Here’s the Commission’s findings. This involves the same conservatorship for which former Chancellor Joe Dale Walker was suspended and then pleaded guilty in federal court for tampering with a witness.
I’ve taken the allegations of the petition and edited them slightly for brevity but this is the essence of the claims:
Joe Dale Walker signed an order appointing Marilyn Denise Newsome as the conservator of the estate of her daughter Victoria Denise Newsome. The ward later received a settlement in a medical negligence claim. Walker ordered that a house be constructed for the use and benefit of the ward and that a minimum of four bids should be obtained by the attorney for the conservator, Keely R. McNulty, Esq. The lowest bid submitted was from C.T. Construction, a company owned by Walker’s nephew Chad Teater. On July 22, 2011, Walker entered an Order Transferring the Cause for Limited Purpose. That order recited that the transfer to Chancellor Shoemake was made “for the limited purpose of approving and acceptance of the bid(s) for the construction of the home for the ward. Upon approval and acceptance, the cause is to be transferred back to Honorable Joe Dale Walker, Post 2.” The day before that order was entered, McNulty sent Shoemake a seventeen page fax, including a petition, proposed order and five bids. The bid from C.T. Construction included with that fax was in the amount of $296,575.14. The following day, Shoemake signed an order authorizing the Conservator to accept the lowest bid case back to Walker. Although that order recites that copies of the five bids received were attached to the order as exhibits, no bids are attached to that order on file in the clerk’s office. At the time that order was filed no petition requesting that relief was on file, and the Conservator neither gave McNulty permission nor had knowledge of that request for relief. Nine months later, McNulty filed two Petitions for Approval of Contractor, both of which requested approval of the C.T. Construction bid of $273,075.14 and both of which had five bids attached. . Both copies of the C.T. Construction bid were for $296,575. Neither petition was sworn to and neither was signed by the Conservator. Thereafter, on July 28, 2011, after Shoemake had transferred the matter back to Walker, Shoemake signed an order, again submitted by McNulty, authorizing and ordering the approval of C.T. Construction’s “attached” Construction Management Agreement, including a $30,000.00 fee, and approval of contractors’ and subcontractors’ invoices in accordance with an “attached” itemized proposal, and also authorizing the Conservator to sign that Construction Management Agreement. Nothing is attached to that order as filed with the clerk’s office. No petition requesting that relief was ever filed, and the Conservator neither gave her permission nor had knowledge of McNulty’s request for relief. On August 2, 2011, after he had transferred the case back to Walker, Shoemake signed an order authorizing and ordering the law firm that had represented Newsome to transfer the sum of $258,395.14 from their escrow account to the conservatorship account for the construction of the home even though no petition requesting that relief was ever filed, and the Conservator neither gave her permission nor had knowledge of that request for relief.
On January 24, 2012, McNulty filed a petition, said to be on behalf of the Conservator, requesting that $23,000.00 be paid to C.T. Construction for reimbursement for materials allegedly stolen from the construction site. The Conservator neither signed that petition nor was she given notice of it. The following day, in spite of having transferred the case back to Walker, Shoemake signed an order directing payment of $23,000.00 to C.T. Construction for the allegedly stolen materials. The order makes no reference to the existence of any hearing being held or the existence of any evidence presented that the materials were stolen because of any fault attributable to the Conservator or ward, or otherwise that C.T. Construction was entitled to be reimbursed from assets of the ward. An affidavit attached to the petition, from the contractor himself, attributes no fault to the Conservator or ward, gives no basis for charging the loss to them, and in fact indicates that the materials might never have been delivered to the job site. On March 14, 2012, Terrell Stubbs filed an Entry of Appearance of Counsel, appearing as counsel for Marilyn Newsome, both individually and in her capacity as Conservator. On March 20, 2012, McNulty filed her first Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for the Conservator. In spite of having transferred the case back to Walker, Shoemake signed an order on March 26, 2012, noted to be nunc pro tune to August 2, 2011. No such petition was filed with the clerk until nine months later, on April 24, 2012; that petition was not sworn to and was neither signed by nor discussed with the Conservator. The order “finds and adjudicates,” in pertinent part, that the original bid amount accepted, $273,075.14, was wrong due to a typographical error and that the actual bid amount was $296,575.15. The order directed the transfer of $23,500.00 to the conservatorship account. All of this was done after the matter had been transferred back to Walker, with no petition filed by the Conservator and no notice to the Conservator or her new counsel, Stubbs.
Shoemake denied signing any of the orders. After a handwriting analysis determined that they were Shoemake’s signatures, Shoemake admitted to signing them.
The case is currently on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, docket no. 2015-JP-996.
(note: I find these things just by checking every other day or so to see what new cases have been filed).