Why did this happen?
The State scratched several nagging itches when it took Nancy into state custody and conserved her. We have solid evidentiary proof of some of the reasons, and well-founded suspicions that beg for further investigation and discovery on others. Here are some of them in order of descending importance:
· They’re stealing people! All across the country elders and disabled adults are being grabbed from their homes under the guise of protecting them, and their civil rights are given to the very people who are abusing them and denying their humanity. The ugly truth is that the only one being protected is the state. What happens when a disabled or elder is being taken care of by their familes? The family wants them alive and healthy, and so they spend the state’s money on doctors. That’s expensive for the state. When a conservator takes them away from the family, they make sure that the state’s MedicAid and MediCare money is spent very parsimoniously, and there is nothing that the family can do or say about it. The biggest fear we hear from Nancy’s conservators is that we parents might take her to a doctor. We took such good care of Nancy at taxpayer’s expense that the actually insulted us for taking her to too many doctors, and assertedly that is why we were in the situation we were in. When the family is in charge the state pays more. If that means that Nancy suffers, and is put into psych meds and chemically restrained, then so be it. Why doesn’t the state let Nancy go home so we parents can care for her at little or no expense? Two reasons: first agencies like SARC can only make money if they are in possession of her body, from which they can use their “creative financing” to skim off money. Second, they do not spend as much as we did of the state’s money to care for her. They say that the parents weren’t caring for her as well as they did, but the facts tell a quite different story. It’s HMO for disabled adults and elders, and the money goes into the right pockets, not for the ward’s care.
· Police Misconduct
Nancy was vindictively grabbed by Palo Alto Police without any warrant or complaint, without any judge’s orders, or any other form of due process, merely on the strength of a police detective’s application for a W&I §5150 psychiatric hold which was then denied by psychologists as inappropriate. This was not the direct result of any APS complaint as one might ordinarily assume, and did not result from any allegation of abuse. The police merely cited past frivolous reports to APS that had already been determined to be unfounded and unsubstantiated. The police alleged in their final analysis that Nancy merely “appeared to be in danger of abuse or neglect”. Nancy’s Fourth Amendment constitutional rights of freedom from unreasonable personal seizure were ripped away from her. The wandering certainly did not comprise sufficient probable cause to incarcerate her without more, no crime was committed.
This raid appeared from its face to be completely premeditated and pre-planned by police. The wandering was merely an excuse. In the past years Mountain View police had been very helpful and cooperative on the few similar occasions when Nancy wandered off and the parents were very appreciative. The police trusted the parents best efforts and were always understanding of Nancy’s wandering behavior and the parents efforts to control it. Quite a few of the police appeared to really like her and respect her parents.
However, one month before Nancy was grabbed by police, a deputy police chief of Mountain View threatened Mrs. Golin, on a visit to the police station to make a complaint about a bank officer that had misappropriated funds on her account. Nancy was with her parents when she went into the station. Nancy broke away from her mother and wandered into the back. The deputy chief caught Nancy and became rough with her, displaying an attitude of disgust for Nancy. Mrs. Golin complained about the way Nancy was being handled. The deputy chief shot back, “you know, the next time that Nancy wanders off we’re going to grab her”. Mrs. Golin took this as an empty threat. But, then this is what happened. This implies that the only real reason for the personal seizure was a shifted vindictive motive on the part of police against the parents.
The excuse of Nancy wandering off on November 14, 2001 was apparently the only true reason for the police taking action and then only vindictively for other reasons. Nancy wandered from a spot right on the Palo Alto-Mountain View border. Palo Alto police were observed conferring with neighboring Mountain View police during the night of the search. They had the whole thing planned, down to getting the Palo Alto building inspectors out on a moment’s notice to shut down the family business in order to cripple them financially. False witness statements were concocted. Communication police radio tapes subpoenaed by defense attorneys significantly yielded only the traffic from 8pm up to 3pm and failed to produce the critical tapes from 3am onwards when the police would have been discussing their plans. Once Palo Alto police led by Det. Lori Kratzer had grabbed her, they had to concoct other false alibis demonizing the parents to justify what they had done, and when Nancy came to harm as a result locked in a psych ward with dangerous mental patients they were unable to back out of the situation without exposing the corruption that lay behind it.
· Thwarting a liability lawsuit
This is the highest ulterior motive here for the state. Is conservatorship now viewed as just another acceptable device in the toolbox of a hospital risk management department or for state conservators and regional centers? One would think that people would have more ethics than that, but several recent cases that have come to our attention would appear to say yes, at least at Stanford Hospital anyway. A conservator is given several possible powers one of which here is to act as sole legal representative to their ward, the ability to contract. The ward cannot sue on his/her own, they must act through their conservator. If a conservator refuses to act, no lawsuit. Neither the ward nor anyone else can override the decision of the conservator not to sue. If the ward is injured by the conservator, there is generally nothing the ward can do about it. That way the offending conservator is immunized from any liability lawsuit, an unfortunate consequence of the probate laws. This can stop a lawsuit because the same people purporting to personally represent the injured party have the power to decide their ward does not want to sue them. The ward becomes a litigation hostage.
When the state first knew it was in trouble and had a potential legal liability lawsuit problem is not exactly certain, but there are clues. As soon as the parents found out about Nancy’s broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder on November 7, 2002 and reported it to the probate court, and tried to report it to state licensing, it became clear that the state had a liability lawsuit problem. Judge Gallagher stated that the evidence she was shown merited retaining a liability and personal injury attorney in November of 2002. Right after that, Nancy Johnson, a lead attorney and partner from the powerful Berliner-Cohen, a San Jose law firm specializing in liability defense, appeared for San Andreas Regional Center along with the state public defender, attempting to help get Nancy conserved and requested a trial to determine, who should conserve Nancy, parents or state? It could have been even earlier, when Nancy was at Stanford the previous summer when doctors in the ER accidentally misplaced an IV in her foot and caused a third degree chemical burn to the dorsus of her left foot, which they then pretended they knew nothing about and blamed the parents for when Nancy was grabbed and removed to their own hospital. Pre-emptively thwarting the perceived risk of a liability lawsuit has been claimed as an “acceptable” form of risk management at Stanford Hospital in other cases, to protect the vaunted reputation of this world class institution.
At the same time, Malorie Street popped up in league with Johnson claiming to represent Nancy as her public defender, appointed by the court. She announced at her first hearing that she alone had the power to approve any lawsuit since she now represented Nancy and Nancy has no voice of her own, that she was fielding calls from personal injury attorneys, and that she having nothing of it. When we took her to federal court for the injuries she caused Nancy, their first argument was the same: We have already been appointed as Nancy’s conservators and therefore she cannot sue us since we are her sole legal representatives and she cannot sue anyone if we don’t want her to, and we don’t. No one else, such as her parents, can sue us since they no longer have any standing to represent her. It will be left to see if the federal courts buy that argument. But one thing is certain, that they counted on that when they went to such great lengths to get the conservatorship and the standing that went along with it.
· The money
At home, Nancy costs the state very little. One must reasonably ask then, why would the state want to spend taxpayers’ money at lavish expense to conserve someone that could continue to live economically in her own home in the care of her loving parents? The answer is not just money, but who gets to spend it, the parents or the state. There would be fewer public jobs created to hide the fact that we are in an deep economic slump. Most of the new jobs created in the Bush II era are not in the private sector, they are government jobs. The taxpayer is being swindled by state officials abusing the public’s kindness and beneficence conning it to believe that they are applying their money to a noble purpose, rather than conducting a scam to cover up state abuse.
It the state released Nancy, their feared problems would be twofold. First the parents could take her to a doctor and discover the extent of her injuries so that they could be competently treated, making their claims in a lawsuit more compelling. Right now they cannot. They could have automatic discovery; this was clearly recognized as one of the state’s compelling motives to get the temporary conservatorship to use their powers to shut down discovery. All the parents would have to do is march into a hospital records room and ask for the records. Right now they cannot, on the excuse of Nancy’s privacy. The parents could remove Nancy from her day program to find a private program that might yield some real benefits, which would cost the state even more money. A judgment for the parents in a lawsuit would cost the state a lot of money. Not only that, many other institutionalized persons would be encouraged to sue the state as well for their injuries. A lot of reasons the state cannot give up.
The parents have no choice but to sue because they are their daughter’s only advocate and Nancy is entitled to justice for her pain and injuries and the denial of her civil rights just like anyone else. Justice cannot be ignored and Nancy is entitled to vindication for the abuse the state has caused her, in real, punitive and exemplary damages, that will cause the state to think twice about ever doing this again to anyone else.
Thirdly, the state is making a lot of federal money at Nancy’s expense, reportedly up to $350,000 per year if they play their cards right, and that money would be lost if Nancy were living at home with her parents. If Nancy is made really sick and has to be placed in assisted living on MediCare she becomes an even more lucrative hostage. We cannot even prove for certain that Nancy is not being kept at Agnews overnight during times when we are not visiting. We don’t know for sure where she is all the time. That is what makes this an important case.
· The Payback
This conservatorship is a flamboyant retaliation against the Golins, particularly Mrs. Golin, for their outspoken criticism of San Andreas Regional Center over the years for all the people in their system they have neglected and killed, and an egoistic attempt to vindicate their long held positions by strong-arming their rejected services down the Golins’ throats. All they have managed to do this way is to further prove the Golins were right all along, but as long as they cover that up and keep Nancy they get to win the argument. One more reason they won’t give up.
· The impossibility of admitting a mistake
Judges and bureaucrats never want to be told they have made a mistake, even when it cannot be avoided. No one dares to tell the king that he is not wearing any clothes. Judge Martin has tried many times to have the Golins arrested again to stop them from coming back to court. He used his influence to stop the appeal, and to try to stop the lawsuit in federal court. Now he controls the court calendar so whatever the Golins do he will choose a judge that will stop any further litigation.
· The danger of a good example
SARC will spend whatever it takes to win in order to make an example of the Golins to anyone else that might challenge their authority and their monopoly powers over developmentally disabled persons within their catchment area. The Golins are especially high profile because after trying SARC services they removed themselves from the SARC system and sought outside services at their own expense. What is inexcusable, Nancy turned out very well as a result. That is the first fact that SARC feels obligated to challenge. That is a good example SARC feels is dangerous to their business. Others are watching to see what happens.
· MediCal health rationing
When Nancy was living at home, cost was never any object in her care because she had MediCal and her parents used it whenever they viewed it as necessary to help Nancy. Her long-time neurologist, for example, taught them to go to the ER after hours if Nancy threw up her anti-seizure medication and it became impossible to tell what her blood levels were and how much she had absorbed in order to tell what her next dose should be. Critics lambasted them for not taking her to a clinic at regular hours, and for seeing too many doctors (!). As attorney Wesley J. Smith, the author of Forced Exit and the Culture of Death and A Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World has pointed out, due to the insurgent culture of utilitarianism and biomedical ethics there are many methods used to ration health care today, and taking custody of Nancy is one effective way to ration it and control health costs to the state. The state has pointedly cut her health costs to the point of parsimony, only creating a greater long term problem that threatens her life.
· The fiasco
These various state actors to put it nicely are not very smart and not very honest. They blunder from one fiasco to another, and only their power saves them, at a great risk to everyone they supposedly serve. They did not expect to encounter much resistance from the Golins, who they greatly underestimated. Most of the people these bullies attack are not able to defend themselves, because it is too hard and too expensive. Most families have other children so they are not as keen to fight the state off after a point. The worse the state screws things up the more complicated and harder it is for them to back out and the more determined they are not to lose any more face.
State officials and their private vendor cronies like these are emboldened by grants of qualified immunity for their acts, such are being presently reaffirmed in AB 1130, a terrible bill which only makes things worse for families because it encourages such abuses by state officials who believe they are accountable to no one. It does so by giving them the illusion that their acts are protected and they are immune from their wrongdoing and lying, by virtue of their official positions. They feel emboldened by their perception that they may continue to act with impunity and never face legal problems because they are unaccountable and above the law.
This means that all these corrupt private vendors have to do when sued is say, “geez, Judge, I thought I was doing the right thing”, and they have a get out of jail free card. Then they go sniveling with crocodile tears to the legislature after they have destroyed another family and complaining that they are suffering “financial and emotional hardship”, when in fact it was they that started the legal fight in the first place, pursued it for three, sometimes ten years, at great expense to the taxpayers, and then the families are supposed to bear their burden without any support and be dragged through countless courts, just to keep their relatives safe at home. Its time to stop them by making them think many times before they attack another family!
Hey, what about the families’ financial and legal hardship, did any of these state vendors ever think for a second about that? Since these sociopaths feel so little empathy for their victims, its hard to feel sorry for them when the tables are turned. My financial and legal hardship is much worse than theirs. At least they have unlimited free and professional legal assistance and the taxpayers to fund them to the fullest extent of the state budget, paying millions in unaccountable legal bills at taxpayers expense. They aren’t being bankrupted by an all-powerful state.
(Page last updated December 20, 2010)