These are excerpts from Jeanan Mills Stuart’s written response to The Tennessean.
“I think it is a good idea to give you a general description of my job as the Public Guardian for Davidson County. The Probate Court Judge nominates the Public Guardian and the nomination is confirmed by the City Council. I am not paid a salary for being the Public Guardian by Davidson County. I am provided with a security badge that gets me past the security checkpoint at the Courthouse. I am provided access to Caselink, an online database of Circuit Court filings. The premium on my blanket surety bond is paid for by Davidson County. In exchange, I am the default person selected as guardian or conservator where there is no other party found by the Probate Court Judge to be appropriate or willing to take on the task. I am obligated to provide all the care needed by my wards regardless of the ability of the conservatorship estate to pay my fees, and I am on call 24 hours per day. As a matter of law, I cannot delegate certain of my duties to another person.”
Question: What is your current hourly rate for the public guardian/conservator cases? Is it $225?
“Judge (Randy) Kennedy is well-aware that I am a lawyer. I am also a nationally certified guardian, a member of several associations of guardians, and an officer in one of them, I receive annual continuing education as both a lawyer and a guardian. As a condition of my service as public guardian, I must accept all appointments from Judge Kennedy, absent conflicts of interest, and even where the ward is unable to pay my fees or reasonable expense. I am on call 24 hours a day per day and cannot legally delegate many of my duties. My customary fees are at an hourly rate below the highest rates charged in Davidson County, Tennessee, for lawyers who also serve as conservators or who represent non-lawyer conservators. All of my fees and expenses are subject to the approval of the Probate Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, and may only be paid after the Court’s approval, regardless of the ability of the ward to pay them. In addition, my fees and expense, as well as my bank statements, receipts and cancelled checks are examined, where applicable, by the Bureau of TennCare/Medicaid of the State of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the Social Security Administration. I am also subject to random and surprise audits by the Social Security Administration. Accordingly, all my time and labor, which could otherwise be available for me to be retained as a lawyer for other clients, is obligated to the wards of the Seventh Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, and my hourly rate is based on the foregoing. Lawyers may be appointed by criminal courts to represent indigent criminal defendants and may never be compensated for their labor or expenses. I have agreed to such a condition regarding conservatorships in Davidson County, Tennessee.”
Question: Do you handle any other cases besides those assigned by Judge Kennedy? If so, what is your rate in those cases?
“I do not, as a rule, have any. I have one private case. It does not require much work. Other than that, I have not accepted any private cases in the last three years because there is simply not enough time to handle them.”
Full Article & Source:
Jeanan Mills Stuart's written responses to The Tennessean's questions