October 19, 1995
I am 90 years old. I wish to register a complaint against attorney Robert K. Bolt of 2700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 200, Walnut Creek, California 94598.
I retained Mr. Bolt as my attorney to defend me in a proceeding brought before the Solano County Superior Court in which my son, Neel Rich, seeks to have himself appointed as the conservator of my person and estate. I have four children: three daughters and a son. I have not been on good terms with my son for many years and he is that last person whom I would want as my conservator. His primary interest in having himself appointed as my conservator seems to stem from the fact that I have a net worth of over one million dollars.
At first, I was recommended to an attorney named Craig Brandt in Oakland. However, Mr. Brandt indicated that he was not in a position to take my case, but he sent me a list of three attorneys who specialized in the field of law with which my case was concerned. One of those listed was Robert K. Bolt. After meeting with Mr. Bolt, I decided to retain him and paid him an initial retainer fee of $1500. My instructions to Mr. Bolt were to oppose, in every possible way, the appointment of a conservator or any limitation on my civil rights.
At the initial stages, Mr. Bolt's performance was satisfactory. Mr. Bolt got the other side to agree to a stipulation, which gave them some of the things which they wanted regarding my financial affairs, while leaving me with my personal freedom. I was not really happy with this stipulation, but I reluctantly agreed to it, for fear of worse if my case went to trial or a hearing before a judge. Probably the most important reason why I agreed to this stipulation was that it provided that all prior orders of the court be vacated. Previously, Judge Smith had made a verbal order that my daughter, Arden, was not allowed to spend the night in my home. I wanted Arden to be allowed to spend the night with me.
Unfortunately, the stipulation started to break down almost immediately after it was signed, as my son, Neel, wanted to have complete control over me and over my money, and nothing less than that would satisfy him. Eventually, the accountant who was hired pursuant to the stipulation resigned because of the constant harassment he received from Neel and his attorney, John D. O'Hara. After the accountant resigned, I found out that Neel and Mr. O'Hara had caused the accountant to write checks to them in very substantial amounts of more than $10,000, all without my knowledge or approval.
As soon as my accountant resigned, on December 3, 1994, Neel and his attorney went back to court stating that they wanted some more of my money but they could not get it because my accountant, who had had the check signing authority, had resigned.
At this point, my nightmare began. Although I had instructed Mr. Bolt to oppose the appointment of a conservator in the strongest possible terms, his opposition was rather mild. He failed to inform the court of the prior agreement between the parties that my daughter, Arden, be allowed to spend the night in my home. He did not call me as a witness, although I was present in court and eager to testify. Mr. Bolt never even said that he was opposed because his client was opposed. Mr. Bolt made no objection to the more than $10,000 which John D. O'Hara and Neel and Myrna Rich had removed from my bank accounts, even though I had told Mr. Bolt to raise a strenuous objection over that. To the contrary, Mr. Bolt told the court that it appeared that there has been no waste of my funds and that I had paid for the attorney's for all of my children, when in fact I had not paid for any of my children's attorneys fees and Mr. O'Hara had simply stolen the fees he wanted out of my bank account. Mr. Bolt also said that I was paying for my family members to live in my house, when I had never made any such payments and I objected strenuously to such payments being made.
In view of this weak opposition (virtually no opposition at all), Judge Smith appointed a conservator of my estate, but not of my person. He also reinstated the order that my daughter, Arden, not be allowed to stay overnight in my home. Mr. Bolt made no objection to this, even though I had clearly told Mr. Bolt many times that I wanted Arden to stay in my home.
When the hearing was over, Mr. Bolt insisted that my son Neel take me home, although Neel had never brought me to the court. Neel and I do not get along. We have been fighting like cats and dogs for years. However, Mr. Bolt, interfering in my personal affairs, was extremely insistent that Neel and nobody else be the one to take me home. Why he insisted on this I cannot imagine, but it is now apparent that Mr. Bolt had already decided to switch sides and was now on Neel's side.
Neel started screaming at me almost as soon as we got out of the courthouse and into his car, something which I knew was going to happen in view of the history of my relationship with Neel. Neel also started gloating about how he had "won" his court case against me.
I was subjected to abusive treatment by Neel for the next several hours, all because of Mr. Bolt's insistence that Neel drive me home. Finally, feeling that I had no other choice, I resolved to escape.
I made more than 10 telephone calls on the evening of December 2, 1994, trying to find someone who was willing to come pick me up and get me out of Neel's clutches. Finally, on the morning of December 3, 1994, after I had made more telephone calls asking for help, I found someone who was willing to give me a ride to San Francisco.
Almost as soon as I arrived in San Francisco, I called Mr. Bolt on the telephone, explained to him the situation, and asked him to come and discuss the case with me. Mr. Bolt refused to come, saying that he was too busy. I then offered to have someone drive me to Walnut Creek so that I could see Mr. Bolt in his office. Mr. Bolt said that he could not agree to that either, as his office schedule was fully booked. At the same time, Mr. Bolt kept insisting that I return to my home in Vallejo, the home from which I had just fled.
Again and again over the next several weeks, I called Mr. Bolt and repeatedly asked him to come and see me or that I should be allowed to go to his office and see him. Mr. Bolt refused to agree to either proposal and stated that he was too busy and was going out of town and therefore could not see me.
On December 21, 1994, my son, Neel Rich, and his attorney, John D. O'Hara, got another motion put on the calendar calling for the appointment of a conservator of my person. Their specific reason for this request was that I had escaped and my son wanted to have me arrested and brought back to Vallejo by force so that he would have complete control over me.
At the outset of the hearing on December 21, Mr. Bolt told the court that he had not consulted with me because he found the current situation not satisfactory for good communication between him and me and that he wanted to go forward with the case without my presence. I was not present at this hearing. Mr. Bolt also complained to the court about my unilateral change in residence, even though I had told him clearly on the telephone that I had voluntarily moved out of my home at 733 York Street in Vallejo and I did not want to return there under the present circumstances. In short, instead of zealously representing my interests, Mr. Bolt from that time forward clearly represented the interests of my son, Neel, who was suing me.
In conclusion, Mr. Bolt told the court that he wanted me to be returned to my home in Vallejo and that all of my family members should be excluded from my home. In short, Mr. Bolt wanted a conservator of my person to be appointed. This is exactly the opposite from what I wanted and the opposite position that I had told Mr. Bolt to take when I first retained him. Bolt further stated that the appointment of a temporary conservator was necessary for him to achieve his goals in representing me.
Mr. Bolt voiced no opposition whatever to the appointment of a conservator of my person. More than that, he remained silent when the judge spoke about sending law enforcement authorities to pick me up and transport me back to Vallejo. In short, Mr. Bolt, my own lawyer, made it clear that he was in favor of having me arrested and brought to Vallejo by force.
Thereafter, a wide ranging hunt by the county sheriff began for me. At Mr. Bolt's request, there were several further hearings. Each time, Mr. Bolt asked the court that I be arrested by the sheriff and brought back to Vallejo. I therefore went into hiding. None of my family members knew where I was. Eventually, Mr. Bolt asked the court to have my daughter, Arden, arrested, believing, mistakenly, that Arden knew where I was. As a result, Arden was arrested twice and spent a total of five days in jail.
In the meantime, I had taken refuge in the Alameda Hospital in Alameda. I had instructed the hospital staff not to tell anyone, including Mr. Bolt and my family members, where I was. I was aware that my daughter, Arden, was in jail, because the story about this appeared in the newspapers. Still, I was not prepared to surrender, even if that was necessary to get my daughter out of jail.
Eventually, my whereabouts were found out. I was then detained by the temporary conservator which Mr. Bolt had had appointed and brought back to Vallejo. I was placed under house arrest, where I remain until this day.
This conservator was only supposed to be a temporary conservator. I had instructed Mr. Bolt that I wanted a jury trial, and Mr. Bolt had so informed the court. However, just before the trial, without consulting me, Mr. Bolt waived my right to a jury trial. As soon as I found out about this, I called Mr. Bolt, reprimanded him for this, and instructed him to reinstate his demand for a jury trial. Although Mr. Bolt did this (or at least I believe that he did) later on he again asked the court that there be no jury trail.
All this time, I told Mr. Bolt on numerous occasions that he was fired and that I did not desire his services. Nevertheless, he continued to appear in court saying that he was representing me. Finally, I filed in court a motion asking that he be removed as my counsel. Nevertheless, Mr. Bolt continued to insist that he represented me. A trial was held on the request for a conservator. Due to Mr. Bolt's refusal to defend me at the trial, coupled with the fact that he specifically requested that there not be a trial by jury, it was a foregone conclusion that the decision would be adverse to me, and indeed it was.
I then instructed Mr. Bolt to file a notice of appeal. Mr. Bolt has refused to file the notice of appeal. I have also repeatedly asked Mr. Bolt to write me a new will so that I can disinherit Neel and Myrna. Mr. Bolt refuses to do that either.
Throughout this period, I have been in severe pain because of Paget's Disease from which I have been suffering. Although it has been known since at least early 1994 that I am suffering from this disease, I have not been able to receive medical treatment because of the refusal of the temporary conservator to take me to a doctor qualified in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. However, I finally was able to get myself taken to a doctor, and he immediately wrote a prescription for a new drug which has proven effective in the treatment of this disease.
Because of the cost of obtaining this new medicine, the temporary conservator applied to the court for the funds necessary to secure adequate supplies of this medicine. However, Mr. Bolt, supposedly my attorney, opposed this motion, saying that my pain was psychosomatic and that I was
not suffering from any disease. Mr. Bolt is not a medical doctor, and the report from the doctor clearly stated that I was in severe pain because of this life-threatening disease.
Finally, I recently retained Mr. Craig Brandt to represent me. It is to be recalled that Mr. Brandt was the first attorney I consulted and it was actually Mr. Brandt who referred me to Mr. Bolt. Now, I no longer wanted Mr. Bolt but wanted Mr. Brandt. Accordingly, I signed a retainer agreement with Mr. Brandt. However, Mr. Bolt refused to agree to a substitution of counsel. As result, Mr. Brandt has been required to file a motion asking that he be allowed to represent me.
Last week, Mr. Bolt came to my home for only the second time since I retained him as my counsel more than one year ago. The reason for his visit was that he wanted to force me to sign some papers reinstating him as my counsel. I refused to sign those papers and we had a big fight. Finally, Mr. Bolt left my home. At the time of this visit, Neel and Myrna were also present, although they are rarely in my home, and it was obvious that they were there to help Mr. Bolt obtain my signature by force.
The reasons for Mr. Bolt's actions are obvious. Since the beginning of this case, Mr. Bolt has applied repeatedly to the court for more attorney's fees. So far, Mr. Bolt has been awarded more than $13,000 in fees. Mr. Bolt wants to continue as my attorney, even though I do not want him to be my attorney, because he wants to get more fees.
In view of the obvious misconduct of Mr. Bolt, I ask that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against him and that Mr. Bolt be permanently disbarred from the practice of law.
Very Truly Yours,
Doris M. Rich
For the Story of Doris M. Rich, see: Under House Arrest at Age 90 . For the federal complaint by Doris M. Rich, see: Suit by Doris M. Rich . For the Motion by Doris M. Rich for a Temporary Restraining Order, see: Doris TRO. For the Petition for Rehearing by Doris M. Rich, see: Petition for Rehearing . For the complaint to the San Francisco Grand Jury, see: Complaint to the Grand Jury . For the refutation to the report of the Court investigator, see: Answer to Report of Beth Rhea . For the opening brief of Doris M. Rich, see: Opening Brief .