KEN DITKOWSKY’S CHEAT SHEET ON PROBATE LAW
· § 5. “Public policy. Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that the constitutional rights of citizens and organizations to be involved and participate freely in the process of government must be encouraged and safeguarded with great diligence. The information, reports, opinions, claims, arguments, and other expressions provided by citizens are vital to effective law enforcement, the operation of government, the making of public policy and decisions, and the continuation of representative democracy. The laws, courts, and other agencies of this State must provide the utmost protection for the free exercise of these rights of petition, speech, association, and government participation.
“Civil actions for money damages have been filed against citizens and organizations of this State as a result of their valid exercise of their constitutional rights to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in and communicate with government. There has been a disturbing increase in lawsuits termed “Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation” in government or “SLAPPs” as they are popularly called.
The threat of SLAPPs significantly chills and diminishes citizen participation in government, voluntary public service, and the exercise of these important constitutional rights. This abuse of the judicial process can and has been used as a means of intimidating, harassing, or punishing citizens and organizations for involving themselves in public affairs.
“It is in the public interest and it is the purpose of this Act to strike a balance between the rights of persons to file lawsuits for injury and the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in government; to protect and encourage public participation in government to the maximum extent permitted by law; to establish an efficient process for identification and adjudication of SLAPPs; and to provide for attorney’s fees and costs to prevailing movants”. 735 ILCS 110/5
“A person making a report under this Act in the belief that it is in the alleged victim’s best interest shall be immune from criminal or civil liability or professional disciplinary action on account of making the report, notwithstanding any requirements concerning the confidentiality of information with respect to such eligible adult which might otherwise be applicable.” 320 ILCS 20/4
For public policy statement see: County of DeWitt v. Am Fed’N of 298 Ill App3d 634
§ 11a-3. Adjudication of disability; Power to appoint guardian.
Upon the filing of a petition by a reputable person or by the alleged disabled person himself or on its own motion, the court may adjudge a person to be a disabled person, but only if it has been demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the person is a disabled person as defined in Section 11a-2. If the court adjudges a person to be a disabled person, the court may appoint (1) a guardian of his person, if it has been demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that because of his disability he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning the care of his person, or (2) a guardian of his estate, if it has been demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that because of his disability he is unable to manage his estate or financial affairs, or (3) a guardian of his person and of his estate.
· Guardianship shall be utilized only as is necessary to promote the well-being of the disabled person, to protect him from neglect, exploitation, or abuse, and to encourage development of his maximum self-reliance and independence. Guardianship shall be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the individual’s actual mental, physical and adaptive limitations. 755 ILCS 5/11a-3
· § 11a-7. Venue. If the alleged ward is a resident of this State, the proceeding shall be instituted in the court of the county in which he resides. If the alleged ward is not a resident of this State, the proceeding shall be instituted in the court of a county in which his real or personal estate is located. 755 ILCS 5/11a-7
§ 11a -8. Petition. The petition for adjudication of disability and for the appointment of a guardian of the estate or the person or both of an alleged disabled person must state, if known or reasonably ascertainable: (a) the relationship and interest of the petitioner to the respondent; (b) the name, date of birth, and place of residence of the respondent; (c) the reasons for the guardianship; (d) the name and post office address of the respondent’s guardian, if any, or of the respondent’s agent or agents appointed under the Illinois Power of Attorney Act,1 if any; (e) the name and post office addresses of the nearest relatives of the respondent in the following order: (1) the spouse and adult children, parents and adult brothers and sisters, if any; if none, (2) nearest adult kindred known to the petitioner; (f) the name and address of the person with whom or the facility in which the respondent is residing; (g) the approximate value of the personal and real estate; (h) the amount of the anticipated annual gross income and other receipts; (i) the name, post office address and in case of an individual, the age, relationship to the respondent and occupation of the proposed guardian. In addition, if the petition seeks the appointment of a previously appointed standby guardian as guardian of the disabled person, the petition must also state: (j) the facts concerning the standby guardian’s previous appointment and (k) the date of death of the disabled person’s guardian or the facts concerning the consent of the disabled person’s guardian to the appointment of the standby guardian as guardian, or the willingness and ability of the disabled person’s guardian to make and carry out day-to-day care decisions concerning the disabled person. A petition for adjudication of disability and the appointment of a guardian of the estate or the person or both of an alleged disabled person may not be dismissed or withdrawn without leave of the court.
755 ILCS 5/11a-8
· Procedure and Jurisdiction 11a – 10
11a-10. Procedures preliminary to hearing.
o (a) Upon the filing of a petition pursuant to Section 11a-8, the court shall set a date and place for hearing to take place within 30 days. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to report to the court concerning the respondent’s best interests consistent with the provisions of this Section, except that the appointment of a guardian ad litem shall not be required when the court determines that such appointment is not necessary for the protection of the respondent or a reasonably informed decision on the petition. If the guardian ad litem is not a licensed attorney, he or she shall be qualified, by training or experience, to work with or advocate for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill, physically disabled, the elderly, or persons disabled because of mental deterioration, depending on the type of disability that is alleged in the petition. The court may allow the guardian ad litem reasonable compensation. The guardian ad litem may consult with a person who by training or experience is qualified to work with persons with a developmental disability, persons with mental illness, or physically disabled persons, or persons disabled because of mental deterioration, depending on the type of disability that is alleged. The guardian ad litem shall personally observe the respondent prior to the hearing and shall inform him orally and in writing of the contents of the petition and of his rights under Section 11a-11. The guardian ad litem shall also attempt to elicit the respondent’s position concerning the adjudication of disability, the proposed guardian, a proposed change in residential placement, changes in care that might result from the guardianship, and other areas of inquiry deemed appropriate by the court. Notwithstanding any provision in the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act or any other law, a guardian ad litem shall have the right to inspect and copy any medical or mental health record of the respondent which the guardian ad litem deems necessary, provided that the information so disclosed shall not be utilized for any other purpose nor be redisclosed except in connection with the proceedings. At or before the hearing, the guardian ad litem shall file a written report detailing his or her observations of the respondent, the responses of the respondent to any of the inquires detailed in this Section, the opinion of the guardian ad litem or other professionals with whom the guardian ad litem consulted concerning the appropriateness of guardianship, and any other material issue discovered by the guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem shall appear at the hearing and testify as to any issues presented in his or her report.
o (b) The court (1) may appoint counsel for the respondent, if the court finds that the interests of the respondent will be best served by the appointment, and (2) shall appoint counsel upon respondent’s request or if the respondent takes a position adverse to that of the guardian ad litem. The respondent shall be permitted to obtain the appointment of counsel either at the hearing or by any written or oral request communicated to the court prior to the hearing. The summons shall inform the respondent of this right to obtain appointed counsel. The court may allow counsel for the respondent reasonable compensation.
o (c) If the respondent is unable to pay the fee of the guardian ad litem or appointed counsel, or both, the court may enter an order for the petitioner to pay all such fees or such amounts as the respondent or the respondent’s estate may be unable to pay. However, in cases where the Office of State Guardian is the petitioner, consistent with Section 30 of the Guardianship and Advocacy Act,1 where the public guardian is the petitioner, consistent with Section 13-5 of the Probate Act of 1975, where an elder abuse provider agency is the petitioner, pursuant to Section 9 of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act,2 where the Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General is the petitioner, consistent with Section 45 of the Abuse of Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act, or where the Department of Children and Family Services is the petitioner under subparagraph (d) of subsection (1) of Section 2-27 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, no guardian ad litem or legal fees shall be assessed against the Office of State Guardian, the public guardian, the elder abuse provider agency, the Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General, or the Department of Children and Family Services.
o (d) The hearing may be held at such convenient place as the court directs, including at a facility in which the respondent resides.
o (e) Unless he is the petitioner, the respondent shall be personally served with a copy of the petition and a summons not less than 14 days before the hearing.
o The summons shall be printed in large, bold type and shall include the following notice:
o NOTICE OF RIGHTS OF RESPONDENT
o You have been named as a respondent in a guardianship petition asking that you be declared a disabled person. If the court grants the petition, a guardian will be appointed for you. A copy of the guardianship petition is attached for your convenience.
o The date and time of the hearing are:
o The place where the hearing will occur is:
o The Judge’s name and phone number is:
o If a guardian is appointed for you, the guardian may be given the right to make all important personal decisions for you, such as where you may live, what medical treatment you may receive, what places you may visit, and who may visit you. A guardian may also be given the right to control and manage your money and other property, including your home, if you own one. You may lose the right to make these decisions for yourself.
o You have the following legal rights:
o (1) You have the right to be present at the court hearing.
o (2) You have the right to be represented by a lawyer, either one that you retain, or one appointed by the Judge.
o (3) You have the right to ask for a jury of six persons to hear your case.
o (4) You have the right to present evidence to the court and to confront and cross-examine witnesses.
o (5) You have the right to ask the Judge to appoint an independent expert to examine you and give an opinion about your need for a guardian.
o (6) You have the right to ask that the court hearing be closed to the public.
o (7) You have the right to tell the court whom you prefer to have for your guardian.
o You do not have to attend the court hearing if you do not want to be there. If you do not attend, the Judge may appoint a guardian if the Judge finds that a guardian would be of benefit to you. The hearing will not be postponed or canceled if you do not attend.
o IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ATTEND THE HEARING IF YOU DO NOT WANT A GUARDIAN OR IF YOU WANT SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE PERSON NAMED IN THE GUARDIANSHIP PETITION TO BE YOUR GUARDIAN. IF YOU DO NOT WANT A GUARDIAN OF IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROBLEMS, YOU SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY OR COME TO COURT AND TELL THE JUDGE.
o Service of summons and the petition may be made by a private person 18 years of age or over who is not a party to the action.
o (f) Notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given by the petitioner by mail or in person to those persons, including the proposed guardian, whose names and addresses appear in the petition and who do not waive notice, not less than 14 days before the hearing. 755 ILCS 5/11a-10 see: Sodoni 172 Ill App2d 1055
· Steinfeld 158 Ill 2d 1
(e) At the hearing the court shall inquire regarding: (1) the nature and extent of respondent’s general intellectual and physical functioning; (2) the extent of the impairment of his adaptive behavior if he is a person with a developmental disability, or the nature and severity of his mental illness if he is a person with mental illness; (3) the understanding and capacity of the respondent to make and communicate responsible decisions concerning his person; (4) the capacity of the respondent to manage his estate and his financial affairs; (5) the appropriateness of proposed and alternate living arrangements; (6) the impact of the disability upon the respondent’s functioning in the basic activities of daily living and the important decisions faced by the respondent or normally faced by adult members of the respondent’s community; and (7) any other area of inquiry deemed appropriate by the court.
755 ILCS 5/11a-11
United States vs. Alvarez 132 S. Ct 2537 – lost valor –
Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union 535 US 564 – virtual child porn
Brown v. Entm’t Merchants Ass’n 131 S. Ct 2729 – violent video games
Synder v. Phelps 131 S. Ct 1207 – cemetery picketing
Citizens United v. Fed Election 130 S. Ct 876 – clear statement that First Amendment rights are a serious matter – and cannot be impaired directly or indirectly.
The First Amendment requires heightened scrutiny whenever the government creates “a regulation of speech because of disagreement with the message it conveys.” Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 791, 109 S.Ct. 2746, 105 L.Ed.2d 661 (1989); see also Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., 475 U.S. 41, 48, 106 S.Ct. 925, 89 L.Ed.2d 29 (1986) (explaining that “ ‘content-neutral’ speech regulations” are “those that are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech” (internal quotation marks omitted)). A government bent on frustrating an impending demonstration might pass a law demanding two years’ notice before the issuance of parade permits. Even if the hypothetical measure on its face appeared neutral as to content and speaker, its purpose to suppress speech and its unjustified burdens on expression would render it unconstitutional. Ibid. Commercial speech is no exception. See Discovery Network, supra, at 429–430, 113 S.Ct. 1505 (commercial speech restriction lacking a “neutral justification” was not content neutral). A “consumer’s concern for the free flow of commercial speech often may be far keener than his concern for urgent political dialogue.” Bates v. State Bar of Ariz., 433 U.S. 350, 364, 97 S.Ct. 2691, 53 L.Ed.2d 810 (1977). That reality has great relevance in the fields of medicine and public health, where information can save lives.
Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., 131 S. Ct. 2653, 2664, 180 L. Ed. 2d 544 (2011)
Definition of Clear and Convincing Standard.
Clear and convincing proof is a demanding standard “denot [ing] a degree of belief that lies between the belief that is required to find the truth or existence of the [fact in issue] in an ordinary civil action and the belief that is required to find guilt in a criminal prosecution…. [The burden] is sustained if evidence induces in the mind of the trier a reasonable belief that the facts asserted are highly **516 probably true, that the probability that they are true or exist is substantially greater than the probability that they are false or do not exist.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., at 290-91, 715 A.2d 712.
 § 35:30. Hearing to adjudicate a person disabled
The respondent is entitled to be represented by counsel, to demand a jury of 6 persons, to present evidence, and to confront and cross-examine all witnesses.1 The hearing may be closed to the public on request of the respondent, the guardian ad litem, or appointed or other counsel for the respondent.2 Unless excused by the court upon a showing that the respondent refuses to be present or will suffer harm if required to attend, the respondent shall be present at the hearing.3
The general rules of evidence are applicable to proceedings to adjudicate a person disabled.4 Nonexpert witnesses may ordinarily give their opinions as to the ability of the respondent to transact ordinary business.5 However, unsubstantiated testimony of a nonexpert witnesses is insufficient to establish disability where the alleged disabled person demonstrates adequate ability to provide for his or her needs, such as by executing a power of attorney for the control of his or her estate.6 The court will determine whether a non expert witness has sufficient knowledge to express an opinion as to mental capacity at a particular time or period.7 Upon oral or written motion by the respondent or the guardian ad litem or on the court’s own motion, the court shall appoint one or more independent experts to examine the respondent.8
The testimony of the alleged disabled person is competent.9 In a proper case, the disabled person may be examined as an adverse witness.10
At the hearing, the court must inquire regarding:
• the nature and extent of respondent’s general intellectual and physical functioning;11
• the extent of the impairment of his or her adaptive behavior if he or she is a person with a developmental disability, or the nature and severity of his or her mental illness if he or she is a person with mental illness;12
• respondent’s understanding and capacity to make and communicate responsible decisions concerning his or her person;13
• respondent’s capacity to manage his or her estate and his or her financial affairs;14
• the appropriateness of proposed and alternate living arrangements;15
• the impact of the disability on the respondent’s functioning in the basic activities of daily living and the important decisions faced by the respondent or normally faced by adult members of the respondent’s community;16 and
• any other area of inquiry deemed appropriate by the court.17
An authenticated transcript of the evidence, taken in a proceeding concerning the alleged disabled person under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code,18 is admissible into evidence at the hearing.19
In an uncontested proceeding for the appointment of a guardian, the person who prepared the report accompanying the petition20 will only be required to testify at the trial upon court order for cause shown.21
The establishment of physical disabilities on the part of the alleged disabled person is not sufficient evidence to support a determination of disability.22
2 Horner Probate Prac. & Estates § 35:30
KEN DITKOWSKY’S CHEAT SHEET ON PROBATE LAW