The following are excerpts from written answers given by 7th Circuit Court Judge David Randy Kennedy to questions by The Tennessean.
Question: I did note that following complaints from Joe Haynes, you reduced her requested fee in the case of Nora Roberts ((09p923) … Have you reduced her fee requests in any other cases?
“With respect to Ms. Roberts case, 09P923, I determined that it was appropriate to reduce the amount of Ms. Stuart’s fee. The Order entered November 20, 2009 reflects a fee of $22,796.25 whereas the Motion was for $29,396.26, for a reduction of $6,600.01. While I recall this as being a contested case relative to who should be appointed, as you are aware the hearing on this particular Motion occurred more than three years ago, and I just do not have any independent memory of the specific arguments presented by counsel. Clearly, there was an objection to the amount and I was appropriately persuaded to reduce the fees as indicated. The establishment of fees and compensation is within the discretion of the trial Court. Case law requires the Court to examine a wide range of facts including a determination as to whether the amount being sought by the fiduciary or attorney is reasonable and necessary, whether the service benefitted the ward or his estate, and if the service did not ultimately benefit the estate, whether it was intended to benefit the ward or his estate. In cases where the amount of the ward’s assets or income is extremely limited, there are occasions where the court either denies or reduces fees on the basis of fairness and equity. If an objection is filed to a Motion for fees, the court is obligated to examine the objection and to take evidence in conformity with the Local Rules and Rules of Evidence to determine whether the objection is valid.
“It is certainly possible that I have reduced her fees in other cases, as I have with respect to other fiduciaries and attorneys. However, I have never made a finding of malfeasance on her part and have never been presented with any evidence that would support such a determination. Rarely, in the years that Ms. Stuart has served as Public Guardian have I received any objection to her fees. The job of Public Guardian is enormously challenging and frequently requires much more direct human interaction, as well as explosive family conflicts than one might expect.”
Full Article & Source:
Judge David Randy Kennedy’s written response to The Tennessean’s questions