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2009-10-06-02

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

TASK FORCE ON STATE COURTS AND THE ELDERLY


ORDER


I  FIND that the rapidly increasing number of elderly individuals in our state presents a challenge to our court system that can only be met through advance planning.1  I further find that a task force which specifically studies and reviews elder issues in our state courts, particularly related to elder abuse, and adult guardianships will aid in the court responses.

THEREFORE, pursuant to the provisions of Section 4, Article V, South Carolina Constitution,

IT IS ORDERED, that a Task Force is created to study and make recommendations to the Supreme Court to improve court responses to elder abuse, adult guardianships and conservatorships.  The Chief Justice shall appoint the Chair of the Task Force.  Members will be appointed as follows:

(1) Judiciary: One Probate Court Judge, current or retired; one Family Court Judge, current or retired; and the State Court Administrator;

(2) Lawyers: Two practicing lawyers experienced in litigation or transactional issues affecting the elderly, at least one of whom is experienced in working with the indigent elderly;

(3) Public Officials: Two officials from an agency/office charged with the protection of the elderly;

(4) Geriatric Care Professional: One health care professional or master’s level social worker with expertise in geriatric care;

(5) Law Enforcement Professional: One law enforcement professional with expertise in crimes against the elderly;

(6) Consumer: One citizen volunteer;

(7) Legislature: One legislator designated by the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging;

(8) Other Members:  Such other members as the Chief Justice may appoint. The Task Force chairperson may establish interdisciplinary committees to research and gather information, develop or review proposals, monitor implementation of initiatives and otherwise aid in executing the goals of the Task Force.

The Task Force is charged with the following goals, purposes, and responsibilities:

(1) Conducting such studies as necessary to accomplish its purpose.  

(2) Collecting data to aid in determining needs, promoting beneficial outcomes, and fostering overall system accountability.

(3) Fostering training and education for judges, court personnel, attorneys, court-appointed Guardians, Guardians ad Litem, Conservators, mediators, law enforcement, and other persons on matters affecting the elderly such as dementia; financial exploitation, physical abuse and neglect;

(4) Recommending changes in court structure, laws, regulations, or rules in order to protect the legal rights of the elderly, promote process fairness, and facilitate the economic use of available resources;

(6) Reporting the status of the Task Force’s work to the Supreme Court and other interested parties by July 1, 2010.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

  s/Jean Hoefer Toal
Jean Hoefer Toal, Chief Justice

October 6, 2009
 Columbia, South Carolina

1 South Carolina ranked 29th in the nation with 485,333, or 12.6%, of its population 65 and over in 2000.  U.S. Census Bureau projections indicate that this segment of our population will increase to 1,134,459, or 22%, of our population by 2030.  A significant percentage of these individuals will live in poverty and at least 50% of those over 85 will have reduced mental capacity.  The confluence of these facts presents a challenge for our court system that can only be met by advance planning.