Elder Abuse Victims’ Son Says Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Adler Failed to Protect Victims (Part 1 of 3)


Son of elder abuse victims on Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Adler failing to protect victims

(Page 1 of 3)

[Please note: The following California conservatorship and account of it are completely true. However, the actual names of the parties involved have been changed to protect their privacy. The actual name of the judge in this case, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Adler (Van Nuys Courthouse East, Department Y) has not been changed, despite the fact that some Los Angeles County Superior Court probate judges have retaliated against individuals who have spoken out about probate court misconduct. For example, please read about Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert M. Letteau’s judicial misconduct, “palpable animosity,” and “evident bias against counsel” in the Conservatorship of Feist case.]


In the Conservatorship of Charles Sawyer, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Adler repeatedly failed to hold a perpetrator defying court orders in contempt of court and failed to issue restraining orders to contentious perpetrators who illegally seized control of the conservatorship and kidnapped the conservatee.


Family members and an in-home elder care provider committed or facilitated repeated, predatory financial elder abuse against Barbara Sawyer, suffering from severely disabling multi-infarct dementia due to strokes, and her husband, Charles Sawyer, suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease and dementia. As a result of major embezzlement and financial squandering, these vulnerable elderly victims suffered irreparable, catastrophic financial losses. The victims lost a gorgeous home on a golf course in an exclusive Rancho Mirage, California country club and most of their life savings of around $1 million. They then had to move permanently into a Medi-Cal-certified nursing home.

In a complicated, intensely contested elder abuse case, Judge Richard A. Adler appointed one of the elderly victims’ sons, David Sawyer, as conservator of the estates and persons of both victims. An experienced elder law and elder abuse attorney, Michael Bradford, vigorously represented David Sawyer as the conservator.

Judge Richard A. Adler fails to hold a defiant perpetrator in contempt of court

When Judge Judge Richard A. Adler appointed David Sawyer as conservator, Judge Adler ordered one of the elder abuse perpetrators (the conservator’s brother Robert Sawyer) to file an accounting with the court for the period Robert was a fiduciary for his parents under a durable power of attorney. But Robert brazenly defied the court and repeatedly refused to file an accounting. After Mr. Bradford and the conservator persuaded Judge Adler to order Robert to file an opposition and to appear in court about a month later to show cause why Robert should not be held in contempt of court, Robert responded by filing perjurious oppositions.

Robert was deliberately vexatious and contentious to drag out the court proceedings, deplete his parents’ estate, and leave the conservator (David) without an attorney to enforce Judge Adler’s order for Robert to account. During a tape-recorded argument in public, Robert acknowledged to the conservator that Robert did not care about the conservatorship and was eagerly looking forward to his parents’ impoverishment. Robert was threatening the conservator and trying to intimidate him so that the conservator would resign and therefore would not legally pursue Robert and would not protect the interests of the victimized conservatees (David and Robert’s parents). Robert also made it clear during this tape-recorded argument that if the conservator did not resign, Robert was going to try to oust the conservator as soon as the conservatees became impoverished. Robert said:

You know what David? We don’t give a rat’s fucking ass about the conservatorship.

I don’t give a shit about you or fucking Bradford.

Guess what Dave. Guess what. Guess what. I have more money than you could ever dream to find. And you know what? I go back in that court. You are gonna be sorry. You know what? Mommy and Daddy’s money is going to run out, and I’m going to fucking bury you legally. So you better back the hell off. And you better drop—I’m serious—you better drop out of this.

Before Robert’s initial order to show cause (OSC) regarding contempt hearing, Robert e-mailed to Mr. Bradford and the conservator an obviously incomplete and fraudulent accounting that concealed financial elder abuse against the conservatees while Robert was their fiduciary. Mr. Bradford and the conservator then filed with the court a detailed, documented opposition to Robert’s so-called accounting to prove Robert’s contempt and to prepare Judge Adler for Robert’s perjurious testimony at the upcoming OSC hearing.

However, at the contempt hearing, Judge Richard Adler either had not reviewed or was not concerned at all about the detailed evidence that the conservator had filed as part of his opposition to prove Robert’s failure to account. In fact, when Robert pulled out a copy of his defective accounting for Judge Adler, the judge failed to see that Robert’s accounting obviously did not comply with the court order or the law. Judge Adler even appeared ready and eager to accept and approve the fraudulent accounting and clear his calendar of the entire matter.

Because Judge Adler did not seem interested in fulfilling his duty to protect the victimized conservatees, the conservator was forced into the very uncomfortable dilemma of vigorously protecting the rights of the conservatees, while contesting a brother’s obvious attempt to conceal the financial elder abuse from the court. When the conservator had to reiterate to Judge Adler some of the evidence that the conservator had already filed with the court, Judge Adler made it clear that he had not read the evidence about Robert’s fraudulent accounting and that he was reluctant to pursue the matter and find Robert in contempt.

The following verbatim excerpt from the court transcript of the initial contempt hearing (except the true names of the parties) illustrates Judge Richard Adler’s failure to read evidence in court filings, failure to pursue and hold defiant perpetrators in contempt, and failure to care about protecting some victims of elder abuse:

The Court: Let’s back up for a minute. Do you have any evidence to dispute what Robert Sawyer just said, that he didn’t have anything to do with these accounts?

Mr. David Sawyer: Oh, Yes. There are statements. He transferred over $260,000, I believe.

The Court: Let’s do this the easy way, then if you want to pursue this.

[Emphasis added.]

Although the conservator was prepared and eager to present evidence at this contempt hearing in the interest of conserving the conservatees’ dwindling estate, Judge Adler abruptly cut off the conservator and refused to hear evidence. Instead of listening to the evidence at this definitely calendared contempt hearing, Judge Adler essentially directed Mr. Bradford and the conservator to spend thousands of dollars of the conservatees’ money to prepare for and appear the following month at yet another costly contempt hearing for Robert.

The following verbatim excerpt from the same above-mentioned court transcript of the initial contempt hearing (except the true names of the parties) reflects that Judge Richard Adler refused to hear the conservator’s prepared evidence, continued the calendared hearing, and cost the conservatees’ estate a substantial amount of money:

The Court: We will set up a hearing, and you are going to file a detailed affidavit setting out all of your brother’s connections to these accounts. You are going to lay it out for me, under penalty of perjury. You are going to bring in the evidence and show me what he did with these accounts that he now claims he didn’t have anything to do with. And after that hearing, we will decide whether or not Robert Sawyer is in contempt. So all we need to do is set up another date. I want you to file those declarations. Do you understand what I am asking you to do?

Mr. David Sawyer: I do.

The Court: He just said—Are you with me? He just said he didn’t have anything to do with it.

Mr. David Sawyer: Okay.

The Court: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You are saying he did have something to do with it.

Mr. David Sawyer: Okay.

The Court: I need to decide whether he did or didn’t have anything to do with it, so I need the evidence. You don’t need to tell me now. I don’t need to hear it now. I am going to give you a date. You are going to come in here. You are going to write it all down, and amass all this data, and give it to me, a copy to him. He’s going to respond to it, and then I am going to decide what we are going to do. Are you with me? [Emphasis added.]

Mr. David Sawyer: I am with you, your Honor.

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