Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Protected Person

Temporary and Plenary Guardianship

D.C. Code § 21-2046(b)(3) requires appointment of counsel for the respondent in a temporary guardianship matter, while D.C. Code § 21-2041(d) requires appointment in hearings to appoint a plenary guardian. 

Appointment of Successor Guardian and Termination Matters

The right to counsel likely extends to guardianship modification and termination matters as well, since the code specifies that the same procedures used in the guardianship establishment proceedings are used for these matters. D.C. Code § 21-2049(b)-(c) ("A ward seeking termination is entitled to the same rights and procedures as in an original proceeding for appointment of a guardian.") ("Before appointing a successor guardian, or ordering that a ward's incapacity has terminated, the court shall follow the same procedures to safeguard the rights of the ward that apply to a petition for appointment of a guardian.").

Matters related to guardian's authority to consent to certain medical treatment

Absent express authority through the "order of appointment or after subsequent hearing and order of the court", a guardian does not have the power to consent to certain kinds of medical treatment, including abortion, sterilization, and psycho-surgery, "except to preserve the life or prevent the immediate serious impairment of the physical health of the incapacitated individual[.]"  D.C. Code § 21-2047.01.


As discussed above, D.C. Code Ann. § 21-2041 provides the respondent to a guardianship petition with the right to counsel, and this right seems to continue through subsequent hearings.  Accordingly, the right to counsel presumably attaches to hearings in which a guardian seeks the power to consent to certain medical treatments.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no