28 February 1987
Hon. Judge Richard Miller
Circuit Court of the City of Lynchburg
P.O. Box 4
Lynchburg, Virginia 24505
I am an American attorney associated with Chadbourne & Parke, a New York law firm, and I am a member of the New York and Washington D.C. bars. As it happens, I am a graduate of the University of the Virginia School of Law, but I am not. a member of the Virginia Bar. I am presently in charge of the Abu Dhabi office of Chadbourne, Parke & Afridi, licensed legal consultants in the United Arab Emirates.
We have been contacted locally by Mr. Ismail Sloan, a/k/a Samuel H. Sloan, in connection with the possible representation of the interests of his mother, Dr. Helen Marjorie Sloan in connection with the above-captioned matter. We have at this point made no determination to undertake such representation. A matter of this sort is very much outside the scope of our normal commercial practice, but we feel obligated to make available such legal services as we can where a need appears that cannot otherwise be satisfied.
From a preliminary discussion concerning the above-captioned litigation, it is apparent that Dr. Sloan's interests can best be protected by engaging a lawyer in Virginia, and that the only services which we might reasonably perform on behalf of Dr. Sloan would be to assist in engaging such counsel and thereafter to assist as necessary locally, e.g., in the preparation of affidavits, forwarding of information, etc., as might be necessary. I have so advised Mr. Sloan.
Nevertheless, even for such a limited purpose I am mindful of the need to exercise extreme caution in a matter where the competence of a prospective client is apparently in question. In fact, I would be very much inclined to consider seeking court approval in connection with any such representation in order to validate it and, indeed, in order obviate any subsequent challenge to our fees in connection of such representation.
I note that in considering this matter, we have been careful to distinguish between the interests of Dr. Sloan and her son Ismail, who has been quite candid with us in revealing court orders and other information relating to child custody litigation in which he is involved in Amherst County, Virginia. I should add that Mr. Sloan is in no way attempting to conceal his presence or that of his family, or his activities in Abu Dhabi. In fact, he had contacted officials at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi even prior to consulting us.
At this point, I have reviewed Bill of Complaint filed 11 December 1986 and the Decree entered 2 January 1987 in the above-captioned case, and while I am hesitant to comment, not being privy to supporting evidence that may have been submitted to the court, nevertheless it seems to me that the complaint in this matter is remarkably thin and the order, by contrast, remarkably broad. This alone inclines me to the belief that legal assistance is required on behalf of Dr. Sloan and that the case should not proceed, and the orders should not stand in their present form, without the appointment of counsel on behalf of Dr. Sloan.
The complaint, to the extent that it alleges that a retired physician commenced several months of foreign travel and that her expenses during that period may (or may not) have been greater than when she lived with relatives in the United States, would describe a number of retired persons in my acquaintance.
To the extent that the complaint implies that the decision to reside in Abu Dhabi is itself evidence of mental instability, this reflects an amusing but regrettable ignorance. As it happens, the United Arab Emirates has the highest per capita income of any country in the world, and Abu Dhabi is the richest of the seven individual Emirates. Fully 80% of the population of the U.A.E. consists of expatriates, including approximately 25,000 British citizens and 5,000 Americans, who are about equally divided between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two principal urban areas in the U.A.E. Many of these individuals have resided here for a long time, but new companies and new people arrive each year. Indeed, a record number of visas were issued in Abu Dhabi last year, despite a relative economic decline owing to reduced oil prices. Abu Dhabi, in particular, is experiencing a tourist mini-boom, with the major hotels (Intercontinental, Sheraton, Meridian and Hilton) bringing in substantial tour groups each week during the "winter" season, usually from Northern Europe. For your information, Ramada and Holiday Inn are also represented in Abu Dhabi. The rate of crime is much lower than in the United States. I often leave my car doors unlocked, leave my apartment keys with doormen, repairmen, etc., and one may feel free to drive or walk in any areas of Abu Dhabi.
Without pretending to any special expertise, I have met Dr. Sloan (I treated her to lunch with her granddaughter). I found her in relatively good physical condition for her age. She needed no help getting in and out of vehicles, or up and down stairs, her vision is sharp and she read (from a relatively exotic menu) both rapidly and fluently. We talked for about two hours on a range of subjects including her family, her former employment, and her foreign travel. At a minimum, it is not at all clear to me that she should be deprived of the right to dispose of her own assets. I have also conferred with a local U.S.-trained psychiatrist, Dr. Ghada Al-Asadi, a Syrian national, who examined Dr. Sloan in interviews totaling several hours, and who has expressed to me a similar view, although I cannot and do not pretend to represent the medical judgment of Dr. Al-Asadi.
Accordingly, a court order which does not even allow for Dr. Sloan's her minimal living expenses pending a final determination of the matters at issue seems unjustified. More troubling is the fact that the extant decree does not simply freeze Dr. Sloan's assets, but gives her son Creighton the power to operate her accounts without any accountability to or supervision by the court. If such supervision is in fact exercised, as might be hoped, it is not evident in the order. Unfortunately, it appears that Creighton Sloan has to some extent relied in the past on income and support from his mother, and that his record of financial responsibility is open to question. This suggests a potentially serious disregard for the interests and assets of Dr. Sloan, who has to date never even received notice from the court regarding this action against her interests. To the extent that this may have been at one point due to her travel status, I believe the court is now aware that she can be addressed at P.O. Box 2507, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
At this point I am concerned that any efforts to obtain Virginia counsel in this matter will be hampered by Dr. Sloan's inability to pay or to make arrangements for payment of the necessary fees owing to the court order. Her son Ismail reports that he has experienced difficulty in obtaining counsel in Lynchburg owing to his family's personal relationships over the years with many lawyers there.
I therefore respectfully suggest, as one on whom this matter has been thrust without my entirely wishing it, that the court consider whether it may be appropriate to appoint a guardian ad litem, perhaps on a temporary basis, to protect the interests of Dr. Sloan, and in particular to raise immediately the issues whether the extant order should be modified (1) to address the possible abuse of Dr. Sloan's assets by her son Creighton and (2) to provide at least minimum support payments for her maintenance in Abu Dhabi pending a more permanent resolution of her situation. Legal action by Dr. Sloan against the various parties involved in this matter would be a subject for further decision by either such a guardian or by counsel subsequently appointed by Dr. Sloan. We would be willing to cooperate with such counsel to the extent necessary locally.
I understand that the court and/or counsel for Creighton Sloan is in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi in regard to the health and welfare of Dr. Sloan. For your information, the relevant Embassy officials are also aware that we have been contacted and are considering representation of Dr. Sloan. I have also made them aware of my preliminary impressions in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Gary R. Feulner
cc : Killis T. Howard, Esq.
Leighton Houck, Esq.
P.S.: Subsequent to preparation of the foregoing letter, I have been advised that Dr. Sloan has received notice from Killis T. Howard, Esq. of a hearing scheduled for 13 March 1987 in Lynchburg, and has been told that Creighton Sloan has made arrangements to supply to Dr. Sloan a one-way plane ticket to Washington, D.C., plus approximately $385 in spending money. Dr. Sloan has indicated informally that this is not really an acceptable arrangement, as it effectively continues to deprive her of her right to travel freely and to dispose of her own assets. I do not think that this latest development affects the merit of the suggestions offered above.
G. R. Feulner
Here is my first letter to the FBI: Letter to the FBI about the kidnappings of Dr. Marjorie Sloan and Shamema Honzagool Sloan.