December 21st marks the beginning of Winter Solstice: The birth of the sun. This is a time of new beginnings, lengthening daylight, and a symbolic awakening for personal change. Winter solstice also marks the fitting 1st anniversary of a victorious verdict being handed down in the elder abuse trial of my friend, Kazus Juzumas (Charlie).
It is pleasing that those who followed the trial continue to ask me how Charlie is doing. I’m thrilled to report that he is doing well. The title to his home (which was unlawfully acquired from him) has been returned to his name. His lovely niece, Virginia, remains his caregiver and they are living in Charlie’s house.
With an aging population worldwide, it is a sad fact that elder abuse and exploitation is on the rise. Sadder still, it is often family members or “friends” that take advantage of those unable to defend them selves. Many victims are ashamed and don’t come forward. More are too ill to stand against abuse. It is reprehensible that anyone would disrespect, steal from, or injure our elderly, yet it is epidemic.
Charlie’s case is a rarity. It has a happy ending. Since it’s closure it has served as an example for other cases. I hope it continues to assist change for the better.
The Canadian Bar Association’s National Elder Law Conference took place April 15-16th, 2013. Whaley Estate Litigation gave their presentation: “Elder Financial Abuse: Predators, Attorneys, Guardians and Court Proceedings.” The paper includes multiple examples of power of attorney abuse and predatory marriage cases. Charlie’s case is discussed at length (p.49). The following is an excerpt from the document.
“This case provides helpful guidance in the area of elder abuse, as it demonstrates the tools of contract law and equity afforded to the court, in order to remedy a wrong incurred in the context of financial abuse. This case provides what is, in cases of financial abuse, a rarity: an uplifting ending. In this case, it is not a family member or acquaintance who brought the case before a court after the vulnerable adult’s assets had already been depleted, but rather, the older adult himself who, with the help of his neighbour, was able to seek justice and reverse some of the defendant’s wrongdoing.
It is not every case of elder abuse that involves an older adult who is able to, or capable of being present during court proceedings to represent the facts as he or she recalls them. In addition to its review of the legal concepts that are available to counsel seeking to remedy the wrongs associated with predatory marriages, this case demonstrates the usefulness of presenting the testimony of an older adult when it is possible and appropriate” ~ Presented by Kimberly A. Whaley (Co-Chair/Moderator) and Jaël Marques de Souza Whaley Estate Litigation
To read the entire Whaley paper: http://www.cba.org/CBA/cle/PDF/ELD13_paper_whaley_jael.pdf
To read the specifics of Charlie’s case you can visit my initial post: http://www.thethoughtvox.com/?p=9155
Life is complicated. Nobody wants to look for trouble. It was not enjoyable for me to sit on the witness stand and be hard-core grilled by someone who’s only job was to prove me wrong. However, the right thing to do is the right thing to do. I would do it ten times over if need be. What if it were your grandparent, parent, or child being abused? What if it were you? Wouldn’t you want someone to put aside personal discomfort and stand by your side? I sure would, which is what made my decision to be involved an easy one.
Solstice brings light to our days; we should do our best to bring light to others. It is my sincere hope that anyone who is aware of or suspicious of elder abuse, child abuse, or spousal abuse, will do something. Please alert your local authorities.
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