The Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, under the direction of Chairman Wentworth, met today in the Capitol Extension for invited and public testimony on interim charge 2.
Interim Charge 2: Study the guardianship program implemented by the Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Department of Adult Protective Services, including the efficiency and effectiveness of the program, the relationship between the two agencies, the appropriate rights for parents, and whether clients and their assets are adequately protected.
(2:12) Debby Valdez, an advocate for familial guardianship and a member of GRADE (Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly), was the first of nearly 3 hours of witnesses who gave emotional testimony on the abuses in the probate and guardianship system and were critical of DADS, Adult Protective Services, the private "profit-driven" guardianship system (in particular, GSI - Guardianship Services Inc.), Tarrant County Probate Judge Ferchill, and Denton County Probate Judge Windle. Other issues were ex parte discussions, attorney ad litems,revocation of parental rights, loss of familial interaction, revocation of familial guardianships, kickbacks, abuse, inappropriate relationships, sexual assault, the "stripping of civil rights," claims of "homicide," intentional overmedication, onerous appeal fees ($10,000 in Judge Ferchill's court), and theft of assets by ad litems.
(3:42) Sen. Harris voiced his anger at Commissioner Traylor and Assistant Commissioner Jessee over the lack of oversight with wards in private guardianship.
(3:47) Emotional public testimony continued.
(4:53) Steven Fields, court administrator for Tarrant County Probate Judge Ferchill, addressed the testimony regarding GSI, Judge Ferchill's relationship with GSI, ex parte hearings, the lack of notice given to family members with ex parte and revocation hearings, and specific allegations by family members. Mr. Fields stated "emergency situations" can require ex parte hearings, and family members can "create problems" for wards under the care of GSI. Mr. Fields said the $10,000 fee is a "security" for court costs in ad litem hearings. Sen. Harris expressed concern regarding overmedication, inadequate monitoring/oversight of wards, and Judge Ferchill.
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06/24/10 Senate Jurisprudence Committee on Jurisprudence
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