Right to counsel

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Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

A court must appoint counsel for an indigent minor in "all critical stages" of any proceeding before the Youth Court. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-21-201(1). This includes abuse/neglect proceedings. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-21-151(1) (giving youth court exclusive jurisdiction in proceedings involving "a child in need of supervision, a neglected child, an abused child or a dependent child", except in certain limited circumstances). In cases where the court appoints a layman as guardian ad litem, the court shall also appoint an attorney to represent the child."  § 43-21-121(4).


Rule 13(f) of the Uniform Rules of Youth Court Practice adds that if the child's wishes conflict with the guardian's recommendations, then the court "shall retain the guardian ad litem to represent the best interest of the child and appoint an attorney to represent the child's preferences."  If abuse/neglect allegations surface in the context of a custody proceeding, then the court "shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child as provided under Section 43-21-121, who shall be an attorney."  Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-23.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes