Hosted by Thomas F. Coleman

The Freedom Files is a Pursuit of Justice Podcast focusing on a wide range of issues involving liberty, justice, and equal rights, with a special emphasis on people with disabilities whether they are young adults, seniors, or any age in-between.  Episodes will address freedom of choice in matters such as health care, finances, living arrangements, sexual relationships, marital status, social interactions, and recreational activities.  Some episodes will reminisce about past advocacy activities for other causes and issues.  The tactics used and lessons learned while advocating on those issues -- police oppression, LGBT+ rights, hate crimes, family diversity, singles' rights, and trafficking of abused teens -- can be adapted to develop winning advocacy strategies for today's activities which are directed towards conservatorship and guardianship reform as well as mental health rights for people with developmental disabilities.

Episode 1 - July 1, 2021 (Watch or Listen Now)

The Freedom Files: Preview of Coming Attractions

In this premiere episode, host Thomas F. Coleman explains how The Freedom Files will blend past, present, and future with some episodes focusing on current events and the people involved in them while others will recall events and people from the past -- all of which will focus on the pursuit of freedom, justice, and equal rights.  Tom will highlight some of the upcoming episodes.  He will also acknowledge and thank the team of volunteers who are helping to launch the podcast, such as the college interns who are working as associate producers and writing feature stories for each episode as well as the intern who is doing the audio and video editing and other post production work.  Tom's sister, Diane Coleman-Rogers, will appear as a guest to explain why she came up with the idea for the podcast and what she hopes it will accomplish for the causes, issues, and people that it focuses on.  Diane has been a board member of Spectrum Institute for more than 20 years.

Episode 2 - August 1, 2021 (Watch or List Now)

The Domino Effect:  My Life as an Advocate

This episode of the podcast series gives the audience a glimpse into the past of the Tom Coleman and takes a virtual walk down memory lane, reminiscing about life growing up in Ferndale, Michigan, his entry into law school in Detroit, and his move to Los Angeles where he began his lifetime role as a legal advocate at Loyola Law School.  The episode touches on a few phases of Tom's advocacy for various causes -- from his focus on LGBT rights and sexual civil liberties in the 1970s, to privacy rights, hate crimes, domestic partner benefits and recognition of family diversity in the 1980s, and then on to the rights of single people during the next two decades . . . with an unexpected adventure for a few years exposing injustices to troubled teenagers by an industry that abducted and confined them in private boot camps and boarding schools.  This era ended with the publication in 2009 of The Domino Effect, a book of Tom's memoirs as an equal rights advocate.

Episode 3 - September 1, 2021 (Watch or Listen Now)

My New Challenge:  Conservatorship Injustices

This episode of the podcast series picks up where the second episode left off.  It describes the shift in the advocacy activities of Tom Coleman after his memoirs were published in 2009.  He ventured into the area of abuse of people with disabilities, especially those with developmental disabilities, with the goal of promoting more effective responses to such abuse by government agencies.  In the course of doing that important work, Coleman was introduced to an extremely challenging set of problems with the probate conservatorship system in California.  After investigating a few specific cases of young adults with developmental disabilities whose rights were violated in these legal proceedings, Coleman dug deeper.  Were these isolated incidents or were the problems more widespread?  His investigation showed that tens of thousands of adults with cognitve disabilities were being victimized in Californi by a system that was intended to help them.  Coleman identified many flaws with the probate conservatorship system and then set out on a journey to correct them.  Through his work with Spectrum Institute, Coleman filed complaints, wrote policy reports, and published commentaries in the legal newspaper.  He approached elected officials.  He spoke at conferences.  A documentary was created by filmmaker Greg Byers tracking Coleman and a small group of advocates as they tried to shake up the status quo.  This episode of the podcast shows clips from the documentary film, with commentaries provided by Coleman about the relevance of each film clip to the larger effort of conservatorship reform in California and guardianship reform in states throughout the nation.

Episode 4 -  October 1, 2021 (Watch or Listen Now)
Town Hall:  Conservatorship Reform is Long Overdue

This episode of the podcast series focuses on a Zoom Town Hall where victims of the California conservatorship system shared their stories, local elected officials in Alameda County acknowledged the need for reform, and #FreeBritney activists discussed their movement to rid superstar Britney spears of the confines of conservatorship.  Most of the presentations involved the negative experiences that many seniors and their families have had with conservatorship proceedings.  Many of the complaints focused on the greed of attorneys and the complacency of judges.  Before offering several specific proposals to reform key parts of the conservatorship system, attorney Thomas F. Coleman, one of the organizers of the town hall, summarized the injustices experienced by six adults with developmental disabilities.  During this podcast episode, video clips from the town hall will be played, along with commentaries by Coleman about the relevance of each clip to the goals of the conservatorship reform movement.
Episode 5 - November 1, 2021 (Watch or Listen Now)

Dr. Sam Sugar:  An Iconic Warrior for Guardianship Reform

 Sam Sugar is the guest on this episode of the podcast series.   Dr. Sugar is the founder of a nonprofit education and advocacy organization known as Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship.  AAAPG began operating in 2013.  Dr. Sugar and his organization have been in the national forefront of focusing attention on the plight of victims of guardianship abuse ever since.  He is also the author of Guardianships and the Elderly: The Perfect Crime (Square One 2018).  The book is described as a survival guide to understanding, dealing with, and avoiding the economic, physical, and psychological abuses of guardianships.  Podcast host Thomas F. Coleman will interview Dr. Sugar about his reasons for creating AAAPG and his attempts at guardianship reform over the years.  Did anything good come out of the 2019 Guardianship Abuse Forum in Tampa?  Will the 2021 Guardianship Summit have an impact?  Held on April 11-12, the summit was a national interactive forum where thought leaders in the fields of academia, law enforcement, judiciary and advocacy shared their knowledge and expertise with a wide and diverse audience for whom guardianship of a loved one has become a critically important matter.

Episode 6 - December 1, 2021 (Watch or Listen Now)

Barbara Buckley: Mentoring Guardianship Lawyers

A conversation with the executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada about their advocacy and defense services in adult guardianship proceedings.  The Legal Aid Center’s Guardianship Advocacy Program provides representation to seniors and adults with disabilities who are facing or under guardianship to ensure the adult’s legal rights are protected.  In order to provide legal representation to as many adults as possible, the Legal Aid Center developed a training manual that provides advocacy guidelines for pro bono attorneys who take adult guardianship cases through Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project.  The manual warns would-be pro bono attorneys: "Accepting this senior or adult with disability as a client means you must advocate for what the client wants – not what any other person or professional, including you, thinks ought to happen or is in the client’s best interests. (Leave that for the other parties, the guardian ad litem, and, ultimately, the judge.) Your job is to promote what your client wants to the guardian and to the court and to work to make that happen, which might require you to confront uncaring guardians or family members and a sometimes inefficient and impersonal legal system."  Coleman and Buckley will discuss what these attorneys do and how their advocacy and defense services have impacted the guardianship system.  How are these attorneys trained?  Are their legal services monitored in any way?  How is the Center's Guardianship Advocacy Program funded?

Sponsored by: Law Office of Thomas F. Coleman and Spectrum Institute

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