outspoken commentary as a personal affront and stated that Hankin was ascribing elder abuse to the court, even saying that the court would circulate Hankin's remarks to other judges. * * * Ö..Hankin's commentary was accusatory and immoderateÖ."
[Page 16 of the Conservatorship of Fiest decision. (Emphasis added.)]
I (Marc Hankin) do not agree that my statements (summarized above by Justice Charles Vogel) were "accusatory and immoderate". Experienced probate lawyers all know those facts to be true and self-evident. It is time that we all acknowledge that the Emperor is naked. As responsible adults, we probate lawyers must stop extolling the beauty of the Emperor's garments (i.e., the court's "wisdom" in setting fees), even though by speaking out, we jeopardize our relations with the probate judges upon whom we depend for our fees. As officers of the court, we have a duty to speak out for those who have no voice, even if we have social relationships with those judges (as some of us do). I admit that I do not have a social relationship with those particular judges, i.e., Judges Letteau or Klausner, or Judge Klausner's successor, Thomas W. Stoever.
It is long overdue for a member of the Bar to stand up and speak honestly about facts that we have all known to be true since we started practicing law, many of us several decades ago. It is unconscionable for us to keep quiet about these facts, merely to stay in the good graces of the judges upon whom we have depended for our livelihood.
People are dying out there because we lawyers and conservators have not stood up on our hind legs and announced the truth.
As the Bible says (in Ecclesiastes): "Those who were oppressed were weeping with tears, but no one was comforting them; no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors." Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in 1945 on his release from a World War II Nazi concentration camp: "First, they came for the labor unions but I wasn't a labor unionist, so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the Communists but I wasn't a Communist, so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the Jews; but I wasn't a Jew, so I didn't speak up. Then they came for the Catholics, but I wasn't a Catholic, so I didn't speak up. Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak up." You, I and the other people whose letters appear on my website, are speaking up. Eventually, someone will listen. Hopefully more people will join us in bringing this to the public's attention, before those of us who speak up are driven out of the practice of law by the ruffians on the bench.
(To see my allegedly "accusatory and immoderate" contentions in context, please click here.)
A judge with a reasonable amount of maturity, whose personality is not governed by a childish ego need, would have understood that my contentions were being offered to the court for the purpose of advancing the cause of service to the people who need us. A judge with a conscience would not impede a lawyer's efforts to protect an elder who has already once been victimized.[ Return to Access of the Elderly to Justice main page]