Michael Jenuwine, a faculty member in the Notre Dame Law School, has received the 2011 Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D. Faculty Community-Based Research Award for research into Indiana’s guardianship laws. The award, given annually by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, honors a Notre Dame faculty member whose research has positively impacted the lives of those in the local community.
“Guardianship is the only legal proceeding where a person can lose their fundamental rights without being present at the hearing, in a hearing that lasts less than 15 minutes where the rules of evidence don’t even apply,” states Jenuwine. “Our students found cases where guardianships have been in place for decades and no one has ever followed up on it. We’ve had cases where guardians die and no one knows about it and the wards are out there for years and years without supervision or help.”
Working closely with the Indiana Adult Guardianship State Taskforce, Jenuwine helped to design and implement investigations aimed toward the ultimate goal of improving the guardianship laws for the state of Indiana. The taskforce consists of judges, lawyers, social service providers, the ARC of Indiana, Adult Protective Services, and others who advocate on behalf of incapacitated and endangered adults. Closer to home, Jenuwine is working with the St. Joseph County Guardianship Consortium, which consists of area service providers, to help identify local practices and to propose ways to improve advocacy on behalf of protected persons in St. Joseph County.
Law students played an important role in this work, performing legal research and designing and conducting a telephone survey, as well as participating in visits to various courts throughout the state to review guardianship case files, reading all court filings and recording data. Two law students completed training to become certified guardians through the National Guardianship Association.
Using data gathered in this study, the Indiana State Task Force on Guardianship is now drafting legislation that will help resolve the most common abuses of guardianship. Additionally, presentations on findings have been made to the Indiana Judicial College and the State Guardianship Taskforce. At the local level, findings have informed groups in pilot project counties of local practices, to assist them in designing training programs for guardians, lawyers and judges.
The Ganey Award is funded by local entrepreneur and philanthropist, Rod Ganey, and awarded by the Center for Social Concerns. The Center facilitates community-based learning, research and service for Notre Dame undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. Since 1983, more than 17,000 students and hundreds of faculty have been engaged in its courses, research and programs.
Contact: Mary Beckman, associate director, academic affairs and research, Center for Social Concerns,