The PDF in which this article appears can be found in Bifocal Vol. 44; Issue 3.
For me, January 2, 2024 marked five years on the bench. Five years of status conferences, discovery disputes, oral argument, and trials. Five years of issuing oral and written rulings. And five years of a heavy docket and driving determination to do justice. Moving into 2024 and the (hopefully) many years to come, a few resolutions spring to mind.
First, I resolve to connect more personally to those I serve. Presiding over adult guardianships, I am often called upon to address concerns about the person with a disability’s living situation, disputes about the most appropriate placement, and competing claims made by facilities and family members. Zoom has allowed me to see into some residents’ rooms and I have heard hours of testimony from dedicated facility staff, but I have never personally visited any of the facilities that serve aging Delawareans. In 2024, I am going to change that. Through the connections I have made as my court’s designee on Delaware’s Non-Acute Long-Stay Patient Task Force, I will visit several long-term care facilities this year. What I witness and learn will better inform my decision making as I work to protect Delawareans in need.
Second, I resolve to think proactively about Delaware’s guardianship processes and advocate for necessary change and growth. As a Commissioner for the Commission on Law & Aging, I have access to, and can make deep connections with, aging practitioners and advocates throughout the country. I am also the Delaware State Representative for the National College of Probate Judges, another organization through which I can learn from my colleagues in other jurisdictions. This year, I plan to work actively within these organizations and bring what I learn to Delaware. I expect to do so through the Court of Chancery Rules Committee, wherein I chair the Guardianships, Trusts, and Estates Subcommittee, and the Delaware Guardianship Commission, where I serve as my court’s representative.