Perils of Probate – Part 14: Court Takes Son From  Mother Without Explanation 


Linda Flowers and her son Spencer at Linda’s graduation from administrative school for care homes.  Flowers is a respite worker for the agency that has taken her son.

Linda Flowers lives in a four-plex in Stockton.  She keeps a neat apartment despite fighting roaches from other apartments. Her son, Spencer Dawson, 38, is autistic.  Despite Spencer’s disability he had a fun life with his mother. As an entertainment manager, She took Dawson everywhere and he was embraced as a “buddy” by the likes of many including boxer Mike Spink and members of the Delfonics.

“We dressed alike, Spencer was my partner.  We’d go down to Texas in the summers and live on my ex-boyfriend’s farm.  He loved it there,” said Flowers.

Dawson was under his mother’s conservatorship, but the court was inspecting Flowers after she ceased Spencer’s participation at the Valley Mountain Regional Center.

Valley Mountain Regional Center is paid by the county and state to offer services to people with disabilities.  Dawson didn’t like their day care and told his mother.  Flowers cancelled their services and resumed her life with him as before.

Four years later, the court inspected Flowers’ apartment and shortly thereafter she received a summons from the court.  When she arrived with Spencer they conserved him,  and no one told his mother why.

A conservator is also under the jurisdiction of the court and must do what the court says.  Flowers’ social worker told her that the stopped services at Valley Mountain Regional Center had raised a red flag.

“Placing your child in a day care center is a choice.  If he didn’t like being there he shouldn’t have to go.  I shouldn’t be forced to put my son in a program,” said Flowers.
As a certified care home administrator, Flowers does respite care for Valley Mountain clients, so she knows the system.

“They’re always recommending medicating the client.  I was taught in my classes that the more medication a patient is given, the more the facility gets paid.  That’s why most, if not all clients are medicated.

“It’s all about the money.  It’s an industry and they’re feeding our children and elders into it to pay their bills.  They don’t love my son, they don’t care about my son.  It’s about the money,” she said.

Flowers’ apartment was painted last year when Probate Court Inspector April Saldana arrived.  According to the inspector’s report, Spencer was living in “squalid conditions, stating the house was in disarray, there were roaches and no fresh food.”  The inspector also noted that Spencer was in impeccable condition and seemed happy, and that the apartment was being painted and sprayed for roaches.

“Whose house is not messed up when you’re painting?” Flowers asked.

Dawson was placed into temporary conservatorship and for a full year Flowers didn’t know why they had taken her son. It took a court order filed by Flowers last month to obtain a copy of the inspector’s report.

“I thought this stuff was supposed to be in your court records.  Why did they keep this from me?” Flowers asked.

When she asked Judge Holland his response was, “I’m not going to go there with you today.”

Flowers came to The Probate Court Reform Movement and “SHOUT OUT JUSTICE” in March. At the time she was facing a court hearing to take Spencer away from her permanently.  She has since filed countless motions to get her son back.  Flowers’ latest petition is for the court to return her son and dismiss the conservatorship, as massive due process rights violations have occurred in her case.

“The court won’t let me see my son.  They say that when they ask if he wants to see me he says, ‘No Mom,’ but he has echolalia, the ‘parroting disease,’ and only relates what he hears.

My son doesn’t call me mom he calls me ‘Linda.’ I know they’ve told him I’m a bad mom—a friend heard them say it at the homeless shelter where they have my son working.  He doesn’t look good. He has a band-aid on his arm and I think they’re medicating him.  When Spencer lived with me he was never medicated,” said Flowers.

Dawson’s current Conservator Michele Pennington, in an email expressed that “a thorough investigation was done regarding Ms. Flowers’ petition to see her son and is confident that he does not wish to see her.

Pennington continued saying “an adult Conservatee has rights that must be respected.”

Last October, when Flowers saw her son last, he indicated he wanted to go home but was ignored and the visit was quickly terminated.

Flowers has subpoenaed the court for Spencer’s medical records and has requested Spencer attend court on Oct. 16 when final determination will be made to conserve Dawson  permanently.

According to Flowers, she was recently told by Ian Barkley, another one of her son’s conservators, that  she’ll never see her son again because they  want him to get used to his new home.”

The court is holding true to Barkley’s words.  Flowers’ numerous requests to see her son have been denied. She is now asking for community support. Concerned citizens are requested to attend the Flowers/Dawson hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 a.m. at the San Joaquin  County Court House, located at 180 East Weber Ave Dept 11A.


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