Winner 1996

Who’s Guarding the Guardians?


Enterprising reporting by Brian Leary highlights this three-part news investigation, which exposes the lack of accountability in the Massachusetts Probate Court. For more than two months, report and producer Mr. Leafy, assisted by photographer Steve Colvin and editor Ray Smith, tracked and documented the actions of unscrupulous court-appointed lawyers who charge exorbitant hourly fees while supposedly serving as guardians of the estates of mentally ill citizens. Interviews with one probate lawyer—who is somewhat embarrassed but not at all contrite or conciliatory—were especially enlightening. Mr. Leary also examined a state project that separated hundreds of mentally retarded wards from tens of millions of dollars which, instead of being earmarked for their needs, were funneled to their heirs. The impact of the series was immediately evident in the form of remediative legislation and more vigorous governmental oversight. For providing enterprising investigative reporting in service to the residents of its community, a Peabody Award is presented to WCVB-TV for Who’s Guarding the Guardians?