Man held in mental health detention to finally get a trial — or will he?

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Janet Phelan
Activist Post

Charlie Castle, who has been battling to get his day in court since he was grabbed off the street by two workers from the San Bernardino mental health court over a year ago, may finally get to see a judge today. 

Charlie’s plight has raised disturbing questions as to the reasons for the zealousness with which he was systematically robbed of all of his rights, including his right to have a jury trial on his alleged mental health issues.  Speculations have run the gamut—from rumors of enormous wealth inherited by Castle, who has been homeless for over a decade, to speculations that his detention augurs further sweeps to detain the homeless.

Whatever the rationale behind Charlie Castle’s detention, one thing is certain. Government agencies are bending over backwards to ignore their mandates to investigate his allegations of deprivation of rights. San Bernardino Adult Protective Services and the California Long Term Care Ombudsman’s offices were recently added to the list of those who are pledged to protect the vulnerable elderly and have, in fact, refused to do their job — as far as Charlie Castle goes.

When the first report about Charlie Castle that was made to San Bernardino APS was — shockingly — altered to the point that it reflected none of the concerns of the reporting party, a second report was made. All indicators point to SB Adult Protective Services again violating the law and declining to even visit Mr. Castle in the locked facility in Yucca Valley, California, to which he has been consigned by conservator Melodie Scott.

When Hester Bryant, Program Director of the California Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office, assured this reporter that the local Ombudsman was indeed working to restore Charlie’s rights to receive and make phone calls and to entertain visitors at Desert Manor, it appears that she spoke in error. After learning that the local Ombudsman was supporting Desert Manor in its violations of Charlie’s rights, Bryant was recontacted and she subsequently declined to return this reporter’s calls.

Charlie’s right to receive phone calls became a pivotal issue after he filed his writ of habeas corpus over a month ago. Almost immediately, conservator Scott moved Charlie into Braswell’s Desert Manor and began to restrict his ability to interact with the outside world. At least two disability rights legal agencies tried to contact Charlie pursuant to representing him and were denied access to him by staff at Desert Manor.

“This is what the conservator has ordered,” explained Megan, who is Social Services Director at Desert Manor. Megan has acknowledged that both federal and California law guarantee Castle these rights.

Recently, a purloined phone call was made in the dead of night by Charlie Castle to this reporter and Charlie stated he has been informed that he will finally have his trial. But will he?

Charlie told us that an independent counsel, Mark Flory, has been appointed to represent Charlie in this trial. Charlie’s writ of habeas corpus had alleged that his attorney, Bryan Hartnell, was violating ethical and legal boundaries by representing both Charlie and conservator Melodie Scott at the same time in this matter.

A local man, who was represented by Flory in another probate matter, scoffed at the idea that Flory is independent. “He is so far up Melodie Scott’s a— it is not funny,” stated Keith Phillips of Redlands.

It does appear that Flory has not taken even the most basic steps to prepare for Charlie’s trial. According to Charlie, Flory met with him one time. Charlie gave him two names and phone numbers of potential witnesses. Neither party has been contacted.

Charlie states that Flory told him his trial will take place this coming Friday (today) or the following Friday. Given Flory’s failure to adequately prepare, one must ask: Is Charlie getting a real trial or a sham one?

Mark Flory did not return this reporter’s calls.

To be continued…

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com

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