Probate Jurisdiction in District Court and guardian removal: HALL V. COYLE (COA 11/2/2007)

HALL V. COYLE
PROBATE:  GUARDIANSHIP REMOVAL AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION IN DISTRICT COURT 

2007-CA-001441
PUBLISHED; OPINION AND ORDER DENY
PANEL: DIXON PRESIDING; TAYLOR, VANMETER CONCUR
COUNTY: WASHINGTON
DATE RENDERED: 11/02/2007

COA denied movants motion for discretionary review of an Opinion and Order of the Washington Circuit Court affirming an order of the Washington District Court, which removed Hugh Donat Hall as co-guardian for his mother, Amelia Jane Hall.

The circuit court determined that the matter at bench did not involve probate and that the district court’s jurisdiction was provided by KRS 387.520(1).  The circuit court found additional support in KRS 24A.120(3), which provides that matters not provided for by statute to be commenced in Circuit Court shall be deemed to be nonadversarial within the meaning of subsection (2) of this section and therefore are within the jurisdiction of the District Court.

COA agreed with the  circuit court that, even if KRS 24A.120(2) applied, the removal of a guardian would be construed as nonadversarial under KRS 24A.120(3) since no statute grants a circuit court jurisdiction to remove a guardian.

The district court’s subject matter jurisdiction was then briefly reviewed by the COA which noted that pursuant to Section 113 of the Constitution of Kentucky, a district court has jurisdiction as provided by the General Assembly. In the case of guardianship proceedings, which are entirely separate from probate proceedings and are controlled by their own separate statutes, the General Assembly has clearly provided jurisdiction to district courts. The statute that is relevant to this discussion is KRS 387.520(1), which provides the District Courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings involving a determination of partial disability or disability, the modification of orders, the appointment and removal of guardians and conservators, and the management and settlement of their accounts.

Given this plain language,  the Washington Circuit Court correctly determined that the Washington District Court had subject matter jurisdiction over the motion to remove Hugh Donat Hall as co-guardian for his mother. Further, since the General Assembly has vested district courts with exclusive original jurisdiction in those removal matters, it is immaterial whether the removal proceedings below could have been construed as adversarial within the meaning of KRS 24A.120.

In view of the foregoing, COA concluded that movants have shown no entitlement to a second appeal on those issues.

Digested by Michael Stevens

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