Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-154

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PROBATE COURT OPERATIONS.

Vote Date:

3/28/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/24/2014

File No.:

563

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

The Probate Court brought this matter to the committee's attention.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill will make changes to the operation of Probate Court

SUBSITUTE LANGUAGE.

The Substitute Language makes changes to the following subject matter(s).

It allows the probate court administrator to establish a second pilot truancy clinic in New Haven in addition to the clinic in Waterbury. It addresses the issue of appointing a conservator and it allows people to designate their own successor conservators. It addresses the topic of civil commitment review hearings, moving them to the location of the patient. Probate court must use the rules of civil evidence that apply in court hearings on involuntary commitments. The bill also addresses the responsibility on the administration of the Kinship Fund and the Grandparents and Respite Fund from DSS to the Probate Court Administrator.

Also it requires the probate court, before approving a transfer of jurisdiction over a conserved person who has moved, to see if such person prefers the transfer. Elimination of a reporting requirement that is no longer needed and repeals a redundant statue on payment of probate court fees.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Office of the Probate Court Administrator, Paul J. Knierim, Probate Court Administrator. There are changes to the jurisdiction for commitment review hearings, instead of being held at the court, the hearing will be held at the hospital where the patient is to permit easier participation by the patient and hospital staff. Also included will be clarifying language concerning evidentiary rules that is used in Superior Court and the CT Code of Evidence among other provisions will also apply in Probate Court. The process by which Probate courts report Psychiatric commitments to the National Instant Background Check System for the purchase of firearms will be streamlined. Notice to the patient concerning a court proceeding will be simplified. There is also a correction to the way funds are transferred for the Kinship Fund and Grandparents and Relatives Respite Fund that was an oversight from last year's budget. This bill will permit the New Haven Regional Children's Probate Court to establish a program to address student attendance problems. This will be modeled after the highly successful Waterbury Regional Children's Probate Court program.

There are also changes to how a primary and a successor conservator is appointed so a conservator is immediately available if needed. The ability to transfer a conservator matter from one Probate Court to another will face more scrutiny for such a request while looking at the preferences of the conserved person. Seeing that the restructuring of the Probate Court system is complete, the reporting of the restructuring is no longer needed and should be repealed. This bill addresses the redundancy of the two statues concerning the use of credit cards to pay probate fees.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

CCM, Mike Muszynski, Senior Legislative Associate. CCM supports the bill with an amendment concerning operating expenses including rent and office supplies to come out of the State Probate fees.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

CT Legal Services, Jean Mills Aranha, Atty at Law. CT Legal Service opposes the provisions of Section 4. “Revision of section 4a-17 of the General Statues should not weaken the due process protections for persons confined to Psychiatric Institutions” CT Legal Services submitted amended language for section 4 as it relates to property rights of persons and the manner on how to contact such persons in Psychiatric Institutions. CT Legal Services supports section 14 but would like to see it include formerly Conserved persons.

Reported by: Rich Benham

Date: 4-24-14