Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who has oversight over Guardians ad litem in the State of Maine?

We believe the one big, overriding issue for Guardian ad litem reform is the total lack of oversight of their work. This issue has been identified by several other important groups before - but in thinking more deeply about this issue - it is more than just a lack of oversight in the form of supervision. It is that most (if not all) Guardians ad litem are licensed professionals - lawyers, social workers, and such. They are in professions that have legally mandated oversight by their various Maine boards of licensing, yet these professional boards seem to be disabled by current laws governing Guardians ad litem from taking any normal corrective action on complaints from the public.

The code of ethics and standards that apply to Guardians ad litem under their licensed professions - somehow don't apply when they are in the role of Guardian ad litem. As an example, a social worker working as a Guardian ad litem may use his/her Social worker status on his/her professional letterhead for all purposes. The social work letterhead markets the Guardian ad litem as a social worker to the public, yet if he/she violates code of social work ethics under that umbrella - while serving as a Guardian ad litem - he/she has immunity, by the mere fact of being a Guardian ad litem. The professional board is prevented from acting on its oversight function. The best it can do in an egregious situation is dismiss the case "without prejudice".

It seems to us that the very experienced Maine licensing board should have a major role in Guardian ad litem oversight - since they are already overseeing and licensing these professionals in their base professional capacity.  They should not be disabled from so doing by law.

The licensing board and the Judicial Branch might ask themselves - why shouldn't the same ethical and other professional standards apply to both professional situations simultaneously? Any additional regulatory requirements arising out of the Guardian ad litem role should be relatively easily added to the licensing boards mandate. The lines of professional accountability are currently very unclear for the consumer, who may incorrectly assume that a Guardian ad litem who is also a Social Worker or other professional (lawyer, doctor) will be held to the professional standards of their base profession. And they are not. When functioning as a Guardian ad litem, they are free from any accounting to their professional boards.

The current law governing Guardians ad litem allows someone in serious violation of the standards and ethics of their professional licensing board to continue to function as a Guardian ad litem, protected from any corrective action by their board just by the fact of being a Guardian ad litem. The law currently disables the professional standards of the licensing boards. An unprincipled Guardian ad litem is professionally bullet proof.

Please contact MeGALalert@gmail.com for more information.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Employment opportunity helping Maine's children $100 - $200 per hour!!!

Do you want a high paying career with the potential of earning between $200,000 and $400,000 a year? Can you sit through 16 hours of lectures over three days? If so then you can become a Guardian ad litem and work for Maine’s Judiciary.

The benefits? A binder with loose instructions on what a Guardian ad litem must do. No supervision. No worry about making mistakes. Best of all knowing that Maine’s Justice system will force collection on any bill that you present!

The above ad is made up and is not all that far from the truth. In the state of Maine if you are a lawyer or social worker you can easily become a Guardian ad litem. To do so requires only 16 hours of lectures. There is no test in the end to see if there is an understanding of the concepts discussed, there is no mentoring program administered by the courts. You walk out with only the lecture and a loose leaf notebook to start your career. Upon becoming a Guardian ad litem you can count on Maine’s Court system backing you up. Your recommendations no matter how over the top they may be will be accepted as fact. In no other court that we are aware of is hearsay accepted as fact. As a Guardian ad litem if you have issues collecting from one or both parties involved this is not a problem because Maine’s courts will force the parties to pay by garnishing wages or putting a lien on your home to name a few of the strong arm tactics employed by the courts. There is no step that is too extreme for Guardian ad litem bill collection – keep in mind that it is all done with the child’s best interest. Finally, the role of a Guardian ad litem can profoundly change the way a broken family interacts, and what you do is protected with immunity by Maine’s Court system. It is impossible to remove a Guardian ad litem in this state. Any complaint no matter how horrific the Guardian ad litem may have been is a wasted complaint. Currently there is no functional due process for families.

Maine’s Court system is currently going through a process of trying to repair issues with the Guardian ad litem program. Although the Judicial Branch should be applauded for its efforts in trying to fix many of the problems it should be pointed out that it has taken years to get to this point. It has taken far too long, and there have been many families hurt by a process that is meant to help, but by design only hurts. Maine’s families have suffered enough.

Please contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com if you have had issues with a Guardian ad litem.

The content on this site is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Forced to buy Lemons at Gunpoint

When there is no oversight, no supervision and no enforceable standard for Guardians ad litem, the public is forced to buy an unknown product by the Judicial Branch, which creates (or rosters) them. More and more Guardians ad litem come out of the Judicial Branch "factory" which has no factory inspection, no test drive and no certificate of quality. To put it baldly, the Judicial Branch has no idea about whether the wheels will stay on the car when it is driven at normal speed and no "factory recall". Furthermore, the market for this product is totally controlled by the Judicial Branch. Courts can demand that couples going through a divorce and child custody battle must buy this product while providing no quality assurance.

Lemons for sale! And, no, you can never get your money back, or trade your "lemon" for a functional car. We are distressed that there is no functional system for making a complaint about Guardians ad litem who are "lemons", and we ourselves are rapidly acquiring an ever lengthening list of "consumer complaints" about "lemons" and the hair raising details behind these complaints. We are considering various ways of informing the public about "lemons".

We are gaining an increasing awareness of the Judicial Branch Guardian ad litem complaint process, as it passes through the "oversight" of  Judge Charles LaVerdiere. We feel no confidence in his process for handling serious Guardian ad litem complaints from the public. He provides only the briefest, flimsiest of instructions for complaining consumers, and there are no criteria for what might be categorical reasons for making complaints. His assessment of complaints seems opaque and secretive for someone charged by the Judicial Branch with assuring quality for the public. We sense that if the Guardian ad litem being complained about says, in effect (and without challenge), "The complaint is a lie," that is the end of the matter. The judge doesn't act like a man who wants to know more- or to look more deeply. The public complaint is taken into a dark room at the Judicial Branch and smothered! And the consumer is sent a "case dismissed" reply with no reasons for dismissal.  End of story! On this inadequate, secretive, "oversight" process, the Judicial Branch and Maine Guardian ad Litem Institute (Guardian ad litem trade organization) proudly boast, "Only two Guardian ad litem reprimands in two years; one verbal, one written!" When you lift up the rug and look under it, it is not confidence inspiring.

This raises important consumer issues for a democratic society. Should consumers be forced into using and paying for "lemons", by the courts? Guardian ad litem fees at $120.00 to $200.00 per hour (in an un-itemized Guardian ad litem bill), can run to totals that range from $12,000.00 to $19,000.00 to $34,000.00 or more. The money is not insignificant for middle class couples.  It is a hefty price especially for a "lemon" with no quality assurance and no consumer protection.  It is a further outrage When the hapless consumer who refuses to pay for a "lemon" gets hauled into court by the Guardian ad litem in attempts to force payment, garnish wages or impose a jail sentence! Are we living in 18th century Europe or 21st century America? It looks like Guardian ad litems and Maine courts want to resurrect the long gone, long abolished, hateful "debtor's prison"!

The Judicial Branch's Guardian ad litem program is beyond broken. It badly needs a total overhaul and the public needs relief and protection from the barbarism of present practices. The financial impact of Guardian ad litems on the public is devastating a form of cruelty that should be unacceptable in a civilized society.

The Guardian ad litem program should be halted until it is repaired and the Judicial Branch can guarantee the public quality assurance.

Please contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com