Attorneys, Court Appointed Attorneys, and Guardians ad Litem

JR 40

Whether ordered as a sanction or ordered pursuant to Ohio Juv. Rule 4(G), attorneys’ fees and fees for guardians ad litem shall absent evidence to the contrary, be assessed at the rate of $100.00 per hour as approved by the court and billed in one-tenth hour increments.  Bills for such fees shall be presented to all affected parties at least fourteen days prior to presentation to the court for adoption.  In order to assure that guardians ad litem receive payment pursuant to Ohio Juv. Rule 4(G), the court may order each of the parties to deposit up to $500.00 with the clerk.

 

JR 41

(A) The juvenile court shall maintain a list of attorneys who have been deemed eligible for appointment as counsel in cases before the juvenile court.  Eligibility for inclusion on that list shall be at the discretion of the court.  Attorneys shall be appointed on the basis of a rotating schedule which shall assure  that each attorney on the list is provided with an opportunity to obtain an equitable share of such appointments.  The court may, in its discretion, deviate from the rotating schedule in order to assure the efficient and orderly administration of justice.

 

(B) The juvenile court shall maintain a list of attorneys who have been deemed eligible for appointment as guardians ad litem for children in cases before the juvenile court.  Eligibility for inclusion on that list, subject to the standards and guidelines as set forth in subsection (4) of this rule, shall be at the discretion of the court.  Attorneys shall be appointed to act as guardians ad litem on the basis of a rotating or randomized schedule which shall assure  that each attorney on the list is provided with an opportunity to obtain an equitable share of such appointments.

 

(C) The juvenile court may maintain a list of non-attorneys who have been deemed eligible for appointment as guardians ad litem for children in cases before the juvenile court.  Eligibility for inclusion on that list, subject to the standards and guidelines as set forth in subsection (E) of this rule, shall be at the discretion of the court.

 

(D) For the purpose of cases other than cases involving alleged or adjudged abused, neglected, and/or dependent children, the juvenile court hereby adopts and incorporates by reference, as if restated herein, the qualifications and procedures regarding the appointment of guardians ad litem for children as have been adopted in Local Rule DR 36 by the Domestic Relations Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County.

 

(E) For the purpose of cases involving alleged or adjudged abused, neglected, and/or dependent children, the juvenile court hereby adopts the following standards and guidelines which set forth the authority granted to guardians ad litem for children as well as the mandatory and recommended responsibilities of guardians ad litem for children.

 

(1) All guardians ad litem shall be:

 

(a) Attorneys at law who are authorized to appear as court appointed counsel in juvenile court and who are approved by the court to act as guardians ad litem or,

 

(b) Non-attorneys who are approved by the parachute program or,

 

(c) As otherwise appointed by the court..

 

(2) All attorney/guardians ad litem and non-attorney guardians ad litem shall, unless waived by the court, participate in a training session as designated by the court  within twelve months of the issuance of this rule and at least one six-hour training and/or session as directed or otherwise approved by the juvenile court every two years.   Persons seeking to act as attorney/guardians ad litem and/or non-attorney guardians ad litem twelve months or more after the adoption of this rule shall complete said  training prior to being assigned duties as a guardian ad litem,

 

(3) All determinations regarding the appointment and eligibility of all guardians ad litem shall be at the discretion of the court.

 

(4) All guardians ad litem shall be vested with all of the authority granted to guardians ad litem under the laws of the United States and under the laws of the State of Ohio including (but not limited to) those found in §2151.281(I) of the Revised Code.  In addition, all guardians ad litem appointed by this court shall be vested with the following authority:

 

(a) To act as an independent gatherer of information,

 

(b) To review all relevant records, including, but not limited to medical, psychological, dental, protective services, and school records,

 

(c) Subject to the limitations imposed upon attorneys by the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility regarding contact with parties represented by counsel, to have direct and independent communication with parents, social workers, teachers, foster parents, relatives, counselors, and any other person necessary to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the child’s situation,

 

(d) To be provided with complete information concerning the location of the child’s residence,

 

(e) To, when appropriate, monitor implementation of case plans and dispositional orders regarding provision of services and effectiveness,

 

(f) To interview each child (when possible) in private without the consent of the parent or of any private or public entity, and the guardian ad litem shall have the authority to observe each parent, custodian, or foster parent with the child(ren),

 

(g) To review the pleadings in the case and consult with attorneys involved in the case,

 

(h) To be notified of and to attend all mediation sessions and administrative reviews,

 

(i) To participate in educational meetings including, but not limited to, meetings pertaining to individualized education plans, and

 

(j) Attorney/guardians ad litem shall have the authority to file pleadings and motions and shall have the authority to prosecute same on behalf of the child(ren).

 

(k) Attorney/guardians ad litem shall have the authority to issue subpoenas and to examine witnesses.

 

(5) The following are mandatory standards for guardians ad litem practicing in juvenile court.  All guardians ad litem shall:

 

(a) Communicate with every child, who is able to do so, confidentially no less than thirty days prior to and no less than thirty days after every court hearing regarding the child,

 

(b) Unless otherwise permitted by the court by express order, have face-to-face contact with each child at least once every ninety days   in the home where the child resides or at the child’s school,

 

(c) Respond promptly to any request made to communicate with the child or investigate the child’s circumstances when made by  the child or any person closely connected to the child,

 

(d) Present independent and thorough recommendations to the court made as a result of his/her statutorily required independent investigation of the circumstances of the child.   Said initial investigation shall include, at a minimum, contact with the child, the child’s parent(s), the child’s foster parent’s, the child’s teacher(s), and any other family or non-family member with whom contact would be helpful in preparing a full report regarding the child’s circumstances to the court.  In this regard, the guardian ad litem is encouraged to be creative and to think independently in presenting those recommendations,

 

(d) Be present during the entirety of any mediation concerning the child,

 

(e) Submit a written report of his/her initial investigation, including, but not limited to, contacts made, interviews conducted, on-site findings and his/her recommendations to the court by the date of the pre-trial or within 45 days of his/her appointment to the case, whichever date is earlier,  

 

(f) Submit verbal supplemental recommendations, including, but not limited to, contacts made, interviews conducted, on-site findings and his/her recommendations, to the court at the time of every pre-trial, review, and dispositional hearing in the child’s case,

 

(g) Be present at every hearing concerning the child except when said presence is  excused by the court and provided, further, that the guardian ad litem  presents to the court a written report prior to any such hearing wherein their presence has been excused,

 

(h) Be present at every administrative review concerning the child which does not conflict, in terms of scheduling, with a court proceeding provided that said guardian ad litem is given at least two (2) weeks written notice regarding said administrative review,

 

(i) Explain, as much as possible,  the court proceedings and the role of the guardian ad litem to the child, in terms which the child can understand,

 

(j) Advocate for the best interests of the child giving due regard to all of the factors required to be considered by the court in

determining the best interests of a child,

 

(k) Monitor implementation of case plan services and dispositional orders so as to determine whether or not those services are being provided in a timely manner and are accomplishing their desired goal,

 

(l) Attorney/guardians ad litem shall advocate for the best interests of the child and for the child’s interests and shall advise the court when an irreconcilable  conflict arises between the role of guardian ad litem and attorney for the child,

 

(m) Ascertain the interests of every child taking into account the child’s age and maturity consistent with providing the child with a safe home taking into account the need for family preservation and permanency planning,

 

(n) Within fourteen (14) days of the date of the appointment of the guardian ad litem, the guardian ad litem shall ascertain where the child is placed and shall communicate with the adult responsible for the care of the child (parent, non-parent, placement authority, foster parent etc.)  Said communication may be in person, by telephone, or in writing.  If said communication is made in writing, the guardian ad litem shall use one of the  form letters set forth in appendix D or a letter substantially identical in content to the form letters set forth in appendix D.  Said communication shall, regardless of form, provide the following information:

 

∙ Information regarding the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem as set forth in this rule,

∙ The address and telephone number of the guardian ad litem and the telephone number of the “AND” unit of this court.

∙ A notice that provision for open and confidential communication between the child and the guardian ad litem is mandatory and that same is to be encouraged and facilitated,

∙ A notice that the guardian ad litem should be provided with any information regarding the best interests of the child,

∙ A notice that communication between a party represented by counsel and an attorney/guardian ad litem is permissible only when approved by that party’s counsel, and

∙ A copy of the appointment order of the guardian ad litem,