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  Disability and Guardianship Project                
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Disability and Guardianship Project


Adult guardianships involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other adults with cognitive disabilities due to aging, illnesses or accidents


To promote access to justice for adults with cognitive and communication disabilities who are involved in guardianship proceedings and to promote viable alternatives to guardianship

Action Areas

Research, education, public policy, advocacy networking, access to justice, and public awareness

Supported Decision Making

To learn more about safe and legal supported decision-making arrangements as a possible alternative to guardianship, click here.


A Call for Reform

The Disability and Guardianship Project was created when investigations of a few individual conservatorship cases in Los Angeles led to audits of dozens of additional cases.  The audits showed systematic violations of the rights of adults with intellectual and developmental by the Los Angeles Superior Court and by the attorneys the court appoints to represent respondents.

Our focus then expanded to review conservatorship policies and practices throughout California.  This research confirmed statewide civil rights violations that are grounded in bad public policy as well as the failure of judges to follow applicable state and federal laws.  Judicial negligence and malfeasance is not being checked or monitored by the executive or legislative branches of government.  These ongoing violations of rights not only affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but impact the lives of thousands of seniors and adults with cognitive disabilities caused by illnesses or accidents.

We started receiving communications from people in other states, revealing that civil rights violations are occurring elsewhere.  We discovered that guardianship abuses are a major national problem.  More than 1.5 million adults in the United States  are under an order of guardianship, with thousands being added to these state systems each year.

In response to these calls for help, we have been conducting research, writing reports and commentaries, and filing complaints with federal, state, and local agencies.  The links below provide more information on the need for reform.

Complaints to DOJ

Complaints to States Legal Publications What's New

Disability and Abuse

ADA White Paper

Project Advisors


Snapshot of the Need for an Attorney
in a Guardianship Case

Special Report to the Washington
 State Supreme Court

California State Bar Rule Violates the ADA

The Case of Theresa -- Age 85

The Case of Ryan -- Age 24

The Case of Jeanne -- Age 98

Other Examples of Injustice

Thomas F. Coleman
Legal Director
Spectrum Institute
1717 E. Vista Chino A7 - PMB384
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(818) 230-5156

Pursuit of Justice

A Documentary Film

by Greg Byers