CA R LASSEN SUPER CT Rule 3 Local Rules, Superior Court, Lassen County, Rule 3
Northern California Local Court Rules
Lassen County
Superior Court
Superior Court of California County of Lassen Local Rules of Court

Rule 3. Juvenile Dependency

1. Time-Lines and Procedures Governing Settlements, Mediation, and Discovery Protocol for Contested Matters.

A. Settlements. Upon the calendaring of a contested hearing, the court may set each long-cause matter for a Readiness Conference as near the trial date as will most efficiently utilize the resources of the court. In addition, if it is the opinion of the court that a resolution is possible, the court shall also set the matter for a pre-trial conference. The parties shall inform the court if they believe a disposition conference would be productive.

B. Mediation. At any time prior to dismissal if there are issues of custody and/or visitation and there is no issue of risk of harm to the minor(s), the court may require the parties to schedule and participate in mediation. Minor(s) six years or older must attend the mediation on direction of the mediator.

C. Discovery Protocol. See California Rules of Court 5.546.

2. General Competency Requirement Of Counsel Who Appear In Juvenile Dependency Proceedings. All attorneys who appear in juvenile dependency proceedings must meet the minimum standards of competence set forth in this Rule of Court. These rules apply to attorneys who represent public agencies, attorneys employed by public agencies, and attorneys appointed by the court to represent any party in a juvenile dependency proceeding.

3. Procedures to Screen, Train, and Appoint Attorneys Representing Parties.

A. Each attorney who represents parties in juvenile dependency proceedings shall meet the minimum standards of training and/or experience set forth in these rules. An attorney who appears in a dependency matter for the first time shall complete and submit a Certificate of Competency in a form as attached to this rule as "Exhibit A" to the court within 10 days of his or her first appearance in a dependency matter.

B. Attorneys who meet the minimum standards of training and/or experience as set forth in these rules, as demonstrated by the information contained in the Certificate of Competency submitted to the court, shall be deemed competent to practice before the juvenile court in dependency cases except as provided in subdivision 3 of this rule.

C. Upon submission of a Certificate of Competency, which demonstrates the attorney has met the minimum standards for training and/or experience, the court may determine, based on conduct or performance of counsel before the court in a dependency case, that a particular attorney does not meet minimum competency standards. In such cases, the court shall proceed as set forth in section 4D wherein an attorney fails to comply.

D. Any attorney who appears before the court in a dependency case who does not meet the minimum standards of training or experience shall notify the court to that effect. In such case the court shall order, except in cases where a party is represented by retained counsel, that certified counsel be substituted for the attorney who does not possess the required training. In the case of retained counsel, the court shall notify the party that his or her counsel has failed to meet the minimum standards required by these rules. The determination whether to obtain substitute private counsel shall be solely within the discretion of the party so notified.

E. In the case of an attorney who maintains his or her principal office outside of this county, proof of certification by the juvenile court of the California county in which the attorney maintains an office shall be sufficient evidence of competence to appear in a juvenile proceeding in this county.

F. If the court determines it to be in the best interest of the minor, the court reserves the right to allow an attorney to continue to represent parties in a juvenile dependency proceeding if said attorney's Certificate of Competency expires while the appointment is active.

4. Minimum Standard of Education and Training.

A. Each attorney who appears in a dependency matter before the juvenile court shall not seek certification of competency and shall not be certified by the court as competent until the attorney has completed the following minimum training and educational requirements. Prior to certification, the attorney shall have either:

(1) Participated in at least eight hours of training or education in juvenile dependency law, which training or education shall have included information on the applicable case law and statutes, the rules of court, judicial council forms, motions, trial techniques and skills, writs and appeals, child development, child abuse and neglect, family reunification and preservation; or

(2) At least six months of experience in dependency proceedings in which the attorney has demonstrated competence in the attorney's representation of his or her clients in said proceedings. In the determination of whether the attorney has demonstrated competence, the court shall consider whether the attorney's performance has substantially complied with the requirements of these rules.

B. In order to retain his or her certification to practice before the juvenile court, each attorney who has been previously certified by the court shall submit a new Certificate of Competency to the court on or before February 28 of the third year after the year in which the attorney is first certified and then every third year thereafter. The attorney shall attach to the renewal Certificate of Competency evidence that he or she has completed at least eight hours of continuing training or education directly related to dependency proceedings since the attorney was last certified. Evidence of completion of the required number of hours of training or education may include a copy of a certificate of attendance issued by a California MCLE provider; a certificate of attendance issued by a professional organization which provides training and/or education for its members, whether or not it is a MCLE provider; a copy of the training or educational program schedule together with evidence of attendance at such program; or such other documentation as may reasonably be considered to demonstrate the attorney's attendance at such program. Attendance at a court sponsored or approved program will also fulfill this requirement.

C. The attorney's continuing training or education shall be in the areas set forth in subdivision 3 of this rule, or in other areas related to juvenile dependency practice including, but not limited to, special education, mental health, health care, immigration issues, the rules of evidence, adoption practice and parentage issues, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, state and federal public assistance programs, the Indian Child Welfare Act, client interviewing and counseling techniques, case investigation and settlement negotiations, mediation, basic motion practice and the rules of civil procedure.

D. When a certified attorney fails to submit evidence that he or she has completed at least the minimum required training and education to the court by the due date, the court shall notify the attorney that he or she will be decertified. That attorney shall have 20 days from the date of mailing of the notice to submit evidence of his or her completion of the required training or education. If the attorney fails to submit the required evidence or fails to complete the required minimum hours of continuing training or education, the court shall order, except in cases where a party is represented by retained counsel, that certified counsel be substituted for the attorney who fails to complete the required training. In the case of retained counsel, the court shall notify the party that his or her counsel has failed to meet the minimum standards required by these rules. The determination whether to obtain substitute counsel shall be solely within the discretion of the party so notified.

E. The clerk of the court shall maintain a cumulative list of all attorneys who have filed the required certification with the court, and annually shall notify the presiding judge in writing of the attorneys whose three-year certification period will expire in February of the current year.

5. Procedures for the Review and Resolution of Complaints by Parties Regarding the Performance of Attorneys. Complaints or questions by a party regarding representation shall be addressed as follows:

A. Complaints or questions shall initially be referred to any agency or law firm appointed to represent the client.

B. If the issue remains unresolved, or if there is no designated agency or law firm, the party may submit the complaint to the court in writing. The court may follow one of the following procedures:

(1) Conduct its own review of the complaint or question and take appropriate action if required, or,

(2) Refer the complaint to the State Bar.

6. Procedures to Inform the Court of Interests of the Dependent Child Which Require Further Investigation, Intervention, or Litigation.

A. Judicial Council forms Juvenile Dependency Petition (JV-100) or Modification Petition Attachment (JV-180) shall be utilized to inform the court and request direction from the court.

B. Upon receipt of the request by counsel for instructions from the court, the court shall do one or all of the following:

(1) Refer the matter to the appropriate agency for further investigation, and require a report to the court and counsel within a reasonable time;

(2) Authorize and direct the child's attorney to initiate and pursue appropriate action;

(3) Appoint a guardian ad litem for the child if one is required to initiate and pursue appropriate action; or

(4) Take any other action to protect the interests and rights of the child.

7. The Child Advocate Program. The Superior Court may appoint child advocates to represent the interests of dependent children. In order to qualify for appointment, the child advocate must be trained by and function under the auspices of a Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA), formed and operating under the guidelines set forth in CRC 5.655 and Welfare & Institutions Code Section 356.5.

The CASA program shall report regularly to the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court with evidence that it is operating under the guidelines established by the National Court Appointed Special Advocated Association and the California State Guidelines for Child Advocates.

A. Advocates' Functions. Advocates serve at the pleasure of the court having jurisdiction over the proceeding in which the advocate has been appointed. In general, an advocate's functions are as follows:

(1) To support the child throughout the court proceedings;

(2) To establish a relationship with the child to better understand his or her particular needs and desires;

(3) To communicate the child's needs and desires to the court in written reports and recommendations;

(4) To identify and explore potential resources which will facilitate early family reunification or alternative permanency planning;

(5) To provide continuous attention to the child's situation to ensure that the court's plans for the child are being implemented;

(6) To the fullest extent possible, to communicate and coordinate efforts with the case manager/social worker;

(7) To the fullest extent possible, to communicate and coordinate efforts with the child's attorneys; and

(8) To investigate the interests of the child in other judicial or administrative proceedings outside Juvenile Court; report to the Juvenile Court concerning same; and, with the approval of the court, offer his/her services on behalf of the child to such other courts or tribunals.

B. Sworn Officer of the Court. An advocate is an officer of the court and is bound by these rules. Each advocate shall be sworn in by a Superior Court judge before beginning his/her duties, and shall subscribe a written oath.

C. Specific Duties. The court shall, in its initial order of appointment, and thereafter in any subsequent order, specifically delineate the advocate's duties in each case, which may include independent investigation of the circumstances of the case, interviewing and observing the child and other appropriate individuals, reviewing appropriate records and reports, consideration of visitation rights for the child's grandparents and other relatives, and reporting back directly to the court as indicated. If no specific duties are outlined by court order, the advocate shall discharge his/her obligation to the child and the court in accordance with the general duties set forth in this Rule.

D. Release of Information to Advocate.

(1) Court authorization. To accomplish the appointment of an advocate, the judge making the appointment shall sign an order granting the advocate the authority to review specific relevant documents and interview parties involved in the case, as well as other persons having significant information relating to the child, to the same extent as any other officer appointed to investigate proceedings on behalf of the court.

(2) Access to records. An advocate shall have the same legal right to records relating to the child he/she is appointed to represent as any case manager/social worker with regard to records pertaining to the child held by any agency, school, organization, division or department of the State, physician, surgeon, nurse, other health care provider, psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health provider or law enforcement agency. The advocate shall present his/her identification as a court-appointed advocate to any such record holder in support of his/her request for access to specific records. No consent from the parent or guardian is necessary for the advocate to have access to any records relating to the child.

CASA volunteers are considered court personnel as that term is used in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 827. They shall have access to Probation Department and Department of Child Protective Services' files and information contained therein needed to carry out their responsibilities as court appointed advocates.

Any release by the Probation Department or the Department of Child Protective Services pursuant to this Rule of information made confidential by Welfare and Institutions Code Section 10850 shall be considered a disclosure for purposes directly connected with the administration of public social services as that term is used in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 10850. Except as contained in their court report and in their dealing with the parties in the particular case, the advocates are prohibited from releasing any information they gain from inspection of these files.

(3) Report of child abuse. An advocate is a mandated child abuse reporter with respect to the case to which the advocate is appointed.

(4) Communication with others. There shall be ongoing, regular communication concerning the child's best interests, current status, and significant case developments, maintained among the advocate, CPS manager, child's attorneys or parents, relatives, foster parents and any therapist for the child.

(5) Right to Timely Notice. In any motion concerning the child for whom the advocate has been appointed, the moving party shall provide adequate and timely notice to the advocate appointed for the child.

CREDIT(S)

Adopted, eff. July 1, 1999. As amended, eff. July 1, 2000; July 1, 2010.

Lassen County Superior Court Rules, Rule 3, CA R LASSEN SUPER CT Rule 3

Current with amendments received through 3/1/2011                              


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