The battle over Mary Ellen Bendtsen’s estate included a once-beautiful home at 4949 Swiss Avenue and the sordid tale continues to play out in various court proceedings. The case in which two Dallas antique dealers, Mark McCay and Justin Burgess, along with attorney Edwin C. Olsen IV allegedly tried to divert Bendtsen’s estate from her daughter (and originally designated heir) has been chronicled on a great Dallas Morning News site as well as featured on ABC News 20/20 in November 2009. Click here for the stories associated with that coverage.
All three men await criminal trials (thank you Dallas County for a criminal prosecution!) and Estate of Denial® will keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, Olsen has also been fighting a disbarment proceeding and his appeal before the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals was denied earlier this month when the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.
OLSEN v. COMMISSION FOR LAWYER DISCIPLINE
EDWIN C. OLSEN IV, Appellant,
COMMISSION FOR LAWYER DISCIPLINE, Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas.
Opinion Filed August 9, 2011.Before Justices MOSELEY, RICHTER and LANG-MIERS.
OPINIONOpinion By Justice RICHTER.
Appellant Edwin C. Olsen IV (Olsen) appeals the trial court’s judgment of disbarment. In sixteen issues, Olsen generally contends: (1) the trial court erred in granting the motion for partial summary judgment filed by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline (the Commission); (2) the trial court erred in concluding he committed violations of the disciplinary rules; (3) disbarment was not an appropriate sanction in this case; and (4) the trial court erred in ordering him to pay attorney fees. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
Factual and Procedural Background
This disciplinary proceeding arose from Olsen’s representation of Mary Ellen Logan Bendtsen (Bendtsen). Bendtsen, 88 years of age, lived alone in a large, old house on historic Swiss Avenue. In 2002, Bendtsen executed a will leaving her entire estate to her only child, Frances Ann Giron (Giron), and naming Giron the executrix of her estate.
On January 12, 2005, Bendtsen was admitted to Baylor Hospital with a head injury and sprained ankle. Bendtsen executed a medical power of attorney giving Giron authority to make decisions about her care. While in the hospital, Bendtsen was examined by a licensed psychiatrist who determined Bendtsen was suffering from dementia. Justin Dale Burgess (Burgess), Mark Patrick McCay (McCay), and Olsen visited Bendtsen in the hospital. During their visit, Bendtsen executed a general power of attorney and a medical power of attorney, granting authority to McCay to make medical and financial decisions on her behalf. Olsen prepared the powers of attorney. He also prepared a declaration of revocation, revoking the power of attorney Bendtsen previously gave to Giron. The following day, Giron tried to move her mother to another facility but discovered she was unable to do so because her power of attorney had been revoked.
On January 21, 2005, Giron filed an application seeking temporary and permanent guardianship of Bendtsen. In her application, Giron asserted that Bendtsen was “totally incapacitated due to senility and dementia” and that McCay’s power of attorney was fraudulent. The same day, Giron transferred Bendtsen from Baylor Hospital to Ashley Court, a residential rehabilitation center. On January 31, 2005, Bendtsen was discharged from Ashley Court without Giron’s knowledge, and taken to the courthouse to attend the hearing on Giron’s motion for emergency order in the guardianship case. Olsen represented Bendtsen at the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court stated that it wanted to continue the hearing until February 19, and asked Olsen “Where is Ms. Bendtsen now? What is her current residence?” Olsen replied, “she was at Ashley Court before.” A few days later, Giron learned that Bendtsen was no longer at Ashley Court and had returned to her home on Swiss Avenue. Giron filed a motion for emergency order to return Bendtsen to Ashley Court, and asserted that Olsen had previously “failed to adequately inform the Court” regarding Bendtsen’s residence.