New state regulation on court-appointed attorneys – Hometown Focus | Northland information & tales

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STATEWIDE – The Minnesota Judicial Branch has released new resources to help eligible parents, guardians, and custodians of a child in a juvenile protection proceeding request and receive a court-appointed attorney earlier in the process.

On January 1, 2023, a change in state law will require the appointment of attorneys to parents, guardians and custodians who request and financially qualify for an attorney before the first hearing, and at all stages of the proceedings.

In anticipation of this change, the Judicial Branch has established more consistency in the application process to ensure district courts receive requests from parents with the information needed to determine financial eligibility and issue timely appointment orders. Last December, the Judicial Branch published a statewide forms packet for parents to apply for a court-appointed attorney. The forms are available in English, Spanish and Somali.

Parents, guardians and custodians can download the forms from the Judicial Branch website or use Guide & File to complete them. The Guide & File interview allows parents, guardians and custodians to apply for a court-appointed attorney online before their first hearings, or at any point during their cases, if they do not have an attorney. At the end of the interview, parents are provided with their completed affidavits, and instructions explaining what happens after they eFile their forms, or how to file their forms if not within Guide & File.

Court administration will then inform filers about the local procedures for having a judicial officer review the applications. Judicial officers generally look to public defender eligibility guidelines when determining if a parent, guardian, or custodian financially qualifies. If so, the court will appoint an attorney.

Additional parent-attorney resources

Counties may contract with attorneys to serve as parent attorneys and have been given additional funding to increase their pool of attorney resources. Attorneys interested in being considered for appointments should contact the administrator’s office in the county where they wish to work. Contact information can be found on the Association of Minnesota Counties website.

The parent attorney community has also organized a list of lead parent attorneys in each judicial district who can serve as a resource to one another and as liaisons to the court. The list of lead parent attorneys is posted on the Judicial Branch website under the Tools & Resources tab of the Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) Help Topic.

Attorneys working in this area should contact the lead parent attorney in their district to stay connected and informed. Attorneys should also consider joining the new parent attorney listserv by clicking on the link at the bottom of the Institute to Transform Child Protection’s (ITCP’s) Parent Attorney Training Series page.

For more information, see Fast Facts – Court-Appointed Attorneys for Parents, Guardians and Custodians in Juvenile Protection Proceedings. Questions about the new Judicial Branch resources can be directed to CJI@ courts.state.mn.us.

About the Minnesota Judiciary

The Minnesota Judicial Branch is made up of 10 judicial districts with 296 district court judgeships, 19 Court of Appeals judges, and seven Supreme Court justices. The Judicial Branch is governed by the Judicial Council, which is chaired by Lorie S. Gildea, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Visit www.mncourts.gov for more information.