Thursday, December 3, 2009
"Deciding an issue of first impression," the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has held that the parents in a termination of parental rights case are entitled to effective assistance of counsel. In the matter, the Office of the Public Defender was appointed to represent the parents who faced the loss of parental rights in guardianship and adoption proceedings. The attorney filed an untimely objection. The court struck the late objection and granted guardianship to the Department of Social Services.
The court held that the right to counsel in termination cases embraces a right to effective assistance. The late filing was ineffective representation. The matter was remanded to permit the objection to be considered on its merits. (Mike Frisch)