Colorado adds right to counsel for older children in abuse/neglect cases
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
04/17/2022, Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children
Previously, Colorado law required appointment of an attorney ad litem to represent all children in abuse/neglect cases. But in 2022, the law was revised to require the appointment of client-directed counsel for children 12 or older.
Colorado Revised Statute § 19-3-203(1) specifies that "Upon the filing of a petition under section 19-3-502 that alleges abuse or neglect of a minor child, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for any child who is under twelve years of age. The guardian ad litem must be an attorney-at-law licensed to practice in Colorado and approved by the Office of the Child's Representative created in Section 13-91-104." Then, § 19-3-203(2) specifies:
Upon the filing of a petition pursuant to section 19-3-502 that alleges abuse or neglect of a child, the court shall appoint counsel for youth for any child or youth who is twelve years of age or older. The counsel for youth must be an attorney-at-law licensed to practice in colorado and approved by the office of the child's representative created in section 13-91-104.the court may appoint the same attorney, as long as the attorney does not assert there is a conflict of interest as defined under the applicable rules of professional conduct, to represent the best interests of younger siblings who are under twelve years of age as a guardian ad litem and to represent youth in the sibling group who are twelve years of age or older as a counsel for youth. Until the court's jurisdiction is terminated, appointment of counsel for youth pursuant to this section continues. A child's or youth's right to counsel may not be waived.nothing in this section limits the power of the court to appoint counsel for youth prior to the filing of a petition for good cause.
Additionally, 2022 legislation added Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19-7-309.5(1), which provides that when a youth voluntarily seeks extended foster care, the youth must be appointed counsel for the hearing to establish such extended care.
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes
The NCCRC provided supportive testimony for the 2022 legislation.