A Guardianship System in Need of Reform: Britney Spears is Not Alone
Public outcry towards Britney Spears’ conservatorship has prompted questions about the laws that permit the transfer of legal authority from one person to another and whether these laws actually protect the person. While conservatorship or guardianship laws are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction they each rely upon the premise that the courts must intercede because a person needs its protection. The persons’ right to self-determination is often outweighed in favor of the desire to protect the person. In order to balance the scales many jurisdictions have built in additional due process protections including limiting the scope of the guardianship, ensuring right to counsel, shifting the burden and requiring higher standards for proof and notice and incorporating a restoration process. Yet, many jurisdictions, including New York, operate a guardianship system that does not offer these additional protections. Further, Ms. Spears’ conservatorship has shown that even where due process is offered it doesn’t ensure that the person’s voice is heard.
Through this CLE program, we will explore guardianship systems in New York State and how they hold up against the criticism being expressed by those that are following Britney Spears’ story. They will examine what it means to offer due process protections, such as right to counsel, right to a hearing, and notice as well as other alternatives to guardianship. They will also discuss the concerns raised by those subject to guardianships and the challenges they faced restoring their legal rights. Finally, we will examine the challenge to reforming these systems and alternative approaches being used to avoid the application of a guardianship.
Sheila E. Shea, Esq., Mental Hygiene Legal Services
Jennifer J. Monthie, Esq., Disability Rights New York
Lisa K. Friedman, Esq., Law Office of Lisa K. Friedman
Laura E. O'Brien, Esq., Disability Rights New York
Irini N. Bekhit, Esq., New York Surrogate's Court, Richmond County
Hon. Kristin Booth Glen, CUNY School of Law
Prianka Nair, Esq., Brooklyn Law School
Tina Bebry, Client
Kole Johnson, Client
Kimberly Weisbeck, Esq., Disability Rights New York
Tara Anne Pleat, Esq., Wilcenski & Pleat, PLLC
Lawrence R. Faulkner, Esq., Former General Counsel, The Arc Westchester / Former Deputy General Counsel, NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres, Kings County Surrogate's Court, 2nd Judicial Department
Christopher R. Lyons, Esq., AIM Services, Inc.
Kirk M. Lewis, Esq., Schenectady ARC
- December 15, 2021
- Online On-Demand