The Queens County Guardianship Office does not receive an alert when practitioners file papers via NYSCEF in Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 cases. Documents uploaded to NYSCEF in Article 81 matters should also be emailed to the Queens County Guardianship Office so that they receive the papers. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the correct
The New York County Clerk’s office now requires that all Stipulations and Consents to E-Filing in Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 guardianship cases must be So Ordered before being filed with the Clerk.
Many practitioners, including myself, are electing to convert their Article 81 paper cases to NYSCEF. In New York County, before filing a…
The Court Evaluator is not only a critical player in an article 81 guardianship proceeding, its role is unique to all other court proceedings.
The Court Evaluator is frequently described as the “eyes and ears of the court”. Their job, in essence, is that of an investigator, tasked with gathering detailed information about the case to assist the Court in reaching its decision as to whether a guardian should be appointed.
The Court Evaluator is not a party to a Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) article 81 adult guardianship proceeding, and is impartial in its outcome, except to the extent that the Court Evaluator asserts its own independent position. Instead, “a court evaluator is a neutral appointee entrusted with duties and responsibilities as set forth by statute, to assist the court in determining whether a guardian should be appointed, or whether there are less restrictive measures that can be employed to protect the subject of the proceeding.”
Adult guardianship proceedings reveal to complete strangers some of the most intimate and personal details of a person’s life. “Guardianship proceedings are unique and different from most other forms of litigation since the respondent, the individual haled into court against their will because she or he is alleged to be ‘incapacitated’, is not accused of wrongdoing or fault,” wrote Justice Gary F. Knobel in Matter of Amelia G.
The rules governing public access to Mental Hygiene Law article 81 cases in New York are often inconsistent, fact-specific, and vary between counties. This not only applies to the sealing of court records, but to public access in general. This may be for the best, given the competing interests of an alleged incapacitated person’s (AIP) right to privacy and the public right to access court records. But it leaves the adult guardianship practitioner with limited guidance.
Court evaluators are not parties to a Mental Hygiene Law article 81 guardianship proceeding, and it matters.
Court evaluators, known as the “eyes and ears” of the court, are essential actors in a guardianship proceeding, but they are not a party to the proceeding. Parties to the proceeding include the petitioner and the alleged incapacitated person (AIP).
This matters not only in a theoretical sense, but in a practical sense.