Samantha Hogan named Livingston Award finalist for probate system investigation

The award recognizes strong work by reporters under 35.
A sign outside an office door indicates the office is a probate office. Text overlayed onto the photo notes the Maine's Part-time Court investigative series is a finalist for the Livingston Awards.
The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists aim to bolster the work of early-career reporters and create the next generation of journalism leaders and mentors. Original photo by Fred J. Field.

Former Maine Monitor government accountability reporter Samantha Hogan has been named a finalist for a Livingston Award in the local reporting division for her investigation into Maine’s probate court system. This marks the third time Hogan has been named a Livingston finalist for investigations she produced for The Monitor.  

Established in 1981, the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists aim to bolster the work of early-career reporters and create the next generation of journalism leaders and mentors.

Hogan spent a year investigating Maine’s probate courts and uncovered that eight adults under public guardianship had died over the course of three years and authorities didn’t know exactly how.

That news prompted an immediate outcry from state lawmakers for better oversight of the guardianship system and renewed calls for reform to the probate courts that have long been overlooked, despite serving thousands of Mainers.

A gold glass-stained door to a probate office.
The Maine Monitor’s reporting showed that the challenges facing those who require the services of Maine’s probate system are only getting worse, one advocate said. Photo by Fred J. Field.

Additionally, Hogan uncovered that millions of dollars in the estates of aging or deceased Mainers were at risk of pilfering from lawyers and caretakers, and that young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities were sometimes appointed guardians without a lawyer advocating for less restrictive alternatives. 

Hogan’s investigation revealed the probate courts set up to oversee guardianships and estates are so antiquated and understaffed they do not know how many guardianships the state has — much less how to prevent fraud and abuse.

The series received support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Investigative Editing Corps, and Report for America. Hogan is now an investigative reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Other finalists for the local reporting division include journalists from the Boston Globe; the Los Angeles Times; New York Magazine; the Chicago Tribune; Baltimore Banner; Mississippi Today and ProPublica; Public Health Watch; Grist; the Albany Democrat-Herald; CQ Roll Call; the Courier-Journal; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; the Times-Picayune; WPLN Nashville Public Radio and ProPublica; LAist Studios; South Dakota Searchlight and the Argus Leader; and Houston Landing.

The winner will be announced on June 11.

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