Sunday, September 22, 2013

Clark estate nears resolution

Years ago I was selected to be on a jury, much to my surprise.  On the day of the trial, I showed up right on time, as did the other jurors.  I drove past dozens and dozens of empty parking spaces in the garage, they were reserved for lawyers and court officers who weren't there yet.  That detail reinforced my conviction that the jurors are the least appreciated element of any trial.  Certainly, they get the least compensation for their services.

Anyway, we waiting for more than an hour for the trial to start, in the jury room. We were admonished not to speculate about the case, but of course that rule fell after about 10 minutes. We began comparing notes on the questions we were asked in voir dire, and wondered what it might mean.  Finally, the judge came in.

He told us that only because we had come to the court to do our civic duty, the parties had reached a settlement on the courthouse steps.  Nothing like a rope, or the loss of control, to focus the mind, as they say. The judge thanked us for our service, said our jury obligation was discharged for three years, and said our employers would not be informed that we had the rest of the day free.

Something similar seems to have happened in the jury trial over the last will and testament of Huguette Clark, whose estate ran to $300.  Jury selection was underway when the parties settled.  Reportedly the disinherited relatives will get $34 million after taxes, the nurse has to give back $5 million (but apparently can keep the gifts she received during Clark's life, including a Stradivarius worth $1.2 million).  Clark's California mansion will become a foundation, and presumably it well get some operating funds. Perhaps some of the relatives can get work there.

On the one hand, this seemed like an obvious case of caregivers taking advantage of a frail person for their own benefit. On the other hand, the distant relatives had made no effort to stay in touch with Clark, or to help her in any way.  I need a third hand to come up with an appropriate resolution.

1 comment:

JLM said...

The New York Times adds some details. The nurse and accountant won't need food stamps.