Judge Patrick Ferchill Upheld in Covington Case

On February 9, the Court of Appeals for the Second District affirmed Judge Ferchill’s ruling removing Frank and Chila Covington as guardians of their Down Syndrome daughter. The judge was good enough to notify me of the affirmation and send me his comments, from which I excerpt:

The Covingtons, in this context, are free to reject all psychoactive medications for themselves, but they cannot refuse to have their daughter, a court monitored ward under guardianship, even EVALUATED for the potential prescribing of such meds. Keep in mind that after on the evaluation. Follow up reports show that the meds have ameliorated the hearing of “voices”, the imaginary person/s, the anti-social behavioral issues and severe headaches. HER best interests have been served.

Your original article has caused me considerable angst. It is forever in Google. I am asked about it, just recently by a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 40 years. Please consider contacting public officials to give them an opportunity to present their side before you paint with such a wide brush. Based on the Covingtons or stories about them, and the allegations of a disgruntled attorney, Mr, Shelton, whom I and other judges had sanctioned, you said that I and some attorneys ran a “racket”. That is the word I object to the most.

The original posting is here. The “racket” reference is here (about a different case). I am delighted the young lady in question is doing better because of the judge’s intervention.

However, before he breaks his arm patting himself on the back, I should note for him that the appeals court’s written memorandum raises very important questions about how he acted in this case.

The appeals court notes in three places a tendency by Judge Ferchill to act without regard to the law.

Page 3: “In July 2009, the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem for Ceci without notice to the Covingtons.” [my bf]

Page 4: “After a hearing and without notice to the Covingtons, the trial court found that the Covingtons cruelly treated Ceci and neglected to main her as liberally as her means permit.” [me again]

Page 4: “The trial court also found that the Convingtons ‘have both been proven to be guilty of gross misconduct and gross mismanagement in the performance of their duties as Guardian’ and ordered their removal without notice.” [me]

The appeals court notes that it did not address Judge Ferchill’s failure to comply with Texas 761(c) — on the question of not notifying someone when their case is before the court — because the Covingtons’ appeal was not based on it. By mentioning it three times, the appeals court is strongly implying it would have addressed this issue if it had been asked to.

The failure to give the Covingtons their day in court  is the most disturbing aspect of the case. Two elderly parents who have raised a Down Syndrome daughter and, finally, when she reaches 40 years of age, placed her in a home, are resistant to addressing any problems in their daughter’s behavior at that home. They apparently have a abhorrence of psychiatric drugs. Their daughter needs the drugs (personal note: my own Down Syndrome daughter, who is 22, has profited immensely from such drugs). The staff at the home heads to court.

The court rules the parents have “cruelly treated” their daughter (language that arises from the statute), removes the parents from their guardianship, and appoints a new guardian — without ever notifying the parents that their guardianship is in question. The Covingtons are blind-sided.

After following this case for more than two years, I’ve come to two conclusions. Judge Ferchill was right in his ruling but wrong in how he decided it. And that is what sticks in my craw. In Anglo-American  jurisprudence, process is as important as result. Improper process can negate a good result because process applies generally, while the result only applies to the particular case. A violation of process affects us all. That is undoubtedly why the appeals court noted it repeatedly.

I’m sorry if Judge Ferchill feels I have treated him unfairly.  However, I find a certain amount of irony in his position. Unfairness is what the Covington case was all about.


  • Will Hartnett

    I have dealt with Judge Ferchill as an attorney and as a legislator for more than 20 years. From my personal observations, he has consistently shown integrity, compassion, and utmost fairness. As a 21-year member of the House Judiciary Committee, I know how difficult (and precarious) it is for the public to evaluate a judge’s decision based on second hand information. Putting aside the technical procedural issues, the Covingtons presented their complaints in both a trial and an appeal, and thus had their day in court. Specific Texas statutes granted Judge Ferchill the power to take each of the actions in question. Thus, the statement above that his actions were made, “without regard to the law,” is erroneous. Rep. Will Hartnett (R-Dallas)

  • hooey

    It’s interesting that Pat Ferchill states that the Covingtons can’t refuse to have their daughter medicated because she is “a court monitored ward under guardianship.” She became a court monitored ward during a secret hearing in which the parents, who had raised and loved their daughter for 40 years, weren’t notified by the court. So Ferchill’s argument doesn’t carry weight, and the word “racket” still applies.

  • Becky

    It a good thing Will Hartnett is retiring from the legislature, of course that just means that Will Hartnett will be showing up in Ferchill’s court getting his pockets lined with excessive fee’s. I guess this explains why Will Hartnett is willing to show support for Ferchill. Just follow the money trail…

  • BN

    We Must allow the government to dictate our lives

    they are much wiser than the average person

  • tina

    The Covington’s were removed from being their daughter’s guardian based upon an allegation that APS found invalid. They should never have been removed. They have been wonderful parents and took great pains in planning for their daughter’s future. The court took over the Special Needs Trust they had established. Mrs Covington was a state licensed occupational therapist and has more insight than the accusers. It is appaling what is happening in Tarrant County! There is a direct link to Guardianship Services, Inc.(GSI) on Tarrant County’s website. They need to be investigated!!!!!!! There is only one motive here~greed!!!!

  • tina

    It seems to me that it would be a violation of judicial canons for Fernchill to even comment on here! What a cry baby!!!

  • Don’t fall for it. She is not better. The truth will come out. Stay tuned

  • Susanna

    The daughter is not better with these medications. She still has headaches; and it is not at all unusual for Down’s Syndrome folks to do self talk. This court and the guardianship company ( one in the same) have had opportunities to learn about special conditions with IDD clients – in which they do not participate. See the testimony of the family’s expert witness.

    This young woman in reality is in a chemical straight jacket- that’s all. Seems that guardianship company sees everything as a psychiatric condition. In doing this, it appears their clients really sufffer – not getting needed surgeries, wheel chairs, and the like. Sadly the court records in this particular court, serve little purpose other than upholding whatever the party line is between the guardians and the court and the group homes(one should follow the money trail). Records are riddled with purposeful inaccuracies.

    You are right – it is ironic that the Judge complains about not being consulted by the media- and yet makes decisions to remove family members without even consulting them. When families write letters to a judge pleading for their loved one to get medical attention,- they are told they cannot do exparte communication with the judge( remember that it costs $10,000 to go into this court – on top of what you pay your own attorney. )Seems the judge would have simply related to media that he could not speak about an ongoing case anyway.

    People who are close to this case say that the family was ready to look into the psychological aspect, but had gotten advice from a professional ( one of the parents is also a professional in Special Education field) to pursue the physical issue ( ruptured cervical disc) first. It appears that certain psychologial labels bring in additional dollars for group homes. Sad but true – too many group homes do like to profit – even when it does not serve the client’s best interest. When caring families don’t play ball with the group home – there can be heck to pay. A group home may prefer a client with no family – as there is then no accountability for services to
    meet the best interest of the client.

    This judge was really given the benefit of the doubt by so many families ( look at the pattern- many other families had had ex parte hearings). People could not believe such cruel and callous decisions would be made by the guardians and the court ( the only person to whom the guardian is accountable ) for clients. It has become obvious that he is NOT what he is marketed to be. If he is looking at the best interest of clients, changes in their horrible living conditions and care would have to happen.

    If the judge doesn’t like what his classmates think of him, imagine how familes feel. They are maligned at ex parte ( secret) hearings; and then the guardian machine churns into action – vilify the family. Medicate, Isolate and take the estate( for the elderly). Families say so much time is spent in agruments/ vilifying the family – there is no time left to care for clients.

    You will understand how pervasive the corruption is when this affects your life or that of somone close to you.
    It is unfortunate but you will likely get a close up look as you age.

  • Samantha

    It is most disturbing that Judge Ferchill has chosen to defend his decisions on behalf of a vulnerable girl who has never in her own ability or capacity to be able to address the court herself. Instead he appoints a guardian ad litem, an officer of the court not an attorney ad litem to represent this girl to defend her rights as an individual with intellectual disabilities under due process. The probate court does not define that a guardian ad litem must be an attorney, although it does ensure that the guardian ad litem gets paid. This case is definately all about unfairness, judicial abuse and neglect for the best interest of this girl. It is disheartening that Judge Ferchill who is charged with protecting her, finds it so easy to discuss her medical issues for his defense disregarding her privacy and confidentiality. He further defends himself after he recused himself from this case due to media attention, but then suggest in his defense “Please consider contacting public officials to give them an opportunity to present their side before you paint with such a wide brush”. Guardianship removes civil rights of a human being, therefore there should be NO EXPARTE HEARINGS in such proceedings. I have also followed this case and the message here is that: If a parent who is a guardian of an adult incapacitated person, their child that they have raised and nurtured during the life of this child into adulthood takes the inititiate to investigate their child’s medical and behavioral issues such as the Covington’s were in the process of doing that parents can be accused and found guilty of gross misconduct and gross mismanagement or cruelly treating a ward in a secret hearing their guardianship can be revoked and stripped without any opportunity to defend themselves. Every parental guardian should be alerted to decisions that are being made when you are appointed a guardian. A false allegation against any parent can certainly end up such as in the Covington’s case. APS found the allegations to be unsubstantiated in this case, but that does not mean anything after a judge revokes a guardianship prior to a complete and thorough investigation in a secret hearing. Are we wasting tax dollars on APS, what is their purpose??? Further as Judge Ferchill points out: ” Keep in mind that AFTER on the evaluation. ” “Follow up reports show that the meds have ameiolorated “the “confidential and private medical” issues of this girl. AFTER he revoked the guardianship the parents were NOT ALLOWED TO KNOW WHAT THE EVALUATION SAYS, THEY LOST THAT RIGHT TOO!!!!!! He also claims: “HER best interests have been served.” Terminating the parental rights in a secret hearing also terminates the parents right to know anything about what treatments, services and supports she will need or require for the rest of her life, which also includes that they have no legal authority or any rights whatsoever to act in her best interest ever again, which ultimately leaves Ceci in the hands of her protectors who can so blatlanty use her for their own convenience in defending their actions and for the financial profits of those who have been appointed to act in her best interest. Appointing another guardian, specifically a Guardianship Company opposed to appointing anyone from Ceci’s large and extended family certainly paints another picture with that wide brush. I do not believe that terminating the parental rights without any recourse of a reinstatement is in the best interest of anyone, specifically of an adult individual born with the mind of a child. She has become an unprotected commodity for the growth industry and financial profits of her so called protectors. Parents of children with disabilities must keep informed that these individuals are becoming at risk of this new business called Guardianship in the State of Texas and throughout the country. I can only hope that people will become vigilant and alerted to all the changes occuring in Probate and Guardianship laws, it use to be a protection, unfortunately it is a “deception of protection”. If you are a parent of a child or children of disabilities seek all other alternatives to guardianship, do not strip them of their civil and constitutional rights, or allowing them to become a “ward” because they were born with a disability. This is what has happened to Ceci, her parents believed in guardianship, little did they know that they could lose her forever and possibly never get her back. Perhaps, with respect to Ceci, Judge Ferchill can seek other ways to defend himself to his friends of high school and beyond by discussing this in private one to one other than to use the media and violate Ceci’s rights to privacy and confidentiality, oops forgot, she must have lost those rights too because she is a “ward” of his court.

  • Franko Covington

    Anyone who takes the time to look at the evidence in this case will quickly realise that judge Ferchill’s stance is entirely ungrounded. His ability to influence the courts to maintain this miscarriage of justice says as much about his own lack of morals as it does the ineffectiveness of the court system to defend vulnerable citizens from corrupt persons of influence. One thing is for certain. We will not stop fighting for Ceci’s freedom.

  • Suzy

    It would be worth while to vertify whether any of the guardians and case managers( used regularly by the court ) have been found guilty of neglect or cruelty by APS. There are very different standards for families and professional guardians.

    Expect the professional to continue in their job in any case.

  • BillHemmer

    Sad that a judge would find the need to gossip to a local publisher. Kind of throws the judicial system in the toilet.

  • Pennie

    The failure to give the Covingtons their day in court???? It is the most disturbing aspect of this case, especially when they had asked for a jury trial, and they were denied. If I remember correctly, Judge Ferchill told them to go to their legislators if they didn’t like it. And this is in the best interest of WHO?????

  • suzy

    it is not unusual for the guardianship company to breach confidentiality of clients. The well being of the client is far down the list of importance. It is more about profit, self aggrandizement, and sheer power . It is hard to know how the US can speak of civil rights violations in other countries and have these kind of people in charge of anyones life.

  • Anne Howry

    I have found Judge Ferchill to be an excellent judge who is fair and who cares about the Wards that are monitored by his Court. It is disturbing that this article even still demonstrates its bias and misrepresents the facts of this case. In your article, you state “The appeals court notes in three places a tendency by Judge Ferchill to act without regard to the law” and then you go on to highlight the “without notice portions.” The appeals court did not “note a tendency to act without regard for the law.” The court does not say it was improper or against the law to take such actions without notice. That is your spin and your bias showing. The Covingtons lost for a reason. Anyone who bothered to read the court file, attend the hearings, and listen to the appeals hearing knows exactly what this case was about and which parties truly looked out for Cici here. Those who attended the hearing in Judge King’s court know that Mr. Covington didn’t even bother to testify and Mrs. Covington had to be repeatedly told that she was out of order. Those who read the court’s file know how disturbing Cici’s behavior was and how the Covingtons glossed over behaviors that were threatening to her caregivers. It wasn’t the court who who focused on one side of the story without bothering to look at the truth, it was the media and the opinion writers and those with an axe to grind who blindly supported the unsupportable.

  • Anne Howry

    Penny wrote: “The failure to give the Covingtons their day in court???? It is the most disturbing aspect of this case, especially when they had asked for a jury trial, and they were denied. If I remember correctly, Judge Ferchill told them to go to their legislators if they didn’t like it. And this is in the best interest of WHO?????”

    And what exactly about Judge Ferchill’s response was inappropriate? The probate code did not allow for a jury trial under the circumstances of this case. What should one do when the law doesn’t allow something one wants? One should . . . . go to the legislature and get it changed.

    Yet another example of making a big deal about something where Judge Ferchill was correct in his comments.

  • Anne Howry

    Susanna wrote: “This judge was really given the benefit of the doubt by so many families ( look at the pattern- many other families had had ex parte hearings). People could not believe such cruel and callous decisions would be made by the guardians and the court . . .”

    How many times was Judge Ferchill given the benefit of the doubt? How many ex parte hearings make up this “pattern.” How many times has he removed family without notice? I doubt that you know but given the legislative testimony on this it is a miniscule number out of all the guardianships in Tarrant County only a very slight number have been the subject of ex-parte hearings. So what pattern exactly are you talking about?

  • Pennie

    Probate Code-Guardianship Section 643. Trial by Jury
    A party in a contested guardianship proceeding is ENTITLED, on request, to a JURY TRAIL.

    Section 689. Preference of Ward.
    Before appointing a guardian, the court shall make a reasonable effort to consider the incapacitated person’s preference of the person to be appointed guardian, and, to the extent not inconsistent with other provisions of this chapter, shall give due consideration to the preference indicated by the incapacitated person.

    This is law, legislation that should occur is accountability for when the laws are ignored or violated. That is something our legislators should focus on, not any new ones so that they too are violated.

    I believe this is a contested guardianship. Ceci is capable of speaking for herself, she knows what she wants, she has a voice. But the laws of Guardianship have stripped her of her own voice, including:

    It is further ordered that, by virtue of the Ward’s incapacities and legal disabilities, all the legal and civil rights and powers which were previously removed from the ward will continue to be removed from the ward.

    Signed this 13th day of July 2009, by Pat Ferchill, Judge Presiding

    Did you see that Anne? Since you know so much about the case, that this girl has lost all her rights???? Is this what you mean when you say he is fair and cares about the wards???

    The Covington’s case is not the only one like this, there are numerous of cases like this in Tarrant County, funny that Judge King was mentioned by Anne, as I remember in following the case he recused himself too from this case after Ferchill. Wow, and that is because these judges are serving in what is in the best interest of the disabled and elderly. No judge presiding??? Where is the best interest of the person????
    It’s a racket, no doubt.

    Did someone mention bias, Anne???? I believe the comments reflect violations of the laws, and the unfariness that is practiced by Judge Ferchill. As Bill mentioned Kinda throws the judicial system in the toilet, don’t ya think???

  • tinac

    @Anne~”Those who read the court’s file know how disturbing Cici’s behavior was and how the Covingtons glossed over behaviors that were threatening to her caregivers. ”
    ARE YOU SERIOUS?????? Ceci’s mother never had to medicate her!!! SO the solution for the caregivers is to drug Ceci and she is still with them!!!! Ferchill does not have the guts to admit HE made a mistake.

  • tinac

    [email protected]~maybe Ferchill would like to explain his relationship to GSI and why there is a direct link to GSI on Tarrant Count’s website. Also, his relationship to the National Guardianship Association, the International Guardianship Association and Colleen Colton.

  • tinac

    Does Ferchill get a kickback from the drug companies?

  • Herman Galicia

    Judge Patrick Ferchill complains, “Please consider contacting public officials to give them an opportunity to present their side before…..”. Too bad he didn’t give the Covington’s the same opportunity. But then again, he seems to insinuate that only public officials, and not citizens, have this right. My wife and I have known Ceci since she was born, and our adult daughter lived with the Covingtons for several weeks when she moved to Dallas. All we can say to Frank and Chila is “No good deed goes unpunished”. I have conducted medication reviews for our skilled nursing facility, and am familiar with federal and state (CA) requirements for psychotropic use. In all cases, the families were invited and allowed to participate in these monthly reviews. This case is fraught with numerous opportunities for alternative therapies. I hope there is further recourse from the gulag created by Judge Ferchill and these so called health care providers.

  • mack

    If I were standing in the judge’s shoes,and I really cared about clients, I would be the first to meet with the families, hear their concerns about their loved ones and try to make things better. Ex parte communication a problem? Get your second in command to meet with these people to find out what is really happening. The same goes for the guardianship company.

    The courts are supposed to exist for the well being of the people. WHY WOULD THE COURT NOT WANT TO INVESTIGATE? There are quite literally NO STANDARDS the court or the guardian or the nursing home have to uphold – the oversight is non existant in reality. However, a good judge caring about the clients would want do this of his own accord and caring. When the court does not take the lead to investigate, it appears there is another goal here rather than the well being of the client. $$$$$

  • Does Rep. Hartnett suggest that the Constitution no longer applies in American jurisporudence?

    Nor being a Texan, I would ask whether the Texas statutes have overridden due process protections?

  • Kim






  • Bev

    Judge Ferchill is arrogant, and self-serving. Antipsychotic drugs were never meant to control someone. Yet everyday persons in Group homes, Nursing homes and all type of care facility use them to do just that. They isolate, medicate, rob them of their life even to the point of their health declining and death. The Covingtons are only looking out for the best interest of their daughter. Ferchill is not. I know first hand how Ferchill and is chosen work. My mother was disabled from a back injury. Was recommended a nursing home for back rehab she never received but what she did get was put on Antipsychotic that left her both blind and deaf overnight. The nursing homes never removed her from these meds. It was the nursing home that brought up Guardianship to cover up the repeated blood infections mom acquired from their negligence. Once in court Ferchill ignored the fact their was a willing able suitable family member to serve. Mom was placed under G.SI at the time Judge Ferchill was on the board of G.S.I and Ferchill and Steven King brought G.S.I to Tarrant County this was their project. So as Kim said they are intertwined. Long Story Short Judge Ferchill was notified by Email and certified letter to the court of the complaint on my moms Guardian and chose to ignore it. Some nursing homes and some hospice are also intertwined as we were told by the Guardian that the nursing home she chose for my mom was run by their staff of nurses. and they do what GSI tells them to. That most of the residents their were under Guardianship. My mom was not terminal but was placed in hospice. From the time mom was put under court protection(sic) She was dead 3 months later. Their is $$$$$ in corruption. The Covingtons are right to protect their daughter. The courts will not. Their should be a federal investigations into all of this. You have to read a book from the inside to get the full story. The cover doesnt give away the story. So I suggest this be looked into much deeper than the surface.

  • Anne Howry

    Kim – screaming your entire post by writing the entire thing in all caps really seems unecessary. I too saw the senate hearings and the court hearings but I also read the pleadings. Did you bother to do that? What I find disgusting is anyone who could have heard the testimony and read the court pleadings and still think that removing the parents as guardians was a bad idea. It has nothing to do with whether they are elderly and I’m sure they love their child very much but it has everything to do with whether they made good decisions for their child which they did not. Read the court file. Read the hearing transcripts. Is there any situation ever where you would think that a guardianship with non-family members is right or are you so caught up in your own situation that you cannot see that sometimes family just is not the right guardians?

    Tinac said “Ferchill does not have the guts to admit HE made a mistake.” Clearly the court of appeals does not think he made a mistake nor did Judge King.

    Pennie – not every issue in guardianship is an issue to be decided by a jury. If you don’t like that then take it up with the legislature. If you are going to quote the law and sections of the probate code then you need to understand what they mean and how they are applied. A preference is just that, a preference. It is not a guarantee especially when the preference is someone who has made bad choices and continues to make bad choices. Read the court’s file. Judge Ferchill and Judge King both did excellent jobs on this case and they both explained their reasons for recusal. There is no racket in Tarrant County and there are not numerous cases like this one unless by that you mean numerous case where Judges King and Ferchill take meticulous care to watch over each and every one of their cases and ensure that an appropriate guardian is appointed.

    So what if Judges King and Ferchill helped GSI into being. Dallas has Senior Source and other counties have private guardianship programs too. You people act like this is some novel program that is part of some conspiracy. Unfortunately it is a necessity to have private guardians when family members don’t make good choices and have to be removed. If you don’t like it then don’t make bad choices. It seems pretty simple.

  • Herman Galicia

    @Anne Howry: what’s the evidence that the Covington’s ignored alternative therapies that, if documented and failed, would make antipsychotic therapy appropriate? Only then did the Covington’s make a bad decision. Until this medication record is reviewed by a qualified (ie; ACCP) professional, Judge Ferchill, et al, at the very least, made a too hasty and uninformed decision. Unless these issues are evaluated, you are advocating the use of chemical straightjackets. Also, you won’t violate HIPPA regulations when academically discussing alternative therapies, eg; drug holidays, etc. as they are listed in court proceedings.

  • Samantha

    Anne, not sleeping at nights??? You mention conspiracy, well what would you call Judges creating their own private non-profit guardianship programs??? Removing family guardians only to award the ward to their guardianship program before following the law to pursue other family members? What would you call Judges legislating off of their benches?? I would call that conspiracy against the very people he is charged with protecting under guardianships. Such as Judge Ferchill promoting and supporting a bill (HR 836) that would allow guardians (including private guardianship programs) to place people with intellectual disabilities with a mental age less than a 16 year old into phsyciatric facilities for treatment for 14 days. Which means that they would be forced on pshycoactive meds for a long period of time. These meds do not cure intellectual disabilities, he should be ashamed of himself to even particpate in legislation as brutal and cruel as this. Could this be conspiracy with pharmacuetical companies?? Possibly. People with intellectual disabilities are defenseless, they are helpless, they need their judges to protect them from these types of treatments at best, they do not need judges acting in a manner that is gross misconduct, gross negligence and so cruel. Has he forgotten that these people are dependent on good judgement??? Thank God this bill did not pass, the committee members , as well as disability rights advocates, human rights advocates, and professionals testifying against this bill saw how outrages this was. Most people with intellectual disabilities will most likely NEVER reach the mental age of 16, many cannot speak for themselves, Ceci can, but who is listening to her. Ferchill has already decided that she will remain on these drugs whether they are in her best interest or not. It would be that her guardianship program should be charged to ensure that these meds are effective and she is being well taken care of while under the meds, but how can that be when the program or their staff is only required to see her once a month for billing purposes only, not for her best interest, not to mention that her care is provided by others, not the guardianship program. What about the guardian ad litem, in following the case he never even visits her, instead in reading the court transcript the guardian ad litem is representing the guardian not Ceci, so how can that be effective when acting in her best interest. If a parent medicates their children with these types of meds and the court is contacted with an allegation that the parents are keeping their child all drugged up, this would be cause for removal of a guardianship. This is the cruellest thing that any judge could do to such vulnerable people, yes I can see consipiracy working at its best here, especially when the ward loses all their rights including the right to be protected by no one else other than Judge Ferchill who supports such cruel and gross neglect of these vulnerable people. Guardianship cases such as this is about profits nothing else, as many people awarded to these programs and private or certified guardians is causing people like the disabled and elderly to be warehoused in nursing homes, foster homes, group homes, ICF/MR’s where pshycoactive medications are the only treatment provided, and substantial profits to the pharmecutical companies. These people have no where to go to be protected by Judges who support such cruel and negligent acts. Is it ethical? or Conspiracy? You be the judge!!!!!

    With respect to the Covington’s they are well aware that they did not make any mistake with their daughter.
    Mrs. Covington is a retired occupational therapist, a professional trusted with addressing the needs of children with special needs from severe to moderate prior to the birth of her daughter. She was much more aware and equipped of the nature of her daughters disabilities than most parents when gifted with these special children. Mr. Covington, a veteran, currently working as a civil engineer designing weapons in protecting every American citizen from terrostic attacks. He is good enough for that, but not good enough to protect or act in his daughter’s best interest. They both have been railroaded by a Judge who has got to be the cruelest and most unethical judge sitting on his bench. You are right that there was a mistake here Anne, but it was not the Covingtons. There are many mistakes taking place in the Tarrant County courts, maybe with the help of Judge Ferchill’s partners within the Texas Guardianship Assoc., the National Guardianship Assoc., the International Guardianship Association, the Guardianship Certification Board, and the Center for Guardianship Certification Boards, he can launch trainings or webinars or meetings to educate families on how to avoid making mistakes in Guardianships????? Now that would be pretty simple too.

  • Lee

    A judge creating a guardianship company ??? OMG !!! Are you kidding me, what happened to the Judicial cannon’s ???? Can you say conflict of interest ???

    Cannon 4:
    C. Civic or Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge’s impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the profit of its members, subject to the following limitations:

    (1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly or frequently engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.

  • mack

    “Kids (and elders) for Cash” – Ciavarella in Pennsylvania? It is possible for judges to lose their way……

    Through their writing – those defending this court, often project the same attitude as the court- real hostility, disdain, and defenseiveness regarding all families. Where is the party of Family Values? I thought most Republicans wanted small government and parents making decisions for their own children( sure is true with home schooling and textbooks in TX) – not bureacracies.

    Where is the party of fiscal conservatism? All the medicaid dollars spent on wards ( whose families want to care for them ) is sorely needed elsewhere for health care. Why are taxpayers picking up the bill for wards while those wards who could care for themselves financially are put on medicaid( purposely by the court)? Their estates then payroll attornies in Tarrant Co. and the taxpayer is stuck with the bill.

  • Pennie

    There is some really good conversations going on here. It seems that Anne is very much informed about the Covington case and the interpretation of the guardianship laws. She must be an attorney, or a court investigator, or a paid for services guardian, or a guardian ad litem, or an attorney ad litem, or a judge. So Anne maybe you can help me understand Trail by Jury Sect 643. You wrote: Pennie- not every issue in guardianship is an issue to be decided by a jury. What issue’s in guardianship are there so that this law applies?, it should be described so that the general public understands the decisions made by the judge. Preference of the Ward Sect 689. You wrote: A preference is just that, a preference. It it is not a guarantee especially when the preference is someone who has made bad choices and continues to make bad choices. Can you explain what you mean about “continues to make bad choices”. I am understanding that you are referring to Ceci’s preference to be her parents, and according to you and the Judge, the Covington’s made bad choices, but how could they continue to make bad choices when their guardianship was revoked and the Judge took away all their authority? Did the judge give Ceci the opportunity to make another preference? She has other family doesn’t she? Your suggestion to go to the legislators is a very good one, but I do need to ask will it really do any good? Rep. Harnett states in his comment that he has dealt with Judge Ferchill as an attorney and a legislator for 20 years, and he believes that he is a fair judge. I believe that this could be biased on his part, and certainly be most helpful if and when he should bring his own cases before Judge Ferchill, appears like a favor for a favor. It is all confusing especially for the general public or for upcoming attoney’s practicing in probate law. In my research I have found inconsistencies within this court in the COURT INSTRUCTIONS GUARDIAN OF THE PERSON and its interpretation of current law. Like the statute in Sect. 767 Specified Powers of Guardian of the Person: (4) The power to consent to medical, pshyciatric, and surgical treatment other than the in-patient psychiatric committment of the ward, HERE is where I am confused: it goes on to specify: but including the right to make end of life decisions regarding the withdrawing of life support, hydration and nutrition. Is there another book on Guardianship law, I am working off of the Johanson’s Texas Probate Law book? I do not see that included or described in this book. Also, (2) it describes: the duty to provide care, SUPERVISION and protection of the ward. But in Tarrant Co. Court instructions it reads: the duty of care, CONTROL, and protection of the ward. Why is this different? These instructions have changed the statute as written and seem to be very conveniently added to protect the courts guardianship program. Also, Section 674 Immunity of Guardianship Program.
    Why would a Guardianship Program be immune from civil liability? Isn’t guardianship suppose to be about promoting and protecting the well being of a person? Are we to assume that the program staff never makes bad choices? There are comments about the guardianship program and how they treat their wards. Is it true that the Judge created his own guardianship program? Lee’s comment should be of great concern because I interpret what he wrote that suggest the Judge is out of line here and violating his judicial canons. Sam’s comment talks about the Judge promoting drugs on people with disabilities, he is out of line there too. Most people have compassion for these people, why would anyone want to drug them when they can’t tell their guardian how these drugs make them feel? Maybe you can help me to understand this better since you are so well informed? There is no doubt that Judge Ferchill and Judge King are doing an excellent job in changing the laws for their own conviencience. I quote the laws as I see them written, I don’t understand how they are applied and most people wouldn’t either when it is NOTexplained how it applies under the statutes.
    Like Rep. Harnett stated also that “Specific Texas Statutes granted Judge Ferchill the power to take each of the actions in question”. Do you know where I can find those “Specific Statutes”? There must be another book out there describing these specific statutes. I think changing the laws as written is erroneous and “without regard to the law”.

  • mack


    Read ” The relatives are restless” . Supposedly BEST PRACTICES in guardianship. ….The whole tone is disdain for families . It is written by the Tarrant County Court Administrator.

    There is now insurance for guardians who seem to fear being sued.

  • Anne Howry


    I am sorry I did not reply right away as I have been out of town for several days. I am happy to answer your questions as best I can. I am not a guardian ad litem, attorney ad litem, guardian or court personnel but for personal and professional reasons I keep up to date on the probate courts and their cases, which is how I came to know about the accusations against Judges King and Ferchill starting a few years ago. Despite the media hype and family “hoopla” there really were not that many cases complained about and so I began reading the files and attending the hearings. So yes, I am very familiar with the Covington case and most of the other cases complained about in Courts 1 and 2.

    I may be somewhat vague in some of my answers but if that is the case it is to avoid giving legal advice. You asked about Section 643, Trial by Jury. What I will say about jury trials in probate court is that it is not a concept dissimilar from other courts. Some issues are fact issues to be determined by the trier of facts and some issues are legal issues to be determined by the judge. Sometimes the only issues before the court are purely legal issues and in that case there is no need for a jury. Sometimes when there are a multitude of issues before the court there may be a mix between fact issues and legal issues. In that case if a jury is requested, it would be proper to have one and the jury would decide the fact issues and the judge would decide the legal issues.
    You said that all this should be spelled out so the general public understands the decisions made by the judge. Well, it is. Appellate decisions that are public record give prior rulings on these issues. The Probate Code has annotations after each code section that point you to court rulings on that section. The Probate Court’s file will often have an Order that at bare minimum gives the judge’s order but will also have the motions and briefs of the attorneys that spell out the reasoning for each position and can give you an idea on what the judge relied on in his decision. Sometimes there will be a lengthy Order that gives details. Or, you can attend the hearing and firsthand hear the arguments and hear what the judge had to say.

    You also asked about Section 689, Preference of the Ward. This is really no different than family law dealing with custody issues. A child of a certain age may pick someone they prefer to live with and make that known to the judge but if it is a bad choice and not in the child’s best interest the judge is not going to just rely on that preference. A preference is just that — what a person would prefer. Based on the hearings and court files in Covington (the example you use), Ceci preferred her family and they were her guardians for a bit. That is when the behavior occurred that the court found to be not in Ceci’s best interest. So, despite Ceci’s preference the court had to look at what was best for her. The Covington file is full of examples of “continues to make bad choices.” I will not go into detail here but you should read the file if you want examples. Just because a person is removed as guardian does not mean bad behavior stops. Sometimes the former guardian/family member, because they don’t believe they did anything wrong to begin with, continues their behavior. It is not so easy to say well who does the incapacitated person want next. What if she did not pick anyone else or what if the person she picked did not file an application to be her guardian or what if the person she picked did not qualify for one of the reasons listed in the code. Also, in the rare occurrence that an ex parte hearing occurs, the Court is making a quick decision to stop some sort of serious situation from continuing on. Make no mistake, despite the complaints and media hype, these situations are rare.

    You asked about going to the legislature. I cannot honestly say yes or no if it will make a difference. What I can say is that unless you try you will not know. If your legislator is biased or crazy or makes ridiculous decisions then stop voting for him or her and become active in getting someone else elected. These legislators serve at OUR pleasure and we have no room to complain about their decisions when we continue electing them. I do not see how Rep. Hartnett saying he has known Judge Ferchill for 20 years and believes he is a fair judge makes him biased. Maybe it is true? Consider that he has had 20 years to see Judge Ferchill act in a variety of situations and cases both as an attorney and as a legislator. Balance that against a handful of angry (rightly or wrongly) families, in highly charged emotional situations, who most likely were removed as guardian (in their opinion wrongfully) and have this one case’s experience with Judge King or Ferchill. Who is biased? On paper it isn’t Rep. Hartnett. Consider too that Judges Ferchill and King are re-elected for a reason. They do good work. The attorneys who appear in their courts for the most part like them and find them fair judges who follow the law and care about the Wards their court is responsible for looking after. You should look at the procedures both courts have in place to make sure their Wards are in good hands.

    You mention inconsistencies. The Court Instructions give you the information you are asking about. For example the one you numbered (4) on the court website for Judge King it is numbered (2) and gives a reference to the Health and Safety Code 166.039 for this information. The Health and Safety Code is online and this section says the decision you question can be made by a guardian. On the other question about control it sounds like you are parsing words. Read the whole section. All those duties amount to the exercise of control over certain specified issues or decisions. How does that word “protect the courts guardianship program”? Have you read any case law to see how the appeals courts have interpreted that probate code section and if maybe the word control comes from that? You cannot just open the probate code and say this is it. You have to look at appeals court decisions and you have to look at the other statutes like the Health and Safety Code and that govern guardianship too. Until you have done that you cannot with authority say that laws have been altered or not followed because you don’t know what the law is, at least not completely.

    You ask about Section 674, Immunity of a Guardianship Program. You would need to ask the legislature about this. They passed the law that is the probate code. There is probably legislative history online where this section was discussed before the bill was passed. But re-read section 674 because a guardianship program does not get immunity for everything. The probate code lists four instances where there is no immunity for the protection of the Ward. I will ask you again, so what if Judges King and Ferchill helped get GSI started? If Lee thinks it was wrong then he should report it but as there is nothing untoward in their actions it would be pointless. What Lee posted in no way prohibits their activities and I would ask you if you have personally researched their involvement in GSI and if so what specifically you believe violates the cannon Lee posted.

    Tarrant County is not the only county with a private guardianship program. Have you done any research on how many people do not have friends or family to serve as guardian if needed? Have you done any research on how many people are abused, neglected, or exploited by their family members and need a private guardian? Or what about people who don’t have family members who are qualified to serve because of a criminal background or other reasons outlined in the probate code? With the population aging in such numbers as it is a guardianship program is a necessity not a conspiracy by the probate judges. If I were you I would also look at how many cases even get sent to GSI over a family member or friend. My experience is that wherever possible Judges King and Ferchill will appoint a friend or family member as guardian because usually that is the best thing for the Ward.

    You question the use of drugs on people with disabilities. These are decisions that the guardians make after medical consultation. It is not the decision of the judge and it is no different than you or I taking medications our doctor prescribes to us as necessary. Do you really believe that the Judges are forcing or promoting drugging people with disabilities and that guardians and medical personnel are just going along with that? Sometimes medication is necessary and I would again suggest that you look at court procedures and policies for guardians and how carefully they keep up with the medical conditions of the Wards and watch the decisions of the guardians to make sure they are not out of line with what is in a Ward’s best interest. This sounds again like accusations from a few disgruntled people or people who are against the use of medications in any situation.
    You said “there is no doubt that Judge Ferchill and Judge King are doing an excellent job in changing the laws for their own conviencience.” This is absurd and is not supported by the cases in either court. Have you ever been to a hearing in either court Pennie? Judge King is a legal stickler and every I better be dotted I and every T crossed. Judge Ferchill closely follows the law in a way that shows compassion to the Wards before his court. There is no evidence to support what you allege. The probate code and the health and safety code and possibly a few other statutory provisions are the specific statutes for guardianship and there are court decisions which you can find online to explain the interpretations of those statutes. There are also treatises on guardianship law that further explain the probate code. The information is there for anyone who wants to look for it.

    My experience watching Judges King and Ferchill is positive. They are good judges who follow the law and care about the people involved in the cases they hear. If that were not the case there would be more than the very few cases being complained about and they would have been off the bench long ago. It is not some great conspiracy or racket and it is not a systemic pattern of judicial abuse. Set aside those complaining and really look at the courts overall with an unbiased eye and you will see that the accusations being thrown around are not only unsupported but are also not representative of the courts as a whole. I do love to read the conspiracy theories though. It is funny how corruption must be running rampant and everyone in league just to get the few people with issues.

  • suzy

    People know more than you might think about the court and guardianship program. You are certain that wards are well cared for ….. If the judge and guardians are told of problems – they often ignore the issue or simply minimize and do nothing( causing SERIOUS harm). When families become aware of the serious harm or lack of attention their loved one is receiving , the guardians get the family out of the wards life – to cover up.

    I hear that guardians have ignored a wards need for a new wheelchair- causing irreparable harm. I understand these same guardians have been found guilty of neglect( does that sound familar?). It is said that the guardian is still at work – CONTINUING TO MAKE BAD DECISIONS. It is said that the guardian is opposing that decision- they think it was wrong that they were found guilty.

    Mack says the court /guardianship company should be willing to find out what is really happening . I agree because it seems the only reason the court would not get to know these family situations is because he does not want to know what he will find.

  • Peer Reviewer

    Ok, Anne Howry. Where do you fit in the Tarrant guardianship cartel? Pretty obvious that your pockets are being lined by your promotion of the oppression and placing criminals on a pedestal. At least you are right about one thing. The Covington’s made a terribly bad choice. They chose to live in Tarrant County, the national seedbed of guardianship abuse and exploitation of elderly and disabled. I took the time to read the records myself. The transcripts from Ferchill’s secret hearing to deny these parents the ability to safeguard their special needs daughter from the lecherous appetite of the exploitative forces showed no “clear and convincing” evidence to validate the attacks on these loving parents that they (1) both cruelly treated their daughter; (2) both neglected to maintain her as liberally as her means would permit; (3) are guilty of gross misconduct and gross mismanagement of their duties as guardians. The law states that clear and convincing evidence is required. Was this just an opportunity to supply the judge’s guardianship company with another customer? And contrary to your claim regarding the hearing in Steve M. King’s court, if you knew anything about court protocol, you would understand that the witnesses are called. It was not that he did not bother. He was never called to testify. Wonder why the ad litem didn’t call him up? Probably fear of the challenge. And you said that Mrs. Covington was repeatedly told she was out of order. This is not stated in the copy of transcripts that I have read. Since you were there, do you remember when King recessed about 11:30 am? Mrs. Covington on the stand said “Thank you”, and King’s response was “Watch your tongue or I’ll cite you for contempt”. However, it has been reported by several independent attendees at the hearing, that the transcripts do not reflect the testimony given and sequences of events. Maybe you have a version altered entirely differently. You state that the number of ex-parte hearings in Tarrant are miniscule. Please tell everyone. What is the limit on injustice that is tolerated by the Tarrant cartel? I don’t know if Kim read the proceedings, transcripts, and briefs, but I did. In my opinion, the findings of fact that Steve M. King produced are a sham. Ratified by appellate judge Lee Gabriel. Oh yea, and about jury trial. A preference? Does the Texas Probate Code trump the U.S. Constitution? Or is this just a ploy to keep the decisions in the hands of the judge only? This case was initiated with lies, and they propagate like wildfire to continue the agenda of this abusive system. Anne, you are only contributing to the lies by what you are saying. You can put lipstick on this pig, but you cannot change the records. Or can you? When will it stop? When the Covington family draws it’s dying breath in fighting to recover and save their daughter? When the retaliation becomes so harsh that their voice is squelched? Or when Tarrant County and Texas become the shame of the United States and democracy for promoting this tyranny? Or when some honorable person steps up to the plate and puts an end to this injustice and exploitation? Or, possibly, whenever guardianship emerges from the clutches of the cartel and transplants to the hands of an unbiased, non greedy, apolitical agency that truly strives to protect the elderly and disabled in our society? They are, the most vulnerable people, without a voice. Those cast aside by the prevailing fascist practices because they are only “wards” of the state, and not really human beings, deemed by the court as unworthy of any civil, constitutional, or human rights. Those unfortunate handicapped people under cartel guardianship who have no protection. Many who have been exposed to what one professional describes as “criminal chemical assault”. Others who’s life’s savings, keepsakes, and homesteads are looted by their professional guardians. It’s disgraceful that our justice system has sunk to such low depths under this deception of protection.

  • Anne Howry

    Peer Reviewer: And the conspiracy talk rears its head again. It cannot possibly be that a person legitimately knows that Judges King and Ferchill are good judges who follow the law and care for their Wards. Oh no, if someone expresses that opinion it must be because they have a financial motive or are part of the racket.

    I cannot say that in every guardianship across the country every person involved, every judge and every guardian, have pure motives and intent. I know that is not the case. I have looked at cases all over the country and seen serious abuses so I know it does happen and often in some states. Having watched Judges King and Ferchill there is no evidence of malfeasance or not following the law on their part. There are no cases I am aware of where life savings were spent without regard to what a Ward needed or where attorneys got rich off a Ward’s money. I have not found that to be true in Tarrant County. What I have seen are a few complaints from a few families where when you read the court files those complaints are not supported by the evidence, the facts or the law.

    You take issue with my contention that Mr. Covington did not testify and lay that at the feet of the attorney ad litem. Had you actually read the transcripts or attended the hearings or understood either one, you would know that the Covingtons have their own attorney. It was the Covington’s hearing, the Covington’s burden of proof, the Covington’s attorney’s job to call witnesses. Mr. Covington did not testify and Mrs. Covington was reprimanded for her behavior on the stand. With the misinformation and biased viewpoint of the Covington supporters, if they are saying the transcript is out of order or information missing, that is not something I would believe. That is a common conspiracy theory tactic to make those sorts of allegations.

    You go on to say that having read the records you did not find clear and convincing evidence for the removal. You should have looked more closely at point number one then and at the evidence presented. You personally in all your legal wisdom do not find clear and convincing evidence, that is fine but an experienced probate judge found it and a three judge appeals panel backed him up as having done the right thing. The same with Judge King’s findings.

    Continuing to call ex parte hearings secret hearings or labeling GSI as the judge’s guardianship company does not make it so. That is nothing more than rhetoric to inflame the readers but which is unsupported by the facts. The Tarrant County judges do not have a guardianship company. They never have. The well informed know that many counties have similar private guardianship programs like GSI. Dallas has one also. The well informed know the circumstances under which these private guardianship companies end up becoming guardian and that it is not in every or most cases that they are appointed. The well informed understand the reason and purpose behind the ex parte hearings and also know that they are not common occurrences. Were they common and were they abused then complaints might be valid and injustices committed. There is no injustice behind an ex parte hearing though when used properly and only when necessary. Have you personally looked into how often these secret hearings are used? Have you personally looked at the situations where they have been used or why? I am going to go out on a limb and say no you have not, that you are relying on information you received second or third hand.

    You have run together in your comment the jury trial and preference issues and throw in the U.S. Constitution for good measure. Do you understand which issues in a trial are decided by a jury and which are decided by a judge? Nothing in the U.S. Constitution is trumped by the probate code nor does the probate code try to trump the U.S. Constitution. This is more of the same looking for something complain about without understanding or bothering to find out how and why things work the way they do. On preference, which has nothing to do with the jury, surely you can agree that wanting does not mean getting. For example, if I prefer a drug addict to be my guardian that does not mean I can our should get that guardian. Judges in guardianship just as in family court look at what is in the best interest of the person needing a guardian. One has to be willing, qualified and able to serve as guardian and the qualifications are listed in the probate code.

    In your OPINION this case was initiated with lies but that is only your opinion. The facts tend to say differently. I am sure the Covingtons love their daughter and clearly they want to be her guardian but every judge who has looked at this case has said that is not in Ceci’s best interest. Every judge. Is it slightly possible, can you recognize even the slightest possibility, that this might be with some reason? If you cannot then I do not know that we read the same court files (and no I’m not saying there are secret files unavailable to you) or sat through the same hearings because serious issues were raised in this case and if you were not able to with a clear, unbiased eye at least see those issues and question them then that makes me wonder whose side you are on, Ceci’s or the Covingtons.

  • Anne Howry

    Suzy: You say that judges are told of problems but “OFTEN ignore the issues or simply minimize and do nothing.” I assume you can give concrete examples of where Judges King or Ferchill have done so “to the serious harm of a Ward” or heck have done so at all. You also say you have HEARD about guardians (plural) ignoring a need for a new wheelchair. Do you have first hand knowledge of that? Did the person who does have first hand knowledge report it to APS, which they can do anonymously if they don’t want to chance the guardian “getting the family out of the ward’s life – – to cover up” as you say.

    You say you UNDERSTAND these same guardians have been found guilty of neglect and are “still at work continuing to make bad decisions.” No that does not sound familiar. Again, do you have any first hand knowledge of specific situations where this has happened because Judge Ferchill and Judge King do not appoint guardians who have been validated guilty of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

    You say that it is SAID this mystery guardian is opposing a finding of guilt because they believe it to be wrong. I do not know why you find this a problem since I suspect that if you were accused of something and believed it to be wrong you would oppose it too.

    Notice the uppercased words? It makes me wonder what you know and what you have been fed. What you have personal knowledge of and what some person, possibly with an agenda, has told you. What you have taken it upon yourself to find out through your own research and what someone else has told you they have researched.

    Lastly, you agree with Mack “that the court/guardianship company should be willing to find out what is really happening.” Again, the court and GSI are not and never have been the same entity, but if you are seriously making that statement and believe the court does not know what is happening with its Wards then you absolutely do not have any first hand knowledge of how the probate courts of Tarrant County are run or what their policies and procedures are. These judges are very aware of what is going on. They hold the guardians they appoint to the reporting requirements of the probate code and their own court personnel makes visits and reports to the judges about each Ward.

    My serious and friendly suggestion is to stop “hearing” or “understanding” what has been “said” and before forming an opinion find out through your own research the facts.

  • Anne Howry

    I am sure there will be many more comments and the conspiracy theories and talk of a racket will continue but I do not really have any more to add. It is pointless to end up saying the same thing over and over. I hope Judges King and Ferchill have many more years on the bench. I believe they are good judges. It is my opinion but it is based on first hand knowledge of their court practices and an understanding of the laws they enforce. Those who don’t like these judges or the probate laws should make use of the election process for the judges and legislators.

  • suzy

    This court/guardianship company follows these blogs.
    This court/guardianship company RETALIATES harshly and often- affecting the well being of the ward ( it is sick – it is so petty). We have more first hand knowledge than you might think. Due to this retaliation, it is not to a family or ward’s advantage to speak that freely here – with too many specifics. The qualifying statements ( I hear , I understand, it seems ) about the abuse guardians ( yes plural) perpetrate are simply smart when dealing with the kind of individual represented in this court /guardianship company.

    I understand that APS is involved and found the neglect charge. However, the guardian or provider
    ( complained about) always finds out who reported the abuse, in any case. Many providers have been allowed to police themselves and to decide what they will pass on to DADS, DADS has been pleased to say publicly, that they manage to get the number of substantiated complaints down additional percentages each year( not in the best interest of wards necessarily).

    We are saying the guardian fighting back is likely still working. We are saying the guardian wants their “day in court” to defend themselves – unlike what happens in this judge’s court with exparte hearings and demanding court costs of $10,000 from families . Mentioning the court records means little – the records say only what the judge and guardianship company want them to say – or not say). There is a big show ( marketing ) about this court checking on the wards- having an intern ask questions and fill out a form means little. If there is family contact, the family is the eyes and ears the guardian and court should be very willing to listen to, if they want the best for the ward. Why not? ….Unless the court and guardianship company do not want to address problems or to upset their provider friends and possible contributers.

    Other people do not do my thinking. However, it does seem you might not be doing terribly independent thinking. My friendly suggestion to you – if you really want to know what is happening, meet with people experiencing this court from the other side, and see the documentation which does not fib.

  • Herman Galicia

    Has Ceci been left out of the direction this debate has taken? The courts, parents, local prescriber, and local providers are just not qualified to conduct an evaluation on the appropriateness of Ceci’s psychotropic therapy.
    For the courts to appear transparent, or for the Covington’s concerns to be put to rest, I would suggest that a medication evaluation be conducted to determine if current therapy has been beneficial or detrimental to Ceci’s well being. This evaluation could be performed by a mutually agreed upon MD/PharmD long term care specialist with unbiased experience in conducting medication reviews, ie; faculty at any of the area medical teaching institutions. The recommended plan of action from this specialist should be mandatory.

  • Franko Covington

    Anne Howry, you say that you really do not have much more to add. But it seems that everyone else does, so please continue to read on. You drop the term “conspiracy theories” as if we are just bored nobodies sitting around inventing stories about Roswell or JFK assassination plots. No, we are intelligent, professional, respectable citizens who ARE victims of this gross injustice. We HAVE BEEN stripped of fundamental rights. My family HAS BEEN broken apart by this inhumane, unamerican, undemocratic, corrupt system you call justice. Do you notice the capital letters, “Anne”? You must realise that we are fighting this war because the war was brought to us. We are in it and until this war is over, we will continue to write and to protest and to try to bring these failings of justice to light. There is much more to this story than what little evidence Ferchill allowed to be shown in the hearings, so if you are basing your knowlegde on court record you must realise that you are ignorant to most of the facts. The information you are basing your opinions on is incomplete and completely biased to favor the judges’ previous decisions. However, if you care to know more facts about the case, we have stacks of information that may help to educate you in what has actually happened. Or perhaps you prefer your ignorance because you can continue to argue your biased angle to others.

    There is one more thing I would like to add in this post. I just want to reiterate something has been previously stated. We are talking about a person here. Ceci is my sister. She has feelings and emotions and opinions. She has wants and desires and thoughts and feelings. She expresses herself (albeit significantly less these days now that she has received this “chemical lobotomy” from her new “guardians”). We only get one shot at life. Ceci has one chance to experience all the things this wonderful world has to offer. But her chance has been taken from her and replaced with something pale and anemic. Maybe psychotropic medication is the right solution for Ceci’s physical aiments, however it should not have been the first answer. It should not have been the second or the third answer, but only once the medical solutions were tested and exhausted should this have been considered. One thing is for certain, it was not the right solution at the time for the reasons that were presented, and my parents should not have been stripped of their rights for disagreeing with the abhorrent and puerile medical advice.

  • Laura

    One may not have seen the poison in the air, but that does not mean its not there.

    Guardianship Services Inc (GSI) web site prior June 2010 Jurisprudence hearing

    A group of probate attorneys and the two Tarrant County Probate Judges, Judge Steve King and Judge Pat Ferchill, formed a Board of Directors and incorporated as Guardianship Services, Inc. (GSI). Senior Citizen Services (SCS) agreed to transfer the existing volunteer guardian program to the new agency. Contracts that SCS had for guardianship with the AAA/TC and the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services transferred to GSI.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    Annie Oakley or Anne Howry as you call yourself, how many guardianships have you benefitted from? Are you a court appointed administrator? a guardian ? or and attorney who is also making your bucks of the guardianship systems in some Texas court somewhere. Surely either you are or you are desperately uneducated about the problems with guardianships in Texas and the rest of the states in the great nation. People’s rights are being stripped of them regularly without due process of law and their assets looted while civil rights are gone and human rights are violated. Many are forced to take dangerous and even lethal psychotropic drugs. Sometimes the only person who will stand up for them or speak out is their family members but their voices fall on the deaf ears of our broken judiciary system. One question Anne, would you be willing to be a ward under guardianship in this court? I think not.

  • Pennie

    Anne, had not responded to your posts, been busy on a witch hunt at the Tarrant County Courthouse. I must admit what I have found has been most disturbing. There are numerous cases where GSI is appointed as guardians with people who have family members. I also went looking a bit further as I became so curious as to why there were so many people under GSI. I am truly disturbed to find Articles of Incorporation of GSI, which states:

    The names and addresses of the persons who are to serve as the initial directors are:
    Steven M. Casey, Patrick W. Ferchill, Steven D. Fields, Chandler L. Grisham, Lisa Jamieson, Charles W. Jiles, Roger S. Jones, Steven M. King, and Virginia Winker. Filed and recorded Dec. 8. 1997

    Interesting that I also found that the Board of Directors have changed, however many of the current ones are actively participating in guardianship cases as lawyers in both courts. Also found that Colleen Colton is now the exective director of GSI. Also found that Ferchill and Colleen started the Texas Guardianship Association. Also found that Colleen Colton is also President of the Center for Guardianship Certification and President of the National Guardianship Association, where Ferchill is also a Board of Director, and together they are members of the International Guardianship Association. I do believe that Ferchill and Colton have a very close and long standing relationship which is a serious conflict of interest here and Judge Ferchill nor Judge King should be hearing guardianship cases due to their particpation in creating this guardianship program. Although they are no longer board of directors, they have personal and special interests here.

    The Articles Purpose describes that the corporation is organized and operated to administer a program to TRAIN and PROVIDE volunteers to serve as “the” COURT APPOINTED GUARDIANS OF THE PERSON OF INCAPACITATED ADULTS who DO NOT HAVE family members who are willing or qualified to serve in such capacities. Ceci’s guardian is GSI, not a volunteer, not a family member, not a freind but a corporation that shall not conduct or carry on any activities not permitted to be conducted or carried on by an organization which is exempt from the tax under Section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code. Looking at the court records Ceci is mandated to pay for fees out of her Social Security benefits to GSI. Is this not income??? I thought this was a charitable organization at least that is what the articles say.
    I saw another case also where GSI is receiving funds from the estates also? Charitable or not??

    Under the circumstances I do appreciate your opinions in your response, however they are just that “opinions”. Or decisions that only a judge may use for justification in non-compliance to the laws, such as no notice to the Covingtons, which further explains the purpose of an exparte hearing when a judge who particpated in creation of a guardianship company to NOT breach the directors duty of loyalty to the corporation as indicated in the Articles of Incorporation.

    I disagree when you suggest there is no need for a jury trial. In this case the real issue is the loss of Constitutional rights of due process, specifically when a person, a human being and or her parents are losing the right to be heard prior to being judged on bad behaviors. In a jury trial “clear and convincing evidence” would be required to determine the bad behavior and justify the revocation of the guardianship. You suggest over and over to read the court transcripts or attend hearings, why? There is no point to go any further- Ferchill made his biased decision in an exparte hearing that stripped Ceci of her Constitutional right to due process. Her parents may have an attorney, what about Ceci?? The court documents reflect that her so called guardian ad litem is also biased. I found that this guardian ad litem particpates in the appontments of an attorney ad litem, a guardian ad litem, a guardian of the estate, he plays many roles in many different cases.

    It is quite obvious that Judge Ferchill is the only one here in this case who decided what was in Ceci’s best interest. That is not a FAIR DUE PROCESS.

    You state sometimes a former guardian/family member, because they don’t believe they did anything wrong to begin with, continues their bad behavior. Who decides that their behavior is bad? The judge, and only the judge, that is not a fair due process. APS found the allegations to be unfounded, I read the report, this case should have been taken before a jury trial, the decision made here was biased, and that is not a fair due process for Ceci or for her parents. There was a contradiction here, and Judge Ferchill should have honored a jury trial request with APS’s findings. You go on to say: What if she did not pick anyone else: How could she when she was never given the opportunity to participate in her own case? And you further say what if the person she picked did not file an application to be her guardian? Did GSI file one? I think not, Judge Ferchill just picked his program, again not giving Ceci any opportunity. You also say: What if the person she picked did not qualify for one of the reasons listed in the code? Unfortunately there was NO PERSON, NO VOLUNTEER, appointed as “the” guardian- a program is not a person, although the code describes that they are a “person”. This seems to be nothing more than people becoming numbers for the non profit organization and financial gains. Our legislators should become aware of the consequences of their addition to programs becoming a guardian, specifically one that Judges created themselves along with attorneys who are practicing in their courts who are currently or past board of directors of this corporation. What a shame, this is unethical, a conflict of interest at best, and should not be allowed to continue. I believe Lee was right in his assesment in both Judges violating their judicial canons.

    I appreciate your responses, Judge Ferchill and Judge King may be good judges and may be looking out for the best interest of their wards, what would they do if they would find that a ward is being neglected, abused or exploited by GSI? Would they remove them in an exparte hearing too?? Would GSI ever be found to be civily liable?? And if so what would happen to the wards?? Once a guardian is removed they can never be qualified again according to the code or does this not apply to Guardianship prorgams? If not, why not?
    The code identifies them to be a “person” does it not?

    There are many sad cases in these courts, my observation is not about the best interest of the wards, it looks like these cases are in the best interest of GSI and some very limited chosen few to act in so many capacities or appointments in some of the cases I observed.

    I can totally agree with Wick’s assessment after my observations, the Covington case was all about Unfairness. Iti is most unfortante that all 3 judges also participated in the unfairness to Ceci and the Covingtons.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    Representative Hartnett has commented on this article. First he really should be concerned about the conflict of interest with him drafting recent guardianship legislation that opens the floodgates for abuse in guardianships while at the same time he is a partner with an elder law firm that practices in the area of guradianships. The recent legislation causes concern for the due process rights on vulnerable citizens who can now be railroaded into guardianships through a “court intitiated guardianship” process. Now without any petition being filed and without any noticed to the individual targeted for guardianship, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem and give that guardian ad litem access to an individuals medical records and again without notice. There should be serious HIPPA concerns with this process and it is at least an invasion of privacy without due process of law. I know of at least one individual who has suffered abuse through this process. The court can then order a medical examination of the individual at the request of the guardian ad litem and the individual is forced to go to a court designated physician for examination to determine competency again without any due process. The court can appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the individual even if they have their own attorney who will go along with the recommendations of the guardian ad litem. The petition for guardianship is then filed by the guardian ad litem and finally the individual is notified and being represented by the attorney ad litem (who they never hired in the first place) can be placed under a guardianship. Once under guardianship this poor individual cannot ask to have their rights restored for one year. In some cases the guardianship order prohibits the person from hiring an attorney.

    I realize that there are vulnerable citizens in this nation who need protection and where guardianship may be neccessary, however, the individuals rights to liberty and property must not be removed without due process of law. These laws must be rescinded or ammended to guarantee everyone subject to a guardianship have the right to their own attorney, to a jury trial, to HIPPA privacy and to protection from invasion of privacy and to protection of their property from those who will find the loopholes in current laws to exploit the vulnerable individuals.

  • Laura


    I guess you did not pay close attention to the records to notice that Ceci did not have an attorney assigned to represent her. Do you think that’s not a problem ? I guess that court thought that because she is intellectually disabled there is no point in assigning her an attorney ? Don’t forget, allegation had been made regarding Ceci’s behavior yet she did not have an attorney assigned to defend Ceci’s actions. The courts have forgotten these cases are about the best interest of the ward and not what is best for the judges and his cronies. It’s purely a RACKET.

  • Reform

    The dark side of guardianship often occurs outside of the public’s view.

    Guardianship law was designed to “Protect” and”conserve” the most vulnerable population of our society. Over the years, the laws have been misused, misapplied, or manipulated to unjustly enrich court appointed guardians and fiduciaries/attorneys at the expense of the very people the courts have assigned to protect.

    The Law of unintended consequence.

    Guardianship for the disabled and elderly while designed to protect, too often has resulted in harm rather than helping this vulnerable segment of our society.

    These realities are NOT addressed by estate planners and other legal industry professionals. guardianship’s are expensive, requiring the services of multiple lawyers that earn a high
    rate of compensation. Wards are often subjected to legal processes that lead to “over-treatment”, “under-treatment” or treatments that do not reflect their values or best address their well-being. While determination of “mental capacity” is not an exact science, recent trends indicate that greater emphasis is placed upon “Functional Ability” and Not “Mental Capacity”.

    Guardianship can remove your basic human rights allowing very little protection of the wards constitutional civil rights.

    The crisis continues to undermine the best interests of the “protected” person. Without true reforms, the abuses in the guardianship system will continue to grow as the percentage of Americans age 65 or older swells.

    JOIN the movement for reform. Join NASGA!
    Visit us at http://stopguardianabuse.org/

  • Anne Howry


    I wasn’t going to reply to any more of these posts, however what you posted is blatantly wrong. Perhaps you should check the court file again. She absolutely had an attorney ad litem and a guardian ad litem to protect her interests. Perhaps you should learn a little more about what the purpose of those appointments are all about. No doubt you will comment that these were court appointed and that doesn’t count. But who do you propose should have selected Ceci’s attorney? Her parents? Well, they had their own attorneys – – several of them by my last count. Ceci? Does she have the capacity to interview and choose her attorney? You may say yes, but a guardianship would not have occurred in the first place with her parents as guardians if her parents thought she had the capacity to make such decisions as who to hire. A court will always, and did in this case, appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the proposed ward. No, the attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem did not roll over and do what the parents wanted which seems to be the main complaint by anti-guardianship activists but that is not their purpose. The GAL looks after the best interest of the proposed ward and the AAL represents what the proposed ward wants. In reading most of the complaints I’ve seen (and again it is only a handful lodged against Tarrant County), it is all about what the family wants and nothing to do with what the Ward needs. Who cares what social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists and doctors recommend – those who have actually examined the ward (because as I recall from the Covington appeal, their “specialist” never actually examined Ceci). Oh no, it is what the family wants that matters and the wards needs are secondary.

    I suggest you go back and re-read the case file and transcripts because it isn’t clear to me that you are familiar with them if you believe Ceci wasn’t represented. I know both attorneys involved in Ceci’s representation and they are both first class attorneys and from what I have observed rabid representatives of their clients.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    Anne, why are you so defensive ???? Surely you have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in the courts and allowing the abuse, the stripping away of civil rights, the human rights abuses, and most importantly the financial exploitation of these poor citizens under the color of law and guise of protection to continue unabated and unimpeded.