The Trustees' Hostile Conspiracy Against Bradford Disney Lund & His Arizona Family
The hostile attacks and conspiracy against Bradford Lund and his close Arizona family members, which has been led by Bradford’s own trustees and began in September, 2009. It was then that Bradford and his family were informed that his twin sister Michelle had suffered from a brain bleed would probably not make it through the weekend. We believe that the Trustees feared that they would lose control of Bradford’s trust if Michelle died and he received her estate, and, therefore, they started their hostile attacks.
Bradford’s hostile trustees Robert Wilson, Andy Gifford and First Republic Trust Company embarked on what continues to be an over 11-year conspiracy with the effect of ruining the lives of Bradford and his family. The hostile Trustees’ continued attacks, lies, breaches of fiduciary duty and vexatious behavior is set forth in more detail in Bradford’s Fifth Amended Petition in Probate Court. It should be noted that Bradford has yet to receive the trial that he has been requesting for years, including multiple requests denied or ignored by Judge Cowan.
Bradford’s hostile Trustees, and their attorneys, conspired with Bradford’s estranged relatives in an attempt to get a Guardian and/or Conservator appointed over Bradford in Arizona by filing vicious lies with the court against Bradford, his late father William, his stepmother Sherry, and the rest of his close Arizona family members. As stated in the 5th Amended Petition, the hostile Trustees engaged in numerous acts of breaches of the fiduciary duties in the form of financial misconduct and gross mismanagement, excessive fees and attorneys’ fees, and a consistent pattern and practice of hostile acts against Bradford and his family. One of the tactics of the hostile Trustees to keep Bradford from receiving his trust distributions was to claim that Bradford is incapacitated and needed a guardian and/or conservator.
Another technique used by the hostile Trustees, and their lawyers, is telling the Court false information defying the evidence, defying the record, and defying all recognized legal precedent and principles. Such does not belong in a court of law—it does not belong in the probate court, in any court in California, or in any court in American jurisprudence. (“Big Lie” is defined by the Lexico, Oxford English and Spanish Dictionary, as “A gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda devise by a politician or official body.” See also, Wikipedia, discussing the origins of “The Big Lie.”).
After an incredibly stressful and exhausting seven plus years of fighting in the Arizona probate court to keep his freedom, Bradford was vindicated, he was found fully competent, and the guardianship/conservatorship was dismissed in its entirety. Following a ten-day bench trial, over 55 hours of testimony (including expert witnesses who evaluated Bradford and Bradford, himself), and 133 multi-page exhibits, on July 21, 2016, Judge Oberbillig found that Bradford had capacity and was not in need of a guardian or conservator. Moreover, Judge Oberbillig specifically found that Bradford “properly relied upon the advice of his father, Sherry Lund” and others, as any person with substantial wealth would do in making important decisions regarding his personal affairs, estate, and financial affairs. Ultimately, Judge Oberbillig found that: “Although not his burden of proof, Bradford Lund has proven that he deserves the freedom in life to make his own choices.” In other words, there was a complete repudiation of all of the allegations made by Bradford’s estranged relatives (and in the background, by the hostile Trustees) in their Arizona guardianship/conservatorship petition.
Two years before the Arizona Judgment, on June 4, 2014, after an extensive California probate court trial, presided over by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff, Bradford was found to have the capacity to exercise the Trustee Removal Power included in two of his trusts. Judge Beckloff specifically found that, Bradford (who testified at the trial), indeed had the capacity to remove and replace his trustees on the 1992 and 1986 Trusts. Further, both Judge Oberbillig and Judge Beckloff found that Bradford was not subjected to any undue influence.
After his victory in the Arizona probate court, Bradford and his family spent two more years fighting the estranged relatives appeal of Judge Oberbillig’s Judgment. The Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Judge Oberbillig’s findings and the Arizona Supreme Court denied the petition for review, making the judgment final.
In Arizona, during the eight years of fighting for Bradford’s freedom and to clear his Arizona family of any wrongdoing, Sherry Lund and a team of public policy advocates worked on overall Probate Reform in the Arizona State Legislature. There, Bradford, and his family members together with many victims of the probate courts abuse testified before the Legislature regarding those abuses and violations being committed against them and the public. A bill which contained several new probate laws was signed by the Governor of Arizona in 2011.
Bradford’s presently filed claims against the hostile Trustees (pending in the Los Angeles County Probate Court since 2015) demands a trial asking for their removal, surcharges, and damages. As of this date, Bradford has still not received a trial. Judge Cowan has also refused to lift a stay returning to Bradford his personal assets totaling millions of dollars.
Judge Cowan, the probate court judge, is now the subject of formal filings to the California Commission on Judicial Performance by Bradford and Sherry Lund together with all of their respective counsel. That actions seeks Judge Cowan’s removal from the bench for violation of five of the six Canons included in the Code of Judicial Ethics.
Bradford and his attorney Sandra Slaton, together with Sherry Lund and her attorney Lauriann Wright, have vigorously defended their respective clients against the attacks by the hostile Trustees and their lawyers. It should be noted that the hostile Trustees pay their attorneys millions of dollars of legal fees from Bradford’s own trust. The hostile Trustees’ own attorneys have actively participated in the conspiracy. They have hired PR companies to slander Bradford Lund and his family and have hired private investigators, spending trust money to for their own agenda and hiding the fact in the legal billings.
Yet, as is detailed in the letters to the Commission on Judicial Performance against Judge Cowan, dated December 16, 2020, refused to give Bradford the trial he asked for and showed bias and personal animus against Bradford, his attorney Ms. Slaton, and Sherry Lund. As set forth in those letters, Judge Cowan has willfully, prejudicially, and improperly inserted himself into the case as an interested party. Judge Cowan’s actions have been wilful and prejudicial by making improper hostile, insulting, and false statements towards all the Lund parties, and their respective lawyers. He has also made discriminatory remarks attacking Sherry Lund and the women professionals involved in the cases.
Last February, Bradford also filed a federal civil rights complaint against Judge Cowan and the entire Los Angeles County Superior Court system, adding a violation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The case was dismissed, not on the merits, but on legal doctrines of preclusion and immunity. That case is presently pending on appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Lund family is working with other groups to expose the wrongdoing of his hostile Trustees which the Probate Court is permitting such to occur. Bradford and his family are also seeking overall legislative reform of probate courts not only in California and Arizona, but across the country to bring about comprehensive reform and accountability by trustees, conservators, guardians, lawyers, and complicit judges. Such efforts will concentrate on the refusal of judicial commissions, courts, and the legislatures, to take proper action against judges, fiduciaries, and lawyers themselves, who continue to violate the rights of citizens resulting in the loss of freedom and the pillaging of estates of those who come to probate seeking protection. Due process is extremely important but too often virtually nonexistent in the Probate Court.
In the probate system, over many years we have seen the need for probate reform—now more than ever. For many victims of the system, it is too late as, in many cases, they have already lost their rights, their money, and their property. People don’t realize until they have experienced it what can happen in the probate courts, all over our nation, in terms of deprivation of due process. In the words of House Subcommittee on Health and Long-Term Care, House Special Committee on Aging, H.R. Doc. No. 100-641, at 4 (1987), that has been frequently quoted by scholars and advocates in the field:
“The typical ward has fewer rights than the typical convicted felon—[he] can no longer receive money or pay [his] bills. By appointing a guardian, the court entrusts to someone else the power to choose where [he] will live, what medical treatment [he] will get and, in rare cases, when [he] will die. It is, in one short sentence, the most punitive civil penalty that can be levied against an American citizen. . . .”
(Emphasis added). As one landmark law review article that was written two decades ago observed:
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the states may not deprive any person of liberty or property without due process of law. Because protective proceedings will usually restrict an individual’s liberty or access to property, the protection sought must comply with due process of law. Unfortunately, the application of due process to protective proceedings is often nonexistent, insufficient, or ignored. 14 Quinnipiac Prob. L.J. 57 (1999).
(Emphasis added). Change needs to happen and attention needs to be brought to the communities all over the country that within our justice system there lurks an invisible prison system with bars that are not visible to the world where individuals enter with their own voices, their own families, their own property, and often leave without anything---. We must work to bring meaningful due process into our probate courts.
Each state Legislature and state Probate Court should be consistent in their probate rules and statutes together with following the laws and Constitutional rights of every citizen who walks through the doors of the courthouse.
Judges who commit violations and abuse should be taken off the bench, not promoted and their crimes ignored by their superiors.
There should not be “absolute immunity” for judges, attorneys, fiduciaries or anyone who is violating the laws or the rights of a citizen in any way.
The state legislatures should do their jobs and oversee the courts, not allow the courts to oversee themselves.
The Lund family’s mission is to work to see that other stories of abuse are told that these abuses and violations are exposed, and to ensure that other families get justice and protection instead of being violated by the very court that should be protecting them.
– The Lund Family