WA Court of Appeals finds right to counsel for foster child
06/10/2014, Litigation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children
In In re J.A., 2014 WL 2601713 (Wa. App. 2014) (unpublished), the appellants argued that the trial court had abused its statutory discretion under Wash. Code § 13.34.100 in not appointing counsel and that this child and all children have a due process right to counsel under the federal and state constitutions. The Court of Appeals ruled in an unpublished opinion that the trial court had abused its discretion under the statute in not appointing counsel, and chose not to reach the larger constitutional question. In finding the abuse of discretion, the court applied the Mathews v. Eldridge factors to the statute and found that the foster child had both family and physical liberty interests at stake, plus the trial court's earlier determination that the foster child was currently in a safe placement had been called into question by a change of facts. The court also found that the risk of error in dependency proceedings is generally high and that GALs/CASAs cannot protect the legal interests of the child.
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: discretionary Qualified: no
|NCCRC helped with the briefing on the constitutional issues.|