Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

According to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2151.352, "Counsel must be provided for a child not represented by the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. If the interests of two or more such parties conflict, separate counsel shall be provided for each of them."


In In re Williams, 805 N.E.2d 1110, 1111, 1113 (Ohio 2004), the Ohio Supreme Court clarified the statutory right to counsel of juveniles in proceedings to terminate parental rights under the statute (and such clarification would apply to abuse/neglect as well). Specifically, the Court explained that the juvenile may have a right to appointed counsel separate from that provided to his or her parents "in certain circumstances". The court presiding over the proceeding has the authority to make a case-by-case determination whether independent counsel for the juvenile is necessary, based on the maturity of the juvenile and whether the juvenile's guardian ad litem can serve as both guardian ad litem and attorney without conflict.


Additionally, in 2012, the court modified Juvenile Rule 3 to specify that when juveniles have a right to counsel, it is un-waivable in certain circumstances and requires consultation with an attorney prior to waiver in other circumstances. 6 Ohio Juv. R. 4(C)(1) adds that "When the guardian ad litem is an attorney...the guardian may also serve as counsel to the ward providing no conflict between the roles exist."

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no