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Davidson County public guardian charges lawyer fees just to run errands

February 19, 2013

Oreva Childs fought her mother’s conservatorship: “This is the worst thing in life that anybody has to go through when they love somebody”

For Jeanan Mills Stuart, the public guardian for Davidson County, no job is too small.

Appointed to her post by the Metro Council, Stuart is charged with handling the affairs of people determined by the court as unable to care for themselves and without a suitable relative to step in.

But her practice of charging her lawyer fees for nonlegal tasks — bills paid directly out of her wards’ funds — has made her work at least twice as expensive as others’, according to a Tennessean review of court records.

At rates between $195 and $225 an hour, the costs for Stuart’s personal attention add up.

She billed five hours — $986 — to accompany one of her wards to a performance of Handel’s Messiah. She charged the same woman $1,282 to take her to Dillard’s, Walgreens and lunch, and for the same day, billed her $1,183 for a shopping trip to CoolSprings Galleria, according to a fee affidavit filed in court records.

At least twice, Stuart charged $400 to attend the funerals of her wards.

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Davidson County public guardian charges lawyer fees just to run errands