Consequences of Violating the Right to Therapy

Spectrum E-News, in collaboration with the Mental Health Project of Spectrum Institute, will be publishing a series of articles on the consequences when adults with developmental disabilities do not receive prompt and equal access to a full range of mental health therapies available to people without disabilities. The right to such access is protected by the constitution as well as state and federal nondiscrimination laws. The willful or negligent deprivation of necessary mental health therapy may be a form of elder or dependent adult abuse which could trigger criminal and civil liability for those responsible.  Professional fiduciaries and licensed professionals […]

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A Grand Jury Method for Conservatorship Reform

By Thomas F. ColemanLos Angeles Daily Journal The top-down approach to conservatorship reform has been tried for nearly 15 years with very little success.  Perhaps it is time for reform advocates to use a more grass-roots process. When a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times exposed major problems with California’s probate conservatorship system in November 2005, there was a swift reaction from elected officials in all three branches of state government.  The pattern of corruption and dysfunction that emerged from the newspaper’s review of 2,400 conservatorship cases could not be ignored. The chief justice convened a probate task […]

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Autism Awareness Month

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day on April 2nd every year, encouraging member states of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders including autism and Asperger syndrome throughout the world. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly through a resolution adopted on December 18 2007. (World Autism Awareness Day, Wikipedia) Various organizations in the United States have built on this resolution to designate April of each year as Autism Awareness Month.  Some, such as the Autism Society have expanded the concept to Autism Acceptance Month.  That organization’s website states: “This April, the Autism Society of America celebrates differences as it […]

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Dorothy Won’t Surrender

Some Washington Judges Don’t Care a Lot by Thomas F. Coleman Last week I started to watch the movie I Care a Lot.  This award-winning film depicts the way in which vulnerable adults are often targeted in guardianship scams orchestrated by unscrupulous fiduciaries who enlist the help of care providers, real estate agents, and attorneys – all of which is accomplished with a judicial nod and wink.    I was so upset just 15 minutes into the film that I stopped watching it.  I plan to resume when I feel strong enough to endure the frightening scenarios it depicts. Perhaps my […]

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A Growing Chorus Calls for Congressional Hearings

Several organizations have joined Spectrum Institute’s call for congressional hearings into abusive conservatorship and guardianship systems.  The request was sent on March 11, 2021, in a letter to Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NJ), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The idea for the request was stimulated by news stories that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, had asked for such hearings in response to growing media attention to the abusive conservatorship in which entertainment icon Britney Spears has been entangled for more than 10 years.  The letter from Gaetz to Nadler states: “The House Committee on […]

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AB596: A Trojan Horse Bill Diminishes the Right to Counsel

By Thomas F. Coleman Daily Journal – March 3, 2021 A measure relating to appointed legal counsel in probate conservatorships was recently introduced into the California Assembly.  Assembly Bill 596 is authored by Assemblymember Janet Nguyen, a Republican legislator representing parts of Orange County. The bill is sponsored by the California Lawyers Association on behalf of its Trusts and Estates Section.  The CLA represents the business interests of some 7,000 members of that section who practice law in California’s probate courts.  While CLA officials may believe the bill improves existing law, improvement is in the eye of the beholder.  AB596 […]

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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Spectrum Institute is pleased to participate in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  Each March, organizations and individuals throughout the United States engage in a variety of activities to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life, as well as awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.  Developmental disabilities include cerebral palsy, autism, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The history and purpose of this commemoration is explained by the Special Needs Alliance: “In 1987 President Ronald Reagan […]

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Update on the Mental Health Project

February was a very busy month. We added 6 project advisors to the team. We launched a campaign inviting organizations to endorse the Mental Health Project’s statement of legal principles underlying the right of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have prompt and equal access to the full range of mental health therapies available to people without disabilities. We also started work a series of articles on Consequence of Violating the Right to Therapy. New Advisors to the Mental Health Project The number of projects advisors doubled in February. We are happy to welcome: Daniel B. LeGoff, PhD, LS, […]

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Our Team Keeps Growing

During the last few months we have witnessed a major influx of volunteers. We now have a team of 37 people supporting the projects and activities of Spectrum Institute. There is a five-member board of trustees governing the organization.  Four volunteers work with the executive director to handle our research, technology, development, and outreach activities.  A website developer is in the process of creating a new website. The Disability and Guardianship Project has two legal advisors who are periodically consulted.  It also has 12 advisors on an Attorney Fee Review Team.  The director of the Mental Health Project has 10 mental health […]

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Outreach to the California State Bar Board of Trustees

Thomas F. Coleman, legal director of Spectrum Institute, will speak during the public comment segment of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the California State Bar on November 24, 2020. The meeting will be held in Los Angeles. Coleman will encourage the State Bar to take two actions in 2020: (1) support our right-to-counsel bill to ensure that seniors and other people with disabilities have effective representation of counsel in probate conservatorship proceedings; and (2) take pro-active measures to ensure that the State Bar’s complaint system is accessible to people with cognitive and communication disabilities. For a copy […]

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