|Jack Meagher says his court-appointed guardian, Rebecca Fierle, doesn't respect his wishes, and he doesn't need someone to make decisions for him.|
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Attorneys for professional guardian Rebecca Fierle appeared before Circuit Judge John D. Galluzzo Friday at an emergency hearing. It was not immediately clear how many cases Fierle resigned from because the hearing was closed to the public.
Guardians are court-appointed decision-makers for minor or incapacitated adults, known as wards. An investigation released by Florida’s Office of Public and Professional Guardians determined one of Fierle’s wards, 75-year-old Steven Stryker, died in a Tampa hospital after staff could not perform life-saving procedures because of a DNR order filed against his wishes by Fierle.
Another of Fierle’s wards, 73-year-old Jerry Manczak, brought to the Friday hearing a copy of a DNR order Fierle filed for him at the Sanford assisted living facility where he resides.
“She never asked me,” Manczak said. “I didn’t know about it until now.”
Manczak said he used to have a DNR order in place when he still had all his legal rights, but Fierle had never spoken to him about it or sought permission to file one with his current facility. Raymond Branch, Fierle’s attorney in Manczak’s case, said in an email that he was unable to comment due to attorney-client privilege.
The 18th Judicial Circuit was alerted to the issue after Circuit Judge Janet C. Thorpe sought to remove Fierle from nearly 100 Orange County cases.
In emails to Galluzzo’s office, an attorney with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, said the office spoke with all of Fierle’s wards with cases in Orange County and some were “quite adamant” about not wanting a DNR.
“Many of them did not want a DNR,” wrote attorney Polly McIntyre, according to court records.
Neither Fierle nor her attorney have responded to multiple requests for comment. At a July 11 hearing before Thorpe that was also closed to the public, Fierle resigned from all her cases in Orange and Osceola counties, according to court minutes.
The hearing before Galluzzo came as courts across Central Florida are grappling with how to react to the allegations against Fierle, who had many active cases across multiple jurisdictions.
Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial Circuit, which includes
Seminole and Brevard counties, had earlier in the week said the courts
there had been “alerted to the allegations” against Fierle, which were
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According to the Clerk of Court & Comptroller, Fierle has been appointed as a guardian in 82 cases in Seminole County, though some are no longer active. Some wards were the subject of multiple cases, meaning the total number of wards Fierle managed in Seminole is less than that figure.
Mark Weinberg, a spokesperson for the 7th Judicial Circuit, said Tuesday that Fierle had seven active cases in Volusia County, but was in the process of resigning. All seven cases are due in court later this month for status updates, he said.
Fierle also had one case in St. Johns County, but was discharged from it in 2015, Weinberg said.
In Hillsborough County, a courts spokesperson said he had “no way of knowing” in which cases Fierle was assigned and doesn’t discuss with judges any actions they “may or may not be considering.”
In the 6th Circuit, which serves Pasco and Pinellas counties, spokesperson Stephen Thompson said Fierle was a guardian in two cases. The judge in those cases, Sherwood Coleman, appointed a court monitor to investigate both cases and report any findings, Thompson said.
"The judge will schedule further proceedings to enter any orders necessary to protect the wards,” he said.
In Polk County, a judicial assistant for Circuit Judge John K. Stargel, who oversees probate and public health cases, said the judge was made aware of the situation by the Orlando Sentinel asking about it.
“No motions have been filed on any of the cases at this time,” said the judicial assistant, Elizabeth Medina. “The Court will be reviewing the cases and setting status conferences as appropriate for each case.”
Full Article & Source:
Orlando guardian accused of filing unauthorized ‘do not resuscitate’ orders resigns from Seminole cases
Guardian filed DNR orders without permission, says judge who seeks her removal from nearly 100 cases
Judge removes professional guardian from nearly 100 cases for alleged violations