The court appeal she won in March 2015 told judges in six Florida counties they could no longer ignore pre-need directives by seniors about who they want as their health care surrogate and pre-need guardian if they become incapacitated.
But Martinez Smith is not done yet.
The 4th District Court of Appeal on June 29 certified “a question of great public importance:” to the state’s highest court on whether incapacitated individuals can retain one of the most sacred of American rights.
“It involves the fundamental right of a ward to marry,” said Jennifer Carroll, the Palm Beach Gardens attorney who represents Martinez Smith. “When and under what circumstances does a ward have to get the court’s approval before exercising his fundamental right to marry?”
A marriage annulment in guardianship can affect benefits for the surviving partner after the incapacitated senior dies and cause great emotional pain for the couple. Martinez Smith contends that the annulment was designed so that the guardian and his attorney could drain as much money from her husband’s accounts, as possible.
Martinez Smith, who was financially secure long before she met Smith, said she spent upwards of $150,000 form her own money fighting the guardianship and reversing decisions made by Palm Beach Circuit judges. Her husband, she said, was left personally bankrupt as the guardian liquidated life insurance policies.
She got no relief from the judges. Circuit Judge Martin Colin threw her out of the courtroom. He also insulted her looks. The 4th DCA on April 3, 2013 granted her petition to disqualify Colin.
The court concluded “that the judge’s acts of ejecting petitioner from the courtroom, later striking her testimony on the basis of a perceived insult to him, and his comment that petitioner’s entire demeanor, including that ‘her face, her voice, her sound, may be unpleasant to everyone else,’ save the ward, would lead any reasonably prudent person to fear that she would not receive a fair hearing before the judge.”
Martinez Smith didn’t know at the time that Colin’s wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, worked as a professional guardian. Colin announced his retirement after The Post’s Broken Trust series reported on the judge’s conflict of interest and the litany of complaints orbiting his wife’s guardianships. Colin was transferred out of the guardianship division then announced his retirement.
Full Article and Source:
Marriage Annulment in Guardianship Case Heads to Florida Supreme Court
NASGA: J. Alan Smith, FL