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Songwriter Nearly Depletes Savings Fighting to Regain Legal Control of His Life

Posted May 28, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Nashville songwriter declared mentally disabled in October 2007 and committed to a psychiatric ward has regained legal control of his affairs after an expensive battle.

Songwriter Danny Tate didn’t have a lawyer and he wasn’t in court when Judge Randy Kennedy first found him disabled because of his drug addiction in an emergency hearing, the Associated Press reports. Kennedy ruled for Tate on Monday after seeing proof that he had been drug-free for nine months.

Tate admits he was addicted to crack cocaine but says he still was able to manage his affairs, the story says. His brother David, who had petitioned the court and was appointed guardian, maintains he saved Danny Tate’s life.

Danny Tate says the legal battle to regain his rights drained most of his savings, including $600,000 in a money market account. He had to pay legal fees both for himself and for the opposing side.

The Nashville Scene covered the hearing and said it’s difficult to judge who came out the winner. “The absence of process served to Danny at the outset was troubling,” the story says. “So was the ease with which he was made a ward—a state in which a man legally becomes a cipher, a nonentity with no say over his assets. Legal scholars have long warned of the hazards of such deprivation.

“So if the ward believes this is wrong, does he fight it (as is his right) with everything he has—which will only double the rate at which he loses his assets? Or if the ward is as sick as Danny was, should he comply? Should he see the psychiatrists? Should he submit to the drug testing? Should he cooperate? There's an argument to be made, and David would undoubtedly make it, that Danny would be better off if he had.”

Tate was one of the writers of the Rick Springfield hit “Affair of the Heart.”

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