Spectrum Institute

January 3, 2021


Janice Hui
Managing Director
Investigative Reporting Program
UC Berkeley

Dear Ms. Hui:

I am writing to inform you of an investigative reporting opportunity for students affiliated with your program.

We have been investigating systemic and systematic abuses and law violations occurring in probate conservatorship proceedings in California.  I personally have been investigating and reporting on these problems for several years.  I have written extensively on this, not only focusing on the problems but also and most importantly on possible solutions. 

The problems I refer to are created by policy failures in the legislative and judicial branches of government and are perpetuated by flawed practices of the judges and attorneys involved in these proceedings.  The abuses and law violations adversely affect about 60,000 seniors and people with disabilities who are “trapped” in these conservatorships and about 5,000 more who are targeted by new petitions for conservatorships filed each year in California.

Our most recent project is focusing on problems in the way that public funds are spent to pay for deficient legal services by public defenders and court-appointed private attorneys who represent these seniors and people with disabilities who are indigent.  It also focuses on excessive and unreasonable fees that are paid to a variety of attorneys in these cases – money that is coming from the assets of these vulnerable litigants.  The judges are not conserving and protecting the assets of these individuals, but instead are enriching the attorneys who depend on this system for a steady stream of income.  https://spectruminstitute.org/review-team.pdf

Perhaps this new research project on attorney fees, or other aspects of the abusive conservatorship system, would be topics that the Investigative Reporting Program would like to become involved with.  Please let me know if you have any interest is this.

Yours truly,

Thomas F. Coleman
Legal Director
Spectrum Institute