Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Smith

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

September 18, 2014

IN RE EDWARD T. SMITH; BRUCE E. GARDNER, APPELLANT

Submitted June 4, 2013.

Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CON-101-58). (Hon. Peter H. Wolf, Trial Judge). (Hon. Ronald P. Wertheim, Trial Judge).

Bruce E. Gardner, Pro se.

Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Donna M. Murasky, Deputy Solicitor General, and Stacy L. Anderson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief for the District of Columbia.

Before FISHER and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and FARRELL, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 715

Fisher, Associate Judge:

Appellant Bruce E. Gardner challenges the denial of his requests for compensation, claiming that because he was appointed as " conservator" of Edward T. Smith after D.C. Code § 21-1501 had been repealed and because he performed the duties of a guardian and conservator as described in D.C. Code § § 21-2047 and 21-2070 (the Guardianship Act), he is eligible to receive compensation from the Guardianship Fund. We conclude that Mr. Gardner is not eligible to receive compensation from the Guardianship Fund for services rendered under his original appointment in 1998, but he is eligible to receive compensation from the Fund in connection with his 2010 appointment as conservator of the person.

I. Background

The underlying case has a long and confusing procedural history which began in 1958; Mr. Smith died in 2013. During the intervening years, the governing statutes were repealed and superseded, and it is fair to say that the transition to the new law did not occur seamlessly. At times, it appears, titles given to the fiduciary were not used with precision. Nevertheless, the various trial judges and Mr. Gardner acted in good faith to provide the services Mr. Smith needed.

A. Mr. Smith's Civil Commitment in 1958

In January 1958 a petition for the civil commitment of Mr. Smith was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. After holding a hearing and considering affidavits from persons familiar with Mr. Smith, and taking into account the recommendations of physicians and the Commission on Mental Health, the court found that Mr. Smith was of " unsound mind and in need of treatment in a hospital for his mental condition." See D.C. Code § § 21-301 to -333 (1951) (repealed); see also United States v. Snyder, 689 F.2d 1067, 1076, 223 U.S.App. D.C. 55 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (" Under the statutory scheme existing at the time, a decree of 'unsound mind' was synonymous with a determination of insanity." ). The court ordered that Mr. Smith be committed to Saint Elizabeths Hospital " until he may be safely discharged therefrom, or transferred to a veterans facility." Hoping to recover some of the costs of care and treatment from Mr. Smith's estate, the District of Columbia petitioned for the appointment of a " committee." [1]

Page 716

The court appointed John B. Perna as " committee of the person and estate of Edward T. Smith." [2]

In 1962 Mr. Smith was transferred to a veterans' hospital in New Jersey, but Mr. Perna continued to serve as committee. In 1972, following court reorganization, the case was transferred from the District Court to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The same year, Mr. Smith absconded from the veterans' hospital in New Jersey. He was located at the Promenade Hotel for Adults in New York three years later. Shortly thereafter, he was moved to Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, a New York State mental hospital, and was eventually relocated to an extended care facility in New York. The record makes clear that Mr. Perna made arrangements for Mr. Smith's welfare, and did much more than simply account for the receipts and expenses of his estate.

Mr. Perna continued to serve until 1997, when he was " hospitalized and . . . unable to perform his duties as committee." As a result, the Superior Court appointed Cheryl Mout Taylor as " [c]onservator of the person and estate of Edward T. Smith" on October 27, 1997. The court did not cite the statutory authority for the appointment. In 1964, the law which authorized Mr. Perna's appointment as committee had been repealed by the District of Columbia Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill Act, Pub. L. No. 88-597, 78 Stat. 944 (1964) (popularly known as " the Ervin Act" ), and a few years later, the new statute was amended. However, each of these legislative actions included a savings clause which will be discussed in more detail below.

When Congress repealed the statute which authorized the appointment of a committee, it also amended the conservatorship statutes. See D.C. Code § § 21-1501 to -1507 (1967). But these new conservatorship statutes in Chapter 15 only applied to those with " mental weakness not amounting to unsoundness of mind." D.C. Code § 21-1501. In 1981, the Code was again amended, but the laws governing committees, conservators, and guardians remained essentially unaffected; rather, the relevant changes reflected the reorganization of the courts. See, e.g., D.C. Code § 21-564 (b) (1981) (changing supervision from the District Court to the Superior Court). Then, in 1987, the Guardianship Act was enacted, repealing the statutes in Chapter 15 which governed conservatorships. D.C. Code § § 21-2001 to -2085. Its purpose was to " establish a comprehensive system of guardianship and conservatorship proceedings to deal with a wide range of legal problems which arise from varying degrees of adult physical and mental incapacity." Report of the Council, Committee on the Judiciary, on Bill 6-7, at 2 (June 18, 1986). Among other things, the Guardianship Act " separates the concepts of property and personal management and establishes a range of alternatives for each." Id. at 3.

B. Mr. Gardner's 1998 Appointment

In April 1998 Ms. Taylor's appointment was vacated because she failed to post the required surety, and on May 4, 1998, Judge ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.