Jodi Arias – Curious announcement

Many people are confused by the announcement made by the Arias family on 18th Oct 2013  and are waiting for clarity and guidance from them. I have given my views in previous posts concerning the Jodi Arias trial and the way it has been conducted. So it was quite a shock to read the announcement asking for donations from members of the public to a trust fund which has been established solely for the purpose of paying for imminent appellate proceedings” .

The announcement was made:

  • on a Facebook page ‘Susan. D. Halterman’ who I am reliably informed is Jodi’s Aunt although there is no information about her on the page. Nor is there a way to post comments that I can see; only likes or shares.
  • on the website called Jodi’s Page where there is no facility for comment or contact and
  • on the #1 Jodi Arias Support Site – Jodi Arias is Innocent.com 

Here is a transcript of the announcement on JAii :

‘Support Jodi with a donation to the JAA Appellate Fund. Oct 18 by SJ – Team Jodi

OK folks. Here are the details we’ve all be waiting for.

The official Jodi Ann Arias (JAA) Appellate Fund is now launched.

Donations are now being accepted for imminent appellate proceedings.

Donations can be sent to:

JAA APPELLATE FUND

An irrevocable trust

Acc: 153666297061

To: US Bank

827 S. Central Ave

Medford, OR 97501

Toll-Free: 800-872-2657

541- 857 -1252

Please Note: this trust is for payment of the initial beneficiary’s legal expenses related to appeals of her pending criminal case, including without limitation for attorney’s fees, investigator fees, expert witness fees, transcript and filing fees. Any donations made are not tax deductible.’

I wanted to find out more because I find it curious that the announcement came un- accompanied by an explanation of how the Trust is structured. Nor have any reasons been given for making a call for appeal donations in the middle of penalty phase pre-trial hearings (4th to 18th Oct.) to be followed by a settlement conference on 24th Oct, in which a settlement could be reached, which may negate the possibility of an appeal. The trial will then continue into the sentencing phase following the first degree murder verdict already handed down. So it is difficult to see how an appeal can be imminent. There may be very good reasons of which I am not aware. So it would be interesting to know.

So I immediately posted this comment, to the only place out of the 3 announcers where I could make contact, on the same day (18 Oct.), hoping to find out more. – #1 Jodi Arias Support Site – Jodi Arias is Innocent.com 

“Don’t you think it would help us all to explain what this means? I’m not sure supporters will buy into an appeal fund when a settlement conference is scheduled for 24 Oct. and there may be no appeal.”

Followed closely by: “……….And can you obtain a copy of the ‘Trust Deed’ for all your followers…………….”

After a bit of ‘to and fro’ I was subsequently told by JAii that:

“…..for obvious reasons it is in the best interest of the trustee that the Trust Deed is not published. Please contact the authorised bank for more information.”

The reasons regarding the trustee’s best interest may well be obvious to the 3 ‘Announcers’ but they certainly aren’t obvious to me because I have no idea who the singular “trustee” is. And whilst the bank may well confirm the existence of a trustee bank account, this is of little relevance because the bank has no control over the account; it is merely a repository for funds deposited and withdrawn. The public, who are being requested to donate, will want to know who owns the bank account where they are being asked to send their money to (i.e. who the trustees are), who has authority over that account and details of the trust they administer. I can’t imagine for one minute that the bank would divulge these details or, indeed, send a copy of the Trust instrument to a complete stranger unless they have been given authority to do so. So I am not sure why I was directed there.

This is the only answer I have been able to get so it looks like my first question has been ignored. By now it has become pretty obvious that the shop is closed, so to speak, and that I am not going to get an explanation from this source at least. Let’s hope the Arias family are more forthcoming.

Here are some relevant posts from ‘Susan. D. Halterman’ on Facebook which are rather interesting and in need of clarification. Unfortunately I do not have a way of contacting Susan so I must hope she sees this and responds like Monique Arias has done previously:

  • 7 JULY 2013 – Please be advised that the purpose of this page is so that authorized people, including, but not limited to, family members of Jodi Arias, can release information to the group that is court related or otherwise related to Ms. Arias and her status. Information gleaned elsewhere may or may not be valid. This is the only place where information is to be considered totally legitimate and truthful. Thank you.

JAMOROKI says: Does this mean the 2 websites above are not recognised by the family?

  • 7 JULY 2013 – CURRENTLY THERE ARE NO APPEAL FUNDS< OR APPEAL ATTORNEYS that are hired. THIS trial needs to finish first. ANY ATTEMPT TO COLLECT FUNDS ON JODI’s behalf are fraudulent, unless they are posted here.

JAMOROKI says: This is a powerful statement unless I am reading it wrongly or she has changed her mind completely. I agree 100% that the trial needs to finish first. So why was the JAA APPELATTE FUND launched before it has finished?

  • 18 OCT 2013 – YES! The JAA APPELATTE FUND is finally ready! Check it out at Jodispage.com
    You can donate your gift for Jodi’s appeal at any US Bank in person, by mail or by bill pay, or wait until I get the Pay Pal account set up. Thank to all that have already donated and it’s only been up since last night! Sue H.

I wish to make it very clear that I am not questioning the bona fides of any of the entities mentioned herein. I am merely endeavouring to understand what message the family are trying to convey here, their rationale plus the reasons for non-disclosure which may be perfectly valid. I accept that they are not obliged to divulge any more information. That is their prerogative. However, if the Arias family are looking to obtain substantial public donations they will need to lift the veil of secrecy and open up to the public by explaining:

  1. their reasons for launching a Trust Fund for an appeal that may not happen
  2. what they mean when they say “imminent appellate proceedings”. Imminent means any time now or immediate and
  3. how that is possible while the trial is still on-going.
  4. how people who would like to donate can get information and details of the Trust instrument.

There seems to be a lot of support out there for JA but it may dwindle if the Family don’t make a statement to clarify the situation soon. There may also be substantial potential donors who will not feel comfortable to donate without clarity and may change their minds.

TRUSTS

Turning now to the question of trusts I thought it might be helpful to set out the basics in simple fashion to help show why it is so important for donors (settlors) and all parties to fully understand the  legally binding document which is the trust deed. Please understand that, while I have trust administration experience in Britain, it is 20 years since, I am not a lawyer and I am not familiar with USA trust laws. However, the basics should apply equally.

A trust is a legal entity in the same way a corporation is, can be structured in many ways and can be as rigid or flexible as required within a legal framework adhering to basic principles. These are the main components that make up the trust:

  • Settlor/s: A trust has to have at least one settlor who is effectively the creator of the trust and donor of property. In Britain, where more then one person donates assets to a settlement, each person is treated as having made a separate trust. Once the creator settlor/s is/are satisfied that the trust is structured in accordance with his/their wishes they will then settle property (i.e. cash or other tangible assets) on the trustees. Depending on how the JAA Trust is structured I would imagine every additional donor will be considered as a settlor so there could be a lot. These additional donors would normally scrutinise the trust deed and if they are thinking of making a substantial donation would be advised to take legal advice first.
  • Beneficiaries: There must be at least one beneficiary who will receive benefit from the Trust at some time, regularly or irregularly.
  • Trustees: It is unusual to have only one trustee and would not normally be advisable. Anyone can be a trustee but needs to understand fully the powers vested in them by the trust deed. It can be an onerous task depending on the nature and size of the trust. For example company pension funds are established under trusts so can become very large and complex to manage. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to carry out their duties impeccably and are bound by the terms of the trust. They may listen to the beneficiaries’ or settlor’s wishes but they are not bound by them and have total control over the trust assets and the management thereof.
  • Administrators: Can be one person who is often chosen from the trustees or an outside party who is used to secretarial or bookkeeping work. The administrator is responsible solely to the trustees and must keep accurate records of everything within the trust. (Bank, accounts, receipts, payments, minutes etc.) The administrator is normally responsible for preparing the trust accounts for audit, other statutory requirements and revenue returns.
  • Trust instrument/ Deed /Rules: The Deed governs the trust and the trustees are bound by the rules written therein. They cannot under any circumstances operate outside the rules. If the trust is a ‘Discretionary’ trust they may have very wide powers. For example they could advance capital or interest to the beneficiary as they see fit. That is why it is unusual to only have one trustee as no trustee can act unilaterally. It is of great importance, particularly where a trust is set up for a specific purpose to be very clear that the rules direct the trustees, regarding property distribution, in the event that the beneficiary/s dies before the trust has served its purpose. In other words where does the property revert to when the trust is extinguished? In English law certainty must be established in an express trust to ensure it is valid. It must be a free and deliberate act by the parties involved. “Certainty of intention” means that it must be clear that the settlor/s wish to create a trust. Therefore the settlor/s are instrumental in the creation of the governing trust deed.
  • Irrevocable vs Revocable: An Irrevocable trust is one that, under normal circumstances, cannot be modified or terminated until it has served its pupose. The main purpose for making a trust irrevocable is for the settlor/s to avoid estate taxes because once they have settled property on the trust it cannot be returned and therefore cannot form part of their estate any more. So this arrangement is often made in estate planning. On the other hand making a trust revocable allows for more flexibility and control by the settlor/s regarding distribution of income or should circumstances change during the lifetime of the trust.
  • Property: All property once it is settled on the trust becomes the property of the trustees and they are solely responsible for the management of all trust property.
  • Bank: The trustees are responsible for establishing the trust’s bank accounts and appointing the signatories. There should always be more than one. The trust deed will have to be presented to the bank to establish the trustees account.

14 thoughts on “Jodi Arias – Curious announcement”

  1. Can I say what relief to uncover someone who in fact knows what theyre referring to on the net. You definitely learn how to bring a worry to light and make it important. More people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I cant believe youre no more common because you undoubtedly have the gift.

  2. The Arias innocent site is a fraud. The guy running it previously supported Casey Anthony and also solicited donations on her behalf. He asserted he had a communication line to Anthony and that he had the blessing of her attorneys. Likewise he claims the elusive Matt McCartney posted on his site. The Arias clan and those who pimp her so called artwork have been sucked in by JAII whose IP address is in Pakistan. Just google ‘Simon Johanssen scam artist.’ Arias has few supporters merely groupies, ill informed people and scam artists wishing to cash in on her noteriety. I feel sorry for her family. I suppose denial is preferable to the reality. The overwhelming evidence proved she premeditated the slaughtering of another human being and invented specious lies about her victim that in 5 years could never be substantiated. The family are vulnerable right now. They are clearly ignorant to the legal process an indigent and convicted Arias now finds herself.

    1. Hi Johnny. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I am aware of the publicity regarding SJ but thank you anyway. I don’t share all your views but I do agree that the Arias family appear to be very vulnerable right now. regards James.

  3. Thank you for your points of view on this topic. To me, it can be boiled down to simpler terms. I work in the courtroom and every time a defendant is convicted and sentenced, they are told that they have the right to appeal. If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to help them process the paperwork and see them through the appeal. Also, the state has to pay for things, such as, filing fees, investigator fees, et cetera. I just don’t see the need for “donations” when clearly they are not needed in an appeal. I also agree with others that the trial needs to finish before further plans can proceed.

    1. Hi Roxanne and thank you for visiting and commenting. Well, I agree that you are 100% spot on. That is why everyone is bemused. And the longer the Arias family remain silent the more suspicion and speculation there will be. It’s very difficult to understand. Hope to see you again. James

  4. I read your comments on JAII website which lead me to your blog. I, like you would like to know more about the specifics of this trust set up before I donate any money to it. The Arias family need to speak up in my opinion about this. I am a seeker of truth and a fact finder. Anyone who reads this can reach me at: @LMlovesfacts on Twitter. Again, thank you for the great post Mr. King.

    1. Thank you LM. I am so glad I could help you.
      You have made a very fundamental point here which should not be overlooked when you say:
      “…would like to know more about the specifics of this trust set up before I donate any money to it.”

      It is not just a question that you would LIKE to know more. You have a legal right of entitlement to view the instrument before you donate and the registration bona fides of the fund raisers.
      But this leads us into the whole area of fund raising and the solicitation of money from the public. This area is closely control by regulation under Acts of Parliament in the UK and I would imagine the same in USA. You cannot just wake up one morning and say ‘Today I think I’ll set up a trust and raise a load of cash from the public over the internet or other media.’ You have to get approval first just like you would if you wanted to raise money on the stock exchange.

      The whole point with the Arias Appeal is that the public have no idea yet what it is all about so any one who donates money purely on a Facebook announcement must accept 100% risk.

  5. All extremely relevant questions and concerns, James. I went down the road of “asking Simon” a long time ago, and was banned. I do believe his site though has been valuable for Jodi. He was “supporting Jodi” before it was “cool” to be supporting Jodi, so to speak. Actually, not sure that it is cool yet, but oh well! As for the messages from Sue, they really don’t consider that there are others who want to help who may not be in the “inner circle” of knowing Sue and other pertinent details. I believe Sue’s messages and information mostly confuse and cast doubt. I also believe there are manipulators and exploiters all over attracted to Jodi and her plight, and that Jodi and her family have established themselves as ripe for the pickin’, sadly.

    1. Hi Sandra. Seems we have a hot-line!!
      In reply to your comments:
      1“…Sue’s messages and information mostly confuse and cast doubt.” Without a doubt they do and it is clear that they are not versed in PR and presumably not advised. I can understand their frustration but sometimes there is more power in silence.
      2 “….there are manipulators and exploiters all over attracted to Jodi and her plight.”That’s to be expected. Exploitation for personal gain is, sadly, part of our world.
      3 “….Jodi and her family have established themselves as ripe for the pickin’,sadly.”Indeed they have. The hunters got their quarry and the vultures are picking the carcass.
      Stay cool. James

  6. Very interesting. Thank you for the concise information regarding trust accounts and also for asking the pertinent questions. You were able to remove the legalese that had me going cross-eyed. Simon Johansson is no stranger to finding and exploiting Internet cash cows. I doubt he finds a loophole that isn’t a challenge he won’t try to exploit and there seem to be open pocketbooks that naively follow his lead willingly. The www has simply expanded his greed to countries beyond the U.S. borders. It is surprising that he has been able to pull the Arias family back in since there seemed to be a rift regarding donations made to that site a couple of months ago. I hope you’ll be able to follow up on this soon.

    1. Thank you Karliethom (Nice name). If you are in USA you are up bright and early. I’m starting to wind down. I’m really hoping to get a response from Arias family. Although Monique commented previously I don’t have a way to contact any of them at the moment. We’ll just have to wait and see. See you again I hope. James

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