January 2011

Demanding Accountability

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Judge Gone Wild?
"Blind to Justice"
The Carolyn Rousseau Saga
Judge Claudia Burton
Judge Claudia Burton
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A Verbal Assassin Commentary
By Ron Lee

Carolyn Rousseau
Carolyn Rousseau

Carolyn Rousseau has officially been stripped of everything; her friends; her family; her home. In a country whose Constitution mandates, in part, that the People be "... secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects ...", the pillaging of the helpless appears to be underway. You see, those who are deemed by a court of law to be incompetent aren't afforded rights, or at least that's how it appears in court-appointed guardian cases. [1] Such is the case with Carolyn Rousseau.

Featured in the last edition of the US~Observer under the title "Guardians Gone Wild?", Carolyn's story came to a head on December 20, 2010, when Marion County Circuit Judge Claudia Burton decided it was in Carolyn's best interest that her home be sold and the funds used to pay her court appointed guardian, Nancy Doty - all against Carolyn's well stated objections, and the support of many friends who attempted to sway the court's opinion toward justice.

You see, Carolyn is a ward of the state - someone who the court feels needs to be taken care of. She resides in a foster home in the Portland area, away from her friends, family and prior home in Grants Pass. Carolyn had suffered a mental breakdown around the time her father passed away. She secluded herself from friends, who at that time didn't realize the extent of Carolyn's decent into illness, and her partner (common law husband) and caretaker was away for six weeks while Carolyn, in essence, starved herself. Upon his return, Carolyn's husband contacted her doctor and took her to the hospital. From that point forward Carolyn has been living in the mental health system and it wasn't long before she became subject to the authority of her guardian.

In my opinion, one of the most egregious misuses of judicial authority came early in the case when Judge Burton determined that Carolyn was competent enough to represent herself in court - against her guardian, who was armed with multiple attorneys! Here is a woman who is being held by the state as mentally ill, and therefore incompetent, and the judge determines she is competent enough to understand the workings of the court, but not competent enough to make her own health and financial choices! Perhaps, and I am speculating here, the judge was banking on the fact that she wouldn't put up much of a fight, and Carolyn's friends would simply go away - wrong! The court stated reason Carolyn didn't have an attorney was that representation could simply not be found. I am under the impression it is in the power of the court to appoint representation! Perhaps the court just has the power to appoint those who would seek to profit and not do justice, nor seek the well-being of their client beyond them being in a controlled environment - like many court appointed guardians do.

You see, as a bonafide guardian you get to have the court assign you a person, someone who is mentally or sometimes physically incompetent, and you take control of all aspects of their lives from behind your desk. Very rarely does a guardian actually have much to do with their client other than making sure their foster/health care contractors are doing their job. Oh, and I almost forgot, making sure the client's money, assets, and property are being utilized to their fullest, you know, to pay all the bills, including your own. Did I mention the court gets their share, too? Man, I want that job! You could have many multiple clients and all you really have to do is make sure the money keeps coming in! So, you sell everything your clients have worked their lives for, just so you can say you are doing something, pay some bills of theirs, pay yours, and when they run out of money dump them onto the state! Now, I am sure there are great guardians out there who truly care for their clients, but it is becoming apparent that this industry needs serious attention, and in my opinion, especially one guardian in particular, Nancy Doty, Carolyn's guardian.

I'm rambling, and I could go on and on about Nancy Doty, but the true point of this article is that there is one woman, Carolyn Rousseau, who is being held by the system against her will and Judge Burton is allowing it, even praising Doty for a fine job. The fine job is Carolyn's.

Judge Burton obviously thinks she knows what's best for people and feels Carolyn should stay in foster care under the "watchful" eye of Nancy Doty, who now has a whole lot more money (a reported sale price of around $200k) to spend of Carolyn's thanks to her ruling! Perhaps, the judge could get her own Dr. Phil style show and deal with feelings all day long, because ruling on the letter of the law just doesn't seem to be her forte'.

As I see it, everything the judge has done goes against the basics of law. You don't render a judgement based on a feeling!

“... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
- Amendment 5 - U.S. Constitution

Hey, judge, I am sure Carolyn will thank you for the two-thousand dollars it was stated in court she will see from the sale of her home and property - which Carolyn had paid for in full through years of hard work.

I was so enraged at the show the court put on in Carolyn's hearing that I walked out just before the ruling. I knew what it was going to be and it wasn't right. It wasn't just, and I really don't feel that it was even legal.

“I __ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of Oregon, and that I will faithfully, and impartially discharge the duties... of a Judge”
- Oregon Judicial Oath

Carolyn still does not have legal representation. Her friends are desparately trying to get guardianship away from Doty, to bring Carolyn home to a foster care facility in Grants Pass, and Judge Burton keeps pretending she is trying to be impartial. Until she upholds her oath to protect the Constitution, you can bet she will violate its mandates.

And, she had better believe, that I will be there to point it out!

[1] Excerpts from Arizona Republic and Houston Chronicle articles: HC: The U.S. General Accounting Office's (GAO) report on guardianships found guardians appointed and approved by courts in 20 cases stole $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated adults. AR: Also, the GAO report mirrors findings by The Arizona Republic, which reported that the Maricopa County Probate Court has allowed the assets of some vulnerable adults to be drained to pay fees for lawyers and private fiduciaries who serve as guardians.


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