Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship: a case of caring or corruption? (part two)

Danny Tate’s conservatorship/guardianship initially gained attention in part due to his status as a respected singer/songwriter.  Upon a closer look, however, the circumstances of his plight raise interesting questions regarding the legal industry (courts and lawyers) and its potential to use probate venues as a vehicle for hijacking the liberty and property of American citizens.  For that reason, a Tennessee probate court will once again come under scrutiny at an Aug. 20 hearing with all eyes focused on those most involved with the musician’s 32-month “temporary” conservatorship:  Danny Tate’s former conservator (and brother) David Tate, attorney Paul T. Housch and Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy.

The scenario leading to Danny Tate signing a power of attorney document was previously described and serves as an interesting backdrop for the subsequent series of events.

Danny Tate’s Motion for Relief from Judgment, the motion to be heard at the upcoming hearing, describes David Tate’s methodical use of a POA to overtake his brother’s financial assets.  Per the motion, David Tate acknowledged in deposition testimony Danny’s protest and disapproval of his actions.  Nonetheless, his efforts continued and even expanded as Danny Tate accessed cash by liquidating securities from a Vanguard investment account as the company declined recognizing the POA being used by David Tate.  In his deposition testimony, David Tate said:  “Had they been restricted (the investment accounts), I would never have filed for conservatorship.”

The motion notes that all David’s actions were allegedly based upon Danny Tate’s rampant drug use though “David never called the paramedics, and never attempted to take Danny to the hospital or to an emergency room.”  It further states “David felt he was at liberty to confiscate, transfer and spend Danny’s money as he saw fit, over Danny’s objections, because, in his words, Danny was a ‘pathetic crack addict.’  Even though, during his deposition, David admitted that Danny was ‘coherent’ in June 2007.”  Despite Danny Tate renouncing the POA and asking his brother to find someone else to fill the role, David Tate continued to “exert control and dominion over his assets in spite of Danny’s disapproval.”

Three months passed during which the motion claims that David Tate wrote checks “to himself, his wife and his company, Signet, In., using Danny’s funds.”  During this time, through deposition testimony, David Tate indicates he decided to file for conservatorship over Danny yet did not visit his brother in Nashville nor make any attempts to have him evaluated.

David Tate is reported to have given attorney Paul T. Housch a $25,000 retainer (from Danny’s money) on Oct. 16, 2007, to file a “Petition for Appointment of Conservator” over the estate and person of Danny Tate.  This petition, filed on Oct. 19, 2007, alleged that “Danny had become disabled due to an addiction to an illicit narcotic and was in need of a conservator.”

More importantly, per the motion, the petition did not allege that Danny had ever been recently hospitalized as a result of his drug use, had recently suffered any physical injuries requiring emergency medical attention, had recently been admitted and treated at a hospital emergency room, had ever been arrested in connection with his drug use, had ever been previously diagnosed with psychosis or a psychotic disorder, was a danger to others, had a history of violence, was suicidal or psychotic nor did the petition contain affidavits from physicians.

A conservatorship is no small matter.  It can strip a person of their individual liberty and their property rights.  While David Tate’s petition included a guardian ad litem recommendation for his brother, he requested himself to be appointed temporary conservator to protect Danny’s assets, including the investment assets, “pending further orders of the court.”  At that point he also asked Judge Randy Kennedy to order Danny to undergo a medical examination specifically by Dr. William D. Kenner citing Danny’s refusal to submit to such an examination.  The petition further acknowledged that he had not spoken to Danny’s treating physician or psychiatrist.

In the petition, David Tate represented that “for the past six months [Danny] has increased his crack cocaine and alcohol substance abuse, with usage of at least one-half ounce of crack cocaine per day and more on some days, at an average of $500 to $800 per day.”  In the motion to soon be heard, Danny Tate responds with documentation of how these allegations, for instance in April 2007 would mean he spent $15,000 – $24,000 that month on drugs when a bank statement for that month shows he only withdrew $5,500 from his account in a comparable timeframe.  Similar analysis follows for the subsequent five months.  By David Tate’s numbers, Danny Tate was purported to have spent somewhere between $90,000 and $150,000 on drugs yet the documentation provided shows withdrawals of “less than half of the ‘low-end’ dollar figure alleged in the sworn Petition.”  And incidentally, David Tate had access to the bank records used for the analysis upon filing his petition.

David Tate’s conservatorship petition also alleged “there were tax consequences for [Danny's Vanguard] withdrawals, so [Danny] has to be desperate,” despite a later admission that there were no tax consequences and his representation was false.  Allegations that Danny Tate’s drug use had reached a critical state of nearing “cardiac arrest” and “untimely death” by overdose were later, in David Tate’s deposition testimony, downgraded to merely “conjecture.”  Further David Tate testimony turned a petition claim of finding Danny “lying on the floor in bad shape” into “I don’t know how it got in there like that.”  And the  representation that “Petitioner has been unable to obtain any medical physician report to present to the court,” later, per the motion, evolved into deposition testimony that David Tate never attempted facilitating any evaluation of Danny prior to the petition filing nor did he attempt, despite having a “power of attorney,” to contact a psychiatrist treating Danny nor accessing any other medical records.

Indeed, the more one looks at this case, the more questionable it becomes.  But the story’s far from over.  Next up, the ex parte hearing in which the Judge Randy Kennedy’s Nashville court sanctioned what appears to be an unsubstantiated litany of charges that were used to hijack an American citizen’s personal liberty and property rights.

Sleazy or sloppy?  It’s a valid question of case details currently outlined and it’s the question to further keep in mind as the next part of the story unfolds.

For more info:

Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship: a case of caring or corruption? (part one) (Aug. 15, 2010)

Nashville musician continues fight against probate court’s assault on personal, property rights (July 11, 2010)

Nashville probate court tags musician Danny Tate with conservatorship ‘freedom tax’ (June 16, 2010)

Nashville probate court still center of musician’s conservatorship (guardianship) dispute (June 7, 2010)

Musician Danny Tate freed from conservatorship, assets still targeted in Nashville probate court (May 30, 2010)

Danny Tate conservatorship cases sees increased media activity with AP coverage (May 22, 2010)

Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship brings scrutinization of probate issue (May 18, 2010)

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 www.EstateofDenial.com and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas Foundation.  Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.

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