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Mental Health Litigation Division

Administrative Process for Uncontested "Rogers" Extensions

{see further info below}

The Probate and Family Court Department has implemented in Worcester, Middlesex, Bristol and Suffolk Counties a pilot project under which uncontested Rogers extensions are processed by an Assistant Register and, if everything is in order, submitted to a judge for allowance.  Initial petitions and contested extensions, as well as all proposed extensions for minor wards, will continue to be heard by a judge. The pertinent forms, along with a brief outline of the process drafted by the Court, are available at the respective Registries. Please note that under this process, respondent’s (ward’s) counsel may not assent to an extension of a Rogers Order, thereby foregoing a hearing before a judge, if either of the following obtains:

1. counsel determines that there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" since the entry of the Court’s current Order (see Guardianship of Brandon, 424 Mass. 482 (1997)); or

2. the respondent (ward) has indicated his or her objection to the extension.


TO: All Mental Health Counsel Counsel
FROM:
Stan Goldman
RE:
Pilot “Rogers”- Extension/Review Program

I have been informed by the Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court Department of some difficulty encountered in implementing the pilot Rogers-extension/ review program due to some attorneys’ failure to, from the courts’ perspective, cooperate and/or act in a timely, professional manner.

In discussing the situation with several of you, it appears that there are concerns as to three items on the “Representations of Respondent’s (Ward’s) Counsel” form currently in use: (i) the propriety of providing information as to a client’s ability to understand the extension-/amendment process and/or its consequences [# 8], (ii) the propriety of providing information concerning a client’s wishes [# 9], and (iii) the propriety of counsel’s assenting to the motion to extend or amend an order [# 3].  I agree that these are legitimate concerns.  Therefore, in those cases in which, in your professional judgment, there is no reasonable legal basis to object to an extension or amendment, and in which your client does not object to the extension or amendment, I suggest that you file the “Representation” form with numbers 3, 8 and 9 excised.  [I have suggested to the Administrative Office that the form be amended accordingly, and I’m told that this suggestion is being considered.]

Please keep in mind that counsel may not assent to an extension or amendment of a Rogers Order under the pilot program (or otherwise), thereby foregoing a hearing before a judge, if either of the following obtains:

  • there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" since the entry of the Court’s current Order (see Guardianship of Brandon, 424 Mass. 482 (1997)); or
  • the respondent (ward) has indicated his or her objection to the extension.
Please also keep in mind that, whatever your opinion as to the wisdom of this pilot program, no one, least of all our clients, is well-served by unnecessary delay or other unprofessional behavior.
 
Thanks for your cooperation, and your continued dedication to our clients during these very difficult times.  And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss this or any other matter.