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In re Guardianship of Suzette G.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

August 6, 2019

In re Guardianship of Suzette G., an incapacitated person.
Suzette G, appellant. Alvin G., Guardian, et al., appellees,

         1. Guardians and Conservators: Appeal and Error. An appellate court reviews guardianship and conservatorship proceedings for error appearing on the record made in the county court.

         2. Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing a judgment for errors appearing on the record, an appellate court's inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

         3. ___: ___ . An appellate court, in reviewing a judgment of the trial court for errors appearing on the record, will not substitute its factual findings for those of the trial court where competent evidence supports those findings.

         4. Records: Appeal and Error. It is incumbent upon the appellant to present a record supporting the errors assigned; absent such a record, an appellate court will affirm the lower court's decision regarding those errors.

         5. Appeal and Error. An appellate court will not consider an issue on appeal that was not passed upon by the trial court.

          Appeal from the County Court for Douglas County: Marcena M. Hendrix, Judge. Affirmed.

          James Walter Crampton for appellant.

          Jayne Wagner and Emily J. Briski, of Legal Aid of Nebraska, for appellee Alvin G.

         [27 Neb.App. 478] Denise E. Frost, of Johnson & Mock, for guardian ad litem.

          Riedmann, Arterburn, and Welch, Judges.

          Riedmann, Judge.


         Suzette G. appeals from an order of the county court for Douglas County appointing her brother, Alvin G., as her limited guardian. On appeal, Suzette argues that there was not sufficient evidence demonstrating she was in need of a guardian and that the guardian ad litem (GAL) appointed for her should not have been permitted to testify at trial. We find that the county court did not err, and therefore, we affirm.


         In November 2017, Alvin filed two petitions with the county court seeking to be appointed temporary and permanent guardian for Suzette. In his petitions, Alvin stated that a guardianship was necessary because Suzette lacked sufficient understanding to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning her own person in several areas, including giving necessary consents, approvals, and releases; arranging for training, education, or other rehabilitative services; and applying for government or private benefits to which she may have been entitled. In his petition for permanent guardianship, he also asserted that Suzette was incapable of arranging for her treatment or medical care. As part of both petitions, Alvin stated that his and Suzette's parents and their sister were necessary persons required by law to receive notice of the time and place of the hearing for guardianship. The court subsequently appointed Alvin as temporary guardian of Suzette, giving him the limited powers he requested in his petition and the power to arrange for her medical care.

         At a hearing held in February 2018 on Alvin's petition for permanent guardianship, the court appointed Suzette both a GAL and separate legal counsel. Alvin's temporary guardianship of Suzette was extended until June 2018, when a final [27 Neb.App. 479] hearing was held on his petition for permanent guardianship. At the hearing, Alvin adduced evidence demonstrating that Suzette was struggling with her mental health and was hospitalized twice in the preceding year for it. Suzette had been diagnosed at different times in her adult life with paranoid schizoaffective disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.

         The evidence revealed that in October 2017, the mental health board for Douglas County found Suzette to be mentally ill and dangerous, and that she was hospitalized until December 2017 and then placed in outpatient care until January 2018. Alvin and his sister had petitioned the mental health board to hospitalize Suzette because she was contacting law enforcement and federal marshals claiming that people were following her. She also believed that someone was living inside her house, that she was being "medically murdered," and that she asked her neighbors to test her hair and fingernails for poison.

         The evidence also showed that after Suzette was released from the hospital in December 2017, a treatment plan was created by the mental health board which required that she receive an injectable medication every month for her mental health and that she seek a guardianship. However, in February 2018, Suzette was hospitalized a second time, after she failed to take her medication. Suzette argued that although she did not take the injectable medication because it made her ill, she was taking the tablet form of the medication. Suzette was released from the hospital in March 2018, and it was recommended that she see a psychiatrist and a therapist.

         Suzette has had a history of noncompliance with treatment for her mental illness. Despite being recommended to do so, Suzette did not meet consistently with a therapist. She had three therapists between January and June 2018. She stopped seeing her first therapist because she did not choose her. She discontinued treatment with the second therapist, Dr. Aveva Shukert, because she was "negative," and she stopped working with the third therapist after two visits because Suzette believed [27 Neb.App. 480] she was lying. At the time of the hearing, Suzette was not in therapy. Additionally, Suzette had stopped taking medication for her ...

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