Mailauni secretly kept with Rowan aide, then sister; no court order
Judge Terrance Keith says he will reunite Mailauni with mother after interim guardianship by sister
Attorney Allison Folmar working to finalize return by Nov. 12
DETROIT — Saying, “True love never fails against the greatest obstacles,” Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith removed attorney Mary Rowan as guardian for Mailauni Williams, 32, and appointed her sister Monique Williams as “interim” guardian. He said his ultimate intent is to send Mailauni back home with her mother Lennette Williams, with whom she has spent her entire life.
Grosse Pointe Farms police seized her from her home in May, after a cursory visit by Adult Protective Services, but no evident court order.
Mailauni was born with cerebral palsy and other injuries resulting from medical malpractice at her birth, which also caused permanent physical damage to her mother. Henry Ford Hospital agreed to a settlement that, spread over the years, would amount to $30 million.
“I love my daughter and have always taken care of her,” Williams tearfully told Judge Keith. “I need my daughter back and she needs me. I would die for my daughter. She is my hero. There are those who thought the hospital settlement was too much for people of color.”
Judge Keith said he had seen records indicating that doctors expected Mailauni to live only two and a half years at most, and that he was impressed both by Lennette Williams dedication in nurturing her daughter to adulthood, and by her professional pro see court filings in response to court-appointed attorneys and guardians attempts to take her away for 20 years.
“I used to take her to the doctor, and he told me I did not have an M.D.,” Williams said. “But I have something better called love. God was working through me. Mailauni walked at 5, and danced to the music of Michael Jackson.” Mailauni later graduated from Grosse Pointe High School. Her graduation portrait is proudly displayed on the mantel of her home in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Mailauni began visiting civil rights icon Rosa Parks at the age of five. Parks adopted her as her godchild. Elaine Steele and Anita Peek of the Raymond and Rosa Parks Foundation have been active in advocating for her return to her mother. Arnetta Grable of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and Cornell Squires of We the People for the People are also close friends supporting Mailauni’s return home.
For the last eight years, Macomb County Judge Kathryn George presided over the case, at the request of Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack, Jr.
Subsequent to a bizarre hearing in June during which George appointed Rowan as guardian with for at least a year, jailed Lennette Williams, eliminated estate payments for hers and Mailauni’s needs, and had her own court clerk testify as a sworn-in witness, Attorney Allison Folmar got George removed from the case. George had previously been removed as Macomb County Chief Probate Judge after well-publicized allegations of financial malfeasance. She was barred then from dealing with cases involving estates and trusts.
George had also threatened to jail Folmar during the June hearing.
Keith asked Rowan Oct. 9 how she had come to be appointed as guardian. During the June hearing, Mailauni’s sister Monique Williams asked to be appointed as an alternative to foster care home placement. Her mother and a court-appointed attorney said guardianships should go to family members if possible, and the sister said she was confident that Mailauni would also do well with her mother.
“I was contacted by the Court Administrator’s office and asked to step in,” Rowan told Keith. Rowan was seen by this reporter handling several other probate hearings two days earlier, prior to the hearing on the Gayle Robinson case, where Rowan was also appointed temporary guardian. (Story on that below.)
The day after her appointment, Rowan and her aide went to the Faith Connections home on E. Grand Blvd. where Mailauni had been staying, and according to staff there, alleged they were going to take her shopping. They had no court order to remove her.
Mailauni then disappeared. Her mother said she was frantic, not knowing if her daughter was receiving her medications and other care. During the June hearing, Mailauni had begged to go home and said she was worried about her mother after police had damaged her home when she was taken.
As guardian, Rowan would only allow visits with her sister “in a public place,” but no one knew where she was living until three months later, on Sept. 6, attorney Folmar said.
At Keith’s direction, Rowan and others met with Folmar prior to the hearing. Folmar was finally told that Mailauni first stayed with Rowan’s assistant, who they alleged was qualified because she has an autistic son. Then she was moved to her sister Monique’s home in Hazel Park. Rowan allegedly exacted a pledge from the sister not to reveal her whereabouts, under threat of removing her again.
Monique Williams did not bring Mailauni to this hearing, although a Faith Connections worker brought her to the June hearing, where she expressed her desire to go home to her mother. During the Oct. 9 hearing, Rowan and her aide asked to see Mailauni even if Rowan was no longer the guardian, based on their brief acquaintance, evidently.
Keith did not rule on that request. He said the original order by George was illegal, because a change in guardianship can only be barred for a period of six months, and therefore he was dissolving that order.
He asked Folmar to file a motion for funds to be released from a State of New York settlement of the bankruptcy filed by the insurance company handling the Williams settlement, in the amount of $869,000. Folmar and Williams said the funds were needed for urgent repairs to the stove, refrigerator, and other portions of the 30-year-old home, to allow Mailauni to return to adequate housing.
Keith said that once a satisfactory inspection was done of the home was done, he would order Mailauni Williams brought back home to her mother and cancel outside guardianships. A hearing on that matter is set for Wed. Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.