Reports of elder abuse result in Restraining Orders . . . but not how you´d think

Dees Illustration
Janet Phelan 

In an unparalleled action in an ex parte hearing on April 1, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz issued a Restraining Order against a local physician, Dr. Laura Moire, blocking her from taking further action or making more reports in regards to conservatee Jean Tanaka.

Dr. Moire, who is considered an expert in elder abuse, is a founder of the Geriatric Division of the American College of Emergency Medicine, a founding member of the American College of Forensic Medicine as well as a member of the White House Conference on Aging, among numerous other honors and affiliations. Dr. Moire took a sole action of calling both Adult Protective Services and the police on the evening of March 30, 2011, in an attempt to alert these agencies as to her concerns of abuse being inflicted upon Mrs. Tanaka through the auspices of conservator Linda Cotterman.

In an interview last week Dr. Moire stated that she had testified during the conservatorship trial of Tanaka on March 3 and was concerned to learn that no action had been taken to address her concerns as to Mrs. Tanaka’s care.

Moire’s testimony dealt with a number of specific areas wherein she stated that Tanaka’s health was impacted by the type of care being delivered by Cotterman. These included concerns that Mrs. Tanaka was forcibly removed from her spacious Westwood home and subsequently confined in a small basement apartment, as well as the discontinuation of physician prescribed supplements which had previously stabilized Mrs. Tanaka’s blood pressure, normalized her cholesterol levels, built bone density, and strengthened her immune system and cognitive functioning. This discontinuance  has been followed by 5 back -to- back urinary infections,4 collapses and several hospitalizations where she was transported unconscious by ambulances none of which were brought to the attention of a cardiologist. She has reportedly suffered weight loss, lack of basic dental care, isolation and restrictive monitoring of highly limited visits with her daughter, Jeannie.

Of specific concern to Dr. Moire was the placement of Mrs. Tanaka on “comfort care” in the absence of any terminal condition or diagnosis, which has resulted in not only the continued withdrawal of care (such as supplements) which were deemed beneficial to the ninety-five year old woman but the denial of care for her now painfully swollen hands, extreme fatigue, and what has been reported as sudden inability to stand up on her own and walk, brainfog and erratic blood pressure.

The Salem News has obtained a copy of the ex parte notice, written by attorney Margaret Lodise, in which she advises that “we will be making an ex parte application tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. In Room 258 (Dept. 9) seeking an order restraining either Jeannie or Dr. Moire or either of their agents from making any calls to the police, the paramedics or any similar agency reporting elder abuse regarding Mrs. Tanaka until further order of the court.”  Lodise’s office has declined to comment on this matter

At the April 1st hearing, Judge Goetz chose to also restrain Jeannie from any further contact with her mother. According to witnesses, Jeannie showed up at her mother’s dwelling that evening after Dr. Moire had made the phone calls to APS and police and was not involved in Dr. Moire’s actions. Goetz subsequently reversed this decision on April 13th, allowing Jeannie a total of  three hours per week of paid monitored visitation with her mother.

Dr. Moire states she was not served with a notice of hearing and calls the efforts to restrain her “ludicrous and illegal.” She has previously typified the efforts to separate mother and daughter as follows: “The isolation from daughter Jeanie is sorrowfully self expressed by Mrs. Tanaka and deprivation from the company of her daughter Jeanie is cruel and abusive to them both.” Jeannie Tanaka has been ordered to pay hundreds of dolllars per visit to a monitoring company. 

The use of Restraining Orders to restrict family members from their ability to oversee the  care of conservatees has become epidemic. In a case involving conservatorships and the rich and famous, Goetz also approved a temporary restraining order against singer Courtney Love that bars her from seeing or contacting her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Love had protested that her daughter, who is under a guardianship, had been molested by Jamie Spears, who is the father (and conservator) of another famous conservatee, singer Britney Spears.    In a less publicized case, retired peace officer Willliam Horspool was restrained from his father, conservatee Raymond Horspool, after taking photographs which allegedly demonstrated the poor care being received by his father. San Bernardino Court Judge Michael Welch said he “didn’t believe” the photos, which apparently showed the elder Horspool lying in soiled bedclothes, and ordered the photos destroyed. William Horspool was subsequently restrained from his father without a hearing, a violation of the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

The use of a restraining order to block a physician, who is a mandated reporter of elder abuse, from reporting elder abuse may be groundbreaking. According to Jeannie Tanaka’s attorney Robert Canny, the decision by Judge Goetz effectively overturns the First Amendment to the US Constitution and Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.
Last June, conservator Linda Cotterman called the police and told them that Jeannie had violated a Restraining Order by visiting her mother. Jeannie Tanaka, who is an attorney with the State of California, was hauled away in handcuffs in full view of her mother. She was released from custody prior to booking when the police discovered there was no Restraining Order in place. Jeannie Tanaka has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles police, stating that Cotterman knowingly made a false police report. The State of California deems false police reports to be a misdemeanour punishable by jail. At the time of going to press, Cotterman has not been taken into custody.

Both Mrs. and Jeannie Tanaka, who are Japanese American, are survivors of the World War II detention camps. President  Roosevelt had  ordered all Japanese Americans to be rounded up and herded into detention facilities, as potential enemies of the State.

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