Mother of Member Charlene Bangs Pederson
Elder Justice….is there really such a thing?
Let me address a few statements made by the Assistant attorney General of the United States in his June 2015 announcement on the proclamation of “Elder Justice”…
“We need to know more to do more.”
“Learning the signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, and by raising awareness about this important public health issue.”
I would like to raise your awareness on some issues of elder injustice…and when I’m finished, you will know more…
Yet the singular most significantly gnawing question is, “Once you know more, will you do more?”
There are many variables presently in operation and practice against seniors and elders that cry out for “elder justice.”
I’m going to tell you a story…and by far, the most important element of this story is a now 83- year old mother stricken with Alzheimer’s mixed dementia, and her chosen caregiver daughter, who began her senior years taking care of her mother, months before a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment.
I would like to tell you that it is a story of celebration…a story which can embrace and uplift seniors and elders about the joys and respect paid to them upon entering their “Golden Years.” Yet, I cannot.
I would like to tell you that it is a story of family, friends and community…and how they came together to ensure and protect the senior and elder members of their community from harm and neglect. Yet, I cannot.
I would like to tell you that the present laws in this country and from state to state, assist seniors and elders who are being used, abused, persecuted and exploited day in and day out around the country, with impressive results. Yet again, I cannot.
I would like to tell you that it is a story of the phenomenal advocacy that is in place to speak for, fight for and stand up to the unimaginable cruelty and disregard for seniors and the elderly that is practiced in the dispensing of conservatorships and guardianships, that is now and has been taking place in the probate courts in Los Angeles County, and Hillsborough County, in California and New Hampshire, respectively…sadly, I cannot.
More than anything, I would like to tell you a story of a nation that will move heaven and earth to uphold the integrity of the document that is revered to be the foundation of our country’s struggle and fight for freedom and independence…with a heavy heart…I cannot.
This document declares the protected right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” in what is known to all as the 14th amendment…and guarantees the right to “freedom of speech,” in the 1st amendment.
This document has been sadly relegated to nothing more than toilet paper by the corruption of the law it protects in the rendering of itself as the Constitution of the United States of America, by those who swore oaths to protect it.
The Constitution is sovereign in its protection of all people…that includes seniors and the elderly…especially when they are disabled, cognitively impaired or incapacitated.
Elder Justice must grasp and comprehend that “elder abuse” presents itself in many forms…and the originators of some of the most heinous abuse, is practiced by those who have the most to gain in using the law to conquer and divide…just to “win.”
Ninth Circuit Court Judge Kozinski and Fifth Circuit Court Judge Edith H. Jones spoke out nationally about the depth of corruption that has maligned and reconfigured the system of justice; Judge Kozinski spoke of the mass corruption in practice running through California courts, and Judge Jones spoke of the corruption operating throughout the legal system country wide….and nothing has been done to address it in the way of Justice Department investigations of the Attorney Generals of the States most riddled with legal corruption, or the District Attorneys’ offices of those cities cited.
How can Elder Justice be effected when everyday justice cannot?
Now, this corruption has opened a flood gate to elder abuse in the form of erroneous conservatorships and guardianships with the financial exploitation of elders through the court system. Where is elder justice?
Why is it that everyone turns their backs and a deaf ear when egregious actions are committed by law enforcement, and those entrusted with the dispensing of justice in courts of law? Including judges, attorneys and state and local agencies bearing the seals of state and local government?
Fraudulent and erroneous petitions are filed without due process allowing “abuse of process” to take place.
The very thing that is always forgotten is this: The essential building blocks of the police force and the legal system are beings just like you and me: People.
People who are fallible…people who are imperfect…people who experience personal problems…people who have health problems…people who have integrity…people who have no integrity…people who lie…cheat…steal…and subvert the laws…people who are honorable…people who are dishonorable…people who stand on their oaths to protect and serve…people who abuse the oaths to protect and serve themselves…
None of us “walk on water.” We are all nothing more than “people.”
“The greater the power, the greater the abuse.” 
Where is Elder Justice?!
I was my mother’s chosen caregiver….Through an erroneous and fraudulent petition, filed in a California court, my mother was horrifically persecuted, denied her dignity…her wishes…and her constitutional rights…by people like you and me. Where I ask, is Elder Justice?!!!
Trying to protect my mother’s interests, and her right to her life, I was denied the right to due process of law and shut out and shutdown from the legal process by judicial and attorney malfeasance and abuse of process in Los Angeles County’s Probate Court, and Hillsborough County Probate Court in New Hampshire.
Legalized “extortion and terrorism” reign supreme throughout the justice system I’ve encountered in California, with some of the same constituents operating in New Hampshire.
In her speech to The Harvard Law School’s Federalist Society, Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit Court Judge Edith Jones makes numerous startling observations on February 28, 2003, which are indicated in quotation:
“…The American Legal System has been corrupted almost beyond recognition… the question of what is morally right is routinely sacrificed to what is politically expedient.”
According to Judge Jones, the first contemporary threat to the rule of law comes from within the legal system itself. “An increasingly visible and vocal number apparently believe that the strategic use of anger and incivility will achieve their aims. Others seem uninhibited about making misstatements to the court or their opponents or destroying or falsifying evidence.”
Elements of injustice described in Judge Jones’s last quote, was experienced and witnessed firsthand by me, in the withholding of valuable evidence, removing a comment of perjury from the record by the filing petitioner, erasing a child neglect charge against the filing petitioner, the falsifying of my signature on a court order; along with other acts of bias and malfeasance by officers of the court in Los Angeles, and in New Hampshire.
“When lawyers cannot be trusted to observe the fair processes essential to maintaining the rule of law, how can we expect the public to respect the process?”
Judge Jones said another pernicious development within the legal system is the misuse of lawsuits.
“We see lawsuits wielded as weapons of revenge,” she said.
Trying to honor my mother’s wishes and plans for how she wanted to live out the rest of her life, subjected us to harsh and callous cruelties…
I was ostracized, maligned, discredited, shunned, threatened with arrest in New Hampshire, and threatened with a warrant for my arrest in California… I have never been arrested in my life, and I have never done anything to lead to being arrested.
Mom and I were denied our Constitutional rights, our Civil rights, Due Process, you name it, they did it…
Initiated and executed by those who took oaths to protect and serve, and preserve the Constitution of a country where I was born and grew to age… where my mother and I honored, protected and served (our country) … always mindful of being the best citizens we could be… and when it came to our hour of need… nobody cared. All of this, because a fraudulent, erroneous, petition was never, ever scrutinized or reviewed for its validity of content, nor those who were behind the filing of it having their backgrounds checked.
Not all families are good families…I knew that my family wasn’t a model family by any means…riddled with mental–illness, drug abuse, child neglect and other unsavory mentions of dysfunctionality.
However, never in my wildest imaginings did I anticipate or expect what was planned for me and my mother by “our family.” As the eldest daughter, my mother and grandmother taught me the meaning of “family.” For my siblings, those lessons hit a disconnect somewhere along their life’s journey.
If those involved had done their due diligence all that transpired as a result of family dysfunctionality, systematic dysfunctionality, and undue interference in the life and fate of Gerlene M. Bangs and her chosen caregiver daughter, would have never come to pass!
President Obama says in his Proclamation declaring World Elder Abuse Awareness Day:
“Often under-identified and under-reported, elder abuse is a public health crisis that crosses all socioeconomic lines, and is an affront to human rights around the world. Today, we once again take this opportunity to raise awareness of this injustice, and with the international community, we recommit to ending this abuse, supporting those who are victims, and holding perpetrators accountable.”
Does this include holding ALL perpetrators accountable? Even those who “operate” within the legal system and the justice system as a whole?
Picking and choosing which battles of injustice to fight is not an option here…elder abuse is elder abuse no matter WHO does it! Any act of injustice is a declaration of war on every man, woman or child…or any living, feeling thing on this planet. There are no discerning differences when injustice comes to call.
ISIS cuts off heads…our “justice system” cuts out hearts. There is no lesser of the two atrocities. They have both gone beyond the realm of evil.
When will we stop being a partner to dancing the dance of giving the people what they want to hear, instead of delivering the steps that will deliver the goods?
The surface repetition of what is being offered in the way of elder justice will never truly give the help and assistance that is needed in the procurement of elder justice…
A “special investigative field team comprised of civilians and internally selected persons from the Department of Justice and the Department of Aging need to be formed into groups of three to target sections of the country divided into states/regions of assignment; East Coast, West Coast, Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, North, South, etc.
“Grassroots” presence and advocacy work best to give people confidence and the belief that the cause of elder justice and elder abuse will be taken seriously.
Criteria must be established to mandate that elder abuse exists, and it is not sibling rivalry and family greed, or prosecutorial greed and malfeasance propelling control of the person or persons targeted for conservatorships/guardianships. In order to “test” those waters, the following “check list” should be implemented:
- Investigate thoroughly alleged accusations and the validity of Petitions introduced into the Court system.
- Investigate the “accused abuser” if there is one so named.
- Investigate ALL family members supporting a Conservatorship/Guardianship, inclusive of all listed Relatives on the petition.
- Psychological testing of proposed Conservator/Guardian.
- Mandatory production and investigation of medical history on proposed Conservator/Guardian.
- Mandatory interviews of relatives, friends and clergy who are familiar and knowledgeable about family members, family history, especially the proposed Conservator/Guardian.
- Talk to the proposed Conservatee/Person requiring proposed Guardianship. If they can still express their wishes and desires clearly, set aside any bias and listen to them. Listen for what you can hear, and what you cannot hear. Look for what you can see, and what you cannot see. A life (or lives in the case of couples) is at stake.
Conservatorships and Guardianships have become legalized internment for so many! This is the least that can be done to protect their rights and dignity.
There are also too many websites cited to be there for social injustices such as elder abuse and elder injustice which only provide “information” in the form of lists of telephone numbers almost always with recordings, or live people who are “mouthpieces” to referrals with restrictions which rob those individuals desperate for help, of their last ounce of “hope.”
I contacted everyone and anyone in my quest for protection and justice for my mother…From attorneys, to local advocates, to law enforcement, social services, adult protective services, the Alzheimer’s Association, legal aid, clergy, an ombudsman, a senator’s office in New Hampshire, the Governor’s office in New Hampshire…No one helped. Attorneys took money and never followed through on their promises of legal representation…
I got as far as having a motion to set aside the fraudulently attained conservatorship, only to have Judge Reva Getz bias my attempts denying the motion with prejudice and denying my request for an evidentiary hearing to present documents which would have overturned the bogus conservatorship.
I am truly my mother’s daughter…after my brother was murdered by police in Louisiana in 1978, my mother contacted the ACLU to help her gain justice in a heartfelt letter that I still have today… I watched her put aside her pain and fight to find out the truth about how and why my brother was killed…he was shot twice in the back…he had no weapons of any kind…he was just visiting relatives in a small town in Louisiana. I lost my eldest brother and my best friend…My mother lost her firstborn son. She knew how close we were and called me every day to make sure that I grieved to get it out…and heal.
Of those around us who knew the truth of what family members were doing…and of those who could uncover the truth, no one took a stand, to stand with me and my mother. Some were afraid of retaliation…some were just afraid. My belief system shattered as I watched my mother suffer through her anxieties trying to reassure me that all would be well… “Let the dead bury the dead,” she would say.
Through our ordeal, Mom gave me permission to make videos of her to show that in the progression of her disease, she could still speak her mind and express her wants and desires.
I have always been an advocate of injustice… I attended law school taking paralegal training back in 1989-1990… From 2010 until 2012 I was the legal redress chair of a local chapter of the NAACP in California. I investigated complaints and assisted those that could be resolved at our level of operation. My rose colored glasses came off when I attempted to use a system of justice that no longer existed to assist some of our complainants, and most recently, my mother.
“The way we treat our older citizens reflects our values as a society, and it is our shared responsibility to ensure all our seniors receive the support and protection they deserve.” President Obama from his Proclamation…
My mother chose me as her caregiver because she said she knew she could depend on me, and I was my mother’s caregiver from April 3, 2009, until May 5, 2014, when she was taken from a rehabilitation facility/home in New Hampshire, back to California, against her will. Due to the interference of individuals at the facility without legal authority or knowledge of what my mother and I were up against, my mother can no longer walk, which is why she was there, to rehabilitate her right leg…
The entire story is too fantastic to believe… I am still advocating for my mother. This is one instance when I can say that her progression of Alzheimer’s may be merciful to her survival…
I would like to be a part of any program of implementation in the capacity of any services I can render abolishing erroneous Conservatorships/Guardianships and Elder Injustice; if such programs are ever put into operation. My heart, soul and expertise would be dedicated to the attaining and protection of elder and senior rights, and the fulfillment of their wishes and the right to live out their lives as they have chosen to… without becoming victims of prey to those whom have lost their way and their humanity… As President Obama says in his 2015 Elder Justice Day Proclamation:
“After a lifetime of contributions to their families, their communities, and our world, older Americans deserve to live free from harm and abuse. As a society, we must lift up our seniors by advancing policies of inclusion and combating ageism wherever it exists.”
These are fine words, Mr. President… Are you prepared to stand behind them? Are you prepared to take the necessary actions that will put the power behind them to become a “cautionary tale” for those who continue to disregard and exploit the Elderly population? Especially those who “serve” themselves behind the protection of the law?
Elder injustice, Conservatorships, and Guardianships must be exposed and confronted in all areas of their existence…We must be diligent, honest and committed in bringing their horrors into the light of day, at the highest levels of infringement…or “elder justice” will never be served.
 Edmund Burke