Sunday, August 1, 2010

Still Waiting...

In the summer of 2006, I consulted a professional document examiner about a fraudulent trust document I already knew private investigator Ed Hodges had forged my name on. The document examiner wrote a report stating my initials had been forged on the pages and a page on clearly different paper with my genuine signature on it had been added. (See "She Said", 9/16/09.) This document examiner has close ties to the FBI office in San Antonio.

The document expert gave me referrals to several attorneys she said were "trust lawyers" who could help me deal with the fraud. One of the recommended attorneys stalled and then refused to represent me. Another passed me on to a partner of theirs who was rude to me on the phone and made it clear their practice was actually criminal law. (I later learned that all of these recommended attorneys were actually criminal lawyers.)

The third of these lawyers was a woman who said her husband worked for the CIA. She said his name was David Clark, which I later learned is considered a generic spy name. She also mentioned being an avid horsewoman and owning horses, but she wouldn't say what kind. (She is the same lawyer discussed in "The French Connection" earlier.)

I decided to hire this last lawyer mainly on the basis of the recommendation from the document examiner. I signed a contract with her and paid her a retainer and a fee that was to be put in escrow. A day or so later, before I'd even had time to meet with her again after providing her with copies of my documentation to look over, Ed Hodges filed a lawsuit against me and my children claiming I owed him enormous sums of money for various "trust duties" like the ones shown in my 7/27/10 post entitled "Dating Problems".

The year that followed was one of constant stalling, repeated demands for money from me by various persons involved in the case, a "mediation" session that was more like attempted extortion, and numerous other odd and disturbing events. Eventually I decided I wanted a written summary of this attorney's work in her own words, so I asked her to provide this in a one-page format; the page she provided is shown here.

Two days later, on July 11th, 2007, my lawyer called and said she was faxing me some paperwork she'd just received from Ed Hodges' lawyer. At 4:01 PM she faxed me the paper shown here plus another with a crude map on it.

I started looking at these documents and quickly realized they involved a proposed zoning change on land very close to mine that I knew nothing about. I then looked at the map more carefully to try and figure out whose land was involved. The more I examined the map, the more convinced I became that the land to be rezoned was actually my own, despite the 200' statement on the notice.

I checked the date and time for the hearing and was shocked to discover that it was to start in an hour and that any protests needed to be filed in writing ahead of time. I called my lawyer back and asked her if the hearing was for my land. She said no, it was for land to the west of mine. I told her I was upset about being notified so late, and she claimed she'd only just received the notice herself from Hodges' lawyer--but I could see he's actually faxed it to her several hours earlier. I asked her why the notice had come from Hodges' lawyer instead of the city, and she claimed she didn't know.

By this time so many alarms were going off for me that I ran to my car and raced over to the city offices. The Director of Development Services tried to run past me as I entered, but I stopped him and insisted on speaking to him. He said he was "late for a meeting" and again tried to push past me, but I stood my ground in the doorway and demanded to know if it was my property to be rezoned. Like my attorney, he said no, it was for land west of mine. He was sweating profusely, clearly nervous (shaking), and wouldn't look me in the eye. I demanded he show me a better map.

At that point, he took me down a back hallway and showed me a larger and much more detailed wall map where I could clearly see it was indeed my own land that was up for rezoning. I asked him why he'd lied to me, to which he only replied, "If you want to file a protest, you'll have to give it to the secretary right now, because our office is closing." I then asked him why the city had never notified me of the hearing, but he only repeated his instruction about filing a protest, so I quickly scribbled the few lines shown along the bottom of the page and handed it to the secretary. While she was stamping this and making copies, I told the official I had a conflict with one of my children's activities and would be unable to attend the hearing. (Everyone in town knew I had a child involved in this activity.) I also told him that first thing the next morning, I'd be contacting the Texas OAG and the FBI. At the mention of the FBI, he grabbed his things and fled the building.

As soon as I returned home, I called my lawyer back. I was furious with her for lying to me and wanted an explanation, which of course she wouldn't give me. After consulting with my children, I fired her.

The next morning, I called the city offices and was told that, although my brief and hasty protest had been presented at the hearing, they had gone ahead and recommended my land be rezoned. I immediately prepared a more detailed protest that I faxed to the city. I then prepared a formal complaint plus documentation that I faxed to the Texas OAG with a copy to the city. (Of course I had no response from either.)

I immediately began searching for a new lawyer, and I spent the next few weeks almost non-stop on the phone trying to find one. I quickly discovered that the only ones who were willing to represent my children and me in the lawsuit would only do so if I first deeded over one-third to one-half of my zoned-commercial property to them first, which I would not do. When I realized I had a serious problem finding proper legal representation, I began contacting legal assistance organizations, also without success, as I've blogged about previously.

In the process of talking to so many lawyers (literally hundreds!), I noticed something odd: every time I showed this hearing notice to one of them, they always commented on the fact that the city was listed as the applicant on it--without my even mentioning it first. Even stranger, half of them told me the city's being the applicant for the zoning change wasn't legal, while the other half told me it was! The fact that they all seemed so interested in this one issue yet could not seem to agree on it intrigued me, so I started taking an informal poll of the responses I received. I also started pointing out to attorneys that I'd been given conflicting information about the issue and wanted to find out for certain whether it was legal for the city to be the applicant for a zoning change for land owned by someone else. I received the same response to this every time" "I'll look this up and get back to you."

Of course they never did get back to me, so I'm still waiting... for a definitive answer on whether or not it was legal for the city to be the applicant AND for an attorney to agree to represent us properly, both in the lawsuit and elsewhere.

At this point, you might want to go back and read "The Legal Situation" (6/23/10) again. You should also know that more recently this same lawyer was giving public elder law seminars involving trusts at Democratic Party functions and advertising herself as an "elder law specialist".

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