Kicked out of the Webelos
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Not even close to a full story, but something I started once but never got too far along. I kinda like the feel of it.
Friday, January 29
Flying out of Houston on the first flight from Hobby to Dallas. Southwest Airlines flight who-cares, departure... way the hell too early. Flying north over the thunderheads, I could see the lightning flashing inside the clouds. Conroe’s getting a good watering this morning.
Didn’t grab a newspaper before I boarded. And the only thing Southwest hands out in flight is USA Today. I hate USA Today. But is the inflight magazine, with its cover story about Vince McMahon and the rebirth of the World Wrestling Federation any better? Grumbling, I pick up the USA Today sports page and read the latest volleys from Shannon Sharpe heading into Super Bowl weekend.
The plane lands at Love Field and I make my way to the rental car counter. Twenty minutes later, I’m in one of those absurdly generic mid-size cars on my way to Wichita Falls on a mission. I’m going over the facts in my head.....
Vance Taylor, millionaire, my client--a man worth over $50 million--more than I’ll make in my life. He made his money in oil and car dealerships in Wichita and Archer counties. He had a reputation as a “shrewd” business man. In other words, Vance Taylor is a sonofa*****; be a week late with your car payment, and you can be certain to get a visit from Mr. Taylor’s repo men. Mr. Taylor had few friends and a lot of enemies. They always said he could never get a fair trial in Archer county.
Everything was fine until 1985 when Mr. Taylor was in a two car collision. For a younger man, it was a mere fender bender, but it put Mr. Taylor in the hospital and away from his business affairs for six months. Somebody, I don’t know who, had the bright idea of setting up a temporary guardianship naming Taylor’s wife, Mary, as guardian. Months later, Taylor was better but no one thought to dissolve the guardianship. It didn’t matter. It was Mary. And everything was fine until Mary got cancer and wound up in chemotherapy and on painkillers, 24-7. It was then that Sandy, Taylor’s daughter, stepped in.
Sandy is the family black sheep--married five or six times; a lawyer and Lord-knows-what-else in Wichita county. Next thing you know, Sandy is Vance’s guardian and he’s living in the Wichita Falls Best Western on his social security check. Meanwhile, Sandy's just bought a new house with the interest-free, zero collateral “loan” of $750,000 she gave herself from the guardianship estate. And to top it off, there’s something else going on. Sandy's managed to do this right under the nose of the county judge, who appears more concerned with covering his ass than watching Vance’s assets. The judge has been heard to say he’ll hold anyone in contempt who questions his rulings on the guardianship estate. I have to wonder if I’ll make it back to Houston without a trip to the Wichita county jail.
The latest wrinkle is that Sandy has talked Mary into placing her half of Vance’s and her community property into a trust and, because Vance is a ward, dragging his half of the property in, too. Then the entire contents of the trust was poured into a family limited partnership naming guess-who as the managing partner. Maybe the judge is pissed because he’s not getting his piece of the action anymore; or at any rate, his piece of something. Sandy doesn’t need his approval now. All these legal and financial maneuverings were accomplished with the very able help of one of the biggest and most politically connected law firms in Texas--the target of my small firm’s malpractice action in a suit that could be worth tens of millions.
All these thoughts swirled through my head as I drove through the drizzle toward Wichita Falls. I could see the arc of a rainbow spanning the road and could see both ends as they touched the ground. Maybe an auspicious sight. It’s the only one for a while. Wichita Falls is a hole.
At the Wichita county clerk’s office, I was greeted by the probate clerk, Terri “with an ‘i’.” She was clad in a white turtleneck and a Denver Broncos tee shirt over the top. I told her I needed a certified copy of a guardianship file and she said “no problem, which one?” As I read the number to her, I could see her eyes grow wide. There was silence for a moment. “Do you know how big a file that is?” I have an idea, I responded. Let me show you, she said, and dragged me to a file drawer completely full from front to back with papers. She waited for my reaction. When she didn’t get one, she led me back to the counter. Like a petulant schoolgirl, she spat out “I’m gonna need a deposit.” I produced my wallet and a roll of cash and began peeling off hundred dollar bills one at a time. “Let me know when it’s enough,” I said.
Twelve Benjamins later, I called my office on the cellphone. “Congratulations,” I told Paul. “We just made Wichita County history with the single largest certified copy order the probate clerk here has ever seen. If you had ideas of my doing this surreptitiously, I think I just blew my cover.” “Don’t worry,” he told me. Just do the rest of the stuff we talked about--check the property and litigation records here and in Archer City, pick up the trust file from the Archer County district clerk, and don’t forget to go by the lawyer’s office in Dallas to get the videotape and on and on and on.....
I got to Archer County in the early afternoon. Talked to the clerk there and asked her to make me copies of the Herring file. That’s the one where Sandy represented her dad. Told the court that he couldn’t get a fair trial in Archer county. Her story’s different now.
“So who’s your client?” the clerk asked me. Court clerks aren’t fools.
“I’m not at liberty to say. But if I were, I’d say Mr. Taylor.”
“Thought so,” she smiled. “So...wanna look at the criminal files?” I was taken aback.
“Would I find anything?”
She smiled. “Oh, yeah.”
I responded, “Was the trial held here?”
“He got off...he’s a Taylor.”
Kicked out of the Webelos.
Last edited by bluebottle1; 07-14-08 at 11:21 PM.