January 19, 2008
Case Law Development: Errors in Appointing GAL Subject to Harmless Error Analysis
The California Supreme Court resolved a split among the courts of appeals in holding that a juvenile court's error in the procedure used to appoint a guardian ad litem for a parent in a dependency proceeding is subject to harmless error review. The father in this case, facing an action for termiantion of his parental rights, was appointed a GAL in an informal manner, with the trial court asking him if a "second attorney" would be useful to him, but without much further explanation. The Supreme Court found that the procedure did not comport with due process but found the error harmless because the record clearly established father's incompetency. His parentshad already been appointed conservators of his person under the probate code and he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in criminal proceedings either shortly before or within days after the guardian ad litem appointment.
In re James F., (California Supreme Court January 15, 2008)
Opinion on web (last visited January 18, 2008 bgf)
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