Trust Me - I'm a Lawyer

by Edgar J. Steele

June 13, 2001

You all got my press release of two days ago, telling about my being "disaffiliated" from this case.  They finally allowed me to see JoAnn - in court.  Since the proceeding was the kids' custody hearing, it was under seal and I am prohibited from telling you about it. 
Now, this presents me with something of a dilemma, since I am allowed by state bar rules to respond to false allegations concerning my relationship with a client, even when made by the client.  Though it has been widely reported that she has said (to somebody) that she never retained me, she never said that in Court on Monday....on the contrary.  And I now have a signed affidavit from the family's closest friend that she said she retained me right at the start.  However, she did make it crystal clear that she now no longer wants my assistance.  So be it.  I have to bow out now, despite my firm belief that her pronouncement is made either under duress or in a contrived and false mental state.  After all, who would pass up free legal help for civil matters such as getting her home back?
Many who have been involved in child-snatching by the state - lawyers on both sides, (now adult) children and parents - have told me repeatedly that this is how it is done.  They get the parent to disavow those who have them on the run, saying it is the only way they will ever get the kids back.  While I have no evidence of that occurring in this case, it is interesting that they announced later that day that they were working on a settlement and might have a resolution by Thursday (tomorrow).  We'll see what happens. 
I predicted on Monday, before their announcement, that we would likely see a resolution whereby she gets released and pleads out to a lesser charge, gets probation and supervised visitation with the kids while they all get counseling.  Of course, they will still lose the land, won't they?  And I don't get to present the consitutional challenge to the state law which allows the state to keep the proceeds of such a sale in excess of the back taxes for which the property is seized in the first place.  And good ol' Phil gets to walk away, semi intact.  Only that bad old media hound and "self-avowed" McGuckin family lawyer, Edgar Steele, takes the fall.  That really sucks, ladies and gentlemen, and I am mad as hell about it.
For what it is worth, I filed Bar Complaints against both Powell and Robinson on Monday afternoon.  What will likely happen now is that I will be the one on the business end of a state bar railroad job, however.  Forgive me for being so cynical, but I am pretty disgusted with "the system" just at the moment.  But I am not walking away from this and I am not giving up.  Call it a weakness.
Here are the facts:
1.  JoAnn is still in jail, still on BS charges and still O.R. with terms that she cannot sign off on (and I don't blame her)
2. The kids are still in foster care (though I think we have it set for them to go with the family friend that JoAnn first told me she wanted them to be with - and who signed the affidavit I mentioned)
3. The McGuckin home is still in someone else's name
4. The McGuckin dogs are still either dead or in the pound
5. Good ol' Phil is still sifting through the McGuckin home with his electrical and plumbing inspectors, not to mention a HazMat team, searching for something - anything - that he can use to make the case stick against JoAnn.  That's right - violate the zoning code, go to jail and lose your kids.
You tell me - what's different?  That's right.  Nothing.
There was a pretty good demonstration outside the courthouse on Monday.  Many have asked for pictures.  You can find several here:  There were right wingers there, there were liberals there, there were rich people and there were poor people.  This case cuts right across mainstream America, folks.
Many locals have disparagingly accused me of organizing it.  Much as I would love to take credit for it, others deserve that.  Similarly, today the county commissioners were publicly whining about getting over 200 emails from around the country, complaining about the situation.  They made a very thin allusion to my being responsible.  Again, I would love to take the credit, but just can't.  If you would like to see the letter I drafted and faxed to them tonight, I enclose it.  Perhaps you will begin to appreciate why I seem to be so set upon by the local establishment once you read it.
It will also go a long way toward explaining why everybody was so set upon my getting removed from this case.  After all, I was the one focusing all the heat on good ol' Phil, wasn't I?
Many have asked why we can't simply pay the back taxes and cure the default.  Because the redemption period is passed, is why.  After a year, if the house is sold by the county, there is no longer a right of redemption.  The 3 year Idaho redemption rule applies only if the county doesn't sell it, else there is only a 1 year right of redemption.  That's why the county held it for 15 months before moving in like this.  The sale last October cut off the right of redemption.  The difference goes to the county, per state law.  Nice, eh?  However, I have identified a number of things that I think allow JoAnn to file suit to recover the property, including defects in the notice of sale and other things.
The McGuckin Family Trust Fund is now in the hands of a local bank and is now entitled the JoAnn McGuckin Benefit Account.  If the pretender ever moves to get bail set, or to get the conditions removed and bail gets set anyway, then I will immediately take cash and go post bail.  Regardless, every penny still goes to the McGuckins, rest assured.  Many have taken that rather strange message from JoAnn, made during the courthouse demonstration by the lady public defender lawyer that I think should be handling the case alone, to mean that JoAnn will not accept any of the fund.  If that happens, then I will take the fund and cut it into six equal pieces and place them in irrevocable trusts as college funds for the kids.  They'll have the sense to take the money when the time comes, believe me.  The daily contents of the PO Box have fallen off pretty dramatically now, with only a handful of envelopes today.  The balance now stands at $ 17,027.   
Donations can still be made to:  JoAnn McGuckin Benefit Account, c/o Panhandle State Bank, PO Box 967, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864.  The bank now opens the mail and automatically makes the deposits.  I much prefer that and so does Cyndi, who did such a good job of opening, endorsing, tallying and preparing deposit slips this past week.
I know this communique is a little prickly.  I'm just not happy about what is going on.  Although I attempt to put aside my feelings about what is being said about myself and my motivations, and how I am denied the local public forum to respond, and just focus on what is happening to the McGuckins, I still have difficulty with not letting my personal anger get the better of me.  It is because of my passion, I suppose, that I get caught up in affairs of this sort in the first place. 
I'm still not through with this matter, or the people who created it, or those who tolerate it.  Not by a long shot.
Believe me when I tell you that.  When's the last time that a lawyer said something like that and you did believe it?


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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