Presentation of Thomas F. Coleman
 at the 4th Annual Educational Summit 
  of The Arc of Missouri   

                                     September 15, 2017 -- Columbia, Missouri

Complaint to Supreme Court
Essay on Duty of Supreme Court

Letter to United States
Department of Justice


Disability and Abuse: Administering Trauma Informed Justice in Adult Guardianship Proceedings

Coleman's presentation for the Victimization: It's Happening And We Can Stop It Summit draws upon his experience in the field of disability and abuse as well as his expertise in the field of disability and guardianship. It will identify ways in which persons in charge of or participating in Missouri's guardianship system can reduce the risk of abuse and provide an effective response if and when maltreatment is suspected or reported.

Note:  Ten days after this presentation, Spectrum Institute sent a letter to the Supreme Court of Missouri complaining that the state's guardianship system violated the rights of guardianship respondents and wards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  A copy of that complaint, and an essay explaining the duty of the Supreme Court to bring the guardianship system into compliance is found at the link above.  A link to a letter sent to the Department of Justice is also found above.

Update:  As of March 29, 2018, Spectrum Institute had not received an acknowledgment of the complaint or any type of response from the Missouri Supreme Court.  Therefore, a follow-up letter was sent to the Chief Justice.



Findings and

About Thomas F. Coleman
- Legal Director, Spectrum Institute

Throughout his 43 years as a civil rights attorney, Thomas F. Coleman has advocated for a variety of causes and minority populations, including cases and projects promoting justice and equal rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As legal director of Spectrum Institute, Coleman has worked closely with Dr. Nora J. Baladerian on issues involving abuse and disability. He is the primary author of “The First Report: Victims and Their Families Speak Out” – an analysis of the 2012 Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities, which is the largest national survey on abuse and disability ever conducted in the United States.

For the past few years, Coleman has directed the Disability and Guardianship Project of Spectrum Institute. Starting his focus in California, Coleman’s advocacy for guardianship reform has broadened to become a national cause.

Coleman, Baladerian, and a team of supporters converged on the nation’s capital in June of this year, attending a conference on guardianship reform, meeting with lawyers at the Department of Justice about the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act to guardianship proceedings, and seeking support for guardianship reform from members of Congress. Coleman’s advocacy efforts have gained him awards from The Arc of California and the international organization known as TASH.

More about the activities of Spectrum Institute on Disability, Abuse, and Guardianship