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Linda Eliana Paquette

Elder Law Office – Linda Eliana Paquette – Experienced With issues related to Aging

Bias in Conservatorship Proceedings

AGE BIAS

Discrimination based on age is not among the prohibited prejudices, such as gender, race, religion and sexual orientation,  listed at Standards for Judicial Administration 10.20(a)(2).  Why not?  If you believe age bias does not exist then you have not accompanied your parent to a doctor’s appointment where the conversation is directed to you, as though Mom or Dad were not present.  If you are Mom or Dad, the experience is particularly annoying, wherever and whenever it occurs.

CULTURAL BIAS

Conservatorship proceedings are particularly prejudicial to immigrants who speak little English and are often illiterate due to limited educational opportunities in their country of birth.  Ignorance of cultural differences by English only evaluators, even with translators, easily results in competent persons deemed incompetent. 

Because a wealthy Chinese widow was judged “severly mentally impaired” by an English speaking psychiatrist, orders were made that terminated her right to vote, select friends, doctors and where to live, make medical decisions, or continue to sit on the board of her Charitable Foundation.  Because the court’s investigator had concluded the opposite, a Cantonese speaking psychologist was retained by her conservator to determine if the right to direct her life should be restored.   Dr. Chan’s report explained how cultural differences affect responses.   She did not state her “correct” age because Chinese consider the lunar calendar or count the ten month pregnancy.  She could not “remember” or state “correctly” the names of  family, friends, doctors, attorneys or presidential candidates, not even her husband’s “correct” name, because native speaking Chinese use nicknames such as “fat mom”, “tall guy”, “old Chan”, “little Wong”, or “big sister”.   More difficult are the pronunciations of names not Chinese – such as the conservator named Negrete she called “momy”, and the 2008 presidential candidates she called the “white guy” and “black guy,”  reporting to the Cantonese evaluator she would vote for the “white guy”.   Judicial proceedings of any sort are deemed “bad luck,” as anyone familiar with Chinese “justice” to the present date would know.   Thus a native Chinese widow will believe by her life experiences that no good will come from any judicial proceeding, more so if her language is Cantonese.  This effects her responses to the proceedings.

Because conservatorships do not exist in the Chinese world, there is no Chinese word for it, nor sufficient words to convey the concept of a judicial proceeding that “protects” you by giving control of your life and money to strangers selected for you, rather than by you, including an attorney who advocates against who you want as conservator.  When the cultures lack common experience, understanding is impossible, absent one who is sufficiently familiar with both.  It is the impossibility of  an Eskimo explaining snow and ice to one whose only experience is arid desert.  Both would inevitably find the other “crazy sounding.”  The conservatorship proceeding was definately “bad luck” for Mrs. Jong, whose finding of some mental impairment by the Cantonese psychologist was judged unreliable by the English only psychiatrist ordered by the court to reconsider his finding of severe mental impairment.  Dr. David Trader predictably stood “firmly behind his findings and opinions”, alleging a greater “skill in performing an evaluation,” calling the Cantonese psychologist’s report incomplete because it contained only two neuropshchologist reports –  Dr. Trader’s had none.   Dr. Trader surmized that being Cantonese disabled Dr. Chan from being objective when evaluating a Cantonese native.  The English speaking psychiatrist’s conclusion of  “severe mental impairment” was deemed most reliable.   Why, given common sense and Dr. Chan’s resume?  Dr. Chan completed his post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF, was an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, served as an oral examiner for the California State Licensing Board of Pshychoogy, served as an expert witness in children’s court, family court and conservatorship court, and has published two books as well as articles in newspapers and journals.  Dr. Chan’s resume does not include that he is well known to Los Angeles conservatorship judges.  Dr. Trader’s resume would, if such things were allowed.  Though that should not matter, it does.

COURT DEFERENCE TO FAVORITES PREVENTS CREDIBLE FINDINGS

Dr. David Trader appears often as a panelist or featuered speaker at court sponsored attorney trainings attended by conservatorship judges.   He is among the few doctors most often used to render an opinion on competence.  Though this should not give Dr. Trader’s evaluations unfair advantage, it does.  Conservatorship Judge Reva Goetz’s deference to Dr. Trader expressed itself  in the order that directed him to defend his “severely mentally impaired” finding given Dr. Chan’s “mild to moderate”  finding.  Asking for a second opinion from the same doctor ignored the court’s statutory obligation to ensure credible findings in conservatorship proceedings.  Judge Goetz was protective of  Dr. Trader’s reputation when her obligation is to accomplish the statutory right of a conservatee to retain maximum decicion making powers. 

COURT FAVORITE BIAS COSTS MORE THAN THE LOSS OF LIFETIME SAVINGS

Conservatorship Judge Michael Levanas refused to consider the evaluation of Eunice Bellah by Senior Care Network of  Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital because he “did not know of them.”   Judge Levanas instead favored Dr. Trader, retained by the crook CPA, whose report favored the crook CPA, and questioned the intentions of the friends that reported the crook CPA to Adult Protective Services.  The costly result for Eunice Bellah was $886,000 wired to Tel Aviv by the the crook CPA, enabled by the system’s deference to the opinion of court favorite Dr. Trader.  Using Eunice Bellah’s stolen funds, Dr. Trader was well paid for this by the crook CPA that retained him. 

“If you want to prove that the moon is made out of blue cheese,
you’ll find somebody that will write you a report.”

-Chief Justice Ronald George calling a report commissioned by Los Angeles Superior Court Judges to support diverting building funds to pay court staff a “political document, very much misguided.”   2/16/10 L.A. Times by Victoria Kim.

The negative result of court deference to court favorite Dr. Trader for the wealthy Chinese widow was the loss of  her right to vote, to sit on the board of  her Charitable Foundation or decide who would be her friends.   The conservator she did not want changed the doctors she selected and refused to place her at USC medical center when hospitalization was required, where she is treated like a princess having donated generously to that hospital over the years.  Retaining these rights is priceless.   

FAILURE TO PROTECT AGAINST ERRONEOUS FINDINGS BECAUSE OF BIAS

Though Probate Code 810 mandates the presumption of capacity to make decisions and 811  prohibits the use of any diagnosis to determine capacity, the Alzheimer’s diagnosis appears often in capacity declarations, though there is no definative test for it.   It is a guess at best, promoted by profiteers twisting facts to fiction to create a false need for their costly test or drug solution.  Los Angeles conservatorship judges regularly allow this, despite legislated prohibitions and reported errors that would cause changes if anyone in charge really cared.

Dr. Trader concluded Eunice Bellah had Alzheimer’s and thus lacked the capacity to select  her friends to be her conservators.   Dr. Trader supported his Alzheimer’s  finding with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of  two doctors retained by the crook CPA to enable the sale of  Eunice Bellah’s home without her permission.  Both doctors signed what the crook CPA wrote, easily enabling  financial elder abuse.   A second court favored professional, Susan Bernantz, PhD, ignored this fact.  She was appointed by Judge Roy Paul as the court’s expert.  Rather than starting fresh, she supported her incapacity finding with Dr. Trader’s Alzheimer’s finding, relying on who she knew, rather than facts.  [She and Dr. Trader appeared with at an “advanced attorney training” on 10/25/08 led by Probate Presiding Judge Aviva Bobb.]

More about the Alzheimer’s diagnosis fraud.

 

MORE TO COME.  Last posting 3/29/11.