Qualified Children's Attorneys
QUALIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS FOR ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CHILDREN IN NEED OF CARE
Since July, 2005 the Louisiana Supreme Court Division of Children and Families has been collecting and maintaining information received from attorneys pursuant to this Rule. This list is a compilation based on information submitted to the Supreme Court and includes those attorneys qualified for appointment as counsel for children in child abuse and neglect cases as of the day indicated in the update notice.
It is the continuing responsibility of each attorney to provide documentation of his/her qualifications to the Division of Children and Families. Any attorney who has not submitted, prior to January 31 each year, evidence of attendance of at least six hours of approved continuing legal education in the past calendar year will no longer be considered as qualified under this Rule.
Since its enactment in 1974, CAPTA has required appointment of a "guardian ad litem" in "every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding." States must meet this requirement, among others, in order to be eligible for federal support under the CAPTA state grant program. The guardian ad litem (GAL) can be "an attorney or a court appointed special advocate (or both)" for the child and must obtain a first-hand understanding of the child's situation and needs and make recommendations to the court concerning the child's best interests.
The Louisiana Children’s Code requires appointed independent counsel for the child (art. 607) and authorizes appointment of CASA (art. 424.1).
The CAPTA requirement as amended in 2003 [42 U.S.C. §5106a(b)(2)(A)(xiii)] specifies that, in order for states to be eligible for a CAPTA state grant, there must be provisions and procedures requiring that in every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding, a guardian ad litem who has received training appropriate to the role, who may be an attorney or a court appointed special advocate who has received training appropriate to the role (or both), shall be appointed to represent the child in such proceedings.
The Children’s Code provisions were amended in 2004 to add this training requirement as an intended component of the term “qualified” in requiring qualified independent counsel for children. No additional legislation was necessary for CASA, since CASA standards already required specialized training.
According to DHHS/ACF program instructions on the CAPTA amendment, there should be no appointment of an attorney for a child who has not, before his appointment, received "appropriate" training that is specifically related to their role. CAPTA was amended to ensure higher quality representation and to bar appointment of untrained or poorly trained court-appointed representatives for children.
In connection with Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice Reform efforts, a joint Task Force on Legal Representation in Child Protection Cases, co-chaired by the Chief Justice and the Secretary of DSS, was created by HCR No. 44 (2003) to study systemic issues and concerns related to the provision of legal representation for abused and neglected children and indigent parents in child protection cases and to make recommendations on how these services may be more effectively and efficiently provided and funded. House Concurrent Resolution No. 59 (2004) continued the work of the Task Force.
The Task Force made recommendations to the 2005 legislature that included CAPTA-compliant attorney qualifications, standards of practice, and training requirements to be included in Part J of the Supreme Court Administrative Rules and implemented upon adoption by the Court.
SUPREME COURT RULES:
Rules of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Part J (Special Rules for Cases Involving the Protection of Children), Rule XXXV (Attorney Qualification and Standards) were adopted, effective July 2005.
PART. I. Qualifications
Section 1. Purpose
This rule provides an administrative procedure to ensure appointment of qualified counsel to children in child abuse and neglect proceedings.
Section 2. Applicability
The provisions of this rule apply to all counsel appointed to represent children in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, as defined in Rule XXXIII, Part I, Section 2.
Section 3. Qualification of Appointed Counsel
A. Prior to appointment as counsel for children in child abuse and neglect proceedings, an attorney shall have the following qualifications:
(1) The attorney shall be licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana and in good standing with the Louisiana State Bar Association; and
(2) Effective upon adoption of this rule, the attorney shall have completed within the last two years a minimum of eight hours of training or education relevant to child abuse and neglect cases, or shall have sufficient recent experience in such proceedings in which the attorney has demonstrated competency.
a. The requisite education or experience shall include relevant law and jurisprudence, child development, child abuse and neglect, and the roles, responsibilities and duties of independent counsel for children, including the Standards for Representation of Children.
b. Evidence of qualifications may include proof of attendance at relevant continuing education programs and documentation of competency signed by a judge having personal knowledge of the attorney’s experience.
(3) Effective January 1, 2006 and thereafter, the attorney shall complete a minimum of six hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year, and shall submit to the Supreme Court records pertaining to their compliance no later than January 31 of the following calendar year.
B. Attorneys shall submit evidence of their qualifications to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Division of Children and Families, and a list of attorneys qualified for appointment shall be maintained and published by the Court.
C. Appointment of counsel for children in child abuse and neglect cases shall be made from the list of qualified attorneys, except when the court appoints an attorney otherwise qualified but not yet on the list. In that case, the court shall document the qualifications of the attorney and instruct the attorney to file the documentation with the Supreme Court.
State of Louisiana
Office of the Judicial Administrator
Division of Children and Families
CHILD ATTORNEY QUALIFICATIONS FORM
For calendar year 2015
CLE hours completed in 2014 will remain valid until December 2015,
I, _____________________________________(attorney name) do hereby submit the following qualifications for representation of children in child abuse and neglect cases:
[ ] I am currently licensed to practice law in Louisiana and am in good standing with the Louisiana State Bar Association.
[ ] I have read and understand the Supreme Court Rules For Cases Involving the Protection of Children, including the Standards of Practice, and hereby agree to abide by them in my representation of children in child abuse and neglect cases.
[ ] I have completed a minimum of six hours of continuing legal education relevant to child abuse and neglect cases, as is evidenced by the attached documentation.
Bar number: __________________________
Email Address: __________________________
LASC, Division of Children and Families 504-599-0098 (fax)
1555 Poydras Street, Suite 1550, New Orleans, LA 70112