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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Wilda Griffin instituted a proceeding in March 2002 seeking to be appointed as Jewel W. Keller’s temporary guardian. The constitutional county court appointed Griffin as temporary guardian of Keller’s person and estate. Two months later, Gwen Seymour was appointed as permanent guardian of Keller’s person and estate. Citing poor health on Seymour’s part, Seymour and Cynthia Zipp together filed an application for Zipp’s appointment as successor guardian about one year after Seymour’s appointment. The county court granted the application. Zipp filed an application to sell Keller’s 1997 Lincoln Town Car and her 1994 Ford F-150 pickup and to apply the proceeds to Keller’s care and maintenance. Griffin, Alisa Wuemling and other family members filed a document with the county court alleging that: 1. Keller was competent; 2. Keller desired to live in her home in Hico rather than 20 miles away in a Stephenville nursing home; 3. Keller’s assets were “being depleted rapidly with legal expenses and medical expense which may or may not be necessary”; and 4. Keller should be given an independent professional evaluation to determine whether she was incompetent. Wuemling also sent a letter to the judge, asking him to fully review the case and do what was in Keller’s best interest. The county court granted Zipp’s application to sell the vehicles. Zipp filed a report regarding the sale of the vehicles for $10,200, and the court entered decrees confirming their sale. Wuemling then filed an application to remove Zipp as guardian and appoint herself as successor guardian. Zipp responded with a general denial. After setting the matter for hearing, the county court signed an order transferring the removal dispute to the district court. Zipp filed a continuance motion and a request for the appointment of a statutory probate judge three days later. Zipp later served a request for production on Wuemling. Wuemling filed an objection to Zipp’s continuance request and a motion for a protective order regarding the request for production. The district court granted the continuance motion and Wuemling’s motion for a protective order. After a bench trial, the district court ordered Zipp’s removal and appointed Wuemling as successor guardian. On original submission, the 10th Court of Appeals, with Chief Justice Tom Gray dissenting, dismissed the appeal as moot because of the death of the ward of the estate. The Texas Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that “two of Zipp’s issues remain in controversy: (1) whether the district court properly removed Zipp as guardian, and (2) whether Zipp has a legally cognizable interest in fees and costs.” Therefore, the 10th Court addressed the merits of the issues presented in Zipp’s brief to the extent those issues pertained to the question of whether Zipp was properly removed. HOLDING:Affirmed. First, Zipp contended that the county court erred by transferring the matter to district court on its own motion and the district court erred in accepting the transfer of the entire case instead of just the application for Zipp’s removal. Texas Probate Code �606(b) provides in pertinent part: “[I]n contested guardianship matters, the judge of the county court may on the judge’s own motion, or shall on the motion of any party to the proceeding, according to the motion, request as provided by Section 25.0022, Government Code, the assignment of a statutory probate court judge to hear the contested portion of the proceeding, or transfer the contested portion of the proceeding to the district court, which may hear the transferred contested matters as if originally filed in the district court. If the judge of the county court has not transferred a contested guardianship matter to the district court at the time a party files a motion for assignment of a statutory probate court judge, the county judge shall grant the motion and may not transfer the matter to the district court unless the party withdraws the motion.” Zipp’s motion for the appointment of a statutory probate court judge, the court stated, was not filed until after the county court had already transferred the matter to the district court. Thus, the county court did not err by transferring the matter to the district court. As for Zipp’s point that the district court erred in accepting transfer of the entire case, the court stated that Zipp did not refer to any particular ruling which the district court made as being beyond the scope of its jurisdiction. Next, Zipp contended that the court abused its discretion by granting Wuemling’s motion for a protective order. Wuemling sought a protective order from Zipp’s request for production which sought production of a broad array of financial, medical, legal and personal documents. Zipp argued that the requested financial documents are relevant to Wuemling’s ability to manage her own financial affairs and by extension Keller’s finances and the requested medical documents were relevant to whether Wuemling may have some medical condition which renders her “disqualified” to serve as guardian. Zipp’s request for production sought documents relevant to Wuemling’s suitability and qualifications to serve as a successor guardian. The request for production, the court stated, had no bearing on “(1) whether the district court properly removed Zipp as guardian, [or] (2) whether Zipp has a legally cognizable interest in fees and costs.” Therefore, the court dismissed Zipp’s second issue as moot. Zipp contended that the court abused its discretion by removing her as guardian. In particular, Zipp argues that there is factually insufficient evidence: 1. that she cruelly treated Keller or neglected to educate or maintain Keller as liberally as permitted by the means of the estate or by Keller’s ability or condition; or 2. that she interfered with Keller’s progress or participation in community programs. The record did not in any sense contain overwhelming evidence to support Zipp’s removal as guardian, the court stated. Nevertheless, the court stated that it was required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the court’s decision, and “if [the trial court's] decision is based on conflicting evidence, then no abuse of discretion is shown.” Based on the evidence recited, the court could not say that the trial court abused its discretion to conclude that Zipp had failed to maintain Keller “as liberally as the means of the ward’s estate and the ward’s ability or condition permit.” In light of this conclusion, the court did not need to determine whether the court abused its discretion by finding in Wuemling’s favor on the other grounds for removal alleged. OPINION:Reyna, J.; Gray, C.J., and Vance and Reyna., JJ.

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