Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19-3-202(1) provides that for dependency/neglect proceedings, “At the first appearance of a respondent parent, guardian, or legal custodian, the court shall fully advise the respondent such party  of his or her legal rights, including the right to a jury trial, the right to be represented by counsel at every stage of the proceedings, and the right to seek the appointment of counsel through the office of respondent parents’ counsel, if the party is unable financially to secure counsel on his or her own.”  See also People ex rel. Z.P., 167 P.3d 211, 213 (Colo. Ct. App. 2007) (“An indigent parent has a statutory right to court-appointed counsel in a dependency and neglect proceeding.”).


In In re J.B, 702 P.2d 753 (Colo. Ct. App. 1985), the court stated that because "[p]roceedings in dependency or neglect affect important rights . . . there must be substantial compliance with statutory requirements for the conduct of those proceedings."  The court then found that the Legislature's use of the term "shall" indicated that, under the statutes at issue, the provision of counsel was mandatory upon the parent's request, and that the court's failure to provide counsel for a portion of the review proceedings in the instant case did not "constitute substantial compliance" with the statute.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no