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Under California law, a trustee has the highest obligation of loyalty to its trust beneficiary. The trustee must administer the trust "solely in the interests of the beneficiaries" in a fiduciary relationship that has been described as "peculiarly intense".

However, City National Bank (Beverly Hills, California) - as trustee of my grandmother's spendthrift trust - milked the trust out of more than $350,000 in lawyers’ fees - robbing me (one of the income beneficiaries) and personally slandering me - as litigation wound its way through California courts and Federal courts from 1994 – 2005.

I was invited by City National to file my probate court petition for division of trust. I had never before litigated against City National (although I had litigated against one of the four trust income beneficiaries in a totally unrelated matter and, years earlier, I had complained by letter that they refused to allow me an appointment to view trust records and that their trustee fees were excessive).  After I did file the petition, which I was invited to file, City National’s team of expensive lawyers racked up enormous fees by unnecessary pretrial rigmarole - as if preparing for a strong opposition.  City National eventually reduced my trust income to zero in order to pay these outrageous legal fees.

 

In order to REDUCE EXPENSES being incurred by the trust (expenses were coming out of my own income) I filed a motion in limine for an "inquisitorial mode of trial" - complete with points and authorities showing that an adversarial mode of trial was not appropriate.  The simple question was whether there was good cause for division of trust as per Calif.Prob.Code, sec.15412.  City National's bland reply against my motion never asserted that my motion was frivolous.  And, in the earlier correspondence with the bank I had said my goal was to resolve this “with the least expense for all”.


However, some time later, City National treacherously turned around and filed a motion to have me labeled a "vexatious litigant".

At the motion hearing, Judge Robert M. Letteau called my "inquisitorial" motion "bizarre . . . ".   He granted City National's motion and then ordered that a minute order be sent immediately to the office of the Judicial Council.  This had the effect of cutting off my right to appeal his order.  After I filed my appeal, the Appellate Court issued an order saying "it has come to our attention. . . ".

Judge Letteau personally invited City National to file another motion under 128.5 to recover its costs of its "vexatious litigant" motion (for which motion alone City National charged the trust $39,000).   And Judge Letteau granted that as well, of course.   


For years, I could not understand why Judge Letteau was so obviously biased against me until I saw an article several years later.  This article, titled "Shredded Fred" (NewTimesLA 5/14/98), tells how the same judge/lawyer team (Judge Letteau and    ) robbed the 250-million-dollar estate of art collector Fred Weisman by putting his cronies in control of the estate.


City National Story in a Nutshell