A major lack of oversight in Clark County courts has torn families apart and victimized the vulnerable people it was supposed to protect.
That's what Darcy Spears found in her year-long Contact 13 Investigation of the guardianship system.
Now many changes are underway to fix the problems.
Clark County District Court is adding staff to better supervise guardianship cases in response to what they call a clear need for compliance oversight. This after Contact 13 revealed double billing and questionable charges. Even cases where people's entire life savings went missing and their homes were sold without court approval.
Today the court announced that they've hired a new Guardianship Compliance Administrator. He will watch over the adult guardianship program, create a citizen complaint process and investigate cases for discrepancies and fraud. Click here to see the full job description.
The court is also taking action on a number of other problems directly related to our investigation, including more transparency and additional scrutiny of how private professional guardians handle an individual's money.
Below is the full Press Release from Clark County District Court:
New District Court Guardianship Compliance Administrator Post Filled
The Eighth Judicial District Court hired Riley Wilson as the new Guardianship Compliance Administrator. The new administrator has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho, an LLM in Tax from the University of Denver, and practiced law in South Dakota in the areas of estate planning, probate, guardianship and trusts. He recently worked as a trust officer settling estates and administering trusts. The Clark County Commission recently approved the creation of the guardianship compliance administrator post in response to a clear need for compliance oversight.
The Eighth Judicial District Court is taking action to implement best practices for guardianship cases as established by the National Association for Court Management. A guardianship hotline is available to take concerns and questions at 702-671-4614 and an email link is also available at firstname.lastname@example.org for those who have concerns.
The court thoroughly examined how guardianship cases were being handled and took action including:
· The prior commissioner/judicial model, was changed to direct judicial hearings in adult guardianship cases. The District Court issued Administrative Order 15-08 (Amended) that assigned a Family Division judge to preside over guardianship cases. The order also outlines a plan to assign alternate judges to handle recusals or disqualifications.
· A complete case review of the entire guardianship caseload is underway. The review is being done to assess compliance with requirements and duties of guardians to care for a ward’s person or estate.
· Workload efficiency is being evaluated with recommendations reported to the Nevada Supreme Court. Improvements will be implemented once they are approved.
· The court Information Technology division is developing new case management reports, and automating various aspects of the guardianship caseload that will facilitate case review and statutory compliance.
· The court revised the procedures for reviewing the required annual accountings (these accountings detail the financial activity of guardians and providing transparency to all interested family members involved in cases) including additional scrutiny and auditing when necessary. These accountings ensure that the expenditures of a guardian comply with the laws and serve the best interests of the ward. A court finance manager has been assigned to assist in examining both required and unusual financial accountings in guardianship cases.
“Having someone with a strong depth of auditing and financial experience working on compliance along with the other measures taken by the court gets us on track to meet our goal of compliance with national best practices,” said District Court Chief Judge David Barker.
In conference with the District Court, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a petition in May, 2015 (ADKT 0507) that established a Guardianship Commission for the State of Nevada to research, review and recommend changes for guardianship. The goal is to gain informed insight from the commission on ways we can better protect wards in guardianship cases.
The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court is the busiest court in the state. Fifty-two judges preside over nearly 100,000 criminal, civil and family cases that are filed each year in District Court. The Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court judges and staff continuously work to develop new ideas, maximize efficiencies and improve access to justice.