MD court sends right to counsel case back down
05/10/2020, Litigation, Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Protected Person
A case before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals addressed the right to counsel for a protected person under guardianship who is seeking to terminate that guardianship based on her restored capacity. In the case, the protected person filed a pro se petition to terminate that the trial court denied without argument after the guardian opposed it. After the protected person located pro bono counsel that sought to be appointed, the guardian argued the protected person could not legally hire counsel nor obtain the necessary medical reports to show restored competency without the guardian’s approval, essentially locking her into the guardianship forever. The trial court denied the appointment motion without any explanation. Maryland law is unclear about the right to counsel when seeking to terminate the guardianship, and we collaborated with Disability Rights Maryland to argue that it was both a statutory and due process right.
This month, the Court of Special Appeals held that it was unclear whether the trial court had actually accepted the appointment motion or not (for reasons that are not worth explaining) and remanded for further factual findings.
The NCCRC contributed to an amicus brief in support of the right to counsel.