Disability and Guardianship Project                               


Focus and Mission


Adult guardianships and conservatorships involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other adults with cognitive disabilities due to aging, illnesses or accidents


To promote access to justice for adults with cognitive and communication disabilities who are involved in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings and to promote viable alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship

Action Areas

Research, education, public policy, advocacy networking, access to justice, and public awareness

Supported Decision Making

To learn more about safe and legal supported decision-making arrangements as a possible alternative to guardianship, click here.


A Call for Reform

The Disability and Guardianship Project was created when investigations of a few individual conservatorship cases in Los Angeles led to audits of dozens of additional cases.  The audits showed systematic violations of the rights of adults with intellectual and developmental by the Los Angeles Superior Court and by the attorneys the court appoints to represent respondents.

Our focus then expanded to review conservatorship policies and practices throughout California.  This research confirmed statewide civil rights violations that are grounded in bad public policy as well as the failure of judges to follow applicable state and federal laws.  Judicial negligence and malfeasance is not being checked or monitored by the executive or legislative branches of government.  These ongoing violations of rights not only affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but impact the lives of thousands of seniors and adults with cognitive disabilities caused by illnesses or accidents.

We started receiving communications from people in other states, revealing that civil rights violations are occurring elsewhere.  We discovered that guardianship abuses are a major national problem.  More than 1.5 million Americans are living under an order of guardianship or conservatorship, with thousands more being added to these state systems each year.

In response to these calls for help, we have been conducting research, writing reports, publishing commentaries, and filing complaints with federal, state, and local agencies.  The links below provide more information about the need for reform.  Specific solutions have been proposed.

 Complaints to DOJ

Capacity Assessment
Op-Ed Artices About Spectrum Institute

Complaints to States

ADA White Paper


What's New

Snapshot of the Need for an Attorney
in a Guardianship Case


Arc Video About the Project

Thomas F. Coleman
Executive Director

Spectrum Institute
1717 E. Vista Chino A7 - PMB384
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(818) 230-5156




Pursuit of Justice

A Documentary Film

by Greg Byers