Martha Rigsby transcript in D.C. Superior Court

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

PROBATE DIVISION

MARTHA RIGSBY
An adult

2013 INT 126

(EXCERPT)

Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The action came on for a
hearing before the Honorable Erik Christian,

Associate Judge, in courtroom number 48A.f? fig fig
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THIS TRANSCRIPT REPRESENTS THE 2$

OF AN OFFICIAL REPORTER, TEE
COURT, WHO HAS PERSONALLY THAT
IT REPRESENTS TESTIMONY AND 31
OF THE CASE As RECORDED.

APPEARANCES:
On behalf of the Government:

Lauren Sharrock,
Washington, D.C.

Esquire

On behalf Of Office of Attorney General

Rhonda Tildon, Esquire
Washington, D.C.

On behalf of Subject:

Vickey Wright~Smith, Esquire
Washington, D.C.
Maura Johnson (202) 879-1048

Official Court Reporter

TABLE OF CONTENTS

On behalf of the Subject:
MARTHA RIGSBY

Direct examination by Ms.

MISCELLANY

Closing argument by Ms.
Closing argument by Ms.

Certificate of Court Reporter

Sharrock . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

Wright--Smith . . . . . . . . ..

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(EXCERPT)
Thereupon,
MARTHA RIGSBY,

having been called as a witness on behalf of the
party and having been first duly sworn by the Deputy
Clerk, was examined and testified as follows:

THE COURT: Can we assist

Watch your step.
her coming up.

MS. WRIGHT--SMITH: Yes.

THE WITNESS: Where are your steps?
THE COURT: Hold on for a second,
Ms. Rigsby.

THE WITNESS: Oh, yes.
THE COURT: Hold on for a second.

(Pause.)
THE WITNESS: Really something up here.
Never been on the stand before.

MS. You're going to have to
come up a little bit so the mic can pick up what

you're saying.

BY MS. WRIGHT-SMITH:

Q. Can you state your name for the record.
A. Martha.
THE COURT: You can push her all the way.

little

A.

Washington, D.C.,

address,
A.
Q.
A.
Q.
personal
A.

Q.

Ms. WRIGHT--SMITH: I'm going to push you up

closer. Is that comfortable?

THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: Pull the microphone
BY MS. WRIGHT--SMITH:

Can you state your name for the record
Martha Rigsby.

THE couar: Spell your f1rst and last name'
THE WITNESS: M--A--R--T-H--A,
BY MS. WRIGHT--SMITH:
Me. Rigsby, can you give us your address

--, Northeast, Apartment
20002.
And how long have you l1ved at that
Ms. Rigsby?
October 4, 2008

And how old are you?
I'm 58.
And Ms. Rigsby, who provides for your
needs?

Myself.

And who pays your bills?

I do.

who buys your food?

And who provides your meals?
A. I do.

Q. Can you feed yourself?

A. Yes, I can.

THE COURT: What meals do you provide for

yourself? What meals do you make for yourself?

THE WITNESS: Well, I'm not too good at it.

I do microwave mamma.

THE COURT: You're a microwave mama?
THE WITNESS: (Laughter.)
THE COURT: So what do you microwave?

THE WITNESS: Well, maybe like turkey or
chicken or spaghetti and meatballs, stuff like that.
BY MS. WRIGHT-SMITH:

Q. Now, you also have meals provided to you
from Delta Towers?

A. 'Yes. On Monday through Friday we're

provided meals for a dollar.

Q. And are those meals breakfast, lunch and
dinner?

A. No, just lunch.

Q. .And do they have other activities where you

can eat?

Oh, yes, they have lots of activities.

THE COURT: Where you can eat?

THE WITNESS: Oh, where you can eat.
they have, you know, like they're having
Thanksgiving dinner and going to do something for
Christmas and then they have other social events.

THE COURT: You live in Delta Towers?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Is that at the intersection of

Bladensburg Road?

THE WITNESS: Yes, Sir.

THE COURT: Street?
THE WITNESS: Uh--huh, yes, sir.
MS. WRIGHT--SMITH: Yes, Your Honor, that's
the address of Delta Towers is 1400 Florida Avenue,
so it*s where those streets intersect.

THE COURT: Intersect, okay.

BY MS. WRIGHT--SMITH:

Q. Can you bathe yourself?

A. Yes, I can.

Q. Do you need help going to the bathroom?
A. Oh, no. I'm an expert.

Q. And when you go to your doctor's

appointment, how do you get there?
A. I go on Metro Access.

Q. And how many doctors are you seeing?

Well,

About seven or eight.

Q. And you go to see all those doctors by
yourself?

A. Yes, by Metro Access.

Q. And are one of the doctors that you go see

Dr. Cohen?

A. Yes, I'm going to see him this monthsee him?
A. He just checks to make sure my brain is

working all right.

Q. He's a neurologist?

A. Yes.

Q. And who is your treating physician?
A. I changed doctors, and now I have

Dr. Alexander Ross, down at 22nd, Northwest.

Q. And prior to Dr. Ross?
A. It was Dr. Sander Ginsburg.
Q. Ginsburg, okay. And do you see a

podiatrist as well?

A. Yes, Dr. Shustikoff, 4228 Wisconsin Avenue,
Northwest.

Q. I'm sorry. Dr. Shustikoff, who is he?

A. He*s a

Q. That's a that you see?

A. Yes.

You said he*s up on Wisconsin Avenue?
A. He's a

Q. And do you also see a podiatrist?

A. Yes. Dr. Ravick, foot doctor.

Q. You go see those four doctors all by
yourself?

A. Yes.

Q. And you've heard testimony here today and

even in the Visitors' reports, those doctors'

letters that were attached to the Visitors' reports,
did you give those letters to Ms. Gibson?

A. Ms. Gibson?

Q. The Visitor, that just testified.

A. I don't think so.

Q. Do you have narcolepsy?

A. It's a cross between syncope and
narcolepsy. I

Q. And what happens when you have episodes
with respect to narcolepsy and syncope?

A. I either fall backwards or go forward.

I also try to tell people if I'm not out
too long, try to tell them not to call because I'm
all right. But they don't listen to me, so
Q. And that*s taking me to the next question I

was going to ask you. You say you tell them not to

call. Not to call what?

A. The Fire Department.
Q. Or 911?
A. Yes, because if they just help me up I'll

be all right.

Q. And so do you call 911?

A. I've called on occasion, but if I can get
myself up, you know, then I don't call, you know.
But you know, unless I'm my motto is if I'm not
injured, what's the point of going, you know.

Q. And so all the 911 calls that you've heard
testimony about, what percentage would you say are
made by you?

A. 10 percent.

Q. 10 percent, okay.

And some of those calls to 911 result in

you having to go to CPAP or Mobile Crisis; is that

right?
MS. SHARROCK: Objection, Your Honor,
leading.
THE COURT: Yes. Sustained.
BY MS.
Q. Have you ever had to go to Mobile Crisis or

A. Oh, yes, I've been there about five times.

And when they take you there, how do they
transport you? How do they take you there?
A. By police. They put me in handcuffs on my

hands, in the front of my hands.

Q. They put the handcuffs on you in the front?
A. Yes, they do.
Q. And when you get to Mobile Crisis do you

cooperate?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And what usually happens when you get
there?

A. Well, they just check on your medication

and then you talk to a I was only
there two days, so I wasn't doing too bad.

Q. And so after those two days what usually
happens?

A. Go back home.

Q. They let you go back home?

A. Uh--huh.

Q. And how would you describe your illnesses?

.A. Well, it's kind of complicated, because
it's a little bit discouraging that I pass out. But
it's the fact is, I don't do it on purpose, you

know. But dealing with a lot of things, it's been

kind of trying, but I try to pray about it.

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But are you seeing doctors for these?
A. 'Yes, to get help.

Q. And how long have you been receiving

treatment for these falling episodes?

A. Oh, dear. It's probably been about 20
years.

Q. And now, do you have a case manager?

A. Yes, I did find one when I was at Mobile

Crisis, and I'm supposed to match up with him on the

13th of November. Try to help me find a therapist.

Q. He's going to help you find a therapist.
And can you make do you believe that you can make
treatment decisions for yourself?
A. Yes, I can.
Q. And do you believe that you can make life
decisions for yourself?

A. Yes.

Q. And so you've heard all the testimony in
here the last two days, last week and today. Do you

think that you need a guardian?

A. No.

Q. Do you want a guardian?

A. No, ma'am.

Q. And why don't you want a guardian?

A. Well, if I'm doing everything for myself,

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well, why would I need a guardian, you know. I see
no reason for it.

MS. WRIGHT--SMITH: I don't have any other
questions, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right.
Any cross examination?
MS. SHARROCK: No, Your Honor.
THE WITNESS: Oh? Step down?
THE COURT: You have no questions for

Ms. Rigsby?

MS. SHARROCK: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay. Hold on. Pause for a
second, Ms. Rigsby.
THE WITNESS: I'll wait.

MS. I'm sorry, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Thank you for assisting.
MS. WRIGHT--SMITH: No problem.
THE COURT: Thank you.
Watch those steps. There*s a step.
MS. Your Honor, we don*t
have any other witnesses. All our exhibits have
been moved into evidence, and so we rest at this
point and prepare to go to closing argument.

THE COURT: Mr. Sharrock, any rebuttal

evidence?

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MS. SHARROCK: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right. I'll hear your
argument.
CLOSING ARGUMENT

MS. SHARROCK: The government has proven by
clear and convincing evidence that Ms. Rigsby is
incapacitated and therefore in need of a guardian.

Dr. Joji testified that Ms. Rigsby suffers
from bi--polar disorder and borderline personality
disorder and that she is incapacitated.

The testimony proves that Ms. Rigsby's
behavior demonstrates that she's unable to receive
and evaluate information or communicate decisions

effectively.

According to Dr. Joji, Ms. Rigsby's

incapacitated evidence of her behavior, she makes
excessive 911 calls, despite the absence of an
emergency, but doesn't follow through when it comes
to help for medical conditions.
Dr. Joji has examined Ms. Rigsby on more
than one occasion. He has spoken with her treatment

providers, and he saw her recently at CPAP. He is
the doctor most qualified to determine whether
Ms. Rigsby is incapacitated.

Ms. Rigsby's previous decisions and

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behavior further prove that she's unable to meet the
essential requirements of her health and safety.

Chief Sahada testified that EMS has had
contact with Ms. Rigsby since the '80s. He
testified that there have been 258 calls so far this
year alone regarding Ms. Rigsby, resulting in 117
transports. Fifty--five percent of the time she
refuses medical treatment.

Not only does this impact public safety,
given that it diverts resources from the rest of the
city on a continuous basis, but it also impacts
Ms. Rigsby's safety.

What is of most concern is the reason
underlying the 911 calls. Jonathan Ward testified
that Ms. Rigsby is continuously falling. Without
intervention, these falls are going to continue.

It's plausible that Ms. Rigsby will
seriously injure herself one day as a result of
these falls.

Her refusal of medical attention at times
prevents treatment providers from not only
determining the cause of Ms. Rigsby's falls but also
from determining whether Ms. Rigsby has suffered a

serious injury as a result of these falls.

When Ms. Rigsby does accept medical

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attention, she may be subject to various unnecessary
interventions because treatment providers don't know
what's wrong. Without consistent medical care by
the same providers, it cannot be determined what is
necessary and what is not.

Jonathan Ward, and Chief Sahada testified
that various interventions for Ms. Rigsby have
failed.

She either outright refuses the help or
constantly changes her mind, initially accepting
help and then denying it.

There is lots of testimony regarding this.
She was connected with the doctor at PIW, which
Jonathan Ward testified there's not evidence that
she has been there very often.

They tried to connect with her with a home
health nurse and ultimately Ms. Rigsby decided not
to do it.

They made multiple visits to her home
speaking with Ms. Rigsby in order to determine a
proper solution to this problem. However, she does
not engage with them.

While the Department of Behavioral Health

and EMS can offer these services as recommendations,

they can*t order Ms. Rigsby to do what they suggest.

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guardian is necessary to ensure
Ms. Rigsby can obtain the life skills necessary to
provide for her health and safety.

With a court-ordered guardian Ms. Rigsby
could receive the consistent medical and mental
health treatment that she needs to determine the
underlying issues to her falls.

A home health nurse can monitor Ms. Rigsby
so that she does not fall. A nurse can teach
Ms. Rigsby to detect when a spell is going to
happen.

Jonathan Ward said that a structured seat
could be provided for Ms. Rigsby. Constant
supervision, Dr. Joji suggested perhaps a supervised
living facility in the future could ensure that
Ms. Rigsby stops making excessive 911 calls.

A structured environment and supervision
are what is needed for Ms. Rigsby at this time to
ensure that she does not seriously injure herself
and that she gets medical attention that is needed
rather than the attention that must be provided
because it's not clear what is wrong.

Thus, the government asks that the Court

find by clear and convincing evidence that

Ms. Rigsby is incapacitated to the extent that she's

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unable to meet her needs for health and safety and

appoint a guardian for Ms. Rigsby from the fiduciary'

panel.

Thank you.

CLOSING ARGUMENT

MS. WRIGHT-SMITH: Thank you, Your Honor.
An incapacitated individual is defined as a person
or an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate
information effectively or to communicate decisions
is impaired to such an extent that he or she lacks
the capacity to manage all or some of his or her
financial resources or to meet all or some essential
requirements for his or her physical health, safety,
habilitation and therapeutic needs without
court--ordered assistance.

The government is correct that the standard
of proof in these cases is clear and convincing
evidence, Your Honor.

I would submit that based on the testimony
that we've heard from all the witnesses today,
there's not been clear and convincing evidence.

There's been some evidence presented on
behalf of the government that they believe that she

will benefit from a guardian.

Ms. Rigsby, Ms. Gibson and even Dr. Brown

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her three reports indicated that she had
capacity, that she didn't need a guardian and that
she didn't want one.

Let's go back to the very beginning with
Mr. Sahada. While we will acknowledge that there
are a number of 911 calls being made, Your Honor,
it's debatable in terms of who is making those
calls.

I believe Mr. Sahada said that in his
opinion, 60 percent of them were being made by
Ms. Rigsby.

Ms. Rigsby testified that only 10 percent
of them were being made by her and that the other
calls, she would hope that people would not call but
give her a chance to recover. And that she even
asked them not to call on some occasions.

He talked about the way that Ms. Rigsby is
treated when they come to see her. But you heard
testimony from Ms. Rigsby, they take her to Mobile
Crisis. They take her in police care. They put her
in handcuffs.

And even when she gets there, Your Honor,
they may keep her for a few hours or few days, but
they let her go right back to the community.

And so, I question if you think she has the

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inability to take care of herself, why would you
continue to do that.

With respect to Mr. Ward, he said his main
concern was the medical issues. And that he
believes that she needs a guardian to assist her
with the medical issues.

Well, you heard testimony from Ms. Rigsby
that she has several doctors that she visits and
that she's treating with and that they're aware of
her conditions and they're helping her.

And so she's taking the appropriate steps
to monitor what her medical situation is.

The only thing that they seem to have a
real concern with is the 911 calls, which are not
all being made by her.

Dr. Joji testified that he thought that she
would benefit from a guardian because, one, a
guardian could sign consents and release of
information.

But he also testified that she signs those
things.

So everything that they're asking her to
do, for the most part, she's doing. She's signing
consents.

She's allowing them to get her medical

information. She's meeting with them.

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And then he said, and this was the thing
that concerned me the most was, well, if we get her
a guardian, if she doesn't cooperate, then we could
put her in assisted living or a nursing home.

That's not what these cases are about. We

want to have the least restrictive measures put in

.place to help members in the community.

And they seem to think by having her a
guardian and getting her placed in a nursing home
that that's going to resolve all the issues.

She should be allowed to stay in her home.
She testified herself that she has contacted a case
manager, that that case manager is going to work
with her and get a therapist.

She provides everything for herself. She
dresses herself, she cleans herself. She bathes
herself. She provides meals, be it microwave, but
she also has meals provided to her at the Delta
Towers where she resides.

Dr. Brown, when she first met with
Ms. Rigsby, and she only met with her the one time,
she said for almost an hour. At first, she said she
had the capacity. That she had capacity.

Then she came back and did a second report

that still says she had capacity.

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And then finally her third report said that
she didn't have capacity.

Well, what she said was inconclusive.
That's what she said, inconclusive. So you can read
that either way.

One of the concerns she had was that she
wanted Ms. Rigsby to see a neurological specialist.

Well, she made the suggestion to
Ms. Rigsby. Ms. Rigsby followed up with her. She
called. She was going to make an appointment but
for whatever reason, her and the doctor could not
connect.

That's not to say that she will never do
that in the future.

I think you have to give her an opportunity
to do those things and not place a guardian on her
to require her to do those things.

(CONCLUSION OF EXCERPT.)

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EDOONIOW

CERTIFICATE OF REPORTER

I, Maura Johnson, an official Court
Reporter for the Superior Court of the District of
Columbia, do hereby certify that I reported, by
machine shorthand, in my official capacity, the
proceedings had and testimony adduced upon the
hearing IN THE MATTER OF MARTHA RIGSBY, Action
Number:

2013 INT 126, in said court on the 6th day

of November, 2013.

I further certify that the foregoing 21
pages constitute the official transcript of said
proceedings, as taken from my machine shorthand
notes, together with the backup tape of said
proceedings to the best of my ability.
I have hereto

In witness whereof,

subscribed my name, this 20th day of March 2014.

I

Maura Johfisbn
Official Court Reporter

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