This is the petition the court denied:
Chippewa County Probate Court
319 Court Street
Sault Ste. Marie, Ml 49783
Report of Guardian on Condition of Individual with Developmental Disability
File No. 90-22523-DD
Amanda C. Bailey
August 19, 2016
Dear Probate Court,
I am enclosing a petition stating that the situation has changed in the guardianship status of my sister, Amanda Bailey, a 45-year-old, highly functional adult with Down syndrome, to one that is harmful to her. This is due to:
- Death threats by her temporary custodian, Dan Bailey in Michigan.
- Forced separation from family members despite Amanda’s wishes.
- Cessation of communication with family members by Amanda’s guardian.
- Amanda being subjected to violent exchanges via speaker phone.
Please see attached affidavits from a number of Amanda’s friends and relatives, some of whom have known her all her life, who can attest to Amanda’s ability to speak for herself.
I would refer the court to the 1975 Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) which mandates the establishment of a state protection and advocacy system and guarantees rights of individuals with developmental disabilities.
“The Michigan Mental Health Code emphasizes that guardianships for individuals with developmental disabilities are to be utilized only as is necessary to promote and protect the well-being of the individual. Perhaps more important, the code emphasizes that the individual’s abilities are to be taken into consideration and the guardians are to ‘encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence’ in the ward. In addition, the code states that ‘if the court determines that some form of guardianship is necessary, partial guardianship is the preferred form of guardianship for an individual with a developmental disability.’ (Mental Health Code of Michigan, 1974)” – COPYRIGHT 2002 Council for Exceptional Children ISSN: 0014-4029
“…The supported decision-making process should be incorporated as a part of the guardianship if guardianship is necessary.” – National Guardianship Association
“Under all circumstances, efforts should be made to encourage every person under guardianship to exercise his/her individual rights retained and participate, to the maximum extent of the person’s abilities, in all decisions that affect him or her, to act on his or her own behalf in all matters in which the person is able to do so, and to develop or regain his or her own capacity to the maximum extent possible.” – National Guardianship Association
“Visits by family members and friends are basic to quality of life. The NGA (National Guardianship Association) Standards of Practice state that ‘the guardian shall promote social interactions and meaningful relationships consistent with the preferences of the person . . .’ and ‘the guardian shall encourage and support the person in maintaining contact with family and friends, as defined by the person, unless it will substantially harm the person.’ (Std #4).” – AmericanBar.org
Despite these guidelines, the law gives very little governance to guardianship. Therefore, we families must rely on the court to mandate good behavior on the part of a guardian, on an individual basis.
I’m requesting that this guardianship be amended from plenary guardian to partial guardian, with “supported decision-making” to give Amanda more control over her life and choices.
I’m requesting that Amanda have a psychological evaluation by a court-appointed professional, in order to determine her ability to communicate.
Also please list me as standby guardian, which was Amanda’s original request, as well as our father’s, for her protection. Note that my goal is not to disrupt Amanda’s life by taking over the guardianship. I am asking to amend the existing guardianship to a status that is more appropriate and healthier for Amanda, as well as the preferred form of guardianship per Michigan Mental Health Code.
Amanda’s plenary guardian is our older brother, Ted Bailey. Amanda moved to Mesa Arizona in 2013 following the death of our dad.
March – June 2016:
I was trying to honor Amanda’s request that we spend quality time together during her two months (June into August) in Michigan. Amanda’s guardian was not cooperating with our wishes. We were strung along for three months. There was never a straight, reasonable answer as to why. (Ted bases a lot of importance on someone’s income and occupation, rather than on Amanda’s level of trust and her history with them.) After my numerous attempts to reach an agreement with him, on May 3 he had an attorney send me an email inviting a petition, and I reluctantly made the decision to file.
June 21, 2016:
Perhaps deeming it a family squabble and failing to recognize the civil rights issue, my petition was “denied on merit” by Judge Harold Johnson, despite four glaring problems:
- Though she was in Michigan at the time, Amanda was not present in the courtroom to express her thoughts, nor did the judge agree to meet with her privately.
- Amanda’s court-appointed counsel, Charles Palmer had never even spoken to her.
- There was no cross-examination.
- The court was presented with vicious hearsay in letters from our sisters, spewing lies and resentment over a book Amanda and I co-authored. (Their anger over this book admits to their conflict of interest, thus nullifying the effort.)
I chose not to appeal the decision, being that Amanda was still in Michigan at that time and I was still communicating with Ted, attempting a peaceful resolution.
Once the deadline to appeal was past, Ted blocked my phone calls. I can no longer even trust that Amanda will receive my letters.
In some circles, this would be considered an abuse of power. It certainly constitutes emotional abuse, and should in fact be a criminal act.
Amanda had her hopes to see me dashed time and again, and was subjected to screaming fits over speaker phone by my brother Dan, who was her caretaker for the two months.
Considering Dan’s history of drinking and violence, I postponed any attempts to meet with Amanda if he was involved. He refused to remove himself from our time together. His belligerence toward me is hard on Amanda. I elected to wait until August when Ted returned to Michigan.
August 1, 2016:
With Amanda still in his home, Dan threatened my life, saying he would “put a bullet between my eyes”. (See EatonCounty.org PPO case # 16-841.)
At that point I knew Amanda’s situation was deteriorating badly and I began organizing this petition.
Had Ted simply heeded Amanda’s and my request last spring, and allowed her to spend a few days with me, it would have spared a boatload of heartache and grief: Especially for Amanda.
Ted is not a bad person – just naïve and very stubborn. He thinks he is infallible, and the system has enforced his blinded dominance by granting him absolute power. He is more interested in having control, than in understanding how his actions are abusive to Amanda. But I believe with the court’s guidance he will come around and perhaps even let bygones be bygones, for Amanda’s sake. Sadly, he is not going to do this on his own volition. He is not a listener.
Summer 2016 marks the second time Ted has placed Amanda in an abusive situation, hundreds or thousands of miles from his Arizona residence, and in blatant disregard or denial of her circumstances.
The first time involved our sister Raechel Kolb in Colorado. Amanda stayed with her for 3 weeks in 2015, during which time Amanda lost 17 pounds. (Amanda is about 5 feet tall.) Ted had no idea anything was amiss, because Amanda wouldn’t tell him. She waited until the visit was over, and then she called me and said, “Raechel starved me,” and described horrendous episodes of verbal battery from Raechel and our other sister Rebecca Bailey.
At that time, I encouraged Amanda to talk to her guardian. I presented the situation to Ted’s wife, and Amanda finally was coaxed into spilling the story about her traumatic Colorado visit.
In spite of the 2015 Colorado scenario, and despite my warnings to Ted about Dan’s history with alcohol (including at least one DUI and the suspension of his driver’s license), Ted still insisted on cutting me off and leaving Amanda with Dan for two months.
During this time, Amanda was unable to call me for help, or ask me to come and get her, or contact me if anything was wrong. Amanda was forced to live under Dan’s roof witnessing his behavior, and she had no recourse. And this time, she can’t even call me to say what happened.
It is difficult to imagine anyone being this heartless to a woman with Down syndrome. But this is who my siblings are.
Now Ted will insist that Amanda is fine. How does he know that?
Amanda tells me things she will not tell anyone else. I have been her most trusted “safe person” through her entire life. She therefore needs to be able to reach me AT ALL TIMES.
Please restore Amanda’s personal security, which has been stripped away by this guardianship.
- Amanda must be free to visit wherever she is welcome, if she chooses; especially immediate family members.
- She must not be forced to stay anywhere she feels uncomfortable or unsafe.
- She must not be afraid to ask for what she wants.
- She must have communication restored with her loved ones, including access to her own cell phone, and be free to call her relatives and friends at any time.
Amanda is not a tool to be used in a game of spite. She is not a child, an invalid, or a house pet. She is a socially adept, witty, adult human being. Beyond that, she is intelligent, a great diplomat, and will be a tremendous peacemaker on her own behalf. Help us improve her quality of life, by restoring the freedom she lost when our father died.
Please be aware of the urgency of this situation. I am risking more backlash (toward both Amanda and myself) from these toxic siblings by filing this petition, but I cannot be silent about this. Amanda needs protection, and the best way to give it to her is to allow her to ask for it when she needs to.
The court has let Amanda down once. Please make this right by amending her guardianship. Follow the Michigan Mental Health Code. Help set an example for people with disabilities, like the state of Virginia did for Jenny Hatch in 2013, without taking a year to do so.
All people should have the right to see their loved ones, to live without fear and intimidation. Those who are vulnerable must not be subjected to bullying, or forced into silence just because they have Down syndrome.
Nancy J. Bailey