Federal suit follows Texas Judicial Council Admission of non-compliance by guardians of senior citizens

By David Yates | Apr 25, 2018

SAN ANTONIO - A Manhattan woman who worked as an actress in an NBC TV pilot directed by Spike Lee and a Macy’s commercial last year has filed a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against her San Antonio-based mother over the alleged abuse of and isolation from her legally blind father who is a 22 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and currently guardianized under a Bexar County court order.

According to the lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Juliette Fairley in the Western District federal court, the guardianship imposed upon James Fairley is unconstitutional and based on fraud. 

The 50-page complaint states: “Defendant [Mauricette] Fairley is failing to protect her legally blind husband James from harm in the context of her position as an agent (other instrumentality) of the state’s adult guardianship system and in the process is violating James’ constitutional rights, federal law protections and committing violations of state law.”

The Plaintiff's pleading against her mother Mauricette contains 150 pages of exhibits and comes on the heels of testimony to Congress by Texas Judicial Council representative David Slayton. On April 18, Slayton admitted that nearly half of court appointed guardians who are family members are non-compliant with reporting requirements. Slayton is also administrative director of the Texas Office of Court Administration in Austin.

Six counts in the Fairley v Fairley lawsuit include disability discrimination, negligence, integration mandate violations, ADA claims of retaliation, breaches of fiduciary duty and fraud.

The pleading states: “When [Mauricette] Fairley falsely mislead the court to believe she could not afford to pay James’ Guardian Ad Litem Shawn Hughes in 2011, (a) the duty of paying $5,000 to James’ second guardian ad litem Nancy Ortiz R.N. in 2015 fell on Juliette, (b) the duty of paying $4,000 to visiting R.N. Robbin Grulke of Nurses Case Management in 2016 fell on Juliette and (c) the duty of paying $20,000 in cash to cover James’ attorney ad litem and mental health costs fell on Juliette in 2014.”

According to the plaintiff, the court is rife with appearances of conflicts of interest and that her mother Mauricette had been represented by Kelly Cross before Cross was elected probate judge and recused herself from the Fairley case.

According to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct website, Judge Cross was admonished last week for labeling a proposed ward in another case "Mr. Maggot" and "Maggot Man" during 2016 guardianship proceedings. Proposed wards are often senior citizens experiencing cognitive decline or younger adults with physical and development disabilities.

The Spectrum Institute's legal director Thomas F. Coleman has sent a records request to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht as a form of judicial education and to determine whether a self evaluation of the state's guardianship system is underway. Mr. Hecht chairs the Texas Judicial Council, according to a press release.

The Plaintiff, who is a resident of New York, said she filed in federal court in Texas because her constitutional standing in state court was dismissed with prejudice for not paying $20,000 in cash to the Bexar County Probate Court even after following the law and filing an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs. 

 Currently assigned to Senior U.S. District Federal Judge David Ezra, the Fairley case alleges, among other incidents, that the Defendant Mauricette chose to extract James’ teeth instead of filling cavities, cancelled James’ appointments to see specialty physicians, cancelled James’ private health insurance with the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), provided no supporting documentation to substantiate her claim that Juliette had criminally abducted James, opposed visits with James so wrong doing would not be uncovered, was nowhere to be found when James required authorization to receive anesthesia for surgery at Santa Rosa Christus and failed to deliver James’ blood pressure medication on multiple occasions for ten days at a time.

“When [Mauricette] Fairley procured letters from Texas physicians stating James did not need care and when Fairley cancelled James’ medical appointments after agreeing to take James to specialty physicians, it caused distress and anxiety for Juliette because denying James specialty medical care is denying James preventive medical care that can result in wrongful death,” the complaint states.

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