Lennette Williams given 10 days for “contempt of court,” loses guardianship of daughter Mailauni, access to birth lawsuit estate
Grosse Pointe Farms cops, sheriffs seized Mailauni from home May 21
State Supreme Court earlier removed Judge Kathryn George as Macomb Probate Court head for likely estate fraud
By Diane Bukowski
June 15, 2014
DETROIT – Mailauni Williams begged to hug her mother Lennette Williams and her sister before Judge Kathryn George ordered the mother jailed 10 days for contempt during a chaotic, hostile hearing June 13 in the chambers of Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack.
“I am her daughter,” Mailauni cried out from the audience to the judge. “I just came to give her respect.” She told the judge “I cried,” when she was taken away from her mother during a raid May 22 by Grosse Pointe Farms police and deputy sheriffs.
She got up and hugged her mother during the hearing after she heard the judge berate her. Her temporary guardian, Pamela Reid of Faith Connections, took her out of the courtroom later so that she would not have to watch sheriffs put her mother under arrest.
Williams has been her child’s guardian for over 20 years, but George stripped her of that role. She also denied her access to a $30 million lifetime support settlement paid by Henry Ford Hospital for birth trauma that left Mailauni with cerebral palsy and her mother, now 62, with physical injuries.
Under Mack, that estate had already been substantially stripped by attorney fees, with mother and daughter relegated to monthly payments at the court’s whim. Investigative reporter Curt Guyette did a comprehensive expose of the family’s ongoing troubles in Wayne County Probate Court which was published in the Metro Times in 2002. (See link to “Mother and Child Rebellion” in “Related Stories.”)
Without access to those funds, Williams is in danger of losing the home she purchased for herself and Mailauni in Grosse Pointe Farms. She has been a full-time caregive for her daughter since her birth.
George, blatantly hostile towards Williams and her attorney, denied an alternate petition for guardianship from Mailauni’s sister Monique Williams, despite estate trustee Walter Sakowski’s recommendation in favor of it. She then appointed a white guardian ad litem, Mary S. Rowan. George said she would not consider any alternative for at least one year.
“The judge’s demeanor showed that she was a racist,” said Cornell Squires of We the People for the People, who has worked with the Williams family for 20 years. “Her behavior was offensive to Lennette, her attorney, and all the Black people in the courtroom. It was unbecoming a judge. I’ve seen some wicked judges, but she is the worst. She crushed Maulauni by taking her away from her mother. We are going to ask for a federal investigation of this matter, and there needs to be a forensic audit of the Williams estate.”
Mailauni’s sister testified that she was petitioning for guardianship only as an alternative to the temporary guardianship of Faith Connections, enacted when Mailauni was seized. She told Folmar during the hearing that she felt Mailauni was safe with her mother.
But George said, “Lennette Williams has caused tremendous difficulty. She ran up estate bills, interfered with police and APS, and responded to the court not in a lawful manner. . . She is one of worst guardians I have ever seen from the standpoint of the court, based alone on what she has posted on the house, based on everything the court has witnessed and experienced.”
George then authorized MORE legal fees from the estate at the rate of $75 an hour to one Robert Kent.
Reid, who brought Mailauni to the hearing, testified about the young woman’s seizure from her home in Grosse Pointe Farms May 22 by carloads of city cops and sheriffs.
“She is a sweetheart,” Reid said of Mailauni. “She said she didn’t want to go anywhere. She also asked for her puppy and showed me how she taught him to say ‘I love you.’ She wanted me to speak to the police to be sure her mom was safe because there was a hole in the door.”
Police kicked in the door after Adult Protective Services (APS) worker Hiram Williams went to the home, ostensibly for a “wellness visit,” according to testimony. Mailauni, however, was at the home of family friend Deborah Edwards at the time.
Lennette Williams testified she called Edwards to have Mailauni brought home when the APS worker appeared. Edwards told VOD that the APS worker actually left the home for two to three hours at the time, saying he was going to lunch. But he drafted a court order to seize Mailauni during that time, and returned with Grosse Pointe Farms police and sheriffs to take her. Police invaded the home, kicking down the door and pointing guns according to witness accounts.
“She didn’t want to die,” Folmar said. “My client wasn’t served with any order or warrant.”
Folmar is also the criminal defense attorney for Maryanne Godboldo, who stood off a SWAT team of Detroit police in 2011 for hours before they seized her daughter, to force her to take the dangerous drug Risperdal. Two judges have dismissed criminal charges against Godboldo three times, but she faces another court hearing June 25, 2014 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Gregory Bill, who dismissed the charges earlier. In the interim, a hearing was held May 19 in front of Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, evidently to reinstate the charges after 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles dismissed them again.
George gave Faith Connections temporary custody of Mailauni after her seizure. Reid took Mailauni to a group home on East Grand Boulevard. The morning after the June 13 hearing, Rowan went to the group home and removed Mailauni yet again, over Reid’s protests that she was safe and loved there. Her current residence is unknown.
“When the police and APS show up, they have all the authority,” George contended, citing Williams’ alleged failure to allow them in to her home and, earlier, to produce her daughter’s medical records as cause for finding her in contempt. She also showed photos of signs on Williams door threatening trespassers. She said she originally intended to jail Williams for 30 days.
Folmar objected to George’s presentation of her court clerk as an unsworn witness. The clerk read an email from the APS worker, who was not present at the hearing for cross-examination. Folmar also said she had the right to cross-examine police who seized Mailauni, who were not in the court, and to present witnesses on Williams’ behalf.
“There wasn’t any warrant or signed order, and they never showed one to the mother,” Folmar told VOD afterwards, “She can plaster her house with whatever signs she wants. They’ve been illegally kicking in her door for years. She didn’t have a fair chance to defend herself at that hearing. Judge George told me to shut up and sit down when I tried to advise my client in order to protect her.”
George held Folmar in contempt of court twice during the hearing, fining her $150.
“She clearly wanted to put Attorney Folmar in jail, too,” Squires commented.
At the outset of the hearing, Folmar, newly retained after many hearings where Williams had no attorney, asked for a new beginning.
“I spoke with my client and a team of people helping her,” Folmar said. “Despite [disorganized] conditions at the home, Maulauni was never in any danger. Ms. Williams just needed some help. This is a child who has known none other closer than her mom for her entire life. I’m here to assist, bridge the gap in communications, speak on behalf of Ms. Williams, because she believed her voice wasn’t being heard. I would respectfully ask the court to return Maulauni home, and provide whatever safeguards are necessary. Along with her team of loved ones, we will resolve the issues and protect the love between Maulauni and her mom.”
Family supporters present in court included Edwards and Arnetta Grable, both long-time friends of Williams, Cornell Squires of We the People for the People, who has worked with the family for over 20 years, Elaine Steele and Anita Peek of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, and Barbara Banks, whose daughter Starletta Banks lost custody of her three pre-school children in 2000. Banks said two of the children, now 18 and 19, went straight back home to their mother after aging out of the foster care system.
Folmar said she will file an emergency interlocutory appeal of George’s orders to the state Court of Appeals.
It is unclear how Judge George was appointed to handle a Wayne County Probate Court case. She is listed as a Macomb County Probate Court Judge. The Michigan State Supreme Court removed her as Chief Judge of the Macomb Court in Jan. 2008 for reasons including her appointment of a high number of cases to one agency, ADDMS Guardianship Services, her high rate of abstenteeism, and her questionable service in the Genesee County Probate Court during her tenure in Macomb County.
After reviewing an audit of the Macomb Probate Court, former State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver wrote, “the Report confirms not only Judge George’s apparent inappropriate involvement with ADDMS guardian services, but also her apparent failure to properly oversee numerous guardianship cases. . . .The majority of the Report discusses the numerous problems in Judge George’s oversight of her cases, as well as Judge George’s questionable overuse of ADDMS.”
ADDMS was cited for double-billing estates and mismanaging their wards’ affairs, in numerous reports to the State Supreme Court Administrators’ Office filed by Macomb County Probate Court Register Donald Housey. Housey was later fired from his position and filed a whistleblowers’ lawsuit, which was dismissed by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He died of a heart attack at the age of 70.
After her demotion, George was barred from handling any cases involving wills and estates. She has been investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office, and the state Judicial Tenure Commission, but no charges have been filed.
Among numerous reports of abuse in cases handled by George, the website for the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, at www.StopGuardianAbuse.org, includes the following report by a daughter regarding a guardian appointed by George for her mother.
“My mother’s medical appointments were cancelled; medications were altered or eliminated. She broke her wrist but did not receive medical treatment, resulting in loss of function and a permanent ‘forked hand’ deformity. She suffered from undiagnosed illnesses and “bleeding”, untreated infections, concussions, facial lacerations, a reported broken arm, unexplained bruises and abrupt, acute vision loss unrelated to the fact that her prescription glasses were taken away upon assertion that she could no longer read. Her handicapped permit was “lost”. Two Adult Protective Services claims were investigated. The Guardian failed to return calls concerning her urgent health matters, medical advocacy, care and living arrangements.”
State Court Administrator Carl Gromek said the Whall report cited other financial shenanigans by ADDMS.
“For example, in ‘numerous instances’ ADDMS sold wards’ vehicles without the bill of sale and a copy of the Secretary of State title. Real estate was sold at significantly less than market value,” Gromek said in an article in the Macomb Daily News. He added that ADDMS “sold the entire contents of a ward’s home and petitioned to sell the ward’s home at significantly less than market price.After the ward petitioned to have ADDMS removed as conservator, ADDMS refused to turn over any of the proceeds from the sale unless the ward removed his petition.”
VOD is contacting Mack’s office for an explanation of Judge George’s role on the Wayne County Probate Court bench.
Little information is available on the attorney George appointed for Mailauni, Mary S. Rowan, but she also displayed a hostile demeanor towards the Williams family’s supporters as they gathered outside the courtroom.
Judge George in her order gave Rowan blanket control of Mailauni’s life and finances, asking her to evaluate at the end of one year whether Mailauni could be placed with her sister
VOD found the following comments about Rowan on two websites.
“She grinds up the elderly and turns them into cash (4/21/12),” a Yahoo commenter on its “All Law Firms” site said. “Ms. Rowan seems very unconcerned with the care and welfare of the patients which she takes guardianship over seems to have issues answering the phone and often seems unavailable for the duties which she has pledged to take care of for her clients” (1/25/12). “The Attorney Mary Rowan is not very concerned about the family or the children of a family member that is an Incapacitated Individual. Sitting in court so many times and watching her talk to the family members are disheartening…. never really listening to the members and their loved ones.” (5/16/11).
Commenters on another site who rated her 1 out of 5 (top) said, “After looking for help and guidance, I turned to Mary Rowan for assistance. Not only was she very unprofessional and difficult to work with, she has very poor listening skills. After three attempts by phone with each call opening and ending with Mary either yelling, insulting or being disrespectful, I had to end a potential working relationship with her.” (12/20/13)
A second commenter said, “Ms. Rowan serves as a court appointed guardian for many patients in hospitals throughout the Metro area… she ducks phone calls does not seem to care anything about her clients nor her duties as a guardian and is abrasive and difficult to deal with all in all a real gem!”
The only positive rating of Rowan was a 4.4 out of 5 on a “peer review” website, limited to evaluations by other attorneys.
Related articles and documents:
(Thanks to David Scheid for alerting VOD to various of these articles.)
Mother and child rebellion Lennette Williams Metro Times, by Curt Guyette