Rowan wants Robinson permanently placed at nursing home
State, federal laws re: veteran guardianship violated
Judge Terrance Keith praises guardian widely condemned as vulture, sets next hearing for Mon. May 17, 2017
Trial date for Sharmain Sowards, who defended her mother Wanda Worley against Rowan kidnapping, set for Thurs. May 4, 2017
Worley files petition to remove Mary Rowan as guardian; hearing set for May 25, 2017 in front of Probate Court Judge David Braxton
DETROIT – After a fractious family battle lasting three years, Marine Corps veteran Gayle Robinson’s adult children all told Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith April 24 that they want their mother back in her Westland home of 60 years, and notorious guardian/conservator Mary Rowan promptly dumped from her case.
Robinson is currently confined against her will in the Maple Manor nursing home in Wayne, Michigan, where Rowan placed her indefinitely without any court order. Keith had pledged during a hearing July 28, 2014, that he would not allow Robinson to be removed from her home without such an order, according to court transcripts.
“Why I am in jail?” Robinson asked a friend of the family who told VOD she visited her at Maple Manor a few days before the hearing. Robinson told VOD during an earlier hearing that she wanted to remain in her home with her son Randy, his daughter and her dog Fluffy, a wish which a former Guardian Ad Litem, Ella Bully-Cummings, also relayed to Judge Keith.
The friend said Robinson was sitting at a table in the corner of the Maple Manor dining room with three other residents, none of whom were eating the food placed in front of them. She said Robinson had a shriveled up hot dog and potato chips on her plate.
“When Gayle recognized me, she got up and gave me a big hug,” the friend said. They went together to the tiny room she sleeps in, but another resident who Robinson said sleeps all day occupied the bed next to a tiny TV. So Robinson does not watch the TV. When nursing home staff saw her in the room, they promptly told her to leave, she said, saying Robinson’s guardian Rowan did not want anyone visiting before her court hearing.
Over the past three years, Robinson has been deemed able to live on her own by medical professionals at Henry Ford Hospital, the Veterans’ Administration, and even a court-appointed evaluator, Dr. Marlena Geha.
“We have all come together,” Robinson’s daughter Mary Robinson told Keith during the hearing April 24, as the adult children crowded in front of him. “My mother’s wish is to be in her home. I will move out of my home and stay with her if she needs it. My mom is entitled to [in-home] care as a veteran. But instead over $5,000 of her insurance money has been spent at Maple Manor, out of $9,000.”
She said Rowan’s assistant Katie McDonald told her that her mother is not eligible for VA in-home care.
Other siblings at the hearing expressed unanimous agreement that their mother should be back at home, and that Rowan should be removed as guardian/conservator.
“I lived in my mom’s house for six months every night,” said son Ricky Robinson, referring to an agreement reached with McDonald that someone be with Robinson at all times. “But I was nothing but her prison guard, so we stopped. I kept visiting her with my kids. Please let Randy move [back] in with my mother and get rid of Mary Rowan.”
Randy and his daughter Lynette had been living peacefully with Robinson, who was active in VA affairs and other events, and was able to manage her own home and financial affairs, when her oldest daughter Kathleen Law opened probate proceedings in 2014.
Keith later ordered Randy out of the home and even jailed him for three months at Rowan’s request after his mother fled to her brother’s home in California to avoid placement in a nursing home. Keith’s order in the matter, which included a ban on family members commenting in the media on Gayle Robinson’s situation, received negative coverage on a national blog, run by Mary Sykes, in an article titled, “Worst and most amazing gag order imaginable.”
According to court testimony, Robinson fell twice during the period she was living on her own after her other children were not able to stay with her on a 24/7 basis in 2015. She was hospitalized once with non-life-threatening injuries.
The hospital released her with a recommendation that she use a walker, but did not say that she needed around-the-clock care. Evidently, Rowan never considered purchasing a “Life Alert” necklace for her ward. One press of the Life Alert button, used by many seniors living on their own, summons emergency medical personnel.
Randy Robinson, who has contended all along that his mother needed no guardian or conservator, said, “She feels like she’s in prison [at the nursing home]. “She can’t stand being there. She wanted to be here today and I don’t know why she’s not.”
Rowan filed a petition asking that Keith have Robinson remain at Maple Manor and that Mary Robinson pay all her guardian/conservatorship fees for the disputed time.
When a guardian is appointed for an individual, they are given a notice of their rights. It is highly questionable whether Rowan and her assistant McDonald have adhered to the following, among those laid out by the state:
- You have the right to get an independent evaluation of your condition at your own expense. If you cannot afford to pay for the evaluation, the court will approve reasonable costs at public expense. (Gayle Robinson presented numerous reports earlier on, but they were ignored by Judge Keith.)
- You have the right to be present at the hearing. If you wish to be present at the hearing, all practical steps must be taken to ensure your presence, including moving the site of the hearing.
- You have the right to have your incapacity and the need for a guardian proven by clear and convincing evidence.
- You have the right to have the guardian’s powers and the time period of the guardianship be limited to only the amount and time necessary.
- You have the right to send an informal letter to the judge asking that your guardianship be modified or ended.
- You have the right to have a hearing within 28 days of requesting a review, modification, or termination of your guardianship.
- You have the right to consult with the guardian about major decisions affecting you, if meaningful conversation is possible.
- You have the right to be visited by your guardian at least once every three months.
- You have the right to have the guardian secure services to restore you to the best possible state of mental and physical well-being so you can return at the earliest possible time to managing your own affairs.
Rowan, her assistant Katie McDonald, current Guardian Ad Litem Maria Vulaj, and Anna Duba, Maple Manor LPN and director of Admissions and Case Management, contended that Robinson needs 24/7 care based on statements they presented in Vulaj’s report during the April 24 hearing.
Duba testified, but as an LPN she is not qualified to diagnose patients.
One of two written statements is from Senior Wellness Group, which has the same address as Maple Manor, 3999 Venoy Road, Westland, MI. Maple Manor is a for-profit organization run by the Evangelista Group, which constructed the building, according to state records.
Another statement, which misspelled Gayle Robinson’s name as Gail Robinson, is from Trupti Patel, MD. It says in one sentence that Robinson has dementia and therefore needs 24/7 care.
They alleged the Veterans Administration has refused to release an evaluation of Robinson performed Feb. 27, 2017, because of publicity attendant on the case, largely from VOD.
Keith ordered them to subpoena the records.
The Michigan’s Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act 321 of 1937 says, “The administrator of veterans affairs, or his successor, is and shall be a party in interest in any proceedings brought under any law of this state for the appointment of a guardian of a veteran of any war or other beneficiary on whose account benefits of compensation, adjusted compensation, pension or insurance or other benefits are payable by the veterans administration.”
It further requires that the VA must examine any potential ward considered mentally incompetent before any VA funds can continue to be paid out. It also bars guardians with 10 wards from acting as a veteran’s guardian. Mary Rowan has over 400 active wards, and at least 1400 probate cases of various sorts.
“It’s totally illegal, a federal offense that any Court should take a veteran that receives Federal benefits in as a ward of the state if it was not said by the VA that the Ward needs to be put in guardianship,” Gayle Robinson’s daughter Debbie Fox told VOD.
During the hearing, Judge Keith lifted an earlier “show cause” order against Fox, part of the one which preceded her brother Randy’s three-month stint in jail.
Randy Robinson is now represented by attorney Matt Chaiken, who told Judge Keith he would draft an order for the family to present to the judge regarding Rowan’s removal as guardian/conservator and Robinson’s return to her home. Judge Keith set the next hearing for Monday, May 17, 2017.
Keith also spent several minutes condemning the adult children of the Robinson family for their earlier divisions, and said HE selected Mary Rowan as guardian because she is a “tough” attorney needed in such disputes.
So far, property records show Rowan has not been able to get control of the Westland home, but many guardians eventually profit from their wards’ estates by taking their homes. As conservator, Rowan does currently control Robinson’s income from the Veterans’ Administration and other sources. Court records show she was granted four extensions before finally filing an income report from the opening of her conservatorship to January of 2016.
This reporter had filed a formal request to cover the hearing using audio and visual equipment with the Probate Court’s deputy administrator. On entering the court, she was informed that Keith had granted the request. Later, however, Rowan marched back into Keith’s chambers.
Keith returned to the bench after a break, and announced that he had been advised that the only legal videotaping of a Probate Court hearing is that done by the court itself. He said the court video would be provided on request.
Rowan asked that all camera/cell phones be seized and that all email accounts be investigated. Keith did not grant that request, a gross example of unconstitutional prior restraint of the media, violating the First Amendment.
This reporter was informed today by Keith’s court clerk Jamille Hill that the videotape would not be released, but that she would be required to hire a court reporter at her expense to transcribe the hearing. Since VOD is a pro bono newspaper, published on the editor’s fixed income, Judge Keith will thus have to excuse any errors made in this story. This reporter and others have had no problems audiotaping and videotaping court proceedings in other Wayne County Courts.
Wanda Worley’s letter to judge demanding Mary Rowan’s removal due to violation of Worley’s rights as a ward and Rowan’s duties as guardian.
RIGHTS UNDER MICHIGAN LAW RE: GUARDIANSHIP APPOINTMENTS:
Rights of an individual with a guardian:
Powers and duties of a guardian:
Michigan Mental Health Code re: placement of wards with developmental disabilities
Guardianship petitions: Summary under Michigan Law