Sacramento, Calif. ( Associated Press) — Disability rights activists and Britney Spears advocates backed a California proposal Wednesday that provided more protections for court-ordered patrons while promoting less-restrictive options.
Groups including Disability Voices United, Disability Rights California, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Free Brittany LA say that what is known as probate guardianship, is overused and abused in California.
They often include people with developmental or intellectual disabilities or people with age-related issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
But advocacy groups argue that conservatives like Spears may be trapped in a system that removes their civil rights and ability to advocate for themselves.
The Professional Fiduciary Association of California, which represents many of those appointed as conservatorships, did not immediately comment, but said it answered several questions about the process https://californiaconservatorshipfacts.com Can meet.
“Patrons should be rare and a last resort,” said Judy Marks, president of Disability Voices United, a Southern California advocacy group. “The default should be that people with disabilities maintain their rights and receive support when they need it.”
The groups backed legislation backed by Democratic Assemblyman Brian Menschen, which would also make it easier for those who want out, to end conservatism.
They are instead promoting “supported decision-making” agreements as a less restrictive alternative. They allow people with disabilities to choose someone to help them understand, make, and communicate their choices, but still allow the person to make decisions.
Advocates said that option has already been adopted in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, DC.
California law states that conservatories must be ordered only if a judge rules that they are the least restrictive option. But advocates argue that they are often imposed without examining other options.
Menschen’s bill would require that before a guardianship is granted, judges first document that all other options, including making a supported decision, have been considered.
It will underwrite decision-making supported in California law and support that choice with grant programs, training, and technical assistance.
The bill would make it easier to eliminate probate guardianship by mandating periodic review, including asking conservatives whether they want to make conservatism less restrictive or eliminate it altogether.
Patrons will also need to consult with patrons and make decisions that reflect the wishes or preferences of the patrons previously expressed.
Prior to his election to the Legislature, Menschen was a law clerk for a judge of the San Diego Superior Court, overseeing the Guardianship.
“I saw firsthand the role of the court in establishing conservatives and the potential for abuse,” he said during an online news conference. “The system in California is in dire need of reform.”
He called Spears “arguably the world’s most famous patron”, but said his bill would help many others who do not have “the benefits of worldwide fame to shed light on his case”.
Spears drew widespread attention to the issue, which culminated in November when a Los Angeles judge put an end to the stereotypes that had governed the pop singer’s life and money for nearly 14 years.
“I believe that if AB1663 had been in effect 13 years ago, the court would have been unable to preserve Britney Spears, and now Britney’s story illuminates the way where our laws need to change,” Mark Said, Disability Voice United.
Advocates said it is unclear how many people in California are under protection because the data has not been collected. He Said Spears’ Battle This is an example of how stereotypes are too easily imposed and very difficult to eliminate.
She was a 26-year-old new mother who suffered several public mental health struggles during the height of her career in 2008, when her father first sought guardianship on a temporary basis.
Free Brittany LA organizer Leanne Simmons said Spears was not present at the court hearing where her constitutional rights were delegated to her father, nor had less-restrictive measures been attempted before placing her under a guardianship. .
It ended only after Spears became involved in a multi-year struggle, and then gained the right to choose her own lawyer.
“While unique in many ways, it follows a very common pattern of exploitation within the probate court system in California,” Simmons said.
Meinschen’s proposal is the latest effort to reform conservation laws in California and across the US
California approved a law last year Providing greater oversight of professional trustees, allowing attorneys under conservatives to choose their own attorneys, and punishing financial, physical or mental abuse with fines of up to $10,000.
Elsewhere last year, New Jersey limited those who wish to place someone under a guardianship, as the process is known in few other states, while Oregon requires that anyone under guardianship be given free legal aid. Get help New Mexico has made a number of changes since 2018, while Nevada previously required legal counseling for adults under guardianship.
The process addressed in Meinschen’s bill differs from the typically mental health guardianship that California Gov. Gavin Newsom and others have promoted for increased use to help the mentally ill and homeless. Newsom last week promised legislation this year to ease such conservatives without giving details.