ILNews

Guardian registry pilot to launch

Dave Stafford
October 9, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana soon could break new ground with the introduction of one of the nation’s first databases of guardians and their wards. The development is raising hopes for improved oversight of vulnerable populations along with concerns about their privacy.

“I would really be surprised if we’re not moving forward with pilot counties by January at least and seeing how that moves through the calendar year of 2014,” Fountain Circuit Judge Susan Orr Henderson said of the registry being developed by the Indiana Adult Guardianship State Task Force. Henderson chairs the group’s guardian registry project.

henderson-susan.jpg Henderson

That task force’s scores of stakeholder members has scheduled a retreat Oct. 24-25 at Notre Dame Law School to be updated on progress concerning the registry and other initiatives including creation of an Office of Adult Guardianship within the Indiana Supreme Court.

Task force volunteer coordinator Rebecca Pryor said the guardian registry will put Indiana in the forefront of states in managing guardianship cases. “As far as we’ve been able to tell, this will be the first registry of its kind in the country,” she said.

Pryor said the task force has moved the registry project ahead despite off-and-on funding. Henderson said the Supreme Court Judicial Technology and Automation Committee has been developing the registry for about 18 months with input from members of the Indiana State Bar Association’s probate section and task force members.

“There is a level of confidentiality. I understand that,” Pryor said. “What we’re looking at is balancing that need to know and then putting out that public information the public should be able to access.” The task force is hoping to identify six to eight counties that will soon test the guardian registry.

“We want to get it out to judges for them to take a look at … and get it to court clerks,” Pryor said. “It really will be their commitment to this that will make this work.”

Henderson said the registry will compile as public information names of wards of guardians, names and contact information for guardians, and whether guardianship letters are current. Separately, confidential information available to court officers would include required filings such as accountings and inventories, she said.

Information will be available through the Indiana Court Information Technology Extranet, or INcite, Henderson said. The goal is to include information about all guardianships in the state.

“If you are an attorney practicing in the probate area and you are the attorney for that guardian, you’re going to get reminders – chronological case summary reminders saying, ‘this is a gentle reminder you haven’t filed an inventory,’” Henderson gave as an example. “Events are going to trigger automatic chronological case summary notices.”

But the proposed advance doesn’t come without concerns about how much information will be available, to whom and for what purpose. “It’s still undecided who will have access to this,” said Carmel elder law attorney and task force member George Slater II.

slater-george-mug Slater

Slater shared some concerns regarding the registry at a recent elder law panel discussion at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. Slater noted that Notre Dame law professor Michael Jenuwine prepared a report for the task force that found guardianship practices vary widely from county to county.

That study found oversight of cases and enforcement of filing deadlines, for instance, may be proactive in some jurisdictions and an afterthought elsewhere, Slater said. “There’s many, many guardianship requirements in this state that are not being followed.”

While he said a registry could improve the handling of guardianship cases and bring more uniformity in courts around the state, he’s concerned that the registry has evolved from early concepts of a list to become something more resembling a case management system that many judges and court clerks may not be prepared for.

“It’s hard for me to think that all the judges in this state know what’s coming,” Slater said. “It’s kind of like a big train coming down the tracks, and I’m not sure everybody’s heard the whistle yet.”

Dennis Frick, head of the senior law project at Indiana Legal Services and a member of the task force, said compliance with the requirements of guardianships varies from court to court. “It seems like some counties do a pretty good job of keeping tabs and other counties don’t,” he said.

Marion County, for instance, has a larger probate court staff that allows for proper oversight and monitoring of accountings that must be completed every two years. He said the court proactively notifies attorneys of those deadlines.

“In some counties the guardianship is in place for years with no financial accounting,” Frick said. “They’re just relying on the guardian to do what he’s going to do.

“One of the things the registry would do is allow the courts to manage their own caseloads,” he said.

Pryor said the registry will provide not just courts but other users vital information and ultimately will allow information sharing across county lines. “For the courts, for attorneys, hospitals, law enforcement, it will make their lives so much easier if we have a registry.”

Henderson said input from those who’ve worked on developing the registry has addressed numerous scenarios that included questions of how much information to make available to the public.

“We’re on our way and we wanted to make sure the project was ready to be rolled out and offer an opportunity to provide some feedback on it,” Henderson said. “Hopefully, the end product is going to satisfy the skeptics who are fearful of overexposure” of confidential information.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

ADVERTISEMENT