Thursday, May 28, 2020

UAB physician, who found that Joann Bashinsky has "cognitive impairment," is tied to attorney who sought Balch Bingham's involvement in estate dispute

Joann Bashinsky (front)

A UAB physician, who stated in court papers that Birmingham philanthropist Joann Bashinsky has "significant cognitive impairment, likely due to dementia," has social and educational ties to attorney Greg Hawley, who tried to get Balch Bingham lawyer Amy Adams involved in the estate case. Adams was captured on an audio recording (made by Bashinsky) threatening that Bashinsky could lose her house, even though her estate reportedly is worth $218 million.

The UAB physician's assessment differs from that of Bashinsky's personal physician, Dr. Robert Spiegel, who stated in a letter to the court that she was mentally fit.

Dr. Caroline Harada, the UAB physician, also has ties to a University of Alabama law professor -- and they wrote a joint letter to an academic journal, supporting the notion that seniors with dementia should be subject to being involuntarily placed in "units for the "acutely mentally ill."

All of this comes from a report yesterday at Also yesterday, Apryl Marie Fogel updated her story at Alabama Today to include audio Bashinsky captured of attorneys Amy Adams and Greg Hawley. At the heart of the audio are threats that Bashinsky is at risk of losing her house. The audio can be heard by scrolling to roughly the second half of Fogel's story and clicking on the audio links.

As for Dr. Harada's ties to attorney Greg Hawley, Publisher K.B. Forbes has this at

And what is Caroline Harada’s connection to Greg Hawley and the alleged co-conspirators?

Harada and Hawley were both listed as contributors to the prestigious, private Highlands School in 2015-2016, where Hawley’s wife Sally had been on the Board of Trustees.

Harada and her significant other, Fred Vars . . . ,  a professor of law at the University of Alabama, were listed as contributors to the Highlands School.

Dr. Caroline Harada
 Vars has written about mental health, gun violence, and suicide, including a letter to the editor with Harada in 2012 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

And what do they whine about in their letter? A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision holding that individuals with dementia cannot be placed involuntarily into “units for the acutely mentally ill.”
In January, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a stay on all proceedings in the Bashinsky matter in Jefferson County Probate Court. In a December 2019 article, this is how described the dueling doctors' opinions currently at the heart of the Bashinsky matter:

State law requires the probate court to appoint a doctor to examine Bashinsky, but court records do not reflect any doctor’s appointment prior to the Oct. 17 hearing. One UAB doctor’s letter is attached to court records, showing that she examined Bashinsky in September—before the petition was filed and for an issue non-dementia related—and determined Bashinsky to have “significant cognitive impairment, likely due to dementia” and that there was reason “to question her judgment and her ability to make sound decisions about her finances.”

But, a letter from Bashinsky’s personal doctor states that he performed a Mini Mental Status Exam on the 88-year-old on Oct. 3, and his determination was that Bashinsky does not have dementia or any other psychiatric issues. His letter states that he consulted with a geriatrician and a neurologist who agreed. “She is competent to make decisions for herself,” the doctor wrote. Both that doctor and a University of Alabama geropsychiatrist were not allowed to testify about their belief Bashinsky is mentally competent, the filing states.

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