Silveira v. Quiroga, 156 So.3d 574 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), 2015 WL 350723
This case involved a dispute between a ward's next of kin, her sister, and her court-appointed guardian, the Guardianship Program of Dade County, Inc. ("GDPC"). The court appointed GDPC as the guardian, despite the fact that the sister had filed a notice of unavailability for the date of the hearing on the petition to determine incapacity and for appointment of a guardian. The record did not explain why the court appointed GDPC when the sister was willing and able to act as guardian. Following the appointment of GDPC as guardian, the sister filed numerous pro se motions seeking to be appointed as her sister's guardian, but her motions were procedurally deficient. The court eventually entered an order requiring the sister to hire an attorney and directing the clerk to accept no further pleadings from her.
On appeal, the Court held that the sister was not required to hire an attorney under Fla. Prob. R. 5.030(a), since she had not yet been appointed as a guardian. The Court also held that even though the trial court has the inherent authority to prevent abusive litigants from continuously filing frivolous petitions, the sister's actions had not yet risen to the point that she should be precluded from filing further pleadings. As a result, the Court quashed the trial court's order requiring the sister to retain counsel and directing the court to accept no further pleadings from her. The Court did, however, warn the sister that pro se litigants are not to be held to a lesser standard than a reasonably competent attorney, and that if she opts to file further pro se pleadings, they must sufficiently comply with the applicable statutes and procedural rules.