Volusia County

Volusia Count judge upholds law that keeps court-appointed attorneys from collecting fees from people who aren’t under legal guardianships

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — After more than a year fight to keep them out of the guardianship system, a tearful Maria Enzor was overwhelmed to hear the estate of her parents, Joe and Patricia Smith, won’t have to pay more than $22,000 in fees to a court-appointed attorney who filed for payment after they died earlier this year.

“I feel people watching and paying attention made a big difference, but I’m ecstatic,” Enzor said.

As advocates hoped, Judge Margaret Hudson expressed her opinion that it was time for the case to end.

READ: ‘They take away everything’: Orlando man’s rights restored after 7 years under legal guardianship

She also noted Florida law that denies payment when no legal guardianship was established, which was exactly the case for the 87- and 88-year-olds.

That’s despite a court record of multiple attempts by opposing counsel to prove them incapacitated.

All parties agreed that a $400 portion was justified for court-appointed attorney Sherrille Akin, but not from the Smiths’ estate.

READ: Issues with case management found in audit of Orange County’s court guardianship program

The judge will seek state funds to cover it.

Today the court-appointed attorney in this case said she never anticipated getting those feeds paid.

Akin told Channel 9 she wanted her petition put on the record in case of future reviews to compensate court-appointed attorneys in these complicated cases.

READ: Judge rules for Florida on CDC order blocking cruise ships

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.