Monday, May 4, 2015

Nevada Supreme Court chief justice wants statewide review of guardianship

Nevada’s top judge wants to dig into problems plaguing the guardianship system far beyond the Las Vegas Valley.

The Clark County Commission recommended April 21 that a local blue ribbon panel examine issues that have left some of its most vulnerable constituents destitute. But Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty said the issue is affecting more than just the state’s most populous county.

“I think this is an issue that would be of statewide concern,” Hardesty told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday.

Instead of a local panel, Hardesty wants to convene a committee that will include people from across the state to examine the program.

Clark County Manager Don Burnette said Friday in an email to county commissioners that he recommends going with Hardesty’s proposal rather than convening a local blue ribbon panel. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Long-running problems with the program that handles about 8,500 cases each year were laid out in a series of Review-Journal articles published in April.

A guardian is appointed after someone is deemed mentally incompetent and declared a ward of the county. In most cases, that guardian is a family member, friend or county social worker. In many cases, especially where the person has substantial wealth, a private professional guardian can be appointed.

Cases highlighted in the Review-Journal showed a lack of oversight by the courts that allowed people who were wards of the county to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to their private professional guardians. In those cases, the court failed to enforce state laws, such as the requirement to file a yearly accounting of money spent on behalf of wards, and ignored the wishes of wards and their families.

Hardesty said after several recent talks with the chief judges in Nevada’s two urban counties, Clark and Washoe, he decided to push for the statewide committee to solve the inherent issues surrounding it.

The proposed statewide panel would need to look at the entire guardianship process, Hardesty said. Some of the main concerns, he said, include ensuring the courts properly monitor guardians to ensure better supervision and enforcement of annual accountings, and providing proper court representation for wards during the process.

“That is our responsibility to implement those statutes and provide for those processes that assure accountability to the parties involved in those proceedings,” Hardesty said.

Hardesty said the statewide panel would include guardians, county personnel, elder and ward rights advocates, among others. It would dig into the problem and make recommendations for reforms of the system.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who initially pushed for the local panel two weeks ago, said the Supreme Court’s involvement will make it easier to fix problems. Commissioners were assured they’ll be included in discussions.

“They’ll be able to access resources that we couldn’t otherwise,” Sisolak said. “I look forward to getting to work.”

Hardesty said he will file the administrative docket required to start his panel next week. The Supreme Court then would begin discussions about the panel around the first week of June, Hardesty said.

Commissioners will discuss the development Tuesday at their regular meeting at 9 a.m. at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

Full Article & Source:
Nevada Supreme Court chief justice wants statewide review of guardianship

See Also:
County Commission Probing "Frightening" Abuses in Guardianship System


Betty said...

This is good news! Hooray for Nevada and thank you once again Las Vegas Review Journal.

Fellow NASGA member said...

Yes -- HOPE!

Finny said...

The spotlight is shining in Nevada, but why haven't Norheim and Hoskin been dealt with yet? I would think there would be a public announcement that these men were being held accountable for watching all the abuse and not lifting a finger.