Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Mo. Ann. Stat. § 211.211 states:

 

The court shall appoint counsel for a child prior to the filing of a petition if a request is made therefor . . . and the court finds that the child is the subject of a juvenile court proceeding and that the child making the request is indigent . . . When a petition has been filed, the court shall appoint counsel for the child when necessary to assure a full and fair hearing. . . .

 

The Missouri Supreme Court incorporated substantially the same language into Rule 115, the statute's implementing rule. See Mo. R. RCP Rule 115.01 to .03. The statute is is difficult to parse, as it seems to suggest the child has a right to appointed counsel upon request prior to the filing of the petition, whereas post-petition the court must determine counsel is necessary for a full and fair hearing.  On the other hand, Mo. Ann. Stat. § 210.160 specifies that "In every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding, the judge shall appoint a guardian ad litem to appear for and represent...[a] child who is the subject of [abuse and neglect] proceedings", and "When appointing a guardian ad litem for a child, the court shall only appoint a lawyer licensed by the Supreme Court who has completed the training required by these standards." Mo. Sup. Ct., Standards with Comments for Guardians Ad Litem in Missouri, Standard 1.0. Thus it appears that the court must appoint an attorney-GAL for all children, but may appoint separate counsel for the child in the court's discretion once a petition has been filed.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no