Zoom Webinar Will Explain New Law in California

It’s not just for lawyers.  The public may attend the webinar too. Presentation: This one-hour presentation will explore the duties of attorneys as they fulfill the zealous advocacy requirements of  AB 1194, a conservatorship reform law that takes effect on January 1, 2022.  Participants also will receive a rundown of 10 potential legal and professional dangers of neglecting the duty of care, as well as an analysis of such issues as third-party standing to file motions, complaints, appeals and civil actions against attorneys who do not provide zealous advocacy to their clients and to the public entities that employ, appoint or fund […]

» Read more

Podcast Episode 4: Town Hall: Conservatorship Reform is Long Overdue

This episode of the podcast series focuses on a Zoom Town Hall where victims of the California conservatorship system shared their stories, local elected officials in Alameda County acknowledged the need for reform, and #FreeBritney activists discussed their movement to rid superstar Britney spears of the confines of conservatorship.  Most of the presentations involved the negative experiences that many seniors and their families have had with conservatorship proceedings.  Many of the complaints focused on the greed of attorneys and the complacency of judges.  Before offering several specific proposals to reform key parts of the conservatorship system, attorney Thomas F. Coleman, […]

» Read more

United States Senate Holds Conservatorship Reform Hearing

The Subcommittee on the Constitution of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today titled “Toxic Conservatorships: The Need for Reform.”  In his opening remarks, Senator Richard Blumenthal essentially referred to a “carrot and stick” federal approach to reform.  He called on the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the states with “best practices” guidance that would address three issues: a serious exploration in each case of less restrictive alternatives such as supported decision-making; improving civil rights protections; and better mechanisms to monitor ongoing conservatorships to reduce the risk of abuse.  He […]

» Read more

Report Calls for Greater Accountability and More Consistency in Conservatorship Defense Services

After studying conservatorship legal defense providers in all 58 counties in California, a new report from Spectrum Institute has found that inadequate funding, high caseloads, a lack of performance standards, and an absence of quality assurance controls are contributing to deficient legal services for indigent adults with mental and developmental disabilities.   The report recommends a variety of remedial actions by state officials and agencies. It also calls on civil grand juries in all counties throughout the state to investigate these deficiencies. Some 70,000 adults in California are living in probate conservatorships. About 5,000 new petitions are filed annually. Some are […]

» Read more

Podcast Episode 3: My New Challenge: Conservatorship Injustices

This episode of the podcast series picks up where the second episode left off.  It describes the shift in the advocacy activities of Tom Coleman after his memoirs were published in 2009.  He ventured into the area of abuse of people with disabilities, especially those with developmental disabilities, with the goal of promoting more effective responses to such abuse by government agencies.  While doing that important work, Coleman was introduced to an extremely challenging set of problems with the probate conservatorship system in California.  After investigating a few specific cases of young adults with developmental disabilities whose rights were violated […]

» Read more

Conservatorship Training Riddled with Errors and Omissions

By Thomas F. Coleman Daily Journal – August 24, 2021 Conservatorship reform advocates were cautiously optimistic when the Judicial Council adopted new training requirements for attorneys in probate conservatorship proceedings.   The mandates of Rule 7.1103 of the California Rules of Court became effective on January 1, 2020. For years, some of us had pushed for better educational programs for court appointed counsel in these cases.  We wanted crucial topics to be included in training curricula as well as performance standards to ensure that trainings would not misinform attorneys or inadvertently encourage malpractice.  We got half a loaf.  The Judicial Council […]

» Read more

New Supported Decision-Making Law in New Hampshire

By Thomas F. Coleman The State of New Hampshire has just enacted Senate Bill 134 — a supported decision-making (SDM) statute.  The law could help some adults with mental or developmental disabilities avoid being placed under an order of guardianship.  A set of legislative “findings” expresses a clear preference by the Legislature for less restrictive alternatives to guardianship to be considered before the state encroaches on an individual’s liberties.  One of the findings states: “Supported decision-making is a process which preserves the self-determination of adults with disabilities by providing them with accommodations and supports to enable them to make life […]

» Read more

California Grand Jury Association Urged to Focus on Conservatorship Reform

Dear Officers and Directors, Until today when I came across your website, I was unaware of the California Grand Jury Association. Earlier this year, I wrote a commentary discussing the power of civil grand juries to identify systemic flaws in the probate conservatorship system in California and to suggest reforms.  A copy of the commentary is attached.  Please share it with your chapters and members. I realize that civil grand juries are not authorized to investigate state officers or agencies.  Even with that limitation, there is much to investigate regarding the role of county officials with respect to the conservatorship […]

» Read more

Podcast Episode #2 – The Domino Effect: My Life as an Advocate

This episode of the podcast series gives the audience a glimpse into the past of the Tom Coleman and takes a virtual walk down memory lane, reminiscing about life growing up in Ferndale, Michigan, his entry into law school in Detroit, and his move to Los Angeles where he began his lifetime role as a legal advocate at Loyola Law School.  The episode touches on a few phases of Tom’s advocacy for various causes — from his focus on LGBT rights and sexual civil liberties in the 1970s, to privacy rights, hate crimes, domestic partner benefits and recognition of family […]

» Read more

Supreme Court Asked to Strengthen Right to Counsel for Thousands of Conservatees

The California Supreme Court was asked today to convene a blue-ribbon panel to review deficiencies in the way legal defense services are being provided to adults who are entangled in probate conservatorship proceedings.  The request was submitted by Spectrum Institute and a variety of organizations involved in disability rights, elder care, and mental health services, along with a national coalition advancing the right to counsel.  Spectrum Institute is a nonprofit advocacy organization in the forefront of  conservatorship reform.  The request is available online: click here to download. The request cited various ways in which the right to counsel has been […]

» Read more
1 2 3