Should the Interest of An Abused or Neglected Child Be Controlled by An Independent Lawyer ?
Is It the Intention of the Legislature That Litigation and Representing the Interest of an Abused or Neglected Child Be Controlled by An Independent Counsel ?
In Akkiko M. v. Superior Court (1985) 163 Cal. App. 3d 525 209 Cal. Rptr. 568, the court considered a minor's challenge of an order recusing her counsel appointed under former section 318 from continuing to represent her. (While Welf. & Inst. Code former 318 has been repealed, many of its provisions have been added to 317.)
Former section 318 authorized the juvenile court to appoint counsel in cases where the dependency petition alleged abuse and neglect.)
In reviewing the provisions of section 318, which are now essentially part of section 317, the court noted as follows: "It is apparent that many of the responsibilities normally associated with a guardian ad litem have been placed upon counsel.
In light of the duties placed upon counsel by section 318, we reject the Department's argument that, as guardian ad litem, the Department controls litigation and retention of counsel for an abused and neglected minor.
The Legislature intended that independent counsel, not the Department in its role as guardian ad litem, would control litigation and represent the interests of the abused or neglected child." ( Akkiko M., supra, 163 Cal. App. 3d at p. 530;
See also In re Alexis W. (1999) 71 Cal. App. 4th 28, 36 83 Cal. Rptr. 2d 488 " 'The role of counsel for the child in dependency proceedings is not merely to act as a mouthpiece for the minor. . . .' ".)