Skip to comments.TERRI SCHINDLER-SCHIAVO DAILY THREADAPRIL 19, 2004 FORWARD
Posted on 04/19/2004 2:05:56 PM PDT by floriduh voter
Persistent and Loyal Friends of Terri and of the U.S. Constitution,
I'm home from today's hearing which was held at the Criminal Courthouse Complex on 49th Street, Clearwater before Judge W. Douglas Baird.
Once I collect my thoughts from today's hearing which just adjourned about a half an hour ago, I'll post them here. Initially, I wasn't going to do any reporting re: the hearing but it was enlightening.
I learned today in the hallway that Terri's parents, siblings and other relatives are still unable to see her some three weeks later due to the criminal investigation of what may have been mosquito bites. But, that's a different legal matter.
By CANDACE RONDEAUX © St. Petersburg Times published July 10, 2002
Officials failed to carefully monitor guardianships set up for the elderly and infirm, leaving some of the Pinellas County's most vulnerable citizens at risk of being defrauded, an audit has found.
The audit found that guardians didn't file reports on time, that the Clerk of the Circuit Court didn't monitor attorney and guardian fees, and that the clerk's office does not consistently review documents filed by the guardians.
The late filings and lack of county oversight provide a breeding ground for hucksters looking to bilk elderly and mentally disabled wards out of money.
"There needs to be a better level of protection provided to the wards," said Robert Melton, deputy director of the clerk's Internal Audit Division.
Karleen De Blaker, the county's longtime clerk of the circuit court, acknowledged the audit's findings and said the "cursory checks" her office conducts of guardians' reports aren't enough.
De Blaker said the six county employees assigned to review guardians' records are not sufficiently trained to identify errors or irregularities in reports submitted by attorneys and guardians.
"They're clerical employees. They're not auditors trained in accounting. There were definitely some cases where they hadn't always checked accounts with reports from the year before," De Blaker said.
De Blaker, first elected in 1980, said the county plans to provide additional training in basic auditing techniques for clerks who review guardianships before the year is out.
The St. Petersburg Times won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for a series of articles that examined Florida's probate system and guardianship administration.
Guardians are appointed to oversee the financial affairs of elderly, infirm and otherwise incapacitated people who can't take care of themselves. Sometimes the guardians are family members; sometimes they are professionals appointed by a judge. They are supposed to file regular records and inventories of their clients' assets.
According to the report, Pinellas oversees an estimated 8,500 guardianships, open estates and incapacity cases.
The recent audit, dated June 20, examined 42 cases. Among the findings:
In 57 percent of the cases reviewed, auditors found that guardians and personal representatives had not filed state-mandated initial inventories of their clients' assets and accounts on time. In at least two cases, initial accounting reports were filed seven months late.
In 39 percent of the cases, auditors found that guardians filed incomplete annual reports for their clients, leaving out key details that could alert the county to fraud or financial mismanagement.
In roughly one third of the cases, guardians did not provide itemized billing detailing separate fees for attorney and paralegal services.
The auditors' report includes 15 recommendations to improve the county's oversight of guardians, including the introduction of a tracking system for late and incomplete reports.
De Blaker said the two judges assigned to monitor guardian and attorney fees in Pinellas County need to take a closer look at the annual reports. "The judges are just signing off on it, but they're not looking to see whether the attorney is charging the right amount or what it's for," De Blaker said.
One of the two judges, Circuit Court Judge David Seth Walker, said he questioned the audit's findings.
Walker said he was "astounded" that the county's internal auditors did not contact the court to ask for more information about the way attorneys' fees for guardianships are handled.
"I am deeply disturbed by the fact that they've written this report without any judicial input whatsoever," he added.
Walker and others who work with the probate division say that much of the confusion and opportunities for financial misdeeds occur when family members become legal guardians for elderly parents or mentally disabled children.
Bryan Albers, chief counsel for the Guardianship Association of Pinellas County, said professional guardians and probate attorneys receive routine training from his organization about new rules for guardianship accounts.
Albers said family members who become guardians are frequently overwhelmed by the mass of paperwork for simple tasks like home repairs for an elderly parent's home.
"They're trying to take care of their loved ones as much as possible and on some of these things it's easy to slip up," Albers said.
FV SAYS: Back in 1995 and 1996 when I did probate and guardianship accountings in the Sixth Circuit, my WORK HAD TO BE PERFECT per the Probate Dept.'s satisfaction, to the penny. Something drastic changed after 1996. The entire Sixth Circuit has run amok and THEY DESERVE ALL THE BAD PUBLICITY THEY'RE GETTING THESE DAYS.
TALLAHASSEE The Guardianship Task Force plans to meet on Friday April 23, 2004 in the St. Petersburg area at Stetson Universitys Gulf Port campus. The Guardianship Task Force will be addressing issues of guardianship and incapacity as directed by Senate Bill 2568 (2003). The public meeting will also include time to receive comments from the public on guardianship and incapacity. Public testimony is scheduled to begin at 10:00a.m. Written public testimony may be mailed to the Guardianship Task Force, Statewide Public Guardianship Office, 4040 Esplanade Way, Suite 360-I, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-7000, faxed to 850-414-2384, or
emailed to Sean Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT TAKES A HALF A MINUTE OR LESS TO DO THESE EMAILS. It's a good idea to save an original Email re: Terri and just copy and paste it so we don't have to be Pulitzer Prize winners every time we do an email. Just a suggestion.
Everyone will avoid discussing Terri if they're part of the system. It was an open meeting but we have other obligations in addition to helping Terri.
Maybe that Task Force will have a report that's available on line or that would be available under the Freedom of Information Act.
We simply cannot attend everything even if it's open to the public. It's a pressure cooker to live here and we're keeping it together somehow.
Maybe it's time we ALL called Mr. King's office, flooded it with mail and load up E-Mails, advising him there is NO way he will ever become Governor or dog catcher if WE have anything to say about it!
Also, maybe if we all chipped in $5.00 we could hire a good investigator to check this guy out. I'll bet he's on the take and corrupt as they come. And, a RINO!
Can you do one simple project for me that would be a major help.
CITY OF CLEARWATER IS POLISHING ITS IMAGE FOR A CONTEST TO BE THE ALL AMERICAN CITY. www.sptimes.com today's paper. I haven't gotten it here yet. CYN, could you link it here?
I have the phone numbers for the City of Clearwater's Communication Director: DOUG MATTHEWS: PH #727-562-4661 AND cell #224-7031.
(I haven't looked up his physical address or email address yet) NEED A VOLUNTEER TO LOOK THOSE UP?????
The contest is being run by the NATIONAL CIVIL LEAGUE out of Denver, Colorado.
*** Please forward this email to your friends to contact Doug Matthews and tell him Clearwater's chances of winning as All American City are slim and none because of Clearwater and Pinellas County's mistreatment of an INNOCENT WOMAN. They can fill in their own remarks beyond that.
IMPORTANT: It's KEY to state that you are not with the attorneys or Terri's family, but are a CONCERNED TAXPAYER FOR JUSTICE IN PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA.
Thanks a bunch,
floriduh voter(great archives if you click on my screen name there)
PS: I will be getting contact information for the National Civil League in Denver, CO.
When those who want to contact the NCL do so, WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL NOT TO SLANDER THE CITY OF CLEARWATER AND TO JUST LAY OUT THE FACTS AS WE KNOW THEM. They have tried to starve Terri to death TWICE, the Judges have ignored the guardianship statutes and the Clearwater Police Dept. is investigating a criminal assault against Terri Schindler-Schiavo WHICH MAY SIMPLY BE A HOAX PERPETRATED BY the husband's attorney.
Hardly an All American City unless we are competing with the TALIBAN and Al Quaeda. If you think that the City of Clearwater should win as All American City, then DISREGARD THIS POST.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, floriduh voter
INFORMATION ON NATIONAL CIVIL LEAGUE IN DENVER, COLORADO:
Why is Clearwater in the top 30? Visit the web site and see what the award is for. It doesn't match with what's been done to Terri!
NATIONAL CIVIL LEAGUE
National Civil League - the winner of the All American City Award is FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICES, HUMAN RIGHTS, POLICING, etc.
NATL CIVIL LEAGUE - Contact Info: email@example.com Ph #303-571-4343 FX #303-571-4404
IMO, this is not a good year for Clearwater to be in the TOP THIRTY. CLEARWATER SHOULD LOSE THE COMPETITION hands down.