ILNews

Guardian registry pilot to launch

Dave Stafford
October 9, 2013
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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.•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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