Santa Clara County Sees No Improvement in Private Professional Fiduciary Fees - Elder Abuse and Fraud Persist
Three years ago an advisory committee (with the likes of Assembly Members Jim Beall and Jerry Hill) , that included lawyers , CPAs , county officials and judges; Chris Forsyth, Sunshine Borelli, Joshua Barousse, Matthew Crosby , Jeff Efting, Mark A. Gonzalez, Wanda Hale, John Kessler, Jutta Kiel , Nona L Klippen, Tamera Lopez, Douglas Miller, Daniel Pone, Walt Shjeflo . Bob Temmerman , Sarah Triano , Rebecca Weisman and Steven Yarbrough), was formed after public outcry over fiduciaries were discovered to be harming our most vulnerable citizens.
Judge Walsh wisely stated:
" At the heart of this matter is safeguarding our community's vulnerable and infirmed, " ..." While the vast majority of private professional fiduciaries are dedicated and ethical guardians, the Court has an obligation to ensure that we're weeding out inappropriate and unacceptable practices . Our hope is that these new polices and procedures will assist in greater protection and care for Santa Clara County's conservatees. "
Not long after this committee's efforts , a local rule was adopted and the judges in family court, including Mary Ann Grilli and Drew Takaichi ( who were part of the committee process) , went back to the system of favoring certain lawyers, assuring professional private fees for a select few and engaging in mismanagement of court staff and resources, including (1) violating court rules, and state law, (2) Misuse of federal funds ( 3) failure to maintain records of fiduciaries ( 4) failure to manage fiduciaries or control their excessive fees ( 5) failing to assure certifications and conflict of interest disclosures were properly filed and kept in county records.
Three years later, fiduciaries in Santa Clara County are again out of control and this time in family court.
In one probate case, where lawyer Nat Hales acted as a trustee , he took 15 years to resolve the case, charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for himself and his buddy CPAs, where there clearly was a conflict of interest.
Nat Hales, also threated a divorce case litigant, telling her he would unleash harassing litigation on her, if she would not grant James Butera, CPA , additional civil immunity , despite the woman's allegations that Butera had been negligent. Judge Grilli dragged that case our another two years, and ignored the fact that Butera and Hales had charged the woman over $187,000, which they took entirely from her child's college savings accounts as the father was ordered to pay less than $2000 a month in child support, as he took millions from the woman';s community business.
Whistleblowers inside the Sunnyvale court have come forward to expose constant violations of local rules, back dating of court documents, misdating of paperwork and " clerical " errors and billings that judges like Grilli encourages in cases where she doesn't like the lawyer or the litigant. Court documents show Grilli's failure to address fiduciaries in cases before her has been ongoing for decades, giving rise to the nickname, Gridlock Grilli.
Why Grilli was chosen to work on this committee, or on the Komar investigation 15 years ago, remains a mystery, but most lawyers whisper in the court hallways, she certainly is not qualified, is one of the county's oldest cronies and is showing signs of early dementia and other health issues that may be impacting her on the bench.
In her own family court Judge Mary Ann Grilli has directly threatened litigants , telling one Russian immigrant woman " financial abuse is not abuse", then denying the unrepresented woman child support for her four children after the woman described being beaten and left without money for her children shortly after she immigrated here.
Mary Ann Grilli might want to check in with public opinion and her own county officials, who have been readying for the human trafficking issues related to the Super bowl, expected to arrive full force in Santa Clara County in January 2016.
A watchdog group in Santa Clara has formed to do what other committee should have done years ago. A preliminary report is being put together that shows just how much lawyers, private judges, CPAs and other fiduciaries are billing. So far, early figures, based on court filed documents; the numbers are startling.
Have an outrageous legal or CPA bill from a family divorce or probate case in Santa Clara County ? send it to us at : mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org