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Had the abuse of 64-year-old Leonard Swenson been reported to police in 1998 rather than 2008, nothing would have been done about this “civil matter.” In 2008, Leonard was still failed by most systems but, because of the existence of specialized elder abuse prosecutors and other dedicated people, his exploiter did ultimately go to prison.
The government fulfills a moral obligation to the aged when it creates elder protection courts. In the coming years, it will be difficult to fathom a court system without an elder protection court and a comprehensive “elder justice center” support system.
Philadelphia's innovative Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program started in May 2008 in the courtroom of Judge Annette Rizzo. In the ensuing five-and-a-half years, 7,000 Philadelphia homeowners, many of whom are elderly, averted foreclosure. More than 80 percent of those who prevented foreclosure were still in their homes two years later.
Collaboration between leaders of the judiciary and social service and community organizations has been instrumental in the creation of “problem-solving” courts. Their endeavors demonstrate how judicial leadership at state and local levels can enhance the legal system’s ability to address elder law issues.
In many communities, awareness of elder abuse is lacking and the response insufficient. Justice agencies are advised to “get ahead of the curve” to identify and address the problem before it reaches crisis levels. National-scope resources are available, most of which can be adapted to meet local requirements.
Nearly half of all U.S. senior citizens are economically vulnerable and have incomes that are less than two times the supplemental poverty line. This article outlines some of the ways that the Illinois Supreme Court and its Commission on Access to Justice have tried to increase access to justice for low-income elderly and others in Illinois.
As the prosecutor and defense argued aggravation and mitigation in the trial I was conducting, I flashed back to the signs I had missed. I remembered little dings and scratches on my dad’s car that he never wanted to discuss. I realized I could no longer ignore the signs and began to research how to initiate “the conversation.”
The nontraditional role judges play in problem-solving courts can create a tension with ethics rules. The judiciary is only beginning to wrestle with the possible conflicts between the objective detachment integral to codes of judicial conduct and the active engagement inherent in problem-solving courts.
In this issue, we explore challenges arising out of the interaction between courts and the elderly, as well as resources crafted by courts and agencies to improve access to justice for the elderly.
The ABA House of Delegates has adopted a policy sponsored by the Commission on Law and Aging and co-sponsored by the Senior Lawyers Division that urges courts and community organizations to collaborate in establishing court-focused elder abuse initiatives.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and a resulting IRS ruling erased a century’s worth of tax history. This ruling is a welcome equitable change to the tax and estate planning world. Where possible, you should help your clients capitalize upon this historic change.
With a bit of caution, we can continue to use email productively and beneficially. If we do not exercise that caution, however, email, like other technologies, has the potential to bite us in the posterior.
Even in states where ethics rules do not punish incivility, lawyers can rely on some ethics provisions to serve clients while courteously interacting with everyone around them.