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260B.163 HEARING.
    Subdivision 1. General. (a) Except for hearings arising under section 260B.425, hearings on
any matter shall be without a jury and may be conducted in an informal manner, except that a
child who is prosecuted as an extended jurisdiction juvenile has the right to a jury trial on the
issue of guilt. The rules of evidence promulgated pursuant to section 480.0591 and the law of
evidence shall apply in adjudicatory proceedings involving a child alleged to be delinquent, an
extended jurisdiction juvenile, or a juvenile petty offender, and hearings conducted pursuant to
section 260B.125 except to the extent that the rules themselves provide that they do not apply.
(b) When a continuance or adjournment is ordered in any proceeding, the court may make
any interim orders as it deems in the best interests of the minor in accordance with the provisions
of sections 260B.001 to 260B.421.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, the court shall exclude the general
public from hearings under this chapter and shall admit only those persons who, in the discretion
of the court, have a direct interest in the case or in the work of the court. The court shall permit
the victim of a child's delinquent act to attend any related delinquency proceeding, except that
the court may exclude the victim:
(1) as a witness under the Rules of Criminal Procedure; and
(2) from portions of a certification hearing to discuss psychological material or other
evidence that would not be accessible to the public.
The court shall open the hearings to the public in delinquency or extended jurisdiction juvenile
proceedings where the child is alleged to have committed an offense or has been proven to have
committed an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult and the child was at least 16
years of age at the time of the offense, except that the court may exclude the public from portions
of a certification hearing to discuss psychological material or other evidence that would not be
accessible to the public in an adult proceeding.
(d) In all delinquency cases a person named in the charging clause of the petition as a person
directly damaged in person or property shall be entitled, upon request, to be notified by the
court administrator in writing, at the named person's last known address, of (1) the date of the
certification or adjudicatory hearings, and (2) the disposition of the case.
    Subd. 2. Right to participate in proceedings. A child who is the subject of a petition, and
the parents, guardian, or legal custodian of the child have the right to participate in all proceedings
on a petition. Official tribal representatives have the right to participate in any proceeding that is
subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, United States Code, title 25, sections 1901 to
1963.
Any grandparent of the child has a right to participate in the proceedings to the same extent
as a parent, if the child has lived with the grandparent within the two years preceding the filing of
the petition. At the first hearing following the filing of a petition, the court shall ask whether the
child has lived with a grandparent within the last two years, except that the court need not make
this inquiry if the petition states that the child did not live with a grandparent during this time
period. Failure to notify a grandparent of the proceedings is not a jurisdictional defect.
    Subd. 3. Right of alleged victim to presence of supportive person. Notwithstanding any
provision of subdivision 1 to the contrary, in any delinquency proceedings in which the alleged
victim of the delinquent act is testifying in court, the victim may choose to have a supportive
person who is not scheduled to be a witness in the proceedings, present during the testimony of
the victim.
    Subd. 4. Appointment of counsel. (a) The child, parent, guardian or custodian has the
right to effective assistance of counsel in connection with a proceeding in juvenile court. This
right does not apply to a child who is charged with a juvenile petty offense as defined in section
260B.007, subdivision 16, unless the child is charged with a third or subsequent juvenile alcohol
or controlled substance offense and may be subject to the alternative disposition described
in section 260B.235, subdivision 6.
(b) The court shall appoint counsel, or stand-by counsel if the child waives the right to
counsel, for a child who is:
(1) charged by delinquency petition with a gross misdemeanor or felony offense; or
(2) the subject of a delinquency proceeding in which out-of-home placement has been
proposed.
(c) If they desire counsel but are unable to employ it, the court shall appoint counsel to
represent the child or the parents or guardian in any case in which it feels that such an appointment
is appropriate, except a juvenile petty offender who does not have the right to counsel under
paragraph (a).
(d) Counsel for the child shall not also act as the child's guardian ad litem.
    Subd. 5. County attorney. The county attorney shall present the evidence upon request of
the court.
    Subd. 6. Guardian ad litem. (a) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the
interests of the minor when it appears, at any stage of the proceedings, that the minor is without
a parent or guardian, or that the minor's parent is a minor or incompetent, or that the parent
or guardian is indifferent or hostile to the minor's interests. In any other case the court may
appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of the minor when the court feels that such an
appointment is desirable. The court shall appoint the guardian ad litem on its own motion or in the
manner provided for the appointment of a guardian ad litem in the district court. The court may
appoint separate counsel for the guardian ad litem if necessary.
(b) A guardian ad litem shall carry out the following responsibilities:
(1) conduct an independent investigation to determine the facts relevant to the situation of
the child and the family, which must include, unless specifically excluded by the court, reviewing
relevant documents; meeting with and observing the child in the home setting and considering the
child's wishes, as appropriate; and interviewing parents, caregivers, and others with knowledge
relevant to the case;
(2) advocate for the child's best interests by participating in appropriate aspects of the case
and advocating for appropriate community services when necessary;
(3) maintain the confidentiality of information related to a case, with the exception of sharing
information as permitted by law to promote cooperative solutions that are in the best interests of
the child;
(4) monitor the child's best interests throughout the judicial proceeding; and
(5) present written reports on the child's best interests that include conclusions and
recommendations and the facts upon which they are based.
(c) The court may waive the appointment of a guardian ad litem pursuant to paragraph (a),
whenever counsel has been appointed pursuant to subdivision 2 or is retained otherwise, and the
court is satisfied that the interests of the minor are protected.
(d) In appointing a guardian ad litem pursuant to paragraph (a), the court shall not appoint
the party, or any agent or employee thereof, filing a petition pursuant to section 260B.141 and
260C.141.
(e) The following factors shall be considered when appointing a guardian ad litem in a
case involving an Indian or minority child:
(1) whether a person is available who is the same racial or ethnic heritage as the child
or, if that is not possible;
(2) whether a person is available who knows and appreciates the child's racial or ethnic
heritage.
(f) The court shall require a background study for each guardian ad litem as provided under
section 518.165. The court shall have access to data collected pursuant to section 245C.32 for
purposes of the background study.
    Subd. 7. Parent or guardian must accompany child at hearing. The custodial parent or
guardian of a child who is alleged or found to be delinquent, or is prosecuted as an extended
jurisdiction juvenile, must accompany the child at each hearing held during the delinquency or
extended jurisdiction juvenile proceedings, unless the court excuses the parent or guardian from
attendance for good cause shown. The failure of a parent or guardian to comply with this duty
may be punished as provided in section 260B.154.
    Subd. 8. Waiving the presence of child, parent. Except in delinquency proceedings, the
court may waive the presence of the minor in court at any stage of the proceedings when it is in
the best interests of the minor to do so. In a delinquency proceeding, after the child is found to be
delinquent, the court may excuse the presence of the child from the hearing when it is in the best
interests of the child to do so. In any proceeding the court may temporarily excuse the presence of
the parent or guardian of a minor from the hearing when it is in the best interests of the minor
to do so. The attorney or guardian ad litem, if any, has the right to continue to participate in
proceedings during the absence of the minor, parent, or guardian.
    Subd. 9. Rights of parties at hearing. The minor and the minor's parent, guardian, or
custodian are entitled to be heard, to present evidence material to the case, and to cross-examine
witnesses appearing at the hearing.
    Subd. 10. Waiver. (a) Waiver of any right which a child has under this chapter must be an
express waiver voluntarily and intelligently made by the child after the child has been fully and
effectively informed of the right being waived.
(b) Waiver of a child's right to be represented by counsel provided under the juvenile court
rules must be an express waiver voluntarily and intelligently made by the child after the child has
been fully and effectively informed of the right being waived. In determining whether a child
has voluntarily and intelligently waived the right to counsel, the court shall look to the totality
of the circumstances which includes but is not limited to the child's age, maturity, intelligence,
education, experience, and ability to comprehend, and the presence and competence of the child's
parents, guardian, or guardian ad litem. If the court accepts the child's waiver, it shall state on the
record the findings and conclusions that form the basis for its decision to accept the waiver.
History: 1999 c 139 art 2 s 19; art 4 s 2; 1999 c 245 art 8 s 51; 2003 c 2 art 1 s 25;
1Sp2005 c 4 art 1 s 47