Judge Considers Conservatorship Over Actor Peter Falk - NBC Southern California

Judge Considers Conservatorship Over Actor Peter Falk

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    Peter Falk, known as the legendary Inspector Columbo, waves to the crowd as he arrives on the popular TV show 'Wetten, dass...?!' (Bet It...?!) in Berlin, February 22, 2003.

    A judge who previously said she was leaning against establishing a conservatorship over Peter Falk indicated today she will likely put one in place after all, an attorney said.

    Attorney Troy L. Martin, who represents one of Falk's two adopted daughters, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb announced her change of heart during a hearing that dealt with access to the actor's medical records, as well as a request to delay the upcoming trial in the case.

    Martin said after the hearing that he was surprised, but also pleased with Bobb's announcement that a conservatorship will be established.

    "I can only guess she had time to reflect," Martin said.

    In court papers filed Dec. 12, Catherine Falk said her father, now 81, is no longer able take care of himself due to deteriorating health -- she says he suffers from Alzheimer's disease -- and should be placed under a conservatorship order to protect him and so she can visit him regularly.

    The judge said in March that she doubted she had the authority to order any visits between father and daughter absent the establishment of a conservatorship.

    Falk's wife of 32 years, Shera Danese Falk, maintains in her opposition papers that there is no need for a conservatorship. She has been embroiled in a legal battle with Catherine Falk, who was adopted prior to their marriage.

    While conceding that Bobb likely will make Shera Falk the conservator, Martin said his client's main motivation in bringing the action was to increase her time with the former "Columbo" star.

    He said he expects Bobb to make a decision regarding visitation during the May 27 trial.

    During today's hearing, Bobb denied Catherine Falk's lawyers access to the actor's medical records. Martin said the request is now moot anyway in the wake of the judge's changed position on the conservatorship.

    Bobb also declined to change the May 27 trial date. Martin had asked for a delay because of conflicts with his other cases.