At the NCPJ 2019 Spring Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, Judge Christopher Bieter was the Isabella Award recipient for 2019. Judge Bieter serves as the Ada County Magistrate Judge in Idaho and also serves as the Chair of the Idaho Supreme Court Guardianship and Conservatorship Committee, a committee on which he has served since its inception, in 2006. The mission of the Guardianship and Conservatorship Committee is to protect and empower vulnerable individuals under guardianship or conservatorship through education, monitoring, enforcement, and community support.
Under the leadership of Judge Bieter, the Committee reached the following major goals:
• Statewide implementation of third party review of financial documents submitted by conservators;
• Created an online training course that all new guardians and conservators must complete prior to appointment;
• Developed standardized reporting forms;
• Judicial and stakeholder training on support decision making and changes in guardianship law;
• Formed standard complaint process to provide an avenue for the public to get information directly to the judge overseeing the guardianship
• Obtained party locator contract for a professional to identify current contact address for missing guardians, conservators, and/or protected persons;
• Implemented a statewide guardianship monitoring program to provide for the monitoring of the well-being of a protected person and t oprovide local guardianship expertise; and
• Obtained and managed the ABA WINGS grant to facilitate national sharing of information, best practices, and data.
At the time Judge Bieter joined the Guardianship and Conservatorship Committee, Idaho’s guardianship and conservatorship statutes had barely changed since the late 1970’s and compliance with the outdated statues was spotty at best.
Judge Bieter was nominated by a host of peers including Idaho’s Chief Justice, Roger S. Burdick, the Legal Director for Disability Rights Idaho, Amy Cunningham, the Trial Court Administrator for the Fifth Judicial District for the State of Idaho, Shelli Tubbs, along with Idaho State Senator, Grant Burgoyne.