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IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF KING
)
IN RE ESTATE OF )
) No. 17-4-02196-0 SEA
LEEANNA RUTH MICKELSON )
)
)
)
)
)
)
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
DIVISION ONE
HEATHER JEAN ELSIE LINCOLN )
BENEDICT, ) To be filed in:
Appellant, ) Court of Appeals No.:
) 77076-4-I
v. )
)
JAMES ALBERT MICKELSON, )
)
Respondent.
)
)
IN RE ESTATE OF LEANNA RUTH )
MICKELSON )
)

VERBATIM REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS
(FROM TAPED PROCEEDINGS)
VOLUME II
BE IT REMEMBERED that the foregoing and numbered proceeding
was heard on June 30, 2017, before THE HONORABLE JOHN RUHL,
Judge.
HEATHER JEAN ELSIE LINCOLN BENEDICT, fka HEATHER
MICKELSON, Pro Se Petitioner;
KENYON LUCE, Attorney at Law, 4505 Pacific Highway E.,
Suite A, Fife, WA 98424, appearing on behalf of James
Mickelson.

(Proceedings transcribed by: Adrienne Kuehl)
WHEREUPON, the following proceedings were had and done,
to wit;

CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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INDEX

Colloquy, pages 28-41.

CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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EXHIBITS

Offered Admitted Denied

None admitted.

CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 MADAM CLERK: -- speakerphone in the courtroom. Ms.

2 Mickelson is present. Judge is on the bench. And let me

3 know if you can hear everyone.

4 MR. LUCE: I can hear everyone. And thank you very

5 much for accommodating me. I have with me, Mr. James

6 Mickelson, the surviving spouse, and Erik Mickelson, a son.

7 THE COURT: All right, good. This is Judge Ruhl. Is

8 there anyone else that needs to be tied in? I know there

9 are -- there’s another party who has filed things in the --

10 in the record, uh, represented by Stu Morgan. But he’s not

11 going to be present for this?

12 MS. BENEDICT: That is my understanding.

13 MR. LUCE: I --

14 MADAM CLERK: Mr. Luce, do --

15 MR. LUCE: I do not know. I do not know. I have not

16 had any correspondence from him regarding this -- him

17 attending today’s hearing.

18 THE COURT: Okay. Well, this -- this does not

19 direclty affect, uh, his client. Um, and this is the time

20 for the hearing. So if he isn’t available or isn’t here,

21 let’s proceed.

22 Um, Ms. Mickelson -- Mickelson, right?

23 MS. BENEDICT: Mickelson, yes.

24 THE COURT: All right. I’ve been mistake --

25 misreading it all this time. Um, you’ve filed a Motion for
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 Revision of Commissioner Velategui’s Order on May 31, which

2 revoked Letters Testamentary and appointed Mr. Mickel --

3 Mickel -- James Mickelson as the Administrator. Um, and is

4 ten minutes sufficient for you to make argument? That’s

5 generally how long we allow.

6 MS. BENEDICT: Yes, it is.

7 THE COURT: All right. Is that sufficient for you,

8 Mr. Luce?

9 MR. LUCE: Yes, it is, Your Honor.

10 THE COURT: All right. So let’s -- let’s proceed.

11 Why don’t you go ahead?

12 MS. BENEDICT: Okay. Good morning, Your Honor. And

13 thank you for your time. My name is Heather Mickelson. I

14 am the daughter of my late mother, Leanna Ruth Mickelson,

15 the Decedent. I am not an attorney. I am a legal heir and

16 an interested party who hopes to settle family matters by

17 way of mediation and not through litigation regarding my

18 late mother’s life.

19 I’m a resident of King County. And some of the

20 Decedent’s separate property remains in King County.

21 I would like to make three points today, one being

22 that I had the right to file probate. Two, uh, Mr. Luce

23 did not meet the burden of law to revoke the letters. And

24 three, this is not frivolous; it is with merit.

25 A brief background of how we got here today speaks of
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 the separate property that is in question. On February

2 15th, 1970, my mother’s grandmother passed away, naming her

3 30 percent heir to the Elsie Lincoln Benedict estate before

4 marriage. It included AT&T stock purchase from the 1920s.

5 Ms. Benedict was considered America’s most self-made woman

6 at the time, the second highest paid women’s suffrage

7 leader. First being Carrie Chapman Catt. She went on to

8 continue a speaking career, traveling to 55 countries, and

9 spoke before 3 million people without a microphone and

10 standing 4’9” tall.

11 I paint this picture of her for the first time in open

12 court because I believe it to be most important. One,

13 history is repeating itself. 100 years ago, men bullied

14 females. Two, my mom had separate property and still has

15 separate property.

16 In 2014, I obtained the original paperwork of the

17 entire probate file of Elsie Lincoln Benedict, which

18 included a complete accounting of my mother’s inheritance.

19 What was most striking was learning about AT&T stock that

20 remained uncashed and held in the Colorado State Department

21 of Treasury.

22 I asked Mr. Mickelson and Mr. Luce to assist me with

23 filing a claim on behalf of my late mother, funds that were

24 before marriage and remain separate. It was at that time

25 that a copy of an alleged Community Property Agreement came
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 forward. And I was only assigned the intellectual property

2 rights of Mrs. Benedict. It did not give me any authority

3 to claim the unclaimed AT&T stock purchased at about $2.00

4 a share in 1921. It has split multiple times.

5 I’m not here to argue that -- argue or have any desire

6 in Community Property Agreement, but my share of separate

7 property through the Washington state laws of intestacy,

8 and any remaining separate property in question that

9 validity of the Community Property Agreement in which no

10 heirs have been able to inspect the original instrument.

11 It’s my understanding that a Community Property

12 Agreement legislation was created in Washington state in

13 the late 1800s. Very little legislation has been made on

14 them since. They’re under real property laws, but yet they

15 determine the entire outcome of a probate.

16 And my question will be for this Court, as I couldn’t

17 find any case law, is what court do I go to question the

18 validity of a Community Property Agreement. Is it TEDRA?

19 Is it real property laws through declaratory judgment? And

20 when I asked the Court to direct me on this, on how to

21 challenge the validity of a Community Property Agreement.

22 Again, I’m not trying to be an attorney. I just can’t find

23 anyone to give me answers.

24 I met with the authority on Washington state probate,

25 Mr. Robert Mucklestone, attorney with Perkins Coie, who
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 wrote the Washington State Bar Association Probate

2 Handbook. And he, too, could not tell me where to

3 challenge a Community Property Agreement, nor could he show

4 me any case law.

5 My question is, has this ever been challenged in

6 Washington state. I’m hoping to get answered. And so I

7 opened probate on March 31st, 2017 in King County, and no

8 other probate was open. All prior attempts were dismissed.

9 And Commissioner Velategui’s own ruling stated, “Any one of

10 the kids can walk into any court in this state and open a

11 probate.”

12 On April 3rd, Judge Ramsdell appointed me as the

13 Administratrix of the Estate. I do want to point out that

14 it was a Judge who made this ruling and the appointment,

15 and not a Commissioner.

16 And on April 5th, Counsel for Gale McArthur, an

17 interested heir, filed a Notice of Mediation. Under RCW

18 11.96A.300(2)(b), it states that a party objecting to

19 mediation must file and serve the petition objection to

20 mediate no later than 20 days of notice.

21 There’s also a local family rule 16 which urges

22 families to go through the alternative dispute resolution

23 before bringing frivolous litigation through the courts.

24 What is most alarming was Ms. -- was Commissioner

25 Velategui’s ruling of a threat of incarceration versus
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 family mediation. And a quote, on Exhibit B, page 18, line

2 21, Commissioner Velategui states, “You will” -- to myself

3 -- “You will have to file an accounting and a complete

4 report of all actions taken as the Administrator of the

5 Estate. If you fail to do so, I’m telling you right now

6 that at the next hearing when Counsel brings his motion,

7 they’ll be presented at the same time as the Motion for

8 Fees. If you don’t provide that, I’ll put you in jail.”

9 There’s case law, State ex rel. Carney vs. Supreme

10 Court, 143 Washington state, where it says “The right to

11 appointment. After the 40 day period that gives the spouse

12 the -- the ability to become the administrator expires.

13 And they state, “Not giving a child a preferred class” --

14 or in this case, it would be the spouse -- “a preferred

15 class is an absolute right to the Letters of

16 Administration. The court may appoint some other person

17 which cannot be questioned by one of the preferred classes

18 who made no application within that 45 day period.”

19 There was no argument that I was ever unfit to serve

20 as the Administratrix. To the contrary, I don’t believe

21 Mr. Luce and Mr. Mickelson are fit. On June 21st, I learned

22 of an open investigation from the Washington State Bar

23 Association against Mr. Luce’s license, number 3081.

24 THE COURT: You have -- you have two minutes.

25 MS. BENEDICT: Okay. Mr. Luce has hired a private
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 investigator, forensic accountant, criminal background

2 checks on me. It doesn't make sense. $62,000 to harass

3 me. I’ve had to take time off of work to handle this. I

4 pray to the Court that -- that we are compelled to do

5 family mediation.

6 Another -- Pierce County Superior Court has a separate

7 action against another heir regarding probate. Um, this is

8 related to the open probate now. Um, it’s not a -- a fair

9 playing field.

10 And so I pray to the Court that it will compel

11 mediation and to stop this litigation abuse once and for

12 all. Thank you, Your Honor.

13 THE COURT: All right. Thank you.

14 Mr. Luce?

15 MR. LUCE: Uh, do you have any specific questions,

16 Your Honor?

17 THE COURT: Uh, well, I just wanted to allow the

18 parties to make their record.

19 MR. LUCE: All right.

20 THE COURT: In addition to whatever’s in the record.

21 I have reviewed the Letters of Administration, the Order

22 granting the Letters. Initially, the motion that you

23 filed, the declaration that Mr. Mickelson filed, your

24 declaration filed in support of your motion to revoke Ms.

25 Mickelson’s Letters of Administration.
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 I -- I could just go through all the pleadings.

2 Pretty much from that point on, I’ve reviewed the motion to

3 -- you know, the order. I’ve reviewed the materials

4 afterwards.

5 I should point out, perhaps for Ms. Mickelson’s sake

6 mostly. But Local Rule 7(b)(8) limits what should be

7 submitted to the Court to the materials that were presented

8 to the Commissioner. This is an appeal. Additional

9 materials should not be submitted. So for example, the 50

10 page piece that was filed yesterday is inappropriate. The

11 materials that Commissioner Velategui saw are the only

12 materials that should be submitted in support of a Motion

13 for Revision. No new arguments, no new facts, no new

14 declarations.

15 Um, anyway, having reviewed the record that -- that

16 Commissioner Velategui saw, I don’t have any questions.

17 But I would invite you to make whatever remarks you wish.

18 MR. LUCE: Thank you, Your Honor. Just to clarify,

19 Ms. Mickelson mentioned that she was given some

20 intellectual property rights of her ancestor, which she’s

21 not related to by blood. But in any event, those were

22 given to her by her father. And as such, they are hers,

23 but apparently she wants more.

24 Secondly, um --

25 THE COURT: Is that -- is that the document Docket 47,
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 which is an assignment of intellectual property?

2 MR. LUCE: That’s correct, Your Honor. He -- she came

3 to the father and said she would like them. And we gave

4 them to her, and apparently she wants more.

5 My problem, Your Honor, is that she filed a matter in

6 Pierce County that’s pending in Division II of the Court of

7 Appeals requesting the same thing. She filed the matter in

8 King County; it was dismissed. One hour after it was

9 dismissed, she filed again. And that matter -- one of

10 those matters is pending in the exact same thing in

11 Division I. And then we have this matter here today.

12 So the problem I’m having is she’s a loose cannon.

13 She has interfered with all the advisors for this family:

14 The financial advisor, the CPA, the insurance person,

15 myself. And has made somewhat of a difficult path that we

16 are going through.

17 Commissioner Velategui indicated that should she

18 proceed any further with the matter of her mother’s estate,

19 it should be brought before him. She did not do that. She

20 filed separately without notice; got herself appointed.

21 And then when we moved to have her replaced, she agreed

22 that her father could do that. She’s now claiming that he

23 doesn't have Letters Testamentary issued, but he has signed

24 his oath and it’s filed.

25 As soon as these matters are resolved, we intend to
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 dismiss the probate, as there is no need for one because of

2 a validly executed Community Property Agreement, which she

3 has seen, covering all property now owned, hereafter

4 acquired, separate or community, shall pass to the

5 survivor. That’s a valid document. It eliminates probate.

6 There’s no need for mediation. There’s nothing to mediate.

7 And the thousands of dollars that we have spent have

8 been to try and solve a problem that all three judges in

9 the past have dismissed this. And she refuses to accept it

10 -- accept it and continues to practice law without a

11 license. Thank you, Your Honor.

12 THE COURT: All right. Um, two minutes for reply.

13 MS. BENEDICT: Regarding the intellectual property, I

14 had asked to split that with my twin sister, Gale McArthur.

15 They did not listen, so I -- that is an incorrect

16 assignment.

17 I have not seen the Community Property Agreement. No

18 Judge has seen the original Community Property Agreement.

19 I ask again the Court, where do I question the validity of

20 a question -- or a Community Property Agreement.

21 I understand you would like to strike the exhibits

22 from yesterday; however, those were a verbatim transcript

23 of proceeding from Mr. -- Commissioner Velategui from March

24 31st and May 31st where he did rule that I was entitled to

25 open probate.
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 I am related by blood to my mother who owns these

2 rights to Elsie Lincoln Benedict. Mr. Mickelson doesn’t.

3 Through the laws of intestacy with four children, he would

4 get 50 percent, and I myself would have 12.5 percent.

5 There are unclaimed stocks, and they need to be claimed and

6 distributed. And we need to settle this matter through

7 mediation and not through the court system. That’s why

8 mediation is set up. And that’s why Mr. Morgan put the

9 Notice of Mediation to get us out of the court and stop

10 spending money.

11 Do you have any questions, Your Honor?

12 THE COURT: No, thank you. All right. Uh, I also

13 reviewed the -- I should have mentioned, I reviewed the

14 transcript from the hearing on May 31st in this matter.

15 In a nutshell, I think this appeal is frivolous. I

16 don’t think that Ms. Mickelson should take any solace in

17 the fact that Judge Ramsdell signed anything, especially in

18 light of the fact that Judge Ramsdell was not informed.

19 Ms. Mickelson did not inform him of all the facts and the

20 history in this case.

21 And, uh, I am frankly sympathetic, or at least see

22 nothing improper in what Commissioner Velategui has said to

23 Ms. Mickelson to date. I think that Ms. Mickelson should

24 hire counsel if she really thinks she has a claim of some

25 kind to -- and ask and seek counsel before she does
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1 anything further in this case. I think she is facing

2 serious liability and sanctions if she continues the course

3 that she is pursuing.

4 There is no Motion for Sanctions or for fees pending

5 here today, so I will not address that subject further.

6 But I do want to give Ms. Mickelson fair warning that she

7 is -- she is misusing the Court for her purposes. And, uh,

8 I hope that she will seek counsel to temper and -- and

9 restrain what she’s trying to do because it’s -- it’s

10 headed for some serious legal consequences that will be

11 adverse to Ms. Mickelson, from what I can see in the record

12 to date.

13 Uh, I will -- I will say that I have reviewed the

14 records de novo. I have looked at everything that

15 Commissioner Velategui said. I do adopt the Commissioner’s

16 oral findings and conclusions as to the extent he made

17 them. I affirm what he did on May 31 revoking the Letters

18 Testamentary and appointing James Mickelson as

19 Administrator. And I deny the motion by Ms. Mickelson for

20 revision of Commissioner’s Order.

21 I will sign an Order to that effect.

22 MS. BENEDICT: May I ask a question, Your Honor?

23 THE COURT: Yes.

24 MS. BENEDICT: Can you address the compelling

25 compliance for mediation?
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1 THE COURT: No, I will not do that. That’s something

2 you should hire a lawyer to tell you about.

3 MS. BENEDICT: I have hired an attorney through

4 limited appearance.

5 The other question is, have letters been issued to Mr.

6 Mickelson?

7 THE COURT: Well, you could look at the court file and

8 you can determine for yourself. And hopefully you’ll hire

9 a lawyer to help you ascertain what the status of this case

10 is. I am not going to give you advice.

11 MS. BENEDICT: From my understanding, and maybe Mr.

12 Luce, you could confirm, the letters of -- have not been

13 issued to Mr. Mickelson. And so right now, nobody is in

14 charge and --

15 THE COURT: Well, you can --

16 MS. BENEDICT: -- nobody has the ability to sanction

17 another person.

18 THE COURT: You can -- Ms. Mickelson, you can talk to

19 Mr. Luce off the record. This is not of issue before the

20 Court. So if there’s nothing further --

21 MR. LUCE: Your Honor, I --

22 THE COURT: Yes, go ahead.

23 MR. LUCE: -- I have one further -- I have one further

24 request.

25 THE COURT: Yes.
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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1 MR. LUCE: There’s a hearing set Monday in

2 Commissioner Velategui’s court. Ms. Mickelson, do you

3 intend to be present?

4 MS. BENEDICT: I am out of town and I’ve submitted a

5 Notice of Unavailability, so I will not be present.

6 MR. LUCE: Okay. Even though the Notice of

7 Unavailability was sent after the hearing was set?

8 THE COURT: Yeah, I -- I think you --

9 MS. BENEDICT: It’s the day before 4th of July.

10 THE COURT: -- if you choose not to go to the hearing,

11 Ms. Mickelson, you do so at your risk. I don’t think that

12 you should, uh, assume that your notice has any affect with

13 respect to a hearing (Inaudible) reset.

14 MS. BENEDICT: Okay. And Mr. Morgan is -- okay, thank

15 you, Your Honor.

16 THE COURT: All right. All right. If there’s nothing

17 further, we’ll adjourn. I will sign the Order and the

18 Bailiff will send it out.

19 MADAM CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Luce.

20 MR. LUCE: Your Honor, I appreciate --

21 (END OF RECORDING)

22

23

24

25
CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062
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C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF WASHINGTON )
) ss.
County of PIERCE )

I, the undersigned, do hereby certify:

That the foregoing Audio Transcription of the above

was transcribed under my direction; that the transcript is

a full, true and complete transcript of the proceedings,

including all questions, objections, motions and

exceptions; except for those portions shown as Inaudible,

if any;

That I am not a relative, employee, attorney or

counsel of any party to this action or relative or employee

of any such attorney or counsel, and that I am not

financially interested in the said action or the outcome

thereof; That I am herewith delivering the same for filing

with the court.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, this 13th Day of September, 2017.

/s/ Adrienne Kuehl
Adrienne Kuehl, Residing
At Tacoma, Washington.

CATHERINE M. VERNON & ASSOCIATES, LLC
3641 North Pearl Street, Building D, Tacoma, WA 98407 - (253) 627-2062