Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship brings scrutinization of probate issue

Probate abuse is often aided by quiet proceedings occurring away from watchful eyes and sometimes without knowledge of even the most affected parties.  The conservatorship (or guardianship) of Nashville musician Danny Tate started this way, but a wave of public scrutiny might soon change the tone, even provide a new infusion of “justice” when the involved parties meet next week in Judge Randy Kennedy’s Davidson County (TN) Probate Court.

A web site and a Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense Facebook page now with 3,500+ members started an effort to highlight the power of conservatorships, the opportunity for abuse and the case specifics of Danny Tate – Nashville’s most competent “incompetent” man.  This momentum followed a Nashville Scene article entitled Court-Ordered Hell — how an errant judge and a controlling sibling stripped Nashville rocker Danny Tate of his money, his livelihood and his legal rights.

Blogs like and have chronicled Tate’s case providing analysis and promoting related activities.  Other print, internet and broadcast media outlets are picking up the story of how signing a power of attorney so his brother, David, could pay bills while Tate was in rehab opened the door for a conservatorship that has effectively stripped the musician of his civil and property rights.

Internet activism is not so new, but never has it been put to such consummate use in a probate case.  In a recent posting on the Friends For Danny Tate’s Defense FB page, Danny’s friend Kevin Montgomery encouraged members to contact the Tennessee Disciplinary Counsel for the Court of the Judiciary to express concerns regarding the handling of the Danny Tate conservatorship case.  As this request was additionally forwarded via Twitter and other blogs, the message’s reach grew exponentially.

This case accentuates how musicians can be appealing targets, but more importantly, it exemplifies a power that resides in probate courts throughout this country.  A power that when misapplied with minimal standards of evidence and accountability puts at risk anyone in America.  Conservatorships aren’t on people’s radar, but when they are, this legal status is often associated with minors, the elderly or the disabled.  Not understood by the general public is the dangerous fuzziness that comes into play when judges employ broad latitude to define “incapacitation” of anyone at any age.  Not only can it open lucrative conservatorship doors, but it can set the scene for a life-altering cancellation of personal freedom and an Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA).

May 23-25 will bring Tate’s friends traveling from all over the world to Nashville for the Friends For Danny Tate’s Defense Extravaganzascrutinizationfest.  Like everything else in Nashville, this effort has been impacted by the flood.  Danny Tate’s current legal battle should seem enough for one person to endure, but he sadly also lost his home and many possessions in the flood.

As the flood aftermath continues to generate much need in Nashville and the surrounding area, The Extravaganzascrutinizationfest will bring an opportunity noon to 4 p.m. Sunday when Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense group members can partner with Pay it Forward Nashville to find a Nashvillian in need and assist them for a few hours.

Attention turns to the conservatorship case on Sunday night as The Extravaganzascrutinizationfest hosts an awareness concert initially scheduled to help raise money for Tate’s legal bills.  Understand that throughout this matter and with no control of his assets, Danny Tate’s financial resources have been used by his brother in the fight to keep Tate in this questionable guardianship.  Meanwhile, Danny Tate had no access to his own funds in order to pay a lawyer to represent his side of the case.  Tate’s own lawyer worked for months with no compensation and it appears that only after this case began receiving public scrutiny did Judge Randy Kennedy approved payment for those services.  With that approval and the flood, the legal case will continue as a focus for the concert, but Danny Tate has now asked that the event proceeds be designated for other Nashville flood victims.

Monday and Tuesday, May 24 and 25, are Danny Tate’s days in court.  Tate supporters will be in the courtroom for a first-hand view of how the Tennessee legal system works.  The nature whereby probate court actions occur with little visibility or notice often sows the seeds of abuse and corruption.  On these days, Tate supporters seek to promote a transparent process.  Kevin Montgomery blogged about the hearings:

We will come with cameras and video cameras as individuals to record our entrance and exit from court. We will remain peaceful. We will welcome the media, and trust me, they will be represented.  We do not intend to bullhorn our way into the courtroom, but we will not be denied our right to support Danny Tate, and provide scrutiny on the court. This is not a demonstration, but demonstrates our concern and care for our friend Danny Tate.

Americans mistakenly take for granted their personal freedom and property rights.  The administrative ease and casualness of legal process in granting conservatorships pose an incredible threat to an unsuspecting public.  In our country’s early history, both indentured servitude and slavery were acceptable means by which to relegate certain individuals to a secondary socioeconomic and political class with limited, if any, rights.  History seems to be repeating itself.

Danny Tate’s case shows that conservatorships can target an expanse of Americans beyond minors, the elderly or the disabled.  In today’s Land of the Gimme-Gimmes and Home of the I-Want-Mores, this is a dangerous road.  Free DannyTate!

For more info:

Musician Danny Tate shows “fight for your life” aspect of Nashville (and other) probate courts (May 3, 2010)

Austin musicians (and others) beware the guardianship plight of Nashville rocker Danny Tate (April 11, 2010)

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture.  She is the Online Producer at and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas Foundation.  Lou Ann may be contacted at