Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary was held on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, at 10:00 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Tom Jensen, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll. A quorum was present and the minutes of the September meeting were approved.
Members:Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Ray S. Jones II, Mike Reynolds, Jerry P. Rhoads, John Schickel, Dan "Malano" Seum, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Joseph M. Fischer, Jeff Hoover, Thomas Kerr, Stan Lee, Mary Lou Marzian, Harry Moberly Jr., Darryl T. Owens, Tom Riner, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Ellen Kershaw, Terri Shirk, Bruce Lane, and Cathy Naby, Alzheimer’s’ Association; Virginia Moore, Betty Timon, Jim Timon, Archie Harris, Joseph Butler, Carolyn Gulley, Anita Dowd, Hannah Dowd, Ron Holloway, William Gulley, Sr., and Leo Curry, KY Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Claudia Smith, Jefferson County Attorney; Morgan Ransdell, KY Commission on Human Rights; Amy Hatzel, KYRID/Carter County Schools; Jennifer Hans, Prosecutors Advocacy Council; Bradley Chappell, Kentucky School for the Deaf; and Sharon White, Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Senator Jensen told the members Representative Tilley had a blown tire on his way to Frankfort and would not be able to attend the meeting.
Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act
Representative Marzian gave a general description of 2010 House Bill 86 which proposed adoption of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act and the need to enact the legislation to protect Alzheimer's patients in proceedings that may involve parties in more than one state. Representative Marzian introduced Ms. Ellen Kershaw, Vice President for Public Policy of the Alzheimer's Association-Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter, and Ms. Claudia Smith of the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. Ms. Kershaw said currently each state has different provisions relating to guardianship proceedings and these different provisions make it difficult to utilize guardianship laws from other states in Kentucky, and Kentucky law in other states. For instance, a guardian in another state may not be able to sell a ward's property which is located in Kentucky.
The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act was approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2007 and is designed to provide a uniform procedure for handling guardianship proceedings across state lines including such items as definitions, which court has primary jurisdiction over a guardianship proceeding, providing full faith and credit for out-of-state proceedings and similar matters. Ms. Kershaw indicated the act has been adopted in sixteen states. Ms. Claudia Smith of the Jefferson County Attorney's Office described the difficulties surrounding a case where a disabled person was located in Kentucky, an emergency guardianship was obtained in Florida, there were problems between the disabled person's family and the disabled person's wife, who attempted to obtain a guardianship in Kentucky, how the Florida court judgment was inapplicable in Kentucky, and how the uniform act would assist in sorting out these problems and provide a better solution.
In response to a question from Senator Gibson who observed in his part of the state that attorneys were routinely appointed as guardians or granted power of attorney and asked if that practice was statewide, Ms. Smith responded the practice was not uniform and in other parts of Kentucky, family members or agencies were appointed as guardians, and a power of attorney could be revoked prior to the event triggering the use of the power of attorney. Several members of the committee observed that Kentucky requires a jury trial in disability cases to protect the rights of the person alleged to be disabled and observed that previous legislation to make the jury trial optional unless a trial was requested by a party or the court had failed due to concerns about the rights of the person alleged to be disabled. Representative Kerr observed that a person declared disabled is deprived of their personhood and in his practice several juries have determined the person was not disabled, or the judge instructed the jury to determine the person was not disabled. Ms. Smith responded the uniform act does not require a jury trial and other states which have adopted the uniform act do not require a jury trial.
Hearing Impaired in Movie Theatres
Ms. Virginia Moore, Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Mr. Morgan Ransdell, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Bradley Chappell, a student at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, Anita Dowd, and Betty Timon testified about captioning services in movie theatres. Senator Ray Jones, sponsor of 2010 Senate Bill 102, said the bill would have required theaters having five or more screens at a single location to show captioned movies for the benefit of the deaf and hard of hearing, and require the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to cooperate in the promulgation of administrative regulations, to monitor and enforce equal rights for deaf and hard of hearing persons with regard to the showing of movies by movie theaters. Ms. Moore testified about the number of deaf persons in Kentucky, the types of deafness, and how the motion picture industry has not moved quickly enough to provide accommodations for deaf persons at movie theaters. Several representatives of the deaf described problems they have had with theaters and the need for the General Assembly to act with regard to ensuring access, because the federal government has declined to do so, the motion picture industry has not moved quickly enough to solve the problem, and hard of hearing persons cannot understand the audio portion of a movie regardless of the sound level without captioning. Mr. Morgan Ransdell of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights described how motion picture access for the deaf should be covered by federal human rights legislation. He said Congress had not taken action, partially due to opposition by the motion picture industry, and urged the General Assembly to act in the matter.
Ms. Melissa Patack, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America, and Mr. Randy Smith, Jr., Chief Administrative Officer and Counsel for the Regal Entertainment Group, testified on behalf of their organizations. Ms. Patack and Mr. Smith indicated they did not want to debate the points made by the advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing, and described attempts made in previous years to accommodate the needs of deaf and hard of hearing patrons and what developments are under current experimentation. Mr. Smith indicated open captioning, which appears on the screen and can be seen by everyone, and closed captioning, which can be seen either with a seat monitor or rear view device, have been used in recent years, but there have been some problems adapting these devices to new digital movie formats. Another device currently under experimentation is a pair of glasses which projects the text of the voices on the glasses while the patron is watching the movie. Seat screen devices cost approximately $600 to $800 each while the glasses cost approximately $1,300 per pair. Theaters are showing more captioned movies, particularly in large urban areas, at more convenient times but in rural areas, captioning upgrades have not been made. Open captioning of movies, which are viewable by all viewers, drew objections from non-deaf or hard of hearing viewers as a distraction while viewing the movie. Mr. Smith urged the committee to permit the motion picture industry to continue working to solve the problem without each state setting different rules or waiting until the federal government sets a nationwide standard.
Substance Abuse Treatment Programs in Kentucky’s Correctional System
LaDonna Thompson, Commissioner of Corrections, Dr. Michele Tindall of the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science and Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, and Mr. Damon Preston, Trial Division Director of the Department for Public Advocacy, discussed substance abuse treatment problems in Kentucky's correctional system and whether the demand for substance abuse and other treatment programs was causing delays in the release of inmates on parole. Representative Brent Yonts observed he has had communications from inmates and their families concerned that even though they have been approved for parole contingent upon completion of substance abuse treatment programs, many inmates must wait a considerable time for program space to become available, the substance abuse program takes six to nine months, and their parole has been delayed. Commissioner Thompson commented there are substance abuse programs in about half of Kentucky prisons, in seventeen of the jails housing state prisoners, ten contract halfway houses and nine Kentucky Recovery Centers. There is always a waiting list to get into the programs and presently 225 inmates who were recommended for parole are waiting to enter the substance abuse program. The department is attempting to increase the number of treatment program beds. Dr. Tindall described how the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research is working on two innovative treatment program approaches for the Department of Corrections. One program involves Computerized Psychosocial Treatment for Offenders and is a 12-week computer-based program targeting offenders at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, while the other program, Re-entry Alcohol Services for Rural Offenders, uses a telemedicine technology approach to deliver an evidence-based alcohol intervention program for rural offenders re-entering the community from prison.
Representative Yonts noted a number of offenders dropped their applications for the substance abuse program or dropped out during the program. Commissioner Thompson responded many of the offenders were near their serve-out date and would be released from prison, and did not have the time to complete the substance abuse program prior to release.
In response to a question from Senator Westwood asked about the use and success of faith-based substance abuse treatment programs, Commissioner Thompson responded the department does use faith-based programs and hopes to increase these programs in the future. Dr. Tindall and the Commissioner indicated they are currently writing grant applications to utilize faith-based and other community programs to expand treatment options and beds. Commissioner Thompson agreed to provide the committee with additional requested information and cost data for distribution prior to the next committee meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.