Committee Reports

Revisiting SCPA 17-A: Guardianship for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CUNY Law Review Vol. 18.2)


The Mental Health Law and Disability Law Committees published a report in the CUNY Law Review (Vol. 18.2) entitled “Revisiting S.C.P.A 17-A: Guardianship for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.” The report looks into how, under what circumstances, or if at all, the state should provide substituted decision-making for individuals with mental impairment who are authorized a surrogate under Art. 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. The Report provides a brief description of relevant demographic trends and reviews the changes in language that have occurred since the enactment of 17-A, including how those changes reflect and/or impact the ways in which society perceives individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Report then describes two very different lenses, due process and human rights, through which reconsideration of 17-A might proceed, seeking to locate each in the legal/historical contexts of past calls for reform. The existing 17-A is examined through each of those lenses, noting also the legislature’s relatively recent efforts to provide substituted decision making outside of the guardianship context through its enactment of the Family Health Care Decisions Act. The Report neither proposes, nor attempts to propose, a revised statute but, without necessarily endorsing them, offers some suggestions for consideration and some available models under each of the lenses.