California Second District Court of Appeal reversed probate court Judge Robert M. Letteau in Conservatorship of Feist case (2001)
In an unpublished decision in the Conservatorship of Feist case in December 2001, the California Second District Court of Appeal reversed Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert M. Letteau’s “unexplained and drastic reduction of [elder law attorney Marc B.] Hankin’s fee request—from $62,539.75 to $11,134.71.” The appeals court reversed Judge Letteau’s punitive and arbitrary fee reduction because it found that the decision of Judge Letteau, who is a former supervising judge of Los Angeles County probate courts, was:
- “Inordinately delayed…for a full year.”
- “Patently an abuse of discretion.”
- “Tainted by an evident bias against counsel.”
- The result of “palpable animosity between the trial court and Hankin.”
The appeals court attributed Judge Letteau’s “thinly veiled hostility toward Hankin” to the judge’s taking Mr. Hankin’s “outspoken commentary” on probate court practices “as a personal affront.” Mr. Hankin’s commentary, which he included in a declaration (PDF 81KB) filed with Judge Letteau’s court, contended that the probate court’s practice of cutting conservators’ and attorneys’ fees encourages perpetrators to be litigious and deters conservators and attorneys from taking up difficult, demanding, contentious elder abuse cases involving small or modest estates.
The Second District Court of Appeal decided not to publish its decision and instead to keep Judge Letteau’s willful misconduct essentially a private matter outside of public rebuke. However, Elder Abuse Exposed.com is providing the appeals court’s decision below to make Judge Letteau’s flagrant abuse of power the very public matter it should be.
Conservatorship of Feist court filings
- Judge Robert M. Letteau reversed by California Second District Court of Appeal in Conservatorship of Feist case (PDF 121 KB)
- Attorney Marc Hankin’s declaration filed in support of a petition for legal fees for services to protect an elder abuse victim (PDF 81 KB)
- California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) public admonishment against Judge Robert M. Letteau (PDF 140 KB)