Boca attorney again asks court to declare Trump mentally unfit

A Boca Raton probate and guardianship lawyer has renewed his efforts to have Donald Trump declared mentally unfit to serve as president of the United States.

Donald Trump
New U.S. President Donald Trump

Attorney James Herb said Trump’s actions over the last 10 days – fighting over the size of the crowd at his inauguration, insisting he really won the popular vote and inciting international turmoil with an immigration ban – reinforce his earlier claims that part-time Palm Beach resident is delusional.

A similar guardianship petition Herb filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court in the run-up to the November election was thrown out by Circuit Judge Jaimie Goodman. As a state court judge, Goodman said he had no power to block Trump’s candidacy or remove him from office. Further, he ruled, Herb didn’t have a relationship with Trump that would allow him to ask that the real estate tycoon be declared incompetent.

Herb said he has addressed those legal obstacles in a new petition filed Monday. “I did not have a relationship with him but I now do because he’s my president,” Herb said.

Further, he said, he’s not asking a judge to remove Trump from office. That would be done in accordance with a process outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

Herb said he is simply asking a judge to appoint a team of experts to evaluate the new chief executive’s mental health. If Trump is found incompetent by the three-person panel, the judge could then limit his activities.

In the petition, Herb is asking that Trump be barred from “seeking or retaining employment.” In an asterisks, he notes that he is asking Trump be prohibited from “retaining employment as President of the United States.” If a judge agrees to the limitation, the order would be forwarded to federal officials capable of removing him from office.

As he did in the previous petition, Herb claims Trump exhibits signs of narcissism and histrionic personality disorder. Both are recognized as mental illnesses by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Since taking office, Trump has also exhibited signs of being delusional, Herb wrote.

Herb, who was criticized as a publicity-hound after filing the first petition in October, said his actions aren’t part of some self-serving publicity stunt. A longtime guardianship and probate lawyer, he said his practice is now primarily limited to wills and trusts.

“I’m not interested in getting business. I have plenty of business,” he said.

His goal, he said, is much more far-reaching. “I’m trying to save the world,” he said.

He is not alone in his suspicion that Trump is mentally unfit to be president. A group calling itself “We The People,” on Sunday started an online petition to “Demand Congress Require an Independent Expert Panel Determine the President’s Psychiatric Stability to Protect America.” If they get 99,999 signatures by Feb. 28, the White House by law has to respond.

 

Boca attorney asks PBC judge to declare Trump incompetent

Claiming he is worried about the future of the country, a longtime Boca Raton guardianship attorney has filed a petition in Palm Beach County Circuit Court asking a judge to declare Donald Trump mentally incapable of seeking the presidency.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

In the “petition to determine incapacity” filed last week, attorney James Herb claims the GOP presidential nominee exhibits signs of histrionic and narcissistic personality disorder – both recognized mental health ills listed in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” of the American Psychiatric Association.

Herb is asking judge to order an examination of Trump to determine if he is capable of holding any job. Herb isn’t asking Trump to be stripped of any rights that are often taken away from those who are deemed incapacitated, such as the right to vote, file lawsuits, drive or travel. Citing dozens of statements Trump has made over the last year, Herb claims the part-time Palm Beach resident has illustrated he is incompetent.

“This is for Mr. Trump’s benefit. He doesn’t have the mental capacity to seek this kind of employment” said Herb, insisting he is acting alone without any encouragement from Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, or any Democratic groups.

He said he is also acting to protect himself and others. “I’m scared sh–less for myself and everyone in Palm Beach County, the state, the United States and the world,” Herb said.

Florida law gives any “adult person” the right to question someone’s competency, said West Palm Beach guardianship attorney John Morrissey, who is not involved in Herb’s quest. A judge will appoint an attorney to represent Trump. The attorney will alert Trump that the petition has been filed against him.

Once Trump has been properly informed that his mental fitness is in question, a three-person examining committee – generally composed of a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a lay person – will meet with Trump to determine if Herb”s claims are justified. Trump, of course, can contest any claim that he is incompetent to hold a job much less become the leader of the free world.

However, Boca Raton guardianship attorney Edward Shipe said he doubted it would go that far. While acknowledging that case law isn’t clear-cut, he said the guardianship statute requires anyone filing such a petition to explain their relationship with the person they claim is incompetent – something Herb failed to do. He said that is a fatal flaw.

“It can’t just be, ‘I’m sitting here watching TV, I don’t like him and I’m going to have him declared incompetent. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

If it was that easy, courts would be clogged with petitions, Shipe said. Trump supporters could file a similar petition against Clinton. Warring neighbors could use it for revenge.

While giving Herb an “A for a publicity stunt,” he predicted a judge will throw out the petition. Further, he said, Herb may regret going after Trump in such an unconventional manner.

Under the state’s guardianship laws, the target of a frivolous petition can demand that the person who filed it be forced to pay his attorneys fees and court costs. “I fear that Mr. Trump with his litigious history may make Mr. Herb’s life hell,” Shipe said.

 

Palm Beach man Martin Zelman, focus of twisted guardianship case, has died

A Palm Beach man, who was the focus of what amounted to a custody fight between his wife and his adult children, has died.

Martin and Lois Zelman were regulars at Palm Beach events. 013014 PBDN Debbie Schatz 11 Photos Reception for American Friends of the Israel Museum's Palm Beach Fundraiser at the Baum Residence
Martin and Lois Zelman in 2014 at a reception for American Friends of the Israel Museum’s Palm Beach Fundraiser.

The death of Martin Zelman, a successful Long Island real estate investor, was announced by his family in an obituary that appeared on March 8 in the New York Times. He was 87.

His second wife, Lois Zelman, who fought his adult children’s efforts to separate them after 15 years of marriage, was not mentioned in the obituary.

Lois Zelman was ordered out of the couple’s Palm Beach condo in 2o14 by then-Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis. She believed Martin’s children’s claims that Lois was a threat to their father’s well-being. The decision was overturned nearly a year later by the 4th District Court of Appeal. It ruled that Lewis had for fallen for “legal hocus pocus” and had violated Lois’ rights.

But by that time, it was too late for the couple to resume their life together. With Martin Zelman falling deeper into the well of Alzheimer’s disease, he no longer recognized his wife, said attorney Jeff Fisher, who represented Lois in the litigation.

“Due to an abuse of the guardianship process, Lois lost the ability to care for and be with her husband in the last years of his life,” Fisher said Tuesday. “Martin’s passing makes that fact all the more painful for her.  At this point, we simply hope that the rulings from her case prevent the same thing from happening to other couples who are at a similarly vulnerable stage of their lives.”

At stake in the case was roughly $10 million. According to a prenuptial agreement, if Martin divorced Lois she wouldn’t get the money.

In the guardianship case, Lewis ruled that Martin was incompetent and appointed his children as his guardians. But she let him preserve the ability to file lawsuits. While a divorce suit was filed, Judge Charles Burton later threw it out, ruling that Martin lacked the capacity to understand what he was doing.

The dispute was ultimately settled out of court.