Lawyer disputes son's claims - Albuquerque Journal

Lawyer disputes son’s claims

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Las Cruces attorney CaraLyn Banks defends her work in the Dorris Hamilton guardianship case and says her only goal was to protect her.

In a phone interview last week, Banks said Rio Hamilton consented to filing the guardianship petition, contrary to his assertions. Asked whether he signed a document she could furnish to the Journal reflecting that, Banks said, “Ma’am I filed this on behalf of his mother to make sure she was protected. He was never my client.”

The petition she filed says, “COMES NOW petitioner Rio Hamilton, by and through his counsel undersigned, Kemp SMITH LLP (CaraLyn Banks, Esq.)”

Nowhere does the petition contain his signature.

Banks said it was “incorrect” to say that all Hamilton wanted was power of attorney when he brought his mother into her office in July 2019.

Asked what was incorrect, she replied, “They wanted a power of attorney, but Mrs. Hamilton was not … (she) lacked capacity to make a decision.”

Asked who decided she lacked capacity, Banks said, “I did.”

And what made Banks qualified to make that decision on capacity?

“I’m an attorney. I asked her questions. I spoke with Mr. Hamilton about his mother’s living conditions, and I saw the photographs of the house that Mr. Hamilton showed me.”

She said that under the rules of professional responsibility for lawyers, she was “required” to file the petition, which claimed Dorris Hamilton suffered from memory loss and had vascular dementia. It also said she “may” have been subject to financial exploitation.

Asked by the Journal whether it is common for her to file such cases when she deems that someone lacks capacity, Banks said, “No, typically I have information from physicians. But it is my obligation to Mrs. Hamilton, who was in my office prior to 2019, and I had an established relationship with her, and it’s my obligation under the rules of professional responsibility to make sure she’s safe.”

Yet Banks, in a sworn affidavit filed with the temporary guardianship petition in 2019, said, “I have not represented the identified individual who is the subject of these proceedings prior to this proceeding in any capacity.”

Asked about that last week, Banks said, “You know, I don’t have that (affidavit) sitting in front of me, so I can’t comment one way or the other.”

When the Journal offered to send her a copy, Banks replied, “I don’t know what to say. It sounds like … it doesn’t matter what I say. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Typically in a traditional guardianship case, a judge receives a report from a qualified health care professional who aids in the assessment of functional impairment. But as happens in temporary guardianship cases, that expert’s report wasn’t received until several weeks after the temporary guardianship of Dorris Hamilton was approved by chief state District Judge Manuel Arrieta of Las Cruces.

The expert’s report is sealed.

In the phone interview with the Journal, Banks declined to say whether she had any continuing concerns or qualms about Dorris Hamilton’s current situation, citing “attorney client privileged information.”

“I can’t defend myself, because it’s protected,” Banks told the Journal, adding that it was “interesting that Mr. Hamilton can say what he wants and people believe him, and others who understand the importance of protecting Mrs. Hamilton can’t defend themselves.”

She said that even if a judge permitted her to speak, she couldn’t because of the attorney-client privilege with Dorris Hamilton.

Asked whether Dorris Hamilton could waive that privilege as her client, Banks responded: “Mrs. Hamilton lacks capacity to make decisions, and I’m not going to assume that she can waive that privilege, so, no.”


Home » From the newspaper » Lawyer disputes son’s claims

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Amid changing climate, big fires leave lasting changes to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The fire-scarred Jemez Mountains — hit ... The fire-scarred Jemez Mountains — hit repeatedly by high-severity wildfires over the last 45 years — offer a peek at how the Hermits Peak/Calf ...
Community groups plan gun buyback for South Valley
ABQnews Seeker
Community groups are holding a gun ... Community groups are holding a gun buyback next weekend. The buyback event, facilitated by the nonprofit New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, will be ...
New Mexico’s World College helped shape Wall Street Journal ...
ABQnews Seeker
In a wide-ranging interview, Tucker spoke ... In a wide-ranging interview, Tucker spoke about her time at the school in the ‘80s, how her career in journalism started and about her ...
Local food pantry reports big haul
ABQnews Seeker
The First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque ... The First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque said they are receiving enough food to support clients with food for weeks as part of the rewards ...
Chimayo man shot and killed on Sunday: Santa Fe ...
ABQnews Seeker
A 22-year-old man from Chimayo was ... A 22-year-old man from Chimayo was shot and killed at a residence where several people had gathered on Sunday night. Santa Fe County Sheriff's ...
APD: Man fatally shot in Downtown Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
A man was fatally shot in ... A man was fatally shot in Downtown Albuquerque early Monday morning. Gilbert Gallegos, a police spokesman, said that officers were called to the area ...
Man charged in connection with fatal shooting of girlfriend
ABQnews Seeker
After the death of his 18-year-old ... After the death of his 18-year-old girlfriend in a Saturday-night shooting, Carlos Gonzalez, 24, was arrested by Albuquerque Police Department homicide detectives and charged ...
Biz Bits: Albuquerque Business Journal
ABQnews Seeker
Biz Bits: Albuquerque Business Journal Biz Bits: Albuquerque Business Journal
Business Column: In financial matters, government role has upside ...
ABQnews Seeker
Politics is directly intersecting with the ... Politics is directly intersecting with the economy — macro, micro, public and personal — in a not-so-rare standoff in Washington, D.C.