The Disability and Abuse Project has conducted an audit of limited conservatorship procedures and cases processed through the Probate Court in Los Angeles County. What we have found is very disturbing. Los Angeles may be symptomatic of a much larger problem of personal and constitutional rights violations occurring throughout California, indeed, throughout the nation.
About 30 years ago, the California Legislature established a new system of protection for adults with developmental disabilities. We call it the "Limited Conservatorship System." It was a new form of conservatorship (adult guardianship) that provides a delicate balance between protecting vulnerable adults from harm and granting such adults as many rights as possible. A blend of semi-independence and semi-protection was the goal. Hence the term "limited" conservatorship since the conservator only receives limited powers over the conservatee.
The procedure for establishing limited conservatorships is supposed to have a built-in set of checks and balances to make sure that a conservatorship is needed, that the right person becomes the conservator, and that the conservatee retains as many rights as possible. Alternatives to conservatorship, including less intrusive forms of supportive decisionmaking, should be explored.
There should be a screening out of potentially bad conservators. A court investigator should interview all parties to the case and close relatives. A lawyer appointed for the conservatee should do an independent investigation and defend the rights of the conservatee from erosion. The Regional Center should do its own assessment and should make recommendations to the court. This all sounds so good on paper. But what we found are practices that do not match this ideal scenario. We saw negligence, indifference, and systematic violations of rights. Courts are not narrowly tailoring their orders so that proposed conservatees retain as many rights as possible. We have conducted extensive research, sponsored conferences, and published reports. We are "whistle blowers" who hope to shake up the status quo.
Full Article and Source:
Disability and Abuse.org
READ: Limited Conservatorships: Systematic Denial to Access to Justice
Lanternman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, California Welfare and Institutions Code Statement of Rights
Searching Court Records
Probate Investigator Deficit