May 1, 2014
By Ruthie DiTucci and Susan Constantine
Suzan Lewis is Jerry Lewis’ daughter. Like many disabled people, she entered into contractual agreements with financial predators.
When a person suffers a serious brain injury, whether it is caused by dementia, disease or even blunt force trauma that person may suffer from epilepsy, long or short memory loss and a myriad of other associated symptoms.
Whatever caused the illness or injury, anyone going into a contractual understanding with someone that has suffered a condition affecting the brain (thus the mind), has to realize that the person in question, while willing and able to affix a signature to a document, may not actually be legally competent to sign a document.
One of the last things a person will give up, when ill or injured, is his or her sense of self – the personal ego.
People sign their rights and assets away every day. Quite often, individuals do not realize the level of their own incompetency (to comprehend what they are signing as well as the impact the transaction will make on their lives).
Sometimes, while fully aware of it, a person’s self preservation (ego) does not allow him or her to fully accept that their mental state is limited or severely affected enough that they should not sign anything without the involvement of a lawyer.
Some of the contracts that some individuals have been pressured into signing are amazing in scope and outrageous in the whole. Some of the contracts I have seen are so predatory that whomever wrote them should be charged with human rights abuse. In the case of an elder person, I have always been able to consult an elder law attorney.
As I live in the State of Florida, in the case of senior citizens I recommend the office of the State Attorney General where they recognize abuse to the point where they have a specialist assigned to these cases alone. Almost every state has an office dealing with the abuse of the elderly and or infirm. Don’t hesitate to call them.
I have come across my fair share of people that are contractually involved in deals by virtue of their signatures alone. They do not understand what they are committing to nor do they understand how severely these bogus documents will affect their lives. Sadly, most had already signed contracts they did not understand before we met, otherwise I would have insisted on submitting the contract to one of the many attorneys that consult SyndicatedNews.NET.
We have avoided the courts many times by going directly to a medical facility where we ask a physician to schedule a wellness check including a competency assessment. I am no longer surprised when the doctor returns an incompetency diagnosis on a perfectly well acting, logical person. The individual’s mental health and competency may seem fine to a regular person (like me). But to a medical professional, there are many tell tale signs the physician sees upon first meeting. The tests are only conducted to confirm the initial diagnosis.
You would be surprised by how many sharp, otherwise solid citizens, that I’ve brought to social workers at medical facilities to get a written assessment work up by a physician or psychiatrist (often both) and where they thought they were perfectly fine, the assessment proved they were legally incompetent.
One clever couple left the great state of Detroit after the husband finished his attempted murder sentence and moved to sunny Florida. While incarcerated, he had learned to notice and admire that the only civilians able to come and go within the prison facility were members of the clergy.
On finishing his prison stint and before moving to Florida, he purchased a white clerical collar ($15.00) paid for and sent for a theology ordination certificate on the Internet ($35.00) and set up a church.
I found one local parishioner had been handing the pastor $200.00 or $300.00 weekly and was constantly broke because he was supporting the pastor’s street front church.
But when the pastor upgraded to a room at one of the local Country Clubs and told the parishioners that they would be punished by God if they didn’t fork over the cash he needed to pay for the room rental in the huge country club, I went right to the authorities.
In order to encourage and “bully” the parishioners into giving him money, the pastor had made them sign a commitment with him (a contract) that they would be led by the Holy Spirit. There’s a huge problem with that. For instance, the Holy Spirit is not accountable to the State Attorney General.
People whom believe in religion and ethereal, religious ideas take the mention of the Holy Spirit very seriously. I found several parishioners had signed this bogus document fearing God was going to strike them down with lightning or locusts.
In New York, through either their lack of education or years of drug abuse or even brain cancer, or traumatic brain injuries, many of my students were incapable of standing behind their signatures on contracts ranging from car purchases to multi-level-marketing schemes.
And take a moment and think about it… What self respecting man or woman wants to admit that they are incapable of signing a document? Most people would rather sign their lives away than admit that they are handicapped in any way.
One of my dear closest friends, suffering from an organic common illness, was constantly fooled by sales people that apparently “saw him coming”. He had signed a variety of contracts, half of which he didn’t know what they meant or how much he was paying. He certainly had no understanding of how they were ruining him with interest fees.
He had been pressured by salesmen to “sign here” and to secure and maintain his sense of self and male ego, he’d sign all sorts of contracts. I found one notation on an invoice from the district manager advising the sales force that he was “a patsy” but that they should emotionally “rush him” or mention “the holy spirit” because then he would sign any thing.
In order to help him, I informed his family that I was seeking a power of attorney and requested their support. That started the wheels towards paying off years of accumulated debt. He did not realize that the many companies he had given his credit card to had been withdrawing their fees before his mortgage or utilities withdrew their monthly payments.
Once he realized that the new plan didn’t hurt him and provided more cash for him to fully enjoy the lifestyle he deserved, he wanted even more of the new financial plan going forward. When a few banks and brokerage houses refused to cooperate because the new deal would severely end their easily earned commissions (enjoyed over several decades) I sought the advice of a local family court judge who suggested I obtain the services of an elder law attorney.
Our next step was a trip to meet with and engage the services of Steve Allender of Allender and Allender Attorneys at Law. Steven Allender specializes in elder law specifically. Signing the person up with a legal representative will ward off many predators because an attorney in the mix is too uncomfortable for fraudsters, shysters and charlatans.
This step is extremely important if you are in the position of caretaker to someone needing assistance. If you are unavailable, the individual needs to know that he or she does have legal representation specifically meant to protect his or her interests alone.
If you have someone in your family or a close friend that you see is advancing in years and is suffering possible memory loss, or has suffered from a physical, organic or mental health condition, do not hesitate to find an elder law attorney in your neighborhood and make an appointment to secure the services and protection of that elder law attorney to protect that person’s rights.
In many cases there are no relatives or close friends to step in and restore financial order. As a result, some adults whom have adequate incomes or pensions provided by Social Security Disability or the Veterans Administration, still live on the streets and sleep under bridges. You will find this problem going on all over the country.
A few miles near my own home in a lovely Country Club and Golf Resort setting are hundreds of U.S. Military Veterans living in the woods along the Florida shores and local police informed me that they’ve been living there for years.
What we are discussing in this article is the other person in these lopsided transactions. The one whose mind is whole, the one who is not suffering from mental illness, the one who has no brain disease and suffers from no illness or affliction other than greed.
There are in fact, adults that fall into the area of financial predators. They prey on the weak and the helpless. They are in the hedge fund industry, they sell insurance, they sell siding and a myriad of other products. I know one group that sells creams and vitamins to the tune of millions. You should hear the promo shtick they feed their victims in order to get auto shipments paid out of their checking accounts.
Contracts for instance wherein a person gives up his or her constitutional rights is automatically bogus and unenforceable. You would be surprised at how often one unscrupulous person will create a document for another one who is either uneducated, infirm or elderly or legally, mentally incompetent to sign their inalienable rights away and the contract gives all the power and benefit to the author of the contract.
Courts all over the world examine whether an agreement constitutes a contract and whether or not it is enforceable. This practice goes on daily in every country around the world.
There are numerous reasons why a judge would not enforce a contract. Built into contracts are what the law calls “contract defenses”. Those defenses are designed to protect people from unfairness in the bargaining process. There are cases in which the unfairness is so extreme that the contract is considered void and the judge will actually state that no contract was ever formed because the balance was so lopsided.
And the most interesting reasons a contract becomes unenforceable is the most obvious. It is the matter of whether or not the signer has the “capacity to contract”.
A person suffering from organic illness (cancer or related diseases), mental illness or having suffered a blow to the head does not have the capacity to contract. The reason causing their incapacity is irrelevant.
What matters to a judge is whether or not the person is capable of entering into a contract and if he or she does, the court will or will not enforce it depending on the person’s condition.
The same holds true for a person that is under a legal guardianship or is managed and protected by a power of attorney that has been approved by parties that have nothing to gain in approving the person holding the power of attorney.
Children for instance, when they sign contracts do not have the capacity to contract. A person that is under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not have the capacity to contract. A person having suffered a blow to the head, does not have the capacity to contract. And if the person offering the contract for signature knew the condition existed, the judge will consider coercion, false statements, improper persuasion and that alone will void the contract.
It has been my experience that when I offer to take a suspicious contract to a judge (many judges and attorneys make their advice available to SyndicatedNews.NET pro bono) the author of the unscrupulous contract which stands to benefit from the signing of the contract with a person known not to have capacity to contract, the author of the document usually disappears.
Another contract defense is when a contract or agreement is “unconscionable”. An agreement or contract being unconscionable applies to many types of circumstances. For instance, if the result of a contract only protects the presenter of the contract and does not protect both signers equally, a judge will likely not enforce it because the document’s rights fall to one side and not the other, it is lopsided.
A judge will also consider whether a person is legally illiterate, or simply never had a solid education. The catch 22 again here is that a regular person is so likely to not want to admit they do not understand something, for fear of being considered stupid, that they will often sign a contract that is completely injurious to them financially.
Another interesting safety factor that judges use to determine whether or not a contract is enforceable is if the contract includes legal “mistakes”.
Another aspect of common law (and common sense) that will void a contract is if the contract was written by someone claiming he or she is an attorney at law when he or she is not a lawyer at all.
Another common misconception is that lawyers are registered in the Martindale-Hubble publication. This is a wide-held idea that is totally untrue. Many attorneys simply will not pay to be listed in Martindale and they are perfectly licensed attorneys.
Attorneys are under no obligation to list under Martindale. It is a “directory” like the Yellow Pages therefore no attorney can be obliged to pay Martindale or any other directory. It is not the “legal Bible”. The state bar association in the state where the individual has posted an advertisement claiming to be an attorney at law is the state where the person is considered to be practicing law (whether the person actually is an attorney is another matter).
It turns out – that a published advertisement stating the individual’s name identifying him or her as an attorney at law, where the address listed and the phone number listed is his or her own address and phone number, that alone constitutes the impersonation of an attorney and is considered “practicing law without a license”.
Once an individual has posted advertisements that are viewable by the public – a reasonable man would assume that any member of the public viewing that advertisement would have reason to believe that the person is in fact an attorney at law. Scoundrels when caught claim that they are a party in the contract therefore they are representing themselves. A judge will likely void any such contracts as well.
If that individual has actually gotten other parties to sign contracts or agreements of any kind, a judge will find them unenforceable because the non lawyer represented him or herself to the public, as an attorney at law. Depending on the state, practicing law without a license is punishable by fines and time in jail.
The Criminal Defense Lawyer website (www.criminaldefenselawyer.com) states the following:
Penalties for practicing law without a license…
The unauthorized practice of law can be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The laws of the state in which the activity occurs determine the severity of the crime, and some states allow for either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances. Anyone convicted of the unauthorized practice of law faces a range of potential penalties.
Incarceration. If you’re convicted of the crime of the unauthorized practice of law, you face a possible jail or prison sentence. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to a sentence of up to one year in a county jail, while felony sentences allow for a year or more in prison, though 5 years or more in prison is possible in some states.
Fines. Fines are a common punishment for the unauthorized practice of law. Misdemeanor fines are often $1,000 or less, while felony fines can exceed $5,000 or more per offense.
Probation. A probation sentence is also possible if you’ve been convicted of practicing law without a license. While on probation you must comply with specific conditions, such as paying all fines, reporting to a probation officer, finding or maintaining a job, and not committing any other crimes.
Restitution. If you’re convicted of the unauthorized practice of law and you charged the victim a fee for your services, the court will also order a restitution payment. Restitution is a separate penalty apart from any fines the court imposes, and must be paid to the victims to compensate for any losses they suffered. You must also pay restitution as a condition of a probation sentence.
In the case where an unscrupulous individual has practiced law without a license or dabbled in financial products such as the hedge fund world, etc., or any matter of financial promises, and has been previously charged or convicted, judges will consider those cases as more serious because that person has already behaved criminally, been dealt with by the law, yet he or she has continued behaving deceptively.
Lies, secrets, and concealment are all tactics of deception. Knowing the truth and intentionally withholding information by definition are lies. People lie for many different reasons, from avoiding an awkward situation to reducing ones guilt of shame and embarrassment to more serious lies such as, embezzlement, fraud, and even murder.
In this case, revealing a secret may be too painful to face and holding a secret prevents others’ judgments when the truth is also too painful to face. The secret is hidden away so no one would ever find out. That works for a time, at least until you are under scrutiny when your character, integrity, and status is questioned.
Deciding not to reveal an embarrassing secret is usually easy, but letting the whole world know is a whole lot harder. Ego, pride and status are a toxic cocktail for narcissists who have branded their identity behind a worthy cause.
Jerry Lewis is not the only philanthropist to fall from grace. There have been countless others who have not practiced what they preach. Sadly, “Jerry’s Kids” were a lot closer to home than most realized until now when the truth has been told.
[highlight background=”#fff999″]Susan Constantine who has studied human behavior at every level, will provide her experience and teach us what to look for in similar cases where a skilled sales person has negotiated a contract with a handicapped person and the contract only serves the purpose of enriching the vendor or the company being represented.[/highlight]
[highlight background=”#fff999″]Susan holds a bachelors degree in communications and a masters degree in psychology. She begins her doctorate work in September of this year. She is certified in four areas of investigation and interrogation for cases of elder or child abuse. She teaches attorneys how to observe and identify deception and is a Jury Consultant for high profile cases in U.S. Courts as well as courts in other countries.[/highlight]
The reason this story is important and why we are bringing it to the public’s attention is because for many years, another Suzan (spelled with a ‘z’), Suzan Lewis knew she was the daughter of Jerry Lewis.
After several tabloids published salacious versions of her situation, a good and responsible soul, Gary Lewis went out to find Suzan and gave her the DNA exam he knew she deserved.
He had it in mind to put the story to bed for once and for all. The result was that she actually carries 17 of 22 of their father’s rare genetic DNA markers. Surprisingly, of all his many biological children, Suzan Lewis is the one with the closest resemblance to Jerry Lewis, the American comedian.
Sadly, before she had been scientifically identified as Jerry Lewis’ daughter, she received a severe head injury in an Orlando, Florida auto accident. Without funds and suffering from a significant blow to the brain, her cognitive understanding is sometimes off, her short term memory comes and goes and she is clearly a handicapped adult.
Seeing the opportunity to take advantage of Suzan’s proven genetic connection to her father, misguided adults had Suzan Lewis sign contracts that she is completely unable to live up to and are invalid on their face. One cannot sign away constitutional, inalienable rights. Yet the authors of the contracts figured that Suzan is alone and alienated.
[highlight background=”#fff999″]Susan Constantine will continue this story here and identify financial predators and teach us how they work, their modus operendi and in general teach us what to look for and how to identify them.[/highlight]
Written by SyndicatedNews
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