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Larry Speakes takes questions at the White House in 1987. (Rick Lipski/The Washington Post)

A Mississippi judge ruled Thursday that the Arlington condo owned by former White House press secretary Larry Speakes may be sold by his daughter, Sondra Speakes Huerta.

The ruling was the latest twist in the battle between Speakes's wife, Aleta, and two of his children from an earlier marriage over guardianship of Speakes (who suffers from Alzheimer's disease) and his estate. Without the knowledge of Speakes's wife, Huerta put the condo on the market, and a contract for $420,000 was signed in early July. But the sale stalled when it became public knowledge that legal control of the condo was among the issues being hashed out in court. Lawyers for Aleta Speakes asked the judge to prevent the sale, but lost this round.

The next hearing takes place in September, when the parties will revisit the larger question of legal conservatorship. As for the condo: It's unclear if the ruling of a Mississippi judge will prevail in Virginia. Calls to the real estate agents involved in the sale were not returned.

By The Reliable Source  |  August 14, 2009; 1:01 AM ET
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Although gratified that Reliable Source is following the Aleta and Larry Speakes story, it belongs on the front pages of the paper for the following reasons:

1.Larry Speakes was kidnapped, transported from his home in the Washington area to Cleveland, Mississippi, where he hasn't lived for more than 40 years. Where are the feds?

2.This story is emblematic of a growing problem nationwide with guardianship/conservatorship abuse. By this I mean that there are widespread reports that this judicial mechanism which was designed to protect a vulnerable population,is,in fact,being used to strip
individuals of rights with the mere semblance of due process, in order to loot their assets. This usually involves warehousing the vulnerable person in some god-forsaken third-rate nursing home.
Why aren't people screaming about this rather than absolutely fictitious "death panels"?

3. The abduction of Larry Speakes, subsequently "legalized" in Mississippi,
involves a judge in Mississippi denying the validity of a marriage license issued in Virginia. I'm sure that the Commonwealth
of Virginia has an interest in that, if not in the abduction of a long-time resident.
Perhaps Senator Webb, when he returns from Burma, can be persuaded to fly down to
Mississippi (perhaps with Dog, the Bounty Hunter) to bring Larry back home to his beloved Aleta.

4.And, as the Reliable Source pointed out, this story should be of interest to the realtors and the hapless buyers of a condo in Alexandria approved by a judge in Mississippi who, I suspect, or at least hope, might draw the attention of some
entity higher up in the judicial food chain, like maybe the Supreme Court.

Posted by: poliwonk | August 15, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

NASGA is an organization of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships -- a growing national epidemic.

Guardianship wards are stripped of all rights: the right to decide where to live and whom to associate with, how to spend (or save!) ones own money, to accept or refuse medical treatment -- or even ask for a second opinion, marry, vote, etc. Most important, wards are stripped of the right to complain.

With the fox guarding the henhouse and the hens muzzled, guardians and their attorneys can easily unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the detriment of the very person they have been court-appointed to protect.

Many wards are forcibly taken from their homes and isolated in nursing facilities against their will – and family is not permitted to visit or have information or input regarding medical “care”. Wards die prematurely – alone and afraid. The devastation victims and families suffer at the hands of the system haunts them for the rest of their lives.

And where do the victims go for help? Many go to the AG, only to be turned away because the abuse has been court-sanctioned.

Visit NASGA at or NASGA’s blog at for more information.

Elaine Renoire

Posted by: ElaineRenoire | August 15, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

In case the above doesn't make this clear: Reliable Source (ostensibly a gossip column)is doing a public service by covering the facts of this one high profile case. This area of the law pits a tangled web of conflicting interests against each other all too often consuming the vulnerable person and his assets in the murky process. Thanks for continuing to shed light on the mess.

Posted by: poliwonk | August 17, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

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