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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:After her husband’s death in 2002, Betty Joann Erickson’s mental capacities diminished with the onset of senility, though she still valued her independence. She still maintained an office in a business that she owned, though she let other people run the business. In August 2005, Betty left her office to go to a feed store. She was missing for the next 30 hours, apparently driving around East Texas before returning home confused and exhausted. Betty’s two sons, both of whom live out of state, applied to have a temporary guardian appointed for Betty. One son, Jim, was deemed ineligible to serve as Betty’s guardian. On Aug. 25, 2005, the other son, David Capps (David), was appointed Betty’s temporary guardian. Challenging David for both temporary and permanent guardianship were Betty’s long-time friend Victor Stolley and Matthew Armstrong, a 24-year-old employee of Betty. At the conclusion of a two-day hearing, the court appointed Stolley as Betty’s permanent guardian. The court later entered a finding that David had treated Betty cruelly or negligently and ordered his removal as her temporary guardian. David raised two issues on appeal, challenging the legal and factual sufficiency of evidence of cruel or neglectful treatment supporting his removal as the temporary guardian; and the court’s appointment of Stolley as Betty’s permanent guardian of the person. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The court held that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to appoint the permanent guardian; therefore, its appointment of Stolley was void. Specifically, Stolley and Armstrong, the court noted, filed and served their permanent guardian applications on Sept. 19, 2005. The court could not, under Texas Probate Code �633(f), act on that application until Oct. 3, 2005, which was the Monday following the expiration of the 10-day period after service of notice and citation. The court, however, held the hearing Sept. 28, 2005. The court rendered judgment in open court, as required under Texas Probate Code �650, on Sept. 29, 2005. The court stated in open court that Stolley was named the permanent guardian of the person and estate. On Oct. 3, 2005, the court signed a written order regarding its earlier judgment. But the court found that judgment in the case was rendered by the court’s oral pronouncement of judgment in open court Sept. 29, not by the later written order. The court found the actions from Sept. 28 to Sept. 29 too early to confer on the trial court jurisdiction to order the permanent appointment. The court further held that the removal of the temporary guardian was within the trial court’s discretion. Ample evidence supported the court’s determination that Betty’s best interest and protection were served by removing the temporary guardian, the court stated. The court recognized that its decision left Betty without any guardian. Nonetheless, the court stated it was certain that Betty’s attorney ad litem would protect her interest in the period of time before the trial court, on remand, appointed a new guardian of the person for Betty. OPINION:Carter, J.; Morriss, C.J., and Ross and Carter, J.J.

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