Money talks, the Disabled don’t? I don’t think so

Candice
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Candice

President at Schwager Firm
Welcome to Schwager Law Firm from our Founder and Principal, Candice Leonard Schwager. Candice is an experienced litigation attorney with a wide array of experience, including Family Law, Probate, Guardianship, Civil Rights, Contractual disputes, personal injury, products liability, & school law, representing children with disabilities. The Founder & President of two Non-profits for special needs, the elderly and disabled, Candice's practice is a diverse combination of people from al walks of life. Candice's public interest work has been recognized by the Texas State Bar Pro Bono College 7 years in a row, with thousands of hours donated to low income Texans who would not otherwise have access to justice. A 1997 Cum Laude Honors Graduate of South Texas College of Law, Law Review Editor, Brief Writer for STCL's award winning National Moot Court Team, and Research/Writing Assistant to W. David East, Associate Dean, Candice believes in excellence and has been blessed with the opportunity be mentored by the best lawyers in the State of Texas for 2 decades.

Since 1997, Candice Schwager has been serving Texas with the single purpose of making a difference. Candice is currently offering a complimentary 30 minute consultation to those in need of legal representation. Call (832) 315 - 8489 or e-mail cls@schwagerfirm.com
Candice
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Latest posts by Candice (see all)

I went to probate court and fought as hard as I could fight, working for free in some cases and reduced fee in others. I desperately cried for help but everyone died or was sold to the highest bidder. It was not a nightmare. It hasn’t ended yet and I fear for those still in guardianship.

These people died in the protection of the guardianship program, designed to protect. They were protected from medical care, an education at the lowest federal standard, neglected in criminal ways, and kept from doctors who could save their lives. They were handed over to private professional guardians who exploited them for money and isolated them from their loved ones as they drugged them to the point of death. ”

Cause No. 415959; In re Andrew Stephen Keith Guardianship; Probate Court 3, Harris County

I am a licensed Texas attorney (1998) and certified attorney ad litem (AAL) by the State of Texas. I have represented the disabled for more than five years, with some of my work under the mentorship of Texas Education Agency Hearing Officer James Holtz. James Holtz is without question on a short list of special education hearing officers. Mr. Holtz served 25 years as a mediator and Judge for the State of Texas, charged with the duty to determine whether children received a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”), the minimum required by federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA mandates disabled students be tested every three years unless the parent waives the testing. An IEP educational plan cannot be made without testing.

Andrew’s father waived testing for 9 years after ripping him from his mother, removing him from all medically necessary therapy for autism, and warehousing him in public school, where he languished in neglect as he further retreated into himself, unable to talk. I have never seen such an egregious case of educational and medical neglect and Randall Keith did not even care that the Family Court Judge ordered him to ensure Andrew had medical help for his severe language impairment. Andrew’s father waived all testing and all therapies because he did not want the inconvenience. Andrew was taken from his loving mother for revenge and to avoid paying child support with his multi-million dollar income.

I qualify as an expert under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 702. Ironically, Judge Rory Olsen does not qualify as an expert by virtue of his lack of familiarity with special education. During the hearing, he asked “What’s an ARD?” The appointed lawyers who were board certified were qualified by the state but not qualified in reality, but were given the authority to decide Andrew’s “best interests.” His Lawyer and Temporary Guardian were so concerned with making money off of Andrew as I worked for free that they violated all of Andrew’s rights and three him to the wolves. Andrew could be in danger. Who will help him now? WE have no right to help him and Andrew has been stripped of his rights.

I could not remove the incompetent disqualified ad litems because the Judge decided his decision would be what they recommended and they recommended that the abusive father be appointed because the father is a millionaire who could pay their bill and his expert mother had insufficient funds.

I am also a pre-med major with three years of training at the University Health Science Center after which I studied to become a psychotherapist at the University of Houston program pre-doctorate before I went to law school. I understand dementia, autism, Alzheimers, and medical / psychological conditions more than most, although my true expertise is special education. I am also an author and member of the press. With the thousand plus hours I have given to low income Texans for free or reduced fee, I have been induced in the Texas State Bar Pro Bono College. Yet, I cannot help Andrew because I cannot beat the machine–the Texas Estates Code and probate bar.

Harris County “sold” Andrew in every sense of that word by imposing an illegal cost bond on Sharon that she could not pay. Simply for making a record of the illegal bond, I was threatened with jail 10+ times and intimidated. The person on the Legislative Committee who wrote the bond was Linda Goehrs, his own temporary guardian. His lawyer submitted her bill to be paid out of the $30,000 illegal bond, which escalated to $90,000 and his guardian, Goehrs testified that Harris County had insufficient funds to pay her bill. Randall Keith did not.

We lost before we ever filed. Guardianship was awarded to a disqualified child abuser and the Judge disqualified the qualified mother, a veriable expert in autism in my professional opinion as an expert–because Harris County has insufficient funds and Randall Keith did not. His lawyers, Fatima Breland, told us up front there be no experts because Sharon had no money. Andrew was the client she was supposed to zealously represent. Harris County had no money, so no interpreter was retained so that Linda and Fatima could understand what Andrew wanted in violation of his rights. The code mandates interpreters, but we had insufficient funds and the Ad litem, Fatima, placed her duty to zealously represent on me. Andrew was denied speech therapy, deemed medically necessary for him since age three–until the time of trial, by court appointed ad litems.

Linda Goehrs wrote the bond provision in the estates code and knew in 2012 it was not effective but she petitioned the Court to pay herself $30,000 to serve as Andrew’s guardian and submitted a further bill for $90,000. Judge Olsen screamed, “you can blame Candice Schwager when you are not paid $100,000″ and I suppose you can. Linda violated the rules for indigent disabled individuals and the Harris County fee guidelines and charged $375 per hour to learn on the job as I desperately fed her autism for 2 years hoping she would understand. I was not allowed to attend the special education meetings we demanded after seeing 7 years of neglect splashed through his educational record. It’s clear to me why now. Andrew was never declared incompetentbecause Harris County refused to fund experts and his ad litems would not even talk to my expert, a man with 50 years Board Certified Experience in Special Education and Psychology who designs special education schools and charges $700/hour as an expert–but worked for Andrew for free because of Andrew.

I had to work for free because Sharon could not stay in the case if I was paid, but managed to get one speech pathologist to testify speech was medically necessary. The family court ordered that the guardian give Andrew speech therapy, which his guardian refused to allow because, as she testified under oath, “I did not understand autism.” Too bad for Andrew, I suppose. Linda ended up quashing my subpoena to violate Andrew’s right to testify about his wishes. He wanted to be with his mother and made no secret of not wanting to even see his father again.

The Judge was not competent because he asked during the hearing “what is an ARD meeting?” I was left in the position of trying to qualify a board certified lawyer in probate who was incompetent to testify as an expert with an incompetent judge who never read Andrew’s educational and medical file since age 3, and unable to remove them, while also unable to qualify them because they were all incompetent. I was the expert under Rule 702 and my expert opinion is Sharon, his mother, was the expert of all of us. But Sharon was disqualified for money and the abusive thief was disqualified, but qualified for money.

Linda Goehrs did not read the summaries of 864 pages of Andrew’s medical records I provided or a two year stream of emails about child abuse, as I hoped against hope that a light bulb would turn on. She’s had 2 ½ years to do so. So did his lawyer, the attorney ad litem. Linda testified that she did not allow us to take Andrew to speech therapy because his incompetent abusive father said “it was a waste of time” and she “did not understand autism.” Linda committed crimes against Andrew by not providing medically necessary speech therapy, ordered by the family court judge. Apparently, she did not read the 10 years of family court files I sent to her and summarized. I gave her a pile of school and medical records 1 1/2 feet high and summarized them all. Were they read?

The Code says if a person is indigent, the County pays. When I begged that Section 665A be enforced and revealed the Legislative History, I was threatened with jail and then Judge Olsen stated on the record “Wouldn’t it be nice if Harris County had the money?” He denied my plea for a jury trial on the disqualification before he threw out mom and said I would not get a jury “because he was the ultimate arbiter of fact.”

I could not disqualify or qualify the attorney or temporary guardian because the judge never understood they weren’t qualified under the rules of evidence. And at the end of the day, I ended up representing Andrew and my client in a system that cared only about money and we had insufficient funds to beat the system. I lost and Andrew is a hostage because these reckless incompetent people think they are competent and have no idea what they have just done. I do and I am horrified. Now Sharon cannot file any more court actions or she will “never see Andrew again.”

When the case began, I prayed Charles Bearinger would stick with us. He volunteered pro bono when his rate is $700/hour. I offered him to Linda and Fatima and they did not call him on the phone or to trial. I could not call him because he was afraid to testify. Charles is Board Certified in Special Education and Psychology/Counseling with a combined total of more than 50 years of experience. The case was tragic and I fear for Andrew’s life because Randall once told his older son, who got away, “no one will hear you cry for help now.” Imagine Andrew’s nightmare.