Can a Minor Appear In Court With His Uncles or Grandparents ?
In Flynn v. State, 707 S.W.2d 87, 89 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986), Flynn, a juvenile, appeared in court without his parents but with his aunt.
Although the aunt had raised Flynn from birth, she had not adopted him and was not his legal guardian.
The trial court proceeded with the adjudication without appointing a guardian for Flynn.
The court of criminal appeals concluded that the trial court erred by failing to appoint a guardian; however, the court determined the error was harmless. Id. at 89.
According to the court, the "basic principle of [the Family] code is that every child who appears before a juvenile court must have the assistance of some friendly, competent adult who can supply the child with support and guidance." Id. (quoting Robert O. Dawson, Delinquent Children and Children in Need of Supervision, 5 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 511, 529 (1974)).
Because the aunt, the individual who raised Flynn all his life, was a mother figure for Flynn, and because no one was more likely to render him friendly support and guidance, the court concluded that the "spirit, if not the letter of the statute was met" and held the error was harmless. Flynn, 707 S.W.2d at 89.
J.A.S. relies on In re A.G.G., 860 S.W.2d 160 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1993, no writ), in which the court of appeals reached the opposite result.
A.G.G. attended his delinquency hearing accompanied by his grandmother, not his parents. Id. at 162.
The trial court did not appoint a guardian and proceeded with the adjudication. See id.
The grandmother not only failed to render friendly support and guidance, but testified against A.G.G. Id.
The court of appeals reversed the adjudication based on the trial court's failure to appoint a guardian. Id.