Discretionary appointment of counsel

Legislation, Domestic Violence - Accused Person

R.C. § 2151.34(O) states that for protection order proceedings in juvenile court, “[t]he court, in its discretion, may determine if the respondent is entitled to court-appointed counsel in a proceeding under this section” (emphasis added). “Respondent” is defined as a person 18 or under against whom a petition is filed.  § 2151.34(A)(6).


This discretionary appointment system seemingly conflicts with § 2151.352, which states that children have a right to counsel under all proceedings in juvenile court except those specifically excepted in § 2151.352 (one of which is not protection orders). It is not known what to make of this conflict, although courts reading the two statutory provisions together will likely construe § 2151.34(O) to govern, since it is more specific.  On the other hand, in Insani v. Federici, 2011-Ohio-6322, 2011 Ohio App. LEXIS 5189 (Ohio Ct. App., Greene County Dec. 9, 2011), a minor challenged a protection order based on his lack of counsel at the hearing. Although the minor alleged a violation of the Sixth Amendment, the appeals court examined whether the minor had waived the right to counsel afforded to him in section 2151.352, so the court applied that section to the minor’s situation.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no