Oct. 2010, when I was 65 years old, I broke my hip and was taken to the Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital. Later I was placed in a couple of nursing homes. I was having a very slow recovery. At some point, I was sent to the Laurel Ridge Psychiatric Hospital and then to a couple of psychiatric nursing homes. It eventually became known that I had an estate, and Kelly Cross, who was then an attorney, but since then had been elected judge of Probate Court 1 in Bexar County, but failed in her attempt to get reelected to the judgeship, got herself appointed as my guardian and took control of all my money closing all my accounts. She took my money to Jefferson Bank, San Antonio for their management of my money. In a short time, Jefferson Bank, San Antonio lost $112,028.81 on bad investments. It seemed to me that Judge Spencer would sign anything which was put before her by the lawyers who would have had me committed to psychiatric facilities for the rest of my life and that I would, in fact, have been locked up for the rest of my life and all my money could have been taken by the those lawyers unless I got a jury trial and a good lawyer to represent me.
Miraculously, a lawyer from Dallas named Robert Wilson came from Dallas and took my case even though he knew that I could not pay him unless he won my case because I had no control over my money. Usually, only personal injury lawyers will take cases with no guarantee of payment and that is because they only take cases which they know they can win. There were San Antonio lawyers whom I had known for more than 2 decades who would not help me on this case. However, Robert Wilson won my case and a jury ruled that I should be given my freedom. In this case, Kelly Cross hired a lawyer named Christopher Heinrichs to represent her side. The jury also ruled that I should not be required to pay anything to Heinrichs. But, Cross and Heinrichs had a hearing in front of Judge Spencer after the jury made its decision, and Spencer overruled the jury’s decision that I should not have to pay anything to Heinrichs and ordered that I be required to pay Heinrichs the amount of $52,000. Robert Wilson only charged me $20,000 and he had to spend a week in a hotel away from his family. So, I do not see how Heinrichs could have put in all that many hours upon which his claim was made. Also, in the order signed by Spencer was the requirement that I would have to pay Heinrichs another $20,000 if I appealed the case to an appeals court and another $10,000 if I took my case to the Texas Supreme Court. And, Appeals Court Judges Chapa, Alvarez and Angelini refused to reverse Spencer’s decision making me pay Heinrichs; and the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear my case. So, Heinrichs got another $30,000 of my money.
A list of disbursements made from my estate which was provided to me by my ad litem lawyer, Laird McNeil, shows the following disbursements: Kelly Cross $24,485.25; Laird McNeil $27,388.83; Heinrichs & DeGennaro, P.C. $52,000; Heinrichs & DeGennaro, P.C. $1,500; Mission Oaks $5,546.40; Omnicare Pharmacy $249.72; Robert Trevino C.P.A. $350.00; Sage Care Management $1,472.50; Martha E. Leatherman M.D. (witness for the other side) $10,620.00; Raymond Faber M.D. (witness for my side) $5,250.00; Cox, Smith, Matthews (lawyers for Jefferson Bank) $9,248.53; Jefferson Bank $4,902.35 and another payment to Cox, Smith, Mathews $10,695.45. In addition to this is the additional $30,000.00 which Heinrichs took from me (which I already told you about) making the total amount which was taken from me by Heinrichs $82,000.00 and the $20,000 which I paid to Robert Wilson to win my freedom. Also, I paid Robert Wilson money to appeal Spencer’s decision and to try to get the Texas Supreme Court to hear my case, but I do remember how much I paid him for this additional work. I think that the total cost to me for this episode of my life was about $400,000.00 Also, Judge Spencer gave a summary judgment for Jefferson Bank dismissing my lawsuit against Jefferson Bank for their mismanagement of my money. So, Jefferson Bank will not have to pay me anything for all my money which they lost nor for what they charged me for mismanaging my money nor will I get anything back from the lawyers who represented Jefferson Bank at my trial.
Most Americans would be horrified if they knew that lawyers can try to lock up a senior citizen and get paid by the person whom they were trying to have locked up even after they lost their case. Making me pay lawyers who wanted to get me locked up for the rest of my life after they lost the case is like making an innocent man pay the D.A.’s office after he was exonerated. Paying lawyers who tried to have a senior citizen locked up, even after they lost, makes every senior citizen living alone a target of lawyers like the ones who tried to have me confined for the rest of my life. If those lawyers know that they will get paid even if they lose, it encourages those lawyers to take any case in which they can get money from a senior citizen or similar person regardless of the validity of their case. Former Mayor Philip Hardberger is a shareowner of Cox, Smith, Mathews. He was also the personal injury attorney who represented me after I was struck by a car on December 20, 1982. He got a fee of $85,000 for that case for which he did not even go to court. In addition, I got him another client by referral. If all of my money which the Jefferson Bank, San Antonio, a client of Philip Hardberger’s law firm lost plus what that bank charged me for their “management” of my money, and the fees which Philip Hardberger’s law firm charged me for their representing Jefferson Bank San Antonio in my competency trial, it comes to more than the amount which I netted from the lawsuit in which Philip Hardberger represented me. And, now we have a park named after him! I am now 75 years old.
Most people are unaware that a judge can overrule the decision of a jury and make the person who won the legal action pay the enormous expenses of the side which lost the case. I want to take away the power of judges to overrule decisions of juries. I believe what happened to me is not an isolated case of the bad decisions of one bad judge. I believe that it is a systemic problem. The appeals judges sustained the ruling of the probate judge and the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear my case.
In a situation where a judge can arbitrarily throw out a jury decision and replace it with his or her decision, there really are no jury trials, in reality there are simply only “show trials.” If the jury rules the way the judge wanted it to rule, he or she can say “look, we gave the person who was on trial every chance” in a case where the jury ruled against the person on trial. But, when the jury rules for the person on trial, the judge can just throw out the jury decision and change the decision to what he or she wanted. And, if the media does not want to expose this corruption as seems the case (because the media is too busy making looters and vandals look like peaceful demonstrators), then the public will never know. And, we will continue to elect judges and appeals judges who abet the corrupt actions of thieving lawyers.
I also see that it is critically important for the agency responsible for licensing lawyers and “disciplining” lawyers not be made up of lawyers who have been recommended by the bar association. I believe that the agency responsible for licensing and disciplining lawyers should consist of people committed to the public good such as the government agencies responsible for licensing doctors, pharmacists, liquor store owners et cetera. And, this new government agency would also be responsible for the licensing, disciplining and the removal of licenses of lawyers when necessary and this agency should not be made up of lawyers who are overly sympathetic with the lawyers whom they are supposed to be supervising. One representative cannot change the system, but, if I win the position for Texas State Representative, other representatives will see that voters are not sheep and they want a change.
Dear Concerned Citizens: I am Robert Litoff and I have written this to inform people what can happen to people in the Probate Courts. And, I am running for the office of Texas State Representative to prevent what happened to me from happening to others.
Again, I am Robert Litoff and my email address is:
Sincerely yours, Robert Litoff.
Robert Litoff for Texas State Representative.
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