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In re Guardianship of Bevill

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 13, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF BETTY BEVILL
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE JONATHAN R. STREIT APPELLANT

          APPEAL FROM THE WHITE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 73PR-18-90] HONORABLE THOMAS M. HUGHES, JUDGE.

          Lightle, Raney, Streit & Streit, LLP, by: Jonathan R. Streit, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RHONDA K. WOOD, Associate Justice

         Attorney Jonathan Streit appeals the circuit court's contempt finding and $100 fine. Streit argues that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of contempt. We affirm.[1]

         In May 2018, Streit appeared before the circuit court on a petition for permanent guardianship over the person and estate of Betty Bevill. Evidently in the months preceding the hearing, Streit was involved in a separate, unrelated appeal involving the same circuit court. See In re Estate of Edens, 2018 Ark.App. 226, 548 S.W.3d 179. In Estate of Edens, Streit represented the client of another attorney, Simpson, on an appeal of a denial of a recusal motion. In that case, Simpson had argued that the circuit court was biased against him and should recuse from all cases in which Simpson was associated. The circuit court denied the motion to recuse. Streit filed the appeal for Simpson's client, and the court of appeals reversed. Id. The mandate in Estate of Edens issued in April 2018, and approximately one month later, Streit appeared before the same circuit court in this case.

         Streit argues that because he appealed and successfully reversed the circuit court in Estate of Edens, that the circuit court took issue with him at the guardianship hearing in the instant matter. Streit alleges that at the hearing, the circuit court immediately noted several deficiencies in the case file, including the lack of necessary professional medical evidence. The circuit court was unwilling to allow the matter to proceed without compliance with the statutory requirements. At that point the following exchange occurred.

Mr. Streit: So just to be clear, if there is an individual who recognizes and has been diagnosed with dementia and wishes for a guardianship to be placed over her by her daughter -
The Court: Sir, you don't need to be clear. I told you the answer.
Mr. Streit: Judge - I understand that, Judge. I'm going to make my record.
The Court: Why don't you -
Mr. Streit: I'm going to make my record.
The Court: I tell you what. Why don't you go get the book and you can read it for yourself?
Mr. Streit: I'm going to make my record because, Judge -
The Court: I don't care if you make your record. You can ...

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