as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 02/20/2020 02:53pm
A bill for an act
relating to human services; child welfare; modifying requirements for
court-appointed counsel in child protection cases; appropriating money; amending
Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 260C.163, subdivision 3.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 260C.163, subdivision 3, is amended to read:
(a) The child, parent, guardian or custodian has the
right to effective assistance of counsel in connection with a proceeding in juvenile court as
provided in this subdivision.
(b) Except in proceedings where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, if the
child desires counsel but is unable to employ it, the court shall appoint counsel to represent
the child who is ten years of age or older under section 611.14, clause (4), or other counsel
at public expense.
(c) deleted text beginExcept in proceedings where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, if the
parent, guardian, or custodian desires counsel but is unable to employ it, the court shall
appoint counsel to represent the parent, guardian, or custodian in any case in which it feels
that such an appointment is appropriate if the person would be financially unable to obtain
counsel under the guidelines set forth in section 611.17.deleted text endnew text beginnew text end Court appointed counsel shall be at county expense as outlined in
(d) In any proceeding where the subject of a petition for a child in need of protection or
services is ten years of age or older, the responsible social services agency shall, within 14
days after filing the petition or at the emergency removal hearing under section 260C.178,
subdivision 1, if the child is present, fully and effectively inform the child of the child's
right to be represented by appointed counsel upon request and shall notify the court as to
whether the child desired counsel. Information provided to the child shall include, at a
minimum, the fact that counsel will be provided without charge to the child, that the child's
communications with counsel are confidential, and that the child has the right to participate
in all proceedings on a petition, including the opportunity to personally attend all hearings.
The responsible social services agency shall also, within 14 days of the child's tenth birthday,
fully and effectively inform the child of the child's right to be represented by counsel if the
child reaches the age of ten years while the child is the subject of a petition for a child in
need of protection or services or is a child under the guardianship of the commissioner.
(e) In any proceeding where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, the child,
parent, guardian, and custodian do not have the right to appointment of a public defender
or other counsel at public expense. However, before any out-of-home placement, including
foster care or inpatient treatment, can be ordered, the court must appoint a public defender
or other counsel at public expense in accordance with this subdivision.
(f) Counsel for the child shall not also act as the child's guardian ad litem.
(g) In any proceeding where the subject of a petition for a child in need of protection or
services is not represented by an attorney, the court shall determine the child's preferences
regarding the proceedings, including informing the child of the right to appointed counsel
and asking whether the child desires counsel, if the child is of suitable age to express a
(h) Court-appointed counsel for the parent, guardian, or custodian under this subdivision
is at county expense. If the county has contracted with counsel meeting qualifications under
paragraph (i), the court shall appoint the counsel retained by the county, unless a conflict
of interest exists. If a conflict exists, after consulting with the chief judge of the judicial
district or the judge's designee, the county shall contract with competent counsel to provide
the necessary representation. The court may appoint only one counsel at public expense for
the first court hearing to represent the interests of the parents, guardians, and custodians,
unless, at any time during the proceedings upon petition of a party, the court determines
and makes written findings on the record that extraordinary circumstances exist that require
counsel to be appointed to represent a separate interest of other parents, guardians, or
custodians subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
(i) Counsel retained by the county under paragraph (h) must meet the qualifications
established by the Judicial Council in at least one of the following: (1) has a minimum of
two years' experience handling child protection cases; (2) has training in handling child
protection cases from a course or courses approved by the Judicial Council; or (3) is
supervised by an attorney who meets the minimum qualifications under clause (1) or (2).
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